Two Trips to
Gorilla Land
and the Cataracts of the Congo

Richard F. Burton

“Quisquis amat Congi fines peragrare nigrantes,

Africæ et Æthiopum cernere regna, domus,

. . .

Perlegat hunc librum.”

Fra Angelus de Map. Piccardus.

“Timbuctoo travels, voyages to the poles,

Are ways to benefit mankind as true

Perhaps as shooting them at Waterloo.”

Don Juan.

First published in 1876.

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Table of Contents


PART I. The Gaboon River and Gorilla Land.

  1. Landing at the Rio Gabão (Gaboon River). — Le Plateau, the French Colony.
  2. The Departure. — The Tornado. — Arrival at “The Bush.”
  3. Geography of the Gaboon.
  4. The Minor Tribes and the Mpongwe.
  5. To Sánga-Tánga and Back.
  6. Village Life in Pongo-land.
  7. Return to the River.
  8. Up the Gaboon River.
  9. A Specimen Day with the Fán Cannibals.
  10. To the Mbíka (Hill); the Sources of the Gaboon. —— Return to the Plateau.
  11. Mr., Mrs., and Master Gorilla.
  12. Corisco — “Home” to Fernando Po.

PART II. The Cataracts of the Congo.

  1. From Fernando Po to Loango Bay. — The German Expedition.
  2. To São Paulo De Loanda.
  3. The Festival — A Trip to Calumbo — Portuguese Hospitality.
  4. The Cruise along Shore — The Granite Pillar of Kinsembo.
  5. Into the Congo River. — The Factories. — Trip to Shark’s Point. — The Padrão and Pinda.
  6. Up the Congo River. — The Slave Depot, Porto Da Lenha. — Arrival at Boma.
  7. Boma. — Our Outfit for the Interior
  8. A Visit to Banza Chisalla,
  9. Up the Congo to Banza Nokki.
  10. Notes on the Nzadi or Congo River.
  11. Life at Banza Nokki.
  12. Preparations for the March.
  13. The March to Banza Nkulu.
  14. The Yellala of the Congo.
  15. Return to the Congo Mouth.
  16. The Slaver and the Missionary in the Congo River.
  17. Concluding Remarks.

Appendix I.

Appendix II.

Appendix III.

Appendix IV.


Trieste, Jan. 31, 1875.

My Dear Sir George,

Our paths in life have been separated by a long interval. Whilst inclination led you to explore and to’survey the wild wastes of the North, the Arctic shores and the Polar seas, with all their hardships and horrors; my lot was cast in the torrid regions of Sind and Arabia; in the luxuriant deserts of Africa, and in the gorgeous tropical forests of the Brazil. But the true traveller can always appreciate the record of another’s experience, and perhaps the force of contrast makes him most enjoy the adventures differing the most from his own. To whom, then, more appropriately than to yourself, a discoverer of no ordinary note, a recorder of explorations, and, finally, an earnest labourer in the cause of geography, can I inscribe this plain, unvarnished tale of a soldier-traveller? Kindly accept the trifle as a token of the warmest esteem, an earnest of my thankfulness for the interest ever shown by you in forwarding my plans and projects of adventure; and, in the heartfelt hope that Allah may prolong your days, permit me to subscribe myself,

Your sincere admirer and grateful friend,

Admiral Sir George Back, D.C.L., F.R.S., Vice–Pres. R.G.S., &c.


The notes which form the ground-work of these volumes have long been kept in the obscurity of manuscript: my studies of South America, of Syria and Palestine, of Iceland, and of Istria, left me scant time for the labour of preparation. Leisure and opportunity have now offered themselves, and I avail myself of them in the hope that the publication will be found useful to more than one class of readers. The many who take an interest in the life of barbarous peoples may not be displeased to hear more about the Fán; and the few who would try a fall with Mister Gorilla can learn from me how to equip themselves, whence to set out and whither to go for the best chance. Travelling with M. Paul B. du Chaillu’s “First Expedition” in my hand, I jealously looked into every statement, and his numerous friends will be pleased to see how many of his assertions are confirmed by my experience.

The second part is devoted to the Nzadi or lower Congo River, from the mouth to the Yellala or main rapids, the gate by which the mighty stream, emerging from the plateau of Inner Africa, goes to its long home, the Atlantic. Some time must elapse before the second expedition, which left Ambriz early in 1873, under Lieutenant Grandy, R. N., can submit its labours to the public: meanwhile these pages will, I trust, form a suitable introduction to the gallant explorer’s travel in the interior. It would be preposterous to publish descriptions of any European country from information gathered ten years ago. But Africa moves slowly, and thus we see that the results of an Abyssinian journey (M. Antoine d’Abbadie’s “Géodésic d’Ethiopie,” which took place about 1845, are not considered obsolete in 1873.

After a languid conviction during the last half century of owning some ground upon the West Coast of Africa, England has been rudely aroused by a little war which will have large consequences. The causes that led to the “Ashantee Campaign,” a negro copy of the negroid Abyssinian, may be broadly laid down as general incuriousness, local mismanagement, and the operation of unprincipled journalism.

It is not a little amusing to hear the complaints of the public that plain truth about the African has not been told. I could cite more than one name that has done so. But what was the result? We were all soundly abused by the negrophile; the multitude cared little about reading “unpopular opinions;” and then, when the fulness of time came, it turned upon us, and rent us, and asked why we had not spoken freely concerning Ashanti and Fanti, and all the herd. My “Wanderings in West Africa” is a case in point: so little has it been read, that a President of the Royal Geographical Society (African section of the Society of Arts Journal, Feb. 6, 1874) could state, “If Fantees are cowardly and lazy, Krumen are brave;” the latter being the most notorious poltroons on the West African seaboard.

The hostilities on the Gold Coast might have been averted with honour to ourselves at any time between 1863 and 1870, by a Colonial Office mission and a couple of thousand pounds. I need hardly say what has been the case now. The first steps were taken with needless disasters, and the effect has been far different from what we intended or what was advisable. For a score of years we (travellers) have been advising the English statesman not to despise the cunning of barbarous tribes, never to attempt finessing with Asiatic or African; to treat these races with perfect sincerity and truthfulness. I have insisted, and it is now seen with what reason, that every attempt at deception, at asserting the “thing which is not,” will presently meet with the reward it deserves. I can only regret that my counsels have not made themselves heard.

Yet this ignoble war between barbarous tribes whom it has long been the fashion to pet, this poor scuffle between the breechloader and the Birmingham trade musket, may yet in one sense do good. It must perforce draw public attention to the West Coast of Africa, and raise the question, “What shall we do with it?” My humble opinion, expressed early in 1865 to the Right Honourable Mr. Adderley, has ever been this. If we are determined not to follow the example of the French, the Dutch, the Portuguese, and the Spaniards, and not to use the country as a convict station, resolving to consume, as it were, our crime at home, we should also resolve to retain only a few ports and forts, without territory, at points commanding commerce, after the fashion of the Lusitanians in the old heroic days. The export slave-trade is now dead and buried; the want of demand must prevent its revival; and free emigration has yet to be created. As Mr. Bright rightly teaches, strong places and garrisons are not necessary to foster trade and to promote the success of missions. The best proof on the West African Coast is to be found in the so-called Oil Rivers, where we have never held a mile of ground, and where our commerce prospers most. The great “Tribune” will forgive my agreeing in opinion with him when he finds that we differ upon one most important point. It is the merchant, not the garrison, that causes African wars. If the home authorities would avoid a campaign, let them commit their difficulty to a soldier, not to a civilian.

The chronic discontent of the so-called “civilized” African, the contempt of the rulers if not of the rule, and the bitter hatred between the three races, white, black, and black-white, fomented by many an unprincipled print, which fills its pocket with coin of cant and Christian charity, will end in even greater scandals than the last disreputable war. If the damnosa licentia be not suppressed — and where are the strong hands to suppress it? — we may expect to see the scenes of Jamaica revived with improvements at Sierra Leone. However unwilling I am to cut off any part of our great and extended empire, to renew anywhere, even in Africa, the process of dismemberment — the policy which cast off Corfu — it is evident to me that English occupation of the West African Coast has but slightly forwarded the cause of humanity, and that upon the whole it has proved a remarkable failure.

We can be wise in time.

Richard F. Burton.

P.S. — Since these pages were written, a name which frequently occurs in them has become a memory to his friends — I allude to W. Winwood Reade, and I deplore his loss. The highest type of Englishman, brave and fearless as he was gentle and loving, his short life of thirty-seven years shows how much may be done by the honest, thorough worker. He had emphatically the courage of his opinions, and he towered a cubit above the crowd by telling not only the truth, as most of us do, but the whole truth, which so few can afford to do. His personal courage in battle during the Ashanti campaign, where the author of “Savage Africa” became correspondent of the “Times,” is a matter of history. His noble candour in publishing the “Martyrdom of Man” is an example and a model to us who survive him. And he died calmly and courageously as he lived, died in harness, died as he had resolved to die, like the good and gallant gentleman of ancient lineage that he was.


The Gaboon River and Gorilla Land.

“It was my hint to speak, such was my process;

And of the cannibals that each other eat,

The anthropophagi, and men whose heads

Do grow beneath their Shoulders.”



Part I.

Trip to Gorilla Land.

Chapter 1.

Landing at the Rio Gabão (Gaboon River). — Le Plateau, the French Colony.

I remember with lively pleasure my first glance at the classic stream of the “Portingal Captains” and the “Zeeland interlopers.” The ten-mile breadth of the noble Gaboon estuary somewhat dwarfed the features of either shore as we rattled past Cape Santa Clara, a venerable name, “‘verted” to Joinville. The bold northern head, though not “very high land,” makes some display, because we see it in a better light; and its environs are set off by a line of scattered villages. The vis-a-vis of Louis Philippe Peninsula on the starboard bow (Zuidhoeck), “Sandy Point” or Sandhoeck, by the natives called Pongára, and by the French Péninsule de Marie–Amélie, shows a mere fringe of dark bristle, which is tree, based upon a broad red-yellow streak, which is land. As we pass through the slightly overhung mouth, we can hardly complain with a late traveller of the Gaboon’s “sluggish waters;” during the ebb they run like a mild mill-race, and when the current, setting to the north-west, meets a strong sea-breeze from the west, there is a criss-cross, a tide-rip, contemptible enough to a cruizer, but quite capable of filling cock-boats. And, nearing the end of our voyage, we rejoice to see that the dull down-pourings and the sharp storms of Fernando Po have apparently not yet migrated so far south. Dancing blue wavelets, under the soft azure sky, plash and cream upon the pure clean sand that projects here and there black lines of porous ironstone waiting to become piers; and the water-line is backed by swelling ridges, here open and green-grassed, there spotted with islets of close and shady trees. Mangrove, that horror of the African voyager, shines by its absence; and the soil is not mud, but humus based on gravels or on ruddy clays, stiff and retentive. The formation, in fact, is everywhere that of Eyo or Yoruba, the goodly region lying west of the lower Niger, and its fertility must result from the abundant water supply of the equatorial belt.

The charts are fearful to look upon. The embouchure, well known to old traders, has been scientifically surveyed in our day by Lieutenant Alph. Fleuriot de Langle, of La Malouine (1845), and the chart was corrected from a survey ordered by Capitaine Bouët-Willaumez (1849); in the latter year it was again revised by M. Charles Floix, of the French navy, and, with additions by the officers of Her Britannic Majesty’s service, it becomes our No. 1877. The surface is a labyrinth of banks, rocks, and shoals, “Ely,” “Nisus,” “Alligator,” and “Caraibe.” In such surroundings as these, when the water shallows apace, the pilot must not be despised.


Her Majesty’s steam-ship “Griffon,” Commander Perry, found herself, at 2 P.M. on Monday, March, 17, 1862, in a snug berth opposite Le Plateau, as the capital of the French colony is called, and amongst the shipping of its chief port, Aumale Road. The river at this neck is about five miles broad, and the scene was characteristically French. Hardly a merchant vessel lay there. We had no less than four naval consorts “La Caravane,” guard-ship, store-ship, and hospital-hulk; a fine transport, “La Riège,” bound for Goree; “La Recherche,” a wretched old sailing corvette which plies to Assini and Grand Basam on the Gold Coast; and, lastly, “La Junon,” chef de division Baron Didelot, then one of the finest frigates in the French navy, armed with fifty rifled sixty-eight pounders. It is curious that, whilst our neighbours build such splendid craft, and look so neat and natty in naval uniform, they pay so little regard to the order and cleanliness of their floating homes.

After visiting every English colony on the West Coast of Africa, I resolved curiously to examine my first specimen of our rivals, the “principal centre of trade in western equatorial Africa.” The earliest visit — in uniform, of course — was to Baron Didelot, whose official title is “Commandant Supérieur des Établissements de la Côte d’Or et du Gabon;” the following was to M. H. S. L’Aulnois, “Lieutenant de Vaisseau et Commandant Particulier du Comptoir de Gabon.” These gentlemen have neat bungalows and gardens; they may spend their days ashore, but they are very careful to sleep on board. All the official whites appear to have a morbid horror of the climate; when attacked by fever, they “cave in” at once, and recovery can hardly be expected. This year also, owing to scanty rains, sickness has been rife, and many cases which began with normal mildness have ended suddenly and fatally. Besides fear of fever, they are victims to ennui and nostalgia; and, expecting the Comptoir to pay large profits, they are greatly disappointed by the reverse being the case.

But how can they look for it to be otherwise? The modern French appear fit to manage only garrisons and military posts. They will make everything official, and they will not remember the protest against governing too much, offered by the burgesses of Paris to Louis le Grand. They are always on duty; they are never out of uniform, mentally and metaphorically, as well as bodily and literally. Nothing is done without delay, even in the matter of signing a ship’s papers. A long procès-verbal takes the place of our summary punishment, and the gros canon is dragged into use on every occasion, even to enforce the payment of native debts.

In the Gaboon, also, there is a complication of national jealousy, suggesting the mastiff and the poodle. A perpetual war rages about flags. English craft may carry their colours as far up stream as Coniquet Island; beyond this point they must either hoist a French ensign, or sail without bunting — should the commodore permit. Otherwise they will be detained by the commander of the hulk “l’Oise,” stationed at Anenge-nenge, some thirty-eight to forty miles above Le Plateau. Lately a Captain Gordon, employed by Mr. Francis Wookey of Taunton, was ordered to pull down his flag: those who know the “mariner of England” will appreciate his feelings on the occasion. Small vessels belonging to foreigners, and employed in cabotage, must not sail with their own papers, and even a change of name is effected under difficulties. About a week before my arrival a certain pan-Teutonic Hamburgher, Herr B— amused himself, after a copious breakfast, with hoisting and saluting the Union Jack, in honour of a distinguished guest, Major L—. report was at once spread that the tricolor had been hauled down “with extreme indignity;” and the Commodore took the trouble to reprimand the white, and to imprison “Tom Case,” the black in whose town the outrage had been allowed.

This by way of parenthesis. My next step was to request the pleasure of a visit from Messrs. Hogg and Kirkwood, who were in charge of the English factories at Glass Town and Olomi; they came down stream at once, and kindly acted as ciceroni around Le Plateau. The landing is good; a reef has been converted into a jetty and little breakwater; behind this segment of a circle we disembarked without any danger of being washed out of the boat, as at S’a Leone, Cape Coast Castle, and Accra. Unfortunately just above this pier there is a Dutch-like jardin d’été— beds of dirty weeds bordering a foul and stagnant swamp, while below the settlement appears a huge coal-shed: the expensive mineral is always dangerous when exposed in the tropics, and some thirty per cent. would be saved by sending out a hulk. The next point is the Hotel and Restaurant Fischer — pronounced Fi-cherre, belonging to an energetic German–Swiss widow, who during six years’ exile had amassed some 65,000 francs. In an evil hour she sent a thieving servant before the “commissaire de police;” the negress escaped punishment, but the verandah with its appurtenances caught fire, and everything, even the unpacked billiard-table, was burnt to ashes. Still, Madame the Brave never lost heart. She applied herself valiantly as a white ant to repairing her broken home, and, wonderful to relate in this land of no labour, ruled by the maxim “festina lente,” all had been restored within six months. We shall dine at her table d’hôte.

Our guide led up and along the river bank, where there is almost a kilometre of road facing six or seven kilometres of nature’s highway — the stream. The swampy jungle is not cleared off from about the Comptoir, and presently the perfume of the fat, rank weeds; and the wretched bridges, a few planks spanning black and fetid mud, drove us northwards or inland, towards the neat house and grounds of the “Commandant Particulier.” The outside walls, built in grades with the porous, dark-red, laterite-like stone dredged from the river, are whitewashed with burnt coralline and look clean; whilst the house, one of the best in the place, is French, that is to say, pretty. Near it is a cluster of native huts, mostly with walls of corded bamboo, some dabbed with clay and lime, and all roofed with the ever shabby-looking palm-leaf; none are as neat as those of the “bushmen” in the interior, where they are regularly and carefully made like baskets or panniers. The people appeared friendly; the men touched their hats, and the women dropped unmistakably significant curtsies.

After admiring the picturesque bush and the natural avenues behind Le Plateau, we diverged towards the local Père-la-Chaise. The new cemetery, surrounded by a tall stone wall and approached by a large locked gate, contains only four tombs; the old burial ground opposite is unwalled, open, and painfully crowded; the trees have run wild, the crosses cumber the ground, the gravestones are tilted up and down; in fact the foul Golgotha of Santos, São Paulo, the Brazil, is not more ragged, shabby, and neglected. We were shown the last resting-place of M. du Chaillu pere, agent to Messrs. Oppenheim, the old Parisian house: he died here in 1856.

Resuming our way parallel with, but distant from the river, we passed a bran-new military storehouse, bright with whitewash. Outside the compound lay the lines of the “Zouaves,” some forty negroes whom Goree has supplied to the Gaboon; they were accompanied by a number of intelligent mechanics, who loudly complained of having been kidnapped, coolie-fashion. We then debouched upon Fort Aumale; from the anchorage it appears a whitewashed square, whose feet are dipped in bright green vegetation, and its head wears a dingy brown roof-thatch. A nearer view shows a pair of semi-detached houses, built upon arches, and separated by a thoroughfare; the cleaner of the two is a hospital; the dingier, which is decorated with the brown-green stains, the normal complexion of tropical masonry, lodges the station Commandant and the medical officers. Fronting the former and by the side of an avenue that runs towards the sea is an unfinished magazine of stone, and to the right, as you front the sun, lies the garden of the “Commandant du Comptoir,” choked with tropical weeds. Altogether there is a scattered look about the metropolis of the “Gabon,” which numbers one foot of house to a thousand of “compound.”

Suddenly a bonnet like a pair of white gulls wings and a blue serge gown fled from us, despite the weight of years, like a young gazelle; the wearer was a sister of charity, one of five bonnes sœurs. Their bungalow is roomy and comfortable, near a little chapel and a largish school, whence issue towards sunset the well-known sounds of the Angelus. At some distance down stream and on the right or northern bank lies a convent, and a house superintended by the original establisher of the mission in 1844, the bishop, Mgr. Bessieux, who died in 1872, aged 70. There are extensive plantations, but the people are too lazy to take example from them.

Before we hear the loud cry à table, we may shortly describe the civilized career of the Gaboon. In 1842, when French and English rivalry, burning hot on both sides of the Channel, extended deep into the tropics and spurned the equator, and when every naval officer, high and low, went mad about concluding treaties and conquering territory on paper, France was persuaded to set up a naval station in Gorilla-land. The northern and the southern shore each had a king, whose consent, after a careless fashion, was considered decorous. His Majesty of the North was old King Glass1 and his chief “tradesman,” that is, his premier, was the late Toko, a shrewd and far-seeing statesman. His Majesty of the South was Rapwensembo, known to the English as King William, to the French as Roi Denis.

Matters being in this state, M. le Comte Bouët-Willaumez, then Capitaine de Vaisseau and Governor of Senegal, resolved, coûte que coûte, to have his fortified Comptoir. Evidently the northern shore was preferable; it was more populous and more healthy, facing the fresh southerly winds. During the preliminary negotiations Toko, partial to the English, whose language he spoke fluently, and with whom the Glass family had ever been friendly, thwarted the design with all his might, and, despite threats and bribes, honestly kept up his opposition to the last. Roi Denis, on the other hand, who had been decorated with the Légion d’Honneur for saving certain shipwrecked sailors, who knew French well, and who hoped to be made king of the whole country, favoured to the utmost Gallic views, taking especial care, however, to place the broad river between himself and his white friends. M. de Moleon, Capitaine de Frégate, and commanding the brig “Le Zèbre,” occupied the place, Mr. Wilson2(“Western Africa,” p. 254) says by force of arms, but that is probably an exaggeration. To bring our history to an end, the sons of Japheth overcame the children of Ham, and, as the natives said, “Toko he muss love Frenchman, all but out of (anglicè ‘in’) his heart.”

As in the streets of Paris, so in every French city at home and abroad,

“Verborum vetus interit ætas,”

and an old colonial chart often reads like a lesson in modern history. Here we still find under the Empire the Constitutional Monarchy of 1842–3. Mount Bouët leads to Fort “Aumale:” Point Joinville, at the north jaw of the river, faces Cap Montagnies: Parrot has become “Adelaide,” and Coniquet “Orleans” Island. Indeed the love of Louis–Philippe’s family has lingered in many a corner where one would least expect to meet it, and in 1869 I found “Port Saeed” a hot-bed of Orleanism.

The hotel verandah was crowded with the minor officials, the surgeons, and the clerks of the comptoir, drinking absinthe and colicky vermouth, smoking veritable “weeds,” playing at dominoes, and contending who could talk longest and loudest. At 7 P.M. the word was given to “fall to.” The room was small and exceedingly close; the social board was big and very rickety. The clientèle rushed in like backwoodsmen on board a Mississippi floating-palace, stripped off their coats, tucked up their sleeves, and, knife in one hand and bread in the other, advanced gallantly to the fray. They began by quarrelling about carving; one made a sporting offer to découper la soupe, but he would go no farther; and Madame, as the head of the table, ended by asking my factotum, Selim Agha, to “have the kindness.” The din, the heat, the flare of composition candles which gave 45 per cent. less of light than they ought, the blunders of the slaves, the objurgations of the hostess, and the spectacled face opposite me, were as much as I could bear, and a trifle more. No wonder that the resident English merchants avoid the table-d’hôte.

Provisions are dear and scarce at the Gaboon, where, as in other parts of West Africa, the negro will not part with his animals, unless paid at the rate of some twenty-two or twenty-three shillings for a lean goat or sheep. Yet the dinner is copious; the employés contribute, their rations; and thus the table shows beef twice a week. Black cattle are imported from various parts of the coast, north and south; perhaps those of the Kru country stand the climate best; the Government yard is well stocked, and the polite Commodore readily allows our cruizers to buy bullocks. Madame also is not a “bird with a long bill;” the dinner, including piquette, alias vin ordinaire, coffee, and the petit verre, costs five francs to the stranger, and one franc less pays the déjeuner a la fourchette — most men here eat two dinners. The soi-disant Médoc (forty francs per dozen) is tolerable, and the cassis (thirty francs) is drinkable. I am talking in the present of things twelve years past. What a shadowy, ghostly table d’hôte it has now become to me!

After dinner appeared cigar and pipe, which were enjoyed in the verandah: I sat up late, admiring the intense brilliancy of the white and blue lightning, but auguring badly for the future — natives will not hunt during the rains. A strong wind was blowing from the north-east, which, with the north-north-east, is here, as at Fernando Po and Camaronen, the stormy quarter. A “dry tornado,” however, was the only result that night.

My trip to Gorilla-land was limited by the cruise upon which H.M.S.S. “Griffon” had been ordered, namely, to and from the South Coast with mail-bags. Many of those whom I had wished to see were absent; but Mr. Hogg set to work in the most business-like style. He borrowed a boat from the Rev. William Walker, of the Gaboon Mission, who kindly wrote that I should have something less cranky if I could wait awhile; he manned it with three of his own Krumen, and he collected the necessary stores and supplies of cloth, pipes and tobacco, rum, white wine, and absinthe for the natives.

My private stores cost some 200 francs. They consisted of candles, sugar, bread, cocoa, desiccated milk, and potatoes; Cognac and Médoc; ham, sausages, soups, and preserved meats, the latter French and, as usual, very good and very dear. The total expenditure for twelve days was 300 francs.

My indispensables were reduced to three loads, and I had four “pull-a-boys,” one a Mpongwe, Mwáká alias Captain Merrick, a model sluggard; and Messrs. Smoke, Joe Williams, and Tom Whistle — Kru-men, called Kru-boys. This is not upon the principle, as some suppose, of the grey-headed post-boy and drummer-boy: all the Kraoh tribes end their names in bo, e.g. Worebo, from “wore,” to capsize a canoe; Grebo, from the monkey “gre” or “gle;” and many others. Bo became “boy,” even as Sipahi (Sepoy) became Sea-pie, and Sukhani (steersman) Sea–Coney.

Gaboon is French, with a purely English trade. Gambia is English, with a purely French trade; the latter is the result of many causes, but especially of the large neighbouring establishments at Goree, Saint Louis de Sénégal, and Saint Joseph de Galam. Exchanging the two was long held the soundest of policy. The French hoped by it to secure their darling object — exclusive possession of the maritime regions, as well as the interior, leading to the gold mines of the Mandengas (Mandingas), and allowing overland connection with their Algerine colony. The English also seemed willing enough to “swop” an effete and dilapidated settlement, surrounded by more powerful rivals — a hot-bed of dysentery and yellow fever, a blot upon the fair face of earth, even African earth — for a new and fresh country, with a comparatively good climate, in which the thermometer ranges between 65° (Fahr.) and 90°, with a barometer as high as the heat allows; and where, being at home and unwatched, they could subject a lingering slave-trade to a regular British putting-down. But, when matters came to the point in 1870–71, the proposed bargain excited a storm of sentimental wrath which was as queer as unexpected. The French object to part with the Gaboon, as the Germans appear inclined to settle upon the Ogobe River. In England, cotton, civilization, and even Christianity were thrust forward by half-a-dozen merchants, and by a few venal colonial prints. The question assumed the angriest aspect; and, lastly, the Prussian–French war underwrote the negotiations with a finis pro temp. I hope to see them renewed; and I hope still more ardently to see the day when we shall either put our so-called “colonies” on the West Coast of Africa to their only proper use, convict stations, or when, if we are determined upon consuming our own crime at home, we shall make up our minds to restore them to the negro and the hyaena, their “old inhabitants.”

At the time of my visit, the Gaboon River had four English traders; viz.

1. Messrs. Laughland and Co., provision-merchants, Fernando Po and Glasgow. Their resident agent was Mr. Kirkwood.

2. Messrs. Hatton and Cookson, general merchants, Liverpool. Their chief agent, Mr. R.B.N. Walker, who had known the river for eleven years (1865), had left a few days before my arrival; his successor, Mr. R.B. Knight, had also sailed for Cape Palmas, to engage Kru-men, and Mr. Hogg had been left in charge.

3. Messrs. Wookey and Dyer, general merchants, Liverpool. Agents, Messrs. Gordon and Bryant.

4. Messrs. Bruford and Townsend, of Bristol. Agent, Captain Townsend.

The resident agents for the Hamburg houses were Messrs. Henert and Bremer.

The English traders in the Gaboon are nominally protected by the Consulate of Sao Paulo de Loanda, but the distance appears too great for consul or cruizer. They are naturally anxious for some support, and they agitate for an unpaid Consular Agent: at present they have, in African parlance, no “back.” A Kruman, offended by a ration of plantains, when he prefers rice, runs to the Plateau, and lays some fictitious complaint before the Commandant. Monsieur summons the merchant, condemns him to pay a fine, and dismisses the affair without even permitting a protest. Hence, impudent robbery occurs every day. The discontent of the white reacts upon his clients the black men; of late, les Gabons, as the French call the natives, have gone so far as to declare that foreigners have no right to the upper river, which is all private property. The line drawn by them is at Fetish Rock, off Pointe Française, near the native village of Mpíra, about half a mile above the Plateau; and they would hail with pleasure a transfer to masters who are not so uncommonly ready with their gros canons.

The Gaboon trade is chronicled by John Barbot, Agent–General of the French West African Company, “Description of the Coast of South Guinea,” Churchill, vol. v. book iv. chap. 9; and the chief items were, and still are, ivory and beeswax. Of the former, 90,000 lbs. may be exported when the home prices are good, and sometimes the total has reached 100 tons. Hippopotamus tusks are dying out, being now worth only 2s. per lb. Other exports are caoutchouc, ebony (of which the best comes from the Congo), and camwood or barwood (a Tephrosia). M. du Chaillu calls it the “Ego-tree;” the natives (Mpongwe) name the tree Igo, and the billet Ezígo.

1 Paul B. du Chaillu, Chap. III. “Explorations and Adventures in Equatorial Africa.” London: Murray, 1861.

2 Rev. J. Leighton Wilson of the Presbyterian Mission, eighteen years in Africa, “Western Africa,” &c. New York. Harpers, 1856.

Chapter 2.

The Departure. — the Tornado. — arrival at “The Bush.”

I set out early on March 19th, a day, at that time, to me the most melancholy in the year, but now regarded with philosophic indifference. A parting visit to the gallant “Griffons,” who threw the slipper, in the shape of three hearty cheers and a “tiger,” wasted a whole morning. It was 12.30 P.M. before the mission boat turned her head towards the southern bank, and her crew began to pull in the desultory manner of the undisciplined negro.

The morning had been clear but close, till a fine sea breeze set in unusually early. “The doctor” seldom rises in the Gaboon before noon at this season; often he delays his visit till 2 P.M., and sometimes he does not appear at all. On the other hand, he is fond of late hours. Before we had progressed a mile, suspicious gatherings of slaty-blue cloud-heaps advanced from the north-east against the wind, with a steady and pertinacious speed, showing that mischief was meant. The “cruel, crawling sea” began to rough, purr, and tumble; a heavy cross swell from the south-west dandled the up-torn mangrove twigs, as they floated past us down stream, and threatened to swamp the deeply laden and cranky old boat, which was far off letter A1 of Lloyd’s. The oarsmen became sulky because they were not allowed to make sail, which, in case of a sudden squall, could not have been taken in under half an hour. Patience! Little can be done, on the first day, with these demi-semi-Europeanized Africans, except to succeed in the inevitable trial of strength.

The purple sky-ground backing the Gaboon’s upper course admirably set off all its features. Upon the sea horizon, where the river measures some thirty miles across, I could distinctly see the junction of the two main branches, the true Olo’ Mpongwe, the main stream flowing from the Eastern Ghats, and the Rembwe (Ramboue) or south-eastern influent. At the confluence, tree-dots, tipping the watery marge, denoted what Barbot calls the “Pongo Islands.” These are the quoin-shaped mass “Dámbe” (Orleans Island) alias “Coniquet” (the Conelet), often corrupted to Konikey; the Konig Island of the old Hollander,1 and the Prince’s Island of the ancient Briton. It was so called because held by the Mwáni-pongo, who was to this region what the Mwáni-congo was farther south. The palace was large but very mean, a shell of woven reeds roofed with banana leaves: the people, then mere savages, called their St. James’ “Goli-patta,” or “Royal House,” in imitation of a more civilized race near Cape Lopez. The imperial islet is some six miles in circumference; it was once very well peopled, and here ships used to be careened. The northern point which starts out to meet it is Ovindo (Owëendo of old), alias Red Point, alias “Rodney’s,” remarkable for its fair savannah, of which feature more presently. In mid-stream lies Mbini (Embenee), successively Papegay, Parrot — there is one in every Europeo–African river — and Adelaide Island.

Between Ovindo Point, at the northern bend of the stream, stand the so-called “English villages,” divided from the French by marshy ground submerged during heavy rains. The highest upstream is Olomi, Otonda-naga, or town of “Cabinda,” a son of the late king. Next comes Glass Town, belonging to a dynasty which has lasted a century — longer than many of its European brethren. In 1787 a large ship-bell was sent as a token of regard by a Bristol house, Sydenham and Co., to an old, old “King Glass,” whose descendants still reign. Olomi and Glass Town are preferred by the English, as their factories catch the sea-breeze better than can Le Plateau: the nearer swamps are now almost drained off, and the distance from the “authorities” is enough for comfort. Follow Comba (Komba) and Tom Case, the latter called after Case Glass, a scion of the Glasses, who was preferred as captain’s “tradesman” by Captain Vidal, R.N., in 1827, because he had “two virtues which rarely fall to the lot of savages, namely, a mild, quiet manner, and a low tone of voice when speaking.” Tom Qua Ben, justly proud of the “laced coat of a mail coach guard,” was chosen by Captain Boteler, R.N. The list concludes with Butabeya, James Town, and Mpira.

These villages are not built street-wise after Mpongwe fashion. They are scatters of shabby mat-huts, abandoned after every freeman’s death; and they hardly emerge from the luxuriant undergrowth of manioc and banana, sensitive plant and physic nut (Jatropha Curcas), clustering round a palm here and there. Often they are made to look extra mean by a noble “cottonwood,” or Bombax (Pentandrium), standing on its stalwart braces like an old sea-dog with parted legs; extending its roots over a square acre of soil, shedding filmy shade upon the surrounding underwood, and at all times ready, like a certain chestnut, to shelter a hundred horses.

Between the Plateau and Santa Clara, beginning some two miles below the former, are those hated and hating rivals, Louis Town, Qua Ben, and Prince Krinje, the French settlements. The latter is named after a venerable villain who took in every white man with whom he had dealings, till the new colony abolished that exclusive agency, that monopoly so sacred in negro eyes, which here corresponded with the Abbánat of the Somal. Mr. Wilson (p. 252) recounts with zest a notable trick played by this “little, old, grey-headed, humpback man” upon Captain Bouët-Willaumez, and Mr. W. Winwood Reade (chap, xi.) has ably dramatized “Krinji, King George and the Commandant.” On another occasion, the whole population of the Gaboon was compelled by a French man-o-war to pay “Prince Cringy’s” debts, and he fell into disfavour only when he attempted to wreck a frigate by way of turning an honest penny.

But soon we had something to think of besides the view. The tumultuous assemblage of dark, dense clouds, resting upon the river-surface in our rear, formed line or rather lines, step upon step, and tier on tier. While the sun shone treacherously gay, a dismal livid gloom palled the eastern sky, descending to the watery horizon; and the estuary, beneath the sable hangings which began to depend from the cloud canopy, gleamed with a ghastly whitish green. Distant thunders rumbled and muttered, and flashes of the broadest sheets inclosed fork and chain lightning; the lift-fire zigzagged in tangled skeins here of chalk-white threads, there of violet wires, to the surface of earth and sea. Presently nimbus-step, tier and canopy, gradually breaking up, formed a low arch regular as the Bifröst bridge which Odin treads, spanning a space between the horizon, ninety degrees broad and more. The sharply cut soffit, which was thrown out in darkest relief by the dim and sallow light of the underlying sky, waxed pendent and ragged, as though broken by a torrent of storm. What is technically called the “ox-eye,” the “egg of the tornado,” appeared in a fragment of space, glistening below the gloomy rain-arch. The wind ceased to blow; every sound was hushed as though Nature were nerving herself, silent for the throe, and our looks said, “In five minutes it will be down upon us.” And now it comes. A cold blast smelling of rain, and a few drops or rather splashes, big as gooseberries and striking with a blow, are followed by a howling squall, sharp and sudden puffs, pulsations and gusts; at length a steady gush like a rush of steam issues from that awful arch, which, after darkening the heavens like an eclipse, collapses in fragmentary torrents of blinding rain. In the midst of the spoon-drift we see, or we think we see, “La Junon” gliding like a phantom-ship towards the river mouth. The lightning seems to work its way into our eyes, the air-shaking thunder rolls and roars around our very ears; the oars are taken in utterly useless, the storm-wind sweeps the boat before it at full speed as though it had been a bit of straw. Selim and I sat with a large mackintosh sheet over our hunched backs, thus offering a breakwater to the waves; happily for us, the billow-heads were partly cut off and carried away bodily by the raging wind, and the opened fountains of the firmament beat down the breakers before they could grow to their full growth. Otherwise we were lost men; the southern shore was still two miles distant, and, as it was, the danger was not despicable. These tornadoes are harmless enough to a cruiser, and under a good roof men bless them. But H.M.S. “Heron” was sunk by one, and the venture of a cranky gig laden à fleur d’eau is what some call “tempting Providence.”

Stunned with thunder, dazzled by the vivid flashes of white lightning, dizzy with the drive of the boat, and drenched by the torrents and washings from above and below, we were not a little pleased to feel the storm-wind slowly lulling, as it had cooled the heated regions ahead, and to see the sky steadily clearing up behind, as the blackness of the cloud, rushing with racer speed, passed over and beyond us. The increasing stillness of the sea raised our spirits;

“For nature, only loud when she destroys,

Is silent when she fashions.”

But the storm-demon’s name is “Tornado” (Cyclone): it will probably veer round to the south, where, meeting the dry clouds that are gathering and massing there, it will involve us in another fray. Meanwhile we are safe, and as the mist clears off we sight the southern shore. The humbler elevation, notably different from the northern bank, is dotted with villages and clearings. The Péninsula de Marie–Amélie, alias “Round Corner,” the innermost southern point visible from the mouth, projects to the north-north-east in a line of scattered islets at high tides, ending in Le bois Fétiche, a clump of tall trees somewhat extensively used for picnics. It has served for worse purposes, as the name shows.

A total of two hours landed me from the Comte de Paris Roads upon the open sandy strip that supports Denistown; the single broad street runs at right angles from the river, the better to catch the sea-breeze, and most of the huts have open gables, a practice strongly to be recommended. Le Roi would not expose himself to the damp air; the consul was not so particular. His majesty’s levée took place in the verandah of a poor bamboo hut, one of the dozen which compose his capital. Seated in a chair and ready for business, he was surrounded by a crowd of courtiers, who listened attentively to every word, especially when he affected to whisper; and some pretty women collected to peep round the corners at the Utangáni (white man). 2

Mr. Wilson described Roi Denis in 1856 as a man of middle stature, with compact frame and well-made, of great muscular power, about sixty years old, very black by contrast with the snow-white beard veiling his brown face. “He has a mild and expressive eye, a gentle and persuasive voice, equally affable and dignified; and, taken altogether, he is one of the most king-like looking men I have ever met in Africa,” says the reverend gentleman. The account reminded me of Kimwere the Lion of Usumbara, drawn by Dr. Krapf. Perhaps six years had exercised a degeneratory effect upon Roi Denis, or perchance I have more realism than sentiment; my eyes could see nothing but a petit vieux vieux, nearer sixty than seventy, with a dark, wrinkled face, and an uncommonly crafty eye, one of those African organs which is always occupied in “taking your measure” not for your good.


I read out the introductory letter from Baron Didelot — the king speaks a little French and English, but of course his education ends there. After listening to my projects and to my offers of dollars, liquor, and cloth, Roi Denis replied, with due gravity, that his chasseurs were all in the plantations, but that for a somewhat increased consideration he would attach to my service his own son Ogodembe, alias Paul. It was sometime before I found out the real meaning of this crafty move; the sharp prince, sent to do me honour, intended me to recommend him to Mr. Hogg as an especially worthy recipient of “trust.” Roi Denis added an abundance of “sweet mouf,” and, the compact ended, he condescendingly walked down with me to the beach, shook hands and exchanged a civilized “Au revoir.” I reentered the boat, and we pushed off once more.

Prince Paul, a youth of the Picaresque school, a hungry as well as a thirsty soul and vain with knowledge, which we know “puffeth up,” having the true African eye on present gain as well as to future “trust,” proceeded: “Papa has at least a hundred sons,” enough to make Dan Dinmont blush, “and say” (he was not sure), “a hundred and fifty daughters. Father rules all the southern shore; the French have no power beyond the brack and there are no African rivals,”— the prince evidently thought that the new-comer had never heard of King George. Like most juniors here, the youth knew French, or rather Gaboon–French; it was somewhat startling to hear clearly and tolerably pronounced, “M’sieur, veux-tu des macacques?” But the jargon is not our S’a Leone and West-coast “English;” the superior facility of pronouncing the neo-Latin tongues became at once apparent. It is evident that European languages have been a mistake in Africa: the natives learn a smattering sufficient for business purposes and foreigners remain without the key to knowledge; hence our small progress in understanding negro human nature. Had we so acted in British India, we should probably have held the proud position which now contents us in China as in Western Africa, with factories and hulks at Bombay, Calcutta, Karachi, and Madras.

From Comte de Paris Roads the southern Gaboon shore is called in charts Le Paletuvier, the Mangrove Bank; the rhizophora is the growth of shallow brackish water, and at the projections there are fringings of reefs and “diabolitos,” dangerous to boats. After two hours we crossed the Mombe (Mombay) Creek-mouth, with its outlying rocks, and passed the fishing village of Nenga–Oga, whence supplies are sent daily to the Plateau. Then doubling a point of leek-green grass, based upon comparatively poor soil, sand, and clay, and backed by noble trees, we entered the Mbátá River, the Toutiay of the chart and the Batta Creek of M. du Chaillu’s map. It comes from the south-west, and it heads much nearer the coast than is shown on paper.

Presently the blood-red sun sank like a fire-balloon into the west, flushing with its last fierce beams the higher clouds of the eastern sky, and lighting the white and black plume of the soaring fish-eagle. This Gypohierax (Angolensis) is a very wild bird, flushed at 200 yards: I heard of, but I never saw, the Gwanyoni, which M. du Chaillu, (chapter xvi.) calls Guanionian, an eagle or a vulture said to kill deer. Rain fell at times, thunder, anything but “sweet thunder,” again rolled in the distance; and lightning flashed and forked before and behind us, becoming painfully vivid in the shades darkening apace. We could see nothing of the channel but a steel-grey streak, like a Damascus blade, in a sable sheathing of tall mangrove avenue; in places, however, tree-clumps suggested delusive hopes that we were approaching a region where man can live. On our return we found many signs of population which had escaped our sight during the fast-growing obscurity. The first two reaches were long and bulging; the next became shorter, and Prince Paul assured us that, after one to the right, and another to the left, we should fall into the direct channel. Roi Denis had promised us arrival at sunset; his son gradually protracted sunset till midnight. Still the distance grew and grew. I now learned for the first time that the boat was too large for the channel, and that oars were perfectly useless ahead.

At 8 P.M. we entered what seemed a cul de sac; it looked like charging a black wall, except where a gleam of grey light suggested the further end of the Box Tunnel, and cheered our poor hearts for a short minute, whilst in the distance we heard the tantalizing song of the wild waves. The boughs on both sides brushed the boat; we held our hands before our faces to avoid the sharp stubs threatening ugly stabs, and to fend off the low branches, ready to sweep us and our belongings into the deep swirling water. The shades closed in like the walls of the Italian’s dungeon; until our eyes grew to it, the blackness of Erebus weighed upon our spirits; perspiration poured from our brows, and in this watery mangrove-lane the pabulum vitæ seemed to be wanting. After forcing a passage through three vile “gates,” the sheet-lightning announced a second tornado. We sighed for more vivid flashes, but after twenty minutes they dimmed and died away, still showing the “bush”-silhouette on either side. The tide rushed out in strength under the amphibious forest — all who know the West Coast will appreciate the position. It was impossible to advance or to remain in this devil’s den, the gig bumped at every minute, and the early flood would probably crush her against the trees. So we dropped down to the nearest “open,” which we reached at 9.30 P.M.

After enduring a third tornado we grounded, and the crew sprang ashore, saying that they were going to boil plantains on the bank. I made snug for the night with a wet waterproof and a strip of muslin, to be fastened round the mouth after the fashion of Outram’s “fever guard,” and shut my lips to save my life, by the particular advice of Dr. Catlin. The first mosquito piped his “Io Pæan” at 8 P.M.; another hour brought legions, and then began the battle for our blood. I had resolved not to sleep in the fetid air of the jungle; time, however, moved on wings of lead; a dull remembrance of a watery moon, stars dimly visible, a southerly breeze, and heavy drops falling from the trees long haunted me. About midnight, Prince Paul, who had bewailed the hardship of passing a night sans mostiquaire in the bush, and whose violent plungings showed that he failed to manage un somme, proposed to land and to fetch fire from l’habitation.

“What habitation?”

“Oh! a little village belonging to papa.”

“And why the —-didn’t you mention it?”

“Ah! this is Mponbinda, and you know we’re bound for Mbátá!”

Nothing negrotic now astonishes us, there is nought new to me in Africa. We landed upon a natural pier of rock ledge, and, after some 400 yards of good path, we entered a neat little village, and found our crew snoring snugly asleep. We “exhorted them,” refreshed the fire, and generously recruited exhausted nature with quinine, julienne and tea, potatoes and potted meats, pipes and cigars. So sped my annual unlucky day, and thus was spent my first jungle-night almost exactly under the African line.

At 5 A. M. the new morning dawned, the young tide flowed, the crabs disappeared, and the gig, before high and dry on the hard mud, once more became buoyant. Forward again! The channel was a labyrinthine ditch, an interminable complication of over-arching roots, and of fallen trees forming gateways; the threshold was a maze of slimy stumps, stems, and forks in every stage of growth and decay, dense enough to exclude the air of heaven. In parts there were ugly snags, and everywhere the turns were so puzzling, that I marvelled how a human being could attempt the passage by night. The best time for ascending is half-flood, for descending half-ebb; if the water be too high, the bush chokes the way; if too low, the craft grounds. At the Gaboon mouth the tide rises three feet; at the head of the Mbátá Creek, where it arrests the sweet water rivulet, it is, of course, higher.

And now the scene improved. The hat-palm, a brab or wild date, the spine-palm (Phœnix spinosa), and the Okumeh or cotton-tree disputed the ground with the foul Rhizophora. Then clearings appeared. At Ejéné, the second of two landing-places evidently leading to farms, we transferred ourselves to canoes, our boat being arrested by a fallen tree. Advancing a few yards, all disembarked upon trampled mud, and, ascending the bank, left the creek which supplies baths and drinking water to our destination. Striking a fair pathway, we passed westward over a low wave of ground, sandy and mouldy, and traversed a fern field surrounded by a forest of secular trees; some parasite-grown from twig to root, others blanched and scathed by the fires of heaven; these roped and corded with runners and llianas, those naked and clothed in motley patches. At 6.30 A.M., after an hour’s work, probably representing a mile, and a total of 7 h. 30 m., or six miles in a south-south-west direction from Le Plateau, we left the ugly cul de sac of a creek, and entered Mbátá, which the French call “La Plantation.”

Women and children fled in terror at our approach — and no wonder: eyes like hunted boars, haggard faces, yellow as the sails at the Cape Verdes, and beards two days long, act very unlike cosmetics. A house was cleared for us by Hotaloya, alias “Andrew,” of the Baráka Mission, the lord of the village, who, poor fellow! has only two wives; he is much ashamed of himself, but his excuse is, “I be boy now,” meaning about twenty-two. After breakfast we prepared for a sleep, but the popular excitement forbade it; the villagers had heard that a white greenhorn was coming to bag and to buy gorillas, and they resolved to make hay whilst the sun shone.


Prince Paul at once gathered together a goodly crowd of fathers and mothers, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters, cousins and connections. A large and loud-voiced dame, “Gozeli,” swore that she was his “proper Ngwe,” being one of his numerous step mas, and she would not move without a head, or three leaves, of tobacco. Hotaloya was his brother; Mesdames Azízeh and Asúnye declared themselves his sisters, and so all. My little stock of goods began visibly to shrink, when I informed the greedy applicants that nothing beyond a leaf of tobacco and a demi verre of tafia would be given until I had seen my way to work. Presently appeared the chief huntsman appointed by Roi Denis to take charge of me, he was named Fortuna, a Spanish name corrupted to Forteune. A dash was then prepared for his majesty and for Prince Paul. I regret to say that this young nobleman ended his leave-taking by introducing a pretty woman, with very neat hands and ankles and a most mutine physiognomy, as his sister, informing me that she was also my wife pro temp. She did not seem likely to coiffer Sainte Cathérine, and here she is.


The last thing the prince did was to carry off, without a word of leave, the mission boat and the three Kru-boys, whom he kept two days. I was uneasy about these fellows, who, hating and fearing the Gaboon “bush,” are ever ready to bolt.

Forteune and Hotaloya personally knew Mpolo (Paul du Chaillu), and often spoke to me of his prowess as a chasseur and his knowledge of their tongue. But reputation as a linguist is easily made in these regions by speaking a few common sentences. The gorilla-hunter evidently had only a colloquial acquaintance with the half-dozen various idioms of the Mpongwe and Mpángwe (Fán) Bakele, Shekyani, and Cape Lopez people. Yet, despite verbal inaccuracies, his facility of talking gave him immense advantages over other whites, chiefly in this, that the natives would deem it useless to try the usual tricks upon travellers.

Forteune is black, short, and “trapu;” curls of the jettiest lanugo invest all his outward man; bunches of muscle stand out from his frame like the statues of Crotonian Milo; his legs are bandy; his hands and feet are large and patulous, and he wants only a hunch to make an admirable Quasimodo. He has the frank and open countenance of a sportsman — I had been particularly warned by the Plateau folk about his skill in cheating and lying. Formerly a cook at the Gaboon, he is a man of note in his tribe, as the hunter always is; he holds the position of a country gentleman, who can afford to write himself M.F.H.; he is looked upon as a man of valour; he is admired by the people, and he is adored by his wives — one of them at once took up her station upon the marital knee. Perhaps the Nimrod of Mbátá is just a little henpecked — the Mpongwe mostly are — and I soon found out that soigner les femmes is the royal road to getting on with the men. He supplies the village with “beef,” here meaning not the roast of Old England, but any meat, from a field-rat to a hippopotamus. He boasts that he has slain with his own hand upwards of a hundred gorillas and anthropoid apes, and, since the demand arose in Europe, he has supplied Mr. R.B.N. Walker and others with an average of one per month, including a live youngster; probably most, if not all, of them were killed by his “bushmen,” of whom he can command about a dozen.

Forteune began by receiving his “dash,” six fathoms of “satin cloth,” tobacco, and pipes. After inspecting my battery, he particularly approved of a smooth-bored double-barrel (Beattie of Regent Street) carrying six to the pound. Like all these people, he uses an old and rickety trade-musket, and, when lead is wanting, he loads it with a bit of tile: as many gorillas are killed with tools which would hardly bring down a wild cat, it is evident that their vital power cannot be great. He owned to preferring a charge of twenty buckshot to a single ball, and he received with joy a little fine gunpowder, which he compared complimentarily with the blasting article, half charcoal withal, to which he was accustomed.

Presently a decently dressed, white-bearded man of light complexion announced himself, with a flourish and a loud call for a chair, as Prince Koyálá, alias “Young Prince,” father to Forteune and Hotaloya and brother to Roi Denis — here all tribesmen are of course brethren. This being equivalent to “asking for more,” it drove me to the limits of my patience. It was evidently now necessary to assume wrath, and to raise my voice to a roar.

“My hands dey be empty! I see nuffin, I hear nuffin! What for I make more dash?”

Allow me, parenthetically, to observe that the African, like the Scotch Highlander, will interpose the personal or demonstrative pronoun between noun and verb: “sun he go down,” means “the sun sets” and, as genders do not exist, you must be careful to say, “This woman he cry too much.”

The justice of my remark was owned by all; had it been the height of tyranny, the supple knaves would have agreed with me quite as politely. They only replied that “Young Prince,” being a man of years and dignity, would be dishonoured by dismissal empty-handed, and they represented him as my future host when we moved nearer the bush.

“Now lookee here. This he be bad plábbá (palaver). This he be bob! I come up for white man, you come up for black man. All white man he no be fool, ‘cos he no got black face!”

Ensued a chorus of complimentary palaver touching the infinite superiority of the Aryan over the Semite, but the point was in no wise yielded. At last Young Prince subsided into a request for a glass of rum, which being given “cut the palaver” (i.e. ended the business). I soon resolved to show my hosts, by threatening to leave them, the difference between traders and travellers. Barbot relates that the Mpongwe of olden time demanded his “dassy” before he consented to “liquor up,” and boldly asked, “If he was expected to drink gratis?” The impertinence was humoured, otherwise not an ivory would have found its way to the factory. But the traveller is not bound to endure these whimsy-whamsies; and the sooner he declares his independence the better. Many monkeys’ skins were brought to me for sale, but I refused to buy, lest the people might think it my object to make money; moreover, all were spoilt for specimens by the “points” being snipped off.

I happened during the first afternoon to show my hosts a picture of the bald-headed chimpanzee, Nchígo Mbúwwe (Troglodytes calvus), here more generally called Nchígo Mpolo, “large chimpanzee,” or Nchígo Njúe, “white-haired chimpanzee.” They recognized it at once; but when I turned over to the cottage (“Adventures,” &c., p. 423), with its neat parachute-like roof, all burst out laughing.

“You want to look him Nágo (house)?” asked Hotaloya.

“Yes, for sure,” I replied.

Forteune set out at once, carrying my gun, Selim followed me, and the rear was brought up by a couple of little prick-eared curs with a dash of the pointer, probably from St. Helena: the people will pay as much as ten dollars for a good dog. They are never used in hunting apes, as they start the game; on this occasion they nearly ran down a small antelope.

The path led through a new clearing; a field of fern and some patches of grass breaking the forest, which, almost clear of thicket and undergrowth, was a charming place for deer. The soil, thin sand overlying humus, suggested rich crops of ground-nuts; its surface was everywhere cut by nullahs, now dry, and by brooks, running crystal streams; these, when deep, are crossed by tree-trunks, the Brazilian “pingela.” After twenty minutes or so we left the “picada” (foot-path) and struck into a thin bush, till we had walked about a mile.

“Look him house, Nchígo house!” said Hotaloya, standing under a tall tree.

I saw to my surprise two heaps of dry sticks, which a schoolboy might have taken for birds’ nests; the rude beds, boughs, torn off from the tree, not gathered, were built in forks, one ten and the other twenty feet above ground, and both were canopied by the tufted tops. Every hunter consulted upon the subject ridiculed the branchy roof tied with vines, and declared that the Nchigo’s industry is confined to a place for sitting, not for shelter; that he fashions no other dwelling; that a couple generally occupies the same or some neighbouring tree, each sitting upon its own nest; that the Nchígo is not a “hermit” nor a rare, nor even a very timid animal; that it dwells, as I saw, near villages, and that its cry, “Aoo! Aoo! Aoo!” is often heard by them in the mornings and evenings. During my subsequent wanderings in Gorilla land, I often observed tall and mushroom-shaped trees standing singly, and wearing the semblance of the umbrella roof. What most puzzles me is, that M. du Chaillu (“Second Expedition,” chap, iii.) “had two of the bowers cut down and sent to the British Museum.” He adds, “They are formed at a height of twenty to thirty feet in the trees, by the animals bending over and intertwining a number of the weaker boughs, so as to form bowers, under which they can sit, protected from the rains by the masses of foliage thus entangled together, some of the boughs being so bent that they form convenient seats.” Surely M. du Chaillu must have been deceived by some vagary of nature.

The gorilla-hunter’s sketch had always reminded me of the Rev. Mr. Moffat’s account of the Hylobian Bakones, the aborigines of the Matabele country. Mr. Thompson, a missionary to Sherbro (“The Palm Land,” chap. xiii), has, however, these words:—“It is said of the chimpanzees, that they build a kind of rude house of sticks in their wild state, and fill it with leaves; and I doubt it not, for when domesticated they always want some good bed, and make it up regularly.”

Thus I come to the conclusion that the Nchígo Mpolo is a vulgar nest-building ape. The bushmen and the villagers all assured me that neither the common chimpanzee, nor the gorilla proper (Troglodytes gorilla), “make ’im house.” On the other hand, Mr. W. Winwood Reade, writing to “The Athenæum” from Loanda (Sept. 7, 1862), asserts — “When the female is pregnant he (the gorilla) builds a nest (as do also the Kulu–Kamba and the chimpanzee), where she is delivered, and which is then abandoned.” And he thus confirms what was told to Dr. Thomas Savage (1847): “In the wild state their (i.e. the gorillas’) habits are in general like those of the Troglodytes niger, building their nests loosely in trees.”

1 Barbot, book iv. chap. 9.

2 This word is the Muzungu of the Zanzibar coast, and contracted to Utángá and even Tángá it is found useful in expressing foreign wares; Utangáni’s devil-fire, for instance, is a lucifer match.

Chapter 3.

Geography of the Gaboon.

Before going further afield I may be allowed a few observations, topographical and ethnological, about this highly interesting section of the West African coast.

The Gaboon country, to retain the now familiar term, although no one knows much about its derivation, is placed, by old travellers in “South Guinea,” the tract lying along the Ethiopic, or South Atlantic Ocean, limited by the Camarones Mountain-block in north latitude 4°, and by Cabo Negro in south latitude 15° 40’ 7”, a sea-line of nearly 1,200 miles. The Gaboon proper is included between the Camarones Mountains to the north, and the “Mayumba,“properly the “Yumba” country southwards, in south latitude 3° 22’ — a shore upwards of 400 miles long. The inland depth is undetermined; geographically we should limit it to the Western Ghats, which rarely recede more than 60 miles from the sea, and ethnologically no line can yet be drawn. The country is almost bisected by the equator, and by the Rio de Gabão, which discharges in north latitude 0° 21’ 25” and east longitude 9° 21’ 23”; and it corresponds in parallel with the Somali–Galla country and the Juba River on the east coast.

The general aspect of the region is prepossessing. It is a rolling surface sinking towards the Atlantic, in parts broken by hills and dwarf chains, either detached or pushed out by the Ghats; a land of short and abnormally broad rivers, which cannot, like the Congo, break through the ridges flanking the Central African basin, and which therefore are mere surface drains of the main ranges. The soil is mostly sandy, but a thin coat of rich vegetable humus, quickened by heavy rains and fiery suns, produces a luxuriant vegetation; whilst the proportion of area actually cultivated is nothing compared with the expanse of bush. In the tall forests, which abound in wild fruits, there are beautiful tracts of clear grassy land, and the woods, clear of undergrowth, resemble an English grove more than a tropical jungle. Horses, which die of the tsetse (Glossina morsitans) in the interior of North Guinea, and of damp heat at Fernando Po, thrive on its downs and savannahs. The Elais palm is rare, sufficing only for home use. The southern parts, about Cape Lopez and beyond it, resemble the Oil River country in the Biafran Bight: the land is a mass of mangrove swamps, and the climate is unfit for white men.

The Eastern Ghats were early known to the “Iberians,” as shown by the Sierra del Crystal, del Sal, del Sal Nitro and other names, probably so called from the abundance of quartz in blocks and veins that seam the granite, as we shall see in the Congo country, and possibly because they contain rock crystal. Although in many places they may be descried subtending the shore in lumpy lines like detached vertebræ, and are supposed to represent the Aranga Mons of Ptolemy, they are not noticed by Barbot. Between the Camarones River and Cape St. John (Corisco Bay), blue, rounded, and discontinuous masses, apparently wooded, rise before the mariner, and form, as will be seen, the western sub-ranges of the great basin-rim. To the north they probably anastomose with the Camarones, the Rumbi, the Kwa, the Fumbina north-east, and the Niger–Kong mountains.1

They are not wanting who declare them to be rich in precious metals. Some thirty years ago an American super-cargo ascended the Rembwe River, the south-eastern line of the Gaboon fork, and is said to have collected “dirt” which, tested at New York, produced 16 dollars per bushel. All the old residents in the Gaboon know the story of the gold dust. The prospector was the late Captain Richard E. Lawlin, of New York, who was employed by Messrs. Bishop of Philadelphia, the same house that commissioned the chasseur de gorilles to collect “rubber” for them, and who was so eminently useful to the young French traveller that the scant notice of his name is considered curious.


Great would be my wonder if the West African as well as the East African Ghats did not prove auriferous; both fulfil all the required conditions, and both await actual discovery. The Mountains of the Moon, so frequently mentioned by M. du Chaillu and the Gaboon Mission, are doubtless the versants between the valleys of the Niger and the Congo. Lately Dr. Schweinfurth found an equatorial range which, stretching northwards towards the Bahr el Ghazal, was seen to trend westward. According to Mr. Consul Hutchinson (“Ten Years’ Wanderings among the Ethiopians,” p. 250), the Rev. Messrs. Mackey and Clemens, of the Corisco Mission “explored more than a hundred miles of country across the Sierra del Crystal Range of Mountains” — I am inclined to believe that a hundred miles from the coast was their furthest point. We shall presently travel towards this mysterious range, and there is no difficulty in passing it, except the utter want of a commercial road, and the wildness of tribes that have never sighted a traveller nor a civilized man.

The rivers of our region are of three kinds; little surface drains principally in the north; broad estuaries like the Mersey and many streams of Eastern Scotland in the central parts, and a single bed, the Ogobe, breaking through the subtending Ghats, and forming a huge lagoon-delta. Beginning at Camarones are the Boroa and Borba Waters, with the Rio de Campo, fifteen leagues further south; of these little is known, except that they fall into the Bight of Panari or Pannaria.

According to Barbot (iv. 9), the English charts give the name of Point Pan to a large deep bight in which lies the harbour-bay “Porto de Garapo” (Garápa, sugar-cane juice?); and he calls the two rounded hillocks, extending inland from Point Pan to the northern banks of the Rio de Campo, “Navia.” The unAfrican word Panari or Pannaria is probably a corruption of Páo de Nao, the bay north of Garapo, and “Navia.”

These small features are followed by the Rio de São Bento, improperly called in our charts the St. Benito, Bonito, Bonita, and Boneto; the native name is Lobei, and it traverses the Kombi country, — such is the extent of our information. The next is the well-known Muni, the Ntambounay of M. du Chaillu, generally called the Danger River, in old charts “Rio de São João,” and “Rio da Angra” (of the bight); an estuary which, like most of its kind, bifurcates above, and, receiving a number of little tributaries from the Sierra, forms a broad bed and empties itself through a mass of mangroves into the innermost north-eastern corner of Corisco Bay. This sag in the coast is formed by Ninje (Nenge the island?), or the Cabo de São João (Cape St. John) to the north, fronted south by a large square-headed block of land, whose point is called Cabo das Esteiras — of matting (Barbot’s Estyras), an article of trade in the olden time. The southern part receives the Munda (Moondah) river, a foul and unimportant stream, which has been occupied by the American missionaries.

We shall ascend the Gaboon estuary to its sources. South of it, a number of sweet little water-courses break the shore-line as far as the Nazareth River, which debouches north of Urungu, or Cape Lopez (Cabo de Lopo Gonsalvez), and which forms by anastomosing with a southern river the Ogobe (Ogowai of M. du Chaillu), a complicated delta whose sea-front extends from north to south, at least eighty miles. Beyond Cape Lopez is an outfall, known to Europeans as the Rio Mexias: it is apparently a mesh in the net-work of the Nazareth–Ogobe. The same may be said of the Rio Fernão Vaz, about 110 miles south of the Gaboon, and of yet another stream which, running lagoon-like some forty miles along the shore, has received in our maps the somewhat vague name of R. Rembo or River River. Orembo (Simpongwe) being the generic term for a stream or river, is applied emphatically to the Nkomo branch of the Gaboon, and to the Fernão Vaz.

The Ogobe is the only river between the Niger and the Congo which escapes, through favouring depressions, from the highlands flanking the great watery plateau of Inner Africa. By its plainly marked double seasons of flood at the equinoxes, and by the time of its low water, we prove that it drains the belt of calms, and the region immediately upon the equator. The explorations of Lieutenant Serval and others, in “Le Pionnier” river-steamer, give it an average breadth of 8,200 feet, though broken by sand-banks and islands; the depth in the main channel, which at times is narrow and difficult to find, averages between sixteen and forty-eight feet; and, in the dry season of 1862, the vessel ran up sixty English miles.

Before M. du Chaillu’s expeditions, “the rivers known to Europeans,” he tells us in his Preface (“First Journey,” p. iv.), “as the Nazareth, Mexias, and Fernam Vaz, were supposed to be three distinct streams.” In 1817 Bowdich identified the “Ogoowai” with the Congo, and the Rev. Mr. Wilson (p. 284) shows us the small amount of knowledge that existed even amongst experts, five years before the “Gorilla book” appeared. “From Cape Lopez, where the Nazareth debouches, there is a narrow lagoon running along the sea-coast, and very near to it, all the way to Mayumba. This lagoon is much traversed by boats and canoes, and, when the slave-trade was in vigorous operation, it afforded the Portuguese traders great facilities for eluding the vigilance of British cruizers, by shifting their slaves from point to point, and embarking them, according to a preconcerted plan.”

M. du Chaillu first proved that the Ogobe was formed by two forks, the northern, or Rembo Okanda, and the southern, or Rembo Nguye. The former is the more important. Mr. R.S.N. Walker found this stream above the confluence to be from 1,800 to 2,100 feet wide, though half the bed was occupied by bare sand-banks. Higher up, where rocks and rapids interfered with the boat-voyage, the current was considerable, but the breadth diminished to 600 feet. The southern branch (also written Ngunië) was found in Apono Land (S. lat. 2°), about the breadth of the Thames at London Bridge, 700 feet. In June the depth was ten to fifteen feet, to which the rainy season added ten.

M. du Chaillu also established the facts that the Nazareth river was the northern arm of the Delta, and that the Fernão Vaz anastomosed with the Delta’s southern arm.

The only pelagic islands off the Gaboon coast are the Brancas, Great and Little; Corisco Island, which we shall presently visit; Great and Little Elobi, called by old travellers Mosquito Islands, probably for “Moucheron,” a Dutchman who lost his ship there in 1600. The land about the mouths of the Ogobe is a mass of mangrove swamps, like the Nigerian Delta, which high tides convert into insular ground; these, however, must be considered terra firma in its infancy. The riverine islands of the Gaboon proper will be noticed as we ascend the bed.

Pongo-land ignores all such artificial partitions as districts or parishes; the only divisions are the countries occupied by the several tribes.

The Gaboon lies in “Africa-on-the-Line,” and a description of the year at Zanzibar Island applies to it in many points.2 The characteristic of this equatorial belt is uniformity of temperature: whilst the Arabian and the Australian deserts often show a variation of 50° Fahr. in a single day, the yearly range of the mercury at Singapore is about 10°. The four seasons of the temperates are utterly unknown to the heart of the tropics — even in Hindostan the poet who would sing, for instance, the charms of spring must borrow the latter word (Buhar) from the Persian. If the “bull” be allowed, the only rule here appears to be one of exceptions. The traveller is always assured that this time there have been no rains, or no dries, or no tornadoes, or one or all in excess, till at last he comes to the conclusion that the Clerk of the Weather must have mislaid his ledger. Contrary to the popular idea, which has descended to us from the classics, the climate under the Line is not of that torrid heat which a vertical sun suggests; the burning zone of the Old World begins in the northern hemisphere, where the regular rains do not extend, beyond the tenth as far as the twenty-fifth degree. The equatorial climate is essentially temperate: for instance, the heat of Sumatra, lying almost under the Line, rarely exceeds 24° R.= 86° Fahr. In the Gaboon the thermometer ranges from 65° to 90° Fahr., “a degree of heat,” says Dr. Ford, “less than in many salubrious localities in other parts of the world.”

Upon the Gaboon the wet seasons are synchronous with the vertical suns at the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. “The rainy season of a place within the tropics always begins when the sun has reached the zenith of that place. Then the tradewinds, blowing regularly at other seasons, become gradually weaker, and at length cease and give way to variable winds and calms. The trade-wind no longer brings its regular supply of cooler, drier air; the rising heats and calms favour an ascending current” (in the sea-depths, I may add, as well as on land), “which bears the damp air into the upper regions of the atmosphere, there to be cooled, and to occasion the heavy down-pour of each afternoon. The nights and mornings are for the most part bright and clear. When the sun moves away from the zenith, the trade-winds again begin to be felt, and bring with them the dry season of the year, during which hardly ever a cloud disturbs the serenity of the skies.

“Between the tropical limits and the equator, however, the sun comes twice to the zenith of each place. If now, between the going and coming of the sun, from the Line to its furthest range, a sufficient pause intervenes, or if the sun’s temporary distance from the zenith is great enough, the rainy season is divided into two portions, separated by a lesser dry season. Closer to the tropical lines, where the sun remains but once in the zenith, the rainy season is a continuous one.”

Such is the theory of the “Allgemeine Erdkunde” (Hahn, Hochstetter and Pokorny, Prague, 1872). An explanation should be added of the reason why the cool wind ceases to blow, at the time when the air, heated and raised by a perpendicular sun, might be expected to cause a greater indraught. We at once, I have said, recognize its correctness at sea. The Gaboon, “in the belt of calms, with rain during the whole year,” has two distinctly marked dry seasons, at the vernal and the autumnal equinoxes. The former or early rains (Nchangyá?) are expected to begin in February, with violent tornadoes and storms, especially at the full and change, and to end in April. The heavy downfalls are mostly at night, possibly an effect of the Sierra del Crystal. I found March 28th (1862) very like damp weather at the end of an English May; April 6th was equally exceptional, raining from dawn to evening. During my trip to Sánga-Tánga and back (March 25th to 29th) we had frequent fogs, locally called “smokes,” and almost daily tornadoes, sometimes from the south-east, whilst the lightning was dangerous as upon the Western prairies. After an interval of fiery sun, with occasional rain torrents and discharges of electricity, begin the Enomo (Enun?), the “middle” or long dries, which last four months to September. The “Enomo” is the Angolan Cacimbo, meaning cool and cloudy weather, when no umbrella is required, and when the invariably grey sky rarely rains. Travellers are told that June and July are the cream of the year, the healthiest time for seasoned Europeans, and this phantom of a winter renders the climate more supportable to the northern constitution.

During the “middle dries,” when the sun, retiring to the summer solstice, is most distant, land winds and sea breezes are strong and regular, and the people suffer severely from cold. In the Gaboon heavy showers sometimes fall, July being the least subject to them, and the fiery sun, when it can disperse the clouds, turns the soil to dust. At the end of September appear the “latter rains,” which are the more copious, as they seldom last more than six hours at a time. It is erroneous to assert that “the tract nearest the equator on both sides has the longest rainy season;” the measure chiefly depends upon altitude and other local conditions.

The rainy seasons are healthier for the natives than the cold seasons; and the explorer is often urged to take advantage of them. He must, however, consult local experience. Whilst ascending rivers in November, for instance, he may find the many feet of flood a boon or a bane, and his marching journeys are nearly sure to end in ulcerated feet, as was the case with poor Dr. Livingstone. The rains drench the country till the latter end of December, when the Nángá or “little dries” set in for two months. The latter also are not unbroken by storms and showers, and they end with tornadoes, which this year (1862) have been unusually frequent and violent. Thus we may distribute the twelve months into six of rains, vernal and autumnal, and six of dry weather, æstival and hibernal: the following table will show the sub-sections:—

Early December to early February, the “little dries;” February to early April, the “former,” early or spring rains; May to early June, the variable weather; June to early September, the Cacimbo, Enomo, long or middle dries; September to early December, the “latter rains.”

Under such media the disease, par excellence, of the Gaboon is the paroxysm which is variously called Coast, African, Guinea, and Bullom fever. Dr. Ford, who has written a useful treatise upon the subject,3 finds hebdomadal periodicity in the attacks, and lays great stress upon this point of chronothermalism. He recognizes the normal stages, preparatory, invasional, reactionary, and resolutionary. Like Drs. Livingstone and Hutchinson, he holds fever and quinine “incompatibles,” and he highly approves of the prophylactic adhibition of chinchona used by the unfortunate Douville in 1828. Experience in his own person and in numerous patients “proves all theoretical objections to the use of six grains an hour, or fifty and sixty grains of quinine in one day or remission to be absolutely imaginary.” He is “convinced that it is not a stimulant,” and with many apologies he cautiously sanctions alcohol, which should often be the physician’s mainstay. As he advocated ten-grain doses of calomel by way of preliminary cathartic, the American missionaries stationed on the River have adopted a treatment still more “severe”— quinine till deafness ensues, and half a handful of mercury, often continued till a passage opens through the palate, placing mouth and nose in directer communication. Dr. Ford also recommends during the invasion or period of chills external friction of mustard or of fresh red pepper either in tincture or in powder, a good alleviator always procurable; and the internal use of pepper-tea, to bring on the stages of reaction and resolution. Few will agree with him that gruels and farinaceous articles are advisable during intermissions, when the patient craves for port, essence of beef, and consomme; nor can we readily admit the dictum that in the tropics “the most wholesome diet, without doubt, is chiefly vegetable.” Despite Jacquemont and all the rice-eaters, I cry beef and beer for ever and everywhere! Many can testify personally to the value of the unofficinal prescription which he offers in cases of severe lichen (prickly heat), leading to impetigo. It is as follows, and it is valuable:—

Cold cream. . . . . . . . .. 3j.
Glycerine. . . . . . . . .. 3j.
Chloroform. . . . . . . . .3ij.
Oil of bitter almonds.. gtt. x.

1 “Abeokuta and the Camaroons Mountains,” vol. ii. chap. i. London: Tinsleys, 1863.

2 See “Zanzibar City, Island, and Coast,” vol. i. chap. v sect. 2.

3 “Observations on the Fevers of the West African Coast.” New York: Jenkins, 1856. A more valuable work is the “Medical Topography, &c. of West Africa,” by the late W.F. Daniell, M.D., 1849. Finally, Mr. Consul Hutchinson offered valuable suggestions in his work on the Niger Expedition of 1854–5 (Longmans, 1855, and republished in the “Traveller’s Library”).

Chapter 4.

The Minor Tribes and the Mpongwe.

The tribes occupying the Gaboon country may roughly be divided into two according to habitat — the maritime and those of the interior, who are quasi-mountaineers. Upon the sea-board dwell the Banôkô (Banaka), Bapuka, and Batanga; the Kombe, the Benga and Mbiko, or people about Corisco; the Shekyani, who extend far into the interior, the Urungu and Aloa, clans of Cape Lopez; the Nkommi, Commi, Camma or Cama, and the Mayumba races beyond the southern frontier. The inner hordes are the Dibwe (M. du Chaillu’s “Ibouay”), the Mbúsha; the numerous and once powerful Bákele, the Cannibal Fán (Mpongwe), the Osheba or ‘Sheba, their congeners, and a variety of “bush-folk,” of whom little is known beyond the names. Linguistically we may distribute them into three, namely, 1. the Banôkô and Batanga; 2. the Mpongwe, including the minor ethnical divisions of Benga, and Shekyani; the Urungu, the Nkommi, the Dongas or Ndiva, and the Mbúsha, and 3. the Mpongwe and the tribes of the interior. Lastly, there are only three peoples of any importance, namely, the Mpongwe, the Bákele, and the Fán.

The Mpongwe, whom the French call “les Gabons,” are the aristocracy of the coast, the Benga being the second, and the Banôkô and Bapuka ranking third. They are variously estimated at 5,000 to 7,000 head, serviles included. They inhabit both sides of the Gaboon, extending about thirty-five miles along its banks, chiefly on the right; on the left only seawards of the Shekyani. But it is a wandering race, and many a “mercator vagus” finds his way to Corisco, Cape Lopez, Batanga, and even Fernando Po. The two great families on the northern river bank are the Quabens and the Glass, who style themselves kings and princes; the southern side lodges King William (Roi Denis) near the mouth, and the powerful King George, about twenty-five miles higher up stream. There are also settlements scattered at various distances from the great highway of commerce to which they naturally cling, and upon the Coniquet and Parrot Islands.

Barbot (iv. 9) describes the “Gaboon blacks” as “commonly tall, robust, and well-shaped;” they appeared to me rather below the average of West Coast size and weight. Both sexes, even when running to polysarcia, have delicate limbs and extremities, and the features, though negroid, are not the negro of the tobacconist’s shop: I noticed several pyramidal and brachycephalic heads, contrary to the rule for African man and simiad. In the remarkable paper read (1861) by Professor Busk before the Ethnological Society, that eminent physiologist proved that the Asiatic apes, typified by the ourang-outang, are brachycephalic, like the Mongolians amongst whom they live, or who live amongst them; whilst the gorillas and the African anthropoids are dolichocephalic as the negroes. The Gaboon men are often almost black, whilst the women range between dark brown and cafe au lait. The beard, usually scanty, is sometimes bien fournie, especially amongst the seniors, but, whenever I saw a light-coloured and well-bearded man, the suspicion of mixed blood invariably obtruded itself. It is said that during the last thirty years they have greatly diminished, yet their habitat is still that laid down half a century ago by Bowdich, and all admit that the population of the river has not been materially affected.


The Mpongwe women have the reputation of being the prettiest and the most facile upon the West African coast. It is easy to distinguish two types. One is large-boned and heavy-limbed, hoarse-voiced, and masculine, like the “Ibos” of Bonny and New Calabar, who equal the men in weight and stature, strength and endurance, suggesting a mixture of the male and female temperaments. Some of the Gaboon giantesses have, unlike their northern sisters, regular and handsome features. The other type is quasi-Hindú in its delicacy of form, with small heads, oval faces, noses à la Roxolane, lips sub-tumid but without prognathism, and fine almond-shaped eyes, with remarkably thick and silky lashes. The throat is thin, the bosom is high and well carried, or, as the admiring Arab says, “nejdá;” the limbs are statuesque, and the hands and feet are Norman rather than Saxon. Many Europeans greatly admire these minois mutins et chiffonés.1

Early in the present century the Mpongwe braided whiskers and side curls, tipping the ends with small beads, and they plaited the front locks to project like horns, after the fashion of the present Fán and other wild tribes. A custom noticed by Barbot, but apparently obsolete in the days of Bowdich, was to bore the upper lip, and to insert a small ivory pin, extending from nose to mouth. The painting and tattooing were fantastic and elaborate; and there was a hideous habit of splitting either lip, so as to “thrust the tongue through on ceremonial occasions.” A curious reason is given for this practice. “They are subject to a certain distemper very common there, which on a sudden seizes them, and casts them into fits of so long a continuance, that they would inevitably be suffocated, if by means of the split at their upper lip they did not pour into their mouths some of the juice of a certain medicinal herb, which has the virtue of easing and curing the diseased person in a very short time.”

All these things, fits included, are now obsolete. The men shave a line in the hair like a fillet round the skull, and what is left is coiffe au coup de vent. The head-dress is a cap, a straw hat, a billy cock, or a tall silk “chimney pot,” the latter denoting a chief; he also sports in full dress a broad coat, ending in a loin cloth of satin stripe or some finer stuff, about six feet long by four and a half broad; it is secured by a kerchief or an elastic waist belt; during work it is tucked up, but on ceremonial occasions it must trail upon the ground. The lieges wear European shirts, stuffed into a waist-cloth of cheaper material, calico or domestics; This Tángá, or kilt, is, in fact, an article of general wear, and it would be an airy, comfortable, and wholesome travelling costume if the material were flannel. The ornaments are necklaces of Venetian beads, the white pound, and the black and yellow seed: Canutille or bugles of various patterns are preferred, and all are loaded with “Mengo,” Grígrís (which old travellers call “gregories”), or talismans, chiefly leopards’ teeth, rude bells, and horns. The Monda are hunting prophylacteries, antelope horns filled with “fetish” medicines, leopard’s hair, burnt and powdered heart mixed with leaves, and filth; the mouths are stopped with some viscid black stuff, probably gum. They are often attached to rude bells of iron or brass (Igelenga, Ngenge, Nkendo, or Wonga), like the Chingufu of the Congo regions and the metal cones which are struck for signals upon the Tanganyika Lake.

A great man is known by his making himself a marvellous “guy,” wearing, for instance, a dingily laced cocked hat, stuck athwart-ships upon an unwashed night-cap, and a naval or military uniform, fifty years old, “swearing” with the loin-cloth and the feet, which are always bare.

The coiffure of the <Greek> is peculiar and elaborate as that of the Gold Coast. These ladies seem to have chosen for their model the touraco or cockatoo — they have never heard of “Kikeriki,”— and the effect is at first wondrously grotesque. Presently the eye learns to admire pretty Fanny’s ways; perhaps the pleureuse, the old English corkscrew ringlet, might strike the stranger as equally natural in a spaniel, and unnatural in a human. Still a style so peculiar requires a toilette in keeping; the “king” in uniform is less ridiculous than the Gaboon lady’s chignon, contrasting with a tight-bodied and narrow-skirted gown of pink calico.

The national “tire-valiant” is a galeated crest not unlike the cuirassier’s helmet, and the hair, trained from the sides into a high ridge running along the cranium, not unfrequently projects far beyond the forehead. Taste and caprice produce endless modifications. Sometimes the crest is double, disposed in parallel ridges, with a deep hollow between; or it is treble, when the two lines of parting running along the mastoids make it remarkably like bears’ ears, the central prism rises high, and the side hair is plaited into little pig-tails. Others again train four parallel lines from nape to forehead, forming two cushions along the parietals. The crest is heightened by padding, and the whole of the hair is devoted to magnifying it — at a distance, some of the bushwomen look as if they wore cocked hats. When dreaded baldness appears, rosettes of false hair patch the temples, and plaits of purchased wigs are interwoven to increase the bulk: the last resources of all are wigs and toupets of stained pine-apple fibre. The comb is unknown, its succedaneum being a huge bodkin, like that which the Trasteverina has so often used as a stiletto. This instrument of castigation is made of ivory or metal, with a lozenge often neatly carved and ornamented at the handle. The hair, always somewhat “kinky,” is anointed every morning with palm-oil, or the tallow-like produce of a jungle-nut; and, in full dress, it is copiously powdered with light red or bright yellow dust of pounded camwood, redwood, and various barks.

The ears are adorned with broad rings of native make, and, near the trading stations, with French imitation jewellery. The neck supports many strings of beads, long and short, with the indispensable talismans. The body dress is a Tobe or loin-cloth, like that of the men; but under the “Námbá,” or outer wrapper, which hangs down the feet, there is a “Siri,” or petticoat, reaching only to the knees. Both are gathered in front like the Shukkah of the eastern coast, and the bosom is left bare. Few except the bush-folk now wear the Ibongo, Ipepe, or Ndengi, the woven fibres and grass-cloths of their ancestry; amongst the hunters, however, a Tángá, or grass-kilt, may still be seen. The exposure of the upper person shows the size and tumidity of the areola, even in young girls; being unsupported, the mammae soon become flaccid.

The legs, which are peculiarly neat and well turned, are made by art a fitting set-off to the head. It is the pride of a Mpongwe wife to cover the lower limb between knee and ankle with an armour of metal rings, which are also worn upon the wrists; the custom is not modern, and travellers of the seventeenth century allude to them. The rich affect copper, bought in wires two feet and a half long, and in two sizes; of the larger, four, of the smaller, eight, go to the dollar; the brass are cheaper, as 5: 4; and I did not see iron or tin. The native smiths make the circles, and the weight of a full set of forty varies from fifteen to nineteen pounds. They are separate rings, not a single coil, like that used by the Wagogo and other East African tribes; they press tightly on the limb, often causing painful chafes and sores. The ankle is generally occupied by a brass or iron chain, with small links. Girls may wear these rings, of which the husband is expected to present a considerable number to his bride, and the consequence is, that when in full dress she waddles like a duck.

Commerce and intercourse with whites has made the Mpongwe, once the rudest, now one of the most civilized of African tribes; and, upon the whole, there is an improvement. The exact Barbot (iv. 9) tells us “the Gaboon blacks are barbarous, wild, bloody, and treacherous, very thievish and crafty, especially towards strangers. The women, on the contrary, are as civil and courteous to them, and will use all possible means to enjoy their company; but both sexes are the most wretchedly poor and miserable of any in Guinea, and yet so very haughty, that they are perfectly ridiculous . . . They are all excessively fond of brandy and other strong liquors of Europe and America . . . If they fancy one has got a mouthful more than another, and they are half drunk, they will soon fall a-fighting, even with their own princes or priests . . . Their exceeding greediness for strong liquors renders them so little nice and curious in the choice of them, that, though mixed with half water, and sometimes a little Spanish soap put into it to give it a froth, to appear of proof by the scum it makes, they like it and praise it as much as the best and purest brandy.” Captain Boteler remarks, in 1827: “The women do not speak English; though, for the sake of what trifles they can procure for their husbands, they are in the habit of flocking on board the different vessels which visit the river, and will permit them to remain; and the wives are generally maintained in clothing by the proceeds of their intercourse with the whites.” He further assures us, that mulatto girls thus born are not allowed to marry, although there is no such restriction for the males; and elsewhere, he concludes, that never having seen an infant or an adult offspring of mixed blood, abortion is practised as at Delagoa and Old Calabar, where, in 1862, I found only one child of mixed blood. If so, the Mpongwe have changed for the better. Half-castes are now not uncommon; there are several nice “yaller gals” well known on the river; and the number of old and sick speaks well for the humanity of the tribe.

Devoted to trade and become a people of brokers, of go-betweens, of middle-men, the Mpongwe have now acquired an ease and propriety, a polish and urbanity of manner which contrasts strongly with the Kru-men and other tribes, who, despite generations of intercourse with Europeans, are rough and barbarous as their forefathers. The youths used to learn English, which they spoke fluently and with tolerable accent, but always barbarously; they are more successful with the easier neo-Latin tongues. Their one aim in life is not happiness, but “trust,” an African practice unwisely encouraged by Europeans; so Old Calabar but a few years ago was not a trust-river,” and consequently the consul and the gunboat had little to do there. Many of them have received advances of dollars by thousands, but the European merchant has generally suffered from his credulity or rapacity. In low cunning the native is more than a match for the stranger; moreover, he has “the pull” in the all-important matter of time; he can spend a fortnight haggling over the price of a tooth when the unhappy capitalist is eating his heart. Like all the African aristocracy, they hold agriculture beneath the dignity of man and fit only for their women and slaves; the “ladies” also refuse to work at the plantations, especially when young and pretty, leaving them to the bush-folk, male and female. M. du Chaillu repeatedly asserts (chap xix.) “there is no property in land,” but this is a mistake often made in Africa. Labourers are hired at the rate of two to three dollars per mensem, and gangs would easily be collected if one of the chiefs were placed in command. No sum of money will buy a free-born Mpongwe, and the sale is forbidden by the laws of the land. A half-caste would fetch one hundred dollars; a wild “nigger” near the river costs from thirty to thirty-five dollars; the same may be bought in the Apinji country for four dollars’ worth of assorted goods, the “bundle-trade” as it is called; but there is the imminent risk of the chattel’s running away. A man’s only attendants being now his wives and serviles, it is evident that plurality and domestic servitude will extend —

“Far into summers which we shall not see;”

in fact, till some violent revolution of society shall have introduced a servant class.

The three grades of Mpongwe may be considered as rude beginnings of caste. The first are the “Sons of the Soil,” the “Ongwá ntye” (contracted from Onwana wi ntye), Mpongwes of pure blood; the second are the “Mbámbá,” children of free-men by serviles; and lastly, “Nsháká,” in Bákele “Nsháká,” represents the slaves. M. du Chaillu’s distribution (chap, iii.) into five orders, namely, pure, mixed with other tribes, half free, children of serviles, and chattels, is somewhat over-artificial; at any rate, now it is not generally recognized. Like the high-caste Hindu, the nobler race will marry women of lower classes; for instance, King Njogoni’s mother was a Benga; but the inverse proceeding is a disgrace to the woman, apparently an instinctive feeling on the part of the reproducer, still lingering in the most advanced societies. Old travellers record a belief that, unlike all other Guinea races, the Mpongwe marries his mother, sister, or daughter; and they compare the practice with that of the polished Persians and the Peruvian Incas, who thus kept pure the solar and lunar blood. If this “breeding-in” ever existed, no trace of it now remains; on the contrary, every care is taken to avoid marriages of consanguinity. Bowdich, indeed, assures us that a man may not look at nor converse with his mother-inlaw, on pain of a heavy, perhaps a ruinous fine; “this singular law is founded on the tradition of an incest.”

Marriage amongst the Mpongwe is a purely civil contract, as in Africa generally, and so perhaps it will some day be in Europe, Asia, and America. Cœlebs pays a certain sum for the bride, who, where “marriage by capture” is unknown, has no voice in the matter. Many promises of future “dash” are made to the girl’s parents; and drinking, drumming, and dancing form the ceremony. The following is, or rather I should say was, a fair list of articles paid for a virgin bride. One fine silk hat, one cap, one coat; five to twenty pieces of various cottons, plain and ornamental; two to twenty silk kerchiefs; three to thirty jars of rum; twenty pounds of trade tobacco; two hatchets; two cutlasses; plates and dishes, mugs and glasses, five each; six knives; one kettle; one brass pan; two to three Neptunes (caldrons, the old term being “Neptune’s pots”), a dozen bars of iron; copper and brass rings, chains with small links, and minor articles ad libitum. The “settlement” is the same in kind, but has increased during the last forty years, and specie has become much more common.2

After marriage there is a mutual accommodation system suggesting the cicisbeo or mariage à trois school; hence we read that wives, like the much-maligned Xantippe, were borrowed and lent, and that not fulfilling the promise of a loan is punishable by heavy damages. Where the husband acts adjutor or cavaliere to his friend’s “Omantwe”— female person or wife — and the friend is equally complaisant, wedlock may hardly be called permanent, and there can be no tie save children. The old immorality endures; it is as if the command were reversed by accepting that misprint which so scandalized the Star Chamber, “Thou shalt commit adultery.” Yet, unpermitted, the offence is one against property, and Moechus may be cast in damages ranging from $100 to $200: what is known in low civilization as the “panel dodge” is an infamy familiar to almost all the maritime tribes of Africa. He must indeed be a Solomon of a son who, sur les bords du Gabon, can guess at his own sire; a question so impertinent is never put by the ex-officio father. The son succeeds by inheritance to his father’s relict, who, being generally in years, is condemned to be useful when she has ceased to be an ornament, and, if there are several, they are equally divided amongst the heirs.

Trading tribes rarely affect the pundonor which characterizes the pastoral and the predatory; these people traffic in all things, even in the chastity of their women. What with pre-nuptial excesses, with early unions, often infructuous, with a virtual system of community, and with universal drunkenness, it is not to be wondered at if the maritime tribes of Africa degenerate and die out. Such apparently is the modus operandi by which Nature rids herself of the effete races which have served to clear the ground and to pave the way for higher successors. Wealth and luxury, so generally inveighed against by poets and divines, injure humanity only when they injuriously affect reproduction; and poverty is praised only because it breeds more men. The true tests of the physical prosperity of a race, and of its position in the world, are bodily strength and the excess of births over deaths.

Separation after marriage can hardly be dignified on the Gaboon by the name of divorce. Whenever a woman has or fancies she has a grievance, she leaves her husband, returns to “the paternal” and marries again. Quarrels about the sex are very common, yet, in cases of adultery the old murderous assaults are now rare except amongst the backwoodsmen. The habit was simply to shoot some man belonging to the seducer’s or to the ravisher’s village; the latter shot somebody in the nearest settlement, and so on till the affair was decided. In these days “violent retaliation for personal jealousy always ‘be-littles’ a man in the eyes of an African community.” Perhaps also he unconsciously recognizes the sentiment ascribed to Mohammed, “Laysa bi-zányatin ilia bi záni,” “there is no adulteress without an adulterer,” meaning that the husband has set the example.

Polygamy is, of course, the order of the day; it is a necessity to the men, and even the women disdain to marry a “one-wifer.” As amongst all pluralists, from Moslem to Mormon, the senior or first married is No. 1; here called “best wife:” she is the goodman’s viceroy, and she rules the home-kingdom with absolute sway. Yet the Mpongwe do not, like other tribes on the west coast, practise that separation of the sexes during gestation and lactation, which is enjoined to the Hebrews, recommended by Catholicism, and commanded by Mormonism — a system which partly justifies polygamy. In Portuguese Guinea the enceinte is claimed by her relatives, especially by the women, for three years, that she may give undivided attention to her offspring, who is rightly believed to be benefited by the separation, and that she may return to her husband with renewed vigour. Meanwhile custom allows the man to co-habit with a slave girl.

Polygamy, also, in Africa is rather a political than a domestic or social institution. A “judicious culture of the marriage tie” is necessary amongst savages and barbarians whose only friends and supporters are blood relations and nuptial connections; besides which, a multitude of wives ministers to the great man’s pride and influence, as well as to his pleasures and to his efficiency. When the head wife ages, she takes charge of the girlish brides committed to her guardianship by the husband. I should try vainly to persuade the English woman that there can be peace in households so constituted: still, such is the case. Messrs. Wilson and Du Chaillu both assert that the wives rarely disagree amongst themselves. The sentimental part of love is modified; the common husband becomes the patriarch, not the paterfamilias; the wife is not the mistress, but the mère de famille. The alliance rises or sinks to one of interest and affection instead of being amorous or uxorious, whilst the underlying idea, “the more the merrier,” especially in lands where free service is unknown, seems to stifle envy and jealousy. Everywhere, moreover, amongst polygamists, the husband is strictly forbidden by popular opinion to show preference for a favourite wife; if he do so, he is a bad man.

But polygamy here has not rendered the women, as theoretically it should, a down-trodden moiety of society; on the contrary, their position is comparatively high. The marriage connection is not “one of master and slave,” a link between freedom and serfdom; the “weaker vessel” does not suffer from collision with the pot de fer; generally the fair but frail ones appear to be, as amongst the Israelites generally, the better halves. Despite the Okosunguu or cow-hide “peacemaker,” they have conquered a considerable latitude of conducting their own affairs. When poor and slaveless and, naturally, when no longer young, they must work in the house and in the field, but this lot is not singular; in journeys they carry the load, yet it is rarely heavier than the weapons borne by the man. On the other hand, after feeding their husbands, what remains out of the fruits of their labours is their own, wholly out of his reach — a boon not always granted by civilization. As in Unyamwezi, they guard their rights with a truly feminine touchiness and jealousy. There is always, in the African mind, a preference for descent and inheritance through the mother, “the surer side,”— an unmistakable sign, by the by, of barbarism. The so-called royal races in the eight great despotisms of Pagan Africa — Ashanti, Dahome, and Benin; Karagwah, Uganda, and Unyoro; the Mwátá yá Nvo, and the Mwátá Cazembe — allow the greatest liberty even to the king’s sisters; they are expected only to choose handsome lovers, that the race may maintain its physical superiority; and hence, doubtless, the stalwart forms and the good looks remarked by every traveller. As a rule, the husband cannot sell his wife’s children whilst her brother may dispose of them as he pleases — the vox populi exclaims, “What! is the man to go hungry when he can trade off his sister’s brats?”

The strong-minded of London and New York have not yet succeeded in thoroughly organizing and popularizing their clubs; the belles sauvages of the Gaboon have. There is a secret order, called “Njembe,” a Rights of Woman Association, intended mainly to counterbalance the Nda of the lords of creation, which will presently be described. Dropped a few years ago by the men, it was taken up by their wives, and it now numbers a host of initiated, limited only by heavy entrance fees. This form of freemasonry deals largely in processions, whose preliminaries and proceedings are kept profoundly secret. At certain times an old woman strikes a stick upon an “Orega” or crescent-shaped drum, hollowed out of a block of wood; hearing this signal, the worshipful sisterhood, bedaubed, by way of insignia, with red and white chalk or clay, follow her from the village to some remote nook in the jungle, where the lodge is tiled. Sentinels are stationed around whilst business is transacted before a vestal fire, which must burn for a fortnight or three weeks, in the awe-compelling presence of a brass pipkin filled with herbs, and a basin, both zebra’d like the human limbs. The Rev. William Walker was once detected playing “Peeping Tom” by sixty or seventy viragos, who attempted to exact a fine of forty dollars, and who would have handled him severely had he not managed to escape. The French officers, never standing upon ceremony in such matters, have often insisted upon being present.

Circumcision, between the fourth and eighth year, is universal in Pongo-land, and without it a youth could not be married. The operation is performed generally by the chief, often by some old man, who receives a fee from the parents: the thumb nails are long, and are used after the Jewish fashion:3 neat rum with red pepper is spirted from the mouth to “kill wound.” It is purely hygienic, and not balanced by the excisio Judaica, Some physiologists consider the latter a necessary complement of the male rite; such, however, is not the case. The Hebrews, who almost everywhere retained circumcision, have, in Europe at least, long abandoned excision. I regret that the delicacy of the age does not allow me to be more explicit.

The Mpongwe practise a rite so resembling infant baptism that the missionaries have derived it from a corruption of Abyssinian Christianity which, like the flora of the Camarones and Fernandian Highlands, might have travelled across the Dark Continent, where it has now been superseded by El Islam. I purpose at some period of more leisure to prove an ancient intercourse and rapprochement of all the African tribes ranging between the parallels of north latitude 20° and south latitude 30°. It will best be established, not by the single great family of language, but by the similarity of manners, customs, and belief; of arts and crafts; of utensils and industry. The baptism of Pongo-land is as follows. When the babe is born, a crier, announcing the event, promises to it in the people’s name participation in the rights of the living. It is placed upon a banana leaf, for which reason the plantain is never used to stop the water-pots; and the chief or the nearest of kin sprinkles it from a basin, gives it a name, and pronounces a benediction, his example being followed by all present. The man-child is exhorted to be truthful, and the girl to “tell plenty lie,” in order to lead a happy life. Truly a new form of the regenerative rite!

A curious prepossession of the African mind, curious and yet general, in a land where population is the one want, and where issue is held the greatest blessing, is the imaginary necessity of limiting the family. Perhaps this form of infanticide is a policy derived from ancestors who found it necessary. In the kingdom of Apollonia (Guinea) the tenth child was always buried alive; never a Decimus was allowed to stand in the way of the nine seniors. The birth of twins is an evil portent to the Mpongwes, as it is in many parts of Central Africa, and even in the New World; it also involves the idea of moral turpitude, as if the woman were one of the lower animals, capable of superfetation. There is no greater insult to a man, than to point at him with two fingers, meaning that he is a twin; of course he is not one, or he would have been killed at birth. Albinos are allowed to live, as in Dahome, in Ashanti, and among some East African tribes, where I have been “chaffed” about a brother white, who proved to be an exceptional negro without pigmentum nigrum.

There is no novelty in the Mpongwe funeral rites; the same system prevails from the Oil Rivers to Congo-land, and extends even to the wild races of the interior. The corpse, being still sentient, is accompanied by stores of raiment, pots, and goats’ flesh; a bottle is placed in one hand and a glass in the other, and, if the deceased has been fond of play, his draught-board and other materials are buried with him. The system has been well defined as one in which the “ghost of a man eats the ghost of a yam, boiled in the ghost of a pot, over the ghost of a fire.” The body, after being stretched out in a box, is carried to a lonely place; some are buried deep, others close to the surface. There is an immense show of grief, with keening and crocodiles’ tears, perhaps to benefit the living by averting a charge of witchcraft, which would inevitably lead to “Sassy” or poison-water. The wake continues for five days, when they “pull the cry,” that is to say, end mourning. If these pious rites be neglected, the children incur the terrible reproach, “Your father he be hungry.” The widow may re-marry immediately after “living for cry,” and, if young and lusty, she looks out for another consort within the week. The slave is thrown out into the bush — no one will take the trouble to dig a hole for him.

The industry of the Mpongwe is that of the African generally; every man is a host in himself; he builds and furnishes his house, he makes his weapons and pipes, and he ignores division of labour, except in the smith and the carpenter; in the potter, who works without a wheel, and in the dyer, who knows barks, and who fixes his colours with clay. The men especially pride themselves upon canoe-making; the favourite wood is the buoyant Okumeh or bombax, that monarch of the African forest. I have seen a boat, 45 feet 10 inches by 5 feet 11 inches in beam, cut out of a single tree, with the Mpáno or little adze, a lineal descendant of the Silex implement, and I have heard of others measuring 70 feet. These craft easily carry 10 tons, and travel 200 to 300 miles, which, as Mr. Wilson remarks, would land them, under favourable circumstances, in South America. Captain Boteler found that the Mpongwe boat combined symmetry of form, strength, and solidity, with safeness and swiftness either in pulling or sailing. And of late years the people have succeeded in launching large and fast craft built after European models.

The favourite pleasures of the Mpongwe are gross and gorging “feeds,” drinking and smoking. They recall to mind the old woman who told “Monk Lewis” that if a glass of gin were at one end of the table, and her immortal soul at the other, she would choose the gin. They soak with palm-wine every day; they indulge in rum and absinthe, and the wealthy affect so-called Cognac, with Champagne and Bordeaux, which, however, they pronounce to be “cold.” I have seen Master Boro, a boy five years old, drain without winking a wineglassful of brandy. It is not wonderful that the adults can “stand” but little, and that a few mouthfuls of well-watered spirit make their voices thick, and paralyze their weak brains as well as their tongues. The Persians, who commence drinking late in life, can swallow strong waters by the tumbler.

Men, women, and children when hardly “cremnobatic,” have always the pipe in mouth. The favourite article is a “dudheen,” a well culotté clay, used and worn till the bowl touches the nose. The poor are driven to a “Kondukwe,” a yard of plantain leaf, hollowed with a wire, and charged at the thicker end. The “holy herb” would of course grow in the country, and grow well, but it is imported from the States without trouble, and perhaps with less expense. Some tribes make a decent snuff of the common trade article, but I never saw either sex chew — perhaps the most wholesome, and certainly the most efficacious form. The smoking of Lyámbá, called Dyámbá in the southern regions, is confined to debauchees. M. du Chaillu asserts that this Cannabis sativa is not found wild, and the people confirm his statement; possibly it has extended from Hindostan to Zanzibar, and thence across the continent. Intoxicating hemp is now grown everywhere, especially in the Nkommi country, and little packages, neatly bound with banana leaves, sell on the river for ten sous each. It is smoked either in the “Kondukwe” or in the Ojo. The latter, literally meaning a torch, is a polished cow-horn, closed at the thick end with wood, and banded with metal; a wooden stem, projecting from the upper or concave side, bears a neat “chillam” (bowl), either of clay or of brown steatite brought from the upper Gaboon River. This rude hookah is half filled with water; the dried hemp in the bowl is covered with what Syrians call a “Kurs,” a bit of metal about the size of half-a-crown, and upon it rests the fire. I at once recognized the implement in the Brazil, where many slave-holders simply supposed it to be a servile and African form of tobacco-pipe. After a few puffs the eyes redden, a violent cough is caused by the acrid fumes tickling the throat; the brain, whirls with a pleasant swimming, like that of chloroform, and the smoker finds himself in gloriâ. My Spanish friends at Po tried but did not like it. I can answer for the hemp being stronger than the Egyptian hashísh or the bhang of Hindostan; it rather resembled the Fasúkh of Northern Africa, the Dakha and Motukwane of the southern regions, and the wild variety called in Sind “Bang i Jabalí.”

The religion of African races is ever interesting to those of a maturer faith; it is somewhat like the study of childhood to an old man. The Jew, the high-caste Hindú, and the Guebre, the Christian and the Moslem have their Holy Writs, their fixed forms of thought and worship, in fact their grooves in which belief runs. They no longer see through a glass darkly; nothing with them is left vague or undetermined. Continuation, resurrection, eternity are hereditary and habitual ideas; they have become almost inseparable and congenital parts of the mental system. This condition renders it nearly as difficult for us to understand the vagueness and mistiness of savage and unwritten creeds, as to penetrate into the modus agendi of animal instinct. And there is yet another obstacle in dealing with such people, their intense and childish sensitiveness and secretiveness. They are not, as some have foolishly supposed, ashamed of their tenets or their practices, but they are unwilling to speak about them. They fear the intentions of the cross-questioner, and they hold themselves safest behind a crooked answer. Moreover, every Mpongwe is his own “pontifex maximus,” and the want, or rather the scarcity, of a regular priesthood must promote independence and discrepancy of belief.

Whilst noticing the Fetishism of the Gaboon I cannot help observing, by the way, how rapidly the civilization of the nineteenth century is redeveloping, together with the “Religion of Humanity” the old faith, not of Paganism, but of Cosmos, of Nature; how directly it is, in fact, going back to its oldergods. The UNKNOWABLE of our day is the Brahm, the Akarana–Zaman, the Gaboon Anyambía, of which nothing can be predicated but an existence utterly unintelligible to the brain of man, a something free from the accidents of personality, of volition, of intelligence, of design, of providence; a something which cannot be addressed by veneration or worship; whose sole effects are subjective, that is, upon the worshipper, not upon the worshipped. Nothing also can be more illogical than the awe and respect claimed by Mr. Herbert Spencer for a being of which the very essence is that nothing can be known of it. And, as the idea grows, the several modes and forms of the UNKNOWABLE, the Hormuzd and Ahriman of the Dualist, those personifications of good and evil; the Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, creation, preservation, and destruction; the beginning, the middle, and the end of all things; the Triad, adored by all Triadists under some modification, as that of Osiris, Isis, and Horus, father, mother, and son, type of the family; or Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto, the three great elements; these outward and visible expressions lose force and significance, making place for that Law of which they are the rude exponents. The marvellous spread of Spiritualism, whose god is the UNKNOWABLE, and whose prophet was Swedenborg, is but the polished form of the Mpongwe Ibambo and Ilogo; the beneficent phantasms have succeeded to the malevolent ghosts, the shadowy deities of man’s childhood; as the God of Love formerly took the place of the God of Fear. The future of Spiritualism, which may be defined as “Hades with Progress,” is making serious inroads upon the coarse belief, worthy of the barbarous and the middle ages, in an eternity of punishment, easily expressed by everlasting fire, and in ineffable joys, which no one has ever successfully expressed. The ghosts of our childhood have now become bonâ fide objective beings, who rap, raise tables, display fireworks, rain flowers, and brew tea. We explain by “levitation” the riding of the witch upon the broom-stick to the Sabbath; we can no longer refuse credence to Canidia and all her spells. And the very vagueness of the modern faith serves to assimilate it the more to its most ancient forms, one of which we are studying upon the Gaboon River.

The missionary returning from Africa is often asked what is the religion of the people? If an exact man, he will answer, “I don’t know.” And how can he know when the people themselves, even the princes and priests, are ignorant of it? A missionary of twenty years’ standing in West Africa, an able and conscientious student withal, assured me that during the early part of his career he had given much time to collecting and collating, under intelligent native superintendence, negro traditions and religion. He presently found that no two men thought alike upon any single subject: I need hardly say that he gave up in despair a work hopeless as psychology, the mere study of the individual.

Fetishism, I believe, is held by the orthodox to be a degradation of the pure and primitive “Adamical dispensation,” even as the negro has been supposed to represent the accursed and degraded descendants of Ham and Canaan. I cannot but look upon it as the first dawn of a faith in things not seen. And it must be studied by casting off all our preconceived ideas. For instance, Africans believe, not in soul nor in spirit, but in ghost; when they called M. du Chaillu a “Mbwiri,” they meant that the white man had been bleached by the grave as Dante had been darkened by his visit below, and consequently he was a subject of fear and awe. They have a material, evanescent, intelligible future, not an immaterial, incomprehensible eternity; the ghost endures only for awhile and perishes like the memory of the little-great name. Hence the ignoble dread in East and West Africa of a death which leads to a shadowy world, and eventually to utter annihilation. Seeing nought beyond the present-future, there is no hope for them in the grave; they wail and sorrow with a burden of despair. “Ame-kwisha”— he is finished — is the East African’s last word concerning kinsman and friend. “All is done for ever,” sing the West Africans. Any allusion to loss of life turns their black skins blue; “Yes,” they exclaim, “it is bad to die, to leave house and home, wife and children; no more to wear soft cloth, nor eat meat, nor “drink” tobacco, and rum.” “Never speak of that” the moribund will exclaim with a shudder; such is the ever-present horror of their dreadful and dreary times of sickness, always aggravated by suspicions of witchcraft, the only cause which their imperfect knowledge of physics can assign to death — even Van Helmont asserted, “Deus non fecit mortem.” The peoples, who, like those of Dahome, have a distinct future world, have borrowed it, I cannot help thinking, from Egypt. And when an African chief said in my presence to a Yahoo-like naval officer, “When so be I die, I come up for white man! When so be you die, you come up for monkey!” my suspicion is that he had distorted the doctrine of some missionary. Man would hardly have a future without a distinct priestly class whose interest it is to teach “another and a better,”— or a worse.

Certain missionaries in the Gaboon River have detected evidences of Judaism amongst the Mpongwe, which deserve notice but which hardly require detailed refutation. 1. Circumcision, even on the eighth day as amongst the Efik of the old Calabar River; but this is a familiar custom borrowed from Egypt by the Semites; it is done in a multitude of ways, which are limited only by necessity; the resemblance of the Mpongwe rite to that of the Jews, though remarkable, is purely accidental. 2. The division of tribes into separate families and frequently into the number twelve; but this again appears fortuitous; almost all the West African people have some such division, and they range upwards from three, as amongst the Kru-men, the Gallas, the Wakwafi,and the Wanyika.4 3. Exogamy or the rigid interdiction of marriage between clans and families nearly related; here again the Hindu and the Somal observe the custom rigidly, whilst the Jews and Arabs have ever taken to wife their first cousins. 4. Sacrifices with blood-sprinkling upon altars and door-posts; a superstition almost universal, found in Peru and Mexico as in Palestine, preserved in Ashanti and probably borrowed by the Hebrews from the African Egyptians. 5. The formal and ceremonial observance of new moons; but the Wanyamwezi and other tribes also hail the appearance of the lesser light, like the Moslems, who, when they sight the Hilal (crescent), ejaculate a short prayer for blessings throughout the month which it ushers in. 6. A specified time of mourning for the dead (common to all barbarians as to civilized races), during which their survivors wear soiled clothes (an instinctive sign of grief, as fine dresses are of joy), and shave their heads (doubtless done to make some difference from every-day times), accompanied with ceremonial purifications (what ancient people has not had some such whim?). 7. The system of Runda or forbidden meats; but every traveller has found this practice in South as in East Africa, and I noticed it among the Somal who, even when starving, will not touch fish nor fowl. Briefly, external resemblances and coincidences like these could be made to establish cousinhood between a cockney and a cockatoo; possibly such discovery of Judaism dates from the days about 1840, when men were mad to find the “Lost Tribes,” as if they had not quite enough to do with the two which remain to them.

The Mpongwe and their neighbours have advanced a long step beyond their black brethren in Eastern Africa. No longer contented with mere Fetishes, the Egyptian charms in which the dreaded ghost “sits,”5 meaning, is “bound,” they have invented idols, a manifest advance toward that polytheism and pantheism which lead through a triad and duad of deities to monotheism, the finial of the spiritual edifice. In Eastern Africa I know but one people, the Wanyika near Mombasah, who have certain images called “Kisukas;” they declare that this great medicine, never shown to Europeans, came from the West, and Andrew Battel (1600) found idols amongst the people whom he calls Giagas or Jagas, meaning Congoese chiefs. Moreover, the Gaboon pagans lodge their idols. Behind each larger establishment there is a dwarf hut, the miniature of a dwelling-place, carefully closed; I thought these were offices, but Hotaloya Andrews taught me otherwise. He called them in his broken English “Compass-houses,” a literal translation of “Nágo Mbwiri,” and, sturdily refusing me admittance, left me as wise as before. The reason afterwards proved to be that “Ologo he kill man too much.”

I presently found out that he called my pocket compass, “Mbwiri,” a very vague and comprehensive word. It represents in the highest signification the Columbian Manitou, and thus men talk of the Mbwiri of a tree or a river; as will presently be seen, it is also applied to a tutelar god; and I have shown how it means a ghost. In “Nágo Mbwiri” the sense is an idol, an object of worship, a “medicine” as the North–American Indians say, in contradistinction to Munda, a grigri, talisman, or charm. Every Mpongwe, woman as well as man, has some Mbwiri to which offerings are made in times of misfortune, sickness, or danger. I afterwards managed to enter one of these rude and embryonal temples so carefully shut. Behind the little door of matting is a tall threshold of board; a bench lines the far end, and in the centre stands “Ologo,” a rude imitation of a human figure, with a gum-torch planted in the ground before it ready for burnt offerings. To the walls are suspended sundry mystic implements, especially basins, smeared with red and white chalk-mixture, and wooden crescents decorated with beads and ribbons.

During worship certain objects are placed before the Joss, the suppliant at the same time jangling and shaking the Ncheke a rude beginning of the bell, the gong, the rattle, and the instruments played before idols by more advanced peoples. It is a piece of wood, hour-glass-shaped but flat, and some six inches and a half long; the girth of the waist is five inches, and about three more round the ends. The wood is cut away, leaving rude and uneven raised bands horizontally striped with white, black, and red. Two brass wires are stretched across the upper and lower breadth, and each is provided with a ring or hinge holding four or five strips of wire acting as clappers.

This “wicker-work rattle to drive the devil out” (M. du Chaillu, chap, xxvi.) is called by the Mpongwe “Soke,” and serves only, like that of the Dahomans and the Ashantis (Bowdich, 364) for dancing and merriment. The South American Maraca was the sole object of worship known to the Tupi or Brazilian “Indians.”6

The beliefs and superstitions popularly attributed to the Mpongwe are these. They are not without that which we call a First Cause, and they name it Anyambia, which missionary philologists consider a contraction of Aninla, spirit (?), and Mbia, good. M. du Chaillu everywhere confounds Anyambía, or, as he writes the word, “Aniambié,” with Inyemba, a witch, to bewitch being “punga inyemba.” Mr. W. Winwood Reade seems to make Anyambía a mysterious word, as was Jehovah after the date of the Moabite stone. Like the Brahm of the Hindus, the god of Epicurus and Confucius, and the Akárana-Zaman or Endless Time of the Guebres, Anyambia is a vague being, a vox et præterea nihil, without personality, too high and too remote for interference in human affairs, therefore not addressed in prayer, never represented by the human form, never lodged in temples. Under this “unknown God” are two chief agencies, working partners who manage the business of the world, and who effect what the civilized call “Providence.” Mbwírí here becomes the Osiris, Jove, Hormuzd or Good God, the Vishnu, or Preserver, a tutelar deity, a Lar, a guardian. Onyámbe is the Bad God, Typhon, Vejovis, the Ahriman or Semitic devil; Shiva the Destroyer, the third person of the Aryan triad; and his name is never mentioned but with bated breath. They have not only fear of, but also a higher respect for him than for the giver of good, so difficult is it for the child-man’s mind to connect the ideas of benignity and power. He would harm if he could, ergo so would his god. I once hesitated to believe that these rude people had arrived at the notion of duality, at the Manichaeanism which caused Mr. Mill (sen.) surprise that no one had revived it in his time; at an idea so philosophical, which leads directly to the ne plus ultra of faith, El Wahdaníyyeh or Monotheism. Nor should I have credited them with so logical an apparatus for the regimen of the universe, or so stout-hearted an attempt to solve the eternal riddle of good and evil. But the same belief also exists amongst the Congoese tribes, and even in the debased races of the Niger. Captain William Alien (“Niger Expedition,” i. 227) thus records the effect when, at the request of the commissioners, Herr Schon, the missionary, began stating to King Obi the difference between the Christian religion and heathenism:

“Herr Schön. There is but one God.

“King Obi. I always understood there were two,” &c.

The Mpongwe “Mwetye” is a branch of male freemasonry into which women and strangers are never initiated. The Bakele and Shekyani, according to “Western Africa” (Wilson, pp. 391–2), consider it a “Great Spirit.” Nothing is more common amongst adjoining negro tribes than to annex one another’s superstitions, completely changing, withal, their significance. “Ovengwá” is a vampire, the apparition of a dead man; tall as a tree, always winking and clearly seen, which is not the case with the Ibámbo and Ilogo, plurals of Obambo and Ologo. These are vulgar ghosts of the departed, the causes of “possession,” disease and death; they are propitiated by various rites, and everywhere they are worshipped in private. Mr. Wilson opines that the “Obambo are the spirits of the ancestors of the people, and Inlâgâ are the spirits of strangers and have come from a distance,” but this was probably an individual tenet. The Mumbo–Jumbo of the Mandengas; the Semo of the Súsús; the Tassau or “Purrah-devil” of the Mendis; the Egugun of the Egbas; the Egbo of the Duallas; and the Mwetye and Ukukwe of the Bakele, is represented in Pongo-land by the Ndá, which is an order of the young men. Ndá dwells in the woods and comes forth only by night bundled up in dry plantain leaves7 and treading on tall stilts; he precedes free adult males who parade the streets with dance and song. The women and children fly at the approach of this devil on two sticks, and with reason: every peccadillo is punished with a merciless thrashing. The institution is intended to keep in order the weaker sex, the young and the “chattels:” Ndá has tried visiting white men and missionaries, but his visits have not been a success.

The civilized man would be apt to imagine that these wild African fetishists are easily converted to a “purer creed.” The contrary is everywhere and absolutely the case; their faith is a web woven with threads of iron. The negro finds it almost impossible to rid himself of his belief; the spiritual despotism is the expression of his organization, a part of himself. Progressive races, on the other hand, can throw off or exchange every part of their religion, except perhaps the remnant of original and natural belief in things unseen — in fact, the Fetishist portion, such as ghost-existence and veneration of material objects, places, and things. I might instance the Protestant missionary who, while deriding the holy places at Jerusalem, considers the “Cedars of Lebanon” sacred things, and sternly forbids travellers to gather the cones.

The stereotyped African answer to Europeans ridiculing these institutions, including wizard-spearing and witch-burning is, “There may be no magic, though I see there is, among you whites. But we blacks have known many men who have been bewitched and died.” Even in Asia, whenever I spoke contemptuously to a Moslem of his Jinns, or to a Hindu of his Rákshasa, the rejoinder invariably was, “You white men are by nature so hot that even our devils fear you.”

Witchcraft, which has by no means thoroughly disappeared from Europe, maintains firm hold upon the African brain. The idea is found amongst Christians, for instance, the “reduced Indians” of the Amazonas River; and it is evidently at the bottom of that widely spread superstition, the “evil eye,” which remains throughout Southern Europe as strong as it was in the days of Pliny. As amongst barbarians generally, no misfortune happens, no accident occurs, no illness nor death can take place without the agency of wizard or witch. There is nothing more odious than this crime; it is hostile to God and man, and it must be expiated by death in the most terrible tortures. Metamorphosis is a common art amongst Mpongwe magicians: this vulgar materialism, of which Ovid sang, must not be confounded with the poetical Hindu metempsychosis or transmigration of souls which explains empirically certain physiological mysteries. Here the adept naturally becomes a gorilla or a leopard, as he would be a lion in South Africa, a hyena in Abyssinia and the Somali country, and a loup-garou in Brittany.8

The poison ordeal is a necessary corollary to witchcraft. The plant most used by the Oganga (medicine man) is a small red rooted shrub, not unlike a hazel bush, and called Ikázyá or Ikájá. Mr. Wilson (p. 225) writes “Nkazya:” Battel (loc. cit. 334) terms the root “Imbando,” a corruption of Mbundú. M. du Chaillu (chap. xv.) gives an illustration of the “Mboundou leaf” (half size): Professor John Torrey believes the active principle to be a vegeto-alkali of the Strychnos group, but the symptoms do not seem to bear out the conjecture. The Mpongwe told me that the poison was named either Mbundú or Olondá (nut) werere — perhaps this was what is popularly called “a sell.” Mbundú is the decoction of the scraped bark which corresponds with the “Sassy-water” of the northern maritime tribes. The accused, after drinking the potion, is ordered to step over sticks of the same plant, which are placed a pace apart. If the man be affected, he raises his foot like a horse with string-halt, and this convicts him of the foul crime. Of course there is some antidote, as the medicine-man himself drinks large draughts of his own stuff: in Old Calabar River for instance, Mithridates boils the poison-nut; but Europeans could not, and natives would not, tell me what the Gaboon “dodge” is. According to vulgar Africans, all test-poisons are sentient and reasoning beings, who search the criminal’s stomach, that is his heart, and who find out the deep hidden sin; hence the people shout, “If they are wizards, let it kill them; if they are innocent, let it go forth!” Moreover, the detected murderer is considered a bungler who has fallen into the pit dug for his brother. Doubtless many innocent lives have been lost by this superstition. But there is reason in the order, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” without having recourse to the supernaturalisms and preternaturalisms, which have unobligingly disappeared when Science most wants them. Sorcery and poison are as closely united as the “Black Nightingales,” and it evidently differs little whether I slay a man with my sword or I destroy him by the slow and certain torture of a mind diseased.

The Mpongwe have also some peculiarities in their notions of justice. If a man murder another, the criminal is put to death, not by the nearest of kin, as amongst the Arabs and almost all wild people, but by the whole community; this already shows an advanced appreciation of the act and its bearings. The penalty is either drowning or burning alive: except in the case of a chief or a very rich man, little or no difference is made between wilful murder, justifiable homicide, and accidental manslaughter — the reason of this, say their jurists, is to make people more careful. Here, again, we find a sense of the sanctity of life the reverse of barbarous. Cutting and maiming are punished by the fine of a slave.

And now briefly to resume the character of the Mpongwe, a nervous and excitable race of negroes. The men are deficient in courage, as the women are in chastity, and neither sex has a tincture of what we call morality. To commercial shrewdness and eagerness they add exceptional greed of gain and rascality; foreign rum and tobacco, dress and ornaments, arms and ammunition have been necessaries to them; they will have them, and, unless they can supply themselves by licit, they naturally fly to illicit means. Yet, despite threats of poison and charges of witchcraft, they have arrived at an inkling of the dogma that “honesty is the best policy:” the East African has never dreamed it in the moments of his wildest imagination. Pre-eminent liars, they are, curious to say, often deceived by the falsehoods of others, and they fairly illustrate the somewhat paradoxical proverb:

“He who hates truth shall be the dupe of lies.”

Unblushing mendicants, cunning and calculating, their obstinacy is remarkable; yet, as we often find the African, they are at the same time irresolute in the extreme. Their virtues are vivacity, mental activity, acute observation, sociability, politeness, and hospitality: the fact that a white man can wander single-handed through the country shows a kindly nature. The brightest spot in their character is an abnormal development of adhesiveness, popularly called affection; it is somewhat tempered by capricious ruffianism, as in children; yet it entitles them to the gratítude of travellers.

The language of the Mpongwe has been fairly studied. T. Edward Bowdich (“Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee,” London, Murray, 1819) when leaving the West Coast for England, touched at the Gaboon in a trading vessel, and visited Naango (King George’s Town), on Abaaga Creek, which he places fifty miles up stream. He first gave (Appendix VI.) a list of the Mpongwe numerals. In 1847 the “Missionaries of the A. B. C. F. M.” Gaboon Mission, Western Africa, printed a “Grammar of the Mpongwe Language, with Vocabularies” (New York,Snowden and Pratt, Vesey Street), perhaps a little prematurely; it is the first of the four dialects on this part of the coast reduced to system by the American Missionaries, especially by the Rev. Mr. Leighton Wilson, the others being Bakele, Benga, and Fán.

In 1856, the same gentleman, who had taken the chief part in the first publication, made an able abstract and a comparison with the Grebo and Mandenga tongues (“Western Africa,” part iv. chap. iv.). M. du Chaillu further abridged this abridgement in his Appendix without owning his authority, and in changing the examples he did all possible damage. In the Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London (part ii. vol. i. new series), he also gave an abstract, in which he repeats himself. A “vocabulaire de la langue Ponga” was printed in the “Mémoires de la Société Ethnologique,” tome ii., by M. P. H. Delaporte.

The other publications known to me are:—

1. The Book of Proverbs, translated into the Mpongwe language at the mission of the A. B. C. F. M., Gaboon, West Africa. New York. American Bible Society, instituted in the year MDCCCXVI. 1859.

2. The Books of Genesis, part of Exodus, Proverbs, and Acts, by the same, printed at the same place and in the same year.

The missionary explorers of the language, if I may so call them, at once saw that it belongs to the great South African family Sichwáná, Zulu, Kisawahíli, Mbundo (Congoese), Fiote, and others, whose characteristics are polysyllabism, inflection by systematic prefixes, and an alliteration, the mystery of whose reciprocal letters is theoretically explained by a euphony in many cases unintelligible, like the modes of Hindú music, to the European ear.9 But they naturally fell into the universally accepted error of asserting “it has no known affinities to any of the languages north of the Mountains of the Moon,” meaning the equatorial chain which divides the Niger and Nile valleys from the basin of the Congo.

This branch has its peculiarities. Like Italian — the coquette who grants her smiles to many, her favours to few — one of the easiest to understand and to speak a little, it is very difficult to master. Whilst every native child can thread its way safely through its intricate, elaborate, and apparently arbitrary variations, the people comprehend a stranger who blunders over every sentence. Mr. Wilson thus limits the use of the accent: “Whilst the Mandenga (“A Grammar of the Mandenga Language,” by the Rev. R. Maxwell Macbriar, London, John Mason) and the Grebo (“Grammar,” by the Right Rev. John Payne, D.D. 150, Nassau Street, New York, 1864), distinguish between similar words, especially monosyllables, by a certain pitch of voice, the Mpongwe repel accent, and rely solely upon the clear and distinct vowel sounds.” But I found the negative past, present, and future forms of verbs wholly dependent upon a change of accent, or rather of intonation or voice-pitch, which the stranger’s ear, unless acute, will fail to detect. For instance, Mi Taund would mean “I love;” Mi taundá, “I do not love.” The reverend linguist also asserts that it is almost entirely free from guttural and nasal sounds; the latter appeared to me as numerous and complicated as in the Sanskrit. Mr. Wilson could hardly have had a nice ear, or he would not have written Nchígo “Ntyege,” or Njína “Engena,” which gives a thoroughly unAfrican distinctness to the initial consonant.

The adjectival form is archaically expressed by a second and abstract substantive. This peculiarity is common in the South African family, as in Ashanti; but, as Bowdich observes, we also find it in Greek, e.g. <Greek>, “heresies of destruction” for destructive. Another notable characteristic is the Mpongwe’s fondness for the passive voice, never using, if possible, the active; for instance, instead of saying, “He was born thus,” he prefers, “The birth that was thus borned by him.” The dialect changes the final as well as the initial syllable, a process unknown to the purest types of the South African family. As we advance north we find this phenomenon ever increasing; for instance in Fernando Po; but the Mpongwe limits the change to verbs.

Another distinguishing point of these three Gaboon tongues, as the Rev. Mr. Mackey observes, is “the surprizing flexibility of the verb, the almost endless variety of parts regularly derived from a single root. There are, perhaps, no other languages in the world that approach them in the variety and extent of the inflections of the verb, possessing at the same time such rigid regularity of conjugation and precision of the meaning attached to each part.” It is calculated that the whole number of tenses or shades of meaning which a Mpongwe radical verb may be made to express, with the aid of its auxiliary particles, augmentatives, and negatives — prefixes, infixes, and suffixes — is between twelve and fifteen hundred, worse than an Arabic triliteral.

Liquid and eminently harmonious, concise and capable of contraction, the Mpongwe tongue does not deserve to die out. “The genius of the language is such that new terms may be introduced in relation to ethics, metaphysics, and science; even to the great truths of the Christian religion.”

The main defect is that of the South African languages generally — a deficiency of syntax, of gender and case; a want of vigour in sound; a too great precision of expression, rendering it clumsy and unwieldy; and an absence of exceptions, which give beauty and variety to speech. The people have never invented any form of alphabet, yet the abundance of tale, legend, and proverb which their dialect contains might repay the trouble of acquiring it.

1 M. du Chaillu ends his chapter i. with an “illustration of a Mpongwe woman,” copied without acknowledgment from Mr. Wilson’s “Portrait of Yanawaz, a Gaboon Princess.”

2 Everywhere on the lower river “hard dollars” are highly valued. The Spanish, formerly the favourite, and always worth 4s. 2d., command only a five-franc piece at Le Plateau; moreover, the “peseta,” like the shilling, is taken as a franc.

3 “The British Jews,” by the Rev. John Mills. London: Houlston and Stoneman, 1853.

4 For further details see “Zanzibar City, Island, and Coast,” vol. ii. chap. iv.

5 See “Zanzibar City, Island, and Coast,” vol. ii. chap. v.

6 See part ii. chap. xxii. “Hans Stade,” translated by Mr. Albert Tootal, annotated by myself, and published by the Hakluyt Society, 1874.

7 Captain Boteler (v. ii. p. 374) gives a sketch of the “Fetiche dance, Cape Lopez,” and an admirable description of Ndá, who is mounted on stilts with a white mask, followed by negroes with chalked faces.

8 See “Zanzibar, City, Island, and Coast,” vol. i. chap. vii.

9 I have discussed this subject in my “Zanzibar,” vol. i. chap. xi.

Chapter 5.

To Sánga-Tánga and Back.

My objects in visiting Mbátá, the reader will have understood, were to shoot a specimen or specimens of the gorilla, and, if possible, to buy or catch a youngster. Even before landing, the pilot had assured me that a “baby” was on sale at the Comptoir, but on inquiry it proved to have died. I was by no means sanguine of success — when the fight is against Time, the Old Man usually wins the day. The short limits of my trip would not allow me to wander beyond the coast and the nearer riverine regions, where frequent villages and the constant firing of muskets have taught all wild animals that flight is their only defence; thus, besides being rare, they must be shy and timid, wary and knowing, “like an old hedgehog hunted for his grease.” The first glance at the bush suggested, “Surely it is impossible to find big game in such a land of farms and plantations.”

Those who have shot under such circumstances will readily understand that everything depends upon “luck;” one man may beat the forest assiduously and vainly for five or six weeks; another will be successful on the first day. Thus whilst I, without any fault of my own, utterly failed in shooting a gorilla, although I saw him and heard him, and came upon his trail, and found his mortal spoils, another traveller had hardly landed in the Gaboon before he was so fortunate as to bring down a fine anthropoid.

However, as man cannot command success, I was obliged to content myself with doing all in my power to deserve it. I offered five dollars, equalling the same number of sovereigns in England, to every huntsman for every fair shot, and ten dollars for each live ape. I implicitly obeyed all words of command, and my factotum Selim Agha was indefatigable in his zeal. Indeed “luck” was dead against us during the whole of my stay in Gorilla-land. We ran a fair risk of drowning in the first day’s voyage; on the next march we were knocked down by lightning, and on the last trip I had a narrow escape from the fall of a giant branch that grazed my hammock.

My first “bush” evening was spent in palm-wine, rum, and wassail; one must begin by humouring Africans, under pain of being considered a churl; but the inevitable result is, that next day they will by some pretext or other shirk work to enjoy the headache. That old villain, “Young Prince,” becoming very fou, hospitably offered me his daughter-inlaw Azizeh, Forteune’s second wife; and he was vigorously supported by the Nimrod himself, who had drawn a horizontal line of white chalk above the eyebrows, a defence against the Ibambo, those bad ghosts that cause fevers and sickness. Forteune then hinted that perhaps I might prefer his daughter —“he be piccanniny; he be all same woman.” Marchandise offerte a le pied coupé, both offers were declined with, Merci, non! Sporting parties are often made up by the Messieurs du Plateau, I had been told at the Comptoir; but such are the fascinations of les petites, that few ever progress beyond the first village. There was, consequently, wonder in the land as to what manner of utangáni this one might be.

It is only fair to own that the ladies endured with great philosophy the spretæ injuria formæ, and made no difference in their behaviour on account of their charms being unappreciated. Azízeh was a stout and sturdy personage of twenty-five, with thick wrists and ankles, a very dark skin, and a face rendered pleasing by good humour. And Azízeh was childless, a sad reproach in these lands, where progeny forms a man’s wealth and a woman’s honour.

The next day was perforce a halt, as had been expected; moreover, rains and tornadoes were a reasonable pretext for nursing the headache. The 21st was also wet and stormy, so Nimrod hid himself and was not to be found. Then the balivernes began. One Asini, a Mpongwe from the Plateau, offered to show me a huge gorilla near his village; in the afternoon he was confronted with “Young Prince,” and he would have blushed scarlet if he could. But he assured me plaintively that he must lie to live, and, after all, la prudence des souris n’est pas celle des chats. Before dark, Forteune appeared, and swore that he had spent the day in the forest, he had shot at a gorilla, but the gun missed fire — of course he had slept in a snug hut.

This last determined me to leave Mbátá; the three Kru-men had returned; one of them was stationed in charge of the boat, and next morning we set out at 6 A.M. for Nche Mpolo, the headquarters of “Young Prince.” The well-wooded land was devoid of fetor, even at that early hour; we passed Ndagola, a fresh clearing and newly built huts, and then we skirted a deep and forested depression, upon whose further side lay our bourne. It promised sand-flies, the prime pest of this region; a tall amphitheatre of trees on a dune to the west excluded the sea-breeze, and northwards a swampy hollow was a fine breeding place for M. Maringouin.

Nche Mpolo lies some three miles nearly due south of Mbátá; the single street contains fourteen cottages and two palaver houses. We were received with distinction by “Young Prince’s” daughter, a huge young woman, whose still huger mamma was from Cape Lopez. She placed mats upon the bamboo couch under the verandah, brought water to wash our feet, and put the kettle on that we might have tea. The sun was fiery and the day sultry; my companions complained of fatigue after a two hours’ walk, and then busied themselves ostentatiously in cleaning their muskets, in collecting provisions, and in appointing certain bushmen to meet us on the morrow. Before dark Hotaloya returned to his village, declaring that he could find no bed at his papa’s. Probably the uxorious youth had been ordered home by his pet wife, who had once lived with a European trader, who spoke a few words of English, and who cooked with peculiar skill — the solid merits of a “superior person.”

At dawn on the 23rd we set out for the southern bush, Selim, Forteune, and a carrier Kru-man — to carry nothing. We passed through a fresh clearing, we traversed another village (three within five miles!), we crossed a bad bridge and a clear stream flowing to the south-east, and presently we found ourselves deep in the dew-dripping forest. The leaves no longer crackled crisp under foot, and the late rains had made the swamps somewhat odorous. After an hour of cautious walking, listening as we went, we saw evident signs of Mister Gorilla. Boughs three inches in diameter strewed the ground; the husks of Ntondo or Ibere (wild cardamom) had been scattered about, and a huge hare’s form of leaves lay some five yards from the tree where Forteune declared that Mistress and Master Gorilla had passed the night, Paterfamilias keeping watch below. A little beyond we were shown a spot where two males had been fighting a duel, or where a couple had been indulging in dalliance sweet; the prints were 8 inches long and 6 across the huge round toes; whilst the hinder hand appeared almost bifurcate, the thumb forming nearly a half. This is explained in the “Gorilla Book” (chap, xx.): “Only the ball of the foot, and that thumb which answers to our great toe, seem to touch the ground.”

Presently we came upon the five bushmen who had been appointed to meet us. They were a queer-looking lot, with wild, unsteady eyes, receding brows, horizontal noses, and projecting muzzles; the cranium and the features seemed disposed nearly at a right angle, giving them a peculiar baboon-like semblance. Each had his water-gourd and his flint-gun, the lock protected by a cover of monkey’s skin or wild cow’s hide, whilst gibècieres and ammunition-bags of grass-cloth hung from their shoulders. There were also two boys with native axes, small iron triangles, whose points passed through knob-sticks; these were to fell the trees in which our game might take refuge, and possibly they might have done so in a week. A few minutes with this party convinced me that I was wilfully wasting time; they would not separate, and they talked so loud that game would be startled a mile off. I proposed that they should station me in a likely place, form a circle, and drive up what was in it — they were far above acting beaters after that fashion. So we dismissed them and dispersed about the bush. My factotum shot a fine Mboko (Siurus eborivorus), 2 ft. 2 in. total length: the people declare that this squirrel gnaws ivory, whence its name. I had heard of it in East and Central Africa, but the tale appeared fabulous: here it is very common, half a dozen will be seen during the day; it has great vitality, and it will escape after severe wounds. The bushmen also brought a Shoke (Colubus Satanas), a small black monkey, remarkably large limbed: the little unfortunate was timid, but not vicious; it worried itself to death on the next day. They also showed me the head of the Njíwo antelope, which M. du Chaillu (chap, xii.) describes as “a singular animal of the size of a donkey, with shorter legs, no horns, and black, with a yellow spot on the back.”1

In the afternoon Selim went to fetch my arsenical soap from Mbátá, where I had left it en Fitiché: as long as that “bad medicine” was within Hotaloya’s “ben,” no one would dare to meddle with my goods. Forteune walked in very tired about sunset. He had now added streaks of red to the white chalk upon his face, arms, and breast, for he suspected, we were assured, witchcraft. I told him to get ready for a march on the morrow to the Shekyáni country, lying south-east, but he begged so hard, and he seemed so assured of showing sport, that the design was deferred, and again “perdidi diem.”

Monday the 24th was a Black Monday, sultry and thundery. We went to the bush, and once more we returned, disgusted by the chattering of the wild men. As we discussed our plans for moving, Forteune threw cold water upon every proposal. This puzzled me, and the difficulty was to draw his secret. At last Kángá, a black youth, who, being one of the family, had attached himself uninvited to the party, blurted out in bad French that the Shekyáni chief, to whose settlement we were bound, had left for the interior, and that the village women would not, or rather could not, give us “chop.” This was a settler to my Mpongwe friends. Nimrod, however, declared that some bushmen had lately seen several gorillas in the direction of Sánga-Tánga, two marches down coast from Mbátá, and about half-way to Cape Lopez. I did not believe a word of his intelligence; the direction is south-west instead of south-east, towards the sea instead of into the forest. But it was evidently hopeless to seek for the “ole man” in these parts, and I had long been anxious to see Sánga-Tánga; we therefore agreed nem. con. to set out before dawn on the next day.

But the next day dawned, and the sun rose high, and the world was well heated and aired before the bushmen condescended to appear. After a two hours’ battle with the sand-flies we set off at 7.35 A.M., Forteune, Hotaloya, and Kángá at the head of the musketeers, one of them also carrying an axe; sixteen guns form a strong party for these regions. The viol (nchámbí) was not allowed to hang mute in Mbata’s halls, this instrument or the drum must never be neglected in African travel; its melody at the halt and the camp-fire are to the negro what private theatricals are to the European sailor half fossilized in the frozen seas. Our specimen was strung with thin cords made from the fibre of a lliana; I was shown this growth, which looked much like a convolvulus. The people have a long list of instruments, and their music, though monotonous, is soft and plaintive: Bowdich gives a specimen of it (“Sketch of Gaboon,” p. 449), and of a bard who seems to have been somewhat more frenzied than most poets. Captain Allen (iii. 398) speaks of a harp at Bimbia (Camarones) tightly strung with the hard fibre of some creeping plant. The Bákele harp (M. du Chaillu, chap, xvi.) is called Ngombi; the handle opposite the bow often has a carved face, and it might be a beginning of the article used by civilized Europe — Wales for instance.

The path plunged westward into the bush, spanned a dirty and grass-grown plantation of bananas, dived under thorn tunnels and arches of bush, and crossed six nullahs, Neropotamoi, then dry, but full of water on our return. The ant-nests were those of Yoruba and the Mendi country; not the tall, steepled edifices built by the termites with yellow clay, as in Eastern Africa, but an eruption of blue-black, hard-dried mud and mucus, resembling the miniature pagodas, policeman’s lanterns, mushrooms, or umbrellas one or two feet high, here single, there double, common in Ashanti and Congo-land. Like most of their congeners, the animals die when exposed to the sun. The “Bashikouay” and Nchounou (Nchu’u) of M. du Chaillu are the common “driver-ant” of West Africa (Termes bellicosa). It is little feared in the Gaboon; when its armies attack the mission-houses, they are easily stopped by lighting spirits of turpentine, or by a strew of quicklime, which combines with the formic acid. The different species are described in “Palm Land” and “Western Africa” (pp. 369–373), from which even the account of the “tubular bridge” is taken — Mr. Wilson less sensationally calls it what it is, a “live raft.” The most common are the Nkázeze, a large reddish and fetid ant, which is harmless to man; the Njenge, a smaller red species, and the Ibimbízí, whose bite is painful.

We passed the mortal remains of a gorilla lashed to a pole; the most interesting parts had been sold to Mr. R. B. N. Walker, and were on their way to England. I was shown for the first time the Ndámbo, or Ndambié (Bowdich, “Olamboo”), which gives the india rubber of commerce; it is not a fat-leaved fig-tree (Ficus elastica of Asia) nor aeuphorbia (Siphonia elastica), as in South America, but a large climbing ficus, a cable thick as a man’s leg crossing the path, and “swarming up” to the top of the tallest boles; the yellow fruit is tart and pleasant to the taste. In 1817 the style of collecting the gum (olamboo) was to spread with a knife the glutinous milk as it oozed from the tree over the shaved breast and arms like a plaister; it was then taken off, rolled up in balls to play with or stretched over drums, no other use being known. The Rev. Mr. Wilson declares (chap. ii.) that he “first discovered the gum elastic, which has been procured, as yet, only at Corisco, Gabun, and Kama.” In 1854, Mr. Thompson (p. 112) found it in the Mendi country, near Sherbro; he describes it as a vine with dense bark, which yields the gum when hacked, and which becomes soft and porous when old. The juice is milk-white, thick, and glutinous, soon stiffening, darkening, and hardening without aid of art. I should like to see the raw material tried for making waterproofs in the tropics, where the best vulcanized articles never last. The Ndámbo tree has been traced a hundred miles inland from the Liberian Coast; that of the Gallinas and Sherbro is the best; at St. Paul’s River it is not bad; but on the Junk River it is sticky and little prized. The difficulty everywhere is to make the negro collect it, and, when he does, to sell it unadulterated: in East Africa he uses the small branches of the ficus for flogging canes, but will not take the trouble even to hack the “Mpira” tree.

At a brook of the sweetest water, purling over the cleanest and brightest of golden sands, we filled the canteens, this being the last opportunity for some time. Forest walks are thirsty work during the hot season; the air is close, fetid, and damp with mire; the sea-breeze has no power to enter, and perspiration streams from every pore. After heavy rains it is still worse, the surface of the land is changed, and paths become lines of dark puddles; the nullahs, before dry, roll muddy, dark-brown streams, and their mouths streak the sea with froth and scum. Hardly a living object meets the eye, and only the loud, whirring flight of some large bird breaks the dreary silence. The music of the surf now sounded like the song of the sea-shell as we crossed another rough prism of stone and bush, whose counter-slope fell gently into a sand-flat overgrown with Ipomaa and other bright flowering plants. After walking about an hour (equal to 2.50 miles) between south and south-west, we saluted the pleasant aspect of <Greek> with a general cheer. Northwards lay Point Ipizarala, southways Nyonye, both looking like tree-clumps rising from the waves. I could not sufficiently admire, and I shall never forget the exquisite loveliness of land and sea; the graceful curve of the beach, a hundred feet broad, fining imperceptibly away till lost in the convexity of waters. The morning sun, half way to the zenith, burned bright in a cloudless sky, whilst in the east and west distant banks of purple mist coloured the liquid plain with a cool green-blue, a celadon tint that reposed the eye and the brain. The porpoise raised in sport his dark, glistening back to the light of day, and plunged into the cool depths as if playing off the “amate sponde” of the Mediterranean; and sandpipers and curlews, the latter wild as ever, paced the smooth, pure floor. The shoreline was backed by a dark vegetable wall, here and there broken and fronted by single trees, white mangroves tightly corded down, and raised on stilted roots high above the tide. Between wood and wave lay powdered sandstone of lively yellow, mixed with bright white quartz and débris of pink shells. Upon the classic shores of Greece I should have thought of Poseidon and the Nereids; but the lovely scene was in unromantic Africa, which breeds no such visions of

“The fair humanities of old religion.”

Resuming our road, we passed the ruins of an “Olako,” the khámbí of East Africa, a temporary encampment, whose few poles were still standing under a shady tree. We then came upon a blockaded lagoon; the sea-water had been imprisoned by a high bank which the waves had washed up, and it will presently be released by storms from the south-west. Near the water, even at half-ebb, we find the floor firm and pleasant; it becomes loose walking at high tide, and the ribbed banks are fatiguing to ascend and descend under a hot sun and in reeking air. A seine would have supplied a man-of-war in a few hours; large turtle is often turned; in places young ones about the size of a dollar scuttled towards the sea, and Hotaloya brought a nest of eggs, which, however, were too high in flavour for the European palate. The host of crabs lining the water stood alert, watching our approach, and when we came within a hundred yards they hurried sideways into the safer sea — the scene reminded me of the days when, after “tiffin,” we used to “már kankrás” on the Clifton Sands in the Unhappy Valley.

Presently we came to a remarkable feature of this coast, the first specimen of which was seen at Point Ovindo in the Gaboon River. The Iberian explorers called them “Sernas,” fields or downs, opposed to Corôas, sand-dunes or hills. They are clearings in the jungle made by Nature’s hand, fenced round everywhere, save on the sea side, by tall walls of dark vegetation.; averaging perhaps a mile long by 200 yards broad, and broken by mounds and terraces regular as if worked by art. These prairies bear a green sward, seldom taller than three feet, and now ready for the fire — here and there the verdure is dotted by a tree or two. It is universally asserted that they cannot be cultivated; and, if this be true, the cause would be worth investigating. In some places they are perfectly level, and almost flush with the sea; in others they swell gently to perhaps 100 feet; in other parts, again, they look like scarps and earth-works, remarkably resembling the lower parasitic craters of a huge volcano; and here and there they are pitted with sinks like the sea-board of Loango. These savannahs (savánas) add an indescribable charm to the Gaboon Coast, especially when the morning and evening suns strike them with slanting rays, and compel them to stand out distinct from the setting of eternal emerald. The aspect of the downs is civilized as the banks of the Solent; and the coast wants nothing to complete the “fine, quiet old-country picture in the wilds of Africa” but herds of kine grazing upon leas shining with a golden glory, or a country seat, backed by the noble virgin forest, such a bosquet as Europe never knew.

After another hour’s walk, which carried us about three miles, we sighted in one of these prairillons a clump of seventeen huts. A negro in European clothes, after prospecting the party through a ship’s glass, probably the gift of some slaver, came down to meet us, and led the way to his “town.” Finding his guest an Englishman, the host, who spoke a few words of French and Portuguese, at once began to talk of his “summer gîte” where pirogues were cut out, and boats were built; there were indeed some signs of this industrie, but all things wore the true Barracoon aspect. Two very fine girls were hid behind the huts, but did not escape my factotum’s sharp eyes; and several of the doors were carefully padlocked: the pretty faces had been removed when he returned. This coast does an active retail business with São Thomé and the Ilha do Principe — about Cape Lopez the “ebony trade” still, I hear, flourishes on a small scale.

During our halt for breakfast at the barracoon, we were visited by Petit Denis, a son of the old king. His village is marked upon the charts some four miles south-south-east of his father’s; but at this season all the royalties, we are assured, affect the sea-shore. He was dressed in the usual loin-wrap, under a broadcloth coat, with the French official buttons. Leading me mysteriously aside, he showed certificates from the officials at Le Plateau, dating from 1859, recommending him strongly as a shipbroker for collecting émigrants libres, and significantly adding, les nègres ne manquent pas. Petit Denis’s face was a study when I told him that, being an Englishman, a dozen negroes were not worth to me a single “Njína.” Slave cargoes of some eight to ten head are easily canoed down the rivers, and embarked in schooners for the islands: the latter sadly want hands, and should be assisted in setting on foot a system of temporary immigration.

At 10.45 A.M. we resumed our march. The fiery sun had sublimated black clouds, the northeast quarter looked ugly, and I wished to be housed before the storm burst. The coast appeared populous; we met many bushmen, who were perfectly civil, and showed no fear, although some of them had probably never seen a white face. All were armed with muskets, and carried the usual hunting talismans, horns and iron or brass bells, hanging from the neck before and behind. We crossed four sweet-water brooks, which, draining the high banks, flowed fast and clear down cuts of loose, stratified sand, sometimes five feet deep: the mouths opened to the north-west, owing to the set of the current from the south-west, part of the great Atlantic circulation running from the Antarctic to the equator. Those which are not bridged with fallen trees must be swum during the rains, as the water is often waist-deep. Many streamlets, shown by their feathery fringes of bright green palm, run along the shore before finding an outlet; they are excellent bathing places, where the salt water can be washed off the skin. The sea is delightfully tepid, but it is not without risk — it becomes deep within biscuit-toss, there is a strong under-tow, and occasionally an ugly triangular fin may be seen cruizing about in unpleasant proximity. As our naked feet began to blister, we suddenly turned to the left, away from the sea; and, after crossing about 100 yards of prairillon, one of the prettiest of its kind, we found ourselves at Bwámánge, the village of King Lángobúmo. It was then noon, and we had walked about three hours and a half in a general south-south-west direction.

His majesty’s hut was at the entrance of the village, which numbered five scattered and unwalled sheds. He at once led us to his house, a large bamboo hall, with several inner sleeping rooms for the “Harím;” placed couch, chair, and table, the civilization of the slave-trade; brought wife No. 1 to shake hands, directed a fowl to be killed, and, sitting down, asked us the news in French. As a return for our information, he told us that the Gorilla was everywhere to be found, even in the bush behind his town. The rain coming down heavily, I was persuaded to pass the night there, the king offering to beat the bush with us, to engage hunters, and to find a canoe which would carry the party to Sánga-Tánga, landing us at all the likely places. I agreed the more willingly to the suggestion of a cruize, as my Mpongwe fashionables, like the Congoese, and unlike the Yorubans, proved to be bad and untrained walkers; they complained of sore feet, and they were always anticipating attacks of fever.

When the delicious sea-breeze had tempered the heat, we set out for the forest, and passed the afternoon in acquiring a certainty that we had again been “done.” However, we saw the new guides, and supplied them with ammunition for the next day. The evening was still and close; the Ifúrú (sandflies) and the Nchúná (a red gad-fly) were troublesome as usual, and at night the mosquitoes phlebotomized us till we hailed the dawn.2 A delightful bath of salt followed by fresh water, effectually quenched the fiery irritation of these immundicities.

Wednesday, as we might have expected, was wasted, although the cool and cloudy weather was perfection for a cruize. As we sat waiting for a boat, a youth rushed in breathless, reporting that he had just seen an “ole man gorilla” sitting in a tree hard by. I followed him incredulously at first, but presently the crashing of boughs and distant grunts, somewhat like huhh! huhh! huhh! caused immense excitement. After half a day’s hard work, which resulted in nothing, I returned to Bwámánge, and met the “boat-king,” whose capital was an adjacent settlement of three huts. He was in rags, and my diary might have recorded, Reçu un roi dans un très fichu état. He was accompanied by a young wife, with a huge toupel, and a gang of slaves, who sat down and stared till their eyes blinked and watered. For the loan of his old canoe he asked the moderate sum of fifteen dollars per diem, which finally fell to two dollars; but there was a suspicious reservation anent oars, paddles and rudder, mast and sail.

Meanwhile the sanguine Selim compelled his guide to keep moving in the direction of the gorilla’s grunt, and explaining his reluctance to advance by the fear of meeting the brute in the dark. Savage Africa, however, had as usual the better of the game, and showed his ‘cuteness by planting my factotum in mud thigh-deep. After dark Forteune returned. He had fired at a huge njína, but this time the cap had snapped. As the monster was close, and had shown signs of wrath, we were expected to congratulate Nimrod on his escape. Kindly observe the neat gradations, the artistic sorites of Mpongwe lies.

At 7.30 A.M. on the next day the loads were placed upon the crew’s heads, and we made for the village, where the boat was still drawn up. The “monoxyle” was full of green-brown rain water, the oar-pins were represented by bits of stick, and all the furniture was wanting. After a time, the owner, duly summoned, stalked down from his hut, and began remarking that there was still a “palaver” on the stocks. I replied by paying him his money, and ordering the craft to be baled and launched. It was a spectacle to see the bushmen lying upon their bellies, kicking their heels in the air, and yep-yep-yeping uproariously when Forteune, their master, begged of them to bear a hand. Dean Presto might have borrowed from them a hint for his Yahoos. The threat to empty the Alugu (rum) upon the sand was efficacious. One by one they rose to work, and in the slowest possible way were produced five oars, of which one was sprung, a ricketty rudder, a huge mast, and a sail composed half of matting and half of holes. At the last moment, the men found that they had no “chop;” a franc produced two bundles of sweet manioc, good travelling food, as it can be eaten raw, but about as nutritious as Norwegian bark. At the last, last moment, Lángobúmo, who was to accompany us, remembered that he had neither fine coat nor umbrella — indispensable for dignity, and highly necessary for the delicacy of his complexion, which was that of an elderly buffalo. A lad was started to fetch these articles; and he set off at a hand-gallop, making me certain that behind the first corner he would subside into a saunter, and lie down to rest on reaching the huts.

Briefly, it was 9 A.M. before we doubled Point Nyonye, which had now been so long in sight. With wind, tide, and current dead against us, we hugged the shore where the water is deep. The surf was breaking in heavy sheets upon a reef or shoal outside, and giving ample occupation to a hovering flock of fish-eating birds. Whilst returning over water smooth as glass I observed the curious effect of the current. Suddenly a huge billow would rear like a horse, assume the shape of a giant cobra’s head, fall forward in a mass of foam, and subside gently rippling into the calm surface beyond; the shadowy hollow of the breakers made them appear to impinge upon a black rock, but when they disappeared the sea was placid and unbroken as before. This is, in fact, the typical “roller” of the Gaboon coast — a happy hunting ground for slavers and a dangerous place for cruizers to attempt. As the sea-breeze came up strong, the swell would have swamped a European boat; but our conveyance, shaped like a ship’s gig, but Dalmatian or Dutchman-like in the bows, topped the waves with the buoyancy of a cork, and answered her helm as the Arab obeys the bit. To compact grain she added small specific gravity, and, though stout and thick, she advanced at a speed of which I could hardly believe her capable.

Past Nyonye the coast forms another shallow bay, with about ten miles of chord, in every way a copy of its northern neighbour — the same scene of placid beauty, the sea rimmed with opalline air, pink by contrast with the ultramarine blue; the limpid ether overhead; the golden sands, and the emerald verdure — a Circe, however, whose caress is the kiss of death. The curve is bounded south by Point Dyánye, which appeared to retreat as we advanced. At 2 P.M., when the marvellous clearness of the sky was troubled by a tornado forming in the north-east, we turned towards a little inlet, and, despite the heavy surf, we disembarked without a ducking. A creek supplied us with pure cold water, a spreading tree with a roof, and the soft clean shore with the most luxurious of couches — at 3 P.M. I could hardly persuade myself that an hour had flown.

As we approached Dyánye, at last, a village hoisted the usual big flag on the normal tall pole, and with loud cries ordered us to land. Lángobúmo, who was at the helm, began obeying, when I relieved him of his charge. Seeing that our course was unaltered, a large and well-manned canoe put off, and the rest of the population walked down shore. I made signs for the stranger not to approach, when the head man, Angílah, asked me in English what he had done to offend me, and peremptorily insisted upon my sleeping at his village. All these places are looking forward to the blessed day when a trader, especially a white trader, shall come to dwell amongst the “sons of the soil,” and shall fill their pockets with “trust” money. On every baylet and roadstead stands the Casa Grande, a large empty bungalow, a factory in embryo awaiting the Avatar; but, instead of attracting their “merchant” by collecting wax and honey, rubber and ivory, the people will not work till he appears. Consequently, here, as in Angola and in the lowlands of the Brazil, it is a slight to pass by without a visit; and jealousy, a ruling passion amongst Africans, suggests that the stranger is bound for another and rival village. They wish, at any rate, to hear the news, to gossip half the night, to drink the Utangáni’s rum, and to claim a cloth for escorting him, will he, nill he, to the next settlement. But what could I do? To indulge native prejudice would have stretched my cruize to a fortnight; and I had neither time, supplies, nor stomach for the task. So Lángobúmo was directed to declare that they had a “wicked white man” on board who e’en would gang his ane gait, who had no goods but weapons, and who wanted only to shoot a njína, and to visit Sánga-Tánga, where his brother “Mpolo” had been. All this was said in a sneaking, deprecating tone, and the crew, though compelled to ply their oars, looked their regrets at the exceedingly rude and unseemly conduct of their Utangáni. Angílah followed chattering till he had learned all the novelties; at last he dropped aft, growling much, and promising to receive me at Sánga-Tánga next morning — not as a friend. On our return, however, he prospected us from afar with the greatest indifference; we were empty-handed. There has been change since the days when Lieutenant Boteler, passing along this shore, was addressed by the canoe-men, “I say, you mate, you no big rogue? ship no big rogue?”

At 5 P. M. we weathered Point Dyánye, garnished, like Nyonye, with a threatening line of breakers; the boat-passage along shore was about 400 yards wide. Darkness came on shortly after six o’clock, and the sultry weather began to look ominous, with a huge, angry, black nimbus discharging itself into the glassy livid sea northwards. I suggested landing, but Lángobúmo was positive that the storm had passed westwards, and he objected, with some reason, that in the outer gloom the boat might be dashed to pieces. As we had not even a stone for an anchor, the plea proved, valid. We guided ourselves, by the fitful flashes of forked and sheet lightning combined, towards a ghostly point, whose deeper blackness silhouetted it against the shades. Suddenly the boat’s head was turned inland; a huge breaker, foaming along our gunwales, drove us forwards like the downwards motion of a “swing-swong,” and, before we knew where we were, an ugly little bar had been crossed on the top of the curling scud. We could see the forest on both sides, but there was not light enough to trace the river line; I told Hotaloya to tumble out; “Plenty shark here, mas’r,” was the only answer. We lost nearly half an hour of most valuable time in pottering and groping before all had landed.

At that moment the rain-clouds burst, and in five minutes after the first spatter all were wet to the skin. Selim and I stood close together, trying to light a match, when a sheet of white fire seemed to be let down from the black sky, passing between us with a simultaneous thundering crash and rattle, and a sulphurous smell, as if a battery had been discharged. I saw my factotum struck down whilst in the act of staggering and falling myself; we lay still for a few moments, when a mutual inquiry showed that both were alive, only a little shaken and stunned; the sensation was simply the shock of an electrical machine and the discharge of a Woolwich infant — greatly exaggerated.

We then gave up the partie; it was useless to contend against Jupiter Tonans as well as Pluvialis. I opened my bedding, drank a “stiffener” of raw cognac, wrapped myself well, and at once fell asleep in the heavy rain, whilst the crew gathered under the sail. The gentlemen who stay at home at ease may think damp sheets dangerous, but Malvern had long ago taught me the perfect safety of the wettest bivouac, provided that the body remains warm. At Fernando Po, as at Zanzibar, a drunken sailor after a night in the gutter will catch fever, and will probably die. But he has exposed himself to the inevitable chill after midnight, he is unacclimatized, and both places are exceptionally deadly — to say nothing of the liquor. The experienced African traveller awaking with a chilly skin, swallows a tumbler of cold water, and rolls himself in a blanket till he perspires; there is only one alternative.

Next day I arose at 4 A.M., somewhat cramped and stiff, but with nothing that would not yield to half a handful of quinine, a cup of coffee well “laced,” a pipe, and a roaring fire. Some country people presently came up, and rated us for sleeping in the bush; we retorted in kind, telling them that they should have been more wide-awake. Whilst the boat was being baled, I walked to the shore, and prospected our day’s work. The forest showed a novel feature: flocks of cottony mist-clouds curling amongst the trees, like opals scattered upon a bed of emeralds; a purple haze banked up the western horizon, whilst milk-white foam drew a delicate line between the deep yellow sand and the still deeper blue. Far to the south lay the Serna or prairillon of Sánga-Tánga, a rolling patch, “or, on a field vert,” backed by the usual dark belt of the same, and fronted by straggling dots that emerged from the wave — they proved to be a thin line of trees along shore. We were lying inside the mouth of the “Habanyaá” alias the Shark River, which flows along the south of a high grassy dome, streaked here and there with rows of palms, and broken into the semblance of a verdure-clad crater. According to the people the Nkonje (Squalus) here is not a dangerous “sea-tiger” unless a man wear red or carry copper bracelets; it is caught with hooks and eaten as by the Chinese and the Suri Arabs. The streamlet is a favourite haunt of the hippopotamus; a small one dived when it sighted us, and did not reappear. It was the only specimen that I saw during my three years upon the West African Coast — a great contrast to that of Zanzibar, where half a dozen may be shot in a single day. The musket has made all the difference.

At 6 A.M. on Friday, March 28, the boat was safely carried over the bar of Shark River, and we found ourselves once more hugging the shore southwards. The day was exceptional for West Africa, and much like damp weather at the end of an English May; the grey air at times indulged us with a slow drizzle. After two hours we passed another maritime village, where the farce of yesterday evening was re-acted, but this time with more vigour. Ignorant of my morning’s private work, Hotaloya swore that it was Sánga-Tánga. I complimented him upon his proficiency in lying, and poor Lángobúmo, almost in tears, confessed that he had pointed out to me the real place. Whereupon Hotaloya began pathetically to reproach him for being thus prodigal of the truth. Núrya, the “head trader,” coming down to the beach, with dignity and in force told me in English that I must land, and was chaffed accordingly. He then blustered and threatened instant death, at which it was easy to laugh. About 10 A.M. we lay off our destination, some ten miles south of Dyánye Point. It was a beautiful site, the end of a grassy dune, declining gradually toward the tree-fringed sea; the yellow slopes, cut by avenues and broken by dwarf table-lands, were long afterwards recalled to my memory, when sighting the fair but desolate scenery south of Paraguayan Asuncion. These downs appear to be a sea-coast raised by secular upheaval, and much older than the flat tracts which encroach upon the Atlantic. We could now understand the position of the town which figures so largely in the squadron-annals of the equatorial shore; it was set upon a hillock, whence the eye could catch the approaching sail of the slaver, and where the flag could be raised conspicuously in token of no cruiser being near.

But the glory had departed from Sánga-Tánga (Peel–White? Strip–White?); not a trace of the town remained, the barracoons had disappeared, and all was innocent as upon the day of its creation. A deep silence reigned where the song of joy and the shrieks of torture had so often been answered by the voice of the forest, and Eternal Nature had ceased to be disturbed by the follies and crimes of man.

Sánga-Tánga was burned down, after the fashion of these people, when Mbango, whom Europeans called “Pass-all,” King of the Urungu, who extend up the right bank of the Ogobe, passed away from the sublunary world. King Pass-all had completed his education in Portugal: a negro never attains his highest potential point of villany without a tour through Europe; and thus he rose to be the greatest slave-dealer in this slave-dealing scrap of the coast. In early life he protected the Spanish pirates who fled to Cape Lopez, after plundering the American brig “Mexico:” they were at last forcibly captured by Captain (the late Admiral) Trotter, R.N.; passed over to the United States, and finally hanged at Boston, during the Presidency of General Jackson. Towards the end of his life he became paralytic, like King Pepple of Bonny, and dangerous to the whites as well as to the blacks under his rule. The people, however, still speak highly of him, generosity being a gift which everywhere covers a multitude of sins. He was succeeded by one of his sons, who is favourably mentioned, but who soon followed him to the grave. I saw another, a boy, apparently a slave to a Mpongwe on the coast, and the rest of the family is scattered far and wide. Since Pass-all’s death the “peddlers in human flesh and blood” have gone farther south: men spoke of a great depot at the Mpembe village on the banks of the Nazareth River, where a certain Ndábúliya is aided and abetted by two Utangáni. Now that “‘long-sea” exportation has been completely suppressed, their only markets must be the two opposite islands.

South of Sánga-Tánga, lay a thin line of deeper blue, Fetish Point, the eastern projection of Cape Lopez Bay. From Mbango’s Town it is easy to see the western headland, Cape Lopez, whose low outliers of sand and trees gain slowly but surely upon the waters of the Atlantic. I deferred a visit until a more favourable time, and — that time never came.

Cape Lopez is said to have considerable advantages for developing trade, but the climate appears adverse. A large Catholic mission, described by Barbot, was established here by the Portuguese: as in the Congo, nothing physical of it remains. But Mr. Wilson is rather hard when he asserts that all traces have disappeared — they survive in superior ‘cuteness of the native.

Little need be said about our return, which was merrier than the outward bound trip. Wind, tide, and current were now in our favour, and we followed the chords, not the arcs, of the several bays. At 9.30 P.M. we gave a wide berth to the rollers off Point Nyonye and two hours afterwards we groped through the outer darkness into Bwámánge, where the good Azízeh and Asúnye, who came to receive us, shouted with joy. On the next day another “gorilla palaver,” when a large male was reported to have been shot without a shadow of truth, detained me: it was the last straw which broke the patient camel’s back. After “dashing” to old King Lángobómo one cloth, one bottle of absinthe, two heads of tobacco, and a clay pipe, we set out betimes for the fifteen miles’ walk to Mbátá. Various obstacles delayed us on the way, and the shades of evening began to close in rapidly; night already reigned over the forest. Progress under such circumstances requires the greatest care; as in the streets of Damascus, one must ever look fixedly at the ground, under penalty of a shaking stumble over cross-bars of roots, or fallen branches hidden by grass and mud. And the worst of these wet walks is that, sooner or later, they bring on swollen feet, which the least scratch causes to ulcerate, and which may lame the traveller for weeks. They are often caused by walking and sitting in wet shoes and stockings; it is so troublesome to pull off and pull on again after wading and fording, repeated during every few hundred yards, that most men tramp through the brooks and suffer in consequence. Constant care of the feet is necessary in African travel, and the ease with which they are hurt — sluggish circulation, poor food and insufficient stimulants being the causes — is one of its deplaisirs. The people wash and anoint these wounds with palm oil: a hot bath, with pepper-water, if there be no rum, gives more relief, and caustic must sometimes be used.

We reached Mbátá at 6.15 P.M., and all agreed that two hours of such forest-walking do more damage than five days along the sands.

Since my departure from the coast, French naval officers, travellers and traders, have not been idle. The Marquis de Compiègne, who returned to France in 1874, suffering from ulcerated legs, had travelled up the Fernão Vaz, and its tributary the highly irregular Ogobai, Ogowaï, or Ogowé (Ogobe); yet, curious to remark, all his discoveries arc omitted by Herr Kiepert. His furthest point was 213 kilometres east of “San Quita” (Sankwita), a village sixty-one kilometres north (??) of Pointe Fétiche, near Cape Lopez; but wars and receding waters prevented his reaching the confluence where the Ivindo fork enters the north bank of the Ogobe. He made observations amongst the “Kamma” tribe, which differs from the Bakele and other neighbours. M. Guirold, commanding a cruiser, was also sent to the estuary of the Rembo or Fernão Vaz, into which the Mpungule (N’poulounay of M. du Chaillu?), ascended only by M. Aymès, discharges. The explorers found many shoals and shifting sands before entering the estuary; in the evening they stopped at the Ogobe confluence, where a French seaman was employed in custom-house duties. M. de Compiègne, after attending many palavers, was duly upset when returning to the ship.

On the Fernão Vaz there are now (1873) five factories, each named after some French town: Paris Factory, however, had fallen to ruins, the traders having migrated 150 miles higher up the Kamma River. Here a certain drunken kinglet, “Rampano,” breaks everything he finds in the house, and pays damages when he returns to his senses. On March 31st there was a violent quarrel between the women of two settlements, and the “reguli” embarked with all their host, to fight it out; Rampano was the victor, and after the usual palaver the vanquished was compelled to pay a heavy fine. M. du Chaillu’s descriptions of the country, a park land dotted with tree-mottes, are confirmed; but the sport, excepting hippopotamus, was poor, and the negroes were found eating a white-faced monkey — mere cannibalism amongst the coast tribes. The fauna and flora of the Ogobe are those of the Gaboon, and the variety of beautiful parrots is especially remarked.

On January 9, 1874, M. de Compiègne passed from the Fernão Vaz through the Obango Canal into the Ogobe, which, bordered by Fetish rocks, flows through vast forests; his object was to study the manners and customs of the Kammas, a more important tribe than is generally supposed, far outnumbering the Urungus of the coast. Their country is large and contains many factories, the traders securing allies by marrying native women. The principal items of import are dry goods, guns, common spirits, and American tobacco; profits must be large, as what costs in France one franc eighty cents, here sells for ten francs’ worth of goods. The exports are almost entirely comprised in gum mastic and ivory. At the factory of Mr. Watkins the traveller secured certain figures which he calls “idols”— they are by no means fitted for the drawing-room table. He also noticed the “peace of the household,” a strip of manatus nerve, at times used by paterfamilias.

Mr. R. B. N. Walker, who made sundry excursions between 1866 and 1873, also wrote from Elobe that he had left the French explorers, MM. de Compiègne and Marche, on the Okanda River which M. du Chaillu believes to be the northern fork of the Ogobe. Their letters (Feb. 12, 1874) were dated from Osse in the Okanda country, where they had made arrangements with the kinglet for a journey to the “Otjebos,” probably the Moshebo or Moshobo cannibals of the “Gorilla Book.” The rocks, shoals, and stony bottom of the Ogobe reduced their rate of progress to three miles a day, and, after four wearisome stages, they reached a village of Bákele. Here they saw the slave-driving tribe “Okota,” whose appearance did not prepossess them and whose chief attempted unsuccessfully to stop the expedition. They did not leave before collecting specimens of the language.

Further eastward, going towards the country of the Yalimbongo tribe, they found the Okanda River, which they make the southern fork, the Okono being the northern, descending from the mountains; here food was plentiful compared with Okota-land. The active volcano reported by Mr. R. B. N. Walker, 1873, was found to bear a lake upon the summit — which, in plutonic formations, would suggest an extinct crater. East of the Yalimbongo they came upon the Apingis, whom M. du Chaillu, after two visits, also placed upon the southern fork of the Ogobe. The tribe is described as small in stature, of mild habits, and fond of commerce; hence their plantations on the north or right bank of the river are plundered with impunity by the truculent “Oshieba” (Moshebo or Moshobo?). Further east the river, after being obstructed by rapids, broadens to a mile and becomes navigable — they were probably above the “Ghats.” It is supposed to arise south in a lakelet called Tem or N’dua. A Bákele village was seen near Ochunga, a large riverine island; and thence they passed into the country of the mountaineer Okandas. They are described as fine men, but terrible sorcerers; their plantations of banana and maize are often plundered by the “Oshieba,” the latter being now recognized as a kindred tribe of the Pahouin (Fán).

1 M. du Chaillu’s description of the animal is excellent (p. 282), and the people at once recognized the cut.

2 I did not see the Iboko, which M. du Chaillu (chap, xvi.) calls the “boco;” but, from the native description, I determined it to be the tsetse. He names the sandfly (chap, xvi.) “igoo-gouai.” His “ibolai” or “mangrove fly” is “owole” in the singular, and “iwole” in the plural. The wasp, which he terms “eloway,” is known to the Mpongwe people as “ewogoni.”

Chapter 6.

Village Life in Pongo-land.

The next day was perforce a halt. Forteune and his wives did not appear till 9 A.M., when it was dead low water. I had lent Nimrod a double-barrelled gun during the march, and he was evidently anxious to found a claim upon the protracted usufruct. “Dashes” also had to be settled, and loads made up. The two women to whose unvarying kindness all my comfort had been owing, were made happy with satin-stripe, cassis, and the inevitable nicotiana. In an unguarded moment my soft heart was betrayed into giving a bottle of absinthe to the large old person who claimed to be Forteune’s mamma. Expecting nothing, had nothing been offered she would not have complained; the present acted upon her violently and deleteriously; she was like the cabman who makes mauvais sang because he has asked and received only twice his fare; briefly, next morning she was too surly to bid us adieu.

When giving Forteune his “dash,” I was curious to hear how he could explain the report about the dead gorilla shot the night before last: the truth of the old saying, “a black man is never fast for an excuse,” was at once illustrated; the beast had been badly wounded, but it had dragged itself off to die. And where was the blood? The rain had washed the blood away!

Nimrod seemed chagrined at the poor end of so much trouble, but there was something in his look and voice suggesting a suppressed thought — these people, like the English and the Somal, show their innermost secrets in their faces. At last, I asked him if he was now willing to try the Shekyani country. He answered flatly, “No!” And why?

Some bushmen had bewitched him; he knew the fellow, and would quickly make “bob come up his side:” already two whites had visited him with a view of shooting gorillas; both had failed; it was “shame palaver!”

This might have been true, but it certainly was not the whole truth. I can hardly accept M. du Chaillu’s explanation, that the Mpongwe, who attack the beasts with trade muskets and pebbles, will not venture into the anthropoid’s haunts unless certain of their white employer’s staunchness. What could that matter, when our Nimrod had an excellent weapon in his hand and a strong party to back him? Very likely Forteune was tired with walking, and five dollars per shot made the game not worth the candle. Again, perhaps the black diplomatist feared to overstock the market with Njinas, or to offend some regular customer for the sake of an “interloper.” In these African lands they waste over a monkey’s skin or a bottle of rum as much intrigue as is devoted to a contested election in England.

I then asked the guide if my staying longer would be of any use? He answered with a simple negative. Whilst the Utángáni remained the Mbunji (spell) would still work, but it would at once be broken by our departure, and he would prove it by sending down the first-fruits. This appeared to me to be mere Mpongwe “blague,” but, curious to say, the sequel completely justified both assertions. He threw out a hint, however, about certain enemies and my “medicine,” the arsenical soap; I need hardly say that it was refused.

When the palaver ended and the tide served, a fierce tornado broke upon us, and the sky looked grisly in the critical direction, north-east. Having no wish to recross the Gaboon River during a storm blowing a head wind, I resolved to delay my departure till the morrow, and amused myself with drawing from the nude a picture of the village and village-life in Pongo-land.

The Mpongwe settlements on the Gaboon River are neatly built, but without any attempt at fortification; for the most part each contains one family, or rather a chief and his dependants. In the larger plantation “towns,” the abodes form a single street, ranging from 100 to 1,000 yards in length; sometimes, but rarely, there are cross streets; the direction is made to front the sea-breeze, and, if possible, to present a corner to storm-bearing Eurus. An invariable feature, like the arcaded loggie of old Venetian towns, is the Námpolo, or palaver-house, which may be described as the club-room of the village. An open hangar, like the Ikongolo or “cask-house” of the trading places, it is known by a fire always kept burning. The houses are cubes, or oblong squares, varying from 10 to 100 feet in length, according to the wealth and dignity of the owner; all are one-storied, and a few are raised on switch foundations. Most of them have a verandah facing the street, and a “compound” or cleared space in the rear for cooking and other domestic purposes. The walls are built by planting double and parallel rows of posts, the material being either bamboo or the mid-rib of a wine-giving palm (Raphia vinifera); to these uprights horizontal slats of cane are neatly lashed by means of the never-failing “tie-tie,” bast-slips, runners, or llianas. For the more solid buildings thin “Mpávo,” or bark slabs, are fitted in between the double posts; when coolness is required, their place is taken by mats woven with the pinnated leaves of sundry palms. This is a favourite industry with the women, who make two kinds, one coarse, the other a neat and close article, of rattan-tint until it becomes smoke-stained: the material is so cheap and comfortable, that many of the missionaries prefer it for walls to brick or boarding. The windows are mere holes in the mats to admit light, and the doors are cut with a Mpáno (adze) from a single tree trunk, which would be wilful waste if timber were ever wanting. The floor is sometimes sandy, but generally of hard and level tamped clay, to which the European would prefer boarding, and, as a rule, it is clean — no fear of pythogenie from here! The pent-shaped roof of rafters and thatch is water-tight except when the host of rats disturb it by their nocturnal gambols.

Rich men affect five or six rooms, of which the principal occupies the centre. The very poor must be contented with one; the majority have two. The “but” combines the functions of hall, dining-room, saloon and bachelor’s sleeping quarters. The “ben” contains a broad bed for the married, a standing frame of split bamboo with mats for mattresses; it is usually mounted on props to defend it from the Nchu’u or white ants, and each has its mosquito bar, an oblong square, large enough to cover the whole couch and to reach the ground; the material is either fine grass-cloth, from the Ashira country, a light stuff called “Mbongo,” or calico and blue baft from which the stiffening has been washed out. It is far superior to the flimsy muslin affairs supplied in an Anglo–Indian outfit, or to the coarse matting used in Yoruba. Provided with this solid defence, which may be bought in any shop, one can indulge one’s self by sleeping in the verandah without risk of ague or rheumatism. The “ben” always displays a pile of chests and boxes, which, though possibly empty, testify to the “respectability” of the household. In Hotaloya’s I remarked a leather hat-case; he owned to me that he had already invested in a silk tile, the sign of chieftainship, but that being a “boy” he must grow older before he could wear it. The inner room can be closed with a strong door and a padlock; as even the window-hole is not admitted, the burglar would at once be detected. Except where goods are concerned, the Mpongwe have little respect for privacy; the women, in the presence of their husbands, never failed to preside at my simple toilette, and the girls of the villages would sit upon the bedside where lay an Utangání in almost the last stage of déshabillé.

The furniture of course varies; a rich man near the river will have tables and chairs, sofas, looking-glasses, and as many clocks, especially “Sam Slicks,” as love or money can procure. Even the poorest affect a standing bedstead in the “ben,” plank benches acting as couches in the “but,” a sufficiency of mats, and pots for water and cooking. A free man never condescends to sit upon the ground; the low stool, cut out of a single block, and fancifully carved, is exactly that of the old Egyptians preserved by the modern East Africans; it dates from ages immemorial. The look of comparative civilization about these domiciles, doubtless the effect of the Portuguese and the slave trade, distinguishes them from the barbarous circular huts of the Kru-men, the rude clay walls of the Gold Coast, and the tattered, comfortless sheds of the Fernandian “Bube.” They have not, however, that bandbox-like neatness which surprises the African traveller on the Camerones River.

The only domestic animals about these villages are dogs, poultry, and pigeons (fine blue rocks): I never saw in Pongo-land the goats mentioned by M. du Chaillu. The bush, however, supplies an abundance of “beef,” and, as most South Africans, they have a word, Isángú (amongst the Mpongwes), or Ingwámbá (of the Cape Lopez people), to express that inordinate longing and yearning for the stimulus of meat diet, caused by the damp and depressing equatorial climate, of which Dr. Livingstone so pathetically complains. The settlements are sometimes provided with little plots of vegetables; usually, however, the plantations are distant, to preserve them from the depredations of bipeds and quadrupeds. They are guarded by bushmen, who live on the spot and, shortly before the rains all the owners flock to their farms, where, for a fortnight or so, they and their women do something like work. New grounds are preferred, because it is easier to clear them than to remove the tangled after-growth of ferns and guinea grass; moreover, they yield, of course, better crops. The plough has not yet reached Pongo-land; the only tools are the erem (little axe for felling), the matchet (a rude cutlass for clearing), the hoe, and a succedaneum for the dibble. After the bush has been burned as manure, and the seed has been sown, no one will take the trouble of weeding, and half the surface is wild growth.

Maize (Zea mays) has become common, and the people enjoy “bútás,” or roasted ears. Barbot says that the soil is unfit for corn and Indian wheat; it is so for the former, certainly not for the latter. Rice has extended little beyond the model farms on the north bank of the river; as everywhere upon the West African Coast, it is coarser, more nutritious, and fuller flavoured than the Indian. The cereals, however, are supplanted by plantains and manioc (cassava). The plantains are cooked in various ways, roast and boiled, mashed and broiled, in paste and in balls; when unripe they are held medicinal against dysentery. The manioc is of the white variety (Fatropha Aypim seu utilissima), and, as at Lagos, the root may be called the country bread: I never saw the poisonous or black manioc (Fatropha manihot), either in East or in West Africa, and I heard of it only once in Unyamwezi, Central Africa. Yet it is mentioned by all old travellers, and the sweet harmless variety gives very poor “farinha,” Anglicè “wood meal.”

The vegetables are “Mbongwe” (yams), koko or Colocasia esculenta, Occras (Hibiscus esculentus), squashes (pumpkins), cucumbers, beans of several sorts, and the sweet potato, an esculent disliked by Englishmen, but far more nutritious than the miserable “Irish” tuber. The ground-nut or peanut (Arachis hypogaea), the “pindar” of the United States, a word derived from Loango, is eaten roasted, and, as a rule, the people have not learned to express its oil. Proyart (Pinkerton, xvi. 551) gives, probably by misprint, “Pinda, which we call Pistachio.” “Bird-peppers,” as the small red species is called, grow wild in every bush; they are wholesome, and the people use them extensively. Tomatoes flourish almost spontaneously, and there is a bulbless native onion whose tops make excellent seasoning. Sugar-cane will thrive in the swamps, coffee on the hill-slopes: I heard of, but never saw ginger.

The common fruits are limes and oranges, mangoes, papaws, and pineapples, the gift of the New World, now run wild, and appreciated chiefly by apes. The forest, however, supplies a multitude of wild growths, which seem to distinguish this section of the coast, and which are eaten with relish by the people. Amongst them are the Sángo and Nefu, with pleasant acid berries; the Ntábá, described as a red grape, which will presently make wine; the olive-like Azyigo (Ozigo?); the filbert-like Kula, the “koola-nut” of M. du Chaillu (“Second Expedition,” chap, viii.), a hard-shelled nux, not to be confounded with the soft-shelled kola (Sterculia); and the Aba, or wild mango (Mango Gabonensis), a pale yellow pome, small, and tasting painfully of turpentine. It is chiefly prized for its kernels. In February and March all repair to the bush for their mango-vendange, eat the fruit, and collect the stones: the insides, after being sun-dried, are roasted like coffee in a neptune, or in an earthern pot. When burnt chocolate colour, they are pounded to the consistency of thick honey, poured into a mould, a basket lined with banana leaves, and set for three days to dry in the sun: after this the cake, which in appearance resembles guava cheese, will keep through the year.

For use the loaf is scraped, and a sufficiency is added to the half-boiled or stewed flesh, the two being then cooked together: it is equally prized in meat broths, or with fish, dry and fresh; and it is the favoured kitchen for rice and the insipid banana. “Odika,” the “Ndika” of the Bákele tribes, is universally used, like our “Worcester,” and it may be called the one sauce of Gorilla-land, the local equivalent for curry, pepper-pot, or palm-oil chop; it can be eaten thick or thin, according to taste, but it must always be as hot as possible. The mould sells for half a dollar at the factories, and many are exported to adulterate chocolate and cocoa, which it resembles in smell and oily flavour. I regret to say that travellers have treated this national relish disrespectfully, as continentals do our “plomb-boudin:” Mr. W. Winwood Reade has chaffed it, and another Briton has compared it with “greaves.”

At “Cockerapeak,” or, to speak less unpoetically, when Alectryon sings his hymn to the dawn, the working bees of the little hive must be up and stirring, whilst the master and mistress enjoy the beauty-sleep. “Early to bed, and early to rise,” is held only fit to make a man surly, and give him red eyes, by all wild peoples, who have little work, and who justly hold labour an evil less only than death. Amongst the Bedawin it is a sign of Shaykh-dom not to retire before dawn, and I have often heard the Somal “palavering” after midnight. As a rule the barbarian enjoys his night chat and smoke round the fire all the more because he drinks or dozes through the better part of the day. There is a physical reason for the preference. The absence of light stimulus, and the changes which follow sunset seem to develope in him a kind of night-fever as in the nervous temperament of Europe. Hence so many students choose the lamp in preference to the sun, and children mostly clamour when told at 8 o’clock to go to bed.

Shortly after sunrise the young ones are bathed in the verandah. Here also the mistress smooths her locks, rumpled by the night, “tittivates” her macaw-crest with the bodkin, and anoints her hair and skin with a tantinet of grease and palm oil. Some, but by no means all, proceed for ablution to the stream-side, and the girls fetch water in heavy earthen jars, containing perhaps two gallons; they are strung, after the Kru fashion, behind the back by a band passing across the forehead. When we meet them they gently say “Mbolo!” (good morning), or “Oresa” (are you well)? At this hour, however, all are not so civil, the seniors are often uncommonly cross and surly, and the mollia tempora fandi may not set in till after the first meal — I have seen something of the kind in England. The sex, impolitely said to have one fibre more in the heart and one cell less in the brain, often engages in a violent wordy war; the tornado of wrath will presently pass over, and leave clear weather for the day. In the evening, when the electric fluid again gathers heavily, there will be another storm. Meanwhile, superintended by the mistress, all are occupied with the important duty of preparing the morning meal. It is surprising how skilful are these heaven-born cooks; the excellent dishes they make out of “half-nothing.” I preferred the cuisine of Forteune’s wives to that of the Plateau, and, after finding that money was current in the village, I never failed to secure their good offices.

The Mpongwe breakfast is eaten by the women in their respective verandahs, with their children and friends; the men also gather together, and prefer the open air. This feed would not only astonish those who talk about a “free breakfast-table,” with its silly slops and bread-stuffs; it would satisfy a sharp-set Highlander. In addition to yams and sweet potatoes, plantains, and perhaps rice, there will be cooked mangrove-oysters fresh from the tree, a fry, or an excellent bouillabaisse of fish; succulent palaver sauce, or palm-oil chop; poultry and meat. The domestic fowl is a favourite; but, curious to say, neither here nor in any part of tropical Africa known to me have the people tamed the only gallinaceous bird which the Black Continent has contributed to civilization. The Guinea fowl, like the African elephant, remains wild. We know it to be an old importation in Europe, although there are traditions about its appearing in the fourteenth century, when Moslems sold it to Christians as the “Jerusalem cock,” and Christians to Moslems as the “bird of Meccah.” It must be the Greek meleagris, so called, says Ælian, from the sisters who wept a brother untimely slain; hence the tears upon its plume, suggesting the German Perl-huhn, and its frequent cries, which the Brazilians, who are great in the language of birds, translate Sto fraca, sto fraca, sto fraca (I’m weak). The Hausa Moslems make the Guinea fowl cry, “Kilkal! kilkal!” (Grammar by the Rev. F. J. Schön, London, Salisbury Square, 1862). It is curious to compare the difference of ear with which nations hear the cries of animals, and form their onomatopoetic, or “bow-wow” imitations. For instance, the North Americans express by “whip-poor-will” what the Brazilians call “João-corta-páo.” The Guinea fowl may have been the “Afraa avis;“but that was a dear luxury amongst the Romans, though the Greek meleagris was cheap. The last crotchet about it is that of an African traveller, who holds it to be the peacock of Solomon’s navies, completely ignoring the absolute certainty which the South–Indian word “Tukkiim” carries with it.

The Mpongwe will not eat ape, on account of its likeness to themselves. But they greatly enjoy game; the porcupine, the ground-hog (an Echymys), the white flesh of the bush pig (Cricetomys), and the beef of the Nyáre (Bos brachyceros); this is the “buffalo” or “bush-cow” of the regions south of Sierra Leone, and the empacassa of the Congo–Portuguese, whose “empacasseirs” or native archers, rural police and auxiliaries “of the second line,” have as “guerra preta” (black militia) won many a victory. Their numbers in Angola have amounted to 30,000, and they aided in conquest like the Indian Sipahi (sepoy) and the Tupi of the older Brazil. Now they wear the Tánga or Pagne, a waist cloth falling to the knee, and they are armed with trade muskets and cartridge-boxes fastened to broad belts. Barbot calls the Nyare a buffalo, and tells us that it was commonly shot at Sandy Point, where in his day elephants also abounded. Captain Boteler (ii. 379) well describes a specimen, which was killed by Dr. Guland, R.N., as exactly resembling the common cow of England, excepting that its proportions are far more “elegant.”

This hearty breakfast is washed down with long drinks of palm wine, and followed by sundry pipes of tobacco; after which, happy souls! all enjoy a siesta, long and deep as that of Andine Mendoza; and they “kill time” as well as they can till evening. The men assemble in the club round the Námpolo-fire, where they chat and smoke, drink and doze; those who are Agriophagi or Xylobian Æthiopians, briefly called hunters, spend their days much like the race which Byron declared

“Merely born

To hunt and vote, and raise the price of corn.”

The Pongo venator is up with the sun, and, if not on horseback, at least he is on the traces of game; sometimes he returns home during the hours of heat, when he knows that the beasts seek the shady shelter of the deepest forests; and, after again enjoying the “pleasures of the chase,” he disposes of a heavy dinner and ends the day, sleep weighing down his eyelids and his brains singing with liquor. What he did yesterday that he does today, and what he does today that he shall do tomorrow; his intellectual life is varied only by a visit to town, where he sells his choice skins, drinks a great deal too much rum, and makes the purchases, ammunition and so forth, which are necessary for the full enjoyment of home and country life. At times also he joins a party of friends and seeks some happier hunting ground farther from his campagne.

Meanwhile the women dawdle through the day, superintending their domestic work, look after their children’s and their own toilette, tend the fire, attend to the cooking, and smoke consumedly. The idle sit with the men at the doors of their huts; those industriously disposed weave mats, and, whether lazy or not, they never allow their tongues and lungs a moment’s rest. The slaves, male and female, draw water, cut fuel, or go to the distant plantations for yams and bananas; whilst the youngsters romp, play and tease the village idiot — there is one in almost every settlement. Briefly, the day is spent in idleness, except, as has been said, for a short time preceding the rains.

When the sun nears the western horizon, the hunter and the slaves return home, and the housewife, who has been enjoying the “coolth” squatting on her dwarf stool at her hut-door, and puffing the preparatory pipe — girds her loins for the evening meal, and makes every one “look alive.” When the last rays are shedding their rich red glow over the tall black trees which hem in the village, all torpidity disappears from it. The fires are trimmed, and the singing and harping, which were languid during the hot hours, begin with renewed vigour. The following is a specimen of a boating-song:

(Solo.) “Come, my sweetheart!”

( Chorus.) “Haste, haste!”

(Solo) ‘How many things gives the white man?’

(Chorus chants all that it wants.)

(Solo) ‘What must be done for the white man?”

(Chorus improvises all his requirements)

(Solo) “How many dangers for the black girl?”

(Chorus) “Dangers from the black and the white man!”

The evening meal is eaten at 6 P.M. with the setting of the sun, whose regular hours contrast pleasantly with his vagaries in the northern temperates. And Hesperus brings wine as he did of old. Drinking sets in seriously after dark, and is known by the violent merriment of the men, and the no less violent quarrelling and “flyting” of the sex which delights in the “harmony of tongues.” All then retire to their huts, and with chat and song, and peals of uproarious laughter and abundant horseplay, such as throwing minor articles at one another’s heads, smoke and drink till 11 P.M. The scene is “Dovercourt, all speakers and no hearers.” The night is still as the grave. and the mewing of a cat, if there were one, would sound like a tiger’s scream.

The mornings and evenings in these plantation-villages would be delightful were it not for what the Brazilians call immundicies. Sandflies always swarm in places where underwood and tall grasses exclude the draughts, and the only remedy is clearing the land. Thus at St. Isabel or Clarence, Fernando Po, where the land-wind or the sea-breeze ever blows, the vicious little wretches are hardly known; on the forested background of mountain they are troublesome as at Nigerian Nufe. The bite burns severely, and presently the skin rises in bosses, lasting for days with a severe itching, which, if unduly resented, may end in inflammatory ulcerations — I can easily understand a man being laid up by their attacks. The animalcules act differently upon different constitutions. While mosquitoes hardly take effect, sand flies have often blinded me for hours by biting the circumorbital parts. The numbers and minuteness of this insect make it formidable. The people flap their naked shoulders with cloths or bushy twigs; Nigerian travellers have tried palm oil but with scant success, and spirits of wine applied to the skin somewhat alleviate the itching but has no prophylactic effect. Sandflies do not venture into the dark huts, and a “smudge” keeps them aloof, but the disease is more tolerable than the remedy of inflaming the eyes with acrid smoke and of sitting in a close box, by courtesy termed a room, when the fine pure air makes one pine to be beyond walls. After long endurance in hopes of becoming inoculated with the virus, I was compelled to defend myself with thick gloves, stockings and a muslin veil made fast to the hat and tucked in under the shirt. After sunset the sandflies retire, and the mosquito sounds her hideous trump; as has been said, however, Pongo-land knows how to receive her.

Chapter 7.

Return to the River.

Early on the last morning in March we roused the Kru-men; they were eager as ourselves to leave the “bush,” and there was no delay in loading and the mission-boat. Forteune, Azízeh, and Asúnye were there to bid me God-speed, and Hotaloya did not fail to supply a fine example of Mpongwe irresolution.

That “sweet youth” had begged hard during the last week that I would take him to Fernando Po; carpenters were wanted for her Majesty’s consulate, and he seemed to jump at the monthly pay of seven dollars — a large sum in these regions. On the night before departure he had asked me for half a sovereign to leave with his wives, and he made me agree to an arrangement that they should receive two dollars per mensem. In the morning I had alluded to the natural sorrow which his better semi-halves must feel, although the absence of groaning and weeping was very suspicious, and I had asked in a friendly way, “Them woman he make bob too much?”

“Ye’, sar,” he replied with a full heart, “he cry too much.”

When the last batch had disappeared with the last box I walked up to him, and said, “Now, Andrews, you take hat, we go Gaboon.”

Hotaloya at once assumed the maudlin expression and insipid ricanement of the Hindú charged with “Sharm kí bát” (something shameful).

“Please, mas’r, I no can go — Nanny Po he be too far — I no look my fader (the villain had three), them boy he say I no look ‘um again!”

The wives had won the day, and words would have been vain. He promised hard to get leave from his papa and “grand-pap,” and to join me after a last farewell at the Plateau. His face gave the lie direct to his speech, and his little manœuvre for keeping the earnest-money failed ignobly.

The swift brown stream carried us at full speed. “Captain Merrick” pointed out sundry short cuts, but my brain now refused to admit as truth a word coming from a Mpongwe. We passed some bateaux pecheurs, saw sundry shoals of fish furrowing the water, and after two hours we were bumping on the rocks outlying Mombe Creek and Nenga Oga village. The passage of the estuary was now a pleasure, and though we grounded upon the shallows of “Voileliay Bay,” the Kru-men soon lifted the heavy boat; the wind was fair, the tide was ebbing, and the strong current was in our favour. We reached Glass Town before midday, and after five hours, covering some twenty-two direct geographical miles, I found myself with pleasure under the grateful shade of the Factory. It need hardly be described, as it is the usual “bungalow” of the West African shore.

Twelve days had been expended upon 120 miles, but I did not regret the loss. A beautiful bit of country had been added to my mental Pinacothek, and I had satisfied my mind to a certain extent upon that quæstio, then vexata, the “Gorilla Book.” Even before my trip the ethnological part appeared to me trustworthy, and, if not original, at any rate borrowed from the best sources. My journey assured me, from the specimen narrowly scrutinized, that both country and people are on the whole correctly described. The dates, however, are all in confusion: in the preface to the second edition, “October, 1859,” became “October, 1858,” and we are told that the excursions were transposed for the simple purpose of taking the reader from north to south. As in the case of most African travels, when instruments are not used, the distances must be reduced: in chapter xii. the Shekyani villages are placed sixty miles due east of Sánga-Tánga; whereas the map shows twenty. Mr. W. Wimvood Reade declares that the Apingi country, the ultima Thule of the explorer, is distant from Ngumbi “four foot-days’ journey;” as MM. de Compiègne and Marche have shown, the tribe in question extends far and wide. Others have asserted that seventy-five miles formed the maximum distance. But many of M. du Chaillu’s disputed distances have been proved tolerably correct by MM. Serval and Griffon du Bellay, who were sent by the French government in 1862 to survey the Ogobe. A second French expedition followed shortly afterwards, under the charge of MM. Labigot and Touchard; and finally that of 1873, like all preceding it, failed to find any serious deviation from fact.

The German exploring expedition (July 25, 1873) confirms the existence of M. du Chaillu’s dwarfs, the Obongo tribe, scoffed at in England because they dwell close to a fierce people of Patagonian proportions. The Germans report that they are called “Babongo,” “Vambuta,” and more commonly “Bari,” or “Bali;” they dwell fourteen days’ march from the mouth of the Luena, or River of Chinxoxo. I have not seen it remarked that these pygmies are mentioned by Andrew Battel Plinian at the end of the sixteenth century. “To the north-east of Mani Kesoch,” he tells us, “are a kind of little people called Matimbas, who are no bigger than boys twelve years old, but are very thick, and live only upon flesh, which they kill in the woods with bows and darts.” Of the Aykas south of the Welle River, discovered by Dr. Schweinfurth, I need hardly speak. It is not a little curious to find these confirmations of Herodotean reports about dwarfish tribes in the far interior, the Dokos and the Wabilikimo, so long current at Zanzibar Island, and so long looked upon as mere fables.

Our departure from Mbátá had broken the spell, and Forteune did keep his word; I was compelled in simple justice to cry “Peccavi.” On the very evening of our arrival at Glass Town the youth Kángá brought me a noble specimen of what he called a Nchígo Mpolo, sent by Forteune’s bushmen; an old male with brown eyes and dark pupils. When placed in an arm-chair, he ludicrously suggested a pot-bellied and patriarchal negro considerably the worse for liquor. From crown to sole he measured 4 feet 10 3/4 inches, and from finger-tip to finger-tip 6 feet 1 inch. The girth of the head round ears and eyebrows was 1 foot 11 inches; of the chest, 3 feet 2 inches; above the hip joints, 2 feet 4 inches; of the arms below the shoulder, 2 feet 5 inches; and of the legs, 2 feet 5 inches. Evidently these are very handsome proportions, considering what he was, and there was a suggestion of ear lobe which gave his countenance a peculiarly human look. He had not undergone the inhuman Hebrew–Abyssinian operation to which M. du Chaillu’s gorillas had been exposed, and the proportions rendered him exceedingly remarkable.

That interesting anthropoid’s career after death was one series of misfortunes, ending with being stuffed for the British Museum. My factotum sat up half the night skinning, but it was his first coup d’essai. In a climate like the Gaboon, especially during the rains, we should have turned the pelt “hairy side in,” filled it with cotton to prevent shrinking, and, after painting on arsenic, have exposed it to the sun: better still, we should have placed it on a scaffolding, like a defunct Congo-man, over a slow and smoky fire, and thus the fatty matter which abounds in the integuments would have been removed. The phalanges of the hands and feet, after being clean-scraped, were restored to their places, and wrapped with thin layers of arsenicated cotton, as is done to small animals, yet on the seventh day decomposition set in; it was found necessary to unsew the skin, and again to turn it inside out. The bones ought to have been removed, and not replaced till the coat was thoroughly dry. The skinned spoils were placed upon an ant-hill; a practice which recalls to mind the skeleton deer prepared by the emmets of the Hartz Forest, which taught Oken that the skull is(?) expanded vertebræ. We did not know that half-starved dogs and “drivers” will not respect even arsenical soap. The consequence of exposing the skeleton upon an ant-hill, where it ought to have been neatly cleaned during a night, was that the “Pariah” curs carried off sundry ribs, and the “parva magni formica laboris” took the trouble to devour the skin of a foot. Worse still: the skull, the brain, and the delicate members had been headed up in a breaker of trade rum, which was not changed till the seventh day. It was directed to an eminent member of the old Anthropological Society, and the most interesting parts arrived, I believe, soft, pulpy, and utterly useless. The subject seems to have been too sore for mentioning — at least, I never heard of it again.

The late Dr. John Edward Gray, of the British Museum, called this Nchígo Mpolo, from its bear-like masses of breast-pile, the “hairy Chimpanzee” (Troglodytes vellerosus). After my return home I paid it a visit, and could only think that the hirsute one was considerably “mutatus ab illo.” The colour had changed, and the broad-chested, square-framed, pot-bellied, and portly old bully-boy of the woods had become a wretched pigeon-breasted, lean — flanked, shrunk-linibed, hungry-looking beggar. It is a lesson to fill out the skin, even with bran or straw, if there be nothing better — anything, in fact, is preferable to allowing the shrinkage which ends in this wretched caricature.

During my stay at Glass Town I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of the Rev. Messrs. Walker and Preston, of the Baraka Mission. The head-quarter station of the American Board of Foreign (Presbyterian) Missions was established on the Gaboon River in 1842 by the Rev. J. Leighton Wilson, afterwards one of the secretaries to the Society in New York. He had left the best of memories in “the River,” and there were tales of his having manumitted in the Southern United States a small fortune of slaves without a shade of compulsion. His volume on West Africa, to which allusion has so often been made, contains a good bird’s-eye of the inter-tropical coast, and might, with order, arrangement, and correction of a host of minor inaccuracies, become a standard work.

I have already expressed my opinion, founded upon a sufficiently long experience, that the United States missionary is by far the best man for the Western Coast, and, indeed, for dangerous tropical countries generally. Physically he is spare and hard, the nervous temperament being more strongly developed in him than in the bulbous and more bilious or sanguine European. He is better born, and blood never fails to tell. Again, he generally adopts the profession from taste, not because il faut vivre. He is better bred; he knows the negro from his childhood, and his education is more practical, more generally useful than that of his rivals. Moreover, I never yet heard him exclaim, “Capting, them heggs is ‘igh!” Lastly he is more temperate and moderate in his diet: hitherto it has not been my fate to assist in carrying him to bed.

Perhaps the American missionary carries sobriety too far. In dangerous tropical regions, where there is little appetite and less nutritious diet, where exertion of mind and body easily exhaust vitality, and where “diffusible stimulants” must often take the place of solids, he dies first who drinks water. The second is the man who begins with an “eye-opener” of “brandy-pawnee,” and who keeps up excitement by the same means through the day. The third is the hygienic sciolist, who drinks on principle poor “Gladstone” and thin French wines, cheap and nasty; and the survivor is the man who enjoys a quantum suff. of humming Scotch and Burton ales, sherry, Madeira, and port, with a modicum of cognac. This has been my plan in the tropics from the beginning, when it was suggested to me by the simplest exercise of the reasoning faculties. “A dozen of good port will soon set you up!” said the surgeon to me after fever. Then why not drink port before the fever?

I have said something upon this subject in “Zanzibar City, Island, and Coast” (i. p. 180), it will bear repetition. Joseph Dupuis justly remarks: “I am satisfied, from my own experience, that many fall victims from the adoption of a course of training improperly termed prudential; viz. a sudden change of diet from ship’s fare to a scanty sustenance of vegetable matter (rejecting even a moderate proportion of wine), and seclusion in their apartments from the sun and atmosphere.”

An immense mass of nonsense, copied in one “authority” from another, was thrown before the public by books upon diet, until the “Physiology of Common Life” (George Henry Lewes) discussed Liebig’s brilliant error in considering food chemically, and not physiologically. The rest assume his classification without reserve, and work from the axiom that heat-making, carbonaceous and non-nitrogenous foods (e.g. fat and sugars), necessary to support life in the arctic and polar regions, must be exchanged for the tissue-making, plastic or nitrogenous (vegetables), as we approach the equator. They are right as far as the southern temperates, their sole field of observation; they greatly err in all except the hot, dry parts of the tropics. Why, a Hindoo will drink at a sitting a tumbler of glí (clarified butter), and the European who would train for wrestling after the fashion of Hindostan, as I attempted in my youth, on “native” sweetmeats and sugared milk, will be blind with “melancholia” in a week. The diet of the negro is the greasiest possible, witness his “palm-oil chop” and “palaver sauce;” his craving for meat, especially fat meat, is a feeling unknown to Europe. And how simple the reason. Damp heat demands almost as much carbon as damp or dry cold.

Return we to the Baraka Mission. The name is a corruption of “barracoon;” in the palmy days of the trade slave-pens occupied the ground now covered by the chapel, the schoolroom, and the dwelling-house, and extended over the site of the factory to the river-bank. The place is well chosen. Immediately beyond the shore the land swells up to a little rounded hill, clean and grassy like that about Sánga-Tánga. The soil appears poor, and yet around the mission-house there are some fine wild figs, one a huge tree, although not a score of years old; the bamboo clump is magnificent, and the cocoas, oranges, and mangoes are surrounded by thick, fragrant, and luxuriant quickset hedges of well-trimmed lime.

A few words concerning the banana of this coast, which we find so flourishing at Baraka. An immense god-send to the Gaboon, it is well known to be the most productive of all food, 100 square yards of it giving annually nearly 2,000 kilogrammes of food far more nutritious than the potato. Here it is the musa sapientum, the banana de Soâ Thomé, which has crossed over to the Brazil, and which is there known by its sharper leaves and fruit, softer and shorter than the indigenous growth. The plant everywhere is most vigorous in constant moist heat, the atmosphere of a conservatory, and the ground must be low and wet, but not swampy. The best way of planting the sprouts is so to dispose them that four may form the corners of a square measuring twelve feet each side; the common style is some five feet apart. The raceme, which appears about the sixth to the tenth month, will take sixty days more to ripen; good stocks produce three and more bunches a year, each weighing from twenty to eighty pounds. The stem, after fruiting, should be cut down, in order to let the others enjoy light and air, and the oftener the plants are removed to fresh ground the better.

The banana, when unripe, is white and insipid; it is then baked under ashes till it takes a golden colour, and, like a cereal, it can be eaten as bread. A little later it is boiled, and becomes a fair vegetable, tasting somewhat like chestnuts, and certainly better than carrots or turnips. Lastly, when softer than a pear, it is a fruit eaten with milk or made into beignets. I have described the plantain-cider in “Lake Regions of Central Africa” (ii. 287). The fruit contains sugar, gum, and acids (malic and gallic); the rind, which is easily detached when ripe, stains cloth with ruddy grey rusty colour, by its tannin, gallic, and acetic acids.

The Baraka Mission has had several out-stations. One was at a ruined village of Fán, which we shall presently pass on the right bank of the river. The second was at Ikoi, a hamlet distant about fifteen (not twenty-five) miles, upon a creek of the same name, which enters the Gaboon behind Point Ovindo, and almost opposite Konig Island. A third is at Anenge-nenge, vulgò Inenge-nenge — “nenge” in Mpongwe, and anenge in Bákele, meaning island — situated forty (not 100) miles up the main stream; here a native teacher still resides. The Baraka school now (1862) numbers thirty scholars, and there are twelve to fifteen communicants. The missionaries are our white “labourers;” but two of them, the Revs. Jacob Best and A. Bushnell, are absent in the United States for the benefit of their health.

My first visit to the Rev. William Walker made me regret my precipitate trip to Mbátá: he told me what I now knew, that it was the wrong line, and that I should have run two or three days up the Rembwe, the first large influent on the southern bank of the Gaboon. He had come out to the River in 1842, and had spent twenty years of his life in Africa, with occasional furloughs home. He greatly interested me by a work which he was preparing. The Gaboon Mission had begun its studies of the many native dialects by the usual preparatory process of writing grammars and vocabularies; after this they had published sundry fragmentary translations of the Scriptures, and now they aimed at something higher. After spending years in building and decorating the porticoes of language, they were ambitious of raising the edifice to which it is only an approach; in other words, of explaining the scholarship of the tongue, the spirit of the speech.

“Language,” says the lamented Dr. O.E. Vidal, then bishop designate of Sierra Leone,1 “is designed to give expression to thought. Hence, by examining the particular class of composition”— and, I may add, the grammatical and syntactical niceties characterizing that composition —“to which any given dialect has been especially devoted, we may trace the direction in which the current of thought is wont to flow amongst the tribe or nations in which it is vernacular, and so investigate the principal psychical peculiarities, if such there be, of that tribe or nation.” And again he remarks: “Dr. Krap was unable to find any word expressing the idea of gratitude in the language of all the Suaheli (Wásawahílí) tribes; a fact significant enough as to the total absence of the moral feeling denoted by that name.” Similarly the Mpongwe cannot express our “honesty;” they must paraphrase it by “good man don’t steal.” In time they possibly may adopt the word bodily like pús (a cat), amog (mug), kapinde (carpenter), krus (a cross), and ilepot (pot).

Such a task is difficult as it is interesting, the main obstacle to success being the almost insuperable difficulty of throwing off European ideas and modes of thought, which life-long habit has made a second nature. Take the instance borrowed from Dr. Krap, and noticed by a hundred writers, namely, the absence of a synonym for “gratitude” amongst the people of the nearer East. I have explained the truth of the case in my “Pilgrimage,” and it will bear explanation again. The Wásawahíli are Moslems, and the Moslem view everywhere is that the donor’s Maker, not the donor, gives the gift. The Arab therefore expresses his “Thank you!” by “Mamnún”— I am under an obligation (to your hand which has passed on the donation); he generally prefers, however, a short blessing, as “Kassir khayr’ ak” (may Allah) “increase thy weal!” The Persian’s “May thy shadow never be less!” simply refers to the shade which you, the towering tree, extend over him, the humble shrub.

Another instance of deduction distorted by current European ideas, is where Casalis (“Etudes sur la langue Séchuana,” par Eugène Casalis, part ii. p. 84), speaking of the Sisuto proverbs, makes them display the “vestiges of that universal conscience to which the Creator has committed the guidance of every intelligent creature.” Surely it is time to face the fact that conscience is a purely geographical and chronological accident. Where, may we ask, can be that innate and universal monitor in the case of a people, the Somal for instance, who rob like Spartans, holding theft a virtue; who lie like Trojans, without a vestige of appreciation for truth; and who hold the treacherous and cowardly murder of a sleeping guest to be the height of human honour? And what easier than to prove that there is no sin however infamous, no crime however abominable, which at some time or in some part of the world has been or is still held in the highest esteem? The utmost we can say is that conscience, the accident, flows directly from an essential. All races now known to the world have a something which they call right, and a something which they term wrong; the underlying instinctive idea being evidently that everything which benefits me is good, and all which harms me is evil. Their good and their evil are not those of more advanced nations; still the idea is there, and progress or tradition works it out in a thousand different ways.

My visits to Mr. Walker first gave me the idea of making the negro describe his own character in a collection of purely Hamitic proverbs and idioms. It appeared to me that, if ever a book aspires to the title of “l’Africain peint par lui-même,” it must be one in which he is the medium to his own spirit, the interpreter to his own thoughts. Hence “Wit and Wisdom from West Africa” (London, Tinsleys, 1856), which I still hold to be a step in the right direction, although critics, who possibly knew more of Cornhill than of Yoruba, assured me that it was “rather a heavy compilation.” Nor can I yet see how the light fantastic toe can show its agility in the sabots of African proverbs.

1 “Introductory Remarks to a Vocabulary of the Yoruba Language.” Seeleys, Fleet Street, London.

Chapter 8.

Up the Gaboon River.

Detestable weather detained me long at the hospitable factory. Tornadoes were of almost daily occurrence — not pleasant with 200 barrels of gunpowder under a thatched roof; they were useful chiefly to the Mpongwe servants of the establishment. These model thieves broke open, under cover of the storms, a strong iron safe in an inner room which had been carefully closed; they stole my Mboko skin, and bottles were not safe from them even in our bedrooms.

My next step was to ascend the “Olo’ Mpongwe,” or Gaboon River, which Bowdich (“Sketch of Gaboon”) calls Oroöngo, and its main point Ohlombopolo. The object was to visit the Fán, of whose cannibalism such curious tales had been told. It was not easy to find a conveyance. The factory greatly wanted a flat-bottom iron steamer, a stern-wheeler, with sliding keel, and furnaces fit for burning half-dried wood — a craft of fourteen tons, costing perhaps £14 per ton, would be ample in point of size, and would save not a little money to the trader. I was at last fortunate in securing the “Eliza,” belonging to Messrs. Hatton and Cookson. She was a fore-and-aft schooner of twenty tons, measuring 42 feet 6 inches over all and put up at Bonny Town by Captain Birkett. She had two masts, and oars in case of calms; her crew was of six hands, including one Fernando, a Congoese, who could actually box the compass. No outfit was this time necessary, beyond a letter to Mr. Tippet, who had charge of the highest establishments up stream. His business consisted chiefly of importing arms, ammunition, and beads of different sorts, especially the red porcelain, locally called Loangos.

On April 10, a little before noon, I set out, despite thunder and lightning, rain, sun, torrential showers, and the vehemently expressed distaste of my crew. The view of the right bank was no longer from afar; it differs in shape and material from the southern, but the distinction appears to me superficial, not extending to the interiors. Off Konig Island we found nine fathoms of water, and wanted them during a bad storm from the south-east; it prevented my landing and inspecting the old Dutch guns, which Bowdich says are remains of the Portuguese. Both this and Parrot Island, lying some five miles south by west, are masses of cocoas, fringed with mangroves; a great contrast with the prairillon of the neighbouring Point Ovindo. At last, worn out by a four-knot current and a squall in our teeth, we anchored in four fathoms, about five miles south-east of Konig.

From this point we could easily see the wide gape of the Rembwe, the south-eastern influent, or rather fork, of the Gaboon, which rises in the south-western versant of some meridional chain, and which I was assured can be ascended in three tides. The people told me when too late of a great cavity or sink, which they called Wonga–Wonga; Bowdich represents it to be an “uninhabited savannah of three days’ extent, between Empoöngwa and Adjoomba (Mayumba). I saw nothing of the glittering diamond mountains, lying eastward of Wonga–Wonga, concerning which the old traveller was compelled to admit that, “when there was no moon, a pale but distinct light was invariably reflected from a mountain in that quarter, and from no other.” It has now died out — this superstition, which corresponds with the carbuncle of Hoy and others of our Scoto–Scandinavian islands.

Resuming our cruize on the next day, we passed on the right a village of “bad Bákele,” which had been blown down by the French during the last year; in this little business the “king” and two lieges had been killed. The tribe is large and important, scattered over several degrees north and south of the equator, as is proved by their slaves being collected from distances of several weeks and even months. In 1854 Mr. Wilson numbered them at 100,000. According to local experts they began to press down stream about 1830, driven à tergo by their neighbours, the Mpángwe (Fán), even as they themselves are driving the Mpongwes. But they are evidently the Kaylee or Kalay of Bowdich (p. 427), whose capital, “Samashialee,” was “the residence of the king, Ohmbay.” He places them in their present habitat, and makes them the worst of cannibals. Whilst the “Sheekans” (Shekyani) buried their dead under the bed within the house, these detestable Kaylees ate not only their prisoners, but their defunct friends, whose bodies were “bid for directly the breath was out of them;” indeed, fathers were frequently seen to devour their own children. Bowdich evidently speaks from hearsay; but the Brazil has preserved the old traditions of cannibalism amongst the Gabões.

The Bákele appeared to me very like the coast tribes, only somewhat lighter-coloured and wilder in look, whilst they again are darker-skinned than their eastern neighbours from the inner highlands. Their women are not so well dressed as the “ladies” of the Mpongwe, the chignon is smaller, and there are fewer brass rings. The men, who still cling to the old habit of hunting, cultivate the soil, practise the ruder mechanical arts, and trade with the usual readiness and greed; they asked us a leaf of tobacco for an egg, and four leaves for a bunch of bananas. Missionaries, who, like Messrs. Preston and Best, resided amongst them for years, have observed that, though a mild and timid people, they are ever involved in quarrels with their neighbours. I can hardly understand how they “bear some resemblance to the dwarfish Dokos of the eastern coast,” seeing that the latter do not exist.

The Dikele grammar proves the language, which is most closely allied to the Benga dialect, to be one of the great South African family, variously called Kafir, because first studied amongst these people; Ethiopic (very vague), and Nilotic because its great fluvial basin is the Zambezi, not the Nile. As might be expected amongst isolated races, the tongue, though clearly related to that of the Mpongwe and the Mpangwe, has many salient points of difference; for instance, the liquid “r” is wholly wanting. According to Mr. T. Leighton Wilson, perhaps one word in two is the same, or obviously from the same root; consequently verbal resemblances are by no means striking. The orthography of the two differs materially, and in this respect Dikele more resembles the languages of the eastern coast than its western neighbour, at the same time less than the Fiote or the Congoese. It has a larger number of declensions, and its adjectives and pronouns are more flexible and complicated. On the other hand, it possesses few of the conjugations which form so conspicuous a feature in the tongues of the Lower River, and, reversing the usage of the Mpongwe, it makes very little use of the passive.

Running the gauntlet of cheer and chaff from the noisy inmates of the many Bákele villages, and worried by mangrove-flies, we held our way up the muddy and rapidly narrowing stream, whose avenues of rhizophoras and palms acted as wind-sails; when the breeze failed the sensation was stifling. Lyámbá (Cannabis sativa) grew in patches upon the banks, now apparently wild, like that about Lagos and Badagry. Not till evening did the tide serve, enabling us to send our papers for visa on board the guard-ship “L’Oise,” where a party of young Frenchmen were preparing for la chasse. A little higher up stream are two islets, Nenge Mbwendi, so called from its owner, and Nenge Sika, or the Isle of Gold. The Mpongwe all know this name for the precious metal, and the Bakele appear to ignore it: curious to say, it is the Fante and Mandenga word, probably derived from the Arabic Sikkah, which gave rise to the Italian Zecca (mint) and Zecchino. It may have been introduced by the Laptots or Lascar sailors of the Senegal. M. du Chaillu (“Second Expedition,” chap. iii.) mentions “the island Nengué Shika” on the Lower Fernão Vaz River; and Bowdich turns the two into Ompoongu and Soombea. The third is Anenga-nenga, not Ninga-ninga, about one mile long from north to south, and well wooded with bush and palms; here the Gaboon Mission has a neat building on piles. The senior native employé was at Glass Town, and his junior, a youth about nineteen, stood à la Napoléon in the doorway, evidently monarch of all he surveyed. I found there one of the Ndiva, the old tribe of Pongo-land, which by this time has probably died out. We anchored off Wosuku, a village of some fifty houses, forming one main street, disposed north-east — south-west, or nearly at right angles with the river. The entrance was guarded by a sentinel and gun, and the “king,” Imondo, lay right royally on his belly. A fine plantation of bananas divides the settlement, and the background is dense bush, in which they say “Nyáre” and deer abound. The Bákele supply sheep and fowls to the Plateau, and their main industry consists in dressing plantain-fibre for thread and nets.

We now reach the confluence of the Nkonio or north-eastern, with the Mbokwe, or eastern branch, which anastomose to form the Gaboon; the latter, being apparently the larger of the two, preserves the title Mpolo. Both still require exploration; my friend M. Braouezzec, Lieutenant de Vaisseau, who made charts of the lower bed, utterly failed to make the sources; and the Rev. Mr. Preston, who lived seven months in the interior, could not ascend far. Mr. W. Winwood Reade reached in May, 1862, the rapids of the Nkomo River, but sore feet prevented his climbing the mountain, which he estimates at 2,000 feet, or of tracing the stream to its fountain. Mr. R.B.N. Walker also ascended the Nkomo for some thirty miles, and found it still a large bed with two fathoms of water in the Cacimbo or “Middle dries.” In M. du Chaillu’s map the Upper Nkomo is a dotted line; according to all authorities, upon the higher and the lower river his direction is too far to the north-east. The good Tippet declares that he once canoed three miles up the Mbokwe, and then marched eastward for five days, covering a hundred miles — which is impossible. He found a line of detached hills, and an elevation where the dews were exceedingly cold; looking towards the utterly unknown Orient, he could see nothing but a thick forest unbroken by streams. He heard from the country people traditions of a Great Lake, which may be that placed by Tuckey in north latitude 2°-3°. The best seasons for travel are said to be March and November, before and after the rains, which swell the water twelve feet.

About Anenge-nenge we could easily see the sub-ranges of the great Eastern Ghats, some twenty miles to the north-east. Here the shallows and the banks projecting from different points made the channel dangerous. Entering the Mbokwe branch we were compelled to use sweeps, or the schooner would have been dashed against the sides; as we learned by the trees, the tides raise the surface two to three feet high. After the third hour we passed the “Fán Komba Vina,” or village of King Vina. It stood in a pretty little bay, and the river, some 400 feet broad, was fronted, as is often the case, by the “palaver tree,” a glorious Ceiba or bombax. All the people flocked out to enjoy the sight, and my unpractised eye could not distinguish them from Bákele. Above it, also on the right bank, is the now-deserted site where Messrs. Adams and Preston nearly came to grief for bewitching the population with “bad book.”

Five slow hours from Anenge-nenge finally placed us, about sunset, at Mayyán, or Tippet Town. The depôt lies a little above the confluence of the Mbokwe and the Londo, or south-eastern fork of the latter. A drunken pilot and a dark and moonless night, with the tide still running in, delayed us till I could hardly distinguish the sable human masses which gathered upon the Styx-like stream to welcome their new Matyem — merchant or white man. Before landing, all the guns on board the steamer were double-loaded and discharged, at the instance of our host, who very properly insisted upon this act of African courtesy —“it would be shame not to fire salute.” We were answered by the loudest howls, and by the town muskets, which must have carried the charges of old chambers. Mr. Tippet, an intelligent coloured man from the States, who has been living thirteen years on the Gaboon, since the age of fourteen, and who acts as native trader to Mr. R.B.N. Walker, for ivory, ebony, rubber, and other produce, escorted me to his extensive establishment. At length I am amongst the man-eaters.

Chapter 9.

A Specimen Day with the Fán Cannibals.

At 5 a.m. on the next day, after a night with the gnats and rats, I sallied forth in the thick “smokes,” and cast a nearer look upon my cannibal hosts. And first of the tribal name. The Mpongwe call their wild neighbours Mpángwe; the Europeans affect such corruptions as Fánwe, Panwe, the F and P being very similar, Phaouin and Paouen (Pawen). They call themselves Fán, meaning “man;” in the plural, Bafan. The n is highly nasalized: the missionaries proposed to express it by “nh” which, however, wrongly conveys the idea of aspiration; and “Fan,” pronounced after the English fashion, would be unintelligible to them.

The village contains some 400 souls, and throughout the country the maximum would be about 500 spears, or 4,000 of both sexes, whilst the minimum is a couple of dozen. It is pleasantly situated on the left bank of the Mbokwe River, a streamlet here some 50 feet broad, whose water rises 6 feet 10 inches under the tidal influence. The single street, about half a mile long, is formed by two parallel rows of huts, looking upon a cleared line of yellow clay, and provided with three larger sheds — the palaver houses. The Fán houses resemble those of the Mpongwe; in fact, the tribes, beginning at the Camarones River, build in much the same style, but all are by no means so neat and clean as those of the seaboard. A thatch, whose projecting eaves form deep shady verandahs, surmounts walls of split bamboo, supported by raised platforms of tamped earth, windows being absent and chimneys unknown; the ceiling is painted like coal tar by oily soot, and two opposite doors make the home a passage through which no one hesitates to pass. The walls are garnished with weapons and nets, both skilfully made, and the furniture consists of cooking utensils and water-pots, mats for bedding, logs of wood for seats and pillows, and lumps of timber or dwarf stools, neatly cut out of a single block. Their only night-light — that grand test of civilization — is the Mpongwe torch, a yard of hard, black gum, mixed with and tightly bound up in dried banana leaves. According to some it is acacia; others declare it to be the “blood” of the bombax, which is also used for caulking. They gather it in the forest, especially during the dries, collect it in hollow bamboos, and prepare it by heating in the neptune, or brass pan. The odour is pleasant, but fragments of falling fire endanger the hut, and trimming must be repeated every ten minutes. The sexes are not separated; as throughout intertropical Africa, the men are fond of idling at their clubs; and the women, who must fetch water and cook, clean the hut, and nurse the baby, are seldom allowed to waste time. They are naturally a more prolific race than those inhabiting the damp, unhealthy lowlands, and the number of the children contrasts pleasantly with the “bleak house” of the debauched Mpongwe, who puts no question when his wife presents him with issue.

In the cool of the morning Fitevanga, king of Mayyán, lectured me upon the short and simple annals of the Fán. In 1842 the first stragglers who had crossed the Sierra del Crystal are said to have been seen upon the head waters of the Gaboon. I cannot, however, but suspect that they are the “Paämways” of whom Bowdich (“Sketch of Gaboon,” p. 429) wrote in the beginning of the century, “All the natives on this route are said to be cannibals, the Paämways not so voraciously as the others, because they cultivate a large breed of dogs for their eating.” Mr. W. Winwood Reade suspects them to be an offshoot of the great Fulah race, and there is nothing in point of dialect to disprove what we must at present consider a pure conjecture. “The Fulah pronouns have striking analogies with those of the Yoruba, Accra, Ashantee, and Timmanee, and even of the great Kaffir class of dialects, which reaches from the equator to the Cape,” wrote the late learned E. Norris, in his “Introduction to the Grammar of the Fulah Language” (London: Harrison, 1854).

According to the people of the upper river the Fán were expelled by the Bati or Batti — not “Bari” as it has been written-from their ancient seats; and they are still pushing them seawards. The bushmen are said to live seven to ten short marches (seventy to a hundred miles) to the east, and are described by Mr. Tippet, whom they have visited, as a fine, tall, slender, and light-skinned people, who dress like the Fán, but without so much clothing, and who sharped the teeth of both sexes. Dr. Barth heard of the Bati, and Herr Petermann’s map describes them1 as “Pagans, reported to be of a white colour, and of beautiful shape, to live in houses made of clay, to wear cloth of their own making, and to hold a country from which a mountain is visible to the south-west, and close to the sea.” The range in question may be the Long Qua (Kwa), which continues the Camarones block to the north-east, and the Batis may have passed south-westward from Southern Adamáwa.

The Fán were accompanied in their seaward movement by the Osheba or ‘Sheba, the Moshebo and Moshobo of M. du Chaillu’s map. They are said to be a tribe of kindred blood and warlike tastes, speaking a remarkably guttural tongue, but intelligible to the Mpángwe. They too were doubtless pressed forward by the Inner Bati, who are.also affected by the Okáná, the Yefá, and the Sensobá. The latter are the innermost known to my negro informants, and their sheep and goats have found their way to the Gaboon: they are doughty elephant-hunters, and they attack the Njína, although they have no fire-arms. The Mpangwe deride the savagery of these races, who have never heard of a man riding a horse or an ass, which the Mpongwes call Cavala and Buro burro). The names of these three races, which are described as brave, warlike, and hospitable to strangers, will not be found on any map; indeed the regions east of the Gaboon belong to the great white blot of inter-tropical Africa, extending from north latitude 7 degrees to south latitude 5 degrees. Major de Ruvignes heard also of a tribe called Lachaize (Osheba?) which excels the Fán in strength and courage as much as the latter do the coast tribes: a detachment of them had settled near one of the chief Mpángwe towns, “Mboma.” Some days after his arrival he saw several of these people, and describes them as giants, compared with the negro races to which his eye was accustomed. The general stature varied from six feet to six feet four inches; their complexion was a light café au lait; their hair was ornamented with cowries, strung so thickly as to suggest a skull-cup, whilst long streamers of elephants’ tails, threaded with the Cypraea and brass rings, hung down from the head behind the ears, covering the nape of the neck. All these, we may observe, are Congo customs. In their manufacture of iron, dug by themselves, they resemble the cannibals.

The Fán have now lodged themselves amongst the less warlike, maritime, and sub-maritime tribes, as the (Ashantis) Asiante lately did in Fante-land; now they visit the factories on the estuary, and wander as far as the Ogobe. In course of time, they will infallibly “eat up” the Bákele, as the latter are eating up the Mpongwe and Shekyani. They have their own names for neighbouring tribes: the Mpongwe, according to Bowdich, called the Shekyani, and the inner tribes “Boolas, a synonym of Dunko in Ashantee;” hence, probably, the “Bulous” of Mr. Hutchinson (p. 253), “a tribe on the Guergay Creek, who speak a different language from the Mpongwes.” The Fán call the Mpongwes, Báyok; the Bákele, Ngon; the Shekyani, Besek; and the Gaboon River, Aboka. The sub-tribes of cannibals, living near my line of march, were named to me as follows:— 1. The Lálá (Oshebas?), whose chief settlement, Sánkwí, is up the Mbokwe River; 2. their neighbours, the Esánvímá; 3. the Sánikiya, a bush tribe; 4. the Sákulá, near Mayyán; 5. the Esobá, about Fakanjok; 6. the Esonzel of the Ute, or Autá village; 7. the Okola, whose chief settlement is Esámási; and 8. the Ashemvon, with Asya for a capital.

From M. du Chaillu’s illustrations (pp. 74, 77) I fully expected to see a large-limbed, black-skinned, and ferocious-looking race, with huge mustachios and plaited beards. A finely made, light-coloured people, of regular features and decidedly mild aspect, met my sight.

The complexion is, as a rule, chocolate, the distinctive colour of the African mountaineer and of the inner tribes; there are dark men, as there would be in England, but the very black are of servile origin. Few had any signs of skin-disease; I saw only one hand spotted with white, like the incipient Morphetico (leper) of the Brazil. Many, if bleached, might pass for Europeans, so “Caucasian” are their features; few are negro in type as the Mpongwe, and none are purely “nigger” like the blacks of maritime Guinea and the lower Congoese. And they bear the aspect of a people fresh from the bush, the backwoods; their teeth are pointed, and there is generally a look of grotesqueness and surprise. When I drank tea, they asked what was the good of putting sugar in tobacco water. The hair is not kinky, peppercorn-like, and crisply woolly, like that of the Coast tribes; in men, as well as in women, it falls in a thick curtain, nearly to the shoulders, and it is finer than the usual elliptical fuzz. The variety of their perruquerie can be rivalled only by that of the dress and ornament. The males affect plaits, knobs, and horns, stiff twists and upright tufts, suddenly projecting some two inches from the scalp; and, that analogies with Europe might not be wanting, one gentleman wore a queue, zopf, or pigtail, bound at the shoulders, not by a ribbon, but by the neck of a claret bottle. Other heads are adorned with single feathers, or bunches and circles of plumes, especially the red tail-plumes of the parrot and the crimson coat of the Touraco (Corythrix), an African jay; these blood-coloured spoils are a sign of war. The Brazilian traveller will be surprised to find the coronals of feathers, the Kennitare (Acangátara) of the Tupí- Guarani race, which one always associates with the New World. The skull-caps of plaited and blackened palm leaf, though common in the interior, are here rare; an imitation is produced by tressing the hair longitudinally from occiput to sinciput, making the head a system of ridges, divided by scalp-lines, and a fan-shaped tuft of scarlet-stained palm frond surmounts the poll. I noticed a fashion of crinal decoration quite new to me.

A few hairs, either from the temples, the sides or the back of the head, are lengthened with tree-fibres, and threaded with red and white pound-beads, so called by Europeans because the lb. fetches a dollar. These decorations fall upon the breast or back; the same is done to the thin beard, which sprouts tufty from both rami of the chin, as in the purely nervous temperament of Europe; and doubtless the mustachios, if the latter were not mostly wanting, would be similarly treated. Whatever absurdity in hair may be demanded by the trichotomists and philopogons of Europe, I can at once supply it to any extent from Africa — gratis. Gentlemen remarkable by a raie, which as in the Scotch terrier begins above the eyes and runs down the back, should be grateful to me for this sporting offer.

Nothing simpler than the Fán toilette. Thongs and plaits of goat, wild cat, or leopard skin gird the waist, and cloth, which is rare, is supplied by the spoils of the black monkey or some other “beef.” The main part of the national costume, and certainly the most remarkable, is a fan of palm frond redolent of grease and ruddled with ochre, thrust through the waist belt; while new and stiff the upper half stands bolt upright and depends only when old. It suggests the “Enduap” (rondache) of ostrich-plumes worn by the Tupi–Guarani barbarians of the Brazil, the bunchy caudal appendages which made the missionaries compare them with pigeons. The fore part of the body is here decked with a similar fan, the outspread portion worn the wrong way, like that behind. The ornaments are seed-beads, green or white, and Loangos (red porcelain). The “bunch” here contains 100 to 120 strings, and up country 200, worth one dollar; each will weigh from one to three, and a wealthy Fán may carry fifteen to forty-five pounds. The seed-bead was till lately unknown; fifteen to twenty strings make the “bunch.” There is not much tattooing amongst the men, except on the shoulders, whilst the women prefer the stomach; the gandin, however, disfigures himself with powdered cam-wood, mixed with butter-nut, grease, or palm oil — a custom evidently derived from the coast-tribes. Each has his “Ndese,” garters and armlets of plaited palm fibre, and tightened by little cross-bars of brass; they are the “Hibás” which the Bedawin wear under their lower articulations as preservatives against cramp. Lastly, a Fetish horn hangs from the breast, and heavy copper rings encumber the wrists and ankles. Though unskilful in managing canoes — an art to be learned, like riding and dancing, only in childhood — many villagers affect to walk about with a paddle, like the semi-aquatic Kru-men. Up country it is said they make rafts which are towed across the stream by ropes, when the swiftness of the current demands a ferry. The women are still afraid of the canoe.

All adult males carry arms, and would be held womanish if they were seen unweaponed. These are generally battle-axes, spears cruelly and fantastically jagged, hooked and barbed, and curious leaf-shaped knives of archaic aspect; some of the latter have blades broader than they are long, a shape also preserved by the Mpongwe. The sheaths of fibre or leather are elaborately decorated, and it is chic for the scabbard to fit so tight that the weapon cannot be drawn for five minutes; I have seen the same amongst the Somal. There are some trade-muskets, but the “hot-mouthed weapon” has not become the national weapon of the Fán. Bows and arrows are unknown; the Náyin or cross-bow peculiar to this people, and probably a native invention, not borrowed, as might be supposed, from Europe, is carried only when hunting or fighting: a specimen was exhibited in London with the gorillas. The people are said sometimes to bend it with the foot or feet like the Tupí Guaranís, the Jivaros, and other South Americans. Suffice it to remark of this weapon, with which, by the by, I never saw a decent shot made, that the détente is simple and ingenious, and that the “Ebe” or dwarf bolt is always poisoned with the boiled root of a wild shrub. It is believed that a graze is fatal, and that the death is exceedingly painful: I doubt both assertions. Most men also carry a pliable basket full of bamboo caltrops, thin splints, pointed and poisoned. Placed upon the path of a bare-footed enemy, this rude contrivance, combined with the scratching of the thorns, and the gashing cuts of the grass, must somewhat discourage pursuit. The shields of elephant hide are large, square, and ponderous. The “terrible war-axe” is the usual poor little tomahawk, more like a toy than a tool.

After a bathe in the muddy Mbokwe, I returned to the village, and found it in a state of ferment. The Fán, like all inner African tribes, with whom fighting is our fox-hunting, live in a chronic state of ten days’ war, and can never hold themselves safe; this is the case especially where the slave trade has never been heard of. Similarly the Ghazwah (“Razzia”) of the Bedawin is for plunder, not for captives. Surprises are rare, because they will not march in the dark. Battles are not bloody; after two or three warriors have fallen their corpses are dragged away to be devoured, their friends save themselves by flight, and the weaker side secures peace by paying sheep and goats. On this occasion the sister of a young “brave” had just now been killed and “chopped” by the king of Sánkwí, a neighbouring settlement of Oshebas, and the bereaved brother was urging his comrades with vociferous speeches to “up and arm.” Usually when a man wants “war,” he rushes naked through his own village, cursing it as he goes. Moreover, during the last war Mayyán lost five men to three of the enemy; which is not fair, said the women, who appeared most eager for the fray. All the youths seized their weapons; the huge war-drums, the hollowed bole of a tree fringed with Nyáre hide, was set up in the middle of the street; preparations for the week of singing and dancing which precedes a campaign were already in hand, and one war-man gave earnest of blood-shed by spearing a goat the property of Mr. Tippet. It being our interest that the peace should be kept till after my proposed trip into the interior, I repaired to the palaver-house and lent weight to the advice of my host, who urged the heroes to collect ivory, ebony, and rubber, and not to fight till his stores were filled. We concluded by carrying off the goat. After great excitement the warriors subsided to a calm; it was broken, however, two days afterwards by the murder of a villager, the suspected lover of a woman whose house was higher up the Mbokwe River; he went to visit her, and was incontinently speared in the breast by the “injured husband.” If he die and no fine be paid, there will be another “war.”

I made careful inquiry about anthropophagy amongst the Fán, and my account must differ greatly from that of M. du Chaillu. The reader, however, will remember that Mayyán is held by a comparatively civilized race, who have probably learned to conceal a custom so distasteful to all their neighbours, white and black; in the remoter districts cannibalism may yet assume far more hideous proportions. Since the Fán have encouraged traders to settle amongst them, the interest as well as the terrors of the Coast tribes, who would deter foreigners from direct dealings, has added new horrors to the tale; and yet nothing can exceed the reports of older travellers.

During my peregrinations I did not see a single skull. The chiefs, stretched at full length, and wrapped in mats, are buried secretly, the object being to prevent some strong Fetish medicine being made by enemies from various parts of the body. In some villages the head men of the same tribe are interred near one another; the commonalty are put singly and decently under ground, and only the slave (Máká) is thrown as usual into the bush. Mr. Tippet, who had lived three years with this people, knew only three cases of cannibalism; and the Rev. Mr. Walker agreed with other excellent authorities, that it is a rare incident even in the wildest parts — perhaps opportunity only is wanted. As will appear from the Fán’s bill of fare, anthropophagy can hardly be caused by necessity, and the way in which it is conducted shows that it is a quasi-religious rite practised upon foes slain in battle, evidently an equivalent of human sacrifice. If the whole body cannot be carried off, a limb or two is removed for the purpose of a roast. The corpse is carried to a hut built expressly on the outskirts of the settlement; it is eaten secretly by the warriors, women and children not being allowed to be present, or even to look upon man’s flesh; and the cooking pots used for the banquet must all be broken. A joint of “black brother” is never seen in the villages: “smoked human flesh” does not hang from the rafters, and the leather knife-sheaths are of wild cow; tanned man’s skin suggests only the tannerie de Meudon, an advanced “institution.” Yet Dr. Schweinfurth’s valuable travels on the Western Nile prove that public anthropophagy can co-exist with a considerable amount of comfort and, so to speak, civilization — witness the Nyam–Nyam and Mombattu (Mimbuttoo). The sick and the dead are uneaten by the Fán, and the people shouted with laughter when I asked a certain question.

The “unnatural” practice, which, by the by, has at different ages extended over the whole world, now continues to be most prevalent in places where, as in New Zealand, animal food is wanting; and everywhere pork readily takes the place of “long pig.” The damp and depressing atmosphere of equatorial Africa renders the stimulus of flesh diet necessary. The Isángú, or Ingwánba, the craving felt after a short abstinence from animal food, does not spare the white traveller more than it does his dark guides; and, though the moral courage of the former may resist the “gastronomic practice” of breaking fast upon a fat young slave, one does not expect so much from the untutored appetite of the noble savage. On the eastern parts of the continent there are two cannibal tribes, the Wadoe and the Wabembe; and it is curious to find the former occupying the position assigned by Ptolemy (iv. 8) to his anthropophagi of the Barbaricus Sinus: according to their own account, however, the practice is modern. When weakened by the attacks of their Wákámbá neighbours, they began to roast and eat slices from the bodies of the slain in presence of the foe. The latter, as often happens amongst barbarians, and even amongst civilized men, could dare to die, but were unable to face the horrors of becoming food after death: the great Cortez knew this feeling when he made his soldiers pretend anthropophagy. Many of the Wadoe negroids are tall, well made, and light complexioned, though inhabiting the low and humid coast regions — a proof, if any were wanted, that there is nothing unwholesome in man’s flesh. Some of our old accounts of shipwrecked seamen, driven to the dire necessity of eating one another, insinuate that the impious food causes raging insanity. The Wabembe tribe, occupying a strip of land on the western shore of the Tanganyika Lake, are “Menschenfresser,” as they were rightly called by the authors of the “Mombas Mission Map.” These miserables have abandoned to wild growth a most prolific soil; too lazy and unenergetic to hunt or to fish, they devour all manner of carrion, grubs, insects, and even the corpses of their deceased friends. The Midgán, or slave-caste of the semi-Semitic Somal, are sometimes reduced to the same extremity; but they are ever held, like the Wendigo, or man-eaters, amongst the North American Indians, impure and detestable. On the other hand, the Tupi–Guaranís of the Brazil, a country abounding in game, fish, wild fruits, and vegetables, ate one another with a surprising relish. This subject is too extensive even to be outlined here: the reader is referred to the translation of Hans Stade: old travellers attribute the cannibalism of the Brazilian races to “gulosity” rather than superstition; moreover, these barbarians had certain abominable practices, supposed to be known only to the most advanced races.

Anthropophagy without apparent cause was not unknown in Southern Africa. Mr. Layland found a tribe of “cave cannibals” amongst the mountains beyond Thaba Bosigo in the Trans–Gariep Country.2 He remarks with some surprise, “Horrible as all this may appear, there might be some excuse made for savages, driven by famine to extreme hunger, for capturing and devouring their enemies. But with these people it was totally different, for they were inhabiting a fine agricultural tract of country, which also abounded in game. Notwithstanding this, they were not contented with hunting and feeding upon their enemies, but preyed much upon each other also, for many of their captures were made from amongst the people of their own tribe, and, even worse than this, in times of scarcity, many of their own wives and children became the victims of this horrible practice.”

Anthropophagy, either as a necessity, a sentiment, or a superstition, is known to sundry, though by no means to all, the tribes dwelling between the Nun (Niger) and the Congo rivers; how much farther south it extends I cannot at present say. On the Lower Niger, and its branch the Brass River, the people hardly take the trouble to conceal it. On the Bonny and New Calabar, perhaps the most advanced of the so-called Oil Rivers, cannibalism, based upon a desire of revenge, and perhaps, its sentimental side, the object of imbibing the valour of an enemy slain in battle, has caused many scandals of late years. The practice, on the other hand, is execrated by the Efiks of Old Calabar, who punish any attempts of the kind with extreme severity. During 1862 the slaves of Creek-town attempted it, and were killed. At Duke-town an Ibo woman also cut up a man, sun-dried the flesh, and sold it for monkey’s meat — she took sanctuary at the mission house. Yet it is in full vigour amongst their Ibo neighbours to the north-west, and the Duallas of the Camarones River also number it amongst their “country customs.” The Mpongwe, as has been said, will not eat a chimpanzee; the Fán devour their dead enemies.

The Fán character has its ferocious side, or it would not be African: prisoners are tortured with all the horrible barbarity of that human wild beast which is happily being extirpated, the North American Indian; and children may be seen greedily licking the blood from the ground. It is a curious ethnological study, this peculiar development of destructiveness in the African brain. Cruelty seems to be with him a necessary of life, and all his highest enjoyments are connected with causing pain and inflicting death. His religious rites — a strong contrast to those of the modern Hindoo — are ever causelessly bloody. Take as an instance, the Efik race, or people of Old Calabar, some 6,000 wretched remnants of a once-powerful tribe. For 200 years they have had intercourse with Europeans, who, though slavers, would certainly neither enjoy nor encourage these profitless horrors; yet no savages show more brutality in torture, more frenzied delight in bloodshed, than they do. A few of their pleasant practices are —

The administration of Esere, or poison-bean;

“Egbo floggings” of the utmost severity, equalling the knout;

Substitution of an innocent pauper for a rich criminal;

Infanticide of twins; and


And it must be remembered that this tribe has had the benefit of a resident mission for the last generation. I can hardly believe this abnormal cruelty to be the mere result of uncivilization; it appears to me the effect of an arrested development, which leaves to the man all the ferocity of the carnivor, the unreflecting cruelty of the child.

The dietary of these “wild men of the woods” would astonish the starveling sons of civilization. When will the poor man realize the fact that his comfort and happiness will result not from workhouses and almshouses, hospitals and private charities, but from that organized and efficient emigration, so long advocated by the seer Carlyle? Only the crassest ignorance and the listlessness born of misery and want prevent the able-bodied pauper, the frozen-out mechanic, or the weary and ill-clad, the over-worked and under-fed agricultural labourer, from quitting the scenes of his purgatory, and from finding, scattered over earth’s surface, spots where he may enjoy a comparative paradise, heightened by the memory of privations endured in the wretched hole which he pleases to call his home. But nostalgia is a more common disease than men suppose, and it affects none more severely than those that are remarkable for their physical powers. A national system of emigration, to be perfect, must not be confined to solitary and individual hands, who, however numerous, are ever pining for the past. The future will organize the exodus of whole villages, which, like those of the Hebrides in the last century, will bear with them to new worlds their Lares and Penates, their wives, families, and friends, who will lay out the church and the churchyard after the old fashion familiar to their youth, and who will not forget the palaver-house, vulgarly called pothouse or pub.

Few of these Lestrigons lack fish, which they catch in weirs, fowl, flesh of dogs, goats, or sheep; cattle is a luxury yet unknown, but the woods supply an abundance of Nyáre and other “bush-beef.” They also have their special word for the meat-yearning. Still in the semi-nomadic stage, they till the ground, and yet depend greatly upon the chase. They break their fast (kidiashe) at 6 A.M., eat a mid-day meal (amos), and sup (gogáshe) at sunset, besides “snacks” all through the day when they can find material. They are good huntsmen, who fear neither the elephant (nyok), the hippopotamus (nyok á mádzim), frequent in the rivers of the interior, the crocodile, nor the gorilla (njí). It is generally asserted — and the unfortunate Douville re-echoed the assertion — that the river-horse and the crocodile will not live together; the reason is, simply, that upon the seaboard, where these animals were first observed, the crocodile prefers the fresh water of the river, the hippopotamus the brackish water at its mouth. In the interior, of course, they dwell together in amity, because there is nothing for them to quarrel about.

The banana, planted with a careless hand, supplies the staff of life, besides thatch, fuel, and fibre for nets and lines: when they want cereals, maize, holcus, and panicum will grow almost spontaneously. The various palm-trees give building materials, oil, wine, and other requisites too numerous to mention. The “five products of the cow” are ignored, as in the western hemisphere of yore: one of the most useful, however, is produced by the Nje or Njeve, a towering butyraceous tree, differing from that which bears the Shea butternut. Its produce is sun-dried, toasted over a fire, pounded and pressed in a bag between two boards, when it is ready for use. The bush, cut at the end, is fired before the beginning, of the rains, leaving the land ready for yams and sweet potatoes almost without using the hoe. In the middle dries, from June to September, the villagers sally forth en masse for a battue of elephants, whose spoils bring various luxuries from the coast. Lately, before my arrival, they had turned out to gather the Aba, or wild mango, for Odika sauce; and during this season they will do nothing else. The Fán plant their own tobacco, which is described as a low, spreading plant, and despise the imported weed; they neither snuff nor chew. All manufacture their own pipe-bowls, and they are not ignorant of the use of Lyamba or Hashish. They care little for sugar, contrary to the rule of Africa in general, but they over-salt all their food; and they will suck the condiment as children do lollipops. Their palm oil is very poor, as if they had only just learned the art of making it.

After the daily siesta, which lasted till 3 P. M., Mr. Tippet asked me to put in an appearance at a solemn dance which, led by the king’s eldest daughter, was being performed in honour of the white visitor. A chair was placed in the verandah, the street being the ballroom. Received with the usual salutation, “Mboláne,” to which the reply is “An,” I proceeded to the external study of Fán womanhood. Whilst the men are tall and élancés, their partners are usually short and stout, and,

“Her stature tall, I hate a dumpy woman,”

is a matter of taste upon which most of us agree with his lordship. This peculiar breadth of face and person probably result from hard work and good fare, developing adipose tissue. I could not bring myself to admire Gondebiza, the princess royal — what is grotesque in one sex becomes unsightly in the other. Fat, thirty, and perhaps once fair, her charms had seen their prime, and the system of circles and circlets which composed her personnel had assumed a tremulous and gravitating tendency. She was habited in the height of Fán fashion. Her body was modestly invested in a thin pattern of tattoo, and a gauze-work of oil and camwood; the rest of the toilette was a dwarf pigeon-tail of fan-palm, like that of the men, and a manner of apron, white beads, and tree bark, greasy and reddened: the latter was tucked under and over the five lines of cowries, which acted as cestus to the portly middle, “big as a budget.” The horns of hair, not unlike the rays of light in Michael Angelo’s “Moses,” were covered with a cap of leaves, and they were balanced behind by a pigtail lashed with brass wire. Her ornaments were sundry necklaces of various beads, large red and white, and small blue and pink porcelains; a leaf, probably by way of amulet, was bound to a string round the upper arm; and wrists and ankles were laden with heavy rings of brass and copper, the parure of the great in Fán-land. The other ballerine were, of course, less brilliantly attired, but all had rings on their arms, legs, and ankles, fingers, and toes. A common decoration was a bunch of seven or eight long ringlets, not unlike the queues de rat, still affected by the old-fashioned Englishwoman; these, however, as in the men, were prolonged to the bosom by strings of alternate red and white beads. Others limited the decoration to two rats’ tails depending from the temples, where phrenologists localize our “causality.” Many had faces of sufficient piquancy; the figures, though full, wanted firmness, and I noticed only one well-formed bosom. The men wore red feathers, but none carried arms.

The form of saltation suggested Mr. Catlin’s drawings. A circular procession of children, as well as adults, first promenaded round the princess, who danced with all her might in the centre, her countenance preserving the grand sérieux. The performers in this “ging-a-ring” then clapped hands with prolonged ejaculations of o-o-o-oh, stamped and shuffled forwards, moving the body from the hips downwards, whilst H. R. H. alone stood stationary and smileless as a French demoiselle of the last century, who came to the ball not to causer but to danser. At times, when King Fitevanga condescended to show his agility, the uproar of applause became deafening. The orchestra consisted of two men sitting opposite each other — one performed on a caisson, a log of hollowed wood, four feet high, skin-covered, and fancifully carved; the other on the national Anjyá, a rude “Marimba,” the prototype of the pianoforte. It is made of seven or eight hard-wood slats, pinned with bamboo tacks to transverse banana trunks lying on the ground: like the grande caisse, it is played upon with sticks, plectra like tent-pegs. Mr. W. Winwood Reade (“Savage Africa,” chap, xiii.) says: “The instrument is also described by Froebel as being used by the Indians of Central America, where, which is still more curious, it is known by the same name —‘marimba.’” Of course they borrowed the article and the name from the negroes: most tribes in Africa have their own terms for this universal instrument, but it is everywhere recognized by the African who knows Europeans as “marimba.” Thus Owen tells us (p. 308) “that at the mouth of the Zambesi it is called ‘Tabbelah,’” evidently the Arabic “Tablah” Another favourite instrument is a clapper, made of two bamboos some five feet long, and thick as capstan bars — it is truly the castanet en grand.

Highly gratified by the honour, but somewhat overpowered by the presence and by that vile scourge the sandfly, I retired after the first review, leaving the song, the drum, and the dance to continue till midnight. Accustomed to the frantic noises of African village-life in general, my ears here recognized an excess of bawl and shout, and subsequent experience did not efface the impression. But, in the savage and the barbarian, noise, like curiosity, is a healthy sign; the lowest tribes are moping and apathetic as sick children; they will hardly look at anything, however strange to them.

The rest of my day and week was devoted to the study of this quaint people, and the following are the results. Those who have dealings with the Fán universally prefer them in point of honesty and manliness to the Mpongwe and Coast races; they have not had time to become thoroughly corrupt, to lose all the lesser without gaining anything of the greater virtues. They boast, like John Tod, that they ne’er feared the French, and have scant respect for (white) persons; indeed, their independence sometimes takes the form of insolence. We were obliged to release by force the boy Nyongo, and two of Mr. Tippet’s women who had been put “in log”— Anglicè, in the stocks. They were wanted as hostages during the coming war, and this rude contrivance was adopted to insure their presence.

Chastity is still known amongst the Fán. The marriage tie has some significance, the women will not go astray except with the husband’s leave, which is not often granted. The men wax wroth if their mothers be abused. It is an insult to call one of them a liar or a coward; the coast-tribes would merely smile at the soft impeachment; and assure you that none but fools — yourself included by implication — are anything else. Their bravery is the bravery of the savage, whose first object in battle is to preserve his only good, his life: to the civilized man, therefore, they appear but moderately courageous. They are fond of intoxication, but are not yet broken to ardent spirits: I have seen a single glass of trade rum cause a man to roll upon the ground and convulsively bite the yellow clay like one in the agonies of the death-thirst. They would do wisely to decline intercourse with Europeans; but this, of course, is impossible — there is a manifest destiny for them as for their predecessors. The vile practice of the white or West Coast is to supply savages with alcohol, arms, and ammunition; to live upon the lives of those they serve. The more honourable Moslems of the eastern shores do not disgrace themselves by such greed of gain.

The Fán are cunning workers in iron, which is their wealth. Their money is composed of Ikíá, dwarf bars shaped like horse-fleams, a coinage familiar to old travellers in West Africa, and of this Spartan currency a bundle of ten represents sixpence. “White man’s Ikíá” would be silver, for which the more advanced Mpongwe have corrupted the English to “solove.” An idea exists on the Lower River that our hardware is broken up for the purpose of being made into spear-heads and other weapons. Such is not generally the case. The Wamasai, the Somal and the Cape Kafirs — indeed, all the metal-working African barbarians — call our best Sheffield blades “rotten iron.” They despise a material that chips and snaps, and they prefer with ample cause their native produce, charcoal-smelted, and tempered by many successive heatings and hammerings, without quenching in water. Nor will they readily part with it when worked. The usual trade medium is a metal rod; two of these are worth a franc if of brass, while three of copper represent two francs. There is a great demand for beads and salt, the latter especially throughout the interior.

Thus ended my “first impressions” amongst the Fán cannibals.

1 Hutchinson’s “Ten Years’ Wanderings, p. 319.

2 “Journal of the Ethnological Society,” April, 1869.

Chapter 10.

To the Mbíka (Hill); the Sources of the Gaboon. —— return to the Plateau.

Not yet despairing of a shot at or of capturing a “poor relation,” I persuaded Mr. Tippet to assemble the lieges and offer them double what was proposed at Mbátá. No one, however, appeared sanguine of success, the anthropoid keeps his distance from the Fán. A trip to the interior was suggested, first up the Mbokwe, and finally arranged for the Londo River. Information about the country was, as usual, vague; one man made the stream head two days off, the other a few hours, and Mr. Tippet’s mind fluctuated between fifty and one hundred miles.

The party was easily assembled, and we set out at 7 A.M. on April 14th. I and Selim had the dignity of a “dingy” to ourselves: Mr. Tippet out of a little harem of twenty-five had chosen two wives and sundry Abigails, his canoe, laden with some fifteen souls, was nearly flush with the water. The beauties were somewhat surly, they complained, like the sluggard, of too early waking and swore that they would do nothing in the way of work, industry being essentially servile Anne Coombe (Ankombe, daughter of Qua ben), was a short, stout, good humoured lass, “‘Lizer” (Eliza), I regret to say, would not make the least exertion, and, when called, always turned her back.

After dropping three miles down the Mbokwe River, we entered the Londo influent: some three miles further on it fines down from a width of eighty feet to a mere ditch, barred with trees, which stop navigation. We landed on the left bank and walked into the palaver-house of Fakanjok or Pakanjok, the village of a Fán head man, called by Mr. Tippet “John Matoko.” It was old, dirty and tattered, showing signs of approaching removal. Out of the crowd of men and women who nearly sat upon us, I had no difficulty in hiring eight porters, thereby increasing our party to twenty-five souls. These people carry on the shoulder, not as Africans always should do, on the head: they even cross the fallen trunks which act as rickety bridges, with one side of the body thus heavier than the other.

The bush-path began by wheeling westward, as though we were returning to Anenge-nenge; thence it struck south-eastwards, a rhumb from which it rarely deviated. Though we were approaching the sub-ranges of the Sierra del Crystal, the country was very like that about Mbátá; streamlets flowing to the Mbokwe, wet yellow soil forming slippery muds, unhealthy as unpleasant in the morning sunshine; old and new clearings and plantations, mostly of bananas, mere spots in the wide expanse of bush, and deserted or half-inhabited villages. Shortly after noon we came to a battle-field, where the heroes of Tippet-town had chanced to fall in with their foes of Autá, a settlement distant eight or nine miles. Both armies at once “tree’d” themselves behind trunks, and worked at long bowls, the “bushmen,” having only one gun and two charges, lost four of their men, and the victors, who had no time to carry off the slain, contented themselves with an arm or two by way of gigot.

Probably the memory of this affair, which is still to be settled, unfavourably impressed my escort. After a total of some two hours (six miles) we arrived at a large “Oláko” or breakwind, a half-face of leafy branches, and all insisted upon a long rest. I objected, and then “palaver came up.” We were at last frankly told that the villages ahead were hostile, that we could not proceed further in this direction, and that the people of Fakanjok had thought my only object was to sight from afar a golden prairie and a blue range beyond. The latter is known to the French as “Tem,” from a hillock crowned with a huge red-trunked tree of that name.

Opposition was useless, so we turned back some twenty minutes to a junction, and took the south-eastern instead of the eastern line. Here the country was higher and drier, more hilly and gravelly, the aneroid showing some 900 feet (29.11); it would be exceptionally healthy in any but the rainy season. Before the afternoon had well set in, a camping ground had been chosen in the tall, thin forest, near the confluence of two dwarf streams, whose vitreous waters, flowing over fine sand and quartz pebbles, were no small recommendation. As the cooking proceeded, frowning brows relaxed, and huge fires put to flight ill temper and the sandfly. I had proposed lashing my hammock to one of the tree-stumps, which are here some ten feet tall, the people, who swing themselves for the purpose of felling, declare the upper wood to be softer than below. “Public opinion,” however, overruled me, and made it fast to two old trunks. The night was a succession of violent tornadoes, and during one of the most outrageous the upper half of a “triste lignum,” falling alongside of and grazing my hammock, awoke me with its crash.

Next morning, when the rain had somewhat abated, I set out, by a path whose makers were probably the ape and the squirrel-hunter, in the direction of a rise, which the people called Mbika — The hill. After a total of some two miles and a half, we found a clearing upon the summit, but, although I climbed up a tree, the bush was dense enough to conceal most of the surroundings. According to the Fán, the Nkomo rises on the seaward or western face of this Mbíká, whilst the Mbokwe, springing from its eastern counterslope, runs south-west of the Massif and joins the former. The one-tree hill known as “Tem” appeared a little to the north of west: to the north-east we could see a river-fork, but none knew its name.

Our return was enlivened by the inspection of an elephant-kraal, where a herd had been trapped, drugged, and shot during the last season. As the walls were very flimsy, I asked why the animals did not break loose; the answer was that the Ngán (Mganga or Fetishman) ran a line of poison vine along its crest, and that the beasts, however wild, would not attempt to pass through it. The natives showed me the liana which they described, still lying on the poles of the broken corral. Mr. Preston, of the Gaboon Mission, who first noticed it, and Mr. Wilson, who gives an illustration of the scene (p. 363), declares that the creeper is drawn around the herd when browsing; that as long as the animals are unmolested they will not dash through the magic circle, and that the fence of uprights is constructed outside it. The same tale is told of all the wild elephant-hunters in the interior, the Báti the Okáná, the Yefá, and the Sensobá.

Arrived at Tippet-town, I gave my “dashes,” chiefly brass and copper rods, bade an affectionate farewell, and then dropped down stream without further ceremony. I had been disappointed a second time in re gorilla, and nothing now remained but a retreat, which time rendered necessary. The down-stream voyage was an easy matter, and it need hardly be said far less unpleasant than the painful toil up. From the Sanjika village on the Gaboon, the “Tem” hill was seen bearing due east (Mag.) and the Mbíká 92°. Behind them were glimpses of blue highland, rising in lumpy and detached masses to the east; these are evidently sub-ranges of the western Ghats, the Sierra del Crystal, which native travellers described to me as a serrated broken line of rocky and barren acicular mountains; tall, gravelly, waterless, and lying about three days’ journey beyond the screen of wooded hill. It is probably sheltered to some extent from the damp sea-breeze, and thus to the east there would be a “lee-land,” dry, healthy and elevated, which, corresponding with Ugogo on the Zanzibar–Tanganyika line, would account for the light complexions of the people. Early on the morning of Thursday, April 17th, the “Eliza” was lying off Mr. R. B. N. Walker’s factory, and I was again received with customary hospitality by Mr. Hogg.

These two short trips gave me a just measure of the comparative difficulties in travelling through Eastern and Western Africa, and to a certain extent accounted for the huge vacuum which disfigures the latter, a few miles behind the seaboard. The road to Unyamwezi, for instance, has been trodden for centuries; the people have become trained porters; they look forward annually to visiting the coast, and they are accustomed to the sight of strangers, Arabs and others. If war or blood-feud chance to close one line, the general interests of the interior open another. But in this section of Africa there is no way except from village to village, and a blood-feud may shut it for months. The people have not the habit of dealing with the foreigner, whom they look upon as a portent, a walking ghost, an ill-omened apparition. Porterage is in embryo, no scale of payment exists; and no dread of cutting off a communication profitable to both importer and exporter prevents the greedy barbarian plundering the stranger. Captain Speke and I were fortunate in being the first whites who seriously attempted the Lake Region; our only obstacles were the European merchants at Zanzibar; the murder of M. Maizan, although a bad example to the people, had been so punished as to render an immediate repetition of the outrage improbable. I say immediate, for, shortly after our return, the unfortunate Herr Roscher was killed at the Hisonguni village, near the Rufuma River, without apparent reason. 1

But M. du Chaillu had a very different task, and as far as he went he did it well. His second expedition, in which an accidental death raised the country against him, was fortunately undertaken by a man in the prime of youth and strength; otherwise he must have succumbed to a nine hours’ run, wounded withal. In East Africa when one of Lieutenant Cameron’s “pagazis” happened to kill a native, the white man was mulcted only in half his cloth.

On the other hand, I see no reason why these untrodden lines should be pronounced impossible, as a writer in the “Pall Mall” has lately done, deterring the explorer from work which every day would cover new ground. The Gaboon is by no means a bad point de départ, whence the resolute traveller, with perseverance (Anglicè time), a knowledge of the coast language, and good luck might penetrate into the heart (proper) of Africa, and abolish the white blot which still affronts us. His main difficulty would be the heavy outlay; “impecuniosity” to him would represent the scurvy and potted cat of the old Arctic voyager. But if he can afford to travel regardless of delays and expense, and to place depots of cloth, beads, and other “country-money” at every hundred miles, Mpongwe-land would be one of the gateways to the unknown regions of the Dark Continent. Moreover, every year we hear some new account of travellers coming from the East. Unfortunately men with £5,000 to £20,000 a year do not “plant the lance in Africa,” the old heroic days of the Spanish and Portuguese exploring hidalgos have yet to dawn anew. We must now look forward to subsidies from economical governments, and whilst the Germans and Italians, especially the former, are so liberally supported and adequately rewarded, Englishmen, as in the case of the gallant Lieutenant Cameron, run the risk of being repudiated, left penniless in the depths of Negro-land.

1 “Zanzibar City, Island, and Coast,” vol. ii. chap. ii.

Chapter 11.

Mr., Mrs., and Master Gorilla.

The reader will kindly bear in mind, when perusing my notes upon the gorilla, that, as in the case of the Fán cannibalism described by the young French traveller, my knowledge of the anthropoid is confined to the maritime region; moreover, that it is hearsay, fate having prevented my nearer acquaintance with the “ape of contention.”

The discovery must be assigned to Admiral Hanno of Carthage, who, about B. C. 500, first in the historical period slew the Troglodytes, and carried home their spoils.

The next traveller who described the great Troglodytes of equatorial Africa was the well-known Andrew Battel, of Leigh, Essex (1589 to 1600); and his description deserves quoting. “Here (Mayombo) are two kinds of monsters common to these woods. The largest of them is called Pongo in their language, and the other Engeco “(in the older editions “Encêgo” evidently Nchigo, whilst Engeco may have given rise to our “Jocko”). “The Pongo is in all his proportions like a man, except the legs, which have no calves, but are of a gigantic size. Their faces, hands, and ears are without hair; their bodies are covered, but not very thick, with hair of a dunnish colour. When they walk on the ground it is upright, with their hands on the nape of the neck. They sleep in trees, and make a covering over their heads to shelter them from the rain. They eat no flesh, but feed on nuts and other fruits; they cannot speak, nor have they any understanding beyond instinct.

“When the people of the country travel through the woods, they make fires in the night, and in the morning, when they are gone, the Pongos will come and sit round it till it goes out, for they do not possess sagacity enough to lay more wood on. They go in bodies, and kill many negroes who travel in the woods. When elephants happen to come and feed where they are, they will fall on them, and so beat them with their clubbed fists (sticks?) that they are forced to run away roaring. The grown Pongos are never taken alive, owing to their strength, which is so great that ten men cannot hold one of them. The young Pongos hang upon their mother’s belly, with their hands clasped about her. Many of the young ones are taken by means of shooting the mothers with poisoned arrows, and the young ones, hanging to their mothers, are easily taken.”

I have italicized the passages which show that the traditions still preserved on the coast, about the Pongo and the Chimpanzee, date from old. Surely M. du Chaillu does grave injustice to this good old Briton, who was not a literary man, by declaring his stories to be mere travellers’ tales, “untrue of any of the great apes of Africa.” Battel had evidently not seen the animal, and with his negro informants he confounds the gorilla and the “bushman;” yet he possibly alludes to a species which has escaped M. du Chaillu and other modern observers.

Mr. W. Winwood Reade (“Savage Africa,” chap, xix.) has done good service by reprinting the letter of a Bristol trader on the west coast of Africa, first published by Lord Monboddo (“Origin and Progress of Language,” vol. i. p. 281, 1774 to 1792). Here we find distinct mention of three anthropoid apes. The first is the “Impungu” (or pongo?), which walks upright, and is from seven to nine feet high. The second is the “Itsena,” evidently the Njína, Njí, Nguyla, or gorilla; and thirdly is the “Chimpenza,” our Chimpanzee, a word corrupted from the Congoese Kampenzy, including the Nchígo, the Kulu–Kamba, and other Troglodytes. I have heard of this upright-walking Mpongo at Loango and other places on the west coast of Africa, where the Njína is familiarly spoken of, and it is not, methinks, impossible, that an ape even larger than the gorilla may yet be found.

James Barbot (“A Voyage to Congo River,” Churchill, vol. v. p. 512,) tells us in 1700 that the “kingdom of Angola, or Dongo, produces many such extraordinary apes in the woods; they are called by the blacks Quojas morrow, and by the Indians Orang-outang, that is satyrs, or woodmen. . . . This creature seems to be the very satyr of the ancients, written of by Pliny and others, and is said to set upon women in the woods, and sometimes upon armed men.” Amongst these animals he evidently includes the chimpanzee, as may be seen by his reference to the Royal Exchange, London.

In 1776 the philosophical Abbé Proyart, in his excellent “History of Loango,” tells us (vide the chapter upon animals) that “there are in the forests baboons four feet high; the negroes affirm that, when they are hard pushed, they come down from the trees with sticks in their hands to defend themselves against those who are hunting them, and that very often they chase their pursuers. The missionaries never witnessed this singularity.” According to the people, gorillas five or six feet tall have been seen as lately as 1840 at “Looboo Wood,” a well-known spot which we shall presently sight, about three miles inland from the centre of Loango Bay.

And now the long intervals between travellers’ accounts wax shorter. The well-known writer, Bowdich, before quoted, published, in 1819, his hearsay description of the “Ingena,” garnished with the usual native tales. I had the honour of receiving an account of his discovery from his widow, the late Mrs. Lee, who was held the “mother of African travellers,” and whose energy and intelligence endured to the last — if memory serves me, she referred to some paper upon the subject, written by herself about 1825. Towards the end of 1846, the Rev. Mr. Wilson, founder of the Gaboon Mission, and proto-grammarian of its language, obtained two skulls, which were followed by skeletons, fragmentary and perfect. He sent No. 1, measuring, when alive, 5 ½ feet in height, and 4 feet across the shoulders, to the “Natural History Society” of Boston. He evidently has a right to boast that he was “the first to call the attention of naturalists to the ‘Njena.’” His colleague, Dr. Thomas Savage, and Professor Jeffries Wyman called the new animal by the old name of gorilla, suffixing it to the “Troglodytes” which Geoffrey de Saint–Hilaire, reviving Linnaeus, had proposed in 1812. In 1847, Dr. Savage published in the “Journal of Natural History” (Boston) the result of his careful inquiries about the “Engé-ena” and the “Enche-eko.” In 1852, this information was supplemented by Dr. Ford, also of the Gaboon Mission, with a “Paper on the Gorilla,” published in the “Transactions of the Philadelphian Academy of Sciences.”

M. du Chaillu first had the honour of slaying the gorilla in its native wilds. I saw his trophies in the United States in 1859; and the sensation which they subsequently created in London (1861–1862) is too recent to require notice. Unfortunately the specimens were mutilated and imperfect. Mr. R. B. N. Walker, agent of Messrs. Hatton and Cookson at the Gaboon River, was the first to send home a young specimen bodily, stowed away in spirits; two boiled skeletons of large grey animals, whose skins I saw at the factory, and rum-preserved brains, intestines, and other interesting parts, which had vainly been desired by naturalists. Mr. W. Winwood Reade spent five active months in the Gorilla country in 1862: Major Levison also visited the river, but their hunting was as unsuccessful as mine; whilst, in 1863, Major (now Colonel) De Ruvignes is reported to have been more fortunate. Since that time gorillas have been killed by the French chasseur.

The young Troglodyte has often been captured. The usual mode is to fell the tree, and during the confusion to throw a cloth over its head; the hands are then pinioned behind, and a forked stick is fastened under the chin to prevent the child biting. I should prefer, for trapping old as well as young, the way in which bears are caught by the North American backwoodsman — a hollowed log, with some fruit, plantains for instance, floating in a quant. suff. of sugar, well sugared and narcotized.

Concerning the temper of these little captives, there are heroic differences of opinion. Mr. Ford records the “implacable desperation” of a juvenile which was brought to the Mission. It was taken very young, and kept four months, and many means were used to tame it; but it was so incorrigible, that it bit me an hour before it died.” Yet, in face of this and other evidence, Mr. W. Winwood Reade, writing to the “Athenaeum” (September 7, 1862), asserts that “the young gorilla in captivity is not savage.” “Joe Gorilla,” M. du Chaillu’s brat, was notoriously fierce and unmanageable. The Rev. Mr. Walker, of Baraka, had a specimen, which he describes as a very tractable pupil; and my excellent friend Major Noeliy White, better known as “Governor White,” of Corisco Island, brought to Fernando Po a baby Njina, which in its ways and manners much resembled an old woman. Mr. R. B. N. Walker became the happy godfather of two youngsters, who were different in disposition as Valentine and Orson. One, which measured 18 inches high, and died in 1861, was so savage and morose, that it was always kept chained; the other, “Seraphino,” was of angelic nature, a general favourite at the Factory: it survives, in a photograph taken by the French Commandant of the Comptoir, as it sat after breakfast on godpapa’s lap. At first it was confined, but it soon became so tame and playful, that the cage was required only at night. It never bit, unless when teased, and its only fault was not being able to avoid the temptation of eating what disagreed with it — in fact, it was sub-human in some points, and very human in others. All died in direct consequence of dysentery, which even a milk diet could not prevent. Perhaps the best way to send home so delicate an animal would be to keep it for a time in its native forest; to accustom it to boiled plantains, rice, and messes of grain; and to ship it during the fine season, having previously fitted up a cabin near the engine-room, where the mercury should never fall below 70 °(Fahr.). In order to escape nostalgia and melancholy, which are sure to be fatal, the emigrant should be valeted by a faithful and attached native.

The habitat of the gorilla has been unduly limited to the left banks of the Gaboon and Fernao Vaz rivers, and to the lands lying between north latitude 2°, and south latitude 2° — in fact, to the immediate vicinity of the equator. The late Count Lavradio informed me that he had heard of it on the banks of the lower Congo River (south latitude 9°), and the “Soko,” which Dr. Livingstone identifies with the Gorilla, extends to the Lualaba or Upper Congo, in the regions immediately west of the Tanganyika Lake. His friends have suggested that the “Soko” might have been a chimpanzee, but the old traveller was, methinks, far above making the mistake. The Yorubans at once recognize the picture; they call the anthropoid “Nákí;” and they declare that, when it seizes a man, it tears the fingers asunder. So M. du Chaillu (chapter vi.) mentions, in the Mpongwe report, that the Njina tears off the toe-nails and the finger-nails of his human captives. We should not believe so scandalous an assertion without detailed proof; it is hardly fair to make the innocent biped as needlessly cruel as man. It is well known to the natives of the Old Calabar River by the name of “Onion.” In 1860, the brothers Jules and Ambroise Poncet travelled with Dr. Peney to Ab Kúka, the last of their stations near the head of the Luta Nzige (Albert Nyanza) Lake, and Dr. Peney “brought back the hand of the first gorilla which had been heard of” (“Ocean Highways,” p. 482 — February, 1874). The German Expedition (1873) reports Chicambo to be a gorilla country; that the anthropoid is found one day’s journey from the Coast, and that the agent of that station has killed five with his own hand. Mr. Thompson of Sherbro (“Palm Land,” chap, xiii.) says of the chimpanzee: “Some have been seen as tall as a man, from five to seven feet high, and very powerful.” This is evidently the Njína, the only known anthropoid that attains tall human stature; and from the rest of the passage,1 it is clear that he has confounded the chimpanzee with the Nchigo-mpolo.

The strip of gorilla-country visited by me was an elevated line of clayey and sandy soil, cut by sweet-water streams, and by mangrove-lined swamps, backed inland by thin forest. Here the comparative absence of matted undergrowth makes the landscape sub-European, at least, by the side of the foul tropical jungle; it is exceptionally rich in the wild fruits required by the huge anthropoid. The clearings also supply bananas, pine-apple leaves, and sugar-cane, and there is an abundance of honey, in which, like the Nchígo, the gorilla delights. The villages and the frequent plantations which it visits to plunder limit its reproduction near the sea, and make it exceedingly wary and keen of eye, if not of smell. Even when roosting by night, it is readily frightened by a footstep; and the crash caused by the mighty bound from branch to branch makes the traveller think that a tree has fallen.

The gorilla breeds about December, a cool and dry month: according to my bushmen, the period of gestation is between five and six months. The babe begins to walk some ten days after birth; “chops milk” for three months and, at the end of that time may reach eighteen inches in height. M. du Chaillu makes his child, “Joe Gorilla,” 2 feet 6 inches when under the third year: assuming the average height of the adult male at 5 feet to 5 feet 6 inches, this measurement suggests that, according to the law of Flourens, the life would exceed thirty years. I saw two fragmentary skins, thoroughly “pepper and salt;” and the natives assured me that the gorilla turns silver-white with age.

It is still a disputed point whether the weight is supported by the knuckles of the forehand, like the chimpanzee, or whether the palm is the proper fulcrum. M. du Chaillu says (“First Expedition,” chap, xx.), “the fingers are only lightly marked on the ground;” yet a few pages afterwards we are told, “The most usual mode of progression of the animal is on all-fours and resting on the knuckles.” In the “Second Expedition” (chap, ii.) we read, “The tracks of the feet never showed the marks of toes, only the heels, and the track of the hands showed simply the impressions of the knuckles.”

The attack of the gorilla is that of the apes and the monkeys generally. The big-bellied satyr advances to the assault as it travels, shuffling on all-fours; “rocking” not traversing; bristling the crest, chattering, mowing and displaying the fearful teeth and tusks. Like all the Simiads, this Troglodyte sways the body to and fro, and springs from side to side for the purpose of avoiding the weapon. At times Quasimodo raises himself slightly upon the dwarfed “asthenogenic,” and almost deformed hind limbs, which look those of a child terminating the body of a Dan Lambert: the same action may be seen in its congeners great and small. The wild huntsmen almost cried with laughter when they saw the sketches in the “Gorilla Book,”2 the mighty pugilist standing stiff and upright as the late Mr. Benjamin Caunt, “beating the breast with huge fists till it sounded like an immense bass drum;” and preparing to deal a buffet worthy of Friar Tuck. They asked me if I thought mortal man would ever attempt to face such a thing as that? With respect to drumming with both forehands upon the chest, some asserted that such is the brute’s practice when calling Mrs. Gorilla, or during the excitement of a scuffle; but the accounts of the bushmen differ greatly on this point. In a hand-to-hand struggle it puts forth one of the giant feet, sometimes the hinder, as “Joe Gorilla” was wont to do; and, having once got a hold with its prehensile toes, it bites and worries like any other ape, baboon, or monkey. From this grapple doubtless arose the old native legend about the gorilla drawing travellers up trees and “quietly choking them.” It can have little vitality, as it is easily killed with a bit of stone propelled out of a trade musket by the vilest gunpowder, and the timid bushmen, when failing to shoot it unawares, do not fear to attack it openly. As a rule, the larger the Simiad, the less sprightly it becomes; and those most approaching man are usually the tamest and the most melancholy — perhaps, their spirits are permanently affected by their narrow escape. The elderly male (for anthropoids, like anthropoi, wax fierce and surly with increasing years) will fight, but only from fear, when suddenly startled, or with rage when slightly wounded. Moreover, there must be rogue-gorillas, like rogue-elephants, lions, hippopotami, rhinoceros, and even stags, vieux grognards, who, expelled house and home, and debarred by the promising young scions from the softening influence of feminine society, become, in their enforced widowerhood, the crustiest of old bachelors. At certain seasons they may charge in defence of the wife and family, but the practice is exceptional. Mr. Wilson saw a man who had lost the calf of his leg in an encounter, and one Etia, a huntsman whose left hand had been severely crippled, informed Mr. W. Winwood Reade, that “the gorilla seized his wrist with his hind foot, and dragged his hand into his mouth, as he would have done a bunch of plantains.” No one, however, could give me an authentic instance of manslaughter by our big brother.

The modifications with which we must read the picturesque pages of the “Gorilla Book” are chiefly the following. The Gorilla is a poor devil ape, not a “hellish dream-creature, half man, half beast.” He is not king of the African forest; he fears the Njego or leopard and, as lions will not live in these wet, wooded, and gameless lands, he can hardly have expelled King Leo. He does not choose the “darkest, gloomiest forests,” but prefers the thin woods, where he finds wild fruits for himself and family. His tremendous roar does not shake the jungle: it is a hollow apish cry, a loudish huhh! huhh! huhh! explosive like the puff of a steam-engine, which, in rage becomes a sharp and snappish bark — any hunter can imitate it. Doubtless, in some exceptional cases, when an aged mixture of Lablache and Dan Lambert delivers his voce di petto, the voice may be heard for some distance in the still African shades, but it will hardly compare with the howling monkeys of the Brazil, which make the forest hideous. The eye is not a “light grey” but the brown common to all the tribe. The Gorilla cannot stand straight upon his rear quarter when attacking or otherwise engaged without holding on to a trunk: he does not “run on his hind legs;” he is essentially a tree ape, as every stuffed specimen will prove. He never gives a tremendous blow with his immense open paw; doubtless, a native legend found in Battel and Bowdich; nor does he attack with the arms. However old and male he may be, he runs away with peculiar alacrity: though powerfully weaponed with tigerish teeth, with “bunches of muscular fibre,” and with the limbs of Goliah, the gorilla, on the seaboard at least, is essentially a coward; nor can we be surprised at his want of pluck, considering the troubles and circumstances under which he spends his harassed days. Finally, whilst a hen will defend her chicks, Mrs. Gorilla will fly, leaving son or daughter in the hunter’s hands.

1 See chap. ii.

2 First Edition, Illustration VI. (p. 71), and XLIII. (p. 297).

Chapter 12.

Corisco —“Home” to Fernando Po.

On April 22nd, after some five weeks in the Gaboon River, I found myself once more in her Majesty’s steam-ship “Griffon,” which had returned from the south coast, bound for Corisco (Gorilla Island?) and Fernando Po. It was “going-away day,” when proverbially the world looks prettier than usual, and we enjoyed the suggestive view of the beaded line which, seen from the sea, represents the Sierra del Crystal. The distance from Le Plateau to the Isle of Lightning was only thirty-five miles, from the nearest continent ten, and before the evening tornado broke from the south-east, here the normal direction, we were lying in the roads about two miles from the landing-place. The anchorage is known by bringing Mbánya (Little Corisco), the smaller and southern outlier in a line between Laval Islet and the main island.

The frequent coruscations gave a name to Corisco, which the natives know as Mange: it was called, says Barbot, “‘Ilha do Corisco,’ from the Portuguese, because of the violent horrid lightnings, and claps of thunder, the first discoverers there saw and heard there at the time of their discovery.” There is still something to be done in investigating the cause of these electrical discharges. Why should lofty Fernando Po and low-lying Corisco suffer so much, when Zanzibar Island, similarly situated, suffers so rarely? Again, why is Damascus generally free from thunder-storms when Brazilian Sâo Paul, whose site is of the same altitude and otherwise so like, can hardly keep the lightning out of doors? The immunity of Zanzibar Island can hardly be explained by the popular theory; neither it nor Fernando Po, which suffers greatly from thunder-storms, lies near the embouchure of a great river, where salt and fresh water may disturb electrical equilibrium. I shall say more upon this point when in the Congo Regions (chap. xii.).

The position of Great Corisco (north latitude 0° 55’ 0”) is at the mouth of a well-wooded bay, which Barbot (iv. 9) calls Bay of Angra, i.e. Bight of Bight. He terms the southern or Munda stream Rio de Angrta, or Angex, whilst the equally important Muni (Danger) becomes only “a little river” without name. The modern charts prefer Corisco Bay. It measures some forty miles from north to south by half that depth, and its position causes the rains, which are synchronous with those of the Gaboon, to be much more copious and continuous. They last nine months out of twelve, and in March, 1862, the fall was 25 inches, the heaviest remembered it had filled the little island valleys, and made the paths lines of canal.

Next morning we were visited by the Rev. Mr. Mackey, the senior of the eight white men who inhabit this piece of land — a proper site for Robinson Crusoe — where, as the Yankee said of Great Britain, you can hardly stretch yourself without fear of falling overboard. He kindly undertook to be our guide over the interior, and we landed on the hard sand of the open western beach: here at times a tremendous surf must roll in. We struck into the bush, and bent towards the south-west of the islet, where stands the monarch of cliffs, 80 feet high. The maximum length is three miles by about the same breadth, and the circumference, including the indentations, may be fifteen. The surface is rolling composed of humus and clay, corallines and shelly conglomerates based on tertiary limestone and perhaps sandstone; dwarf clearings alternate with tracts of bush grass, and with a bushy second growth, lacking large trees. The only important wild productions pointed out to us were cardamoms, the oil palm (Elais Guincensis), and an unknown species of butter-nut. The centre of the island was a mass of perennial pools, fed, they say, by springs as well as rains, one puddle, adorned with water lilies and full of dwarf leeches which relish man’s life, extended about a hundred yards long. In fact, the general semblance of Corisco was that of a filled up “atoll,” a circular reef still growing to a habitable land. Here only could I find on the west coast of Africa a trace of the features which distinguished the Gorilla island of 2,300 years ago.

At South Bay we came upon a grassy clearing larger than usual, near a bright stream; its pottery and charred wood showed the site of the Spanish barracoon destroyed by the British in 1840. During the last seven years the “patriarchal institution” has become extinct, and the old slavers who have at times touched at the island, have left it empty-handed. Corisco had long been celebrated for cam-wood, a hard and ponderous growth, yielding a better red than Brazil or Braziletto, alias Brazilete (Brasilettia, De Cand.) one of the Eucæsalpinieæ, a congener of C. Echinata, which produces the Brazil-wood or Pernambuco-wood of commerce. In 1679, the Hollander Governor–General of Minas sent some forty whites to cultivate “Indian wheat and other sort of corn and plants of Guinea.” The design was to supply the Dutch West Indian Company’s ships with grain and vegetables, especially bananas, which grow admirably; I heard that there are fifteen varieties upon this dot of dry land. Thus the crews would not waste time and money at Cape Lopez and the Portuguese islands. The Dutch colonists began by setting up a factory in a turf redoubt, armed with iron guns, “the better to secure themselves from any surprise or assault of the few natives, who are a sort of wild and mischievous blacks.” The plantation was successful, but the bad climate and noxious gases from the newly turned ground, combined with over-exertion, soon killed some seventeen out of the forty; and the remainder, who also suffered from malignant distempers, razed their buildings and returned to the Gold Coast. When the Crown of Spain once more took possession of Fernando Po, it appointed a Governor for Corisco, but no establishment was maintained there. To its credit be it said, there was not much interference with the Protestant mission; public preaching was forbidden pro formâ in 1860, but no notice was taken of “passive resistance.”

The native villages, exactly resembling those of the Gaboon, are all built near the strip of fine white sand which forms the shore, and upon the sweet water channels which cut deep into the limestones. They are infested with rats, against whose depredations the mango trees must be protected with tin ruffs; yet there are six kinds of reptilia upon the island, including the common black snake and cobras, from six to seven feet long: these animals, aided by the dogs, which also persecute the iguanas, have prevented rabbits breeding. In Barbot’s time (1700) there were only thirty or forty inhabitants, who held the north-eastern point about a league from the wooding and watering places. “That handful of blacks has much ado to live healthy, the air being very intemperate and unwholesome; they are governed by a chief, who is lord of the island, and they all live very poorly, but have plenty enough of cucumbers, which grow there in perfection, and many sorts of fowl.” In 1856 the Rev. Mr. Wilson reckons them at less than 2,000, and in 1862 I was told that there were about 1,100, of whom 600 were Bengas. In look, dress, and ornaments they resemble the Mpongwe, but some of them have adopted the Kru stripe, holding a blue nose to be a sign of freedom. They consider themselves superior to the “Pongos,” and they have exchanged their former fighting reputation for that of peaceful traders to the mainland and to the rivers Muni and Mundah. They live well, eating flesh or fish once a day, not on Sundays only, the ambition of Henri Quatre: at times they trap fine green turtle in seines, but they do not turn these “delicate monsters.”

Mr. Wilson numbered the whole Benga tribe at 8,000, but Mr. Mackey reduced the figure to half. Besides Corisco they inhabit the two capes at the north and south of the bay. The language is used by other tribes holding the coast northward for a hundred miles or more, and probably by the inner people extending in a northerly direction from Corisco Bay: the same, with certain modifications, is also spoken at São Bento, Batanga, and perhaps as far north as the Camarones River. On the other hand, the tribes occupying the eastern margin of Corisco Bay, such as the Mbiko, Dibwe, and Belengi, cannot understand one another, and the tongues of the southward regions differ even more from the Benga. Yet all evidently belong to the great South African family.

Mr. Mackey, who explored Corisco Island in 1849, assures us that scarcely any of the older inhabitants were born there; they came from the continent north or north-east of the bay, gradually forcing their way down. The characteristic difference of the Benga, the Bákele, and the Mpongwe dialects is as follows: “The Mpongwes have a great partiality for the use of the passive voice, and avoid the active when the passive can be used. The Bákele verb delights in the active voice, and will avoid the passive even by a considerable circumlocution. The Benga takes an intermediate position in this respect, and uses the active and passive very much as we do in English.”

The Corisco branch of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions was established by the Rev. James S. Mackey in 1850. It made as much progress as could be expected, and in 1862 it numbered 110 scholars and 65 communicants; the total of those baptized was 80, and 15 had been suspended. The members applied themselves, as the list of their publications shows, with peculiar ardour to the language, and they did not neglect natural history and short explorations of the adjoining interior. They had sent home specimens of the six reptilia, the six snails and land shells, the seventy-five sea shells, and the 110 fishes, all known by name, which they collected upon the island and in the bay. It is to be presumed that careful dredging will bring to light many more: the pools are said to produce a small black fish, local as the Proteus anguineus of the Styrian caves, to mention no other.

I was curious to hear from Mr. Mackey some details about the Muni River, where he travelled in company with M. du Chaillu. It still keeps the troublous reputation for petty wars which made the old traders dignify it with the name of “Danger.” The nearest Falls are about thirty miles from Olobe Island, and the most distant may be sixty-five. Of course we had a laugh over the famous Omamba or Anaconda, whose breath can be felt against the face before it is seen.

Late in April 24th I returned the books kindly lent to me from the mission library, shook hands with my kind and hospitable entertainers at the mission house, mentally wishing them speedy deliverance from Corisco, and embarked on board the “Griffon.” We quickly covered the “great water desert” of 160 miles between the Gorilla Island and Fernando Po, and at noon on the next day I found myself once more “at home.”


The Cataracts of the Congo.

“Allí o mui grande reino está de Congo,

Por nós ja convertido à fé de Christo,

Por onde o Zaire passa claro e longo,

Rio pelos antiguos nunca visto.”

“Here lies the Congo kingdom, great and strong,

Already led by us to Christian ways;

Where flows Zaïre, the river clear and long,

A stream unseen by men of olden days.”

The Lusiada, V. 13.


Part ii.

The Cataracts of the Congo.

Chapter 1.

From Fernando Po to Loango Bay. — The German Expedition.

During the hot season of 1863, “Nanny Po,” as the civilized African calls this “lofty and beautiful island,” had become a charnel-house, a “dark and dismal tomb of Europeans.” The yellow fever of the last year, which wiped out in two months one-third of the white colony — more exactly, 78 out of 250 — had not reappeared, but the conditions for its re-appearance were highly favourable. The earth was all water, the vegetation all slime, the air half steam, and the difference between wet and dry bulbs almost nil. Thoroughly dispirited for the first time, I was meditating how to escape, when H. M. Steamship “Torch” steamed into Clarence Cove, and Commander Smith hospitably offered me a passage down south. To hear was to accept. Two days afterwards (July 29, 1863) I bade a temporary “adios” to the enemy.

The bitterness of death remained behind as we passed out of the baneful Bights. Wind and wave were dead against us, yet I greatly enjoyed the gradual emerging of the sun through his shroud of “smokes;” the increasing consciousness that a moon and stars really exist; the soft blue haze of the sky, and the coolness of 73° F. at 6 A.M. in the captain’s cabin. I had also time to enjoy these charms. The “Torch” was not provided with “despatch-boilers:” she was profoundly worm-eaten, and a yard of copper, occasionally clapped on, did not prevent her making some four feet of water a day. So we rolled leisurely along the well-known Gaboon shore, and faintly sighted from afar Capes Lopez and St. Catherine, and the fringing ranges of Mayumba-land, a blue line of heights based upon gently rising banks, ruddy and white, probably of shaly clay. The seventh day (August 5) placed us off the well-known “red hills” of Loango-land.

The country looks high and bold after the desperate flatness of the Bights, and we note with pleasure that we have left behind us the “impervious luxuriance of vegetation which crowns the lowlands, covers the sides of the rises, and caps their summits.” During the rains after October the grass, now showing yellow stubble upon the ruddy, rusty plain, becomes a cane fence, ten to twelve feet tall; but instead of matted, felted jungle, knitted together by creepers of cable size, we have scattered clumps of dark, lofty, and broad-topped trees. A nearer view shows great cliffs, weather-worked into ravines and basins, ribs and ridges, towers and pinnacles. Above them is a joyful open land, apparently disposed in two successive dorsa or steps, with bright green tiers and terraces between, and these are pitted with the crater-like sinks locally called “holes,” so frequent in the Gaboon country. Southwards the beauty of eternal verdure will end, and the land will become drier, and therefore better fitted for Europeans, the nearer it approaches Mossamedes Bay. South of “Little Fish,” again, a barren tract of white sand will show the “Last Tree,” an inhospitable region, waterless, and bulwarked by a raging sea.

Loango is a “pool harbour,” like the ancient Portus Lemanus (Hythe), a spit of shingle, whose bay, north-east and south-west, forms an inner lagoon, bounded landwards by conspicuous and weather-tarnished red cliffs. This “lingula” rests upon a base of terra firma whose westernmost projection is Indian Point. From the latter runs northwards the “infamous” Indian Bar, compared by old sailors with a lengthened Bill of Portland; a reef some three miles long, which the waves assault with prodigious fury; a terror to slavers, especially in our autumn, when the squalls and storms begin. The light sandy soil of the mainland rests upon compact clay, and malaria rises only where the little drains, which should feed the lagoon, evaporate in swamps. Here and there are clumps of tall cocoas, a capot, pullom or wild cotton-tree, and a neat village upon prairie land, where stone is rare as on the Pampas. Southwards the dry tract falls into low and wooded ground.

The natural basin, entered by the north-east, is upwards of a mile in length, and the narrow, ever-shifting mouth is garnished with rocks, the sea breaking right across. Gunboats have floated over during the rains, but at dead low water in the dry season we would not risk the gig. Guided by a hut upon the beach fronting French Factory and under lee of the breakers off Indian Bar, I landed near a tree-motte, in a covelet smoothed by a succession of sandpits. The land sharks flocked down to drag the boat over the breakwater of shingle. They appeared small and effeminate after the burly negroes of the Bights, and their black but not comely persons were clad in red and white raiment. It is a tribe of bumboat men, speaking a few words of English, French, and Portuguese, and dealing in mats and pumpkins, parrots, and poultry, cages, and Fetish dolls called “idols.”

Half a mile of good sandy path led to the English Factory, built upon a hill giving a charming view. To the south-east, and some three miles inland from the centre of the bay, we were shown “Looboo Wood,” a thick motte conspicuously crowning a ridge, and forming a first-rate landmark. Its shades once sheltered the nyáre, locally called buffalo, the gorilla, and perhaps the more monstrous “impungu” (mpongo). Eastward of the Factory appears Chomfuku, the village of Jim Potter, with a tree-clad sink, compared by old voyagers with “the large chalkpit on Portsdown Hill,” and still much affected by picnickers. At Loanghili, or Loanguilli, south of Looboo Wood, and upon the right bank of a streamlet which trickles to the sea, is the cemetery, where the kings are buried in gun-boxes.

The Ma–Loango (for mwani, “lord” of Loango), the great despot who ruled as far as the Congo River, who used to eat in one house, drink in another, and put to death man or beast that saw him feeding, is a thing of the past. Yet five miles to the eastward (here held to be a day’s march) King Monoyambi governs “big Loango town,” whose modern native name, I was told, is Mangamwár. He shows his power chiefly by forbidding strangers to enter the interior.

The Factory (Messrs. Hatton and Cookson) was a poor affair of bamboos and mats, with partition-walls of the same material, and made pestilent by swamps to landward. Little work was then doing in palm oil, and the copper mines of the interior had ceased to send supplies. We borrowed hammocks to cross the swamps, and we found French Factory a contrast not very satisfactory to our insular pride. M. Charles de Gourlet, of the Maison Régis, was living, not in a native hut lacking all the necessaries of civilized man, but in a double-storied stone house, with barracoons, hospital, public room, orchestra, and so forth, intended for the “emigrants.” Instead of water, the employés had excellent cognac and vermouth, and a succulent cuisine replaced the poor Britishers’ two barrels of flour and biscuit. No wonder that in our half-starved fellow countrymen we saw little of the “national failing, a love of extravagant adventure.” The Frenchmen shoot, or at least go out shooting, twice a week, they walk to picnics, learn something of the language, and see something of the country. They had heard a native tradition of Mr. Gorilla’s “big brother,” but they could give no details.

I will conclude this chapter with a notice of what has taken place on the Loango Coast a decade after my departure. Although Africa has changed but little, Europe has, and we can hardly envy the German nation its eminence and unexpected triumphs in war when we see the energy and persistency with which they are applying themselves to the arts of peace — especially of exploration. And nowhere have they been more active than in this part of the world, where their old rivals, the English, are apparently contented to sit at home in ease, working their factories and counting out their money.

To begin with the beginning. The year 1872 found the Berlin Geographical Society intent upon “planting a lance in Africa,” and upon extending and connecting the discoveries of Livingstone, Du Chaillu, Schweinfurth, and other travellers. Delegates from the various associations of Germany met in congress, and organized (April 19, 1873) the Germanic “Afrikanische Gesellschaft.” Ex–President Dr. Adolf Bastian, a well-known traveller in Siam, Cambodia, China, and the Indian Archipelago, and who, moreover, had visited Ambassi or Salvador do Congo, the old missionary capital, in 1857, was at once sent out as pioneer and vanguard to prospect the coast for a suitable station and a point de départ into the interior — a scientific step dictated by trained and organized common sense. The choice of leader fell upon Dr. Gussfeldt, Herr von Hattorf being his second in command, and with them were associated Dr. Falkenstein as zoologist, and Dr. Soyaux as botanist. A geologist, Dr. Lenz, of Hamburg, was sent to connect the Ogobe and Okanda rivers with, the Loango coast, unless he found a likely northeastern route. In this case, the Society would take measures to supply him with the necessary equipment.

The expedition began unfortunately, by the loss of outfit and instruments in the “Nigritia,” wrecked off Sierra Leone: it persevered, however, and presently met Dr. Bastian and Professor von Gorschen at Cabinda. The former had collected much information about the coast. He had learned from slaves that the old kingdoms of Loango, Mahango, and Angay are bounded eastwards, or inland, by Mayombe, a belt of forest, the threshold of the unknown interior. It begins the up-slope to the great Ghat ridge, which, visible after a day’s journey, separates the coast from the central basin. A fortnight or three weeks’ march leads to an open country, a land of metalliferous hills, where the people barter their goods against gunpowder and weapons, brought by traders from the east. These “Orientals” are now heard of almost all along the West African coast, and doubtless, in several places, the report will prove true. The prospector had also visited, in search of a depôt, Futila in Cabinda-land; the Tschiluango (Chiloango), or Cacongo River, a fine navigable stream, where the people float down their palm oil; Landana; “Chinsonso” (Chinxoxo, pronounced Chinshosho), Chicambo, Loango, and the Quillu (Kwillu) stream, the latter breaking through the coast range, disemboguing near Loango Bay, and reported to be connected with the great Congo. He found the old despotism of Loango to be insignificant, reduced, in fact, to the strip of coast between the Quillu and the Luema–Lukallo Rivers. The slave trade, once a monopoly of kings, princes, and chiefs, is now no more; legitimate commerce has levelled ranks, and the real power is in the hands of the wealthiest merchants.

From the Abbé Durand, librarian of the Paris Geographical Society, we learn: 1. That Loango is in the Province of Cacongo; 2. That Cacongo is considered a province of Loango; 3. That Cacongo forms a kingdom of itself, with a capital, Ringwele. The name of the late king was “Dom João, Capitão Mempolo,” and, though he had died some years ago, he was not buried, for the usual reasons, in early 1874. Meanwhile his nephew and successor, Mwátá Bona, was acting regent until the obsequies shall take place.

The station finally chosen by the German explorers was Chinxoxo, or, as Herr Kiepert uncompromisingly writes it, “Tschinschonkscho.” It is within easy distance of the Chiloango or “Luiza Loango” River; and its port, Landana in Cabindaland, has become a thoroughly Europeanized settlement, with five trading stations up stream. An empty Dutch factory was repaired, and the house, containing a parlour, three small bed rooms, and the usual offices, was ready for habitation by the second week in October.

On October 26th, Dr. Güssfeldt, after shaking off the “seasoning fever” at Ponta Negra, proceeded to make a trial trip, and a route survey with compass and chronometer, up the important Quillu River. As usual, it has a bar; within the last few years the right bank has been carried away by the floods, and some of the old factories are under water. The average breadth is 400 paces, which diminishes to 25 at the rocky “gates” near Kama–Chitoma, Manyamatal and Gotu. At 29 direct miles from the mouth lies “Chimbak,” a trading station, where Dr. Güssfeldt rested and recruited strength for a month. Thence he went leisurely up stream to the Bumina Rapids, and found the easterly rhumb of the river bending to the N.E. and the N.N.E.; its channel did not exceed 50 yards in width, and precipitous rock-walls rose on either hand. At Bumina as at Gotu the Quillu breaks through the parallel lines of Ghats, whose trend is from N.W. to S.E.; in fact, these “Katarakten” are the Yellalas of the Congo. A march of four hours brought him to the Mayombe country (circ. S. Lat. 4°), which must not be confounded with the Ma-yumba or northernmost possession of the Congo kingdom; the latter word properly means “King of Yumba,” as Ma–Loango is Mwani–Loango. The Mayombe chief proved friendly, and assisted Dr. Güssfeldt to hire bearers (November 7) for Yangela, where his excursion ended. The boundary-line is marked by a large gate, like the two openings in the wooden wall denoting the Loango frontier between the Quillu and Luema rivers. The character of the country changed to the normal park-like aspect of Africa above the Ghats; the dense forests waxed thin; picturesque views presented themselves, reminding the wayfarer of Switzerland; and bare, dome-shaped mountains formed the background. At Nsunsi, about 2,100 feet above sea-level, the eye ranged over the Yangela country, as far as the land of the Batetye, whose grassy plains are traversed by ranges trending to the W.S.W., and apparently culminating to the south. At the Tondo village the skull of a gorilla was remarked. The upper Quillu, after its great bend, proved to be 350 to 400 paces broad; and the traveller ascertained that, instead of being connected with the great artery, it rises in a lake nearly due north of Nsundi (Sundi), near the country of the Babongo and the Babum. Dr. Güssfeldt returned to the coast on December 2, and prepared for the great march into the interior.

Dr. Falkenstein, the medicus and zoologist, in November 1873 reported favourably of Chinxoxo. The station is situated on a hilly ridge commanding a view of the sea. “It looks imposing enough, but it would produce more effect if we could hoist the German flag, as the other establishments here do those of their respective nations. German ships would then take home news of the progress of our undertaking, and the natives would see at a distance this token of the enterprising spirit of the German nation, and come to us with provisions and other natural products.” He adds, “In Fernando Po, an island which I would recommend as a sanatorium for wealthy hypochondriacs, we found an extraordinary abundance of fruit, cocoa-nuts, bananas, mangoes, delicious oranges, and pine-apples . . . The ivory trade on the Gaboon is very flourishing. A German firm which I visited exports, £10,000 worth per annum, the value of total exports being, £26,000. The tusks are very large; one weighed about 80 lbs., and some have ranged to 120 lbs. The other articles exported are gum and ebony, which are brought by the natives, especially the Fans and Mpangwes (sic) from the interior. The slave trade is said still to be carried on by Europeans, though it is not known where the slaves go to “ (of course to São Thomé and Prince’s Island). “In the immediate vicinity of our station the chief trade is in palm oil and ground nuts. . . . . Rings, chains, crosses, watches, &c., are readily taken by the savages in exchange for native goods, and I obtained a valuable fetish for a chain and a cross worth a silbergroschen.”

After three months spent upon the coast, and much suffering from fever, the energetic Dr. Bastian was welcomed home on December 13, 1873. His present book1 makes only one instalment of the work, the other being the “Correspondenzblätter der Afrikanischen Gesellschaft.” Briefly, everything has been done to lay the foundation for success and to advertise the undertaking. Finally, not satisfied with these steps, the German Society for the Exploration of equatorial Africa organized in September, 1874, a second expedition. Captain Alexander von Homeyer, a well-known ornithologist, will lead it viâ S. Paulo de Loanda and Cassange (Kasanji) to the mysterious lands of the Mwata ya Nvo, and thus supplement the labours of Portuguese travellers. This fine undertaking set out early in 1875.

1 “Die Deutsche Expedition an der Loango Küuste, nebst älteren Nachrichten über die zu erforschenden Länder.” Von Adolf Bastian. Jena and London (Trübner and Co.), 1874.

Chapter 2.

To São Paulo De Loanda.

At Loango, by invitation of Commander Hoskins, R.N., I transferred myself on board H.M. Steamship “Zebra,” one of the nymphs of the British navy, and began the 240 miles southwards. There was no wind except a slant at sunset, and the current often carried us as far backwards as the sails drove us onwards. The philosophic landlubber often wonders at the eternal restlessness of his naval brother-man, who ever sighs for a strong wind to make the port, and who in port is ever anxious to get out of it. I amused myself in the intervals of study with watching the huge gulls, which are skinned and found good food at Fernando Po, and in collecting the paper-nautilus. The Ocythoë Cranchii was often found inside the shell, and the sea was streaked as with cotton-flecks by lines of eggs several inches long, a mass of mucus with fine membraneous structure adhering to the rocks, and coagulating in spirits or salt water. The drum-fish was not heard except when we were at anchor; its sound somewhat suggests a distant frog-concert, and I soon learned to enjoy what M. Dufosse has learnedly named “ichthyopsophosis,” the song of the fish. Passing Cabinda, 57 miles from Loanda, but barely in sight, we fell in with H.M. Steamship “Espoir,” Commander Douglas, who had just made his second capture of a slave-schooner carrying some 500 head of Congos. In these advanced days, the representative man walks up to you as you come on board; touches his cap or his wool, and expresses his best thanks in West Coast English; when you offer him a dram he compares it with the trade article which “only ‘ting, he no burn.” The characteristic sights are the captured Moleques or negrokins, who, habited in sacks to the knees, choose an M.C. to beat time, whilst they sing in chorus, extending the right arm, and foully abusing their late masters, who skulk about the forecastle.

Ten days sped by before we sighted the beginning of the end, Cape Spilemberta and Dande Point, two bluffs in distinct serrations; the aspect of the land was pleasant, a vista of tall cliffs, white or red, rising wall-like from a purple sea, jagged with sharp, black reef and “diabolito,” and bearing on the summit a plateau well grown with grass and tree. We then opened a deep bight, which has the honour of being entitled the longest indentation from Cape Lopez to Great Fish Bay, some 17° or a thousand miles of coast. A gap in the cliff line and darker vegetation showed the Zenza River, generally called Bengo from the district (Icolo e Bengo) which it traverses. Here was once a busy settlement much frequented by shipping, which thus escaped harbour dues. The mosquito-haunted stream, clear in the dries, and, as usual, muddy during the rains, supports wild duck, and, carried some ten miles in “dongos” or flat-bottomed boats, supplies the capital of Angola with drinking water and dysentery.


As we glide towards the anchorage two features attract my attention: the Morro or hill-ridge on the mainland, and the narrow strip which forms the harbour. The escarpment, sweeping from a meridian to a parallel, juts westward in the bluff Cape Lagostas (Lobsters), a many-coloured face, in places not unlike the white cliffs of Dover; it then trends from north-east to south-west, bending at last in a picturesque bow, with a shallow sag. The material is the tauá or blood-red marl of the Brazil, banded with white and brown, green, chocolate, and yellow; huge heaps of “rotten earth,” washed down by the rains, cumber the base of the ruined sea-wall north of the town; in front is a pellucid sea with the usual trimmings, while behind roll the upland stubbles of autumn, here mottled black with fire, there scattered with the wild ficus and the cashew, a traveller from the opposite hemisphere.

The Ilha de Loanda, which gave its name to the city, according to Mr. W. Winwood Reade (“Savage Africa,” chapter xxv.), is “derived from a native word meaning bald:” I believe it to be the Angolan Luánda, or tribute. Forming the best harbour of the South African coast, it is made by the missionaries of the seventeenth century to extend some ten leagues long. James Barbot’s plan (A.D. 1700) shows seven leagues by one in breadth, disposed from north-east to south-west, and, in the latter direction, fitting into the “Mar Aparcelado” or shoaly sea, a curious hook-shaped bight with a southern entrance, the “Barra de Curinba” (Corimba). But the influences which formed the island, or rather islands (for there are two) have increased the growth, reducing the harbour to three and a half miles by two in breadth, and they are still contracting it; even in the early nineteenth century large ships floated off the custom house, and it is dry land where boats once rode. Dr. Livingstone (“First Expedition,” chapter xx.) believes the causa causans to be the sand swept over the southern part of the island: Douville more justly concludes that it is the gift of the Cuanza River, whose mud and ooze, silt and débris are swept north by the great Atlantic current. Others suppose that it results from the meeting of the Cuanza and the Bengo streams; but the latter outfall would be carried up coast. The people add the washings of the Morro, and the sand and dust of the sea-shore south of the city.

This excellent natural breakwater perfectly shelters the shipping from the “calemas,” or perilous breakers on the seaward side, and the surface is dotted with huts and groves, gardens and palm orchards. At the Ponta do Norte once stood a fort appropriately called Na. Sa. Flór de Rosa; it has wholly disappeared, but lately, when digging near the sea, heaps of building stone were found. Barbot here shows a “toll-house to collect the customs,” and at the southern extremity a star-shaped “Fort Fernand.”

This island was the earliest of Portuguese conquests on this part of the coast. The Conquistador Paulo Dias de Novaes, a grandson of Bartholomeo Dias, was sent a second time, in A.D. 1575, to treat with the king of “Dongo,” who caused trouble to trade. Accompanied by 700 Portuguese, he reached the Cuanza River, coasted north, and entered by the Barra de Corimba, then accessible to caravels. He landed without opposition amongst a population already Christianized, and, after occupying for a few months the island, which then belonged to Congo, he founded, during the next year, the Villa de São Paulo de Loanda on the mainland.

The importance of the island arose from its being the great money bank of the natives, who here collected the zimbo, buzio, cowrie, or cypræa moneta. Ample details concerning this industry are given by the old writers. The shell was considered superior to the “impure or Braziles,” brought from the opposite Bahia (de Todos os Santos), though much coarser than the small Indian, and not better than the large blue Zanzibar. M. Du Chaillu (“Second Expedition,” chap, iv.) owns to having been puzzled whence to derive the four sacred cowries: “They are unknown on the Fernand Vaz, and I believe them to have come across the continent from eastern Africa.” There are, indeed, few things which have travelled so far and have lasted so long as cowries — they have been found even amongst “Anglo–Saxon” remains.

The modern Muxi–Loandas hold aloof from the shore-folk, who return the compliment in kind. They dress comparatively well, and they spend considerable sums in their half-heathen lembamentos (marriages) and mutambé (funerals).

As might be expected, after three centuries of occupation, the Portuguese, both in East and West Africa, have naturalized a multitude of native words, supplying them with a Lusitanian termination. The practice is very useful to the traveller, and the despair of the lexicographer. During the matumbé the relations “wake” the toasted, swaddled, and aromatized corpse with a singular vigour of drink and general debauchery.

I arrived with curiosity at the capital of Angola, the first Portuguese colony visited by me in West Africa. The site is pleasing and picturesque, contrasting favourably with all our English settlements and with the French Gaboon; for the first time after leaving Teneriffe, I saw something like a city. The escarpment and the sea-bordering shelf, allowing a double town like Athenæ or Thebæ, a Cidade Alta and a Cidade Baixa, are favourites with the Lusitanians from Lisbon to the China seas, and African São Paulo is reflected in the Brazilian Bahia. So Greece affected the Acropolis, and Rome everywhere sought to build a Capitol. The two lines follow the shore from north-east to south-west, and they form a graceful amphitheatre by bending westward at the jutting headland, Morro de São Miguel, of old de São Paulo. Three hundred years of possession have built forts and batteries, churches and chapels, public buildings and large private houses,white or yellow, withample green verandahs — each an ugly cube, but massing well together. The general decline of trade since 1825, and especially the loss of the lucrative slave export, leave many large tenements unfinished or uninhabited, while the aspect is as if a bombardment had lately taken place. Africa shows herself in heaps of filthy hovels, wattle and daub and dingy thatch; in “umbrella-trees” (ficus), acacias and calabashes, palms and cotton-trees, all wilted, stunted, and dusty as at Cairo. We are in the latitude of East African Kilwa and of Brazilian Pernambuco; but this is a lee-land, and the suffering is from drought. Yet, curious to say, the flora, as will appear, is here richer than in the well-watered eastern regions.

Steaming onwards, at one mile off shore, we turned from south-east to south-west, and presently rounded the north-east point of Loanda Island, where a moored boat and a lantern showed the way. We passed the first fort, São Pedro do Morro (da Cassandama), which reminded me of the Aguada at the mouth of Goa Harbour. The two bastions and their batteries date from A.D. 1700, and have been useful in administering a strongish hint — in A.D. 1826 they fired into Captain Owen. The next work is the little four-gun work, Na. Sa. da Conceição. We anchored in five fathoms about 1,200 yards off shore, in company with some fifteen craft, large and small, including a neat despatch cruizer, built after the “Nimrod” model. Fort São Francisco, called “do Penedo,” because founded upon and let into a rock, with the double-tiered batteries à la Vauban, carefully whitewashed and subtended by any amount of dead ground, commands the anchorage and the northern road, where strings of carregadores, like driver-ants, fetch and carry provisions to town. A narrow causeway connects with the gate, where blacks on guard lounge in fantastic uniform, and below the works are the coal-sheds. Here the first turf was lately turned by an English commodore — this tramway was intended to connect with the water edge, and eventually to reach the Cuanza at Calumbo. So Portugal began the rail system in West Africa.

The city was preparing for her ecclesiastical festival, and I went ashore at once to see her at her best. The landing-place is poor and mean, and the dusty and sandy walk is garnished with a single row of that funereal shrub, the milky euphorbia. The first sensation came from the pillars of an unfinished house —

“Care colonne, che fate quà?

— Non sappiamo in verità!”

The Ponta de Isabel showed the passeio, or promenade, with two brick ruins: its “five hundred fruit-trees of various descriptions” have gone the way of the camphor, the tea-shrub, and the incense-tree, said to have been introduced by the Jesuits. “The five pleasant walks, of which the central one has nine terraces, with a pyramid at each extremity, and leads to the Casa de Recreio, or pleasure-house of the governor-general, erected in 1817 by Governor Vice–Admiral Luiz da Motta Feio,” have insensibly faded away; the land is a waste, poor grazing ground for cattle landed from the south coast, whilst negrokins scream and splash in the adjoining sea.

Beyond the Government gardens appears the old Ermida (chapel), Na Sa. da Nazareth, which English writers have dubbed, after Madeiran fashion, the Convent. The frontage is mean as that of colonial ecclesiastical buildings in general, and even the epauletted façades of old São Paulo do not deserve a description. Here, according to local tradition, was buried the head of the “intrepid and arrogant king of Congo,” Dom Antonio, whose 100,000 warriors were defeated at Ambuilla (Jan. ist, 1666) by Captain Luiz Lopes de Sequeira, the good soldier who lost his life, by a Portuguese hand, at the battle of Matamba (Sept. 4th, 1681). A picture in Dutch tiles (azulejos) was placed on the right side of the altar to commemorate the feat.

After the Ermida are more ruined houses and ragged plantations upon the narrow shelf between the sea-cliff and the sea: they lead to the hot and unhealthy low town skirting the harbour, a single street with small offsets. A sandy strip spotted with cocoa-nuts, represents the Praia do Bungo (Bungo Beach), perhaps corrupted from Bunghi, a praça, or square; it debouches upon the Quitanda Pequena, a succursale market-place, where, on working-days, cloth and beads, dried peppers, and watered rum are sold. Then come a single large building containing the Trem, or arsenal, the cavalry barracks, the “central post-office,” and the alfandega, or custom-house, which has a poor platform, but no pier. The stables lodge some half-a-dozen horses used by mounted orderlies — they thrive, and, to judge from their high spirits, the climate suits them. In Captain Owen’s time (A.D. 1826) there was “a respectable corps of cavalry.”

Passing the acting cathedral for the See of Angola and Congo, which deserves no notice, you reach the Quitanda Grande, where business is brisker. There is a sufficiency of beef and mutton, the latter being thin-tailed, and not “five-quartered.” Fish is wisely preferred to meat by the white man, “affirming that it is much easier digested;” and a kind of herring, and the sparus known upon the Brazilian coast as the “tainha,” the West African “vela,” and the French “mulet,” at times superabound. All the tropical fruits flourish, especially the orange; the exotic vegetables are large and sightly, but tasteless and insipid, especially peas and radishes: the indigenous, as tomatoes, are excellent, but the list is small. Gardens are rare where the soil is so thin, and the indispensable irrigation costs money. The people still “choke for want of water,” which must be bought: there is only one good well sunk in the upper town, about 1840, when the Conde de Bomfim was Minister of Marine and the Colonies — it is a preserve for government officials. Living in the native style is cheap; but cooks are hardly procurable, and a decent table is more expensive than in an English country town. A single store (M. Schutz) supplies “Europe” articles, of course at fancy prices, and here a travelling outfit may be bought. It has been remarked that Loanda has no shop that sells “food for the mind;” this is applicable, not only to all East and West Africa, but to places far more progressive. A kind of cafe-billard supplies a lounge and tepid beer. The attendants in Portuguese houses are slaves; the few English prefer Cabindas, a rude form of the rude Kru-boy, and the lowest pay of the lowest labourer is 5d. per diem.

The “Calçada Nova,” a fine old paved “ramp”— to speak Gibraltar–English — connects Basse Ville and Hauteville. The latter was once a scatter of huge if not magnificent buildings, now in ruins; we shall pass through it en route to Calumbo. Here are the remains of the three chief convents, the Jesuit, the Carmelite, and the Third Order of St. Francis. The citadel de São Miguel, lately blown up, has been restored; the extensive works of dressed freestone, carefully whitewashed, stand out conspicuously from the dark bush dotting the escarpment top. Here also is the Alto das Cruzes, the great cemetery, and the view from the sheer and far-jutting headland is admirable. A stroll over this cool and comparatively healthy escarpment ended by leaving a card at the Paço do Governo.

Lopes de Lima (vol. iii. part ii.) gives São Paulo in 1846 a total of 5,065 whites, mulattoes, and blacks, distributed into 1,176 hearths; the census of 1850–51 raised the number to 12,000, including 7,000 negroes, of whom 5,000 were serviles; in 1863 the figure was understood to have diminished rather than to have increased. Old authors divided the population into five orders. The first was of ecclesiastics, the second contained those who were settled for command or trade, and the third were convicts, especially new Christians of Jewish blood, who were prevented from attending the sacred functions for a scandalous reason. Then ranked the Pomberos, or Pombeiros, mostly mulattoes, free men, and buyers of slaves; their morals seem to have been abominable. Last and least were the natives, that is, the “chattels.” Amongst the latter the men changed wives for a time, “alleging, in case of reproof, that they are not able to eat always of the same dish;” and the women were rarely allowed by their mistresses to marry — with the usual results. The missionaries are very severe upon the higher ranks of colonists. Father Carli (A.D. 1666) found the whites the most deceitful and the wickedest of men — an effect caused by the penal settlement. Father Merolla (A.D. 1682) declares that “the women, being bred among blacks, suffer themselves to be much perverted — they scarcely retain anything white about them except their skins.” J. C. Fêo Cardoso (Memoir published in Paris in 1825) attributes the decadence of Angola and Benguela to three reasons; rare marriages amongst the higher orders; poverty amongst the lower; and the immorality and incontinence of both. Lopes de Lima (p. 149 loc. cit.) traces the decline and fall of Christianity in the eighteenth century to the want of priests, to the corruption of the regular clergy (Carmelites and Franciscans), for whom West Africa, like Syria and Palestine, was made a kind of convict station, and to the inhuman slave-export, as opposed to domestic slavery. All has now changed for the better; society in Angola is not a whit inferior to that of any English colony in West Africa, and, as a convict establishment, Loanda is a great success.

The theoretical garrison is one regiment of the line, a squadron of cavalry, and two companies of artillery with three-pounders; the real force is of some 800 men, mostly convicts. No difference is made between white and black, nor is the corps force, which was once very cruelly used, severely treated as the Légion Etrangère of Algeria. Most of the men have been found guilty of capital crimes, yet they are allowed to carry arms, and they are intrusted with charge of the forts. Violence is almost unheard of amongst them: if an English sailor be stabbed, it is generally by the free mulattoes and blacks, who hate the uniform for destroying their pet trade of man-selling. It is true that these convicts have hopes of pardon, but I prefer to attribute their remarkable gentleness and good behaviour to the effects of the first fever, which, to quote from the Latin grammar,

“Emollit mores nec sinit esse feros.”

The negroes of Loanda struck me as unusually ill-favoured; short, “stumpy,” and very dark, or tinged with unclean yellow. Lepers and hideous cripples thrust their sores and stumps in the face of charity. There was no local colouring compared with the carregadores, or coolies, from the northeast, whose thrum-mop heads and single monkey skins for fig-leaves, spoke of the wold and the wild. The body-dress of both sexes is the tángá, pagne, or waist-cloth, unless the men can afford trousers and ragged shirts, and the women a “veo preto,” or dingy black sheet, ungracefully worn, like the graceful sárí of Hindostan, over the bright foulard which confines the wool. “It is mighty ridiculous to observe,” says the old missionary, “that the women, contrary to the custom of all other nations, buy and sell, and do all things which the men ought to do, whilst their husbands stay at home and spin or weave cotton, or busy themselves in such other effeminate actions.” This is not wholly true in ‘63. The “munengana,“or machila-man, is active in offering his light cane palanquin, and he chaffs the “mean white” who is compelled to walk, bitterly as did the sedan-chairmen of Bath before the days of Beau Nash. Of course the Quitandeira, or market-woman, holds her own. The rest of the street population seems to consist of negro “infantry” and black Portuguese pigs, gaunt and long-legged. The favourite passe-temps is to lie prone in sun or shade, chattering and smoking the cachimbo, a heavy clay pipe, with peculiar stem —“to sleep supine,” say the Arabs, “is the position of saints; on the dexter side, of kings; on the sinister, of learned men; and on the belly, of devils.”

Chapter 3.

The Festival — a Trip to Calumbo — portuguese Hospitality.

My first step after reaching S. Paolo de Loanda was to call upon Mr. Commissioner Vredenburg, who had lately taken up the undesirable appointment, and who, moreover, had brought a pretty French wife from Pará. I had warned him that he was risking her life and that of her child; he bravely made the attempt and nearly lost them both. I have reason to be grateful to him and to Mr. Vice-consul E. H. Hewett for hospitality during my stay at the Angolan capital. There is a place called an hotel, but it is in the Seven Dials of the African city, and — nothing more need be said.

Fortunately for me, as for herself, Loanda had got rid of Mr. Vredenburg’s predecessor, who soon followed the lamented Richard Brand, first British Consul, appointed in 1844. The “real whole-hearted Englishman” was after that modern type, of which La Grundy so highly approves. An honest man, who does not hold to the British idea that “getting on in the world” is Nature’s first law, would be sorely puzzled by such a career.

The day after my arrival was the festival which gives to São Paulo de Loanda its ecclesiastical name “da Assumpção.” The ceremonies of the day were duly set forth in the Boletim Official do Governo Geral da Provincia de Angola. A military salute and peals of bells aroused us at dawn; followed a review of the troops, white and black; and a devout procession, flags flying and bands playing, paced through the chief streets to the Cathedral. A visit of ceremony in uniform to the Governor–General, Captain José Baptista de Andrade, a historic name in Angola, led to an invitation for the evening, a pleasant soirée of both sexes. The reception was cordial: whatever be the grievances of statesmen and historians, lawyers and slave-mongers, Portuguese officers are always most friendly to their English brethren. The large and airy rooms were hung with portraits of the several dignitaries, and there was an Old World look about Government House, like the Paço at Pangim (Goa). Fifty years ago colonial society was almost entirely masculine; if you ever met a white woman it was in a well-curtained manchila surrounded by “mucambas” or “mucacamas, negro waiting maids:” as the old missioner tells us, “when they go abroad, which is seldom, they are carried in a covered net with attendance of captives.” All this is changed, except as regards leaving the house, which is never done during the day: constitutionals are not wanted in the tropics, and the negroes everywhere make the streets unfit, except for any but the very strongest-minded of the weaker sex. The evenings at Government House are passed with music and dancing, and petits jeux innocents for the juniors, whilst the seniors talk and play voltarete till midnight. I well remember one charming face, but I fear to talk about it — ten years in Africa cannot pass without the saddest changes.

With an eye to future exploration, I was anxious to see something of the style of travel in Angola, and to prospect the proposed line of railway intended to checkmate the bar of the river Cuanza. The Cassange (Kasanjí) war on the eastern frontier had just ended honourably to Portuguese arms, but it proved costly; the rich traffic of the interior had fallen off, and the well-known Feira was sending down its fairings to independent Kinsembo. Moreover, in order to raise funds for the rail, the local Government talked of granting the land to an English company for growing the highly prized gossypium arboreum.

Sr. João Soares Caldeira, C.E., kindly asked me to join his party, which started early on August 19. All rode the tipoia, a mere maca or hammock sadly heating to the back, but handier than the manchila: the bearers wore loose waistbelts, with a dozen small sheep’s bells on the crupper, intended to proclaim our importance, and supposed to frighten away wild beasts. These gentry often require the stimulus of “ndokwe” (go on), but seldom the sedative of “malemba” (gently) or “quinga” (stop). The “boi-cavallo,” the riding bull (not ox) of the interior, which costs about £4, is never used in these fashionable localities. I failed to remark the line of trenches supposed to defend the land-side, but I did remark the “maiangas,” said to be indigo vats made by the Jesuits. After a hot depression we ascended a rough zigzag, and halting we enjoyed a charming view of St. Paul. The domed Morro concealing the squalid lower town was crowned with once lordly buildings — cathedral, palace, treasury, and fort; the colours of the ground-swell were red and white, with here and there a dot of green; and the blue sea rose in its loveliness beyond the hill horizon. For a whole league we were in the region of “arimos,” or outside farms, where villages, villas, and plantations, threaded by hot and sandy lanes with hedges of green euphorbia, showed the former prosperity of the country. Beyond it the land forms, as in Yoruba, lines of crescents bulging west or seaward, quartz and pebbles showing here and there an old true coast.

After a five hours’ ride we reached Cavúa, the half-way house, where breakfast had been sent on; the habitations are wretched thatches, crowded with pigs and mosquitoes. Clearings had all ended, and the red land formed broken waves of poor soil, almost nude of vegetation at this mid-winter of the tropics, except thickets of “milk plant” and forests of quadrangular cactus; the latter are quaint as the dragon-tree, some twenty feet tall and mostly sun-scorched to touchwood. The baobab (adansonia) is apparently of two kinds, the “Imbundeiro,” hung with long-stringed calabashes, which forms swarming-places for bees; and the “Aliconda” (Nkondo), whose gourd is almost sessile, and whose bark supplies fibre for cloth and ropes. The haskúl or big-aloe of Somali-land was not absent, and, amongst other wild fruits, I saw scattered over the ground the husks of a strychnine, like the east African species. Deer, hares, and partridges are spoken of in these solitudes, but they must be uncommonly hard to find at such a season.

About three hours after leaving Cavúa were spent upon this high, dry, and healthy desert, when suddenly we sighted the long reaches of the Cuanza River, sharply contrasting, like the Nile, with the tawny yellow grounds about its valley. A steep descent over water-rolled pebbles showed the old bank; the other side, far and blue, gave a goodly breadth of five miles; then we plunged into the green selvage of the modern stream, following muddy paths where the inundation had extended last June. Here tobacco, orchilla, and indigo in the higher, and sugar-cane, rice, and ricinus on the lower lands flourish to perfection. The Angolan orchilla was first sent to Lisbon by Sr. F. R. Batalha: it is a moss, like the tillandsia of the Southern United States, and I afterwards recognized it in the island of Annobom. Passing Pembe and other outlying hamlets, after nine hours of burning sun, we entered Calumbo Town, and were hospitably lodged by the Portuguese Commandant. We had followed the highway, as a line for the intended railway had not yet been marked out, and the distance measured 33,393 metres (= 20.75 English miles).

Calumbo is now a poor place, with a few dilapidated stone houses in a mass of wattle and daub huts, surrounded by large “arimos.” The whole “Districto da Barra do Calumbo” contains only 444 hearths. A little stone pier, which Loanda wants, projects into the stream; the lime was formerly procured from shells, but in 1761 calcareous stone was found near the Dande stream. The sightliest part is the vegetation, glorious ceibas (bombax) used for dug-outs; baobabs, tamarinds which supply cooling fruit and distilled waters; limes and bitter oranges. The most remarkable growth is the kaju or cashew nut: an old traveller quaintly describes it “as like St. John’s apple with a chestnut at the end of it.” M. Valdez (“Six Years of a Traveller’s Life,” vol. ii. 267), calls it “a strange kind of fruit,” though it was very familiar to his cousins in the Brazil, of which it is an aborigine. Here it is not made into wine as at Goa: “Kaju-brandy” is unknown, and the gum, almost equal to that of the acacia, is utterly neglected. A dense and shady avenue of these trees, ten paces apart, leads from the river to the parish church of S. José, mentioned by Carli in 1666: an inscription informs us that it was rebuilt in 1850, but the patron is stored away in a lumber-room, and the bats have taken the place of the priest. Portugal has perhaps gone too far in abolishing these church establishments, but it is a reaction which will lead to the golden mean.

The site of Calumbo is well chosen, commanding a fine view, and raised above the damps of the cold Cuanza, whose stagnant lagoon, the Lagôa do Muge on the other side, is divided from the main branch by a low islet with palms and some cultivation. At the base of Church Hill are huts of the Mubiri or blacksmiths, who gipsy-like wander away when a tax is feared; they are not despised, but they are considered a separate caste. I was shown a little north of the town a place where the Dutch, true to their national instincts, began a canal to supply Loanda with sweet and wholesome drinking material and water communication; others place it with more probability near the confluence of the Cuanza and the Lucala, the first great northern fork, where Massangano was built by the Conquistadores. This “leat” was left incomplete, the terminus being three miles from St. Paul’s; the Governor–General José de Oliveira Barbosa, attempted to restore it, but was prevented by considerations of cost.

Calumbo must be a gruesome place to all except its natives. Whilst Loanda has improved in climate since Captain Owen’s day (1826), this has become deadly as Rome in 1873. The raw mists in early morning and the hot suns, combined with the miasmas of the retreating waters, sometimes produce a “carneirado” (bilious remittent) which carries off half the inhabitants. Dysenteries are everywhere dangerous between the Guinea Coast and Mossamedes, the cause being vile water. All the people looked very sickly; many wore milongos, Fetish medicines in red stripes, and not a few had whitewashed faces in token of mourning. I observed that my Portuguese companions took quinine as a precaution. Formerly a few foreign merchants were settled here, but they found the hot seasons fatal, and no wonder, with 130° (F.) in the shade! The trade from the upper river, especially from the Presidio das Pedras Negras de Pungo Andongo,1 consists of hides, cattle tame and wild (cefos); saltpetre washed from earth in sieves, mucocote or gum anime (copal), said by Lopes de Lima to be found in all the forests of Pungo Andongo; wax, white and yellow; oil of the dendêm (Elaïs Guineënsis) and mandobim, here called ginguba (arachis); mats, manioc-flour, and sometimes an ivory.

Calumbo was built as early as 1577 by the Conquistador Porcador and first Capitão Mór Paulo Dias II., a gallant soldier, who died in 1589 at Massangano, the “Presidium,” which he had founded between 1580–83, and who was buried in the Church of Na. Sa. da Vittoria; he is said also to have built the Church of Santa Cruz. Equidistant from Loanda and the sea, the settlement soon had a wealthy trade with the fortified stations of the interior, and large Government stores filled with merchandize. In 1820 a number of schooners, pinnaces, and small crafts plied up and down to Muchimo, Massangano, Cambembe, and other inland settlements; now we find out only a few canoes. The Cuanza at “Sleepers’ Bay” has one of the worst shifting bars on the whole coast. At this distance, five leagues from the mouth, its width is one hundred fathoms, and the depth varies from eight to nine. It breeds good fish; the manatus is common, people talk of fresh-water sharks, and the jacare (crocodile) is fatal to many a pig even in the village. It is navigable for schooners, they say, six days, or 150 miles, to the large “Presidio de Cambembe,” where Andrew Battel (1589–1600) visited a “perpendicular water-fall, which made such a noise as to be heard thirty miles’ distance.” This and another water-fall higher up are laid down in the map of Dr. Livingstone’s admirable first journey. Above Cambembe the river-bed is broken by archipelagoes, and the shoals render it fit only for boats. The Cuanza head has been explored only lately, although a royal order to that effect was issued on March 14, 1800.

After receiving and returning the visits of the principal whites, all habited in frocks and continuations of the blackest and heaviest broadcloth, we feasted with the excellent commandant, who was hospitality itself. The mosquitoes soon roused us from any attempt at sleep, and we passed the night after a fashion which sometimes leads to red eyes and “hot coppers” in the morning. I left early, for my companions had business at Calumbo; as they were no longer present to control the bearers, a race soft as putty, and I was not used to manage them, the gang became unbearable. The soldier sent to keep them in order did his best with his “supple-jack,” and the consequence was that all bolted into the bush. At Cavúa two men were forcibly enlisted, but I preferred walking in. When at home in the Red House (Mr. Hewett’s) the hammock men came complaining of my deserting them, and begging bakhshish.

It was another lesson to me — the Gaboon had lately administered one — that, however well you may know the negro generally, each tribe requires a specific study. This, however, would not take long, and with a little knowledge of the language there would be no difficulty in following the footsteps of Joaquim Rodrigues Graça; letters would be required to the several commandants, the season of setting out should be in early Cacimbo (April), and the up march would take six months, with about four to return. But, unless active measures are adopted, only the seaboard will remain to the Portuguese. This is an exploration which I had kept “dark” for myself; but Captain von Homeyer has gained the day, and nothing remains for me but to give the gallant officer God speed. After a short but exceedingly pleasant visit, I left the capital of Angola with regret. All seemed anxious to further my views of travel; the authorities gave me the very best advice, and offered me introductions to all the district commandants, Sr. Moses Abecasis, and Sr. Francisco A. Flores, Sir Henry Huntley’s host, obliged me with recommendations to the most influential agents at Porto da Lenha on the Congo River. Mr. Essex of St. Helena placed me in the hands of his compatriot, Mr. Scott, and Captain Hoskins, R.N., ended his kindness with ordering for me a passage on board H.M. Steamship “Griffon,” an old acquaintance in the Gaboon River. Briefly, I quitted São Paulo with the best wishes for one and all who had befriended me.

1 See “The Lands of the Cazembe,” p. 15, Royal Geographical Society, London, 1873.

Chapter 4.

The Cruise along Shore — the Granite Pillar of Kinsembo.

On August 22nd we left Loanda, and attacked the 180 miles separating it from the Congo mouth. Steaming along shore we enjoyed the vanishing perspective of the escarpment disappearing in the misty distance. The rivers Bengo, Dande, and Onze are denoted by densely wooded fissures breaking the natural sea-wall, and, as usual in West Africa, these lines are the favourite sites for settlements. The Onze or the Lifune of Mazula Bay — which the Hydrographic Chart (republished March 18, 1869) changes into “River Mazulo,” and makes the mouth of the “River Onzo”— is chosen by Bowdich and writers of his day as the northern boundary of Angola, greatly to the disgust of the Portuguese, whose pretensions extend much farther north. Volumes of daily smoke and nightly flame suggest the fires of St. John lighted by the goatherds of Tenerife. They greatly excite the gallant “Griffons,” who everywhere see slaver-signals, and the system is old upon this coast as the days of Hanno and Herodotus. At this season they are an infallible sign that the dries are ending; the women burn the capim (tall grass) for future forage, and to manure the land for manioc, maize, and beans. The men seek present “bush-beef:” as the flames blow inland, they keep to seaward, knowing that game will instinctively and infallibly break cover in that direction, and they have learned the “wrinkle” of the prairie traveller to make a “little Zoar” in case of accidental conflagration.

At 2 P.M. on the 24th we were abreast of Ambriz, an important settlement, where a tall red and white cliff, with a background of broken blue hill, showed a distinct “barra,” or river mouth, not to be confounded with the English “bar.” The north point of the Rio dos Ambres, of the “green” or “raw copal,” is low and mangrove-grown, throwing into high relief its sister formation, Ambriz Head or Strong–Tide Corner, which stands up gaunt and bluff.

A little to the south-east lies the fort, flying the argent and azure flag, and garrisoned by some 200 men; five large whitewashed houses and the usual bunch of brown huts compose the settlement. This nest of slavers was temporarily occupied in May 15, 1855. The Governor–General, Senor Coelho de Amaral, reinforced by 1,000 soldiers from home, and levying 2,500 “Empacasseiros,”1 embarked from Loanda in the “Dorn Fernando” frigate, landed here, once more burnt the barracoons, and built the fort. In 1856 a force was sent under Colonel Francisco Salles Ferreira, to re-open a communication with the Bembe mines of copper and malachite. That energetic officer marched on São Salvador, the old capital of Congo, and crowned Dom Pedro V., whose predecessor died the year before. He there fell a victim to fever, and his second in command, Major Andrade, was nearly cut off on his return. Shortly afterwards the natives blockaded, but were driven from, Bembe, and they attempted in vain to carry Ambriz.

The far-famed copper mines were granted to the Portuguese in the sixteenth century by the King of Congo. They were the property of his feudatory, the (black) “Marquess of Pemba” (Bembe): Barbot mentions their being mistaken for gold, and feels himself bound to warn his readers that the metal was brought “from Sondy, not from Abyssinia or the empire of Prester John.” They lost all their mystery about A.D. 1855, when they were undertaken by an English company, Messrs. John Taylor & Co. of London, after agreement with the concessionists, Messrs. Francisco A. Flores and Pinto Perez of Loanda. Between Ambriz and Bembe, on the Lunguila (Lufula?) River, and 770 feet above sea-level, the Angolan government built four presidios, Matuta, Quidilla, Quileala, and Quimalenco. But the garrison was not strong enough to keep the country quiet, and the climate proved deadly to white men. The 24 sappers and 60 linesmen extracted nearly 4,000 lbs. of gangue per diem, when the English manager and his assistant, with four of the ten miners died, and the plant was destroyed by fire. I was assured that this line (Ambriz–Bembe) was an easy adit to the interior, and so far the information is confirmed by the late Livingstone–Congo Expedition under Lieutenant Grandy.

In 1863 the coast was still in confusion. The Portuguese claimed too much seaboard according to the British: the British government ignored the just claims of Portugal, and the political bickerings were duly embittered by a demoralized race of English traders, who perpetually applied for cruisers, complaining that the troops interfered with their trade. Even in the seventeenth century the Portuguese had asserted their rights to the Reino do Congo, extending between the great stream of that name and the Ambriz, also called the Loge and Doce River. In the older maps — for instance, Lopes de Lima — the Loge is an independent stream placed north of the Ambriz River; in fact, it represents the Rue or Lue River of Kinsembo, which is unknown to our charts. Within the Doce and the Cuanza lies the Reino de Angola, of which, they say, the Congo was a dependency, and south of the Cuanza begins the Reino de Benguela. The Government–General of Loanda thus contained four provinces-Congo (now reduced to Ambriz), Angola, Benguela, and Mossamedes. The English government has now agreed to recognize the left or southern bank of the Ambriz as the northern frontier of Angola and of Portuguese rule.

Passing the river mouth, we were alongside of independent lands, and new to us. Boobies (Pelecanus sula), gulls, petrels, and men-of-war birds (P. aquila), flew about the ship; according to the experts, they were bound for fetid marshes which outlie the Loge River. Before nightfall we were off the Lue or Rue River of Kinsembo, which disputes with Landána (not “Landano”2) the palm of bad landing. At this season boats are sometimes kept waiting fourteen days, and the “barreiras” (cliffs) are everywhere at unbounded war with the waters. I determined to land and to inspect the “remarkable lofty granite pillar,” which was dimly visible from our deck; but we rowed in vain along the tall and rusty sea-walls. No whaler could attack the huge rollers that raised their monstrous backs, plunged over with a furious roar, and bespread the beach with a swirl of foam. At last, seeing a fine surf-boat, artistically raised at stern and bow, and manned by Cabindas, the Kruboys of the coast, made fast to a ship belonging to Messrs. Tobin of Liverpool, we boarded it, and obtained a passage.

The negroes showed their usual art. Paddling westward they rounded the high red and white South Point, where a projecting reef broke the rollers. We waited for some twenty minutes for a lull; at the auspicious moment every throat was strained by a screaming shout, and the black backs bent doughtily to their work. We were raised like infants in the nurse’s arms; the good craft was flung forward with the seething mass, and as she touched shore we sprang out, whilst our conveyance was beached by a crowd of stragglers. The dreaded bar is as usual double: in the heaviest weather boats make for a solitary palm-tree at the bottom of the sandy bay. Some of the dug-outs are in pairs like the Brazilian Ajoujo; the sides are lashed together or fastened by thwarts, and both are made to bend a little too much inwards.

It was dark when we climbed up the stiff Jacob’s ladder along the landward side of the white Kinsembo bluff. There are three ramps: the outermost is fit only for unshod feet; the central is better for those who can squeeze through the rocky crevices, and the furthest is tolerably easy; but it can be reached only by canoeing across the stream. Mr. Hunter of Messrs. Tobin’s house received us in the usual factory of the South Coast, a ground-floor of wicker-work, windowless, and thatched after native fashion. The chief agent, who shall be nameless, was drunk arid disorderly: it is astonishing that men of business can trust their money to such irresponsible beings; he had come out to Blackland a teetotaller, and presently his condition became a living lecture upon geographical morality.

The night gave us a fine study of the Kinsembo mosquito, a large brown dipter, celebrated even upon this coast. A barrel of water will act as nursery; at times the plagues are said to extinguish a lantern, and to lie an inch deep at the bottom. I would back them against a man’s life after two nights of full exposure: the Brazilian “Marimbondo” is not worse. At 7 A.M. on the next day we descended the easiest of the ramps, which are common upon this coast, and were paddled over the Kinsembo River. Eleven miles off, it issues from masses of high ground, and at this season it spreads out like the Ambriz in broad stagnant sheets, bordered with reeds and grass supplying fish and crabs, wild ducks and mosquitoes. Presently, when the Cacimbo ends in stormy rains and horrid rollers, its increased volume and impetus will burst the sand-strip which confines it, and the washed-away material will recruit the terrible bar.

Leaving the ferry, wre mounted the “tipoias,” which Englishmen call “hammocks” after the Caribs of Jamaica, and I found a strange contrast between the men of Kinsembo and of São Paulo. The former are admirable bearers, like their brethren of Ambrizette, famed as the cream of the coast: four of them carried us at the rate of at least six miles an hour; apparently they cannot go slowly, and they are untireable as black ants. Like the Bahian cadeira-men, they use shoulder-pads, and forked sticks to act as levers when shifting; the bamboo-pole has ivory pegs, to prevent the hammock-clews slipping, and the sensation is somewhat that of being tossed in a blanket.

Quitting the creeper-bound sand, we crossed a black and fetid mire, and struck inland to a higher and drier level. The vegetation was that of the Calumbo road, but not so utterly sunburnt: there were dwarf fields of Manioc and Thur (Cajanus indicus), and the large wild cotton shrubs showed balls of shortish fibre. As we passed a euphorbia-hedged settlement, Kizúlí yá Mú, “Seabeach Village,” a troop of women and girls, noisy as those of Ugogo, charged us at full gallop: a few silver bits caused prodigious excitement in the liberal display of charms agitated by hard exercise. The men were far less intrusive, they are said not to be jealous of European rivals, but madly so amongst themselves: even on suspicion of injury, the husband may kill his wife and her lover.

At Kilwanika, the next hamlet, there was a “king;” and it would not have been decent to pass the palace unvisited. Outside the huts stood a bamboo-girt “compound,” which we visited whilst H.M. was making his toilette, and where, contrary to Congo usage, the women entered with us. Twenty-two boys aged nine or ten showed, by faces whitened with ashes, that they had undergone circumcision, a ceremony which lasts three months: we shall find these Jinkimba in a far wilder state up the Congo. The rival house is the Casa das Tinta, where nubile girls are decorated by the Nganga, or medicine-man, with a greasy crimson-purple pigment and, preparatory to entering the holy state of matrimony, receive an exhaustive lecture upon its physical phases. Father Merolla tells us that the Congoese girls are locked up in pairs for two or three months out of the sight of man, bathing several times a day, and applying “taculla,” the moistened dust of a red wood; without this “casket of water” or “of fire,” as they call it, barrenness would be their lot. After betrothal the bride was painted red by the “man-witch” for one month, to declare her engagement, and the mask was washed off before nuptials. Hence the “Paint House” was a very abomination to the good Fathers. Amongst the Timni tribe, near Sierra Leone, the Semo, or initiation for girls, begins with a great dance, called Colungee (Kolangí), and the bride is “instructed formally in such circumstances as most immediately concern women.”

After halting for half an hour, ringed by a fence of blacks, we were summoned to the presence, where we found a small boy backed by a semi-circle of elders, and adorned with an old livery coat, made for a full-grown “Jeames.” With immense dignity, and without deigning to look at us, he extended a small black paw like a Chimpanzee’s, and received in return a promise of rum — the sole cause of our detention. And, as we departed through the euphorbia avenue, we were followed by the fastest trotters, the Flora Temples and the Ethan Allens, of the village.

Beyond Kilwanika the land became rougher and drier, whilst the swamps between the ground-waves were deeper and stickier, the higher ridges bearing natural Stonehenges, of African, not English, proportions At last we dismounted, ascended a rise, the most northerly of these “Aravat Hills,” and stood at the base of the “Lumba” The Pillar of Kmsembo is composed of two huge blocks, not basaltic, but of coarse-grained reddish granite the base measures twenty and the shaft forty feet high. With a little trimming it might be converted into a superior Pompey’s Pillar: we shall see many of these monoliths in different parts of the Congo country.

The heat of the day was passed in the shade of the Lumba, enjoying the sea-breeze and the novel view. It was debated whether we should return viâ Masera, a well-known slaving village, whose barracoons were still standing. But the bearers dissuaded us, declaring that they might be seized as “dash,” unless the white men paid heavy “comey” like those who shipped black cargoes: they cannot shake off this old practice of claiming transit money. So we returned without a halt, covering some twelve of the roughest miles in two hours and a quarter.

The morning of the 26th showed an ugly sight from the tall Kinsembo cliff. As far as the eye could reach long green-black lines, fronted and feathered with frosted foam, hurried up to the war with loud merciless roars, and dashed themselves in white destruction against the reefs and rock-walls. We did not escape till the next day.

Kinsembo does not appear upon the old maps, and our earliest hydrographic charts place it six miles wrong.3 The station was created in 1857–61 by the mistaken policy of Loanda, which determined to increase the customs three per cent, and talked of exacting duties at Ambriz, not according to invoice prices, but upon the value which imported goods represented amongst the natives. It was at once spread abroad that the object was to drive the wax and ivory trade to São Paulo, and to leave Ambriz open to slavers. The irrepressible Briton transferred himself to Kinsembo, and agreed to pay the king £9 in kind, after “country fashion,” for every ship. In 1857 the building of the new factories was opposed by the Portuguese, and was supported by English naval officers, till the two governments came to an arrangement. In February, 1860, the Kinsembo people seized an English factory, and foully murdered a Congo prince and Portuguese subject, D. Nicoláo de Agua Rosada, employed in the Treasury Department, Ambriz. Thereupon the Governor–General sent up two vessels, with thirty guns and troops; crossed the Loge River, now a casus belli; and, on March 3rd, burned down the inland town of Kinsembo. On the return march the column debouched upon the foreign factories. About one mile in front of the point, Captain Brerit, U.S. Navy, and Commander A. G. Fitzroy, R.N., had drawn up 120 of their men by way of guard. Leave was asked by the Portuguese to refresh their troops, and to house six or seven wounded men. The foreign agents, headed by a disreputable M— M— now dead, protested, and, after receiving this unsoldierlike refusal, the Portuguese, harassed by the enemy, continued their return march to Ambriz. The natives of this country have an insane hate for their former conquerors, and can hardly explain why: probably the cruelties of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, not peculiar to the Lusitanians, have rankled in the national memory. A stray Portuguese would infallibly be put to death, and it will, I fear, be long before M. Valdez sees “spontaneous declarations of vassalage on the part of the King of Molembo (Malemba) and others.”

In 1860 the trade of Kinsembo amounted to some £50,000, divided amongst four houses, two English, one American, and one Rotterdam (Pencoff and Kerdyk). The Cassange war greatly benefited the new station by diverting coffee and other produce of the interior from Loanda. There are apochryphal tales of giant tusks brought from a five months’ journey, say 500 miles, inland. I was shown two species of copal (gum anime) of which the best is said to come from the Mosul country up the Ambriz River: one bore the goose-skin of Zanzibar, and I was assured that it does not viscidize in the potash-wash. The other was smooth as if it had freshly fallen from the tree. It was impossible to obtain any information; no one had been up country to see the diggings, and yet all declared that the interior was open; that it would be easy to strike the Coango (Quango) before it joins the Congo River, and that 150 miles, which we may perhaps reduce by a third, would lodge the traveller in the unknown lands of “Hnga.”

Bidding kindly adieu to Mr. Hunter and wishing him speedy deliverance from his dreadful companion, we resumed our travel over the now tranquil main. Always to starboard remained the narrow sea-wall, a length without breadth which we had seen after the lowlands of Cape Lopez, coloured rosy, rusty-red, or white, and sometimes backed by a second sierra of low blue rises, which suggests the sanatorium. Forty miles showed us the tall trees of Point Palmas on the northern side of the Conza River; on the south of the gap-like mouth lies the Ambrizette settlement, with large factories, Portuguese and American, gleaming against the dark verdure, and with Conza Hill for a background. The Cabeça de Cobra, or “Margate Head,” led to Makula, alias Mangal, or Mangue Grande, lately a clump of trees and a point; now the site of English, American, and Dutch factories. Here the hydrographic charts of 1827 and 1863 greatly vary, and one has countermarched the coast-line some 75 miles: Beginning with the Congo River, it lays down Mangue Pegueno (where Grande should be), Cobra, and Mangue Grande (for Pequeno) close to Ambrizette. Then hard ahead rose Cape Engano, whose “deceit” is a rufous tint, which causes many to mistake it for Cape or Point Padrão. To-morrow, as the dark-green waters tell us, we shall be in the Congo River.

1 See “The Lands of the Cazembe” (p. 25, note), where, however, the word has taken the form of “Impaçeiro.” At p. 27, line 6, a parenthesis has been misplaced before and after “Impalancas,” a word differently interpreted by Portuguese writers.

2 The Directory and Charts.

3 That of the Hydrographic Office, dated 1863, assigns it to S. Lat. 7° 44’, and E. Long. 13° 5’; and the Granite Pillar to S. Lat. 7° 36’ 15”, and E. Long. 13° 6’ 30”.

Chapter 5.

Into the Congo River. — the Factories. — trip to Shark’s Point. — the Padrão and Pinda.

The best preparation for a first glance at the Congo River is to do as all do, to study the quaint description which old Purchas borrowed from the “Chronica da Companhia de Jesus em Portugal.”

“The Zaire is of such force that no ship can get in against the current but near to the shore; yea, it prevails against the ocean’s saltness three-score, and as some say, four-score miles within the sea, before his proud waves yield their full homage, and receive that salt temper in token of subjection. Such is the haughty spirit of that stream, overrunning the low countries as it passeth, and swollen with conceit of daily conquests and daily supplies, which, in armies of showers, are, by the clouds, sent to his succour, runnes now in a furious rage, thinking even to swallow the ocean, which before he never saw, with his mouth wide gaping eight-and-twenty miles, as Lopez1 affirmeth, in the opening; but meeting with a more giant-like enemie which lies lurking under the cliffes to receive his assault, is presently swallowed in that wider womb, yet so as, always being conquered, he never gives over, but in an eternall quarrel, with deeper and indented frownes in his angry face, foaming with disclaine, and filling the aire with noise (with fresh helpe), supplies those forces which the salt sea hath consumed.”

I was disappointed after the Gambia and Gaboon rivers in the approach to the Congo. About eight miles south of the mouth the green sea changed to a clear brown which will be red during the flood. Some three degrees (F. 79° to 82°) cooler than the salt tide, the lighter water, which was fresh as rain, feathered out like a fan; a rippling noise was faintly audible, and the clear lines of white foam had not time to melt into the coloured efflux. The flow was diverted into a regular curve northwards by the South Atlantic current; voyagers from Ascension Island to the north-west therefore feel the full throb of the great riverine pulse, and it has been recognized, they say, at a distance of 300 miles. Lopez, Merolla, and Dapper2 agree that the Congo freshens the water at thirty miles from the mouth, and that it can be distinguished thirty leagues off. The Amazonas tinges the sea along the Guiana coast 200 miles, and the effect of the Ganges extends to about twenty leagues. At this season, of course, we saw none of the floating islands which during the rains sail out sixty to seventy leagues from land. “Tuckey’s Expedition” informs us, that the Hon. Captain Irby, H.M.S. “Amelia,” when anchored twelve miles from the South Point, in fifteen fathoms, “observed on the ocean large floating islands covered with trees and bushes, which had been torn from the banks by the violent current.” The Journal of Captain Scobell, H.M.S. “Thais,” remarks: “In crossing this stream I met several floating islands or broken masses from the banks of that noble river.” We shall find them higher up the bed, only forming as the inundation begins; I doubt, however, that at any time they equal the meadows which stud the mouth of the Rio Formoso (Benin River).

Historic Point Padrao, the “Mouta Seca,” or Dry Bush, of the modern Portuguese, showed no signs of hospitality. The fierce rollers of the spumous sea broke and recoiled, foaming upon the sandy beach, which they veiled with a haze of water-dust, almost concealing the smoke that curled from the mangrove-hedged “King Antonio’s Town.” Then, steaming to the north-east, we ran five miles to Turtle Cove, formerly Turtle Corner, a shallow bay, whose nearest point is “Twitty Twa Bush,” the baptismal effort of some English trader. And now appeared the full gape of the Congo mouth, yawning seven sea-miles wide; the further shore trending to the north-west in a low blue line, where Moanda and Vista, small “shipping-ports” for slaves, were hardly visible in the hazy air. As we passed the projecting tooth of Shark Point, a sandspit garnished with mangroves and dotted with palmyras, the land-squali flocked from their dirty-brown thatches to the beach, where flew the symbolic red flag. Unlike most other settlements, which are so buried in almost impenetrable bush that the traveller may pass by within a few yards without other sign but the human voice, this den of thieves and wreckers, justly named in more ways than one, flaunts itself in the face of day.

The Congo disclaims a bore, but it has a very distinct bar, the angle pointing up stream, and the legs beginning about Bananal Bank (N.) and Alligator River (S.). Here the great depth above and below (145 and 112 fathoms) shallows to 6–9. Despite the five-knot current we were “courteously received into the embraces of the river;” H.M. Steamship “Griffon” wanted no “commanding sea-breeze,” she found none of the difficulties which kept poor Tuckey’s “brute of a transport” drifting and driving for nearly a week before he could anchor off Fuma or Sherwood’s Creek, the “Medusa” of modern charts (?) and which made Shark Point, with its three-mile current, a “more redoubtable promontory than that of Good Hope was to early navigators.” We stood boldly E.N.E. towards the high blue clump known as Bulambemba, and, with the dirty yellow breakers of Mwáná Mazia Bank far to port, we turned north to French Point, and anchored in a safe bottom of seven fathoms.

Here we at once saw the origin of the popular opinion that the Congo has no delta. On both sides, the old river valley, 32 miles broad, is marked out by grassy hills rolling about 200 feet high, trending from E.N.E. to W.S.W., and forming on the right bank an acute angle with the Ghats. But, whilst the northern line approaches within five or six miles, the southern bank, which diverges about the place where “King Plonly’s town” appears in charts, sweeps away some seventeen miles down coast, and leaves a wide tract of mangrove swamps. These, according to the Portuguese traders, who have their own plans of the river, extend some seventy miles south to Ambrizette: slavers keep all such details very close, and doubtless for good reasons —“short-cuts” greatly facilitate shipping negroes. The lesser Congo delta is bounded north by the Banana or Malela stream, whose lower fork is “Pirates’ Creek;” and south by the mangrove-clad drains, which subtend the main line: the base measures 12–15 miles. At the highest station, Boma, I shall have something to say about the greater delta. The left bank of the embouchure projects further seaward, making it look “under hung,” representing in charts a lower jaw, and the projection of Shark Point the teeth, en profile.

My first care was to collect news at the factories. French Point is a long low spit, which supports two establishments where the chart (September 1859) gives “Emigration Depot.” It is the old Banana Point, and probably the older Palmeirinha Point of James Barbot, who places it in the territory of Goy (Ngoy), now Cabinda. This part has greatly changed since 1859; either the Banana River requires removing two miles to the north, or French Point must be placed an equal distance south. The principal establishment, M. Régis’ of Marseilles, is built in his best style; a two-storied and brilliantly “chunam’d” house, containing a shop and store on the ground-floor, defended by a three-pounder. Behind it a square “compound,” with high walls, guards the offices and the other requisites of a bar racoon. It is fronted by a little village where “Laptots,” Senegal Moslems, and men-at-arms live with their families and slaves. In the rear stands the far more modest and conscientious establishment of Messrs. Pencoff and Kerdyk: their plank bungalow is full of work, whilst the other lies idle; so virtue here is not, as in books, its own reward.

M. Victor Parrot, the young Swiss agent of M. Régis, hospitably asked us to take up our quarters with him, and promised to start us up stream without delay; his employer fixes the tariff of every article, and no discretion is left to the subordinates. We called upon M. Elkman of the Dutch factory. His is a well-known name on the river, and, though familiar with the people, he has more than once run some personal risk by assisting our cruizers to make captures. He advised us to lose no time in setting out before the impending rains: I wanted, however, a slight preparation for travel, and determined to see something of the adjoining villages, especially the site of the historic Padrão.

Whilst crossing the stream, we easily understood how the river was supposed to be in a perpetual state of inundation. The great breadth and the shallows near either jaw prevent the rain-floods being perceptible unless instruments are used, and “hydrometry,” still in an imperfect state, was little to be depended upon in the days when European ideas concerning the Congo River were formed. Twenty miles up stream the high-water mark becomes strongly marked, and further on, as will be seen, it shows even better.

If Barbot’s map have any claim to correctness, the southern shore has changed greatly since A.D. 1700. A straight line from Cape Padrão to Chapel Point, now Shark Point, was more than double the breadth of the embouchure. It is vain to seek for the “Island of Calabes” mentioned by Andrew Battel, who was “sent to a place called Zaire on the River Congo, to trade for elephants’ teeth, wheat, and palm oil.” It may be a mistake for Cavallos, noticed in the next chapter; but the “town on it” must have been small, and has left, they say, no traces. After a scramble through the surf, we were received at Shark Point, where, at this season, the current is nearer five than three knots, by Mr. Tom Peter, Mafuka, or chief trader, amongst these “Musurungus.” He bore his highly respectable name upon the frontal band of his “berretta” alias “corôa,” an open-worked affair, very like the old-fashioned jelly-bag night cap. This head-gear of office made of pine-apple fibre — Tuckey says grass — costs ten shillings; it is worn by the kinglets, who now distribute it to all the lieges whose fortunes exceed some fifty dollars.

Most of the Squaline villagers appeared to be women, the men being engaged in making money elsewhere. Besides illicit trade, which has now become very dangerous, a little is done in the licit line: grotesquely carved sticks, calabashes rudely ornamented with ships and human figures, the neat bead-work grass-strings used by the women to depress the bosom, and cashimbos or pipes mostly made about Boma. All were re-baptized in 1853, but they show no sign of Christianity save crosses, and they are the only prostitutes on the river.

Following Tom Peter, and followed by a noisy tail, we walked to the west end of Shark Point, to see if aught remained of the Padrão, the first memorial column, planted in 1485 by the explorer Diogo Cam, knight of the king’s household, Dom João II. “O principe perfeito,” who, says De Barros (“Asia,” Decad. I. lib. iii. chap. 3), “to immortalize the memory of his captains,” directed them to plant these pillars in all remarkable places. The Padrões, which before the reign of D. João were only wooden crosses, assumed the shape of “columns, twice the height of a man (estado), with the scutcheon bearing the royal arms. At the sides they were to be inscribed in Latin and Portuguese (to which James Barbot adds Arabic), with the name of the monarch who sent the expedition, the date of discovery, and the captain who made it; on the summit was to be raised a stone cross cramped in with lead.” According to others, the inscription mentioned only the date, the king, and the captain. The Padrão of the Congo was especially called from the “Lord of Guinea’s favourite saint, de São Jorge”— sit faustum! As Carli shows, the patron of Congo and Angola was Santiago, who was seen bodily assisting at a battle in which Dom Affonso, son of Giovi (Emmanuel), first Christian king of Congo, prevailed against a mighty host of idolaters headed by his pagan brother “Panso Aquitimo.” In 1786 Sir Home Popham found a marble cross on a rock near Angra dos Ilheos or Pequena (south latitude 26° 37’), with the arms of Portugal almost effaced. Till lately the jasper pillar at Cabo Negro bore the national arms. Doubtless much latitude was allowed in the make and material of these padrões; that which I saw near Cananea in the Brazil is of saccharine marble, four palms high by two broad; it bears a scutcheon charged with a cross and surmounted by another.

There is some doubt concerning the date of this mission. De Barros (I. iii. 3) says A.D. 1484. Lopes de Limn (IV. i. 5) gives the reason why A.D. 1485 is generally adopted, and he believes that the cruise of the previous year did not lead to the Congo River. The explorer, proceeding to inspect the coast south of Cape St. Catherine (south latitude 2° 30’), which he had discovered in 1473, set out from São Jorge da Mina, now Elmina. He was accompanied by Martin von Behaim of Nürnberg (nat. circ. A.D. 1436, ob. A.D. 1506), a pupil of the mathematician John Müller (Regiomontanus); and for whom the discovery of the New World has been claimed.

After doubling his last year’s terminus, Diogo Cam chanced upon a vast embouchure, and, surprised by the beauty of the scenery and the volume of the stream, he erected his stone Padrão, the first of its kind. Finding the people unintelligible to the interpreters, he sent four of his men with a present of hawk’s bells (cascaveis) and blue glass beads to the nearest king, and, as they did not soon return, he sailed back to Portugal with an equal number of natives as hostages, promising to return after fifteen moons. One of them, Caçuta (Zacuten of Barbot), proved to be a “fidalgo” of Sonho, and, though the procedure was contrary to orders, it found favour with the “Perfect Prince.” From these men the Portuguese learned that the land belonged to a great monarch named the Mwani–Congo or Lord of Congo, and thus they gave the river a name unknown to the riverine peoples.

Diogo Cam, on his second visit, sent presents to the ruler with the hostages, who had learned as much Portuguese and Christianity as the time allowed; recovered his own men, and passed on to Angola, Benguela and Cabo Negro, adding to his discoveries 200 leagues of coast. When homeward bound, he met the Mwani–Sonho, and visited the Mwani–Congo, who lived at Ambasse Congo (São Salvador), distant 50 leagues (?). The ruler of the “great and wonderful River Zaire,” touched by his words, sent with him sundry youths, and the fidalgo Caçuta, who was baptized into Dom Joao, to receive instruction, and to offer a present of ivory and of palm cloth which was remarkably strong and bright. A request for a supply of mechanics and missionaries brought out the first mission of Dominicans. They sailed in December, 1490, under Gonçalo de Sousa; they were followed by others, and in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the country was fairly over-run by the Propaganda. A future page will enter into more details, and show the results of their labours.

The original Padrão was destroyed by the Dutch in 1645, an act of barbarism which is justly called “Vandalica façanha.” Father Merolla says (1682), “The Hollanders, out of envy, broke the fine marble cross to pieces; nevertheless, so much remained of it, when I was there, as to discover plainly the Portuguese arms on the ruins of the basis, with an inscription under them in Gothic characters, though not easy to be read.” In 1859 a new one was placed in Turtle Cove, a few yards south-west of Shark Point; but the record was swept away by an unusually high tide, and no further attempt has been made.

We were then led down a sandy narrow line in the bush, striking south-east, and, after a few yards, we stood before two pieces of marble in a sandy hollow. The tropical climate, more adverse than that of London, had bleached and marked them till they looked like pitted chalk: the larger stump, about two feet high, was bandaged, as if after amputation, with cloths of many colours, and the other fragment lay at its feet. Tom Peter, in a fearful lingua-Franca, Negro–Anglo-Portuguese, told us that his people still venerated the place as part of a religious building; it is probably the remnant thus alluded to by Lopes de Lima (iii. 1–6): “Behind this point (Padrão) is another monument of the piety of our monarchs, and of the holy objects which guided them to the conquest of Guinea, a Capuchin convent intended to convert the negroes of Sonho; it has long been deserted, and is still so. Even in A.D. 1814, D. Garcia V., the king of Congo, complained in a letter to our sovereign of the want of missionaries.” Possibly the ruined convent is the church which we shall presently visit. Striking eastward, we soon came to a pool in the bush sufficiently curious and out of place to make the natives hold it “Fetish;” they declare that it is full of fish, but it kills all men who enter it —“all men” would not include white men. Possibly it is an old piscina; according to the Abbé Proyart, the missionaries taught the art of pisciculture near the village of Kilonga, where they formed their first establishment. The place is marked “Salt-pond” in Barbot, who tells us that the condiment was made there and carried inland.

A short walk to a tall tree backing the village showed us, amongst twenty-five European graves, five tombs or cenotaphs of English naval officers, amongst whom two fell victims to mangrove-oysters, and the rest to the deadly “calenture” of the lower Congo. We entered the foul mass of huts,

“Domus non ullo robore fulta

Sed sterili junco cannâque intecta palustri.”

It was too early for the daily debauch of palm wine, and the interiors reeked with the odours of nocturnal palm oil. The older travellers were certainly not blasés; they seemed to find pleasure and beauty wherever they looked: Ca da Mosto (1455), visiting the Senegal, detected in this graveolent substance, fit only for wheel-axles, a threefold property, that of smelling like violets, of tasting like oil of olives, and tinging victuals like saffron, with a colour still finer. Even Mungo Park preferred the rancid tallow-like shea butter to the best product of the cow. We chatted with the Shark Point wreckers, and found that they thought like Arthegal,

“For equal right in equal things doth stand.”

Moreover, here, as in the Shetlands of the early nineteenth century, when the keel touches bottom the seaman loses his rights, and she belongs to the shore.

Tom Peter offered to show us other relics of the past if we would give him two days. A little party was soon made up, Mr. J. C. Bigley, the master, and Mr. Richards, the excellent gunner of the “Griffon,” were my companions. We set out in a south-by-easterly direction to the bottom of Sonho, or Diogo’s Bay, which Barbot calls “Bay of Pampus Rock.” Thence we entered Alligator River, a broad lagoon, the Raphael Creek of Maxwell’s map, not named in the hydrographic chart of 1859. Leading south with many a bend, it is black water and thick, fetid mud, garnished with scrubby mangrove, where Kru-boys come to cut fuel and catch fever; here the dew seemed to fall in cold drops. After nine miles we reached a shallow fork, one tine of which, according to our informants, comes from the Congo Grande, or São Salvador, distant a week’s march. Leaving the whaler in charge of a Kru-man, we landed, and walked about half a mile over loose sand bound by pine-apple root, to the Banza Sonho, or, as we call it, King Antonio’s Town — not to be mistaken for that placed in the charts behind Point Padron. Our object being unknown, there was fearful excitement in the thatched huts scattered under the palm grove, till Tom Peter introduced us, and cleared for us a decent hut. The buildings, if they can be so called, are poor and ragged, copies of those which we shall see upon the uplands. Presently we were visited by the king named after that saint “of whom the Evil One was parlous afraid.” This descendant of the “Counts of Sonho,” in his dirty night-cap and long coat of stained red cloth, was a curious contrast to the former splendour of the “count’s habit,” with cap of stitched silk which could be worn only by him and his nobles, fine linen shirt, flowered silk cloak, and yellow stockings of the same material. When King Affonso III. gave audience to the missioners (A.D. 1646), the negro grandee “had on a vest of cloth set with precious stones, and in his hat a crown of diamonds, besides other stones of great value. He sat on a chair under a canopy of rich crimson velvet, with gilt nails, after the manner of Europe; and under his feet was a great carpet, with two stools of the same colour, and silk laced with gold.” After the usual palaver we gave the black earl a cloth and bottle of rum for leave to pass on, but no one would accompany us that evening, all pretending that they wanted time to fit up the hammocks. At night a body of armed bushmen marched down to inspect us.

The demands for porterage were so exorbitant next morning, that we set out on foot under the guidance of Tom Peter. We passed southwards over large tracts of bush and gramineous plants, with patches of small plantations, manioc and thur; and settlements girt by calabash-trees, cocoas, palmyra and oil palms. The people poured out, threatened impotent vengeance on those who brought the white men to “make their country,” that is, to seize and settle in it. The only animals were fowls and pigs; small strong cages acting as hogstyes showed that leopards were dangerous; in 1816 Lieutenant Hawkey found signs of these animals, together with elephant, wild boar, and antelope. Now there is no sport below the cataracts, and possibly very little, except in the water, above them. Thence we debouched upon rolling land, loose and sandy waves, sometimes divided by swamps; it is the lower end of the high yellow band seen from the south of the river, the true coast of alluvial soil, scattered here and there with quartz and pebbles. Then the bush opened out, and showed to the north-east stretches of grassy land, where the wild fig-tree drooped its branches, laden with thick fleshy leafage, to the ground; these are the black dots which are seen from afar studding the tawny desert-like surface. Flowers were abundant despite the lateness of the season, and the sterility of the soil was evidenced by cactus and euphorbia.

After a walk of six miles Tom Peter pompously announced that we had reached the church. We saw only an oblong furrow and a little worm-eaten wood near three or four of the most miserable “magalia;” but a bell, hung to a dwarf gallows, was dated 1700, and inscribed, “Si Deus cum nobis Qis (sic) contra nos?” The aspect of this article did not fail to excite Mr. Richards’ concupiscence: I looked into the empty huts, and in the largest found a lot of old church gear, the Virgin (our Lady of Pinda), saints, and crucifixes, a tank-like affair of iron that acted as font, and tattered bundles of old music-scores in black and red ink. In Captain Tuckey’s day some of the Sonho men could read the Latin Litany; there was a priest ordained by the Capuchins of Loanda, a bare-footed (and bare-faced) black apostle, with a wife and five handmaids; and a multitude of converts loaded with crucifixes and satchels of relics. Our home march was enlivened by glimpses of the magnificent river seen through the perennial tropical foliage, and it did not suggest trite reflections upon the meanness of man’s highest aspirations in presence of eternal Nature.

We had been treading upon no vulgar spot. We are now in the earldom of Sonho, bounded north by the Congo River and south by the Ambriz, westward by the Atlantic, and eastward by the “Duchy of Bamba.” It was one of the great divisions of the Congo kingdom, and “absolute, except only its being tributary to the Lord Paramount.” The titles of Portugal were adopted by the Congoese, according to Father Cavazzi, after A.D. 1571, when the king constituted himself a vassal of the Portuguese crown. Here was the Pinda whose port and fort played an important part in local history. “Built by the Sonhese army at the mouth of the River Zaire,” it commanded both the stream and sea: it was plundered in 1600 by four French pirates. According to Carli (1666–67) “the Count of Sonho, the fifth dignitary of the empire, resided in the town of Sonho, a league from the River Zaire.” Pinda was for a time the head-quarters of the Portuguese Mission, subject only to that of São Salvador; it consisted of an apartment two stories high, which caused trouble, being contrary to country custom.

At the French factory I found the employés well “up” in the travels of the unfortunate adventurer Douville (“Voyage au Congo et dans l’Intérieur de l’Afrique Equinoxiale fait dans les années 1828, 1829, et 1830. Par J. B. Douville, Secrétaire de la Société de Géographic de Paris pour l’année 1832, etmembre de plusieurs Sociétés savantes françoises et étrangères. Ouvrage auquel la Société de Géographic a décerné le prix dans sa séance du 30 mars, 1832. 3 tomes. 8vo. Paris, 1832”). Dr. Gardner, in his Brazilian travels, gives an account of Douville’s murder, the consequence of receiving too high fees for medical attendance on the banks of the São Francisco. So life like are his descriptions of the country and its scenery, that no one in the factory would believe him to have been an impostor, and the Frenchmen evidently held my objections to be “founded on nationality.” The besetting sins of the three volumes are inordinate vanity and inconséquence, but these should not obscure our vision as to their solid and remarkable merits. Compare the picturesque account of São Paulo with those of the latest English travellers, and the anthropology of the people, their religion, their ceremonies, their magic, their dress and costume, their trade, their manufactures, their maladies (including earth-eating), their cannibalism, the condition of their women, and the necessity of civilizing them by education before converting them, all subjects of the highest interest, with that of Mungo Park, for instance, arid we have a fair measure of the French traveller’s value. The native words inserted into the text are for the most part given with unusual correctness, and the carping criticism which would correct them sadly requires correction itself. “Thus the word which he writes mouloundu in his text, and mulundu in his vocabulary, is not singular, as he supposes, but the plural of loondu, a mountain” (p. 200 of the” Review”). Firstly, Douville has warned the reader that the former is the spelling best adapted to French, the latter to Portuguese. Secondly, “mulundu” in Angolan is singular, the plural being “milundu”— a handful, the Persians say, is a specimen of the heap. The excess of female births in low and unhealthy places (1, 309) and as the normal result of polygamy (3, 243), is a highly interesting subject still awaiting investigation. I do not mean that Douville was the first to observe this phenomenon, which forced itself upon the notice of physiologists in ancient times. Foster (“Cook’s Third Voyage”) remarks that, wherever men and animals have many females, the feminine births preponderate over the masculine; a fact there explained by the “organic molecule” of Buffon. Pigafetta, the circumnavigator, gives the King of Tidor eighteen daughters to eight sons.

The French traveller does not pretend to be a mineralogist, but he does his best to lay open the metallic riches of the country; he gives careful observations of temperature, in water as well as air, he divines the different proportions of oxygen in the atmosphere, and he even applies himself to investigating the comparative heat of the negro’s blood, an inquiry still far from being exhausted. The most remarkable part is certainly the medical, and here the author was simply in advance of his age. Instead of the lancet, the drastic cathartics, and the calomel with which our naval surgeons slew their patients, he employed emetics and tonics to an extent that would have charmed my late friend, Dr. Dickson, the chromothermalist, and he preceded Dr. Hutchinson in the use of quinine wine. Indeed, the peculiar aptitude for medicine shown in these pages led to the traveller’s adopting the destructive art of healing as a profession, and caused his unhappy end. The curious mixture of utter imposture and of genius for observation which a traveller can detect in Douville renders him worthy of a monograph.

1 Duarte Lopez, the Portuguese Captain, whose journals were used by Pigafetta. He went to the Congo regions in 1578, and stayed there ten years. “Philipp’s Voyages,” vol. iii. p. 236.

2 “Philipp’s Voyages,” vol. iii. p. 236.

Chapter 6.

Up the Congo River. — the Slave Depot, Porto Da Lenha. — arrival at Boma.

M. Parrot was as good as his word. By August 31st, “L’Espérance,” a fine schooner-rigged palhabote (launch) of thirty-five tons, heavily sparred and carrying lots of “muslin,” was ready to receive my outfit. The party consisted of the commander, Mr. Bigley, and five chosen “Griffons,” including William Deane, boatswain’s mate, as good a man as his namesake in Blake’s day, and the estimable Friend, captain’s cook and Figaro in general. M. Pissot, an Arlésien, clerk to the factory, went up on business with a crew of eight useless Cabindas under Frank, their pagan “patron,” who could only run us aground. Finally, there was a guard of half-a-dozen “Laptots,” equally good sailors and soldiers. The French squadron in West Africa has the advantage over ours of employing these men, who are clean, intelligent, and brave; whilst we are reduced to the unprogressive Kru-man, who is, moreover, a model coward, a poltroon on principle.

At 5 P.M. our huge canvas drove us rapidly over the shoals and shallows of this imperfectly known sea: the Ethiopic Directory justly grumbles, “It is a subject of regret that navigators who have had occasion to enter the Congo, and to remain there some time, have not furnished us with more information about the tides.” This will be a work of labour and endurance; detached observations are of very little use. We at once remarked the complication caused by the upper, surface, or freshwater current of 3 to 4 knots an hour, meeting the under, or oceanic inflow. There is a short cut up Pirate’s Creek, but we avoided it for the usual reason, fear of finding it very long. Passing a low point to port, subtended north and south by the Bananal River and Pirate’s Creek, after some six knots we were abreast of Bulambemba (the Boulem beembo of Tuckey’s Vocabulary). It is interpreted “Answer,” hence our “Echo Point”(?); but others render it, “Hold your tongue.” The former is correct, and the thick high screen of trees explains the native and English names. Old writers call it Fathomless Point, which it is not now; a bank, the south-eastern projection of the great Mwáná Mázia shoal, has formed a few feet below the surface; but the term will apply at the distance of a mile further south. This acute angle shows a glorious clump, the “Tall Trees,” white mangroves rising a hundred feet, and red mangroves based upon pyramidal cages of roots; and beyond it the immediate shore is covered with a dense tropical vegetation, a tangle of bush, palms, and pandanus, matted with creepers and undergrowth, and rhyzophoras of many varieties delighting in brackish water. We passed on the right the Ponta de Jacaré (Point of the Crocodile), fronting Point Senegal on the other side. The natives call the former Ngándu (li. Jigándu), and farcical tales are told about it: in the lower settlements Europeans will not go abroad by night without a lantern. During my trip I sighted only one startled crocodile that floated log-like a mile off, and Captain Baak, of the Dutch house, had not seen one during a whole year at Banana Point.

We anchored for the night off the south side of the Zungá chyá Ngombe, in Portuguese Ilha do Boi (Bullock), the Rhinoceros Island of our early charts. It emerges from the waters of the right bank, a mere “ponton” plumed with dark mangroves and streaked with spar-like white trunks. This is probably the “Island of Horses,” where the Portuguese, flying from the victorious Hollanders, were lodged and fed by the courteous Count of Sonho; perhaps it is Battel’s “Isle Calabes.” The place is backed by the Monpanga or Mombang, the “Look-out Islands” of the chart, which has greatly changed since the beginning of the century; the dark mass of mangroves is now apparently part of the northern shore. Almost due south of the Ilha do Boi is the Zungá chyá Kampenzi, whence our word chimpanzee: in the hydrographic chart it is miswritten Zoonga Campendi, and in Tuckey’s map, which contradicts his text, “Zoonga Casaquoisa.” His “Zoonga Kampenzey,” also named “Halcyon Island,” appears to be the Draper’s Island or the “Monkey Island” of Mr. Maxwell: the latter in modern charts is more to the north-east, that is, above Porto da Lenha, than the former. The Simiads have been killed out; Captain Tuckey going up the river saw upwards of twenty which, but for their tails, might have been mistaken for negroes. Merolla says that wild men and women (gorillas?) have been captured in Sonho, and he carefully distinguishes them from baboons: one of them was presented to a friar of his order, who “bestowed it on the Portuguese governor of Loanda.” Chimpanzee Island may be the Zariacacongo of Father Merolla, who makes Cacongo (Great Congo) a large and independent kingdom” lying in the middle between Congo and Loango.” He describes Zariacacongo, “none of the smallest, and situate in the midst of the River Zaire.” It abounded in all sorts of provisions, was well peopled, consisted of a plain raised eight fathoms above water, and was divided from the kingdom of Congo by a river, over which there was a bridge.

After a pleasant breezy night upon the brown waters, on September 1st we hove anchor betimes and made for Scotchman’s Head, a conspicuous mangrove bluff forming a fine landmark on the left bank. The charts have lately shifted it some two miles west of its old position. Six or seven miles beyond it rise the blue uplands of the “Earldom of Sonho.” On our right, in mid-stream, lay a “crocodile bank,” a newly fixed grass islet, a few square feet of green and gold, which the floods will presently cover or carry away. To the left, above the easternmost “Mombang” and the network of islands behind it, opens the gape of the Malela River, a short cut to French Point, found useful when a dangerous tide-rip is caused by the strong sea-breeze meeting the violent current of the Thalweg. Above it lies a curious formation like concentric rings of trees inclosing grass: it is visible only from the north-east. Several slave factories now appear on either shore, single-storied huts of wood and thatch, in holes cut out of the densest bush, an impenetrable forest whose sloppy soil and miry puddles seem never to dry. The tenements serve as videttes and outposts, enabling cargoes to ship without the difficulties of passing Palm Point, and thus to make a straight run down stream. There are three on the north bank, viz. M. Rágis (aîné), now deserted, Sr. Lima Viana, and Sr. Antonio Fernandez; and three on the left side, Sr. Alessandro Ferreira, Sr. Guilherme, and Sr. Fonseca. Those on the southern or left bank facilitate overland transit to Mangue, Ambrizette, and other dépôts. At present it is “tiempo seco” (dull time), and the gérants keep their hands in by buying ground-nuts and palm oil. The slave trade, however, makes 500, not 50, per cent., and the agents are naturally fond of it, their mere salaries being only some 150 francs a month.

Landing at the factory of Sr. Fernandez, we were received by his agent, Sr. Silva, in a little bungalow of bamboo and matting, paved with tamped earth and old white ostreoid shells, a kind of Mya, relished by the natives but not eaten by Europeans. To these, doubtless, Mr. W. Winwood Reacle refers (“Savage Africa,” chap, xxxvii.), “The traders say that in Congo there are great heaps of oyster-shells, but no oysters. These shells the negroes also burn for lime.” I did not hear of any of these “ostreiras,” which, if they exist, must reflect the Sambaquis of the opposite Brazilian shore. The house was guarded by three wooden figures, “clouterly carved,” and powdered with ochre or red wood; two of them, representing warriors in studded coatings of spike nails, with a looking-glass fixed in the stomach, raised their hands as if to stab each other. These figures are sometimes found large as life: according to the agents, the spikes are driven in before the wars begin, and every one promises the hoped-for death of an enemy. Behind them the house was guarded by a sentinel with drawn sword. The unfortunate tenant, who looked a martyr to ague, sat “in palaver” with a petty island “king,” and at times the tap of a war-drum roused my experienced ear. The monarch, habited in a shabby cloth coat, occupied a settee, with a “minister” on either side; he was a fat senior of light complexion, with a vicious expression upon features, which were not those of the “tobacconist nigger,” nor had he the effeminate aspect of the Congoese.

I looked curiously at these specimens of the Musulungu or Musurungu, a wilder race than that of Shark Point: the English, of course, call them Missolonghi, because Lord Byron died there. Here the people say “le” for “re,” and “rua” for “lua,” confounding both liquids, which may also be found in the Kibundo tongue. In Loango, according to the Abbé Proyart, the national organ does not admit the roughness of the r, which is changed to l. Monteiro and Gamitto assert (xxii.) that the “Cazembes or Lundas do not pronounce the letter r, in whose place they use l.” The “Ibos” of the lower Congo, dwelling on the southern shore between the mouth and the Porto da Lenha, above which they are harmless, these men have ever been dangerous to strangers, and the effect of the slave-trade has been to make them more formidable. Lieutenant Boteler (1835) was attacked by twenty-eight canoes, carrying some 140 men, who came on boldly, “ducking” at the flash, and who were driven off only by a volley of musketry and a charge of grape. In 1860 a whaler and crew were attacked by their war-canoes sallying out from behind Scotchman’s Head. These craft are of two kinds, one shaped like a horse-trough, the other with a lean and snaky head. The “Wrangler” lost two of her men near Zungá chyá Kampenzi, and the “Griffon” escaped by firing an Armstrong conical shell. They have frequently surprised and kept for ransom the white agents, whom “o negocio” deterred from reprisals. M. Pissot, our companion, was amarré by them for some weeks, and the most unpleasant part of his captivity was the stunning concert of songs and instruments kept up during the day to prevent his escaping by night. The more sensible traders at Boma pay them black mail by employing them as boats’ crews, upon our Anglo–Indian principle of the “Paggi” and the “Ramosi.”

Merolla calls these men Musilongo or Sonhese. The word appears to me opprobrious, as if each tribe termed itself Mushi–Congo (Congo people), and its neighbours Musulungus: Barbot writes as a Frenchman Moutsie, the Portuguese Muxi (Mushi). Mushi–Longo would perhaps mean Loango-people; but my ear could not detect any approach to “Loango” in “Musulungu.” The first syllable, Mu, in Fiote or Congoese, would be a contraction of Muntu (plural Wántú). They inhabit the islands, own a part of the north bank, and extend southwards to Ambriz: eastward they are bounded by the Fiote or Congo-speaking peoples, to whom their tongue is intelligible. They have no tattoo, but they pierce the nose septum and extract the two central and upper incisors; the Muxi–Congoes or Lower Congoese chip or file out a chevron in the near sides of the same teeth — an ornament possibly suggested by the weight of the native pipe. The chipping and extracting seem to be very arbitrary and liable to change: sometimes the upper, at other times the lower teeth are operated upon. The fashionable mutilation is frequently seen in Eastern Africa, and perhaps it is nothing but a fashion. They are the “kallistoi” and “megistoi” of the Congoese bodies, taller and darker, fiercer and braver than their neighbours, nor will they cease to be river pirates till the illicit trade dies.

After taking leave of Sr. Silva we resumed our way, the thermometer (F.) showing at 1.45 P.M. 95° in the air when the sun was obscured, and the mirage played the usual fantastic tricks. The mangrove, which Tuckey’s introduction prolongs to fifty miles from the mouth, now disappears; in fact, it does not extend much above Bullock Island, nineteen direct miles on the chart from Shark Point and, as usual, it enables us to measure the extreme limit where the salt-tide ascends. The palhabote went gallantly,

“The water round her bows

Dancing as round a drinking cup.”

Small trembling waves poppled and frothed in mid-stream, where the fresh water met wind and tide; and by the “boiling” of the surface we saw that there was still a strong under-current flowing against the upper layer. A little beyond the factory we were shown on the northern bank Mariquita Nook, where the slaver of that name, commanded by a Captain Bowen, had shipped some 520 men. She was captured by H.M. Steamship “Zebra,” Commander Hoskins, after being reported by a chief, whom her captain had kicked, to a trader at the river mouth, and by him to the cruizer. Slavers used to show their sense by starting on Sundays, when the squadron kept a careless look-out; but their inevitable danger was the general “drunk” of the officers and crew to celebrate the event, and this libation often caused delays which led to seizure. It was an admirable site, a bit of golden sand fronting the cleared bush, commanding an unbroken sweep of vision to the embouchure, and masked by forest from Porto da Lenha. It is easily known by its two tall trees, and that nearest the sea, when viewed from the east, appears surmounted by what resemble the “Kangaroo’s Head:” they are cones of regular shape, covered to the topmost twig with the lightest green Flagellaria. The “bush” now becomes beautiful, rolling in bulging masses of verdure to the very edge of the clear brown stream. As in the rivers of Guinea, the llianas form fibrous chains, varying in size from a packthread to a cable; now straight, then twisted; investing the trees with an endless variety of folds and embraces, and connecting neighbours by graceful arches like the sag of an acrobat’s rope. Here and there a grotesque calabash contrasted with the graceful palms towering in air for warmth and light, or bending over water like Prince of Wales’s feathers. The unvarying green was enlivened by yew-like trees with scarlet flowers, the “Burning Bush” of Sierra Leone, setting off the white boles of the cotton-trees; and the whole was edged by the yellow green of the quaint pandanus hung with heavy fruit.

A little beyond “Mariquita Nook” the right bank becomes a net-work of creeks, “obscure channels,” tortuous, slimy with mud, banked with the snake-like branches of trees, and much resembling the lower course of the Benin, or any other north equatorial African river; the forest is also full of large villages, invisible like the streams till entered. A single tree, apparently growing out of the great stream-bed, showed shallow water as we passed the Ponte de tres Palmeiras; the three oil-palms are still there, but the easternmost is decaying. At 2 P.M. we were in sight of the chief slaving settlement on the Congo, the Whydah of the river, Porto da Lenha. Our charts have “Ponta de Linha,” three mistakes in as many words. Some authorities, however, prefer Ponta da Lenha, “Woody Point,” from the piles flanking the houses; others, Ponte da Lenha, from a bridge built by the agent of Messrs. Tobin’s house over the single influent that divides the settlement. Cruizers have often ascended thus far; the Baltimore barque of 800 tons went up and down safely in 1859, but now square-rigged ships, which seldom pass Zungá chyá Kampenzi, send up boats when something is to be done higher up.

Porto da Lenha dates like Abeokuta from the second decade of the present century. In Tuckey’s time the projection from the northern bank was known as “Tall Trees,” a term common to several places in the “Oil rivers;” no factories existed, schooners sailed to Boma for cargo, and dropped down stream as soon as loaded. From French Point it is distant 40,000 measured metres (= 21 statute miles and 1,615 yards); our charts show 20.50 nautical miles (= 32,500 metres in round numbers). The river opposite the projection narrows to a gate barely a mile and a half broad, whilst the valley stretches some five miles, and the blue hills inhabited by the Musulungus are clearly visible; the flood rises four or five feet, and drinking water must be brought from up stream. The site of the settlement is on the right or northern bank behind the projection, a slip of morass backed by swamps and thick growths, chiefly bombax, palm and acacia, lignum vitae, the mammee-apple and the cork-tree, palmyra, pandanus, and groves of papyrus. Low and deeply flooded during the rains, the place would be fatal without the sea-breeze; as it is, the air is exceedingly unwholesome. There is no quay, the canoe must act gondola; the wharf is a mere platform with steps, and in places the filthy drains are not dry even at this season. The length of the station is about one mile, and of no depth except what is taken up by the neat and expensive gardens. Eastward or up stream it thins out, and the foundations give considerable trouble; the inhabitants are condemned to do beavers’ work, to protect the bank with strong piles, and to heap up earth for a base, whilst, despite all their toil, the water often finds its way in. The sixteen houses look well; they are substantial bungalows, built country fashion, with timber and matting; they have large and shady verandahs, and a series of inner rooms. Each house has a well-kept pottage plot, inferior, however, to those up stream.

The tenure of ground here, as at Borna, is by yearly rent to the two “kings,” Nengongo and Nenzalo, each of whom claims a half. Like the chiefs of Porto Novo, the despot of Dahome, the rulers of many Nigerian tribes, and even the Fernandian “Bube,” these potentates may not look at the sea nor at the river. Their power is, therefore, deputed to “linguisters” or interpreters, linguistele ya Nchinu, “linguist to the king,” being the official titles of these worthies, who massacre the Portuguese language, and who are empowered to receive “comey” (customs) and rent. The revenue is composed of three principal items; an ounce ($16) per head of negro embarked at Porto da Lenha; four per cent, on all goods sold, and, lastly, a hundred hard dollars monthly ground-rent —£l92 (English pound symbol) a year. The linguist becomes more powerful than the chief, who is wholly in his power, and always receives the best presents. Neagongo’s fattore is old Shimbah, an ignoble aspect with a “kink in his leg;” Mashel or Machela, a corruption of the Portuguese Maciel, died about two months aeo: we shall see him disembarked for burial at Boma.

It is evident that the slavers were wrong not to keep hulks like those of the Bonny River; health would have gained, and the procedure might have modified negro “sass.” The chiefs begin early morning by going their rounds for drink, and end business between 7 and 10 A.M. Everywhere on this coast a few hours of work support a “gentleman;” even the comparatively industrious and hard-working Egbas rarely do anything after noon. These lords and masters are fully aware that the white men are their willing slaves as long as the large profits last. If a glass of watered rum, which they detect more easily than we do watered milk, be offered to them, it will be thrown in the donor’s face. Every factory must keep a barrel of spirits ready broached if the agents would buy eggs and yams, and the poorest negro comes regularly with his garrafa. The mixed stuff costs per bottle only a hundred reis (= fourpence), and thoroughly demoralizes the black world.

We landed at once, sent our letters to M. Monteiro, who hospitably offered his house, and passed the day quickly enough in a round of visits. Despite the general politeness and attention to us, we found a gloom overhanging the place: as at Whydah, its glories have departed, nor shall they ever return. The jollity, the recklessness, the gold ounces thrown in handfuls upon the monte-table, are things of the past: several houses are said to be insolvent, and the dearth of cloth is causing actual misery. Palm and ground-nut oil enable the agents only to buy provisions; the trade is capable of infinite expansion, but it requires time — as yet it supports only the two non-slaving houses, English and Dutch. The forty or fifty tons brought in every month pay them cent, per cent.; the bag of half a hundred weight being sold for four fathoms of cloth; or two hatchets, one bottle of rum, and a jug or a plate.

Early next day I went to the English factory for the purpose of completing my outfit. Unfortunately, Mr. P. Maculloch, the head agent, who is perfectly acquainted with the river and the people, was absent, leaving the business in the hands of two “mean whites,” walking buccras, English pariahs. The factory — a dirty disgrace to the name — was in the charge of a clerk, whom we saw being rowed about bareheaded through the sun, accompanied by a black girl, both as far from sober as might be. The cooper, who was sitting moony with drink, rose to receive us and to weigh out the beads which I required; under the excitement he had recourse to a gin-bottle, and a total collapse came on before half the work was done. Why should south latitude 6°, the parallel of Zanzibar, be so fatal to the Briton?

At 2.20 P.M. on September 2, we left Porto da Lenha, and passed Mashel’s Creek, on whose right bank is the village of Makatalla; the charts call it Foomou, and transfer it to the left. Here we enter upon the riverine archipelago. The great stream before one, now divides into three parallel branches, separated by long narrow islands and islets, banks and shallows. The northernmost channel in our maps, “Maxwell River,” is known to Europeans and natives as Noangwa; Mamballa or the central line is called by the moderns Nshibúl, and the southern is dubbed by the hydrographer, “Rio Konio,” a truly terrible mistake for Sonho. As a rule, the Noangwa, though infested during the rains by cruel mosquitoes, is preferred for the ascent, and the central for dropping down stream. The maximum breadth of the Congo bed, more than half island, is here five miles; and I was forcibly reminded of it when winding through the Dalmatian Archipelago.

The river still maintained its alluvial aspect as we passed along the right bank. The surface was a stubble strewn with the usual trees; the portly bombax; the calabash, now naked and of wintry aspect; and the dark evergreen palmyra, in dots and streaks upon the red-yellow field, fronted by an edging of grass, whose king, cyperus papyrus, is crowned with tall heads waving like little palms. This Egyptian bush extends from the Congo mouth to Banza Nokki, our landing-place; it grows thickest about Porto da Lenha, and it thins out above and below: I afterwards observed it in the sweet water marshes of Syria and the Brazils. We passed sundry settlements — Loango Pequeno, Loango Grande, and others — and many canoes were seen plying up and down. On the left or to the south was nothing but dense reedy vegetation upon the low islands, which here are of larger dimensions than the northern line. As evening drew near, the grasshoppers and the tree frogs chirped a louder song, and the parrots whistled as they winged their rapid flight high overhead. Presently we passed out of the lower archipelago, and sighted the first high land closing upon the stream, rolling hills, which vanished in blue perspective, and which bore streaks of fire during the dark hours. Our Cabinda Patron grounded us twice, and even the high night breeze hardly enabled us to overcome the six-knot current off the narrow, whose right side is called Ponta da Diabo. Devil’s Point is not so named in the chart: the place is marked “Strong Tide” (No. 1), opposite Chombae Island, which the natives term Zungá chyá Bundika, hence probably the name of the village Bemandika (Boma ndika). At this satanic headland, where the banks form a gate three miles broad, a man hailed us from the bank; none understood him, but all made up their minds that he threatened to visit us during the night.

A light breeze early next morning fortunately freshened as we approached “Strong Tide” (No. 2). We ran north of the second archipelago above the gate; south of us lay the “Low Islands” of the chart, with plantations of beans and tobacco; the peasants stood to stare like Icelanders, leaning on oblong-bladed paddles six feet long, or upon alpen-stocks capped with bayonets; the “scare-crows” were grass figures, with pots for heads and wooden rattles suspended to bent poles. On the right bank a block of hills narrows the stream, and its selvage of light green grasses will contribute to the “floating islands.” Higher up, blocks and boulders of all sizes rise from the vegetation, and prolong themselves into the shallower waters. There are two distinct bluffs, the westernmost marked by a tree-clump at its feet, and between them lies a baylet, where a dozen palms denote the once dreaded village Bemandika. The second block, 400 to 500 feet high, bears on its rounded summit the Stone of Lightning, called by the people Tadi Nzázhí, vulgò, Taddy Enzazzi. The Fiote language has the Persian letter Zh (j), sounding like the initial of the French “jour:” so Lander (“On the Course and Termination of the Niger,” “Journal Royal Geographical Society,” vol. i. p. 131) says of the Island Zegozhe, that “zh is pronounced like z in azure.” This upright mass, apparently 40 feet high, and seeming, like the “Lumba” of Kinsembo to rest upon a basement, is very conspicuous from the east, where it catches the eye as a watch-tower would. At the bluff-base, a huge slab, an irregular parallelogram, slopes towards the water and, viewed far up stream, it passably represents a Kaffir’s pavoise. This Fingal’s Shield, a name due to the piety of Mr. George Maxwell, is called by the French La Pierre Fétiche: it must not be confounded with our Fetish Rock (Tádi ya Muingu) on the southern bank at the entrance of the Nshibúl and Sonho branches. I can add nothing to Tuckey’s description or Lieutenant Hawkey’s tracing of the rude figures which distinguish a not unusual feature. Tuckey (p. 97) calls Fingal’s Shield Taddy d’ya M’wangoo, and Professor Smith, Taddi Moenga (p. 303); the only defect in Lieutenant Hawkey’s sketch is that of exaggerating the bluff, a mere mamelon, one of many lumps upon a continued level. Both rocks are of the oldest granite, much weather-worn and mixed and banded with mica and quartz. M. Charles Konig found in the finer-grained varieties “minute noble garnets,” which also appeared in the mica-slate of “Gombac” higher up stream, and in the primitive greenstone of “Boka Embomma.”1

Beyond this point, where Boma is first sighted, lies the large marauding village of Twáná. Here also a man shouted to us from the bank “Muliele! muliele!” for the Portuguese “mulher,” one of the interminable corruptions of the tongue — a polite offer, as politely declined. The next feature is the Rio Jo Jacaré, a narrow sedgy stream on the right bank, which, winding northward through rolling lines of hills, bends westward, and joins, they say, the Rio Lukullu (Lukallo?) of Cabinda Bay. Men have descended, I am told, three leagues, but no one has seen the junction, consequently there may be a portage between the drains. If not, this is the apex of the greater Congo delta, a false formation, whose base between Cabinda Bay (S. lat. 5° 25’) and Ambrizette (S. lat. 7° 16’) measures 1° 51’, equal to 111 direct geographical miles, whilst its depth inland would be sixty.

1 Appendix to Tuckey’s “Expedition,” No. 6.

Chapter 7.

Boma. — our Outfit for the Interior

We now reach Boma, the furthest Portuguese factory, about thirty, usually reckoned thirty-eight, nautical miles from Porta da Lenha, and a total of 52.50 from French Point.

The upper dépôt of the Congo lies upon the north bank, accidenté ground, poor, stony, and sandy soil, with rounded, grass-clad hills, The southern is less broken; there are long slopes and waves of land which trend in graceful lines, charmingly diversified, to the uplands, where the old capital, São Salvador, is situated; and upon the undulating blue ridges, distance behind distance, appear markings by Nature’s hand, which the stranger’s eye can hardly distinguish from villa or village. The view explains how the old expedition felt “every day more in love with this beautiful country,” The sea-like river wants nothing but cattle on its banks to justify the description —

“Appunto una scena pastorale, a cui fanno

Quinci il mar, quinci i colli, e d’ ogn’ intorno

I fior, le piante, e l’ ombre, e l’ onde, e ‘l cielo.

Unteatro pomposo.”

In the centre of the broad stream, whose southern arm is not visible, are three islets. The western most, backed by a long, grassy, palm-tasselled bank, is called Zungá chyá Bundiká. This Chombae Island of the charts is a rocky cone, dark with umbrella-shaped trees. Its north-eastern neighbour, Simúle Kete, the Molyneux Island of Mr. Maxwell, the Hekay of Tuckey, and the Kekay of the chart, contrasts sharply with the yellow stubbles and the flat lines of Zungá chyá Ngándi. Here, since Tuckey’s time, the trees have made way for grass and stones; the only remnants are clumps in the south-eastern, which is not only the highest point, but also the windy and watery direction. On the Congo course the foul weather is mostly from the “sirocco,” where the African interior is a mass of swamps. At the mouth tornadoes come down the line of stream from the north-east, and I heard traditions of the sea-tornado, which blows in shore instead of offshore as usual. About the close of the last century one or other of these islands was proposed as a dépôt and settlement, which a few simple works would convert into a small Gibraltar. The easternmost Buka, the Booka Embomma of the charts and maps, will presently be described. In this direction the Zaire assumes the semblance of a mountain lake, whilst down stream the broad bosom of the Nshibúl branch forms almost a sea-horizon, with dots showing where tall, scattered palms spring from the watery surface. We cannot but admire the nightly effects of the wintry bush-fires. During the day livid volumed smoke forms cumuli that conceal their enemy, the sun, and discharge a rain of blacks ten times the size of Londoners. In the darkened air we see storms of fire fiercely whirling over the undulating ranges, here sweeping on like torrents, there delaying, whilst the sheets meet at the apex, and a giant beard of flame (<Greek> ) flouts the moon. The land must be splendidly grassed after the rains.

The Boma factories are like those of Porto da Lenha, but humbler in size, and more resembling the wicker-work native houses. The river, which up stream will show a flood mark of twelve feet, here seldom rises above five, and further down three and four; consequently piles are not required, and the swiftness of the current keeps off the jacaré. Formerly there were fourteen establishments, which licit trade in palm oil and ground-nuts, instead of men, women, and children, have reduced to ten. The air is sensibly drier and healthier than at the lower settlement, and apparently there is nothing against the place but deadly ennui and monotony.

We landed at once, and presented our letters to Sr. Antonio Vicente Pereira, who at once made us at home: he had seen Goa as well as Macáo, so we found several subjects in common. The factory enjoyed every comfort: the poultry yard throve, far better than at Porto da Lenha; we saw fowls and pigeons, “Manilla” ducks and ducklings, and a fine peacock from Portugal, which seemed to enjoy the change. The fish is not so good as that caught further down, and the natives have a habit of narcotizing it: the Silurus electricus is exceptionally plentiful. The farmyard contained tame deer, and a house-dog fierce as a tethered mastiff; goats were brought whenever wanted, and the black-faced, thin-tailed sheep gave excellent mutton. Beef was impossible; the Portuguese, like the natives, care little for milk, and of the herd, which strangers had attempted to domesticate, remained only a bull and a cow in very poor condition — the deaths were attributed to poisonous grass, but I vehemently suspect Tsetse. A daily “quitanda,” or market, held under the huge calabashes on a hill behind the house, supplied what was wanted.

Upon Market Hill executions also take place, the criminal being shot through the heart. M. Pereira’s garden produces all that Porta da Lenha can grow, with less trouble and of a superior kind. Water-melons, tomatoes, onions, and pimento, or large pepper (pimentão, siliquastrum, ndungu ya yenéne), useful to produce “crocodiles’ tears;” mint, and parsley flourish remarkably; turnips are eatable after two months; cabbage and lettuce, beet, carrot, and endive after three or four. It is a waste of ground to plant peas; two rows, twelve feet by four, hardly produce a plateful. Manioc ripens between the sixth and ninth month, plantains and bananas once a year, cotton and rice in four months, and maize in forty days — with irrigation it is easy to grow three annual crops. The time for planting is before the rains, which here last six weeks to two months, September and October. The staple of commerce is now the nguba, or ground-nut (plural, jinguba), which Merolla calls incumba, with sometimes a little milho (maize), and Calavance beans. Of fruits we find trellised grapes, pines, and guavas, which, as at Fernando Po, are a weed. The agrumi, limes, oranges and citrons are remarkably fine, and hold, as of old, a high place in the simple medicines of the country. A cup of lime-leaf tea, drunk warm in the morning, is the favourite emetic and cathartic: even in Pliny’s day we find “Malus Assyria, quam alii vocant medicam (Mediam?, venenis medetur” (xii. 7). On the Gold Coast and in the Gaboon region, colic and dysentery are cured by a calabash full of lime-juice, “laced” with red pepper. The peculiarity of European vegetables throughout maritime Congo and Angola is the absence of all flavour combined with the finest appearance; it seems as though something in the earth or atmosphere were wanting to their full development. Similarly, though in the upper regions the climate is delicious, the missionaries could not keep themselves alive, but died of privation, hardship, and fatigue.

Chapter 8.

A Visit to Banza Chisalla,

Boma, at the head of the Congo delta, the great dépôt between the interior and the coast, owes its existence wholly to

“the cruel trade

Which spoils unhappy Afric of her sons.”

Father Merolla (1682), who visited it from “Angoij,” our “Cabinda,” speaks of it as a pretty large island, tributary to the Mani–Congo, extremely populous, well supplied with provisions, and outlaid by islets belonging to the Count of Sonho. Tuckey’s Embomma was an inland banza or town, and the site of the factories was called Market Point; the Expedition map and the hydrographic chart term it Loombee, the latter being properly the name of a large quitanda (market) lying two miles to the north-west. Early in the present century it is described as a village of a hundred huts, opposite which trading vessels anchored under charge of the “Fuka or king’s merchant;” no market was held there, lest, in case of dispute, the royal person might suffer. Although the main features of our maps are still correct, there have been great changes in the river-bed between Porto da Lenha and Boma, especially about the latter place, which should be transferred from its present site to Lumbi. The broad Chisalla Creek, which Mr. Maxwell calls Logan, between the northern bank and the island “Booka Embomma,” is now an arm only 200 feet wide. In fact all the bank about Boma, like the lower delta, urgently calls for re-surveying.

This part of the river belongs to the “Rei dos Reis,” Nessalla, under whom are some ten chief officers called “kings,” who buy and sell; indeed, Africa knows no other. The title is prostituted throughout the West Coast, but it is nowhere so degraded as in the Congo regions; the whites abuse it to flatter the vanity of the astute negro, who accepts it with a view to results — a “king-dash” must, of course, be greater than that of a subject. Every fellow with one black coat becomes a “preese” (prince), and if he has two he styles himself a “king.” Without permission of the “King of Kings” we could obtain neither interpreter, canoe, nor crew; a visit to Banza Chisalal was therefore necessary and, as it would have been vain to ask anything empty-handed, I took with me a fine spangled cloak, a piece of chintz, and a case of ship’s rum, the whole worth £9.

At 6.30 A.M. on September 5th we set out up stream in a fine canoe, wall-sided and rather crank, but allowing the comfort of chairs. She was of Mayumba make, superior to anything built on the river, and the six men that drove her stood up to pole, and paddle. Above Boma the hills, which are the outlines of the west African Ghats, form a graceful semicircle, separated from the water by a flat terrace garnished with little villages and tree-islets. On the north bank are many of the crater-like sinks which dot the coast from the Gaboon to Loango. We hugged the right side to avoid the rapid swirl; there was no backwater at the points, and hard work was required to prevent our being swept against the boulders of gneiss, schiste, and pudding-stone edging the shores and stretching into the stream. Here the fish is excellent as at Porto cla Lenha, and we found the people catching it in large spoon-shaped basins: I enquired about the Peixe mulher (woman-fish), the French sirène, which old missioners describe as an African mermaid, not exactly as she appeared to the “lovely lord of Colonsay,” and which Barbot figures with “two strutting breasts.” He makes the flesh taste like pork, and tells us that the small bones of the hand were good for gravel, whilst bracelets made of the left rib were worn near the heart, to stop bleeding. This manatus, like the elephant and the hippopotamus, has long disappeared before the gun.

After some three quarters of an hour we reached the entrance of Chisalla Creek, which is the northernmost branch of the main stream. On the left (north) was a plain showing traces of a large village, and we sighted our first grass-island — a compact mass of fibrous, earth-washed roots and reedy vegetation, inhabited by serpents and ardeine birds. To the right, or southward, rises the tall island of Boma, rocky and wooded, which a narrow channel separates from its eastern neighbour, Chisalla Islet. The latter is the royal Pere la Chaise, the graves being kept carefully concealed; white men who have visited the ground to shoot antelope have had reason to regret the step. Here also lie three officers of the Congo Expedition — Messrs. Galwey, Tudor, and Cranch — forgotten, as Gamboa and Reitz at Mombasah.

The banks of the winding creek were beautified with the malaguetta pepper, the ipomsea, the hibiscus, and a yellow flower growing upon an aquatic plant like a magnified water-cress. Animal life became somewhat less rare; we saw sandpipers, hawks, white and black fish-eagles, and long-legged water-hens, here supposed to give excellent sport. An embryo rapid, formed by a gneiss-band connecting the north bank with the islet, delayed us, and the rocks on the right showed pot-holes dug by the poling-staves; during the rains canoes from Boma avoid this place, and seek fuel down stream. After a total of two hours and a quarter we reached Banza Chisalla: it is a “small country,” in African parlance, a succursal of Boma proper, the Banza on the hills beyond the reedy, grassy plain. The site is charming — a flat palm-orchard backed by an amphitheatre of high-rolling ground, and the majestic stream approaches it through a gate, whose right staple is the tall Chisalla, and whose left is a rocky islet with outlying needles.

We ascended the river-bank, greeted by the usual accidents of an African reception; the men shouted, the women rushed screaming under cover, and the children stood howling at the horrible sight. A few paces placed us at the “palace,” a heap of huts, surrounded by an old reed-fence. The audience-room was a trifle larger than usual, with low shady eaves, a half-flying roof, and a pair of doorways for the dangerous but indispensable draught; a veteran sofa and a few rickety chairs composed the furniture, and the throne was known by its boarded seat, which would have been useful in taking a “lamp-bath.”

Presently entered the “Rei dos Reis,” Nessalla: the old man, whose appearance argued prosperity, was en grande tenue, the State costume of Tuckey’s, not of Merolla’s day. The crown was the usual “berretta” (night-cap) of open work; the sceptre, a drum-major’s staff; the robes, a “parochial” beadle’s coat of scarlet cloth, edged with tinsel gold lace. His neck was adorned with hair circlets of elephants’ tails, strung with coral and beads; the effect, to compare black with white, was that of Beau Brummell’s far-famed waterfall tie, and the head seemed supported as if on a narrow-rimmed “charger.” The only other ornament was a broad silver ring welded round the ankle, and drawing attention to a foot which, all things considered, was small and well shaped.

Some of the chiefs had copper rings of home manufacture, with neatly cut raised figures. The king held in his right hand an article which at first puzzled us — a foot’s length of split reed, with the bulbous root attached. He may not, like his vassals, point with the finger, and without pointing an African can hardly give an order. Moreover, the Sangálávú or Malaguetta pepper (Amomum granum Paradisi), fresh or old, is not only a toothstick, but a fetish of superior power when carried on journeys. Professor Smith writes “Sangala woo,” and tells us that it was always kept fresh in the house, to be rolled in the hands when invoking the Fetish during war-time; moreover, it was chewed to be spat at the enemy. Possibly he confuses it with the use as a tooth-stick, the article which Asia and Africa prefer to the unclean hog’s — bristle brush of Europe.

On the left of the throne sat the Nchinu, or “second king,” attired in a footman’s livery of olive-coloured cloth, white-worn at the seams, and gleaming with plated buttons, upon which was the ex-owner’s crest — a cubit arm.

The stranger in Africa marvels why men, who, as Dahome shows, can affect a tasteful simplicity, will make themselves such “guys.” When looking at these caricatures, he is tempted to read (literally) learned Montesquieu, “It is hardly to be believed that God, who is a wise being, should place a soul, especially a good soul, in such a black, ugly body,” and to consider the few exceptions as mere “sporting plants.” But the negro combines with inordinate love of finery the true savage taste — an imitative nature — and where he cannot copy the Asiatic he must ape the European; only in the former pursuit he rises above, in the latter he sinks below his own proper standard. Similarly, as a convert, he is ennobled by El Islam; in rare cases, which may be counted upon the fingers, he is civilized by Christianity; but, as a rule, the latter benefits him so far only as it abolishes the barbarous and murderous rites of Paganism.

But there is also a sound mundane reason which causes the African “king” to pose in these cast-off borrowed plumes. Contrast with his three-quarter nude subjects gives him a name; the name commands respect; respect increases “dash;” and dash means dollars. For his brain, dense and dead enough to resist education, is ever alive and alert to his own interest; whilst the concentration of its small powers prevails against those who, in all other points, are notably his superiors. The whole of negro Africa teaches this lesson. “The Ethiopians,” says Father Merolla, “are not so dull and stupid as is commonly imagined, but rather more subtle and cunning than ordinary;” and he adds an instance of far-sighted treachery, which would not have been despicable even in a Hindoo.

A desultory palaver “came up;” the soul of the meeting not being present. M. Pissot explained my wish to “take walk and make book,” carefully insisting upon the fact that I came to spend, not to gain money. The grizzled senior’s face, before crumpled like a “wet cloak ill laid up,” expanded at these last words, and with a grunt, which plainly meant “by’ m’ by,” he rose, and retired to drink — a call of nature which the decencies of barbarous dignity require to be answered in private. He returned accompanied by his nephew, Manbuku Prata (pronounced Pelata), the “Silver Chief Officer,” as we might say, Golden Ball. The title is vulgarly written Mambuco; the Abbé Proyart prefers Ma-nboukou, or “prince who is below the Makaia in dignity.” The native name of this third personage was Gidifuku. It was a gorgeous dignitary: from the poll of his night-cap protruded a dozen bristles of elephant’s tail hair, to which a terminal coral gave the graceful curve of a pintado’s crest, and along his ears, like the flaps of a travelling casquette, hung two dingy little mirrors of talc from Cacongo, set in clumsy frames of ruddled wood. Masses of coral encircled his neck, and the full-dress naval uniform of a French officer, with epaulettes of stupendous size, exposed a zebra’d guernsey of equivocal purity. A long black staff, studded with broad-headed brass beads, served to clear the room of the lieges, who returned as fast as they were turned out — the baton was evidently not intended to be used seriously.

But the Manbuku Prata is not a mere “Punch in a puppet show.” His face expresses more intelligence and resolution than usual, and his Portuguese is not the vile article of the common trader. He means business. When other chiefs send their “sons,” that is their slaves, to fight, he leads them in person — venite, non ite. The French “Emigration Libre” put 30,000 dollars into his pocket, and he still hopes against hope to ship many a cargo for the Banana factory. He has some 300 armed serviles at Chinímí and Lámbá, two villages perched like condors’ nests upon hills commanding the river’s northern bank, and, despite the present dearth of “business,” he still owns some 100,000 francs in cloth and beads, rum and gunpowder.

As the “Silver Minister” took his seat upon the ground before the king, all removed their caps with a simultaneous grunt and performed the “Sákilá” or batta-palmas; this hand-clapping must be repeated whenever the simplest action is begun or ended by king or chief. Monteiro and Gamitto (pp. 101 et seg.) refer to the practice everywhere on the line of country which they visited: there it seems to be even a more ceremonious affair than in the Congo. The claps were successively less till they were hardly audible; after a pause five or six were given, and the last two or three were in hurried time, the while without pronouncing a word. The palaver now opened steadily with a drink: a bottle of trade “fizz” was produced for the white man, and rum for his black congeners; then the compliment of healths went all round. After this we fell to work at business. By dint of abundant wrangling and with an immense display of suspicion, natural under the circumstances, it was arranged that the king should forward me in a couple of his own canoes to Banza Nokki, the end of river navigation, as we were told, and falsely told; in my turn I was to pay goods valued about £6, at least three times the usual tariff. They consisted of fourteen red caps, as many “sashes,” and fifty-two fathoms of cloth for the crew; ten Peças de lei or Chiloes for each interpreter, and two pieces for the canoes. I should have given four fathoms for each man and the same for each boat. The final scene was most gratifying to the African mind: I solemnly invested old Nessala with the grand cloak which covered his other finery; grinning in the ecstasy of vanity, he allowed his subjects to turn him round and round, as one would a lay figure, yet with profound respect, and, lastly, he retired to charm his wives.

This part of the negotiations ended with presenting some “satin stripe” and rum to the Nchinu and Manbuku Prata, and with shaking hands — a dangerous operation. The people are cleanly; they wash when rising, and before as well as after every meal; they are always bathing, yet from prince to pauper, from baby to grey beard, they are affected with a psora known by its Portuguese name, “sarnas.” The Congo “fiddle” appears first between the articulations of the fingers, and bleaches the hands and wrists as if it were leprosy. Yet I did not see a single case of true lepra Arabum, or its modifications, the huge Barbadoes leg (elephantiasis), and the sarcoma scrotale and sarcocele of Zanzibar and East Africa. From the extremities the gale extends over the body, especially the shins, and the people, who appear in the perpetual practice of scalpturigo, attribute it to the immoderate use of palm wine. I observed, however, that Europeans, in the river, who avoid the liquor, are hardly ever free from this foul blood-poison, and a jar of sulphur mixture is a common article upon the table. Hydrocele is not unfrequent, but hardly so general as in the Eastern Island; one manner of white man, a half caste from Macáo, was suffering with serpigo, and boasted of it.

All predicted to me a similar fate from the “botch of Congo,” but happily I escaped. Indeed, throughout the West African Coast, travellers risk “craw-craw,” a foul form of the disease, seen on board the African steamers. Kru-men touching the rails of the companion ladders, have communicated it to passengers, and these to their wives and families.

The town was neat and clean as the people. The houses were built upon raised platforms, and in the little fenced fields the Cajanus Indicus vetch was conspicuous. In Hindostani it is called Thur, or Doll-plant, by the Eastern Arab Turiyan, in Kisawahili Mbarazi, in Angola voando (Merolla’s Ouuanda), and in the Brazil Guandu.1 The people had lost their fear, and brought their exomphalous little children, who resembled salmon fry in the matter of umbilical vesicles, to be patted by the white man; a process which caused violent screams and in some cases nearly induced convulsions — the mothers seemed to enjoy the horror displayed by their hopefuls. There is little beauty amongst the women, and settled Europeans prefer Cabinda girls. The latter have perhaps the most wiry and wig-like hair on the whole West African coast, where all hair is more or less wiry and wig — like. Cloth was less abundant in the village than a smear of red; the bosom even after marriage was unveiled, and the rule of fashion was shown by binding it tightly down. The rich wore armlets and leglets of staircase rods, brass and copper, like the metal gaiters and gauntlets of the Gaboon River. The only remarkable object was the Quesango, a wooden effigy of a man placed in the middle of the settlement: Battel mentions it amongst the “Gagas or Guides,” and Barbot terms it “Likoku Mokisi.” Three faint hurrahs, a feeble African echo of England like the “hoch!” of Vienna, and the discharge of a four — pounder were our parting honours.

We returned viâ the gateway between the two islets. On the south-eastern flank of Chisalla is a dwarf precipice called Mbondo la Zumba and, according to the interpreters, it is the Lovers’ Leap of Tuckey. But its office must not be confounded with that attributed to the sinister-looking scaur of Leucadia; here the erring wives of the Kings of Boma and their paramours found a Bosphorus. The Commander of the First Congo Expedition applies the name to a hanging rock on the northern shore, about eighteen miles higher up stream. A portentous current soon swept us past Père la Chaise, and shortly after noon we were comfortably at breakfast with Sr. Pereira.

During the last night we had been kept awake by the drumming and fifing, singing and shouting, weeping and howling, pulling at accordions and striking the monotonous Shingungo. Merolla names this cymbal Longa, and describes it justly as two iron bells joined by an arched bar: I found it upon the Tanganyika Lake, and suffered severely from its monotonous horrors. Monteiro and Gamitto (p. 232) give an illustration of what is known in the Cazembe’s country as “Gomati:” The Mchua or gong-gong of Ashanti has a wooden handle connecting the cones. Our palhabote had brought up the chief Mashel’s bier, and today we have the satisfaction of seeing it landed. A kind of palanquin, covered with crimson cloth and tinsel gold like a Bombay “Tabút,” it had three horns or prominences, two capped with empty black bottles, and the central bearing the deceased’s helmet; it was a fancy article, which might have fitted him of Gath, with a terrific plume and the spoils of three horses in the sanguine hues of war. Although eight feet long by five broad, the coffin was said to be quite full. The immense respect which the Congoese bear to their rulers, dead as well as alive, prevented my verifying the accounts of the slave dealers. I knew that the chief who had died at Kinsembo, had been dried on a bamboo scaffolding over a slow fire, and lay in state for some weeks in flannel stockings and a bale of baize, but these regions abound in local variations of custom. Some declared, as we find in Proyart, that the corpse had been mummified by the rude process of smoking; others that it had been exposed for some days to the open air, the relatives sitting round to keep off the flies till preliminarily bandaged. According to Barbot (iii. 23), the people of Fetu on the Gold Coast and the men of Benin used to toast the corpse on a wooden gridiron; and the Vei tribe, like the Congoese, still fumigate their dead bodies till they become like dried hams. This rude form of the Egyptian rite is known to East as well as to West Africa: Kimera, late King of Uganda, was placed upon a board covering the mouth of a huge earthern pot heated from below.

Instances are known of bodies in the Congo region remaining a year or two above ground till the requisite quantity of fine stuffs has been procured — the larger the roll the greater the dignity, and sometimes the hut must be pulled down before it can be removed. Here, as on the Gold Coast, we find the Jewish practice recorded by Josephus of converting the tomb into a treasury; in the case of Mashel some £600 in gold and silver, besides cloth, beads, and ornaments, shared, they say, his fate. The missionaries vainly fought against these customs, which are evidently of sentimental origin —

“Now bring the last sad gifts, with these

The last lament be said;

Let all that pleased and still may please

Be buried with the dead.”

The bier was borne by slaves, as the head men would not even look at it; at times the carriers circled round, as if to deprecate the idea that they were hurrying it to its bourne. The grave was a pit fifteen to twenty feet deep, cut like a well, covered with stones to keep out wild beasts, and planted round with the cylindrical euphorbia by way of immortelles.

I could not find out if the Congoese still practise the vivi-sepulture so common on the Western Coast — the “infernal sacrifices of man’s flesh to the memory of relatives and ancestors,” as the old missioners energetically expressed themselves. According to Battel, the “Giaghi” corpse was seated as if alive in a vault; in this “infernal and noisome dungeon” were placed two wives with their arms broken, and thus there was no danger of the Zumbi or ghost killing men by reapparition. When the king of Old Calabar died, a huge hole was dug, with an off chamber for two sofas, one of which supported the dressed and ornamented corpse. Personal attendants, such as the umbrella, sword, and snuff-box bearers, holding the insignia of their offices, together with sundry virgins, were either slaughtered or thrown in alive, a rude in pace. Quantities of food and trade goods, especially coppers, were heaped up; after which the pit was filled and the ground was levelled. The less wealthy sort of “gentlemen” here are placed in smaller graves near the villages; and the slaves are still “buried with the burial of an ass,”— cast forth into the bush.

Yet, by way of showing themselves kind to the dead, the Congoese are “commonly very cruel to the living.” Lately, a chief, called from his wealth, “Chico de Ouro” (Golden Frank) died somewhat suddenly. The Nganga or medicine man who, on such occasions, here as elsewhere, has the jus vitæ et necis, was called in; he charged one of the sons with parricide by witchcraft, and the youth was at once pierced by the bayonets of his brothers. “Golden Frank” was peculiar in his ways. He used to entertain the factors at dinner, imitating them from soup to cheese; his only objections were to tea, and to drinking toasts out of anything but the pet skull of an enemy: it was afterwards placed upon his grave.

Boma is no longer “the emporium of the Congo Empire,” if it ever did deserve that title. Like Porto da Lenha, it is kept up by the hopes of seeing better days, which are not doomed to dawn. Even at the time of my visit some 400 to 500 negroes were under guard in a deserted factory, and, whilst we were visiting Nessalla, they were marched down to bathe. When I returned from the cataracts, the barracoon contained only fifty or sixty, the rest having been shunted off to some unguarded point. At a day’s notice a thousand, and within a week 3,000 head could be procured from the adjoining settlements, where the chattels are kept at work. As in Tuckey’s day, “those exported are either captives in war or condemned criminals.” During the Free Emigration as much as $80 have been paid per man, a large sum for “Congoes:” whilst a cargo of 500 “Minas” (Guinea negroes) loses at most 20 per cent., these less hardy gangs seldom escape without at least double the deaths by dysentery or some other epidemic. Now they are freely offered for $10 to $20, but there are no buyers; the highest bid of which I heard was $100 for a house-“help.”

The slave-traders in the Congo look upon their employment as did the contrabandist in the golden days of smuggling; the “free sailor” whom Marryatt depicts, a law-breaker, yet not less a very pleasant, companionable fellow. The unhappy differences between the late British Commissioner for Loanda and the Judge of the mixed Court, Sr. José Julio Rodriguez, who followed his enemy to the grave on April 12, 1863, rendered São Paulo anything but a pleasant place to an English resident; but the rancour had not extended to the Congo, and, so far from showing chagrin, the agents declared that without the “coffin squadron,” negroes would have been a mere drug in the market. The only déplaisir is that which I had already found in a Gaboon factory, the excessive prevalence of petty pilfering. The Moleques or house-boys steal like magpies, even what is utterly useless to them; these young clerks of St. Nicholas will scream and writhe, and confess and beg pardon under the lash, and repeat the offence within the hour: as they are born serviles, we cannot explain the habit by Homer’s,

“Jove fixed it certain that whatever day

Makes man a slave takes half his worth away.”

One of our watches was found in the pocket of a noble interpreter, who, unabashed, declared that he placed it there for fear of its being injured; and the traders are constantly compelled to call in the Fetishman for the protection of their stores against the prigging chiefs. Yet in Tuckey’s time there was only one thief at Boma, a boy who stole a knife, confessed, and restored it. During a month’s residence amongst the pagans of the interior, where the houses swarmed with serviles, and where my outfit, which was never locked up, must have represented a plate-chest in England, not the smallest article was “found missing,” nor could anything be touched except by collusion with the head man.

1 See the note of the learned Robert Brown, p. 472, Appendix V., Tuckey’s “Congo.”

Chapter 9.

Up the Congo to Banza Nokki.

For a wonder the canoes came in time, and, despite their mat-sails, we could not complain of them. There were twelve paddlers two for the stem, and two for the stern of each craft, under a couple of interpreters, Jotakwassi and Nchama–Chamvu, who were habited in European frock-coats of broadcloth, and in native terminations mostly “buff.” Our excellent host bade us a kindly adieu, with many auguries of success — during the last night the frogs had made a noise in the house. Briefly, we set out on September 6th.

In the forty-five miles between Boma, where we enter the true trough of the Congo, and the landing-place of Banza Nokki below the cataracts, there are half-a-dozen reaches, the shortest of three, the longest of fifteen miles. They are not straight, as upon the chart; the windings of the bed exclude direct vision, and the succession of points and bays suggest, like parts of the Rhine, a series of mountain-tarns. The banks show the high-water level in a low shelf, a ribbon of green, backed by high rolling hills, rounded and stony, with grass dry at this season; the formation is primitive, and the material of the lower bed has been held to “prove the probability that the mountains of Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, and other adjacent parts of South America, were primevally connected with the opposite chains, that traverse the plains of Congo and Loango.” In parts the rocks fall bluff into the river, and here the current rushes past like a mill-race without a shadow of backwater. The heights are intersected by gullies and ravines, of which I counted sixty-nine on the right and fifty-four on the left bank; many of them are well wooded, and others are fronted by plains of the reeds and flags, which manufacture floating islands, cast loose, like those of the Niger, about the end of July by the “Malka” rains. About a dozen contained running water: Captain Tuckey did not see one that would turn a mill in August and September; but in November and December all these fiumaras will discharge torrents.

The breadth of the entroughed bed varies from 700 yards to two miles where it most dispreads itself. The current increases from the normal three to five knots in rare places; the surface loses the glassiness of the lower section, and at once shows the boiling and swirling which will be noticed near the cataracts. The shores are often foul, but the midway is mostly clear, and, where sunken rocks are, they are shown by whirlpools. The flow of the tide, or rather the damming up of the lower waters between Porto da Lenha and the mouth, causes a daily rise, which we found to measure about a foot; thus it assists in forming a treble current, the rapid down-flow in the Thalweg being subtended by a strong backwater on either side carrying a considerable portion in a retrograde direction, and showing a sensible reflux; this will continue as far as the rapids. In the Amazonas the tides are felt a hundred leagues from the mouth; and, whilst the stream moves seawards, the level of the water rises, proving an evident under-current. Mr. Bates has detected the influence of oceanic tides at a point on the Tapajos, 530 miles distant from its mouth, such is the amazing flatness of the country’s profile: here we find the reverse.

The riverine trough acts as wind-conductor to a strong and even violent sea-breeze; on the lower section it begins as a ground-current — if the “bull” be allowed — a thin horizontal stratum near the water, it gradually curves and slides upwards as it meets the mountain flanks, forming an inverted arch, and extending some 2,000 to 3,000 feet above the summits. At this season it is a late riser, often appearing about 3 P.M., and sometimes its strength is not exhausted before midnight. The brown water, grass-sheeted at the sides, conceals the bright yellow sand of the bed; when placed in a tumbler it looks clear and colourless, and the taste is perfectly sweet — brackishness does not extend far above Porto da Lenha. Yet at Boma the residents prefer a spring near the factories, and attribute dysentery to the use of river-water. According to Mr. George Maxwell, the supply of the lower bed has the quality of rotting cables, and the same peculiarity was attributed to the Tanganyika.

Of late years no ship has ventured above Boma, and boats have ascended with some difficulty, owing to the “buffing stream.” Yet there is no reason why the waters should not be navigated, as proposed in 1816, by small steamers of good power, and the strong sea-breeze would greatly facilitate the passage. In older and more enterprising days merchant-schooners were run high up the Zaire. The master of a vessel stated to Tuckey that he “had been several voyages up to the distance of 140 miles from the mouth” without finding any difficulty.

Our course passed by Banza Chisalla where, as we had paid double, there was a vain attempt to make us pay treble. Travelling up the south-eastern reach, we passed a triangular insulated rock off the southern bank, and then the “diabolitos” outlying Point Kilu, opposite Banza Vinda on the other side. A second reach winding to the north-east showed on the right Makula (Annan) River, and a little further Munga–Mungwa (Woodhouslee); between them is the terminus of the São Salvador road. On the northern bank where the hills now become rounded mountains, 1,500 feet above the stream, perches Chinimi the village of Manbuku Prata, who expects canoes here to await his orders; and who was sorely offended because I passed down without landing. The next feature of the chart, Matádi “Memcandi,” is a rocky point, not an island. Turning a projection, Point Makula (Clough Corner), we entered No. 3, elbow bending southeast; on its concave northern side appeared the settlement Vinda la Nzádi. This is the Vinda le Zally of Tuckey; on the chart Veinde len Zally, and according to others Vinda de Nzadi, or village of the Zaire River. It is probably the “Benda” of the Introduction (p. xxxiv.); and as b and v sound alike in Fiote, Cabinda, Cabenda or Kabendah is evidently Ca-vinda — great village.

Our terminus that day was the usual resting-place of travellers, “Mfumba” behind Nkumungu (Point) Kaziwa, a mass of granitoid slabs, with a single tree for landmark. Opposite us was Sandi ya Nzondo, which others call Sanga ya Ngondo; in the chart this one-tree island is written “Catlo Zonda,” it is the first of two similar formations. Oscar Rock, its western (down stream) neighbour, had shared the fate of “Soonga lem Paccula,” (Zunga chya Makula?) a stone placed in the map north-east of the Makula or Annan debouchure; both were invisible, denoted only by swirls in the water. We had taken seven hours to cover what we easily ran down in two, and we slept comfortably with groan of rock and roar of stream for lullaby.

September 7. — Our course now lay uninterruptedly along the left bank, where the scenery became yet more Rhine-like, in natural basins, reaches on the chart: here and there rugged uprocks passably simulated ruined castles. The dwarf bays of yellow sand were girt by a goodly vegetation, the palm and the calabash only telling us that we were in Africa.

Our men pointed to the work of a Nguvu or hippopotamus, which they say sometimes attacks canoes; they believe with Tuckey that the river-horses cause irregularity of soundings by assembling and trampling deep holes in the bed; but the Ngadi is a proof that they do not, as M. du Chaillu supposes, exclusively affect streams with shoals and shallows. The jacaré (crocodile) is known especially to avoid the points where the current sweeps swiftly past, yet no one will hang his hand over the canoe into the water: we did not see any of these wretches, but at Boma Coxswain Deane observed one about sixteen feet long.

Curls of smoke arose from the mountain-walls of the trough, showing that the bush was being burned; and spired up from a grassy palm-dotted plain, between two rocky promontories on the left bank, the site of the Chacha or Wembo village: in a gap of the herbage stood half-finished canoes, and a man was bobbing with rod, line, and float. After an hour’s paddling we halted for breakfast under “Alecto Rock,” a sheer bluff of reddish schist, 150 feet high; here a white trident, inverted and placed ten feet above the water, showed signs of H.M. Ship “Alecto,” (late) Captain Hunt, whose boat passed up in 1855. The people call it Chimbongolo. The river is now three quarters of a mile wide, and the charming cove shows the brightest of sands and the densest of vegetation waving in the cool land-wind.

Resuming our way at 9 P.M., we passed on the left “Scylla Rocks,” then a wash, and beyond them four high and tree-clad heads off the right bank. Three are islets, the Zunga chya Gnombe — of the bull — formed by a narrow arm passing round them to the north: other natives called them Zunga chya Umbinda, but all seem to differ. These are the Gombac Islands of the chart, Hall Island being the easternmost, and the northern passage between the three horns and the main is called by us “Gombac Creek.” Half an hour beyond was a mass of villages, in a large, grassy low-land of the left bank, girt by mountains higher than those down stream. Some outlying huts were called by the interpreters Suko Nkongo, and formed the “beach town” of large interior settlements, Suko do Wembo and Mbinda. Others said Lasugu or Sugo Nkongo, the Sooka Congo of the charts: others again for “Mbinda” proposed “Mpeso Birimba.” This is probably the place where according to the mail of November, ‘73, diamonds were found, and having been submitted to “Dr. Basham (Dr. Bastian before mentioned), Director of the Museum of Berlin,” were pronounced to be of very fine water. It is possible that the sandstone may afford precious stones like the itacolumite of the Brazil (“Highlands of the Brazil,” i. 380), but the whole affair proved a hoax. In mid-stream rose No. 2, “One–Tree Island,” Zunga chya Nlemba or Shika chya Nzondo; in Tuckey it is called Boola Beca or Blemba (the husband) Rock; the old ficus dying at the head, was based upon a pedestal which appeared groin-shaped from the east. Here the mirage was very distinct, and the canoes seemed to fly, not to swim —

“As when far out of sea a fleet descried,

Hangs in the clouds.”

The northern bank shows a stony projection called by Maxwell “Fiddler’s Elbow;” it leads to the fourth reach, the second of the north-eastern series; and the breadth of the stream, once more a mountain lake, cannot be less than two miles.

I foresaw trouble in passing these settlements. Presently a snake-like war canoe with hawser-holes like eyes, crept out from the southern shore; a second fully manned lay in reserve, lurking along the land, and armed men crowned the rocks jutting into the stream. We were accosted by the first craft, in which upon the central place of honour sat Mpeso Birimbá, a petty chief of Suko Nkongo; a pert rascal of the French factory, habited in a red cap, a green velvet waistcoat, and a hammock-shaped tippet of pine-apple fibre; his sword was a short Sollingen blade. The visit had the sole object of mulcting me in rum and cloth, and my only wish was naturally to expend as little as possible in mere preliminaries. The name of Manbuku Prata was duly thrown at him with but little effect: these demands are never resisted by the slave-dealers. After much noise and cries of “Mwendi” (miser, skin-flint) on the part of the myrmidons, I was allowed to proceed, having given up a cloth twenty-four yards long, and I felt really grateful to the “trade” which had improved off all the other riverine settlements. Beyond this point we saw nothing but their distant smokes.

Before the second north-eastern reach, the interpreters exclaimed “Yellala falla”—“the cataract is speaking,” and we could distinctly hear the cheering roar. The stream now assumed the aspect of Niagara below the Falls, and the circular eddies boiling up from below, and showing distinct convexity, suggested the dangerous “wells” of the northern seas. Passing the “Three Weird Sisters,” unimportant rocks off, the right bank, we entered upon the remarkably long stretch, extending upwards of five miles, and, from its predominating growth, we proposed to call it “Palmyra Reach.” The immediate river banks were clad with sedge, and the broad leaves of the nymphæa, a plant like the calamus of Asia, but here used only as a toothpick, began to oust the rushy and flaggy growth of the lower bed. The pink balls of the spinous mimosa, and bright flowers, especially the convolvulus and ipomaea, illuminated the dull green. The grassy land at the foot of the mountains was a mere edging, faced by outlying rocks, and we were shown the site of a village long ago destroyed.

The Nteba, or palmyra nobilis, mixed here and there with a glorious tamarind, bombax or calabash, forms a thin forest along the reach, and rarely appears upon the upper hills, where we should expect it. The people use both fruit and wine, preferring, however, the liquor of the Ebah (oil palm-tree), and the autumnal fires can hardly affect so sturdy a growth. The other trees are the mfuma, cotton-tree or bombax (Pentandria truncospinoso, Smith), much valued as a canoe: Merolla uses Mafuma, a plural form, and speaks of its “wonderful fine wool.” The wild figs show glorious stature, a truly noble growth, whose parents were sun and water.

The birds were lank black clivers (Plotus), exceedingly wild; the African roller (Coracias); halcyons of several species, especially a white and black kingfisher, nimble and comely; many swallows, horn-bills, and wild pigeons which made the bush resound; ardeine birds, especially a heron, like the large Indian “kullum;” kites, crows, “whip-poor-wills,” and a fine haliaetus, which flies high and settles upon the loftiest branches. One of these eagles was shot, after a gorge of the electric fish here common; its coat was black and white, and the eyes yellow, with dark pupils. Various lizards ran over the rocks; and we failed to secure a water-snake, the only specimen seen on the whole trip.

About noon we struggled past Point Masalla, our “Diamond Rock,” a reef ending in a triangular block, towering abruptly, and showing by drift-wood a flood-line now twelve feet high. There are several of these “bench-marks;” and the people declare that after every few years an unusual freshet takes place. Here the current impinges directly upon the rocks, making a strong eddy. “They die each time,” said the interpreters, as the canoemen, with loud shouts of “Vai ou nao Vai? Vai sempre! Vai direito, ya mondele!” and “Arister,” a mariner’s word, after failing to force the way, tumbled overboard, with a hawser of lliana to act as tow-line. “Vai direito,” according to Father Ciprani, also applies to a “wonderful bird, whose song consists in these plain words;” and “Mondele” is synonymous with the Utangáni of the Gaboon and the East African Muzungu, a white man.

This bend was in former days the terminus of canoe travel up stream. Grisly tales of mishap are told; and even now a musketry salute is fired when boats pass without accident. Beyond Diamond Rock is a well-wooded, stony cove, “Salan Kunkati:” Captain Tuckey makes this the name of the Diamond Rock, and translates it “the strong feather.” Quartz, before in lines and bands, now appears in masses: the “Coal Rock,” which the chart places near Insála (Bechope Point) on the northern bank, was probably submerged. High cliffs towered above us, and fragments which must have weighed twenty tons had slipped into the water; one of them bore an adansonia, growing head downwards.

The next feature was Npunga Bay, low and leek-green, between the blue-brown water, here some 700 yards broad, and the yellow sun-burnt trough-sides. A little further on, at 2 P.M., the canoe-men halted beyond a sandy point with two large “Bondeiro” trees, and declared their part of the bargain to have been fulfilled. “Bonderro” is a corruption of the Lusitanianized imbundeiro, the calabash, or adansonia (digitata?): the other baobab is called nkondo, probably the Aliconda and Elicandy of Battel and old travellers, who describe the water-tanks hollowed in its huge trunk, and the cloth made from the bark fibre. Thus the “Condo Sonio” of the Chart should be “Nkondo Sonho,” the latter a proper name. It is seldom that we find trees turned to all the uses of which they are capable: the Congo people despise the nutritious and slightly laxative flour of the “monkey bread,” and the young leaves are not used as pickles; the bast is not valued for cloth and ropes, nor are the boles cut into cisterns.

As will be seen, we ought to have insisted upon being paddled to Kala cliff and bight, the Mayumba Bay of the Chart, where the bed trends west-east, and shows the lowest rapids: the First Congo Expedition went up even higher. At Nkongo ka Lunga, the point marked by two calabashes, we inquired for the Nokki Congo, of which we had heard at Chisalla, and which still exists upon the chart — districts and villages being often confounded. All laughed, and declared that the “port-town” had long been sold off, the same had been the case, even in Tuckey’s day, with the next settlement, “Condo Sonio” (the Baobab of Sonho), formerly the great up-stream mart, where the slave-traders transacted their business. All the population was now transferred inland and, like our predecessors, we were promised a two hours’ climb over the rough, steep highland which lay in front. Then we understood that “Nokki” was the name of a canton, not of a settlement. Its south-eastern limits may have contained the “City of Norchie, the best situated of any place hitherto seen in Ethiopia,” where Father Merolla (p. 280) baptized 126 souls — and this is rendered probable by the crucifixes and coleworts which were found by the First Congo Expedition.

Here, then, at 97.50 miles from the sea, ended our clan’s cruize. We could only disembark upon the clean sand, surrounded by cool shade and blocks of gneiss, the favourite halting-place, as the husks of ground-nuts show. Nchama Chamvu was at once sent off with a present of gin and a verbal report of arrival to Nessudikira Nchinu, (King), of Banza Nkaye, whilst we made ready for a night’s lodging à la belle étoile. The mesenger returned, bringing a goat, and the good news that porters would be sent early next morning. We slept well in the cool and dewless air, with little trouble from mosquitoes. The voice of the cataract in its “sublime same-soundingness” alone broke the silence, and the scenery suggested to us, as to the first Britishers, that we might be bivouacking among the “blue misty hills of Morven.”

September 8. — Shortly after sunrise appeared Gidi Mavunga, father to the “king,” accompanied by five “princes,” in the usual black coats, and some forty slaves, armed with pistols, blunderbusses, and guns of French and Yankee build. Our visitors wore the official berretta, European shirts, that contrasted with coral necklaces and rings of zinc, brass, and copper, and handsome waistcoats, fronted by the well-tanned spoil of some “bush” animal, generally a wild cat, hanging like a Scotch sporran — this is and has long been the distinctive sign of a “gentleman.” According to John Barbot (Supplement, Churchill, v. 471), all men in Loango were bound to wear a furskin over their clothes, viz., of an otter, a tame cat, or a cat-o’-mountain; a “great wood or wild cat, or an angali (civet-cat). Besides which, they had very fine speckled spelts, called ‘ enkeny,’ which might be worn only by the king and his peculiar favourites.”

On the great man’s mat was placed a large silver-handled dagger, shaped somewhat like a fish-slicer; and the handsome hammocks of bright-dyed cottons brought down for our use shamed our humble ship’s canvas. The visitors showed all that African câlinerie, which, as fatal experience told me, would vanish for ever, changing velvet paw to armed claws, at the first question of cloth or rum. Meanwhile, we had only to visit their village “upon the head of Gidi Mavunga.”

About 9 A.M. we attacked a true Via Dolorosa, the normal road of the Lower Congo. The steep ascent of dry, clayey soil was strewed with schist and resplendent silvery gneiss; quartz appeared in every variety, crystallized and amorphous, transparent white, opaque, dusky, and rusty. Tuckey’s mica slate appears to be mostly schist or gneiss: I saw only one piece of true slate which had been brought from the upper bed. Merolla’s talc is mostly mica.

Followed an equally rough descent to a water set in fetid mud, its iridescence declaring the presence of iron; oozing out of the ground, it discharges during rains into the river: and, throughout the dry season, it keeps its little valley green with trees and shrubs. I observed what appeared to be the Esere or Calabar bean (Physostigma venenosum), whose hairy pod is very distasteful to the travelling skin: it was a “Mucuna urens.”

Another scramble upon a highly inclined hogsback, where weather-worn brown-black granite, protruded bone-like from the clay flesh, placed us at the outlying village of Kinbembu, with its line of palms; here the aneroid showed 1,322 feet. After a short rest, the hammock men resumed work over a rough plateau: the rises were scattered with brush-wood, and the falls were choked with the richest vegetation. Every hill discharged its own rivulet bubbling over the rock, and the waters were mostly chalybeate.

Presently appeared a kind of barracoon, a large square of thick cane-work and thatch about eight feet high, the Fetish house of the “Jinkimba” or circumcised boys, who received us with unearthly yells. After a march of an hour and three quarters,‘covering five indirect and three direct miles in a south-eastern rhumb, we reached Banza Nkaye, the royal village, where the sympiesometer showed 1430 feet. Our bearers yelled “Abububu!” showing that we had reached our destination, and the villagers answered with a cry of “Abía-a-a!” The entrance was triumphal: we left the river with a tail of fifty-six which had swelled to 150 ragged followers.

After a short delay we proceeded to the “palace,” which was distinguished from afar by a long projecting gable, forming a cool verandah. Descending some three hundred feet, we passed a familiar sight in Africa, where “arboribus suus horror inest.” A tree-trunk bore three pegged skulls somewhat white with age; eight years ago they were taken off certain wizards who had bewitched their enemies. A labyrinthine entrance of transparent cane-work served to prevent indecent haste, and presently we found ourselves in presence of the Mfumo, who of course takes the title of “Le Rei.” Nessudikira was a “blanc-bec,” aged twenty or twenty-one, who till lately had been a trading lad at Boma — now he must not look upon the sea. He appeared habited in the usual guy style: a gaudy fancy helmet, a white shirt with limp Byronic collar, a broad-cloth frock coat, a purple velvet gold-fringed loin-wrap: a theatrical dagger whose handle and sheath bore cut-glass emeralds and rubies, stuck in the waist-belt; brass anklets depended over naked feet, and the usual beadle’s cloak covered the whole. Truly a change for the worse since Tuckey’s day, when a “savage magnificence” showed itself in the display of lions’ and leopards’ skins; when no women were allowed to be present, and when the boys could only clap hands: now the verandah is surrounded by a squatting crowd and resounds with endless chatter and scream.

Nessudikira, whose eyes by way of grandeur never wandered from the floor, shook hands with us without rising from his chair, somewhat after the fashion of certain women in civilized society, who would be dignified, and who are not. His father, Gidi Mavunga, knelt before him on the ground, a mat being forbidden in the presence: he made the “batta-palmas” before he addressed his “filho de pistola,” as he called him, in opposition to filho de fazenda. The “king” had lately been crowned in virtue of his mother being a uterine sister of his predecessor. Here the goods and dignity of the father revert after death to his eldest maternal brother; to his eldest nephew, that is, the eldest son of the eldest uterine sister, and, all others failing, to the first born of the nearest maternal relative. This subjection of sire to son is, however, mainly ceremonious: in private life the king wears a cotton pagne, and his “governor” asserts his birth-right even by wigging royalty.

We disposed ourselves upon seamen’s chests covered with red baize, fronting the semi-circle of frock-coated “gentlemen” and half-naked dependants and slaves. Proceedings began with the “mata-bicho” de rigueur, the inevitable preliminary and conclusion of all life-business between birth and burial. The Congo traveller will hear “Nganna! mata bicho” (Master! kill the worm, i.e., give me a dram), till the words seem, like “Bakhshish” further east, to poison his ears. This excuse for a drink arose, or is said to have arisen, from some epidemic which could be cured only by spirits, and the same is the tradition in the New World (“Highlands of the Brazil,” i. chap. 38). Similarly the Fulas of the Windward coast, who as strict Moslem will not drink fermented liquors, hold a cup of rum to be the sovereignest thing in the world for taenia. The entozoon of course gives rise to a variety of stale and melancholy jokes about the early bird, the worm that dieth not, and so forth.

A greybeard of our gin was incontinently opened and a tumbler in a basin was filled to overflowing; even when buying ground-nuts, the measure must be heaped up. The glass was passed round to the “great gentlemen,” who drank it African fashion, expanding the cheeks, rinsing the mouth so that no portion of the gums may lose their share, and swallowing the draught with an affectedly wry face. The basin then went to the “little gentlemen” below the salt, they have the “vinum garrulum,” and they scrambled as well as screamed for a sup of the precious liquor. I need hardly quote Caliban and his proposed genuflections.

I had been warned by all the traders of the lower river that Banza Nokki would be to me the far-famed point of which it was said,

“Quern passar o Cabo de Nam

Ou tornará, ou n o,”

and prepared accordingly. Old Shimbal, the linguist, had declared that a year would be required by the suspicious “bush-men” to palaver over the knotty question of a stranger coming only to “make mukanda,” that is to see and describe the country. M. Pissot was forbidden by etiquette to recognize his old employé (honours change manners here as in Europe), yet he set about the work doughtily. My wishes were expounded, and every possible promise of hammocks and porters, guides and interpreters, was made by the hosts. The royal helmet was then removed, and a handsome burnous was drawn over the king’s shoulders, the hood covering the berretta in most grotesque guise. After which the commander and M. Pissot set out for the return march, leaving me with my factotum Selim and the youth Nchama Chamvu. To the question “Quid muliere levius?” the scandalous Latin writer answers “Nihil,” for which I would suggest “Niger.” At the supreme moment the interpreter, who had been deaf to the charmer’s voice (offering fifty dollars) for the last three days, succumbed to the “truant fever.” He knew something of Portuguese; and, having been employed by the French factory, he had scoured the land far and wide in search of “emigrants.” He began well; cooked a fowl, boiled some eggs, and made tea; after which he cleared out a hut that was declared très logeable, and found a native couch resembling the Egyptian kafas.

We slept in a new climate: at night the sky was misty, and the mercury fell to 60° (F.). There was a dead silence; neither beast nor bird nor sound of water was heard amongst the hills; only at times high winds in gusts swept over the highlands with a bullying noise, and disappeared, leaving everything still as the grave. I felt once more “at home in the wilderness”— such, indeed, it appeared after Boma, where the cockney-taint yet lingered.

Chapter 10.

Notes on the Nzadi or Congo River.

And first, touching the name of this noble and mysterious stream. Diogo Cam, the discoverer in 1485, called it River of Congo, Martin von Behaim Rio de Padrao, and De Barros “Rio Zaire.” The Portuguese discoveries utilized by Dapper thus corrupted to the sonorous Zaïre, the barbarous Nzadi applied by the natives to the lower bed. The next process was that of finding a meaning. Philippo Pigafetta of Vicenza,1 translated Zaïre by “so, cioè Sapio in Latino;” hence Sandoval2 made it signify “Rio de intendimiento,” of understanding. Merolla duly records the contrary. “The King of Portugal, Dom John II., having sent a fleet under D. Diego Cam to make discoveries in this Southern Coast of Africa, that admiral guessed at the nearness of the land by nothing so much as by the complexion of the waters of the Zaire; and, putting into it, he asked of the negroes what river and country that was, who not understanding him answered ‘Zevoco,’ which in the Congolan tongue is as much as to say ‘I cannot tell;’ from whence the word being corrupted, it has since been called Zairo.”

D’Anville (1749), with whom critical African geography began, records “Barbela,” a southern influent, perhaps mythical, named by his predecessors, and still retained in our maps: it is the Verbele of Pigafetta and the Barbele of Linschoten, who make it issue either from the western lake-reservoir of the Nile, or from the “Aquilunda” water, a name variously derived from O-Calunga, the sea (?), or from A-Kilunda, of Kilunda (?) The industrious compiler, James Barbot (1700), mentions the “Umbre,” the modern Wambre, rising in the northern mountains or, according to P. Labat, in a lake: Dapper (1676), who so greatly improved the outline of Africa, had already derived with De Barros the “Rio Zaïre” from a central reservoir “Zaïre,” whose island, the Zembre, afterwards became the Vambere, Wambre, and Zambere, now identified through the Zambeze with the Maravi, Nyassa or Kilwa water. The second or northernmost branch is the Bancora of modern maps, the Brankare of Pigafetta, and the Bancari of Cavazzi; it flows from the same mountain as the Umbre, and Duarte Lopez (1560) causes it to mingle with the Zaire on the eastern borders of Pango, at the foot of the Sierra del Crystal. In certain modern maps the Bankare fork is called “Lekure,“and is made to receive the “Bambaye.” The Barbela again anastomoses with the Luba (?) or northern section of the Coango, including its influent, the Lubilash; the Kasai (Kasabi) also unites with the Coango, and other dotted lines show the drainage of the Lualaba into the Kasai.

The Portuguese, according to Vasconcello, shunning all fanciful derivations, were long satisfied to term the Congo “Rio de Patron” (Rio do Padrao) from the first of memorial columns built at its mouth. In 1816 Captain Tuckey’s expedition learned with Maxwell that the stream should be called, not Zaire, but Moienzi Enzaddi, the “great river” or the “river which absorbs all other rivers.” This thoroughly corrupted name, which at once found its way into popular books, and which is repeated to the present day even by scientific geographers, suggested to some theorists “Zadi,” the name of the Niger at Wassenah according to Sidi Harriet, as related by the American, James Riley, of the brig “Commerce,” wrecked on August 28, 1815: others remembered “Zad” which Shaykh Yusuf (Hornemann), misleading Mungo Park, learned to be the Niger east of Tinbuktu, “where it turns off to the southward.” I need hardly say that this “Zadi” and “Zad” are evident corruptions of Bahr Shady, Shary, Shari, Chad, Tsad, and Chadda, the swampy lake, alternately sweet and brackish, which was formerly thrown by mistake into the Chadda River, now called the Binue or Bimúwe, the great eastern fork of the Negro-land Nile: the true drainage of the Chadda in ancient times has lately been determined by the adventurous Dr. Nachtigal. Mr. Cooley3 applied, as was his wont, a superficial knowledge of Kibundo to Fiote or Congoese, and further corrupted Moienzi Enzaddi to Muenya (for Menha or Menya) Zinzádi-this Angolan “emendation,” however, was not adopted.

The natives dwelling upon the Congo banks have, as usual in Africa, no comprehensive generic term for the mighty artery of the West Coast. Each tribe calls it by its own name. Thus even in Fiote we find “Mulángo,” or “Lángo,” the water; “Nkoko,” the stream, “Mwánza,” the river, and “Mwanza Nnenne,” the great river, all used synonymously at the several places. The only proper name is Mwánza Nzádi, the River Nzadi: hence Zaire, Zaïre, Zahir, Zaira the “flumen Congo olim Zaida” (C. Barlé)— all corruptions more or less common.

The homogeneous form of the African continent causes a whimsical family resemblance, allowing for the difference of northern and southern hemispheres, in its four arterial streams — the Nile and Niger, the Congo and Zambeze. I neglect the Limpopo, called in its lower bed Espirito Santo, Maniça, Manhiça (Manyisa), and Delagoa River; the Cunene (Nourse) River, the Orange River, and others, which would be first-rate streams in Europe, but are mere dwarfs in the presence of the four African giants. The Nile and Niger, being mainly tenanted by Moslemized and comparatively civilized races, have long been known, more or less, to Europe. The Zambeze, owing to the heroic labours of Dr. Livingstone, is fast becoming familiar to the civilized world; and the Congo is in these days (1873) beginning at last to receive the attention which it deserves. It is one of the noblest known to the world. Whilst the Mississippi drains a basin of 1,244,000 English square miles, and at Carrollton, in Louisiana, discharges as its mean volume for the year 675,000 cubic feet of water per second, the Congo, with a valley area of 800,000 square miles, rolls at least 2,500,000 feet. Moreover, should it prove a fact that the Nzadi receives the Chambeze and its lakes, the Bangweolo (or Bemba), the Moero, near which stands the capital of the Cazembe, the Kamalondo, Lui or Ulenge, “Lake Lincoln” (Chibungo), and other unvisited waters, its area of drainage will nearly equal that of the Nile.

The four arteries all arise in inner regions of the secondary age, subtended east and west by ghats, or containing mountains mostly of palaeozoic or primary formation, the upheaval of earthquakes and volcanoes. These rims must present four distinct water-sheds. The sea-ward slopes discharge their superabundance direct to the ocean often in broad estuaries like the Gambia and the Gaboon, still only surface drains; whilst the counterslopes pour inland, forming a network of flooded plains, perennial swamps, streams, and lakes. The latter, when evaporation will not balance the supply to a “sink,” “escape from the basin of the central plateau-lands, and enter the ocean through deep lateral gorges, formed at some ancient period of elevation and disturbance, when the containing chains were subject to transverse fractures.” All four head in the region of tropical rains, the home of the negro proper, extending 35° along the major axis of the continent, between Lake Chad (north latitude 14° to 15°), and the Noka a Batletle or Hottentot Lake, known to the moderns as Ngami (south latitude 20° to 21°). Consequently all are provided with lacustrine reservoirs of greater or smaller extent, and are subject to periodical inundations, varying in season, according as the sun is north or south of the line. Those of the northern hemisphere swell with the “summer rains of Ethiopia,” a fact known in the case of the Nile to Democritus of Abdera (5th cent. B.C.), to Agatharchidas of Cnidos (2nd cent. B.C.) to Pomponius Nida, to Strabo (xvii. 1), who traces it through Aristotle up to Homer’s “heaven-descended stream” and to Pliny (v. 10). For the same reason the reverse is the case with the two southern arteries; their high water, with certain limitations in the case of the Congo, is in our winter.

By the condition of their courses, all the four magnates are broken into cataracts and rapids at the gates where they burst through the lateral chains; the Mosi-wa-túnya (smoke that thunders) of the Zambeze, and the Ripon Falls discovered by Captains Speke and Grant upon the higher Nile, are the latest acquisitions to geography, whilst the “Mai waterfall,” reported to break the Upper Congo, still awaits exploration. This accident of form suggests a division of navigation on the maritime section and on the plateau-bed which, in due time, will be connected, like the St. Lawrence, by canals and railways. All but the Nzadi, and perhaps even this, have deltas, where the divided stream, deficient in water-shed, finds its sluggish way to the sea.

The largest delta at present known is the Nigerian, whose base measures 155 direct geographical miles between the Rivers Kontoro east, and Benin west. Pliny (v. 9) makes the Nile delta extend 170 Roman miles, from the Canopic or African to the Pelusiac or Asiatic mouth, respectively distant from the apex 146 and 166 miles; the modern feature has been reduced to 80 miles from east to west, and a maximum of 90 from north to south. The Zambeze extends 58 miles between the Kilimani or northern and the west Luabo, Cuama or southern outlet-at least, if these mouths are not to be detached. The Nzadi is the smallest, measuring a maximum of only 12 to 15 miles from the Malela or Bananal Creek to the mangrove ditches of the southern shore.

In these depressed regions the comparatively salubrious climates of the uplands become dangerous to the European; the people also are degraded, mostly pirates and water-thieves, as the Nigerian Ibos, the Congoese Musulungus, and the Landim (Amalandi) Kafirs about the lower Zambeze. There is a notable similarity in their productions, partly known to Pliny (v. 8), who notices “the calamus, the papyrus, and the animals” of the Nigris and the Nile. The black-maned lion and the leopard rule the wold; the gorilla, the chimpanzee, and other troglodytes affect the thinner forests; the giraffe, the zebra, and vast hosts of antelopes scour the plains; the turtle swims the seas; and the hippopotamus, the crocodile, and various siluridae, some of gigantic size, haunt the lakes and rivers. The nymphæa, lotus or water-lily, forms rafts of verdure; and the stream-banks bear the calabash, the palmyra, the oil-palm, and the papyrus. Until late years it was supposed that the water-lily, sacred to Isis, had been introduced into Egypt from India, where it is also a venerated vegetable, and that it had died out with the form of Fetishism which fostered it. It has simply disappeared like the crocodile from the Lower Nile. Finally, to conclude this rapidly outlined sketch, all at the present moment happily share the same fate; they are being robbed of their last mysteries; the veil of Isis is fast yielding to the white man’s grasp.

We can hardly as yet answer the question whether the Congo was known to the ancients. Our acquaintance with the oldest explorations is at present fragmentary, and we are apt to assume that the little told us in our school-books is the sum-total of former exploits. But possibly inscriptions in the New World, as well as in the Old, may confirm the “first circumnavigation” so simply recounted by Herodotus, especially that of the Phoenicians, who set out from the Red Sea, and in three years returned to the Mediterranean. The expression, “they had the sun to the right,” is variously explained. In the southern hemisphere the sailors facing west during our winter would see the sun at noon on the right, and in the northern hemisphere on the left. But why should they face west? In the “Chronicle” of Schedel (p. ccxc., printed in 1793, Pigafetta, Pinkerton, xi. 412) we read: “These two, (i.e. Jacob Cam and Martin Behem, or Behaim) by the help of the gods, ploughing the sea at short distance from shore, having passed the equinoctial line, entered the nether hemisphere, where, fronting the east, their shadow fell towards the south, and on their right hand.” Perhaps it may simply allude to the morning sun, which would rise to port as they went southwards, and to starboard as they returned north. Again, the “First Overland Expedition” is related by the Father of History with all the semblance of truth. We see no cause to doubt that the Nasammones or Nasamones (Nás Amún), the five young Lybians of the Great Syrtis (Fezzan) crossed the <Greek> (watered strip along the Mediterranean), passed through the <Greek> (the “bush”) on the frontier, still famed for lions, and the immeasurably sandy wastes (the Sahara proper, across which caravan lines run). The “band of little black men” can no longer be held fabulous, since Miani and Schweinfurth added the Akya to M. du Chaillu’s Obongo. The extensive marshes were the northern limit of the tropical rains, and the “City of Enchanters” is the type of many still existing in inner Africa. The great river flowing from west to east, whose crocodiles showed it to be the Nile, must have been the Niger. The ancients knew middle Ethiopia to be a country watered by lakes and streams: Strabo (xvii. 3) tells us that “some suppose that even the Nile-sources are near the extremities of Mauritania.” Hence, too, the Nilides, or Lake of Standing Water in Pliny (v. 10). For the most part they made a great central river traverse the northern continent from west to east, whereas the Arabian geographers of the middle ages, who were followed by the Portuguese, inverted the course. Both may be explained by the lay of the Quorra and the Binúwe, especially the latter; it was chronically confounded with the true Nile, whose want of western influents was not so well known then as now.

The generation which has discovered the “Moabite Stone,” the ruins of Troy (Schliemann), and the key to the inscriptions of Etruria (Corssen), need not despair of further progress. It has been well remarked that, whereas the course of modern exploration has generally been maritime, the ancients, whose means of navigation were less perfect, preferred travelling by land. We are, doubtless, far better acquainted with the outlines of the African coast, and the immediately maritime region, than the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Arabs. But it is still doubtful whether their information respecting the interior did not surpass ours. Eratosthenes, librarian of Alexandria (B. C. 276–196) expresses correct notions concerning the upper course of the Nile; Marinus of Tyre4 had the advantage of borrowing from the pilot, Diogenes, who visited the Nile reservoirs of central inter-tropical Africa, and Ptolemy has been justified in certain important points by our latest explorations.

No trace of the Nzadi or Congo is to be found in the Pelusian geographer, whose furthest point is further north. In the “Tabula Rotunda Rogeriana” of A. D. 1154 (Lelewel, No. X.) two lakes are placed upon the equator, and the north-western discharges to the Atlantic the river Kauga or Kanga, which the learned Mr. Hogg suspected to be the Congo. Marino Sanudo (1321), who has an idea of Guinea (Ganuya) and of Zanzibar (Zinziber), here bends Africa to the south-east, and inscribes, “Regio inhabitabilis propter calorem.” Fra Mauro (1457) reduces “Ethiopia Occidentalis et Australis” to the minimum, and sheds the stream into the F. Xebe (Webbe or Galla–Somal River). Martin von Behaim of Nürnberg (1492) in whose day Africa began to assume her present form, makes the Rio de Padron drain the western face of the Montes Lunae. Diogo Ribera, chief pilot of the Indies under Charles V. (Seville, 1529) further corrects the shape of the continent, and places the R. do Padrão north, and the Rio dos Boms Sinhaes (Zambeze) south of the Montes Lunae. Mercator and Henry Hondt (1623) make the Zaire Lacus the northern part of the Zembre Lacus. John Senex (circ. 1712) shows the “R. Coango,” the later Quango, believed to be the great south-western fork of the Congo. It is not a little peculiar that the last of the classics, Claudius Claudianus, an Alexandrian Christian withal, describes the Gir, or Girrhaeus, with peculiarly Congoese features. In “De laud. Stilicho.” (lib. i. 252) we have —

“Gir, notissimus amnis

Æthiopum, simili mentitus gurgite Nilum.”

And again (“Eidyll. in Nilum,” 20):

“Hunc bibit infrenis Garamas, domitorque ferarum

Girrhæus, qui vasta colit sub rupibus antra,

Qui ramos ebeni, qui denies vellit eburnos.”

Here we find a Wady or torrent discharging into the Mediterranean, made equal to “Egypt’s heaven-descended stream;” caused to flow under great rocks, as the Niger was long believed to pass underground to the Nile, of which it was a western branch; and said to supply ebony, which is the characteristic not even of the Niger regions, but of the Zaire.5 A little of this peculiar and precious commodity is produced by Old Calabar, east of the Nigerian delta, and southwards it becomes common.

Pliny (v. i) places his Gir (which some editions read “Niger”) “some distance” beyond the snowy Atlas. Ptolemy (iv. 6) tells us “in Mediterraneâ verò fluunt amnes maximi, nempe Gir conjungens Usargalam montem et vallem Garamanticam, à quo divertens amnis continet secundum situm (east longitude) 42° (north latitude)— 16°.” Again: “Et Nigir fluvius jungens et ipse Mandrum” (Mandara, south of Lake Chad?) “et Thala montes” (the range near the western coast on the parallel of Cabo Blanco?). “Facit autem et hic Nigritem Paludem” (Lake Dibbie or Debu, north-east of Sego and Sansanding?) cujus situs 15°-18°.”

Here the Gir, Ger, Gar, or Geir is clearly laid down as a Mediterranean stream, whilst “Niger” gave rise to the confusion of the Senegal with the true Niger. The name has greatly exercised commentators’ ingenuity. D’Anville believes the Niger and the Gir to end in the same quarter of Africa, and the latter to be entirely unknown. Gosselin, agreeing with Pliny, whose Ger is the Nigir of the Greeks, places them south of the Atlas. Mr. Leake (loc. cit.) holds all conjecture useless. Not so the Rev. M. Tristram, whose geography is of the ornithological or bird’s-eye order. In “The Great Sahara” (pp. 362–4, Appendix I.), he asks, “May not the name Giris or Gir be connected with Djidi?” i. e. the Wadi Mzi, a mean sink in El Areg, south of Algeria. Gräberg (“Morocco”) had already identified it with the Ghir, which flows through Sagelmessa; Burckhardt with the Jir, “a large stream coming from about north latitude 10°, and flowing north-west through the Wadaí, west of the borders of Dar–Fur.” No wonder that some geographers are disposed to believe Gir, Giris, Ger, and Geir to be “a general native name for a river, like Bá” (Bahr), “Bi” (in many Central African tongues a river, Schweinfurth, ii. 241), “Quorra (Kwara), Gulbi and Gambaru (the Yeou), Shadda, and Enzaddi.”

It is still interesting to consider the circumstances which gave rise to Captain Tuckey’s disastrous expedition. As any map of Africa during the early quarter of the present century, Bowdich or Dupuis for instance, may prove, the course of the Niger was laid down, now according to the ancients, then after Arab information. The Dark Continent, of which D’Anville justly said that writers abused, “pour ainsi dire, de la vaste carrière que l’intérieur y laissait prendre” (“Mém. de l’Acad. des Inscriptions,” xxvi. 61), had not been subjected to scientific analysis; this was reserved for the Presidential Address to the Royal Geographical Society by the late Sir R. I. Murchison, 1852. Geographers did not see how to pass the Niger through the” Kong Mountains, which, uniting with the Jebel Komri, are supposed to run in one unbroken chain across the continent;” and these Lunar Mountains of the Moslems, which were “stretched like a chaplet of beads from east to west,” undoubtedly express, as M. du Chaillu contends, a real feature, the double versant, probably a mere wave of ground between the great hydrographic basins of the Niger and the Congo, of North Africa and of Central Africa. Men still wasted their vigour upon the Nigritis Palus, the Chelonídes waters, the Mount Caphas, and the lakes of Wangara, variously written Vancara and Vongara, not to mention other ways. Maps place “Wangara”to the north-west of Dahome, where the natives utterly ignore the name. Dupuis (“Ashantee,” 1824) suggests that, like “Takrúr,” it is an obsolete Moslem term for the 660 miles of maritime region between Cape Lahu and the Rio Formoso or the Old Calabar River. This would include the three despotisms, Ashanti, Dahome, and Benin, with the tribes who, from a distance of twenty-five days, bring gold to Tinbuktu (the Tungubutu of De Barros, i. 220). Thus the lakes of Wangara would be the lagoons of the Slave-coast, in which the Niger may truly be said to lose itself.

At length M. Reichard, of Lobenstein (“Ephémerides Géographiques,” Weimar, 1802), theoretically discovered the mouth of the Niger, by throwing it into the Bight of Benin. He was right in essentials and wrong in details; for instance, he supposed the Rio Formoso or Benin River and the Rio del Rey to join in one great stream beyond the flat alluvial delta: whereas the former is indirectly connected through the Wari with the Niger, and the latter has no connection with it at all. The truth was received with scant courtesy, and the hypothesis was pronounced to be “worthy of very little attention.” There were, however, honourable exceptions. In 1813, the learned Malte–Brun (“Précis de la Géographie Universelle,” vol. iv. 635) sanctioned the theory hinted at by Mungo Park, and in 1828 the well-abused Caillié, a Frenchman who had dared to excel Bruce and Mungo Park, wrote these remarkable words: “If I may be permitted to hazard an opinion as to the course of the River Dhioliba, I should say that it empties itself by several mouths into the Bight of Benin.” In 1829, fortified by Clapperton’s opinion, my late friend, James Macqueen, who to immense industry added many qualifications of a comparative geographer, recommended a careful examination of the estuaries between the Rio Formoso and Old Calabar. The question was not finally set at rest till 1830 (November 15th), when Richard and John Lander entered Yoruba viâ Badagry and, triumphantly descending the lower Niger, made the sea by the “Nun” and Brass embouchures.

Meanwhile, Mr. George Maxwell, a Scotchman who had long traded in the Congo, and who subsequently published a chart of the lower river proposed, at the end of the last century, to take from England six supernumerary boats for rowing and sailing, which could be carried by thirty people and portaged round the cataracts. This gave rise to Captain Tuckey’s first error, depending upon labour and provisions, which were not to be had “for love or money” anywhere on the Congo above the Yellala. With thirty or forty black rowers, probably Cabinda men, Maxwell advised navigating the river about May, when the Cacimbo or dry season begins; and with arms, provisions, and merchandize he expected to reach the sources in six weeks. The scheme, which was rendered abortive by the continental war of 1793, had two remarkable results. It caused Mungo Park’s fatal second journey, and it led to the twin expeditions of Tuckey and Peddie.

In July, 1804, the ardent and irrepressible Scot wrote from Prior’s Lynn, near Longtown, to a friend, Mr. William Kier, of Milholm, that the river “Enzaddi” was frequented by Portuguese, who found the stream still as large as near the mouth, after ascending 600 miles. It is useful to observe how these distances are obtained. The slave-touters for the Liverpool and other dealers used, we are told, to march one month up country, and take two to return. Thirty days multiplied by twenty miles per diem give 600 miles. I need hardly point out that upon such a mission the buyer would be much more likely to travel 60 miles than 600 in a single month, and I believe that the natives of the lower river never went beyond Nsundi, or 215 indirect miles from Point Padrão.

With truly national tenacity and plausibility Perfervidum Ingenium contended that the Congo or Zaire was the Nigerian debouchure. Major Rennell, who had disproved the connection of the Niger and the Egyptian Nile by Bruce’s barometric measurements on the course of the mountain-girt Bahr el Azrak, and by Brown’s altitudes at Darfur, condemned the bold theory for the best of reasons.

Mungo Park, after a brief coldness and coquetting with it, hotly adopted to the fullest extent the wild scheme. Before leaving England (Oct. 4, 1804), he addressed a memoir to Lord Camden, explaining the causes of his conversion. It is curious to note his confusion of “Zad,” his belief that the “Congo waters are at all seasons thick and muddy,” and his conviction that “the annual flood,” which he considered perpetual, “commences before the rains fall south of the equator.” The latter is to a certain extent true; the real reason will presently be given. Infected by the enthusiasm of his brother Scot, he adds, “Considered in a commercial point of view, it is second only to the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope; and, in a geographical point of view, it is certainly the greatest discovery that remains to be made in this world.”

Thereupon the traveller set out for the upper Niger with the conviction that he would emerge by the Congo, and return to England viâ the West Indies. From the fragments of his Journal, and his letters to Lord Camden, to Sir Joseph Banks, and to his wife, it is evident that at San-sanding he had modified his theories, and that he was gradually learning the truth. To the former he writes, “I am more and more inclined to think that it (the Niger) can end nowhere but in the sea;” and presently a guide, who had won his confidence, assured him that the river, after passing Kashna, runs directly to the right hand, or south, which would throw it into the Gulf of Guinea.

The fatal termination of Park’s career in 1805 lulled public curiosity for a time, but it presently revived. The geographical mind was still excited by the mysterious stream which evaporation or dispersion drained into the Lake-swamps of Wangara, and to this was added not a little curiosity concerning the lamented and popular explorer’s fate. We find instructions concerning Mungo Park issued even to cruizers collecting political and other information upon the East African coast; e.g., to Captain Smee, sent in 1811 by the Bombay Government. His companion, Lieutenant Hardy, converted Usagára, west of the Zanzibar seaboard, into “Wangarah,” and remarks, “a white man, supposed to be Park, is said to have travelled here twenty years ago” (“Observations,” &c.).

About ten years after Mungo Park’s death, two expeditions were fitted out by Government to follow up his discovery. Major Peddie proceeded to descend the Niger, and Captain Tuckey to ascend the Congo. We have nothing to say of the former journey except that, as in the latter, every chief European officer died — Major Peddie, Captain Campbell, Lieutenant Stokoe, and M. Kummer, the naturalist. The expedition, consisting of 100 men and 200 animals, reached Kakundy June 13, 1817, and there fell to pieces. Concerning the Zaire Expedition, which left Deptford on February 16, 1816, a few words are advisable.

The personnel was left to the choice of the leader, Commander J. K. Tuckey, R. N. (died). There were six commissioned officers — Lieutenant John Hawkey, R.N. (died); Mr. Lewis Fitz-maurice, master and surveyor; Mr. Robert Hodder and Mr. Robert Beecraft, master’s mates; Mr. John Eyre, purser (died); and Mr. James McKerrow, assistant surgeon. Under these were eight petty officers, four carpenters, two blacksmiths, and fourteen able seamen. The marines numbered one sergeant, one corporal, and twelve privates. Grand total of combatants, forty-nine. To these were added five “savants”: Professor Chetien Smith, a Norwegian botanist and geologist (died); Mr. Cranch, collector of objects of natural history (died); Mr. Tudor, comparative anatomist (died); Mr. Galway, Irishman and volunteer naturalist (died); and “Lockhart, a gardener” (of His Majesty’s Gardens, Kew). There were two Congo negroes, Benjamin Benjamins and Somme Simmons; the latter, engaged as a cook’s mate, proved to be a “prince of the blood,” which did not prevent his deserting for fear of the bushmen.

The allusions made to Mr. Cranch, a “joined methodist,” and a “self-made man,” are not complimentary. “Cranch, I fear,” says Professor Smith, “by his absurd conduct, will diminish the liberality of the captain towards us: he is like a pointed arrow to the company.” And, again, “Poor Cranch is almost too much the object of jest; Galway is the principal banterer.“In the Professor’s remarks on the” fat purser,“we can detect the foreigner, who, on such occasions, should never be mixed up with Englishmen.

Sir Joseph Banks had suggested a steamer drawing four feet, with twenty-four horse-power; an admirable idea, but practical difficulties of construction rendered the “Congo” useless. Of the fifty-four white men, eighteen, including eleven of the “Congo” crew, died in less than three months. Fourteen out of a party of thirty officers and men, who set out to explore the cataracts viâ the northern bank, lost their lives; and they were followed by four more on board the “Congo,” and one at Bahia. The expedition remained in the river between July 6th and October 18th, little more than three months; yet twenty-one, or nearly one-third, three of the superior officers and all the scientific men, perished. Captain Tuckey died of fatigue and exhaustion (Oct. 4th) rather than of disease; Lieutenant Hawkey, of fatal typhus (which during 1862 followed the yellow fever, in the Bonny and New Calabar Rivers); and Mr. Eyre, palpably of bilious remittent. Professor Smith had been so charmed with the river, that he was with difficulty persuaded to return. Prostrated four days afterwards by sickness on board the transport, he refused physic and food, because his stomach rejected bark, and, preferring cold water, he became delirious; apparently, he died of disappointment, popularly called a “broken heart.” Messrs. Tudor and Cranchalso fell victims to bilious remittents, complicated, in the case of the latter, by the “gloomy view taken of Christianity by that sect denominated Methodists.” Mr. Galway, on September 28th, visited Sangala, the highest rapid (“Narrative,” p. 328). In the Introduction, p. 80, we are wrongly told that he went to Banza Ninga, whence, being taken ill on August 24th, he was sent down stream. He, like his commander, had to sleep in the open, almost without food, and he also succumbed to fever, fatigue, and exhaustion.

The cause of this prodigious mortality appears in the records of the expedition. Officers and men were all raw, unseasoned, and unacclimatized. Captain Tuckey, an able navigator, the author of “Maritime Geography and Statistics,” had served in the tropics; his biographer, however, writes that a long imprisonment in France and “residence in India had broken down his constitution, and at the age of thirty (ob. æt. thirty-nine) his hair was grey and his head nearly bald.” The men perished, exactly like the missionaries of old, by hard work, insufficient and innutritious food, physical exhaustion, and by the doctor. At first “immediate bleeding and gentle cathartics” are found to be panaceas for mild fevers (p. 46): presently the surgeon makes a discovery as follows: “With regard to the treatment I shall here only observe that bleeding was particularly unsuccessful. Cathartics were of the greatest utility, and calomel, so administered as speedily to induce copious salivation, generally procured a remission of all the violent symptoms.” The phlebotomy was inherited from the missioners, who own almost to have blinded themselves by it. When one was “blooded” fifteen times and died, his amateur Sangrado said, “It had been better to have bled him thirty times:” the theory was that in so hot a climate all the European blood should be replaced by African. One of the entries in Captain Tuckey’s diary is, “Awaking extremely unwell, I directly swallowed five grains of calomel”— a man worn out by work and sleeping in the open air! The “Congo” sloop was moored in a reach surrounded by hills, instead of being anchored in mid stream where the current of water creates a current of air; those left behind in her died of palm wine, of visits from native women, and of exposure to the sun by day and to the nightly dews. On the line of march the unfortunate marines wore pigtails and cocked hats; stocks and cross-belts; tight-fitting, short-waisted red coats, and knee-breeches with boots or spatter-dashes — even the stout Lord Clyde in his latest days used to recall the miseries of his march to Margate, and declare that the horrid dress gave him more pain than anything he afterwards endured in a life-time of marching. None seemed capable of calculating what amount of fatigue and privation the European system is able to support in the tropics. And thus they perished, sometimes of violent bilious remittents, more often of utter weariness and starvation. Peace to their manes! — they did their best, and “angels can no more.” They played for high stakes, existence against fame —

“But the fair guerdon when we hope to find,

Comes the blind Fury with th’ abhorred shears,

And slits the thin-spun life.”

“The Narrative of an Expedition to Explore the River Zaire” (London, John Murray, 1818), published by permission of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, was necessarily a posthumous work. The Introduction of eighty-two pages and the General Observations (fifty-three pages) are by anonymous hands; follow Captain Tuckey’s Narrative, Professor Smith’s Journal, and an Appendix with seven items; 1, vocabularies of the Malemba and Embomma (Fiote or Congo) languages; 2, 3, and 4, Zoology; 5, Botany; 6, Geology; and 7, Hydrography. The most valuable is No. 5, an admirable paper entitled “Observations, Systematical and Geographical, on Professor Christian Smith’s Collection of Plants from the Vicinity of the River Congo, by Robert Brown, F.R.S.” The “Geology,” by Mr. Charles Konig, of the British Museum, is based upon very scanty materials. The folio must not be severely criticized; had the writers lived, they might have worked up their unfinished logs into interesting and instructive matter. But evidently they had not prepared themselves for the work; no one knew the periods of rain at the equator; there was no linguist to avoid mistakes in the vocabulary; moreover, Professor Smith’s notes, being kept in small and ill-formed Danish characters, caused such misprints as “poppies” for papaws. Some few of the mistakes should be noticed for the benefit of students. The expedition appears to have confused São Salvador, the capital, with St. Antonio placed seven days from the river mouth (p. 277). It calls Santo Antão (Cape Verds) “San Antonio;” the Ilha das Rôlas (of turtle doves) Rolle’s Island; “morfil” bristles of the elephant’s tail, and manafili ivory, both being from the Portuguese marfim; moudela for mondele or mondelle, a white man; malava, “presents,” for mulavu (s. s. as msámbá, not maluvi, Douville), palm wine, which in the form mulavu m’putu (Portuguese) applies to wine and spirits. We have also “Leimba” for Lyámba or Dyámba (Cannabis saliva); “Macasso, a nut chewed by great people only,” for Makazo, the bean of the Kola (Sterculia); “Hyphæa” and “Dom” for Palmyra Flabelliformis, whose “fruit hangs down in bunched clusters;” “Raphia” for Raphia Vinifera, commonly called the bamboo or wine palm, and “casa,” a purgative legumen, for nkasa, “sass,” or poison wood, identified with the red-water tree of Sierra Leone, the erythropheum of Professor Afzelius, of the order Cæalpineae, which gave a name to the Brazil.

The next important visit to the Congo River was paid by Captain Owen’s Expedition, when homeward bound in 1826. The “Leven” and “Barracouta” surveyed the stream twenty-five miles from its mouth during a week, beginning with January 1, just after the highest flood. At thirteen miles out at sea the water was fresh and of a dingy red; it fermented and remained in a highly putrescent state for some days, tarnishing silver; kept for four months, it became perfectly clear and colourless, without depositing any sediment. This reminds us of the changing colours, green, red and milky white, to which the Nile and all great African rivers that flood periodically are subject.6

The next traveller that deserves notice is the unfortunate Douville,7 through whose tissue of imposture runs a golden thread of truth. As his first journey, occupying nearly two of the three volumes, was probably confined to the Valley of the Cuanza River, so his second, extending beyond the equator, and to a meridian 25° east of Paris, becomes fable as he leaves the course of the Loge Stream. Yet, although he begins by doubting that the Coango and the Zaire are the same waters, he ends by recognizing the fact, and his map justly lays down the Fleuve Couango dit Zaire à son embouchure. Whether the tale of the mulatto surveyor be fact or not is of little matter: the adventurer had an evident inkling of the truth.

A flood of side light is thrown upon the head waters of the Congo River by Dr. Livingstone’s first memorable journey (1852–56), across Africa, and by the more dubious notices of his third expedition The Introduction (p. xviii.) to Captain Tuckey’s narrative had concluded from the fact of the highest flood being in March, and the lowest level about the end of August, that at least one branch of the river must pass through some portion of the northern hemisphere. The general observations affixed to “Narrative” (p. 346), contain these words: “If the rise of the Zaire had proceeded from rains to the southward of the Line, swelling the tributary streams and pouring in mountain torrents the waters into the main channel, the rise would have been sudden and impetuous.” Of course the writer had recourse to the “Lakes of Wangara,” in north latitude 12° to 15°: that solution of the difficulty belonged inevitably to his day. Captain Tuckey (p. 178) learned, at Mavunda, that ten days of canoeing would take him beyond all the rapids to a large sandy islet which makes two channels, one to the north-west, the other to the north-east. In the latter there is a fall above which canoes are procurable: twenty days higher up the river issues, by many small streams, from a great marsh or lake of mud.8 Again, a private letter written from the “Yellala” (p. 343) declares that “the Zaire would be found to issue from a lake or a chain of lakes considerably to the north of the Line; and, so far from the low state of the river in July and August militating against the hypothesis, it gives additional weight, provided the river swell in early September”— which it did. In his “Journal” (p. 224), we find a memorandum, written as it were with a dying hand, “Hypothesis confirmed. The water . . . ”

On February 24, 1854, Dr. Livingstone, after leaving what he calls the “Dilolo Lake,” found on an almost level plain, some 4,000 to 5,000 feet high and then flooded after rains, a great water parting between the eastern and the western continental shores. I have carefully considered the strictures upon this subject by the author of “Dr. Livingstone’s Errors” (p. 101), and have come to the conclusion that the explorer was too experienced to make the mistakes attributed to him by the cabinet geographer. The translation “despair” for “bitterness” (of the fish?) and the reference to Noah’s Deluge may be little touches ad captandum; but the Kibundo or Angolan tongue certainly has a dental though it lacks a cerebral d.

The easterly flow was here represented by the Leeba or upper course of the “Leeambye,” the “Diambege of Ladislaus Magyar, that great northern and north-western course of the Zambeze across which older geographers had thrown a dam of lofty mountains, where the Mosi-wa-tunya cataract was afterwards discovered. The opposite versant flowing to the north was the Kasai or Kasye (Livingstone), the Casais of the Pombeiros, the Casati of Douville, the Casasi and Casézi of M. Cooley (who derives it from Casezi, a priest, the corrupted Arabic Kissis ); the Kassabi (Casabi) of Beke, the Cassaby of Monteiro and Gamitto (p. 494), and the Kassaby or Cassay of Valdez. Its head water is afterwards called by the explorer Lomame and Loke, possibly for Lu-oke, because it drains the highlands of Mossamba and the district of Ji-oke, also called Ki-oke, Kiboke, and by the Portuguese “Quiboque.” The stream is described as being one hundred yards broad, running through a deep green glen like the Clyde. The people attested its length by asserting, in true African style, “If you sail along it for months, you will turn without seeing the end of it:” European geographers apparently will not understand that this declaration shows only the ignorance of the natives concerning everything a few miles beyond their homes. The explorer (February 27,1854) places the ford in south latitude 11° 15’ 47”, and his map shows east longitude (G.), 21° 40’ 30”, about 7° 30’ (=450 direct geographical miles) from Novo Redondo on the Western Coast. He dots its rise in the “Balobale country,” south latitude 12° to 13°, and east longitude 19° to 20°. Pursuing his course, Dr. Livingstone (March 30) first sighted the Quango (Coango) as it emerged from the dark jungles of Londa, a giant Clyde, some 350 yards broad, flowing down an enormous valley of denudation. He reached it on April, 1854, in south latitude 9° 53’, and east longitude (G.) 18° 37’, about 300 geographical linear miles from the Atlantic. Three days to the west lies the easternmost station of Angola, Cassange: no Portuguese lives, or rather then lived, beyond the Coango Valley. The settlers informed him that eight days’ or about 100 miles’ march south of this position, the sources are to be found in the “Mosamba Range” of the Basongo country; this would place them in about south latitude 12° to 13° and east longitude (G.) 18° to 19°.

The heights are also called in Benguela Nanos, Nannos, or Nhanos (highlands);9 and in our latest maps they are made to discharge from their seaward face the Coango and Cuanza to the west and north, the Kasai to the north-east and possibly to the Congo, the Cunene south-westwards to the Atlantic, and southwards the Kubango, whose destination is still doubtful. Dr. Charles Beke (“Athenæum,” No. 2206, February 5, 1870), judged from various considerations that the “Kassábi” rising in the primeval forests of Olo-vihenda, was the “great hydrophylacium of the continent of Africa, the central point of division between the waters flowing to the Mediterranean, to the Atlantic, and to the Indian Ocean”— in fact, the head-water of the Nile. I believe, however, that our subsequent information made my late friend abandon this theory.

On his return march to Linyanti, Dr. Livingstone, who was no longer incapacitated by sickness and fatigue, perceived that all the western feeders of the “Kasa” flow first from the western side towards the centre of the continent, then gradually turn with the main stream itself to the north, and “after the confluence of the Kasai with the Quango, an immense body of water collected from all these branches, finds its way out of the country by means of the River Congo or Zaire, on the Western Coast” (chap. xxii.). He adds: “There is but one opinion among the Balonda respecting the Kasai and the Quango. They invariably describe the Kasai as receiving the Quango, and beyond the confluence assuming the name of Zairé or Zerézeré. And thus he verifies the tradition of the Portuguese, who always speak of the Casais and the Coango as “suppôsto Congo.” It is regrettable that Dr. Livingstone has not been more explicit upon the native names. The Balonda could hardly have heard of the semi-European term Zaire, which is utterly unknown even at the Yellalas. On the other hand, it must be borne in mind that Maxwell was informed by native travellers that the river 600 miles up country was still called “Enzaddi,” and perhaps the explorer merely intends Zairé to explain Zerézeré. It is hardly necessary to notice Douville’s assertion (ii. 372).

Meanwhile the late Ladislaus Magyar, who had previously informed the Benguelan Government that the Casais was reported to fall into the Indian Ocean at some unknown place, in 1851 followed this great artery lower than any known traveller. He heard that, beyond his furthest exploration point (about south latitude 6° 30,10 and east longitude, G. 22°), it pursues a north-easterly direction and, widening several miles, it raises waves which are dangerous to canoes. The waters continue to be sweet and fall into a lake variously called Mouro or Moura (Moráve or Marávi?), Uhanja or Uhenje (Nyanza?), which is suspected to be the Urenge or Ulenge, of which Livingstone heard in about south latitude 3°, and east longitude (G.) 26°. The Hungarian traveller naturally identified it with the mythical Lake Nyassa which has done such portentous mischief in a day now gone by. Ladislaus Magyar also states:11 “The Congo rises, I have convinced myself by reports, in the swamp named Inhan-ha occupying the high plateau of Moluwa, in the lands of the Luba, uniting with the many streams of this region; at a distance of about five days from the source it becomes a deep though narrow river, which flows to the westward, through a level country covered with dense forests, whose frequent streams coming from the north (?) and south are taken up “by the river; then it bends north-westward under the name of Kuango.” Here we find the drowned lands, the “sponges” of Livingstone, who, however, placed the sources much further to the south-east.

Dr. Livingstone’s third and last expedition, which began on March 24, 1866, and which ended (1873) with fatal fitness in the swamps of the Bangweolo, suggests a new and more distant derivation for the mighty Congo. After travelling from the Rovuma River to Lake Nyassa, the great explorer in l867–8 came upon an “earthern mound,” west of Lake Bangweolo or Bemba, in about south latitude 11°; and here he places the sources of the Nile, where geographers have agreed provisionally to place the sources of the Congo. Already, in 1518, Fernandez de Enciso (Suma de Geographia), the “theoretical discoverer” of Kilimanjaro, was told by the Congoese that their river rises in high mountains, from which another great stream flows in an opposite direction — but this might apply to more watersheds than one. The subject is treated at considerable length in an article by Dr. E. Behm,12 certain of whose remarks I shall notice at the end of this chapter.

The article proves hypsometrically that the Lualaba, in which the explorer found the head waters of the Egyptian river, cannot feed the Tanganyika nor the Lake Nzige (N’zíghe, Mwutan, Chowambe, or Albert Nyanza Lake), nor even the Bahr el Ghazal, as was once suspected. From the latter, indeed, it is barred by the water parting of the Welle, the “Babura” of Jules Poncet (1860), in the land of the Monbuttú; whose system the later explorer, Dr. Schweinfurth, is disposed to connect with the Shari. Hydrometrically considered, the Lualaba, which at Nyangwe, the most northerly point explored by Dr. Livingstone (1870), rolls a flood of 124,000 cubic feet per second in the dry season, cannot be connected either with the Welle (5,100 cubic feet), nor with the Bahr el Ghazal (3,042 to 6,500 cubic feet), nor with the Nile below the mouth of the Bahr el Ghazal (11,330); nor with the Shari (67,500); nor with the shallow Ogobe, through its main forks the Rembo Okanda and the Rembo Nguye.

But the Lualaba may issue through the Congo. The former is made one of the four streams ferried over by those travelling from the Cazembe to the Mwata ya Nvo, and Dr. de Lacarda13 records it as the “Guarava,” probably a dialectic form of Lualava. It is the Luapula of the “Geographer of N’yassi,” who, with his usual felicity and boldness of conjecture (p. 38), bends it eastward, and discharges it into his mythical Central Sea.

Dr. Behm greatly under-estimates the Congo when he assigns to it only 1,800,000 cubic feet per second. He makes the great artery begin to rise in November instead of September and decrease in April, without noticing the March–June freshets, reported by all the natives to measure about one-third of the autumnal floods. His elements are taken from Tuckey, who found off the “Diamond Rock” a velocity of 3.50 knots an hour, and from Vidal’s Chart, showing 9,000 English feet or 1.50 nautical miles in a Thalweg fifty fathoms deep. Thus he assumes only two nautical miles for the current, or sixty inches per second, which must be considerably increased, and an average depth of ten fathoms, which again is too little. For 1,800,000 cubic feet of water per second, which Tuckey made 2,000,000, we may safely read 2,500,000.

Dr. Livingstone himself was haunted by the idea that he was exploring the Upper Congo, not the Nile. From a Portuguese subordinate he “learned that the Luapula went to Angola.” He asks with some truth, “Who would care to risk being put into a cannibal pot, and be converted into blackman for anything less than the grand old Nile?” And the late Sir Roderick I. Murchison, whose geographical forecasts were sometimes remarkable, suspected long ago14 that his “illustrious friend” would follow the drainage of the country to the western coast.

The “extraordinary quiet rise of the periodical flood,” proved by the first expedition, argues that the Congo “issues from the gradual overflowing of a lake or a chain of lakes.” The increment in the lower bed, only eight to twelve feet where the Nile and the Ganges rise thirty and the Binuwe fifty, would also suggest that it is provided with many large reservoirs. The Introduction to Tuckey’s “Narrative” (p. xviii.) assumes that the highest water is in March, but he entered the stream only on July 6, and the expedition ended in mid-October. The best informants assured me that from March till June there are heavy freshets. As in the Ogobe, the flood begins in early September, somewhat preceding that of the Lualaba, but, unlike the former stream, it attains its highest in November and December, and it gradually subsides from the end of June till August, about which time the water is lowest.

In the middle region of the Tanganyika, I found the rainy season lasting from September to May. At Lake Liemba, the south-eastern projection of the Tanganyika, Dr. Livingstone in 1867 saw no rain from May 12 to September, and in Many-wema-land, west of the central Tanganyika, about south latitude 5°, the wet season began in November, and continued till July with intervals, marking the passage of the belt of calms. But, for the Congo to rise in September, we must assume the rains to have fallen in early August, allowing ten or fifteen days for the streams to descend, and the rest for the saturation of the land. This postulates a supply from the Central African regions far north of the equator. Even for the March–June freshets, we must also undoubtedly go north of the Line, yet Herr H. Kiepert15 places the northernmost influent of Congo some 150 miles south of the equator. Under these limitations I agree with Dr. Behm:—“Taking everything into consideration, in the present state of our knowledge, there is the strongest probability that the Lualaba is the head stream of the Congo, and the absolute certainty that it has no connection with the Nile or any other river (system) of the northern hemisphere.” And again: “As surely as the sun stands over the southern hemisphere in our winter and the northern in our summer, bringing the rains and the swellings of the tropical rivers when it is in the zenith with regard to them, so surely can it be predicated, from a comparison of the rainy seasons and times of rising, that the Lualaba belongs to no river of the northern hemisphere; in the southern hemisphere Africa possesses only one river, the Congo, which could take up the vast water supply of the Lualaba.” The Brazil shows the curious feature of widely different and even opposite rainy seasons in the same parallel of latitude; but this is not the place to discuss the subject.

Since these lines were written, I have to lament the collapse of the Livingstone–Congo Expedition. In 1872 the great explorer’s friends, taking into consideration the prospect of his turning westward, organized a “relief” from West as well as from East Africa. Mr. J. Young, of Kelly, generously supplied the sinews of travel, and Mr. Clements R. Markham, Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society, lent important aid in preparing the exploration. Navigating–Lieutenant W. J. Grandy, who had seen service on the eastern coast of Africa, landed at S. Paulo de Loanda in early 1873, and set out from Ambriz in March of that year. The usual difficulties were met and overcome, when Lieutenant Grandy was summarily recalled. The official explanation (“Royal Geographical Society,” December 14th, 1874), is that the measure was in consequence of Livingstone’s death. The traveller himself says:—“Complying with instructions, we, with many regrets at the idea of leaving our work unfinished when all seemed so full of promise, commenced preparations for the return, leaving good presents with the chiefs, in order to procure a good reception for those who might come after us.” An Ex–President of the Royal Geographical Society had asserted, “The ascent of the (Upper) Congo ought to be more productive of useful geographical results than any other branch of African exploration, as it will bring to the test of experiment the navigability of the Congo above the Falls, and thus possibly open out a means of introducing traffic by steam into the heart of the continent at least two thousand miles from the mouth of the river.”

With this explicit and stimulating assertion before us, we must lament that England, once the worthy rival in exploration of Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands, is now too poor to support a single exploration on the West African Coast, when Germany is wealthy enough liberally to subsidize two.


A nous deux, Dr. E. Behm!

My objections to your paper are the three following: 1. It generally understates the volume of the Nzadi, by not allowing sufficiently for the double equinoctial periods of high water, March to June, as well as September to December; and by ignoring the north-equatorial supply. 2. It arbitrarily determines the question of the Tanganyika, separating it from the Nile-system upon the insufficient strength of a gorilla, and of an oil-palm which is specifically different from that of the Western Coast; and 3. It wilfully misrepresents Dr. Livingstone in the matter of the so-called Victoria Nyanza.

My first objection has been amply discussed. I therefore proceed to consider the second. As Mr. Alexander G. Findlay observed (“Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society,” No. 3, vol. xvii. of July 28, 1873):—“Up to the time of Stanley’s arrival at Ujiji, and his journey to the north of the lake, Livingstone was fully impressed with the conviction that the Tanganyika is nothing more than what he called a ‘lacustrine river’ (329 miles long by twenty of average breadth); flowing steadily to the north and forming a portion of the Great Nile Basin. The letters contained his reasons for forming that opinion, stating that he had been for weeks and months on the shores of the lake watching the flow of the water northwards” (at the rate of a knot per hour). At times the current appeared to run southwards, but that was under the influence of strong northerly winds. Also by Dr. Livingstone’s letters to Sir Thomas Maclear and Dr. Mann (” Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society,“No. i of 1873, pp. 69–70), it is evident that the explorer believed only in the lake outlet north of Ujiji. Again, Mr. Findlay, after attentively considering the unsatisfactory visit of Dr. Livingstone and Mr. Stanley to the Rusizi River in November and December, 1871, holds it to be a mere marsh-drain, which when the south winds prevail, would possibly flow in the opposite direction; and he still believes that Captain Speke and I, when at Uvira, were within five or six miles of the head.

Since Dr. Livingstone’s visit we have heard more upon this disputed subject. A native of Karagwah assured my friend Sir Samuel Baker — who, despite all prepossessions, candidly accepted the statement — that it is possible and feasible to canoe from Chibero,on the so-called Albert Nyanza, past Uvira, where the stream narrows and where a pilot is required, to the Arab dépôt, Ujiji. He described the northern portion of the Tanganyika as varying much in breadth, immensely wide beyond Vacovia, and again contracting at Uvira. His report was confirmed by a Msawahíli, sent by King Mtesa, with whom he had lived many years, to communicate with Baker Pasha at Fatiko; this man knew both Uvira and Ujiji, which he called “Uyiyi.” Nothing can be more substantial than this double testimony, which wears all the semblance of truth.

On the other hand, Lieut. Cameron, whose admirable work has, so to speak, re-constructed the Tanganyika Lake, discovered, on the 3rd of May, 18–74, the Lukuga River, which he supposes to form the outlet. It lies 25 direct miles to the south of the Kasenge Archipelago, numbering seventeen isles, visited by Captain Speke in March, 1857. Dr. Livingstone touched here on July 13, 1869, and heard nothing of the outlet; he describes a current sweeping round Kasenge to south-east or southwards according to the wind, and carrying trees at the rate of a knot an hour. But Mr. Stanley (pp. 400 et passim) agrees with Dr. Krapf, who made a large river issue from “the lake” westwards, and who proposed, by following its course, to reach the Atlantic. The “discoverer of Livingstone” evidently inclines to believe that the Tanganyika drains through the caverns of Kabogo near Uguhha, and he records the information of native travellers that “Kabogo is a great mountain on the other side of the Tanganyika, full of deep holes, into which the water rolls; “moreover, that at the distance of over a hundred miles he himself heard the” sound of the thundering surf which is said to roll into the caves of Kabogo.“In his map he ‘cutely avoids inserting anything beyond “Kabogo Mountains, 6,000 to 7,000 feet high.”

The gallant young naval lieutenant’s exploration of the Lukuga has not yet reached us in a satisfactory form. He found the current sluggishly flowing at the rate of 1.2 knots per hour; he followed it for four or five miles, and he was stopped by floating grass and enormous rushes (papyri?). A friendly chief told him that the Lukuga feeds the Lualaba which, beyond Nyangwe (Livingstone’s furthest point, in about south latitude 4°) takes the name of Ugarowwa. An Arab had descended this stream fifty-five marches, and reached a place where there were ships and white merchants who traded largely in palm-oil and ivory, both rare on the Congo River. And, unfortunately, “the name (River) Congo was also mentioned,” a term utterly unknown except to the few Portuguese-speaking natives.

At present, therefore, we must reserve judgment, and the only conclusion to which the unprofessional reader would come is that the weight of authority is in favour of a double issue for the Tanganyika, north and west.

The wilful misrepresentation is couched in these words: “The reports obtained by Livingstone are if anything favourable to the unity of the Victoria Nyanza (Ukerewe, Ukara,) because along with it he names only such lakes as were already known to have a separate existence from it.” As several were recognized, ergo it is one! Dr. Livingstone heard from independent sources that the so-called Victoria Nyanza is a lake region, not a lake; his account of the Okara (Ukara), and the three or four waters run into a single huge sheet, is substantially the same as that which, after a study of the Rev. Mr. Wakefield’s Reports I offered to the Royal Geographical Society, and which I subsequently published in “Zanzibar City, Island, and Coast.” You, Dr. Behm, are apparently satisfied with a lake drained by an inverted delta of half-a-dozen issues — I am not. Nor can I agree with you that “whether the Victoria Nyanza is one lake or several is a point of detail of less importance,” when it has disfigured the best maps of Africa for nearly a score of years. The last intelligence concerning the “unity” of the lake is from Colonel C. C. Long, a staff-officer in the service of His Highness the Khedive, who was sent by Colonel Gordon on a friendly mission to King Mtesa of Uganda. With permission to descend “Murchison Creek,” and to view “Lake Victoria Nyanza,” Colonel Long, after a march of three hours, took boat. He sounded the waters of the lake, and found a depth of from 25 to 35 feet; in clear weather the opposite shore was visible, appearing “to an unnautical eye” from 12 to 15 miles distant; nor could this estimate be greatly wrong. After much negotiation and opposition he obtained leave to return to Egyptian territory by water, and on the way, in north latitude 1° 30’, he discovered a second lake or “large basin,” at least 20 to 25 miles wide. The geography is somewhat hazy, but the assertions are not to be mistaken.

Finally, I read with regret such statements as the following, made by so well-known a geographer as yourself: “Speke’s views have been splendidly confirmed; the attacks of his opponents, especially of Burton, who was most inimically inclined to him, collapse into nothing.” This unwarrantable style of assertion might be expected from the “Mittheilungen,” but it is not honourable to a man of science. There are, you well know, three main points of difference between the late Captain Speke and myself. The first is the horse-shoe of mountains blocking up the northern end of the Tanganyika; this, after a dozen years, I succeeded in abolishing. The second is the existence of the Victoria Nyanza, which I assert to be a lake region, not a lake; it is far from being a “point of detail,” and I hope presently to see it follow the way of the horse-shoe. Thirdly is the drainage of the Tanganyika, which Captain Speke threw southward to the Zambeze, a theory now universally abandoned. This may be your view of “splendid confirmation”— I venture to think that it will not be accepted by the geographical world.

1 “Relazione del Reame di Congo, e delle circonvicine contrade, tratta dagli Scritti e Raggionamenti di Odoardo Lopez, Portogheze, per Philippo Pigafetta.” Roma, 1591, fol.

2 “Historia de Etiopia,” p. 65.

3 “Geography of N’yassi,” note, p. 51.

4 See “Zanzibar City, Island, and Coast,” vol. i. p. 5. “Marinus of Tyre” became by misprint “mariners of Tyre.”

5 Chap. xvii. of the Rev. Mr. Waddell’s “Twenty-nine Years in the West Indies and Central Africa.”

6 “Narrative of a Voyage of Discovery to Africa and Arabia,” by Captain Thomas Boteler. London: Bentley, 1835; repeated from Owen’s “Voyages to Africa, Arabia,” &c. London: Bentley, 1833. Lt. Wolf, R.N., has given an able analysis of this great surveying undertaking in the “Journal of the Geographical Society,” vol. iii. of 1833.

7 See chap. v.

8 Of this lake I shall have something to say in chap. xii.

9 See “The Lands of the Cazembe,” p. 24.

10 Petermann’s “Geog. Mitt.” of 1860, pp. 227–235. I have duly obtained at Pest the permission of Professor Hunfálvy, who in 1859 edited the Hungarian and German issues, to translate into English the highly interesting volume, the only remains of Ladislaus Magyar, the traveller having died, Nov. 19, 1864, after visiting large and previously unknown tracts of south-western Africa. The work has been undertaken by the Rev. R. C. G. O’Callaghan, consular chaplain, Trieste, and I hope that it will soon appear with notes by myself. It will be a fitting pendant to Dr. de Lacerda’s “Journey to the Lands of the Cazembe.”

11 “Geog. Mitt.” 1857, p. 190.

12 Proofs of the identity of the Lualaba with the Congo;” translated by Mr. Keith Johnston from the “Geogr. Mittheilungen,” i. 18, Bund, 1872, and published in the “Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society,” No. i, vol. xviii. of Feb. 24, 1873.

13 “The Lands of the Cazembe,” p. 47.

14 “Daily Telegraph,” Sept. 6, 1869.

15 “Erläuterungen,” &c. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 1874.

Chapter 11.

Life at Banza Nokki.

I was now duly established with my books and instruments at Nkaye, and the inevitable delay was employed in studying the country and the people, and in making a botanical collection. But the season was wholly unpropitious. A naval officer, who was considered an authority upon the Coast, had advised me to travel in September, when a journey should never begin later than May. The vegetation was feeling the effect of the Cacimbo; most of the perennials were in seed, and the annuals were nearly dried up. The pictorial effects were those of

“Autumn laying here and there

A fiery finger on the leaves.”

Yet, with Factotum Selim’s assistance, I managed to collect some 490 specimens within the fortnight. We had not the good fortune of the late Dr. Welwitsch (Welwitschia mirabilis), but there is still a copious treasure left for those who visit the Congo River in the right season.

I was delighted with the country, a counterpart of the Usumbara Hills in Eastern Africa, disposed upon nearly the same parallel. The Cacimbo season corresponded with the Harmattan north of the Line; still, grey mornings, and covered, rainless noons, so distasteful to the Expedition, which complained that, from four to five days together, it could not obtain an altitude. The curious contrast in a region of evergreens was not wanting, the varied tintage of winter on one tree, and upon another the brightest hues of budding spring. The fair land of grass and flowers “rough but beautiful,” of shrubbery-path, and dense mottes or copse islets, with clear fountains bubbling from the rocks, adorned by noble glimpses of the lake-like river, and of a blue horizon, which suggested the ocean — ever one of the most attractive points in an African landscape — was easily invested by the eye of fancy with gold and emerald and steely azure from above, whilst the blue masses of bare mountain, thrown against a cloudless sky, towered over the black-green sea of vegetation at their base, like icebergs rising from the bosom of the Atlantic.

As in the Brazilian Rio de São Francisco, the few miles between the mouth and the hill-region cause a radical change of climate. Here the suns are never too hot, nor are the moons too cold; the nights fall soft and misty, the mornings bring the blessing of freshness; and I was never weary of enjoying the effects of dying and reviving day. The most delicate sharpness and purity of outline took the place of meridian reek and blur; trees, rocks, and chalets were picked out with an utter disregard to the perspective of distance, and the lowest sounds were distinctly heard in the hard, clear atmosphere. The damp and fetid vegetation of the Coast wholly disappeared. By the benefit of purest air and water, with long walks and abundant palm wine from the trees hung with calabashes, the traces of “Nanny Po” soon vanished; appetite and sleep returned, nightly cramps were things unknown, and a healthy glow overspread the clammy, corpse-like skin. When the Lower Congo shall become the emporium of lawful trade, the white face will find a sanatorium in these portals of the Sierra del Crystal — the vine will flourish, the soil will produce the cereals as well as the fruits and vegetables of Europe, and this region will become one of the “Paradises of Africa.”

The banzas of Congo-land show the constitution of native society, which, as in Syria, and indeed in most barbarous and semi-barbarous places, is drawn together less by reciprocal wants than by the ties of blood. Here families cannot disperse, and thus each hamlet is a single house, with its patriarch for president and judge. When the population outgrows certain limits, instead of being confounded with its neighbours, it adds a settlement upon neighbouring ground, and removal is the work of a single day. The towns are merely big villages, whose streets are labyrinths of narrow pathways, often grass-grown, because each man builds in his own way. Some translate the word “Banza” by city, unaware that Central African people do not build cities. Professor Smith rightly explains it “a village, which with them means a paterfamilias, and his private dependants.” So the maligned Douville (i. 159)—“On donne le nom de banza à la ville ou réside le chef d’une peuplade ou nation nègre. On l’attribue aussi à l’enceinte que le chef ou souverain habite avec les femmes et sa cour. Dans ce dernier sens le mot banza veut dire palais du chef.”

Our situation is charming, high enough to be wholesome, yet in a sheltered valley, an amphitheatre opening to the south-east or rainy quarter; the glorious trees, here scattered, there gathered in clumps and impenetrable bosquets, show the exuberant fertility of the soil. Behind and above the village rises a dwarf plateau, rich with plantains and manioc. After the deserted state of the river banks — the effect of kidnapping — we are surprised to find so populous a region. Within cannon-shot, there are not less than twelve villages, with a total, perhaps, of 2,400 souls.

Banza Nkaye, as usual uninclosed, contains some forty habitations, which may lodge two hundred head. The tenements are built upon platforms cut out of the hill slopes; and the make proves that, even during the rains, there is little to complain of climate. Ten of these huts belong to royalty, which lives upon the lowest plane; and each wife has her own abode, whilst the “senzallas” of the slaves cluster outside. The foundation is slightly raised, to prevent flooding. The superstructure strikes most travellers as having somewhat the look of a châlet, although Proyart compares it with a large basket turned upside down. Two strong uprights, firmly planted, support on their forked ends a long strut-beam, tightly secured; the eaves are broad to throw off the rain, and the neat thatch of grass, laid with points upwards in regular courses, and kept in site by bamboo strips, is renewed before the stormy season. The roof and walls are composed of six screens; they are made upon the ground, often occupying months, and they can be put together in a few minutes. The material, which an old traveller says is of “leaves interwoven not contemptibly with one another,” is a grass growing everywhere on the hills, plaited and attached to strips of cane or bamboo-palm (Raphia vinifera); the gable “walls” are often a cheque — pattern, produced by twining “tie-tie,” “monkey rope,” or creepers, stained black, round the dull-yellow groundwork; and one end is pierced for a doorway, that must not front the winds and rains. It is a small square hole, keeping the interior dark and cool; and the defence is a screen of cane-work, fastened with a rude wooden latch. The flooring is hard, tamped clay, in the centre of which the fire is laid; the cooking, however, is confined to the broad eaves, or to the compound which, surrounded with neat walls, backs the house. The interior is divided into the usual “but” and “ben.” The latter communicates with the former by a passage, masked with a reed screen; it is the sleeping-place and the store-room; and there is generally a second wicket for timely escape. The only furniture consists of mats, calabashes, and a standing bedstead of rude construction, or a bamboo cot like those built at Lagos — in fact, the four bare walls suggest penury. But in the “small countries,” as the “landward towns” are called, where the raid and the foray are not feared, the householder entrusts to some faithful slave large stores of cloth and rum, of arms and gunpowder.

The abodes suggest those of our semi-barbarous ancestors, as described by Holingshed, where earth mixed with lime formed the floor; where the fire was laid to the wall; where the smoke, which, besides hardening timber, was “expected to keep the good man and his family from quake and fever, curled from the door; and where the bed was a straw pallet, with a log of wood for a pillow. But the Congoese is better lodged than we were before the days of Queen Elizabeth; what are luxuries in the north, broad beds and deep arm-chairs, would here be far less comfortable than the mats, which serve for all purposes. I soon civilized my hut with a divan, the Hindostani chabutarah, the Spanish estrada, the “mud bank” or “bunting” of Sierra Leone, a cool earth-bench running round the room, which then wanted only a glass window. But no domestic splendour was required; life in the open air is the life for the tropics: even in England a greater proportion of it would do away with much neuralgia and similar complaints. And, if the establishment be simple, it is also neat and clean: we never suffered from the cimex and pulex of which Captain Tuckey complains so bitterly, and the fourmis voyageuses (drivers), mosquitoes, scorpions, and centipedes were unknown to us.

The people much resemble those of the Gaboon. The figure is well formed, except the bosom, whose shape prolonged lactation, probably upon the principle called Malthusian, soon destroys; hence the first child is said to “make the breasts fall.” The face is somewhat broad and flat, the jowl wide, deep, and strong, and the cerebellum is highly developed as in the Slav. The eye is well opened, with thick and curly lashes, but the tunica conjunctiva is rarely of a pure white; the large teeth are of good shape and colour. Extensive tattoos appear on breasts, backs, and shoulders; the wearers are generally slaves, also known by scantier clothing, by darker skins, and by a wilder expression of countenance. During their “country nursing,” the children run about wholly nude, except the coating of red wood applied by the mothers, or the dust gathered from the ground. I could not hear of the weaning custom mentioned by Merolla, the father lifting the child by the arm, and holding him for a time hanging in the air, “falsely believing that by those means he will become more strong and robust.” Whilst the men affect caps, the women go bare-headed, either shaving the whole scalp, or leaving a calotte of curly hair on the poll; it resembles the Shúshah of Western Arabia and East Africa, but it is carried to the fore like a toucan’s crest. Some, by way of coquetterie, trace upon the scalp a complicated network, showing the finest and narrowest lines of black wool and pale skin: so the old traveller tells us “the heads of those who aspire to glory in apparel resemble a parterre, you see alleys and figures traced on them with a great deal of ingenuity.” The bosom, elaborately bound downwards, is covered with a square bit of stuff, or a calico pagne — most ungraceful of raiment-wrapped under the arms, and extending to the knees:

“In longitude’tis sorely scanty,

But ‘tis their best, and they are vaunty.”

The poor and the slaves content themselves with grass cloth. The ornaments are brass earrings, beads and imitation coral; heavy bangles and manillas of brass and copper, zinc and iron, loading the ankles, and giving a dainty elephantine gait; the weight also produces stout mollets, which are set off by bead-garters below the knees. The leg, as amongst hill people generally, is finely developed, especially amongst the lower orders: the “lady’s” being often lank and spindled, as in Paris and Naples, where the carriage shrinks the muscles as bandages cramp Chinese feet.

In these hamlets women are far more numerous than men. Marriage being expensive amongst the “Mfumo” or gentry, the houses are stocked with Hagars, and the children inherit their father’s rank as Mwana Mfumos, opposed to Mwanangambe, labouring people, or Wantu, slaves.

The missionaries found a regular system of “hand-fasting.” Their neophytes did not approve of marriage in facie ecclesiæ, “for they must first be satisfied whether their wife will have children; whether she will be diligent in her daily labour, and, lastly, whether she will prove obedient, before they will marry her. If they find her faulty in any of these points, they immediately send her back again to her parents.” The woman, not being looked upon the worse for being returned into stores, soon afterwards underwent another trial, perhaps with success. Converts were fined nine crowns for such irregularities. “But, oh!” exclaims a good father, “what pains do we take to bring them to marry the lover, and how many ridiculous arguments and reasons do they bring to excuse themselves from this duty and restraint.” He tells us how he refused absolution to a dying woman, unless she compelled her daughter to marry a man with whom she was “living upon trial.” The mother answered wisely enough, “Father, I will never give my daughter cause to curse me after I am dead, by obliging her to wedlock where she does not fancy.” Whereupon the priest replied, “What! do you not stand more in awe of a temporal than an eternal curse?” and, working upon the feelings of the girl, who began to tremble and to weep, extorted from her a promise to accept the “feigned husband.” He adds, “Notwithstanding this, some obstinate mothers have rather chosen to die unconfessed, than to concern themselves with the marriage of their daughters.” Being obliged to attend Communion at Easter, these temporary couples would part on the first day of Lent; obtain absolution and, a week afterwards, either cohabit once more or find otherpartners. The “indiscreet method of courtship,” popularly known as “bundling,” here existed, and was found by Caillié amongst the southern Moors: “When everybody is at rest, the man creeps into his intended’s tent, and remains with her till daybreak.”

An energetic attempt was made to abolish polygamy, which, instead of diminishing population as some sciolists pretend, caused the country to swarm like maritime China. Father Carli, who also dilates upon the evil practice of the sexes living together on trial, ca. didly owns that his main difficulty lay in “bringing the multitude to keep to one wife, they being wholly averse to that law.” Yet old travellers declare that when the missionaries succeeded, the people “lived so Christian-like and lovingly together, that the wife would suffer herself to be cut to pieces rather than deceive her husband.” Merolla, indeed, enlarges on the constancy of women, whether white or black, when lawfully married to their mates; and praises them for living together in all manner of love and amity. “Hence may be learned what a propensity the women have to chastity in these parts, many of whom meet together on the first day of Lent, and oblige themselves, under pain of severe penance, to a strict continence till Easter.” In case of adultery the husband could divorce the wife; he was generally satisfied by her begging his pardon, and by taking a slave from the lover. Widowed “countesses,” proved guilty of “immorality,” suffered death by fire or sword. On the other hand, the “princess” had a right to choose her husband; but, as in Persia, the day of his splendid wedding was the last of his liberty. He became a prisoner and a slave; he was surrounded by spies; he was preceded by guards out of doors, and at the least “écart” his head was chopped off and his paramour was sold. These ladies amply revenged the servitude of their sex —

“Asperius nihil est humili cum surgit in altum.”

Rich women were allowed to support quasihusbands until they became mothers; and the slaves of course lived together without marriage. Since the days of the Expedition a change for the better has come over the gentil sesso. The traveller is no longer in the “dilemma of Frère Jean,” and, except at the river-mouth and at the adjacent villages, there is none of that officious complaisance which characterizes every hamlet in the Gaboon country. The men appear peculiarly jealous, and the women fearful of the white face. Whenever we approached a feminine group, it would start up and run away; if cooking ground-nuts, the boldest would place a little heap upon the bottom of an upturned basket, push it towards us and wave us off. The lowest orders will submit to a kind of marriage for four fathoms of cloth; exactly double the tariff paid in Tuckey’s time (pp. 171–181); and this ratio will apply to all other articles of living. Amongst themselves nubile girls are not remarkably strict; but as matrons they are rigid. The adulterer is now punished by a heavy fine, and, if he cannot pay, his death, as on many parts of the Southern Coast, is lawful to the husband.

The life is regular, and society is simple and patriarchal, as amongst the Iroquois and Mohawks, or in the Shetlands two centuries ago. The only excitement, a fight or a slave hunt, is now become very rare. Yet I can hardly lay down the “curriculum vitae” as longer than fifty-five years, and there are few signs of great age. Merolla declares the women to be longer-lived than the men. Gidi Mavunga, who told me that the Congo Expedition visited their Banza when his mother was a child, can hardly be forty-five, as his eldest son shows, and yet he looks sixty. The people rise at dawn and, stirring up the fire, light the cachimbos or large clay pipes which are rarely out of their mouths. Tobacco (nsunza) grows everywhere and, when rudely cured, it is sold in ringlets or twisted leaves; it is never snuffed, and the only chaw is the Mákázo or Kola nut which grows all over these hills; of these I bought 200 for 100 coloured porcelain beads, probably paying treble the usual price. No food is eaten at dawn, a bad practice, which has extended to the Brazil and the Argentine Republic; but if a dram be procurable it is taken “por la manana.” The slave-women, often escorted by one of the wives, and accompanied by the small girls, who must learn to work whilst their brothers are idling with their rattles, set out with water-pots balanced on their Astrachan wool, or with baskets for grain and firewood slung by a head-strap to the back The free-born remain at home, bathing and anointing with palm-oil, which renders the skin smooth and supple, but leaves a peculiar aroma; they are mostly cross enough till they have thoroughly shaken off sleep, and the morning generally begins with scolding the slaves or a family wrangle. I have seen something of the kind in Europe.

Visiting, chatting, and strolling from place to place, lead to the substantial breakfast or first dinner between 9 and 10 A.M. Meat rarely appears; river fish, fresh or sun-dried, is the usual “kitchen,” eaten with manioc, toasted maize, and peeled, roasted, and scraped plantain: vegetables and palm-oil obtained by squeezing the nut in the hands, are the staple dish, and beans are looked upon rather as slaves’ food. They have no rice and no form of “daily bread:” I happened to take with me a few boxes of “twice-baked,” and this Mbolo was the object of every chiefs ambition. “Coleworts” are noticed by Merolla as a missionary importation; he tells us that they produce no seed; and are propagated by planting the sprouts, which grow to a great height. The greens, cabbages, spinach, and French beans, mentioned by Tuckey, have been allowed to die out. Tea, coffee, sugar, and all such exotics, are unappreciated, if not unknown; chillies, which grow wild, enter into every dish, and the salt of native manufacture, brown and earthy, is bought in little baskets.

Between breakfast and midday there is a mighty drink. The palm-wine, here called “Msámbá,” and on the lower river “Manjewa,” is not brought in at dawn, or it would be better. The endogen in general use is the elai’s, which is considered to supply a better and more delicate liquor than the raphia. The people do not fell the tree like the Kru-men, but prefer the hoop of “supple-jack” affected by the natives of Fernando Po and Camarones. A leaf folded funnel-wise, and inserted as usual in the lowest part of the frond before the fruit forms, conveys the juice into the calabashes, often three, which hang below the crown; and the daily produce may be ten quarts. On the first day of tapping, the sap is too sweet; it is best during the following week and, when it becomes tart, no more must be drawn or the tree will be injured. It cannot be kept; acetous fermentation sets in at once, and presently it coagulates and corrupts. At Banana and Boma it is particularly good; at Porto da Lenha it is half water, but the agents dare not complain, for the reason which prevents them offering “spliced grog” to the prepotent negro. Europeans enjoy the taste, but dislike the smell of palm-wine; those in whom it causes flatulence should avoid it, but where it agrees it is a pleasant stimulant, pectoral, refreshing, and clearing the primæ vice. Mixed with wine or spirits, it becomes highly intoxicating. The rude beers, called by Merolla Guallo and by Tuckey (p. 120) Baamboo, the Oualo of Douville, and the Pombeof East Africa, mentioned by almost every traveller, are not now found on the lower river.

About noon the slaves return from handling their trowel-shaped iron hoes, and the “gentleman” takes a siesta proportioned to his drink. The poorer classes sit at home weaving, spinning, or threading beads, whilst the wives attend to household work, prepare the meals, buy and sell, dig and delve. Europeans often pity the sex thus “doomed to perform the most laborious drudgery;” but it is a waste of sentiment. The women are more accustomed to labour in all senses of the word, and the result is that they equal their mates in strength and stature; they enjoy robust health, and their children, born without difficulty, are sturdy and vigorous. The same was the case amongst the primitive tribes of Europe; Zamacola (Anthrop. Mem. ii. 38), assures us that the Basque women were physically powerful as the men, with whom they engaged in prize-fights.

The master awakes about 3 P.M. and smokes, visits, plays with his children, and dawdles away his time till the cool sunset, when a second edition of the first meal is served up. If there be neither dance nor festival, all then retire to their bens, light the fire, and sit smoking tobacco or bhang, with frequent interruptions of palm wine or rum, till joined by their partners. Douville (ii. 113), says that the Pangué or chanvre, “croît naturellement dans lepays” I believe the questions to be still sub judice, whether the intoxicating cannabis be or be not indigenous to Africa as well as to Asia; and whether smoking was not known in the Old World, as it certainly was in the New, before tobacco was introduced. The cannabis Indica was the original anæsthetic known to the Arabs and to civilized Orientals many centuries before the West invented ether and chloroform.

Our landlord has two wives, but one is a mother and will not rejoin him till her child can carry a calabash of water unaided. To avoid exciting jealousy he lives in a hut apart, surrounded by seven or eight slaves, almost all of them young girls. This regular life is varied by a little extra exertion at seed-time and harvest, by attending the various quitandas or markets of the country side, and by an occasional trip to “town” (Boma). When the bush is burning, all sally out with guns, clubs, and dogs, to bring home “beef.” And thus they dwell in the presence of their brethren, thinking little of today, and literally following the precept, “Take no thought for the morrow.” As the old missioners testify, they have happy memories, their tempers are mild, and quarrels rarely lead to blows; they are covetous, but not miserly; they share what they have, and they apply the term “close-fist” to the European who gives “nuffin for nuffin.”

The most superstitious of men, they combine the two extremes of belief and unbelief; they have the firmest conviction in their own tenets, whilst those of others flow off their minds like water from a greased surface. The Catholic missioners laboured amongst them for nearly two hundred years; some of these ecclesiastics were ignorant and bigoted as those whom we still meet on the West African Coast, but not a few were earnest and energetic, scrupulous and conscientious, able and learned as the best of our modern day. All did not hurry over their superficial tasks like the Neapolitan father Jerome da Montesarchio, who baptized 100,000 souls; and others, who sprinkled children till their arms were tired. Many lived for years in the country, learning the language and identifying themselves with their flocks. Yet the most they ever effected was to make their acolytes resemble the Assyrians whom Shalmaneser transplanted to Assyria, who “feared the Lord and served their graven images” (2 Kings, xvii. 33–41). Their only traces are the word “Deus,” foully perverted like the Chinese “joss;” and an occasional crucifix which is called cousa de branco — white man’s thing. Tuckey was justified in observing at Nokki that the crucifixes, left by missioners, were strangely mixed with native fetishes, and that the people seemed by no means improved by the muddle of Christian and Pagan idolatry.

The system is at once complicated and unsettled. There is, apparently, the sensus numinis; the vague deity being known as Nzambi or Njambi, which the missionaries translated into God, as Nganna Zambi — Lord Zambi. Merolla uses Zambiabungù, and in the vocabulary, Zabiambunco, for the “Spirit above” (Zambi-a-npungo): Battel tells us that the King of Loango was called “Sambee and Pango, which mean God.” The Abbé Proyart terms the Supreme “Zambi,” and applies Zambi-a-n-pongou to a species of malady brought on by perjury. He also notices the Manichæan idea of Zambi-a-Nbi, or bad-God, drawing the fine distinction of European belief in a deity supremely good, who permits evil without participating in it. But the dualism of moral light and darkness, noticed by all travellers,1 is a bonâ fide existence with Africans, and the missionaries converted the Angolan “Cariapemba” into the Aryo–Semitic Devil.

Zambi is the Anyambia of the Gaboon country, a vox et præterea nihil. Dr. Livingstone (“First Expedition,” p. 641), finds the word general amongst the Balonda, or people of Lunda: with the “Cazembes” the word is “Pambi,” or “Liza,” and “O Muata Cazembe” (p. 297) mentions the proverb, “Ao Pambi e ao Mambi (the King) nada iguala.” In the “Vocabulario da lingua Cafrial” we see (p. 469) that “Murungo” means God or thunder. It is the rudimental idea of the great Zeus, which the Greeks worked out, the God of Æther, the eternal, omnipotent, and omniscient, “who was, who is, and who is to come,” the Unknown and Unknowable, concerning whom St. Paul quoted Aristæus on Mars’ Hill. But the African brain naturally confused it with a something gross and material: thus Nzambi-a-Npungu is especially the lightning god. Cariambemba is, properly, Kadi Mpemba or Ntangwa, the being that slays mankind: Merolla describes it as an “abominable idol;” and the word is also applied to the owl, here as in Dahome the object of superstition. I could trace no sign of worship paid to the sun (Tangwa or Muinyi), but there are multitudes of minor gods, probably deified ghosts, haunting particular places. Thus, “Simbi” presides over villages and the “Tadi Nzazhi,” or Lightning Rock, near Boma; whilst the Yellala is the abode of an evil being which must be propitiated by offerings. As usual amongst Fetish worshippers, the only trace of belief in a future state is faith in revenants — returning men or ghosts.

Each village has an idol under a little wall-less roof, apparently an earthern pot of grease and feathers, called Mavunga. This may be the Ovengwa of the “Camma people,” a “terrible catcher and eater of men, a vampire of the dead; personal, whilst the Ibamba are indistinct; tall as a tree; wandering through the woods, ever winking; whereas the Greek immortals were known by their motionless eyelids. “Ngolo Wanga” is a man-shaped figure of unpainted wood, kept in the hut. Every house is stuck inside and outside with idols and fetishes, interpreters of the Deity, each having its own jurisdiction over lightning, wind, and rain; some act as scarecrows; others teach magic, avert evils, preserve health and sight, protect cattle, and command fish in the sea or river. They are in all manner of shapes, strings of mucuna and poison-beans; carved images stuck over with feathers and tassels; padlocks with a cowrie or a mirror set in them; horns full of mysterious “medicine;” iron-tipped poles; bones; birds’ beaks and talons; skins of snakes and leopards, and so forth. We shall meet them again upon our travels.

No man walks abroad without his protecting charms, Nkisi or Nkizi, the Monda of the Gaboon, slung en baudrier, or hanging from his shoulder. The portable fetish of our host is named “Báká chyá Mázínga: Professor Smith (p. 323) makes “Mázengá” to be “fetishes for the detection of theft.” These magicæ vanitates are prophylactics against every evil to which man’s frailty is heir. The missioners were careful not to let their Congo converts have anything from their bodies, like hair or nail parings, for fear lest it be turned to superstitious use; and a beard (the price of conversion) was refused to the “King of Micocco.” Like the idols, these talismans avert ill luck, bachelorhood, childlessness, poverty, and ill health; they are equally powerful against the machinations of foes, natural or supernatural; against wild beasts, the crocodile, the snake, and the leopard; and against wounds of lead and steel. They can produce transformation; destroy enemies; cause rain or drought, fine or foul weather; raise and humble, enrich and impoverish countries; and, above all things, they are sovereign to make man brave in battle. Shortly before we entered Banza Nkaye a propitiation of the tutelary gods took place: Coxswain Deane had fired an Enfield, and the report throughout the settlement was that our guns would kill from the river-bank.

The Nganga of Congo-land, the Mganga of the Wasawahili and the Uganga of the Gaboon, exactly corresponds with M. Michelet’s Sorcière of the Middle Ages, “physicienne,” that is doctor for the people and poisoner; we cannot, however, apply in Africa the adage of Louis XIII.‘s day, “To one wizard ten thousand witches.” In the “Muata Cazembe” (pp. 57, et passim) we read “O Ganga or O Surjão;” the magician is there called “Muroi,” which, like “Fite,” is also applied to magic. The Abbé Proyart opines of his professional brother, “he is ignorant as the rest of the people, but a greater rogue,”— a pregnant saying. Yet here “the man of two worlds” is not l’homme de révolution, and he suffices for the small “spiritual wants” of his flock. He has charge of the “Kizila,” the “Chigella” of Merolla and the “Quistilla” of James Barbot — Anglicè putting things in fetish, which corresponds with the Tahitian tapu or taboo. The African idea is, that he who touches the article, for instance, gold on the eastern coast of Guinea, will inevitably come to grief. When “fetish is taken off,” as by the seller of palm wine who tastes it in presence of the buyer, the precaution is evidently against poison. Many of these “Kizila” are self-imposed, for instance a water melon may never enter Banza Nokki, and, though slaves may eat bananas upon a journey, the master may not. Others refuse the flesh of a fowl until it has been tasted by a woman. These rules are delivered to the young, either by the fetishman or the parents, and, when broken, they lead to death, doubtless often the consequence of strong belief. The Nganga superintends, as grand inquisitor, the witch-ordeal, by causing the accused to chew red-wood and other drugs in this land ferax venenorum. Park was right: “By witchcraft is meant pretended magic, affecting the lives and healths of persons, in other words it is the administering of poison.” European “Narratives of Sorcery and Magic” exactly explain the African idea, except in one point: there the witch “only suffered from not being able to prove to Satan how much she burned to suffer for his sake;” here she has no Satan. Both European and African are the firmest believers in their own powers; they often confess, although knowing that the confession leads directly to torture and death, with all the diabolical ingenuity of which either race was capable. In Tuckey’s time a bargain was concluded by breaking a leaf or a blade of grass, and this rite it was “found necessary to perform with the seller of every fowl:” apparently it is now obsolete. Finally, although the Fetish man may be wrong, the fetish cannot err. If a contretemps occur, a reason will surely be found; and, should the “doctor” die, he has fallen a victim to a rival or an enemy more powerful than himself.

A striking institution of the Congo region is that of the Jinkemba, which, curious to say, is unnoticed by Tuckey. It is not, however, peculiar to the Congo; it is the “Semo” of the Susus or Soosoos of the Windward Coast, and the “Purrah” of the Sherbro–Balloms or Bulloms, rendered Anglicè by “free-masonry.” The novitiate there lasts for seven or eight years, and whilst the boys live in the woods food is placed for them by their relations: the initiation, indeed, appears to be especially severe. Here all the free-born males are subjected to the wrongly called “Mosaic rite.” Merolla tells us that the wizards circumcise children on the eighth day (like the Jews), not out of regard for the law, but with some wicked end and purpose of their own. At any time between the ages of five and fifteen (eight to ten being generally preferred), boys are taken from their parents (which must be an exceeding comfort to the latter), and for a native year, which is half of ours, they must dwell in the Vivála ya Ankimba, or Casa de Feitiço, like that which we passed before reaching Banza Nokki. They are now instructed by the Nganga in the practices of their intricate creed; they are taught the mysteries under solemn oaths, and, in fine, they are prepared for marriage. Upon the Congo they must eat no cooked food, living wholly upon roots and edibles; but they are allowed to enter the villages for provisions, and here they often appear armed with matchets, bayonets, and wooden swords. Their faces and necks, bodies and arms, are ghastly white with chalk or ashes; the hair is left in its original jet, and the dingy lower limbs contrast violently with the ghostlike absence of colour above. The dress is a crinoline of palm-fronds, some fresh and green, others sere and brown; a band of strong mid-rib like a yellow hoop passed round the waist spreads out the petticoat like a farthingale, and the ragged ends depend to the knees; sometimes it is worn under the axillae, but in all cases the chalked arms must be outside. The favourite attitude is that of the Rhodian Colossus, with the elbows bent to the fore and the hands clasped behind the head. To increase their prestige of terror, the Jinkomba abjure the use of human language, and, meeting a stranger, ejaculate with all their might, “Hár-rr-rr-rr-rr!” and “Jojolo! Jojolo!” words mystic and meaningless. When walking in procession, they warn the profane out of the way by striking one slip of wood upon another. They are wilder in appearance than the Hindu Jogi or Sanyasi, who also affects the use of ashes, but neglects that of the palm-thatch. It is certainly enough to startle a man of impressible nerves — one, for instance, who cannot enter a room without a side-long glance at an unexpected coffin — to see these hideous beings starting with their savage cry from the depths of an African forest. Evidently, also, such is the intention of the costume.

Contrasting the Congoese with the Goanese, we obtain a measure of difference between the African and the Asiatic. Both were Portuguese colonies founded about the same time, and under very similar circumstances; both were catechized and Christianized in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; both had governors and palaces, bishops and cathedrals, educational establishments and a large staff of missioners. But Asia was not so inimical, mentally or bodily, to the European frame as Africa; the Goanese throve after a fashion, the mixed breed became the staple population, and thus it continues till this day. On the other hand the Hamitic element so completely asserted its superiority over insititious Japheth, that almost every trace has disappeared in a couple of centuries. There lingers, it is true, amongst the Congoese of the coast-regions a something derived from the olden age, still distinguishing them from the wild people of the interior, and at times they break out naturally in the tongue of their conquerors. But it requires a practised eye to mark these minutiae.

The Congoese are passably brave amongst themselves; crafty and confined in their views, they carry “knowledge of life” as far as it is required, and their ceremonious intercourse is remarkable and complicated. They have relapsed into the analphabetic state of their ancestors; they are great at eloquence; and, though without our poetical forms, they have a variety of songs upon all subjects and they improvise panegyrics in honour of chiefs and guests. Their dances have been copied in Europe. Without ever inventing the modes of the Greeks, which are still preserved by the Hindoos, they have an original music, dealing in harmony rather than in tune, and there are motives, of course all in the minor key, which might be utilized by advanced peoples; these sons of nature would especially supply material for that recitative which Verdi first made something better than a vehicle for dialogue. Hence the old missioners are divided in opinion; whilst some find the sound of the “little guitar,” with strings of palm-thread and played with the thumbs of both hands, “very low, but not ungrateful,” others speak of the “hellish harmony” of their neophytes’ bands. The instrument alluded to is the nsambi or nchambi; four strings are attached to bent sticks springing from the box; it is the wambi of the Shekyanis (Du Chaillu, chap. xii), but the bridge, like that of our violin, gives it an evident superiority, and great care and labour are required in the maker.

This form of the universal marimba is a sounding-board of light wood, measuring eight inches by five; some eight to eleven iron keys, flat strips of thin metal, pass over an upright bamboo bridge, fixed by thongs to the body, and rest at the further end upon a piece of skin which prevents “twanging.” The tocador or performer brings out soft and pleasing tones with the sides of the thumbs and fingers. They have drums and the bell-like cymbals called chingufu: M. Valdez (ii. 221 et passim), writes “Clincufo,” which he has taken from a misprint in Monteiro and Gamitto. The chingufu of East Africa is a hollow box performed upon with a drum-stick of caoutchouc. The pipes are wooden tubes with sundry holes and a bridge below the mouth-piece; they are played over edge like our flutes. The “hellish harmonies” mostly result from an improvised band, one strumming the guitar, another clapping the sticks, and the third beating the bell-shaped irons that act as castanets.

The language of the people on and near the Congo River is called “Fiote,” a term used by old travellers to denote a black man as opposed to Mundele (white), and also applied to things, as Bondefiote or black baft. James Barbot (p. 512) gives specimens of some thirty-three words and the numerals in the “Angoy language, spoken at Cabinde,” which proves to be that of the River. Of these many are erroneous: for instance, “nova,” to sleep (ku-núa); “sursu,” a hen (nsusu): while “fina,” scarlet; “bayeta,” baize; and “fumu,” tobacco, are corrupted Portuguese. A young lad, “muleche” (moleque), Father Merolla’s “molecchas, a general name among the negroes,” for which Douville prefers “moleke” (masc.) and “molecka” (fem.), is applied only to a slave, and in this sense it has extended west of the Atlantic. In the numerals, “wale” (2) should be “kwále,” “quina” (4) “kúyá,” and “evona” (9) “iowá.” We may remark the pentenary system of the Windward Coast and the Gaboon negroes; e.g., 6 is “sambano” (“mose” and “tano” 1 + 5), and 7 is “sambwale” (“mose” and “kwale”) and so forth, whilst “kumi” (10), possibly derived from neighbouring races, belongs to the decimal system.

The first attempt at a regular vocabulary was made by Douville, (vol. iii. p. 261): “Vocabidaire de la Langue Mogialoua, et des deux dialectcs principaux Abunda (Angolan) et Congo” (Fiote); it is also very incorrect. The best is that published in Appendix No. I. to the Congo Expedition, under the name of “Embomma;” we may quote the author’s final remark: “This vocabulary I do not consider to be free from mistakes which I cannot now find time to discover. All the objects of the senses are, however, correct.” M. Parrot showed me a MS. left at Banana Point by a French medical officer, but little could be said in its praise. Monteiro and Gamitto (pp. 479–480) give seventeen “Conguez” words, and the Congo numerals as opposed to the “Bundo.”

The Fiote is a member of the great South African family; some missionaries argued, from its beauty and richness, that it had formerly been written, but of this there is no proof. M. Malte–Brun supposes the Congoese dialects to indicate “a meditative genius foreign to the habitual condition of these people,” ignoring the fact that the most complicated and laborious tongues are those of barbarous nations, whilst modern civilization in variably labours to simplify. It is copious; every place, tree, shrub, or plant used by the people has its proper name; it is harmonious and pleasing, abounding in vowels and liquids, destitute of gutturals, and sparing in aspirates and other harsh consonants. At the same time, like the rest of the family, it is clumsy and unwieldy, whilst immense prolixity and frequent repetition must develope the finer shades of meaning. Its peculiarity is a greater resemblance to the Zanzibarian Kisawahili than any tongue known to me on the Western Coast: often a question asked by the guide, as “Njia hápá?” (Is this the road?) and “Jina lako nani?” (What’s your name?) was perfectly intelligible to me.The latter is a fair specimen of the peculiar euphony which I have noticed in “Zanzibar” (vol. i. chap. x.). We should expect “Jina jako,” whereas this would offend the native ear. It requires a scholar-like knowledge of the tongue to apply the curious process correctly, and the self-sufficient critic should beware how he attempts to correct quotations from the native languages.

I need hardly say that the speakers are foul-mouthed as the Anglo–African of S’a Leone and the “English” Coast; they borrow the vilest words from foreign tongues; a spade is called a spade with a witness, and feminine relatives are ever the subject of abuse; a practice which, beginning in Europe with the Slav race, extends more or less throughout the Old World. I specify the Old World, because the so-called “Indians” of North and South America apparently ignore the habit except where they have learned it from Southern Europe. Finally, cursing takes the place of swearing, the latter being confined, I believe, to the Scandinavians, the Teutons, and their allied races.

Nothing can be more unpleasant than the Portuguese spoken by the Congoman. He transposes the letters lacking the proper sounds in his own tongue; for instance, “sinholo” (sinyolo) is “senhor;” “munyele” or “minyele” is “mulher;” “O luo” stands in lieu of “O rio,” (the river); “rua” of “lua” (luna), and so forth. For tomorrow you must use “cedo” as “manhaa” would not be understood, and the prolixity of the native language is transferred to the foreign idiom. For instance, if you ask, “What do you call this thing?” the paraphrase to be intelligible would be, “The white man calls this thing so-and-so; what does the Fiote call this thing?” sixteen words for six. I have elsewhere remarked how Englishmen make themselves unintelligible by transferring to Hindostani and other Asiatic tongues the conciseness of their own idiom, in which as much is understood as is expressed. We can well understand the outraged feelings with which poor Father Cannecattim heard his sermons travestied by the Abundo negroes do Paiz or linguists, the effect of which was to make him compose his laborious dictionary in Angolan, Latin, and Portuguese. His wrath in reflecting upon “estos homems ou estos brutos” drives the ecclesiastic to imitate the ill-conditioned layman who habitually addresses his slave as “O bruto! O burro! O bicho! O diabo!” when he does not apply the more injurious native terms as “Konongwako” and “Vendengwandi.” It is only fair to confess that no race is harsher in its language and manners to its “black brethren,” than the liberated Africans of the English settlements.

At Banza Nokki I saw the first specimen of a Mundongo slave girl. The tribe is confounded with the Mandingo (Mandenga) Moslems by the author of the “Introduction to Tuckey’s Journey” (p. Ixxxi.); by Tuckey (p. 141), who also calls them Mandonzo (p. 135), and by Prof. Smith (p. 315); but not by the accurate Marsden (p. 389). She described her tribe as living inland to the east and north-east of the Congo peoples, distant two moons — a detail, of course, not to be depended upon. I afterwards met many of these “captives,” who declared that they had been sold after defeats: a fine, tall race, one is equal to two Congo men, and the boldness of demeanour in both sexes distinguishes them from other serviles. Apparently under this name there are several tribes inhabiting lands of various elevations; some are coloured café au lait, as if born in a high and healthy region; others are almost jet black with the hair frightfully “wispy,” like a mop. Generally the head is bullet-shaped, the face round, the features negroid, not negro, and the hands and feet large but not ill-shaped. Some again have the Hausa mark, thread-like perpendicular cuts from the zygomatic arches running parallel with the chin; in other cases the stigmata are broad beauty-slashes drawn transversely across the cheeks to the jawbone, and forming with the vertical axis an angle of 45°. All are exceedingly fond of meat, and, like the Kru-men, will devour it semi-putrified. The Congoese declare them to be “papagentes” (cannibals), a term generally applied by the more advanced to the bushmen living beyond their frontier, and useful to deter travellers and runaways. They themselves declare that they eat the slain only after a battle — the sentimental form of anthropophagy. The slave-girl produced on this occasion was told to sing; after receiving some beads, without which she would not open her lips, we were treated to a “criard” performance which reminded me of the “heavenly muse” in the Lake Regions of Central Africa.

The neighbours of the Mundonoros are the Mubangos, the Muyanji (Muyanzi?), and the Mijolo, by some called Mijere. Possibly Tuckey alludes to the Mijolos when he tells us (p. 141), that the “Mandingo” slave whom he bought on the Upper River, called his country “M’intolo.” I have seen specimens of the three, who are so similar in appearance that a stranger distinguishes them only by the tattoo. No. 1 gashes a line from the root of the hair to the commissure of the nose: No. 2 has a patch of cuts, five in length and three in depth, extending from the bend of the eye-brow across the zygomata to the ear, and No. 3 wears cuts across the forehead. I was shown a sword belonging to the Mijolo: all declared that it is of native make; yet it irresistibly suggested the old two-handed weapon of Europe, preserved by the Bedawin and the Eastern Arabs, who now mostly derive it from Sollingen. The long, straight, flexible, and double-edged blade is neatly mounted by the tang in a handle with a pommel, or terminating knob, of ivory; others prefer wood. The guard is very peculiar, a thin bar of iron springing from the junction of blade and grip, forming an open oval below, and prolonged upwards and downwards in two branches parallel with the handle, and protecting the hand. They dance, brandishing this weapon, according to the slaves, in the presence of their princes.

I inquired vainly about the Anzicos, Anzichi, Anzigui, Anzigi, or Anziki, whose king, Makoko, the ruler of thirteen kingdoms, was placed by Dapper north-west of Monemugi (Unyamwezi), and whom Pigafetta (p. 79) located close to the Congo, and near his northern Lake. “It is true that there are two lakes, not, however, lying east and west (Ptolemy’s system), but north and south of each other, and about 400 miles asunder. The first is in south latitude 12°. The Nile, issuing from it, does not, according to Odoardo (Duarte Lopez), sink in the earth nor conceal itself, but, after flowing northwards, it enters the second lake, which is 220 miles in extent, and is called by the natives a sea.” If the Tanganyika shall be found to connect with the Luta Nzige or Mwutan Lake, this passage will be found wonderfully truthful. The Tanganyika’s southern versant is now placed in south latitude 8° 46’ 54”, or in round numbers 9°, and the other figures are nearly as correct. James Barbot causes these Anzikos to wander “almost through all Africa,” from Nubia to the Congo, like negro Bedawin or Scythians; the common food was man’s flesh fattened for the market and eaten by the relatives, even of those who died diseased. Their “capital,” Monsol, was built by D’Anville, close to the equator in the very centre of Africa (east longitude Greenwich, 26° 20’) hard by Douville’s “Yanvo;” and the “Opener of Inner Africa in 1852” (pp. 3, 4, 69), with equal correctness, caused them to “occupy the hills opposite to Sundi, and extending downwards to Emboma below the Falls.”

Mr. Cooley (“Ocean Highways,” June, 1873), now explains the word as A-nzi-co, “people not of the country,” barbarians, bushmen. This kind of information, derived from a superficial knowledge of an Angolan vocabulary, is peculiarly valueless. I doubt that a negative can thus be suffixed to a genitive. The name may simply have been A-nziko (man) of the back-settlement. In 1832, Mr. Cooley writes: “the nation of the Anziko (or Ngeco):” in 1845, “the Anziki, north of Congo:” in 1852, “the Micoco or king of the Anziko”— und so weiter. What can we make of this geographical Proteus? The first Congo Expedition who covered all the ground where the Creator of the Great Central Sea places the Anzikos, never heard of them — nor will the second.

Not being then so well convinced of the nonexistence of the Giaghi, Giagas, Gagas, or Jagas as a nation, I inquired as vainly for those terrible cannibals who had gone the way of all the Anzikos. According to Lopez, Battel, Merolla, and others, they “consider human flesh as the most delicious food, and goblets of warm blood as the most exquisite beverage.” This act on the part of savage warriors might have been a show of mere bravado. But I cannot agree with the editor of Tuckey’s “Narrative,” “From the character and disposition of the native African, it may fairly be doubted whether, throughout the whole of this great continent, a negro cannibal has any existence.” The year 1816 was the Augustan age of outrageous negrophilism and equally extreme anti-Napoleonism. “If a French general” (Introduction, p. i), “brutally seized the person and papers of a British naval officer, on his return from a voyage of discovery,” who, I would ask, plundered and destroyed the fine botanical collection made at risk of health and life, during fifteen months of hard labour, by the learned Palisot de Beauvois, author of the “Flore d’Oware?” The “Reviewer” of Douville (p. 177) as sensibly declares that cannibalism “has hitherto continually retired before the investigation of sober-minded, enlightened men,” when, after a century or two of intercourse with white traders, it still flourishes on the Bonny and New Calabar Rivers.

We are glad to be rid of the Jagas, a subject which has a small literature of its own; the savage race appeared everywhere like a “deus ex machina,” and it became to Intertropical Africa what the “Lost Tribes” were and even now are in some cases, to Asia and not rarely to Europe. Even the sensible Mr. Wilson (“West Africa,” p. 238) has “no doubt of the Jagas being the same people with the more modernly discovered Pangwes” (Fans); and this is duly copied by M. du Chaillu (chap. viii.). M. Valdez (ii. 150) more sensibly records that the first Jaga established in Portuguese territory was called Colaxingo (Kolashingo), and that his descendants were named “Jagas,” like the Egyptian Pharaohs, the Roman Ceesars, the Austrian Kaisers, and the Russian Czars: he also reminds us (p. 150) that the chief of the Bangalas inhabiting Cassange (= Kasanjí) was the Jaga or ruler par excellence.

Early on the morning of September 11, I was aroused by a “bob” in the open before us. We started up, fearing that some death by accident had taken place: the occasion proved, on the contrary, to be one of ushering into life. The women were assembled in a ring round the mother, and each howled with all the might of her lungs, either to keep off some evil spirit or to drown the sufferer’s cries. In some parts of Africa, the Gold Coast for instance, it is considered infamous for a woman thus to betray her pain, but here we are amongst a softer race.

1 Tuckey (p. 214), and the General Observations prefixed to the Diaries.

Chapter 12.

Preparations for the March.

Gidi Mavunga, finding me in his power, began, like a thoroughbred African, to raise obstacles. We must pass through the lands of two kings, the Mfumo ma Vivi (Bibbie of Tuckey) and the Mfumu Nkulu or Nkuru (Cooloo). The distance was short, but it would occupy five days, meaning a week. Before positively promising an escort he said it would be necessary to inspect my outfit; I at once placed it in the old man’s hands, the better to say, “This is not mine, ask Gidi Mavunga for it.”

My patience had been severely tried on first arrival at Banza Nokki. From ruler to slave every one begged for cloth and rum, till I learned to hate the names of these necessaries. Besides the five recognized kings of the district, who wore black cloth coats, all the petty chiefs of the neighbourhood flocked in, importunate to share the spoils. A tariff, about one-third higher than at Boma, was set upon every article and, if the most outrageous price was refused, the seller, assuming an insipid expression of countenance, declared that great white men travelled with barrels, not with bottles of aguardente, and that without liberality it would be impossible to leave the village. Nsundi, the settlement above the Falls, was a journey of two moons, and none of the ten “kings” on the way would take less than Nessudikira’s “dash.” Congo Grande, as the people call São Salvador, was only four marches to the E.S.E.; the road, however, was dangerous, and an escort of at least fifty men would be necessary.

But when I was “upon the head of Gidi Mavunga” matters changed for the better. Shortly after he took charge, one Tetu Mayella, “King” of Neprat, accompanied by some twenty followers, entered the village with a view to the stranger’s rum: by referring them to the new owner they perforce contented themselves after three hours’ “parliamenting,” with a single bottle. The ruler of Nokki wanted, besides gin and cloth, a pair of shoes for his poor feet, which looked clad in alligator’s skin; I referred him to his father, and he got little by that motion.

On the evening of September 10, Gidi Mavunga, who had been visiting his “small country,” returned, and declared himself ready to set out. He placed before me ten heaps, each of as many ground-nuts, and made me understand that, for visiting Nsundi and S. Salvador, he would take fifty short “pieces” (of cloth) for himself and the same number for his slaves; one moiety to be advanced before the first trip to the Cataracts and the rest to follow. For half my store of beads he undertook to ration his men; a work which would have given us endless trouble. As I agreed to all his conditions he promised to move on the next day — without the least intention of carrying out any one of his conditions.

These people are rich, and not easily tempted to hard work. During the French émigration, the district of Banza Nokki drove slaves to the value of 60,000 dollars per annum, and the dollar is to the African the pound sterling of Europe. It is one of the hundred out-stations which supplied the main dépôts, Boma and Porto da Lenha. Small parties went out at certain seasons provided with rum, gunpowder, and a little cloth; and either bought the “chattels” or paid earnest money, promising to settle the whole debt at their villages. Gidi Mavunga, like most of the elders, was perfectly acquainted with the routes to Nsundi, S. Salvador, and other frontier places, where the bush people brought down their criminals and captives for barter. Beyond those points his information was all from hearsay.

Besides the large stores in their “small countries,” the middle-men have a multitude of retainers, who may at any moment be converted into capital. Yet “slave” is a term hardly applicable to such “chattels,” who, as a rule, are free as their lords. They hold at their disposal all that the master possesses, except his wives; they sleep when they choose, they work when they like; they attend to their private affairs, and, if blamed or punished, they either run away, as at Zanzibar, to their own country, or they take sanctuary with some neighbouring Mfumo, who, despite the inevitable feud, is bound by custom to protect them. Cold and hunger, the torments of the poor in Europe, are absolutely unknown to them, and their condition contrasts most favourably with the “vassus” and the “servus” of our feudal times. Their wives and children are their own: the master cannot claim the tyrannous marriage-rights of the baron; no “wedding-dish” is carried up to the castle; nor is the eldest born “accounted the son of the serf’s lord, for he perchance it was who begat him.” The brutality of slavery, I must repeat, is mainly the effect of civilization. “I shall never forget,” says Captain Boteler, “the impatient tosses of the head and angry looks displayed by a — lady — when the subject was canvassed. ‘A negro, a paltry negro, ever understand or conform to the social tie of wedlock! No, never! never!’ Yet this lady was an English-woman.” And when James Barbot’s supercargo begins to examine his negroes like cattle he is begged, for decency’s sake, to do it in a private place, “which shows these blacks are very modest.” It rather proved the whites to be the reverse.

At 7.20 A.M. on September 11, the “moleques” seized our luggage, and we suddenly found ourselves on the path. Gidi Mavunga, wearing pagne and fetish-bag, and handling a thin stick in which two bulges had been cut, led us out of Banza Nokki, and took a S.S.W. direction. The uneven ground was covered with a bitter tomato (nenga) and with the shrub which, according to Herodotus, bears wool instead of fruit. I sent home specimens of this gossypium arboreum, which everywhere grows wild and which is chiefly used for wicks. There is scant hope of cotton-culture amongst a people whose industry barely suffices for ground-nuts. The stiff clay soil everywhere showed traces of iron, and the guide pointed out a palm-tree which had been split by the electric fluid, and a broad, deep furrow, several feet long, ending in a hole. The Nzazhi (lightning) is as dangerous and as much dreaded on these hills as in Uganda: the south-west trade meets the land wind from the north-east; strata of clouds in different states of electricity combine, says the popular theory, to produce the thunder and lightning which accompany rain like the storms upon the mountains of Yemen. After 30’ (— 1.50 miles) we reached our destination, Banza Chinguvu, the head-quarters of Gidi Mavunga. As we entered it he pointed to a pot full of greasy stuff under a dwarf shed, saying, “Isso è meu Deus:” it was in fact his Baka chya Mazinga. Beyond it stood the temple of Nbambi; two suspended pieces of wood, cut in the shape of horns, bore monkey skins on both sides of a dead armadillo, an animal supposed to attract lightning when alive, and to repel it after death.

The Banza was beautifully situated on a dwarf platform, catching the full force of the sea-breeze, and commanding to the north-west a picturesque glimpse of the

“waters rippling, flowing,

Flashing along the valley to the sea;”

a mountain tarn representing the mighty stream. On the right lay fields, dotted with papaw-trees, and plantations of maize and manioc, thur (Cajanus), and sweet potatoes, a vegetable now common, but not noticed by Tuckey; on the left, a deep ravine, densely forested with noble growth, and supplying the best of water, divides it from Tadi ja Mfimo, a pile of rock on the opposite hill-side; here lay the Itombo village, belonging to Gidi Mavunga’s eldest son. Beyond it, the tree-clad heights, rolling away into the distance, faded from blue-brown to the faintest azure, hardly to be distinguished from the empyrean above. The climate of these breezy uplands is superior even to that of Banza Nokki, which lies some 170 feet lower; and the nights are sensibly cooler.

A few fathoms of altitude here make a surprising difference. The little valleys with their chalet-like huts reminded me of the Maroro and Kisanga basins, in the sister formation, the East African Ghats, but now we have a hill-climate without ague and fever. Our parallel is that of Yorukan Abokuta, where the people are anti-oeci, both being about 6° distant from the Line — those north, these south. There the bush is fetid, and the clammy air gives a sense of deadly depression; here the atmosphere is pure, the land is open, and there is enjoyment in the mere sense of life. The effete matter in the blood and the fatty degeneration of the muscles, the results of inactivity, imperfect respiration, and F. Po, were soon consumed by the pure oxygen of the highland air. I can attribute this superiority of the Congo region only to the labours of an old civilization now obsolete; none but a thick and energetic population could have cleared off the forest, which at one time must have covered their mountains.

The Banza consists of about fifty cottages, which are being new-thatched before the rains, and the population may number 300. Our host assigned to us one of his own huts; it fronted west, and was a facsimile of that which we had just left. The old fox, determined not to be “taken alive,” has provided his earth with three holes, opening to the north, to the east, and to the west. We often detected him in the “ben,” the matrimonial sanctum, listening to private conversations which he could not understand. Gidi Mavunga is decidedly a “serious person.” The three walls round the standing bedstead are hung with charms and amulets, like the sacred pictures in country parts of Europe; and at the head is his “Mavunga,” of which Tuckey says (p. 180), “Each village has a grand kissey (nkisi), or presiding divinity, named Mevonga:” it is an anthropoid log, about three feet high, red, white, and black, the former colour predominating. Two bits of looking-glass represent the eyes, the nose is patulous, as though offended by evil savour; the upper lip is drawn up in disdain, the under overlaps the chin; and a little mirror is inserted into the umbilical region. Mavunga’s dress is represented by an English billy-cock hat; while all kinds of “medicines,” calabashes, and a coarse knife depend from his neck to his shoulders. The figures at the door are generally called “Ngolowándá.”

It is said, I believe, of the Englishwoman-“If she will, she will, you may depend on’t;

If she won’t, she won’t, and there’s an end on’t.”

I may safely predicate the same of the negro, who owns, like the goose, a “singularly inflexible organization.” Whenever he can, he will, and he must, have his head. Gidi Mavunga would not even break his fast before touching the cloth and beads, which are to pay for guidance and carriage. The hut-door was closed, and in half an hour all was settled to every one’s satisfaction. Yet the veteran did not disdain a little rascality. Awaiting his opportunity, he tossed into a dark corner a little bundle of two fancy cloths which I had given the “linguistero” and, when detected, he shamelessly declared that such people have no right to trade.

Finally, our departure was settled for the next morning, and the women at once began their preparations. Although they have sperm-candles, torches are preferred for the road; odoriferous gums are made up, as in the Gaboon, with rags or splints of bark; hence the old writers say, “instead of putting wicks into the torches, they put torches into the wicks.” The travelling foods are mostly boiled batatas (sweet potatoes), Kwanga, a hard and innutritious pudding-like preparation of cassava which the “Expedition” (p. 197) calls “Coongo, a bitter root, that requires four days’ boiling to deprive it of its pernicious quality;” this is probably the black or poisonous manioc. The national dish, “chindungwa,” would test the mouth of any curry-eater in the world: it is composed of boiled ground-nuts and red peppers in equal proportions, pounded separately in wooden mortars, mixed and squeezed to drain off the oil; the hard mass, flavoured with salt or honey, will keep for weeks. The bees are not hived in Congo-land, but smoked out of hollow trees: as in F. Po and Camarones Peaks, they rarely sting, like the harmless Angelito of the Caraccas, “silla,” or saddleback; which Humboldt (“Personal Narrative,” chap. xiii.) describes as a “little hairy bee, a little smaller than the honey-bee of the north of Europe.” Captain Hall found the same near Tampico; and a hive-full was sent to the blind but ingenious Francis Huber of Geneva, who died in 1831. This seems to be the case with the busy hymenopter generally in the highlands of Africa; the lowland swarms have been the terror of travellers from Mungo Park’s day to that of the first East African Expedition.

About noon we were visited by the confidential slaves of a neighbouring chief, who prospectively welcomed us to his territory. These men were gaudily attired in cast-off clothes, and in the crimson night-caps formerly affected by the English labourer: on the mountains, where the helmet is confined to royalty, it is the head-dress used for state occasions. They sat in the hut, chatting, laughing, and discussing palm wine by the gallon, till they had their wicked will in the shape of a bottle of gin; after this, they departed with many low congés.

It was a study to see Gidi Mavunga amidst the vassals and serfs of his own village. He had no moated castle, no “Quinquengrogne;” but his habitation was grander far — that glorious hill-side, with all its prospects of mountain and river, field and forest, valley and village. As he sat upon the mat under his little piazza, all the dependants gathered in an outer semicircle, the children, dogs, and cats forming an inner chord. A crowd of “moleques” placed before him three black pots, one containing a savoury stew, the others beans and vegetables, which he transferred to a deep platter, and proved himself no mean trencherman. The earthenware is of native make, by no means ornamental, but useful because it retains the heat; it resembles the produce of the Gold Coast, and the “pepper-pot” platter of the West Indies. His cup was filled as fast as he drained the palm wine, and, at times, he passed a huge mouthful to a small son or daughter, smiling at the serious and awkward attempts at deglutition. The washing of hands and mouth before and after feeding shows progress after Tuckey’s day (p. 360). We were not asked to join him: an African, when upon a journey, will beg for everything he sees you eat or drink, but there is no return in kind. I have read of negro hospitality, but it has never been my fate to witness an approach to that virtue. The chief will, it is true, quarrel with you if his house be passed without a visit; but his object in taking you in is to make all he can of you. If a purse be pulled out, he waxes wroth, because he wishes to secure at once the reputation of generosity and the profits of a present doubling the worth of a regular “addition.” When Gidi Mavunga rose from his meal, the elder dependants took his place; the junior bipeds followed, and the remnants were thrown to the quadrupeds. It was a fair copy in black of a baronial and mediæval life.

The dogs were not neglected during the meal; but over-eagerness was repressed by a stout truncheon lying handily near the old negro Jarl. The animals are small and stunted, long-nosed and crooked-limbed, with curly tails often cut, sharp ears which show that they have not lost the use of the erecting muscles, and so far wild that they cannot bark. The colour is either black and white or yellow and white, as in Stambul and India. Overrun with ticks and foul with mange, they are too broken-spirited to rob, except by secretly sneaking into the huts, and, however often beaten off, they return to the charge like sitting hens. The people prize these wretched tikes, because they are ever ready to worry a stranger, and are useful in driving game from the bush. Yet they barbarously ill-treat them. The hungry cats are as poor a breed as the pure English, and, though no one feeds them, these domesticated tigerkins swarm. The only happy pets are the parrots. Every village swarms with hogs, the filthy wealth of the old Saxon proprietor, and their habits are disgusting as their forms are obscene. Every Anglo–Indian will understand what I mean.

My memory of “Congo chop” is all in its favour: I can recommend it even to “Fin Bee.” The people of S’a Leone declare that your life is safe when you can enjoy native food. Perhaps this means that, during the time required to train the palate, strangers will have escaped their “seasoning” fevers and chills. But foreigners will certainly fare better and, cæteris paribus, outlive their brother whites, when they can substitute African stews for the roast and boiled goat and cow, likest to donkey-meat, for the waxy and insipid potato and for heavy pudding and tart, with which their jaded stomach is laden, as if it had the digestion of north latitude 50°. It is popularly believed that the Germans, who come from the land of greatest extremes, live longer at the White Man’s Grave than the English, whereas the Spaniards are the most short-lived, one consul per annum being the normal rate. Perhaps the greater “adaptability” of the Teuton explains the cause.

The evening began with a game of ball in the large open space amongst the houses forming the village square. The implement was a roll of palm-coir tightly bound with the central fibre of the plantain-leaf. The players, two parties of some twenty slaves, of all ages and sizes, mingled, each side striving to catch the ball, and with many feints and antics to pass it on to a friend. When it fell out of bounds, the juniors ran to pick it up with frantic screams. It was interesting, as showing the difference between the highlander and the lowlander; one might pass years on the Congo plains without seeing so much voluntary exertion: yet a similar game of ball is described by the Rev. Mr. Waddell (“Twenty-nine years in the West Indies and Central Africa,” chap. xvii. London, Nelsons, 1863). The evening ended, as it often does before a march, when rest is required, with extra hard work, a drinking bout deep as the Rhineland baron’s in the good old time, and a dance in which both sexes joined. As there were neither torches nor moon, I did not attend; the singing, the shouting, and the drumming, which lasted till midnight, spoke well for the agility and endurance of the fair montagnardes.

What lightens Gidi Mavunga’s steps is the immediate prospect of the Munlola or preliminary showers, which, beginning in mid-September, last, with a certain persistence of fall, till October. During the Munlola, the sea-breeze is silent, and the sky is clad with a very thin mist, which, however, supplies abundant downfalls. The year in the Lower Congo corresponds with that of the Gaboon in practice, if not in theory, and the storms are furious as those of Yoruba, where the seasons are, of course, inverted, the great rains extending from May to August. The climate is capricious, as everywhere about the equator, and the nearer the river the heavier are the showers. The people double their lives by reckoning the rains as one year, and the dries as another: when the old missionaries wished to explain that the Saviour offered Himself for the sins of man at the age of thirty-three, they said that he was sixty-six seasons old.

After the light rains of the autumnal equinox, come the Mvula za Chintomba, the “Chuvas grandes” of the Portuguese, lasting to the end of November. They are heavy, accompanied by violent tornadoes and storms, greatly feared by the people. The moisture of the atmosphere, not being gradually condensed by forests, must be precipitated in violent downfalls, and this is perhaps the principal evil of clearing the country. December begins the “little dries,” which extend to February and March; then set in the rains of the vernal equinox, with furious discharges of electricity; June is the wettest month on the highlands, but not on the lower river. In mid-July commence the “middle-dries,” here called Ngondi Asivu (Tuckey’s “Gondy Assivoo”); upon the upper river this Cacimbo lasts between April and September; when it passes over the bush is burned, and the women hoe the ground to receive its seed. Carli well describes this season when he says:- -“The winter of the kingdom of Congo is the mild spring or autumn of Italy; it is not subject to rains, but every morning there falls a dew which fertilizes the earth.” This meteor was not observed on the highlands of Banza Nokki and Nkulu; it is probably confined to the low country, where I found it falling heavily.

Chapter 13.

The March to Banza Nkulu.

But revelry at night brings morning headache, and we did not set out, as agreed, at dawn. By slow degrees the grumbling, loitering party was mustered. The chiefs were Gidi Mavunga, head guide, and his son Papagayo, a dull quiet body; Chico Mpamba, “French landlord” of Banza Nokki, and my interpreter Nchama Chamvu. Fourteen armed moleques carried our hammocks and our little viaticum in the shape of four bottles of present-gin, two costa-finas, (= twenty-four yards of fancy cotton), and fourteen fathoms of satin-stripe, the latter a reserved fund. The boy “Lendo,” whose appropriate name means “The Go,” bore a burden of his own size all day, and acted as little foot-page at the halt. The “gentlemen” were in full travelling costume. Slung by a thong to the chief guide’s left shoulder were a tiger-cat skin, cardamom-sheaths and birds’ beaks and claws clustering round a something in shape like the largest German sausage, the whole ruddled with ochre: this charm must not be touched by the herd; a slave-lad, having unwittingly offended, knelt down whilst the wearer applied a dusty big toe between his eyebrows. Papagayo had a bag of grass-cloth and bits of cane, from which protruded strips of leather and scarlet broadcloth.


At 6.45 A.M. on Saturday, September 12, we exchanged the fields surrounding Banza Chinguvu for a ridge or narrow plateau trending to the north-east and bending to the magnetic north. A few minutes led to a rock-slope, fit only for goat-hoofs or nude-footed natives. Winding along the hill-sides, we passed out of the Nokki territory into that of Ntombo, the property of Mfumo Nelongo: here we descended into a little vale or gorge bright as verdure could make it —

“arborets and flowers

Imborder’d on each bank”

of a bubbling brook, a true naiad of the hills, which ran to the embrace of the mighty stream; it characteristically stained its bed with iron. On our right was a conspicuous landmark, Zululu ke Sombe, a tall rock bearing the semblance of an elephant from the north-east, visible from the Congo’s right bank and commanding a view of all the hills. Banza Vivi, our first destination, perching high on the farther side of the blue depression, bore due north. We then struck the roughest of descents, down broken outcrops and chines of granite — no wonder that the women have such grand legs. This led us into a dark green depression where lay Banza Chinsavu, the abode of King Nelongo. Our course had been three miles to the north-north-east.

Nothing can be more charming than the site, a small horseshoe valley, formed by a Wady or Fiumara, upon whose raised left bank stands the settlement, sheltered by palms, plantations, and wild figs. Eastward is a slope of bare rock polished by the rain-torrents; westward rise the grassy hills variegated with bush and boulder. We next crossed a rocky divide to the north and found a second basin also fertilized by its own stream; here the cactus and aloes, the vegetation of the desert, contrasted with half-a-dozen shades of green, the banana, the sycamore, the egg-plant, the sweet potato, the wild pepper, and the grass, whose colours were paling, but not so rapidly as in the lower lands.

We dismounted in state from our tipoias at the verandah of an empty house, where a chair had been placed; and we prepared for the usual delay and display. The guides will not leave these villages unvisited lest a “war” result; all the chiefs are cousins and one must not monopolize the plunder. A great man takes an hour to dress, and Nelongo was evidently soothing the toils of the toilette with a musical bellows called an accordeon. He sent us some poor, well-watered Msámbá (palm toddy), and presently he appeared, a fat, good-natured man, as usual, ridiculously habited. He took the first opportunity of curtly saying in better Portuguese than usual, “There is no more march today!” This was rather too much for a somewhat testy traveller, when he changed his tone, begged me not to embroil him with a powerful neighbour, and promised that we should set out that evening. He at once sent for provisions, fowls, and a small river-fish, sugar-cane, and a fine bunch of S. Thomé bananas.

About noon appeared Chico Furano, son of the late Chico de Ouro, in his quality of “English linguister;” a low position to which want of “savvy” has reduced him. His studies of our tongue are represented by an eternal “Yes!” his wits by the negative; he boasts of knowing how to “tratar com o branco” and, declining to bargain, he robs double. He is a short, small, dark man with mountaineer legs, a frightful psora, and an inveterate habit of drink. He saluted his superior, Nelongo, with immense ceremony, dating probably from the palmy times of the Mwani–Congo. Equals squat before one another, and shaking hands crosswise clap palms. Chico Furano kneels, places both “ferients” upon the earth and touches his nose-tip; he then traces three ground-crosses with the Jovian finger; again touches his nose; beats his “volæ” on the dust, and draws them along the cheeks; then he bends down, applying firstly the right, secondly the left face side, and lastly the palms and dorsa of the hands to mother earth. Both superior and inferior end with the Sakila or batta-palmas,1 three bouts of three claps in the best of time separated by the shortest of pauses, and lastly a “tiger” of four claps. The ceremony is more elaborate than the “wallowings” and dust-shovellings described by Ibn Batuta at the Asiatic courts, by Jobson at Tenda,by Chapperton at Oyo,by Denham amongst the Mesgows, and by travellers to Dahome and to the Cazembe. Yet the system is virtually the same in these distant kingdoms, which do not know one another’s names.

Chico Furano brought a Mundongo slave, a fine specimen of humanity, some six feet high, weighing perhaps thirteen stone, all bone and muscle, willing and hard-working, looking upon the Congo men as if they were women or children. He spoke a few words of Portuguese, and with the master’s assistance I was able to catechize him. He did not deny that his people were “papagentes,” but he declared that they confined the practice to slain enemies. He told a number of classical tales about double men, attached, not like the Siamese twins, but dos-à-dos; of tribes whose feet acted as parasols, the Plinian Sciapodæ and the Persian Tasmeh-pa, and of mermen who live and sleep in the inner waters — I also heard this from M. Parrot, a palpable believer. He described his journey down the great river, and declared that beyond his country’s frontier the Nzadi issues from a lake which he described as having a sea-horizon, where canoes lose sight of land, and where they are in danger from violent storms; he described the latter with great animation, and his descriptions much reminded me of Dibbie, the “Dark Lake.” Probably this was genuine geography, although he could not tell the name of the inner sea, the Achelunda of old cosmographers. Tuckey’s map also lays down in N. lat. 2° to 3° and in E. long. (G.) 17° to 18° a great swamp draining to the south; and his “Narrative” (p. 178) tells us that some thirty days above Banza Mavunda, which is 20 to 24 miles above the Yellala, “the river issues by many small streams from a great marsh or lake of mud.” This would suggest a reservoir alternately flooded and shrinking; possibly lacustrine bays and the bulges formed by the middle course of the Lualaba.

Despite the promise, we were delayed by King Nekorado, whose town, Palabala, lies at some distance, and who, negro-like, will consult only his own convenience. In the afternoon we were visited by a royal son, who announced that his royal father feared the heat, but would appear with the moon, which was equivalent to saying that we might expect him on the morrow. He is known to be a gueux, and Gidi Mavunga boasts of having harried and burned sundry of his villages, so he must make up by appearance for deficient reality. His appearance was announced by the Mpungi, the Egyptian Zagharit, the Persian Kil; this “lullilooing” in the bush country becomes an odd moaning howl like the hyaena’s laugh. Runners and criers preceded the hammock, which he had probably mounted at the first field; a pet slave carried his chair, covered with crimson cloth, and Frédérique his “linguister” paced proudly by its side.

After robing himself in Nelongo’s house, King Nekorado held a levee under the shadiest fig, which acted bentang-tree; all the moleques squatting in a demi-lune before the presence. A short black man, with the round eyes, the button-like nose, the fat circular face, and the weakly vanishing chin which denote the lower type of Congoese, he coldly extended a chimpanzee’s paw without rising or raising his eyes, in token that nothing around him deserved a glance. I made him au-fait as to my intentions, produced, as “mata-bicho,” a bottle of gin, and sent a dash of costa-fina, to which a few yards of satin-stripe were thrown in.

The gin was drunk with the usual greed, and the presents were received with the normal objections.

“Why should not I, a king like Nessudikira, receive a ‘dash’ equal to his?”

“He is my host, I pay him for bed and board!”

“We are all cousins; why shall one be treated better than the other?”

“As you please! you have received your due, and today we march.”

After this I rose and returned to my hut ready for the inevitable “row.”

It was not long coming; the new arrivals set up the war-song, and Gidi Mavunga thought it time to make a demonstration. Drawing an old cutlass and bending almost double, he began to rush about, slashing and cutting down imaginary foes, whilst his men looked to their guns. The greenhorn would have expected a regular stand-up fight, ending in half-a-dozen deaths, but the Papagayo snatched away his father’s rusty blade, and Chico Furano, seizing the warrior’s head, despite the mildest of resistance, bent it almost to the ground. Thus valour succumbed to numbers. “He is a great man,” whispered my interpreter, “and if they chaunt their battle-song, he must show them his bravery.” The truly characteristic scene ended in our being supplied with some fourteen black pots full of flesh, fowl, beans, and manioc, together with an abundance of plantains and sugar-cane; a select dish was “put in fetish” (set aside) for Gidi Mavunga, and the friendly foes all sat down to feast. The querelle d’Allemand ended with a general but vain petition for “t’other bottle.”

Fahrenheit showed 90° in the shade, as we bade adieu to the little land-bay, and made for the high rugged wall to the north-north-east separating the river valley from the inner country. On the summit we halted to enjoy the delicious sea-breeze with its ascending curve, and the delightful prospect far below. Some 1,300 feet beneath us appeared the Nzadi, narrowed to a torrent, and rushing violently down its highly inclined bed, a straight reach running east and west, in length from four and a half to five miles. As we fronted north, the Morro (cliff) Kala fell bluff towards its blue bight, the Mayumba Bay of the chart, on our left; to the right a black gate formed by twin cliffs shut out the upper stream from view. The panorama of hill-fold and projection, each bounded by deep green lines, which argued torrents during the rains; the graceful slopes sinking towards the river and indenting the bed and the little tree-clad isle, Zun gáchyá Idí (Tuckey’s “Zunga Tooly Calavangoo”) hugging the northern side, where the Lufu torrent adds its tribute to the waters, convinced me that the charms of Congo scenery had not been exaggerated. Yet the prospect had its element of sadness; the old ruffian, Gidi Mavunga, recounted how he had burned this place and broken that, where palm-clumps, grass-clearings, and plantations lying waste denoted the curse of Ham upon the land.

Our course now wound north-eastwards along hill-shoulders, rich in flowery plants and scented mimosa. After two hours’ walking, we came suddenly upon the Morro or cliff of the river-trough, now about 1,000 feet deep. Here the prospect again shifted; the black gate opened, showing the lowest of the long line of rapids called Borongwa ya Vivi, with the natives and their canoes, like flies upon bits of straw.

On the southern bank was a small perennial influent, lined with bright green above, and with chocolate brown below, within some twenty yards of its mouth. It arises, they say, near S. Salvador, and is not navigable, although in places it bears canoes. The people call it Npozo, possibly it represents the S. Salvador River of old travellers. The distance was three direct or five indirect miles north of the stony cone, Zululu ke Sombe.

The descent was a malevoie, over slabs and boulders, loose stones and clayey ground, slippery as ice after rain. The moleques descended like chamois within twenty minutes: Selim and I, with booted feet, took double the time, but on return we ascended it in forty-five minutes. Viewed from below, the base rests upon cliffs of gneiss, with debris and quartz in masses, bands and pebbles, pure and impure, white and rusty. Upon it rises a stratum of ferruginous clay, with large hard-heads of granite, gneiss, and schist, blocks of conglomerate, and nodules of ironstone. Higher still is the bank of yellow clay, capped with shallow humus. The waving profile is backed by steep hills, with rocky sides and long ridges of ground, the site of the palm-hidden Banzas.

Reaching the base, a heap of tumbled boulders, we crossed in a canoe the mouth of the Npozo to a sandy cove in the southern bank, the terminus of river navigation. The people called it Unyenge Assiku: I cannot but suspect that this is the place where Tuckey left his boats, and which he terms “Nomaza Cove.” The name is quite unknown, and suggests that the interpreters tried to explain by “No majia” (water) that here the voyage must end.

Off this baylet are three rocky islets, disposed in a triangle, slabs collected by a broken reef, and collectively known as Zunga Nuapozo; the clear-way is between them and the southern bank, which is partly provided with a backwater; the northern three quarters of the bed show something like a scour and a rapid. Zunga chya Ingololo, the northernmost and smallest, bears a single tree, and projects a bar far into the stream: the central and westernmost is a rock with a canoe passage between it and the southern and largest, Zunga chya Tuvi. The latter has three tree-clumps; and a patch of clean white sand on its western side measures the daily rise of the water, eight inches to a foot, and shows the highest level of the flood, here twelve to thirteen feet. The fishermen use it as a drying-ground for their game. They also crowd every day to two sandy covelets on the southern bank, separated by a tongue of rough boulders. Here naked urchins look on whilst their fathers work, or aid in drying the nets, or lie prone upon the sand, exposing their backs to the broiling sun. The other denizens of the place are fish-eagles, who sit en faction upon the topmost branches of withered trees. I saw only two kinds of fish, one small as a minnow, and the other approaching the size of a herring. Up stream they are said to be much larger. They are not salted, but smoked or sun-dried when the weather serves: stuffed with chillies and fried with oil, they are good eating as the Kinnam of the Gold Coast.

We prepared to bivouac under a fine shady Saffu, or wild fig, a low, thick trunk whose dark foliage, fleshy as the lime-leaf, so often hangs its tresses over the river, and whose red berries may feed man as well as monkey. The yellow flowers of hypericum, blooming around us, made me gratefully savour our escape from mangrove and pandamus. About sunset a gentle shower, the first of the season, caused the fisher-boys to dance with joy; it lasted two good hours, and then it was dispersed by a strong westerly breeze. Canoes and lights flashed before our eyes during half the night; and wild beasts, answering one another from rock to rock, hundreds of feet above us, added a savage, African feature to the goodly mise-en-scène.

Arising early next morning, I was assured that it is necessary to cross the stream in order to reach the Cataracts. Tuckey did so, but further inquiry convinced me that it is a mistake to march along the northern bank. Of course, in skirting the southern side, we should not have approached so near the stream, where bluffs and débris rendered travelling hopeless. The amiable ichthyophagi agreed for two fathoms of fancy cloth to ferry us across the river, which is here half a mile broad. The six-knot current compels canoes to run up the left shore by means of its backwater, and, when crossing, to make allowance for the drift downwards. The aneroid now showed 860 feet of absolute altitude, and about sixty-five feet above the landing-place of Banza Nokki; the distance along the stream is fourteen miles, and thus the fall will be about five feet per mile below the Borongwa ya Vivi. We could see from a level the “smaller rapids of Vivi” bursting through their black gate with angry foam, flashing white from side to side. No canoe could shoot this “Cachoeira,” but I do not think that a Nile Dahabiyah or a Brazilian Ajôjô would find great difficulty. Between us and the rapids, the concavity of the southern bank forms a bight or bay. The vortices, in which Tuckey’s sloop was whirled round despite oars and sails, and in whose hollow the punt entirely disappeared, “so that the depression must have been three or four feet deep,” were nowhere seen at this fuller season. The aspect of the surface is that of every large deep stream with broken bottom; the water boils up in ever widening domes, as though a system of fountains sprang from below. Each centre is apparently higher than its circle; it spreads as if a rock had been thrown into it, and the outer rim throws off little eddies and whirls no larger than a thimble. The mirrory surface of the lower river thus becomes mottled with light and shade, and the reflected image of the trough-cliff is broken into the most fantastic shapes.

Fifteen minutes of hard paddling landed us at Selele, a stony point between two sandy baylets: amongst the mass of angular boulders a tree again showed the highest flood-mark to be 13 feet. Here for the first time I remarked the black glaze concerning which so much has been written.2 The colour is a sunburnt black, tinted ferruginous red like meteoric stones, and it is generally friable, crumbling under the nails. It tastes strongly of iron, which flavours almost every spring in the country, yet the most likely places do not show this incrustation. Sometimes it looks like a matrix in which pudding-stone has been imbedded; it may be two or three lines in thickness and it does not colour the inside. At other times it hardly measures the thickness of paper, coating the gneiss slabs like plumbago. Humboldt tells us (“Personal Narrative,” ii. 243, Bohn), that the “Indians” of the Atures declare the rocks to be burnt (carbonized) by the sun’s rays, and I have often found the same black glaze upon the marly sandstones that alternate with calcareous formations where no stream ever reached them — for instance, on the highlands of Judea, between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea; in inner Istria, and in most countries upon the borders of the Mediterranean.

Leaving Selele, we ascended a steep hill with many glissadès, the effect of last night’s rain. These hammock-journeys are mostly equivalent to walking and paying for carriage; it would be cruelty to animals were one to ride except when entering the villages. After threading for half an hour lanes of grass, we were received in a little village of the Banza Vivi district by Nessala, linguistère to King Luvungungwete. The guest room was furnished with every luxury; hides of a fine antelope described as the Kudu; cruets, basins, bottles, and other vases; “lustre mugs,” John Andersons and Toby Philpots. A good calabash, full of

“Freshening wine

More bounteous far than all the frantic juice

Which Bacchus pours,”

was produced, although the drought and scarcity of June rain had dried the palms. Before I outstretched myself, the fairer half of the population sent a message to say that they had never seen a white man: what less could be done than to distribute a few beads and pat the children, who screamed like sucking pigs and “squirmed” like young monkeys?

The Chrononhotonthologus of a king came in the afternoon with a tail of a hundred vertebræ: he was a milder specimen than usual; he had neither Mambrino’s helmet nor beadle’s cloak, and perhaps his bashfulness in the presence of strangers arose from a consciousness that his head-gear and robes were not in keeping with his station. But he did not fail to grumble at his “dash;” indeed, he must be more than African who shall say, “Hold! enough.” He vouchsafed a small return in fowls and “beneficent manioc,” and sent with us three slaves, to serve, not as guides, but as a basis for a separate charge.

After sunset all was made ready for the Batuque. The ball-room was the village square; the decorations were the dense trees; the orchestra consisted of two drums, a grande caisse eight feet and a half long, placed horizontally, and a smaller specimen standing on a foot like that of an old-fashioned champagne-glass; the broader ends were covered with deer skins, upon which both hands perform; and the illuminations were flaming heaps of straw, which, when exhausted, were replaced by ground-nuts spitted upon a bamboo splint. This contrivance is far simpler than a dip-candle, the arachis is broken off as it chars, and, when the lamp dims, turning it upside down causes a fresh flow of oil. The ruder sex occupied one half of the ring, and the rest was appropriated to dame and damsel. The Batuque is said to be the original Cachucha; Barbot calls it a danse des filoux, and it has the merit of perfectly expressing, as Captain Cook’s companions remarked of the performances in the South Sea Islands, what it means.

The hero of the night was Chico Mpamba; he must have caused a jealous pang to shoot through many a masculine bosom. With bending waist, arms gracefully extended forwards, and fingers snapping louder than castanets; with the upper half of the body fixed as to a stake, and with the lower convulsive as a scotched snake, he advanced and retired by a complicated shuffle, keeping time with the tom-tom and jingling his brass anklets, which weighed at least three pounds, and which, by the by, lamed him for several days. But he was heroic as the singer who broke his collar-bone by the ut di petto. A peculiar accompaniment was a dulcet whistle with lips protruded; hence probably the fable of Pliny’s Astomoi, and the Africans of Eudoxus, whose joined lips compelled them to eat a single grain at a time, and to drink through a cane before sherry-cobblers were known. Others joined him, dancing either vis-à-vis or by his side; and more than one girl, who could no longer endure being a wall-flower, glided into the ring and was received with a roar of applause. In the feminine performance the eyes are timidly bent upon the ground; the steps are shorter and daintier, and the ritrosa appears at once to shun and to entice her cavalier, who, thus repulsed and attracted, redoubles the exciting measure till the delight of the spectators knows no bounds. Old Gidi Mavunga flings off his upper garment, and with the fire of a youth of twenty enters the circle, where his performance is looked upon with respect, if not with admiration. Wilder and wilder waxeth the “Devil’s delight,” till even the bystanders, especially the women, though they keep their places in the outer circle, cannot restrain that wonderful movement of haunch and flank. I laughed till midnight, and left the dancers dancing still.

At 5 A.M. the strayed revellers found to their disgust a thick fog, or rather a thin drizzle, damping grass and path, and suggesting anything but a pleasant trudge. They declared that starvation awaited us, as the “fancy cloths” were at an end, but I stopped that objection by a reference to the reserved fund. After an hour of sulky talk we set out towards the upper part of Banza Vivi, passing a small but pretty hill plain, with manioc-fields, gum-trees, and the bombax very symmetrical. We saw no animals: here and there appeared the trail of a hyaena, the only larger carnivor that now haunts the mountains. The song of Mkuka Mpela, the wild pigeon, and Fungú, the cuckoo, were loud in the brake: the Abbé Proyart makes the male cuculus chant his coo, coo, coo; mounting one note above another with as much precision as a musician would sound his ut, re, mi: when he reached the third note, his mate takes it up and ascends to the octave. After this both recommence the same song.

The stiff ascent gave us lovely views of the lake-like river and both its banks: after three quarters of an hour we reached Vivi of Banza Simbo. The people vainly called to us, “Wiza!”— “Come thou!” and “Luiza! luiza kwenu!”— “Come, come here!” Our moleques, disliking the dangerous proximity, advanced at a walk which might be called a canter.

Presently we reached the dividing ridge, 1,394 feet high, between Banza Vivi and Nkulu, whose palm-trees, thrown out against the sky, bore 82° (M.) Looking to the north with easting, we had a view of no less than six distinct distances. The actual foreground, a hollow between two land-waves, could not conceal the “Crocodile’s Head:” the latter, five miles off and bearing 65° (M.), forms the southern staple of the Yellala Gate, whose rapids were not visible, and it fronts the Quoin, which hems in the stream on the other side. The key-stone of the inverted arch between them was a yellow-flanked, tree-topped hill, rising immediately above the great rapids: beyond if waved, in far succession, three several swells of ground, each flatter and bluer than its nearer neighbour, and capping the whole stood Kongo de Lemba, a tall solitary sugarloaf, bearing 75° (M.), with its outlying conelets concealing like a mass of smoke the world that lay beyond.

The ridges appeared to trend north and south, and to approach the river’s bending bed at different angles; their sides were steep, and in places scarped where they fell into the intervening hollows. The valleys conducted many a water to the main drain, and during the wet season they must be well-nigh impassable. At the end of the dries the only green is in the hill-folds and the basin-sinks, where the trees muster strong enough to defend themselves from the destructive annual fires. These bush-burnings have effectually disforested the land, and in some places building timber and even fuel have become scarce. In the Abrus, barely two feet high, I could hardly recognize the tall tree of Eastern Africa, except by its scarlet “carats,” which here the people disdain to use as beads. The scorching of the leaves stunts the shrubs, thickens the bark, and makes the growth scrubby, so that the labourer has nothing to do but to clear away the grass: I afterwards remarked the same effects on the Brazilian Campos.

We descended the dividing ridge, which is also painfully steep, especially near the foot, and crossed the rolling hollow with its three chalybeate brooks, beyond which lay our destination. Tuckey describes the hills between Boma and Nkulu as stony and barren, which is perhaps a little too strong. The dark red clay soil, dried almost to the consistency of laterite, cannot be loosened by rain or sun, and in places it is hardened like that of Brazilian Porto Seguro, where the people complain that they cannot bury their dead. All the uplands, however, grow grass which is sometimes ten to twelve feet tall, and in places there are shrubs and trees. About Nkulu the highlands are rightly described as “steep hills of quartz, ferruginous earth, and syenite with fertile tops:” rocks and stones are rare upon the plateaux: they are rich enough to produce everything from wheat to coffee, and hardly a hundredth part is cultivated. Thin and almost transparent lines of palms denote the several Banzas on the ridges, and in the valley are rock circles like magnified and prostrated Stonehenges.

The “termes arborum” is universal, and anthills form a prominent feature. It has been remarked that these buildings are the most conspicuous architectural efforts of the country, and the Abbé Proyart observes that here more effectually than in any other land man ought to be sent to the ant school. The material is of dark and sometimes black earth as in the Gaboon, and the shape is the umbrella, rarely double or pagoda-roofed. The column may be twelve to eighteen inches high, and the diameter of the capital attains two feet: I never saw, however, a “gigantic toadstool as high as a one-storied house.”3 Nor are the mushroom tops now used as chafing-dishes.

The grateful tamarind grows everywhere, but nowhere so gloriously as on the lower elevations. The only true sycomores which I saw were stunted specimens near the Yellala. They contrasted poorly with the growth of the Ugogi Dhun, a noble patriarch, whose circle of shade under a vertical sun was 500 feet, and which I thought worthy of a portrait in “Lake Regions of Central Africa” (p. 195, vol. i.). I need hardly warn the reader that, properly speaking, it is the “Sycamine which produces the fruit called Syconwrus or fig-mulberry;” but we apply the term “Sycomore” to the tree as well as to its fruit.

After three hours of actual marching (= seven miles) in an east-north-easterly direction, we ascended a path greasy with drizzle, parquetted by negro feet and infested with “drivers,” which now became troublesome. It led to Banza Nkulu, a shabby settlement of unclean plantations and ragged huts of far inferior construction: stacks of grass were piled upon the ground, and this new thatch was greatly wanted. Here the lands of the “bush-men” begin: instead of marching directly to the chief’s house, we sat in our wet clothes under a friendly wild fig. The women flocked out at the cry of the hammock-bearers and, nursing their babies, sat down to the enjoyment of a stare; they had lost, however, the merriment of their more civilized sisters, and they hardly ever vouchsafed a laugh or a smile. The curiosity of the “Zinkomba” knew no bounds; all were unusually agitated by the aspect of a man coloured like themselves; they jerked out their leafy crinolines by forward movements of the lower body, swayed violently from side to side, and cried “Ha-rr-rr-rr-rr!” and “Jojolo! jojolo!” till they were hoarse. As usual, the adults would not allow me to approach them, and I was obliged to rest contented with sketching their absurdities. To punish this daring, the Jinkomba brought a man masked like a white, with beard and whiskers, who is supposed to strike the stranger with awe: it was all in vain, I had learned to trill the R as roundly as themselves, and they presently left me as a “perdido,” an incorrigible.

In the days of the Expedition, Nkulu had but one ruler, of whom Tuckey says (p. 148), that he found less pomp and noise, but much more civility and hospitality than from the richer kings he had visited. Now there are three who require their “dashes,” and each has his linguister, who must not be passed by without notice. Moreover, as population and luxury have increased on the line of route, bark-cloth has disappeared and even the slaves are dressed in cottons. We waited, patiently hungry, till 4 P.M. because the interpreters had gone on some “fish palaver” to the river. At that hour a procession of some two hundred and fifty men headed by a drum and Chingufu (cymbal-bells) defiled before us, crowding round three umbrellas, trade-articles in the last stage of “seediness.” These comforts protected from the sun, which was deep hid behind a purple nimbus, an equal number of great men in absurd red nightcaps or old felt wideawakes, shirts of coloured cotton, and second-hand waistcoats of silk or satin. The only signs of luxury were here and there a well-carved ebony stick, and a gunstock resplendent with brass tacks. All sat down in a semi-circle before us, six or seven deep in front and four or five at the sides: the women and children took their places in the rear, and one of them fondled a prick-eared cur with an attempt at a ribbon round its neck.

The head linguister, who, like “Persian interpreters” to commanders in chief of India during my clay, could not speak a word of any language but his own, after clapping hands, congratulated us in the name of the great king Nekulu; he lives, it appears, in a Banza at some distance to the north or north-east, out of sight of the river, and he cannot be visited without great outlay of gunpowder and strong waters. We returned compliments, and after the usual complications we came to the main point, the “dash.” I had privily kept a piece of satin-stripe, and this was produced as the very last of our viaticum. The interpreter, having been assured that we had nothing else to give, retired with his posse to debate; whilst we derided the wild manners of these “bush-folk,” who feared to shake hands with us. After an hour or so the council returned, clapped palms, sat clown, grumbled at the gift and gave formal leave to see the Yellala — how the word now jarred in my ears after its abominable repetition! Had these men been told a month before that a white would have paid for permission to visit what they considered common property, they would have refused belief: with characteristic readiness, however, the moment they saw an opportunity of “making money,” they treated the novelty as a matter of course.


This palaver settled, the chiefs danced within a ring formed by their retainers; the speeches were all sung, not spoken; and obeisances and dustings of elaborate complexity concluded the eventful meeting, which broke up as it began with drum and Chingufu. There was not a symptom of hospitality; we had preserved some provaunt from our last station, or we should have been famished. My escort forgot their disappointments in a “ball,” which lasted through the cool, clear and dewy night till nearly dawn. It is evidently a happy temperament which can dance off hunger and fatigue.

1 This palm-clapping is often alluded to in “O Muata Cazembe” (pp. 223 et passim).

2 “Highlands of the Brazil,” vol. ii. chap. xv. The red clay of the Congo region is an exact copy of what is found on the opposite side of the Atlantic.

3 “Journal of an African Cruiser,” by an Officer of the United States Navy, p. 173. London, 1848. Tuckey (“Narrative,” 132) gives a sketch of the building.

Chapter 14.

The Yellala of the Congo.

At dawn (September 16), I began the short march leading to the Yellala.1 By stepping a few paces south of Nkulu, we had a fine view of the Borongwa ya Vivi, the lowest rapids, whose foaming slope contrasted well with the broad, smooth basin beyond. Palabala, the village of Nekorado on the other side of the stream, bore south (Mag.), still serving as a landmark; and in this direction the ridges were crowned with palm orchards and settlements. But the great Yellala was hidden by the hill-shoulder.

We at once fell into a descent of some 890 feet, which occupied an hour. The ground was red iron-clay, greasy and slippery; dew-dripping grass, twelve to fifteen feet tall, lined the path; the surface was studded with dark ant-hills of the mushroom shape; short sycomores appeared, and presently we came to rough gradients of stone, which severely tried the “jarrets.” After an hour, we crossed at the trough-foot a brook of pure water, which, uniting with two others, turns to the north-east, and, tumbling over a little ledge, discharges itself into the main drain. An ascent then led over a rounded hill with level summit, and precipitous face all steps and drops of rock, some of them six and seven feet high, opposed to the stream. Another half hour, and a descent of 127 feet placed us under a stunted calabash, 100 feet above the water, and commanding a full view of the Yellala.

On the whole, the impression was favourable. Old Shimbah, the Linguister at Porto da Lenha, and other natives had assured me that the Cataracts were taller than the tallest trees. On the other hand, the plain and unadorned narrative of the “Expedition” had prepared me for a second-rate stream bubbling over a strong bed. The river here sweeps round from the north-west, and bends with a sharp elbow first to the south-west and then to the south-east, the length of the latter reach being between four and five miles. As far as the eye can see, the bed, which narrows from 900 to 400 and 500 yards, is broken by rocks and reefs. A gate at the upper end pours over its lintel a clear but dwarf fall, perhaps two feet high. The eastern staple rises at first sheer from the water’s edge to the estimated altitude of a thousand feet — this is the “Crocodile’s Head” which we saw on the last march, and already the thin rains are robing its rocky surface with tender green. The strata are disposed at angles, varying from 35° to 45°, and three streaks of bright trees denote Fiumaras about to be filled. Opposite it is the “Quoin Hill,” bluff to the stream, and falling west with gradual incline. The noise of this higher fall can hardly be heard at Nkulu, except on the stillest nights.

Below the upper gate, the bed, now narrowing to 300 yards, shows the great Yellala; the waters, after breaking into waves for a mile and a half above, rush down an inclined plane of some thirty feet in 300 yards, spuming, colliding and throwing up foam, which looks dingy white against the dull yellow-brown of the less disturbed channel — the movement is that of waves dashing upon a pier. The bed is broken by the Zunga chya Malemba, which some pronounced Sanga chya Malemba, an oval islet in mid-stream, whose greater diameter is disposed along the axis of the bed. The north-western apex, raised about fifty feet above the present level of the waters, shows a little bay of pure sand, the detritus of its rocks, with a flood-mark fifteen feet high, whilst the opposite side bears a few wind-wrung trees. The materials are gneiss and schist, banded with quartz — Tuckey’s great masses of slate. This is the “Terrapin” of the Nzadi. The eastern fork, about 150 yards broad, is a mountain-torrent, coursing unobstructed down its sandy trough, and, viewed from an eminence, the waters of the mid-channel appear convex, a shallow section of a cylinder — it is a familiar shape well marked upon the St. Lawrence Rapids. The western half is traversed by a reef, connecting the islets with the right bank. During August, this branch was found almost dry; in mid-September, it was nearly full, and here the water breaks with the greatest violence. The right bank is subtended for some hundred yards by blocks of granite and greenstone, pitted with large basins and pot-holes, delicately rounded, turned as with a lathe by the turbid waters. The people declare that this greenstone contains copper, and Professor Smith found particles in his specimens. The Portuguese agents, to whom the natives carefully submit everything curious, doubt the fact, as well as all reports of gold; yet there is no reason why the latter should not be found.

The current whirls and winds through its tortuous channels, which are like castings of metal, in many distinct flows; some places are almost stagnant, suggesting passages for canoes. Here the fishermen have planted their weirs; some are wading in the pools, others are drying their nets upon the stony ledges. During the floods, however, this cheval-de-frise of boulders must all be under water, and probably impassable. Tuckey supposes that the inundation must produce a spectacle which justifies the high-flown description of the people. I should imagine the reverse to be the case; and Dr. Livingstone justly remarked2 that, when the river was full, the Yellala rapids would become comparatively smooth, as he had found those of the Zambeze; and that therefore a voyage pittoresque up the Congo should be made at that season.

Before leaving the Yellala, I wandered along the right bank, and found a cliff, whose overhanging brow formed a fine cavern; it remarkably resembled the Martianez Fountain under the rock near the beautiful Puerto de Orotava. Here the fishermen were disporting themselves, and cooking their game, which they willingly exchanged for beads. All were of the Silurus family, varying from a few inches to two feet. Fish-eagles sat upon the ledges overhanging the stream, and a flight of large cranes wheeled majestically in the upper air: according to the people, they are always to be seen at the Yellalas.

The extent of a few hundred feet afforded a good bird’s eye view of the scene. The old river-valley, shown by the scarp of the rocks, must have presented gigantic features, and the height of the trough-walls, at least a thousand feet, gives the Yellala a certain beauty and grandeur. The site is apparently the highest axis of the dividing ridge separating the maritime lowlands from the inner plateau. Looking eastward the land smoothens, the dorsa fall more gently towards the counter-slope, and there are none of the “Morros” which we have traversed.

With the members of the Congo Expedition, I was somewhat startled by the contrast between the apparently shrunken volume of waters and the vast breadth of the lower river; hence Professor Smith’s theory of underground caverns and communications, in fact of a subterraneous river, a favourite hobby in those days. But there is not a trace of limestone formation around, nor is there the hollow echo which inevitably would result from such a tunnel. Evidently the difference is to be accounted for by the rapidity of the torrent, the effect of abnormal slope deceiving the eye. At the Mosî-wa-tunya Falls the gigantic Zambeze, from a breadth of a thousand yards suddenly plunges into a trough only forty-five to sixty feet wide: the same is the case with the Brazilian São Francisco, which, a mile wide above the Cachoeira de Paulo Affonso, is choked to a minimum breadth of fifty-one feet. At the Pongo (narrows) de Manseriche also, the Amazonas, “already a noble river, is contracted at its narrowest part to a width of only twenty-five toises, bounded on each margin by lofty perpendicular cliffs, at the end of which the Andes are fairly passed, and the river emerges on the great plain.”3 Thus the Yellala belongs to the class of obstructed rapids like those of the Nile, compared with the unobstructed, of which a fine specimen is the St. Lawrence. It reminded me strongly of the Búsa (Boussa) described by Richard Lander, where the breadth of the Niger is reduced to a stone-throw, and the stream is broken by black rugged rocks arising from mid-channel. It is probably a less marked feature than the Congo, for in June, after the “Malka” or fourteen days of incessant rain, the author speaks of whirlpools, not of a regular break.

I thus make the distance of the Yellala from the mouth between 116 and 117 miles and the total fall 390 feet, of which about one half (195) occurs in the sixty-four miles between Boma and the Yellala: of this figure again 100 feet belong to the section of five miles between the Vivi and the Great Rapids. The Zambeze, according to Dr. Livingstone (“First Expedition,” p. 284), has a steeper declivity than some other great rivers, reaching even 7 inches per mile. With 3 to 4 inches, the Ganges, the Amazonas, and the Mississippi flow at the rate of three knots an hour in the lowest season and five or six during the flood: what, then, may be expected from the Nzadi?

According to the people, beyond the small upper fall where projections shut out the view, the channel smoothens for a short space and carries canoes. Native travellers from Nkulu usually take the mountain-path cutting across an easterly bend of the bed to Banza Menzi, the Manzy of Tuckey’s text and the Menzi Macooloo of his map. It is situated on a level platform 9 miles north of Nkulu, and they find the stream still violent. The second march is to Banza Ninga, by the First Expedition called “Inga,” an indirect line of five hours = 15 miles. The third, of about the same distance, makes Banza Mavunda where, 20 to 24 miles above the Yellala, Tuckey found the river once more navigable, clear in the middle and flowing at the rate of two miles an hour — a retardation evidently caused by the rapids beyond: I have remarked this effect in the Brazilian “Cachoeiras.”4 Above it the Nzadi widens, and canoeing is practicable with portages at the two Sangallas. The southern feature, double like the Yellala, shows an upper and a lower break, separated by two miles, the rapids being formed as usual by sunken ledges of rock. Two days’ paddling lead to the northern or highest Sangalla, which obstructs the stream for 22 miles: Tuckey (p. 184) makes his Songo Sangalla contain three rapids; Prof. Smith, whose topography is painfully vague, doubles the number, at the same time he makes Sanga Jalala (p. 327) the “uppermost fall but one and the highest.” Finally, at Nsundi (on the map Soondy N’sanga), which was reached on Sept. 9, a picturesque sandy cove at the opening of a creek behind along projecting point, begins a lake-like river, three miles broad, with fine open country on both banks: the explorer describes it as “beautiful scenery equal to anything on the banks of the Thames.”

Here the Nzadi is bounded by low limestone hills already showing the alluvial basin of Central Africa; and the land is well populated, because calcareous districts are fertile in the tropics and provisions are plentiful. Prof. Smith (p. 336) was “so much enraptured with the improved appearance of the country and the magnificence of the river, that it was with the greatest difficulty he was prevailed on to return.” Of course, the coaster middle-men report the people to be cannibals.

From the Vivi Rapids to Nsundi along the windings of the bed is a total of 115 miles, about the distance of Vivi to the sea; the direct land march was 75 miles. Captain Tuckey heard nothing of the Lumini River entering 43 leagues above the Yellala, and he gives no professional opinion touching the navigability of the total of six greater rapids which, to judge from what I saw, can hardly offer any serious obstruction to the development of the Nzadi.

At Nkulu an intelligent native traveller whom I examined through the interpreters, strongly advised the line of the southern bank: five stages would lead to Nsundi, and the ten “kings” on the road are not such “rapacious gentlemen” as our present hosts. A glance at Tuckey’s map shows that this southern line cuts across a long westerly deflection of the bed.

I had been warned when setting out that a shipful of goods would not take me past Nkulu. This was soon confirmed. On the evening after arrival I had directed my interpreter to sound the “bush-kings” touching the expense of a march to Nsundi. They modestly demanded 100 lbs. of beads, fifty kegs of powder, forty demijohns of rum, twelve uniforms, ten burnuses, a few swords, and 200 whole pieces of various expensive cloths, such as Costa Finas, Riscados, and satin stripes — briefly, about £300 for three days’ march. It suggested the modest demand made by King Adooley of Badagry, from the brothers Lander.

The air of Nkulu was a cordial; the aspect of the land suggested that it is the threshold to a country singularly fertile and delicious, in fact, the paradise which Bishop Berkeley (Gaudentio di Lucca) placed in Central Africa. The heat of the lowlands had disappeared —

“The scorching ray

Here pierceth not, impregnate with disease.”

The thermometer, it is true, did not sink below 67° (F.), whilst the “Expedition” (p. 118) had found it 60° in August, even at Boma during the dewy nights. The lowest temperature of the water was 75°, and the highest 79°, whereas at the mouth it is sometimes 83°; Tuckey gives 76°-77°; 74° in the upper river above the Falls, and 73° where there are limestone springs. The oxydization of iron suddenly ceased; after a single day’s drying, the plants were ready for a journey to England, and meat which wrill hardly keep one day in the lowlands is here eatable on the fifth.

Whilst the important subject of “dash” was being discussed I set out in my hammock to visit a quitanda or market held hard by. As we started, the women sang,

“Lungwá u telemene ko

Mwanza Ko Yellala o kwenda.”

“The boat that arrives at the Mwanza (the River) the same shall go up to the Yellala” (rapids). It is part of a chant which the mothers of men now old taught them in childhood, and the sole reminiscence of the Congo Expedition, whose double boats, the Ajôjôs of the Brazil, struck their rude minds half a century ago.

These quitandas are attended by people living a dozen miles off, and they give names to the days, which consequently everywhere vary. Thus at Boma Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday are respectively called “Nkenge,” “Sona,” “Kandu,” and “Konzo.” This style of dividing time, which is common throughout Pagan West Africa, is commonly styled a week: thus the Abbé Proyart tells us that the Loango week consists of four days, and that on the fourth the men “rest” by hunting and going to market. Tuckey also recognizes the “week of four days,” opposed to the seven days’ week of the Gold Coast.

After half an hour’s run to the north-west my bearers, raising loud shouts of “Alii! vai sempre!” dashed into the market-place where about a hundred souls were assembled. The women rose in terror from their baskets and piles of vendibles; some began hastily to pack up, others threw themselves into the bush. Order was soon restored by the interpreter; both sexes and all ages crowded round me with hootings of wonder, and, when they had stared their fill, allowed me to sit down under a kind of ficus, not unlike the banyan-tree (Ficus Indica). Tuckey (p. 181) says that this fig is planted in all market-places and is considered sacred; his people got into trouble by piling their muskets against one of them: I heard of nothing of the kind. The scanty supplies — a few fowls, sun-dried fish, kola-nuts, beans, and red peppers — were spread upon skins, or stored in well-worked baskets, an art carried to perfection in Africa; even the Somali Bedawin weave pots that will hold water. The small change was represented by a medium which even Montesquieu would not set down as a certain mark of civilization. The horse-shoe of Loggun (Denham and Clapperton), the Fán fleam, the “small piece of iron like an ace of spades on the upper Nile” (Baker), and the iron money of the brachycephalic Nyam-nyams described and drawn by Schwein furth (i. 279), here becomes a triangle or demi-square of bast-cloth, about 5 inches of max. length, fringed, coloured like a torchon after a month of kitchen use, and worth one-twentieth of the dollar or fathom of cloth. These money-mats or coin-clouts are known to old travellers as Macuitas and Libonges (in Angolan Libangos). Carli and Merolla make them equivalent to brass money; the former were grass-cloth a yard long, and ten = 100 reis; in 1694 they were changed at Angola for a small copper coin worth 2 1/2 d., and the change caused a disturbance for which five soldiers were shot. Silver was represented by “Intagas,” thick cottons the size of two large kerchiefs (=. Is. 6d.) and “Folingas,” finer sorts used for waist-cloths (=. 3s. 6d.); and gold by Beirames (alii Biramis): Carli says the latter are coarse Indian cottons 5 ells long and each = 200 reis; others describe them as fine linen each piece worth 7s. 6d. to 8s. The bank-note was the “Indian piece or Mulech, a young black about twenty years of age, worth 20 Mil Keys (dollars) each.” (Carli.) In the Barbots’ day each “coin-clout”) was equivalent to 2d.; some were unmarked, whilst others bore the Portuguese arms single or double. The wilder Kru-men still keep up their “buyapart” (= 25 cents), a cloth 4 inches square and thickly sewn over with cowries.

The only liquor was palm wine in huge calabashes. The smoking of Lyamba (Bhang or Cannabis sativa) seems to become more common as we advance. I did not find the plant growing, as did Dr. Livingstone at Linyanti and amongst the Batoka (“First Expedition,” 198, 541). The pipe is the gourd of a baobab, which here sometimes grows a foot and a half long; it is cleared, filled with water and provided with a wooden tube fixed in the upper part away from the mouth, and supporting a small “chillam” or bowl of badly baked clay. The people when smoking affect the bunched shoulders, the deep inhalation, and the loud and body-shaking bark, which seems inseparable from the enjoyment of this stimulant. I have used it for months together, and my conclusion is, that mostly the cough is an affectation. Tobacco is smoked in the usual heavy clay pipes, with long mouthpieces of soft wood, quite as civilized as the best European. “Progress” seems unknown to the pipe; the most advanced nations are somewhat behind the barbarians, and in the matter of snuff the Tupi or Brazilian savage has never been rivalled.

The greater part of the vendors seemed to be women, of the buyers men; there was more difference of appearance than in any European fair, and the population about Nkulu seemed to be a very mixed race. Some were ultra-negro, of the dead dull-black type, prognathous and long-headed like apes; others were of the red variety, with hair and eyes of a brownish tinge, and a few had features which if whitewashed could hardly be distinguished from Europeans. The tattoo was remarkable as amongst the tribes of the lower Zambeze.5 There were waistcoats, epaulettes, braces and cross-belts of huge welts, and raised polished lumps which must have cost not a little suffering; the skin is pinched up between the fingers and sawn across with a bluntish knife, the deeper the better; various plants are used as styptics, and the proper size of the cicatrice is maintained by constant pressure, which makes the flesh protrude from the wound. The teeth were as barbarously mutilated as the skin; these had all the incisors sharp-tipped; those chipped a chevron-shaped hole in the two upper or lower frontals, and not a few seemed to attempt converting the whole denture into molars. The legs were undeniably fine; even Hieland Mary’s would hardly be admired here. Whilst the brown mothers smoked and carried their babies, the men bore guns adorned with brass tacks, or leaned upon their short, straight, conical “spuds” and hoes, long-handled bits of iron whose points, after African fashion, passed through the wood. I nowhere saw the handsome carved spoons, the hafts and knife-sheaths figured by the Congo Expedition.

We left the quitanda with the same shouting and rushing which accompanied my appearance.

1 See frontispiece.

2 At the memorable Bath meeting of the British Association, Sept. 1864.

3 Mr. Richard Spruce, “Ocean Highways,” August, 1873, p. 213.

4 “Lowlands of the Brazil,” chap. xvii. Tinsleys, 1875. II.

5 “Journal of the Royal Geographical Society,” vol. iii. p. 206, 1833.

Chapter 15.

Return to the Congo Mouth.

In the evening there was a palaver.

I need hardly say that my guide, after being paid to show me Nsundi, never had the slightest intention to go beyond the Yellala. Irritated by sleeping in the open air, and by the total want of hospitality amongst the bushmen, he and his moleques had sat apart all day, the picture of stubborn discontent, and

“Not a man in the place

But had discontent written large in his face.”

I proposed to send back a party for rum, powder, and cloth to the extent of £150, or half the demand, and my factotum, Selim, behaved like a trump. Gidi Mavunga, quite beyond self-control, sprang up, and declared that, if the Mundele would not follow him, that obstinate person might remain behind. The normal official deprecation, as usual, made him the more headstrong; he rushed off and disappeared in the bush, followed by a part of his slaves, the others crying aloud to him, “Wenda!”— get out! Seeing that the three linguisters did not move, he presently returned, and after a furious address in Fiote began a Portuguese tirade for my benefit. This white man had come to their country, and, instead of buying captives, was bent upon enslaving their Mfumos; but that “Branco” should suffer for his attempt; no “Mukanda” or book (that is, letter) should go down stream; all his goods belonged of right to his guide, and thus he would learn to sit upon the heads of the noblesse, with much of the same kind.

There are times when the traveller either rises above or sinks to the level of, or rather below, his party. I had been sitting abstractedly, like the great quietist, Buddha, when the looks of the assembly suggested an “address.” This was at once delivered in Portuguese, with a loud and angry voice. Gidi Mavunga, who had been paid for Nsundi, not for the Yellala, had spoken like a “small boy” (i.e., a chattel). I had no wish to sit upon other men’s heads, but no man should sit on mine. Englishmen did not want slaves, nor would they allow others to want them, but they would not be made slaves themselves. My goods were my own, and King Nessala, not to speak of Mambuco Prata — the name told — had made themselves responsible for me. Lastly, if the Senhor Gidi Mafung wanted to quarrel, the contents of a Colt’s six-shooter were at his disposal.

Such a tone would have made a European furious; it had a contrary effect upon the African. Gidi Mavunga advanced from his mat, and taking my hand placed it upon his head, declaring me his “Mwenemputo.” The linguisters then entered the circle, chanted sundry speeches, made little dances, then bent their knuckles to earth, much in the position of boys preparing to jump over their own joined hands, dusted themselves, and clapped palms. Very opportunely arrived a present from the king of fowls, dried fish and plantains, which restored joy to the camp. “Mwenemputo,” I must explain, primarily meaning “the King of Portugal,” is applied in East Central Africa to a negro king and chiefs (“The Lands of the Cazembe,” p. 17). In Loango also it is the name of a high native official, and, when used as in the text, it is equivalent to Mfumo, chief or head of family.

At night Gidi Mavunga came to our quarters and began to talk sense. Knowing that my time was limited, he enlarged upon the badness of the road and the too evident end of the travelling season, when the great rains would altogether prevent fast travel. Banza Ninga, the next stage, was distant two or three marches, and neither shelter nor provisions were to be found on the way. Here a canoe would carry us for a day (12 miles) to the Sangala Rapids: then would come the third portage of two days (22 miles) to Nsundi. My outfit at Banza Nokki was wholly insufficient; the riverine races were no longer tractable as in the days of his father, when white men first visited the land. My best plan was to return to Boma at once, organize a party, and march upon Congo Grande (S. Salvador); there I should find whites, Portuguese, Englishmen and their “Kru-men” the term generally applied on the southern coast to all native employés of foreign traders. If determined upon bring “converted into black man” I might join some trading party into the interior. As regards the cloth and beads advanced by me for the journey to Nsundi, a fair proportion would be returned at Banza Nokki. And so saying the old fox managed to look as if he meant what he said.

All this, taken with many a grain, was reasonable. The edge of my curiosity had been taken off by the Yellala, and nothing new could be expected from the smaller formations up stream. Time forbade me to linger at Banza Nkulu. The exorbitant demand had evidently been made by express desire of Gidi Mavunga, and only a fortnight’s delay could have reduced it to normal dimensions. Yet with leisure success was evident. All the difficulties of the Nsundi road would have vanished when faced. The wild people showed no feeling against foreigners, and the Nkulu linguisters during their last visit begged me to return as soon as possible and “no tell lie.” I could only promise that their claims should be laid before the public. Accordingly a report of this trip was at once sent in to Her Majesty’s Foreign Office, and a paper was read before the British Association of September, 1864.

Early on Thursday morning (Sept. 17) we began the down march. It was a repetition of the up march, except that all were bent upon rushing home, like asses to their stables; none of those posés, or regular halts on the line of march, as practised by well-trained voyageurs, are known to Congo-land. There was some reason for the hurry, and travellers in these regions will do well to remember it, or they may starve with abundance around them. The kings and chiefs hold it their duty to entertain the outward bound; but when cloth, beads, and rum have been exhausted, the returning wanderer sits under a tree instead of entering the banza, and it is only an exceptional householder who will send him a few eggs or plantains. They “cut” you, as a rule, more coolly than ever town man cut a continental acquaintance. Finally, the self-imposed hardships of the down march break men’s spirits for further attempts, and their cupidity cannot neutralize their natural indolence thus reinforced.

We entered on the next afternoon Gidi Mavunga’s village, where the lieges received him with shouts and hand-clappings: at the Papagayo’s there was a dance which lasted through that night and the next. I stayed three days at Chinguvu finishing my sketches, but to have recovered anything from the guide would have required three weeks. The old villain relaxed his vigilance over the women, who for the first time were allowed to enter the doors without supervision: Merolla treats of this stale trick, and exclaims —

“Ah pereat! didicit fallere si qua virum.”

I was reminded of the classical sentiment upon the Rio de S. Francisco (“Highlands of the Brazil,” ii. chap, xiv.), where, amongst other sentiments, the boatmen severely denounce in song

“Mulher que engana tropeiro.”

As a rule throughout West Africa, where even the wildest tribes practise it, the “panel dodge” served, as Dupuis remarked, to supply the slave-trade, and in places like Abeokuta it became a nuisance: the least penalty to which it leads is the confiscation of the Lothario’s goods and chattels. Foiled in his benevolent attempt, the covetous senior presently entered the hut, and began unceremoniously to open a package of cloth which did not belong to him. Selim cocked his revolver, and placed it handy, so the goods were afterwards respected.

At length, on Sept. 19, a piece of cloth (=48 yards) procured a canoe. But calico and beads are not removed from an African settlement without disturbance: my factotum has given a detailed account of the scene.1 Gidi Mavunga so managed that the porters, instead of proceeding straight to the stream, marched upon Banza Nokki where his royal son was awaiting us. Worse still, Nessudikira’s royal mother was there, a large old virago, who smoked like a steam-engine and who “swore awful.” The moleques were armed, but none liked proceeding to extremes; so, after an unusually loud quarrel, we reached the river in three hours, and at 9.45 A.M. we set out for Boma.

The down voyage was charming. Instead of hugging the southern bank, we raced at a swinging pace down mid-stream. A few showers had wonderfully improved the aspect of the land, where

“Every tree well from his fellow grew

With branches broad, laden with leaves new,

That springen out against the sunny sheen,

Some very red and some a glad light green;”

and the first breath of spring gave life to the queer antediluvian vegetation — calabash and cactus, palmyra, bombax, and fern. An admirable mirage lifted the canoes which preceded us clean out of the river, and looking down stream the water seemed to flow up hill, as it does, according to Mrs. —-, in the aqueducts of Madeira. Although the tide began to flow up shortly after 10 A.M., and the sea-breeze wafe unusually strong, we covered the forty-five miles in 7 hrs. 15 m. Amidst shouts of “Izakula Mundeh,”— white men cum agen! — we landed at Boma, and found that the hospitable Sr. Pereira had waited dinner, to which I applied myself most “wishedly.”

Once more in civilization, we prepared for a march upon S. Salvador.

No white man at Boma knew anything of the road to the old Capital; but, as a letter had been received from it after three days’ march, there was evidently no difficulty. I wrote to Porto da Lenha for an extra supply of “black money,” which was punctually forwarded; both Chico Furano and Nihama Chamvu volunteered for the journey, and preparations were progressing as rapidly as could be expected in these slow-moving lands, when they were brought to the abruptest conclusion. On the 24th Sept. a letter from the Commodore of the station informed me that I had been appointed H. M.‘s Commissioner to Dahome, and that, unless I could at once sail in H.M.S. “Griffon,” no other opportunity would be found for some time. The only step left was to apply for a canoe, and, after a kindly farewell to my excellent host, I left Boma on the evening of Sept. 25.

With a view of “doing” the mosquitoes, we ran down the Nshibul or central arm of the Nzadi, and found none of the whirlpools mentioned by the “Expedition” near Fetish Rock. The bright clear night showed us silhouettes of dark holms, high and wooded to the north, and southwards banks of papyrus outlying long straggling lines of thin islands like a huge caterpillar. The canoe-men attempted to land at one place, declaring that some king wanted “dash,” but we were now too strong for them: these fellows, if allowed, will halt to speak every boat on the river. The wind fell to a dead calm, and five hours and a half sufficed to cover the thirty miles between Boma and Porto da Lenha. Here Mr. Scott supplied me with a fine canoe and a fresh crew of seven paddles.

The noon was grey and still as we left the Whydah of the south, but at 2 P.M. the sea-breeze came up stiff and sudden, the tide also began to flow; the river roared; the meeting of wind and water produced what the Indus boatmen call a “lahar” (tide rip), and the Thalweg became almost as rough as the Yellala. Our canoe was literally

“Laying her whole side on the sea,

As a leaping fish does.”

Unwilling to risk swamping my instruments, I put into the northern bank, where our friend, the palhabote Espérance, passed under a tricolour, and manned only by Laptots. As we waved a signal to them, they replied with a straggling fire of musketry to what they considered a treacherous move on the part of plundering Musurungus. At sunset a lump of scirrhus before the sun was so dense that its dark shadow formed a brush like the trabes of a comet. This soon melted away, and a beautifully diaphanous night tempted us to move towards the dreary funnel of darkness which opened ahead. The clouds began to pour; again the stream became rough, and the swift upper or surface current meeting the cross-tide below represented an agitated “Race of Portland.” Wet and weary we reached Banana Point on Sunday, Sept. 27, 1863, fortunately not too “late for the mail,” and, next day, I was on board “Griffon,” ready for Dahome and for my late host King Gelele.

1 In the “Geographical Magazine” for February, 1875.

Chapter 16.

The Slaver and the Missionary in the Congo River.

In the preceding pages some details have been given concerning domestic slavery upon the Congo River. Like polygamy, the system of barbarous and semi-barbarous races, it must be held provisional, but in neither case can we see any chance of present end. Should the Moslem wave of conquest, in a moral as well as a material form, sweep — and I am persuaded that it will sweep — from North Africa across the equator, the effect will be only to establish both these “patriarchal institutions” upon a stronger and a more rational basis.

All who believe in “progress” are socially anti-slavers, as we all are politically Republicans. But between the two extremes, between despotism, in which society is regimented like an army, and liberty, where all men are theoretically free and equal, there are infinite shades of solid rule and government which the wisdom of nations adapts to their wants. The medium of constitutional monarchy or hereditary presidentship recommends itself under existing circumstances to the more advanced peoples, and with good reason; we nowhere find a prevalence of those manly virtues, disinterestedness and self-sacrifice to the “respublica,” which rendered the endurance of ancient republics possible. Rome could hardly have ruled the world for centuries had her merchants supplied Carthage with improved triremes or furnished the Parthians with the latest style of weapons. We must be wise and virtuous before we can hope to be good republicans, and man in the mass is not yet “homo sapiens;” he is not wise, and certainly he is not virtuous.

The present state of Africa suggests two questions concerning the abolition of the export slave-trade, which must be kept essentially distinct from domestic servitude. The first is, “Does the change benefit the negro?” Into this extensive subject I do not propose to enter, contenting myself with recording a negative answer. But upon the second, “Is the world ready for its abolition?” I would offer a few remarks. They will be ungrateful to that small but active faction which has laboured so long and so hard to misinform the English public concerning Africa, and which is as little fitted to teach anything about the African as to legislate for Mongolian Tartary. It has prevailed for a time to the great injury of the cause, and we cannot but see its effects in almost every step taken by the Englishman, civilian or soldier, who lands his British opinions and prejudices on the West Coast, and who, utterly ignoring the fact that the African, as far as his small interests are concerned, is one of the clearest sighted of men, unhesitatingly puts forth addresses and proclamations which he would not think of submitting to Europeans. But I have faith in my countrymen. If there be any nation that deserves to be looked upon as the arbiter of public opinion in Europe, it is England proper, which, to the political education of many generations, adds an innate sense of moderation, of justice, and of fair play, and a suspicion of extreme measures however theoretically perfect, which do not exist elsewhere. Heinrich Heine expressed this idea after his Maccabean fashion, “Ask the stupidest Englishman a question of politics, and he will say something clever; ask the cleverest Englishman a question of religion and he will say something stupid.” Hence the well-wishers of England can feel nothing but regret when they find her clear and cold light of reason obscured, as it has been, upon the negro question by the mists and clouds of sentimental passion, and their first desire is to see this weakness pass away.

I unhesitatingly assert — and all unprejudiced travellers will agree with me — that the world still wants the black hand. Enormous tropical regions yet await the clearing and the draining operations by the lower races, which will fit them to become the dwelling-place of civilized man.

But slave-exportation is practically dead; we would not revive it, nor indeed could we, the revival would be a new institution, completely in disaccord with the spirit of the age. It is for us to find something which shall take its place, and which shall satisfy the just aspirations of those who see their industry and energy neutralized by want of labour. I need hardly say that all requirements would be met by negro-emigration; and that not only Africa, but the world of the east as well as of the west, call for some measure of the kind. The “cooly” from Hindostan may in time become a valuable article, but it will be long before he can be induced to emigrate in sufficient numbers: the Chinese will be a mistake when the neglected resources of the mighty “Central Empire,” mineral and others, shall be ready to be developed, as they soon must, under the supervision of Europeans. It remains only for us to draw upon the great labour-bank of Negro-land.

A bonâ fide emigration, a free engagé system, would be a boon to Western and Inner Africa, where the tribes live in an almost continual state of petty warfare. The anti-slavers and the abolitionists, of course, represent this to be the effect of the European trade in man’s flesh and blood; but it prevails, and has ever prevailed, and long will prevail, even amongst peoples which have never sent a head of negro to the coast. And there is a large class of men captured in battle, and a host of those condemned to death by savage superstition, whose lives can be saved only by their exportation, which, indeed, is the African form of transportation. “We believe,” says the Abbé Proyart (1776), “that the father sells his son and the prince his subjects; he only who has lived among them can know that it is not even lawful for a man to sell his slave, if he be born in the country, unless he have incurred that penalty by certain crimes specified by law.”

It will be objected that any scheme of the kind must be so involved in complicated difficulties that it cannot fail to degenerate into the old export slave-trade. This I deny. Admitting that such must at first be its tendency, I am persuaded that the details can so be controlled as to secure the use without the abuse. Women and children, for instance, should never be allowed on board ship, unless accompanying husbands and parents. Those who speak some words of a foreign tongue, English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese, and on the eastern coast Hindostani, might lead the way, to be followed in due time by the wilder races. Probably the best ground for the trial would be the Island of Zanzibar, where we can completely control its operations. And what should lend us patience and courage to meet and to beat down all difficulties is the consideration that success will be the sole possible means, independent of El Islam, of civilizing, or rather of humanizing, the Dark Continent. The excellent Abbé Proyart begins his “History of Loango” with the wise and memorable words: “Touching the Africans, these people have vices — what people is exempt from vice? But, were they even more wicked and more vicious, they would be so much the more entitled to the commiseration and good offices of their fellow-men, and, should the missionary despair of making them Christians, men ought still to endeavour to make them men.”

The “Free Emigration” schemes hitherto attempted have been mere snares and delusions; chiefly, I hold, because the age was not ripe for them. In 1844 three agencies were established at Sierra Leone for supplying hands to British Guiana, Trinidad and Jamaica. As wages they offered per diem $0.75 to $1, with leave to return at pleasure; the “liberated” preferred, however, to live upon sixpence at home, suspecting that the bait was intended as a lure to captivity. Nor were their fears lulled by the fact that the agents shipped amongst 250 “volunteers” some seventy-six wild slaves, fresh captives, who were not allowed to communicate with their fellow-countrymen ashore. In 1850 certain correspondents from Liverpool inquired of King “Eyo Honesty” if he could provide for service in the West Indies 10,000 men, women, and children, as the “quotum from the Old Calabar River,” which would mean 100,000 from the West Coast. “He be all same ole slave-trade,” very justly remarked that knowing potentate: he added, that he would respect the Suppression Treaty with England, and that he personally preferred palm-oil, but that all the “Calabar gentlemen” and the neighbouring kings would be glad to supply slaves at a fixed price, four boxes of brass and copper rods.

Followed, in 1852–3, the gigantic scheme of MM. Régis et Cie, which began operations upon the East as well as the West Coast of Africa. Having studied it on both sides of the continent, I could not help forming the worst opinion of the attempt. The agents never spoke of it except as a slave — trade; the facetiæ touching “achat” and “rachat” were highly suited to African taste, and I have often heard them declare before the people that “captives” are the only articles which can profitably be exported from the coasts — in fact, as old Caspar Barlé said, “precipuæ merces ipsi Ethiopes sunt.” I subjoin to this chapter the form of French passport; it will serve, when a bonâ fide emigration shall be attempted, to show “how not to do it.” Happily this “emigration” has come to an end”: M. Régis, seeing no results, gave orders to sell off all the goods in his factories, and to retain only one clerk as housekeeper. The ouvriers libres deserted and fled in all directions, for fear of being “put in a cannibal pot” and being eaten by the white anthropophagi.

The history of missionary enterprise in the Congo regions is not less interesting than the slave-trade. The first missioners sailed in December, 1490, under Goncalo de Sousa; of the three one were killed by the heat, and another having made himself “Chaplain to the Congolan Army,” by a “Giaghi” chief. The seed sown by these friars was cultivated by twelve Franciscans of the Order of Observants. The Right Reverend Fathers of the Company appeared in 1560 with the Conquistador Paulo Dias de Novaes. According to Lopez de Lima, who seems to endorse the saying, “Si cum Jesuitis, non cum Jesu itis,” they worried one captain-general to death, and they attempted to found in Congo-land another Uruguay or Paraguay. But here they totally failed, and, as yet indeed, they have not carried out, either in East or West Africa, the celebrated boast popularly attributed to their general, Borgia (1572):

“We shall come in like the lambs;

We shall be driven out like the dogs,

We shall rush like the wolves;

We shall be icnewed like the eagles.”

The baptism of D. Alvaro I. (1491), the founding of the cathedral at S. Salvador (1534), the appointment of the Bishop and Chapter, and their transfer to São Paulo de Loanda (1627), have already been alluded to.

According to Fathers Carli and Merolla, Pope Alexander VII. sent twelve to fifteen Capuchins and apostolic missioners, who baptized the King and Queen of Congo and the Count of Sonho. Between A.D. 1490 and 1690 were the palmy days of Christianity in Congo-land, and for two centuries it was more or less the state religion. After this great effort missionary zeal seems to have waxed cold, and disestablishment resulted, as happens in such cases, from unbelief within and violent assaults from without. Under the attacks of the Dutch and French the Church seems to have lost ground during the eighteenth century. In A.D. 1682 the number of propagandists in Sonho fell from a father superior and six missioners to two (Merolla). In A.D. 1700 James Barbot found at Sonho only two Portuguese friars of the Order of Bernardins. In A.D. 1768 the Loango Mission was established, and in A.D. 1777 the fathers were followed by four Italian priests sent by the Propaganda for the purpose of re-christianizing Sonho. Embarking at La Rochelle they entered the Nzadi, where one died of poison, and the survivors escaped only by stratagem. Christianity fell before the old heathenism, and in 1814 we find the King of Congo, D. Garcia V., complaining to His Most Faithful Majesty that missioners were sadly wanted. Captain Tuckey’s “Expedition” (A.D. 1816) well sets forth the spiritual destitution of the land. He tells us that three years before his arrival some missionaries had been murdered by the Sohnese; the only specimen he met was an ignorant half-caste with a diploma from the Capuchins of Loanda, and a wife plus five concubines. In 1863 I found that all traces of Christianity had disappeared.

These reverends — who were allowed to dispense with any “irregularity” except bigamy or wilful murder, and “to read forbidden books except Machiavel,”— took the title of Nganga Mfumo1 — Lord Medicine-man. In the fulness of early zeal they built at S. Salvador the cathedral of Santa Cruz, a Jesuit College, a Capuchin convent, the residence of the father superior, maintained by the King of Portugal; a religious house for the Franciscans, an establishment for the Bishop and his Chapter, and half-a-dozen stone churches. All these edifices have long been in ruins.

Father Cavazzi da Monte Cuccoli, Denis de Carli, and Merolla, themselves missioners, have left us ample accounts of the ecclesiastical rule which, during its short tenure of office, bore a remarkable family resemblance to that of the Jesuit missions in South America. The religious despotism was complete, a tyranny grossly aggravated by the credulity, the bigotry, and the superstition — I will not say of the age, because such things are of all ages, but of the imperfect education which the age afforded. There was no improvement, but rather a deterioration from the days of Pliny. One father tells the converts that comets forbode ill to the world. Another describes a bird not much unlike a sparrow, at first sight it seems wholly black, but upon a nearer view it looks blue; the excellency of its song is that it harmoniously and articulately pronounces the name of Jesus Christ. A third remarks, “they (the heathen) are excited by the heavens forming a cross under the zone; they are excited by the mountains which have the cross carved on them, without knowing by whom; they are excited by the earth which draws the crucifix in its fruit called Nicefo.” Yet all these things are of little force to move the hearts of those Gentiles who scoffingly cry, “When we are sick, forsooth, the wood of this cross will cure us!” Another father, resolving to denounce certain heathen practices, placed on the Feast of Purification an image of the Virgin in relievo upon the altar, and “with a dagger struck through her breast on which the blood followed:” like Mark Antony, he “improved the occasion,” and sent home the fathers of families to thrash their wives and daughters who were shut up in the “paint houses.” It is gravely related how a hungry friar dines copiously on fish with an angel; how another was saved by the “father of miracles, the glorious Saint Anthony of Padua,” whom another priest, taking as his patron, sees before his hammock. A woman, bearing a child in her arms and supposed to be the Virgin, attends the Portuguese army, and she again appears in the shape of a “beautiful beggar.” The miraculous resurrection of a boiled cock is gravely chronicled. A certain man lived 380 years “at the intercession of Saint Francis d’Assise.” Of course, the missioners saw water-monsters in the Congo River. A child “came from his mother’s womb with a beard and all his teeth, perhaps to show he was born into the world grown old in vice.” A certain scoffer “being one day to pass a river with two companions, was visibly taken up by an invisible hand into the air. One of his companions, going to take hold of him by the feet, had such a cuff given him that he fell down in the boat, and the offender was seen no more.” Father Merolla talks of a breed in the Cabo Verde Islands “between bulls and she-asses, which they compassed by binding a cow’s hide upon the latter:” it would be worth inquiring if this was ever attempted, and it might add to our traditions about the “Jumart.” And the tale of the elephant-hunters deceiving the animals by anointing themselves with their droppings deserves investigation. Wounds of poisoned arrows are healed by that which produced them. A woman’s milk cures the venomous foam which cobras spit into the eyes. A snake as big as a beam kills and consumes men with its look. An “ill liver,” reprimanded by his father for vicious inclinations, fires a pistol at him; the rebound of the bullet from the paternal forehead, which remains whole, severely wounds the would-be parricide: the ablest surgeons cannot heal the hurt, and the flesh ever continues to be sore and raw upon the forehead, acting like the brand of Cain.

It is said that two of a trade never agree, and accordingly we find the hottest wrath of the missioners vented upon their rival brethren, the Ngangas or medicine-men in Africa, and the Pages or Tupi doctors in South America. The priestly presence deprives an idol of all its powers, the sacerdotal power annihilates all charms and devices, “thereby showing that the performances of Christ’s ministers are always above those of the devil’s.” These “Scinghili,” or “Gods of the Earth” (magicians), can sink boats, be ferried over rivers by crocodiles, and “converse with tigers, serpents, lions and other wild animals.” The “great ugly wizards” are “sent martyrs to the devil” on all possible occasions. One father soundly belabours one of these “wicked Magi” with the cord of his order, invoking all the while the aid of Saint Michael and the rest of the saints: he enters the “hellish tabernacle, arming himself frequently with the sign of the cross,” but he retreats for fear of a mischief from the “poor deluded pagans,”— showing that he is, after all, but an “unbelieving Thomas.” On the other hand, the wizards solidly revenged themselves by killing and eating Father Philip da Salesia. And the deluded ones must have found some difficulty in discovering the superiority of exotic over indigenous superstitions. When there is a calm at sea the sailors stick their patron against the mast, and kneeling before him say, “Saint Antony, our countryman, you shall be pleased to stand there, till you have given us a fair wind to continue our voyage!” A certain bishop of Congo makes the sign of the cross upon a “banyan-tree,” whereupon it immediately died, like the fig-tree cursed by our-Saviour. A ship is “sunk in a trice” for not having a chaplain on board her. The missioners strongly recommend medals, relics, Agni–Dei, and palm-leaves consecrated on Palm Sundays. They rage furiously against and they flog those who wear “wizards’ mats,” against magic cords fastened round young children as amulets, and against the teeth and bones of animals, and cloth made from the rind of certain trees carried as preservatives from disease and supernatural influences: even banners in burial-places are “superstitious and blamable.” They claim the power of stopping rain by cursing the air, and of producing it by prayer, and by “a devout procession to Our Lady of Pinda,” a belief truly worthy of the Nganga; and a fast ship is stranded that “men may learn to honour holidays better.” When the magicians swear falsely they either burst like Judas or languish and die —“a warning to be more cautious how they jest with God.” An old hag, grumbling after a brutish manner, proceeds to bewitch a good father to death by digging a hole and planting a certain herb. The ecclesiastic resolved to defeat her object by not standing long in one place. He remembers the saying of the wise man, “Mulier nequam plaga mortis;” and at last by ordering her off in the name of the Blessed Trinity and the Holy Virgin, “withal gently blowing towards her,” she all of a sudden giving three leaps, and howling thrice, flies away in a trice. The Bolungo or Chilumbo oath or ordeal is, of course, a “hellish ceremony.” Demons play as active a part in Africa as in China. The Portuguese nuncio permits the people in their simplicity to light candles before and to worship the so-called “Bull of the Blessed Sacrament,” that by which Urban VIII. allowed the Congo kings to be crowned after the Catholic manner by the Capuchins, because the paper bears the “venerable effigies.”

Priests may be good servants, but they are, mundanely speaking, bad masters. The ecclesiastical tyranny exercised upon the people from the highest to the lowest goes far to account for the extinction of Christianity in the country where so much was done to spread it. The kings of Congoland, who “tread on the lion in the kingdom of their mothers” must abjectly address their spiritual lords. “I conjure you, prostrate at your holy feet, to hearken to my words.” Whilst the friars talk of “that meekness which becomes a missioner,” their unwise and unwarrantable interference extends to the Count of Sonho himself; whose election was not valid unless published in the church, owning withal that, “though a Black, he is an absolute Prince; and not unworthy of a Crown, though he were even in Italy, considering the number of his Servants and the extent of his Dominions.” They issue eight ordinances or “spiritual memorandums” degrading governors of cities and provinces who are not properly married, who neglect mass, or who do not keep saints’ festivals. Flogging seems to have been the punishment of all infractions of discipline, for those who used “magic guards” to their fields instead of “setting the sign of the Cross;” and for all who did not teach their children “to repeat, so many times a day, the Rosary or the Crown, in honour of the Blessed Virgin, to fast on Saturdays, to eat no flesh on Wednesdays, and such things used among Christians.” One of the Mwanis (governors) refuses to grub up and level with his own hands a certain grove where the “hellish trade” (magic) was practised; he is commanded to discipline himself in the church during the whole time of celebrating mass. If the governor is negligent in warning the people that a missioner has arrived, “he will receive a deserved punishment, for we make it our business to get such a person removed from his employment, even within his year,”— a system of temporal penalties affixed to spiritual lâches not unknown elsewhere. The following anecdote will show the style of reproof. Father Benedict da Belvedere, a Neapolitan who had preached at Rome and was likewise confessor to the nuns, heard the chief elector, one of the principal nobles, asking the heretical question, “Are we not all to be saved by baptism?” A “sound box on the ear” was the reply, and it led to a tumult. The head of the mission sent for the offended dignitary, and offered him absolution if he would sincerely recant his words and beg pardon of the churchman militant. The answer was, “That would be pleasant indeed; he was the aggressor, yet I must make the excuse! Must I receive a blow, and, notwithstanding, be thought to have done wrong?” But the peace-maker explained that the blow was given not to offend, but to defend from hearkening to heresies; that it was administered, moreover, out of paternal affection by a spiritual father, whom it did not mis-become, to a son who was not dishonoured by receiving it. The unfortunate elector not only suffered in the ear, but was also obliged to make an abject apology, and to kiss the offender’s feet before he was re-admitted to communion. At Maopongo the priests lost favour with the court and the women by whipping the queen, and, by the same process they abated the superhuman pretensions of the blacksmith.

When the chiefs and princes were so treated, what could the subjects expect? The smallest ecclesiastical faults were punished with fining and a Talmudic flogging, and for disobedience, a man was sent “bound to Brazil, a thing they are more than ordinarily afraid of.” A man taking to wife, after the Mosaic law, a woman left in widow-hood by his kinsman, is severely scourged, and the same happens to a man who marries his cousin, besides being deprived of a profitable employment. Every city and town in Sonho had a square with a central cross, where those who had not satisfied the Easter command or who died unconfessed were buried without privilege of clergy. The missioners insist upon their privilege of travelling free of expense, and make a barefaced use of the corvée. The following is the tone of a mild address to the laity: “Some among you are like your own maccacos or monkeys amongst us who, keeping possession of anything they have stolen, will sooner suffer themselves to be taken and killed, than to let go their prey. So impure swine wallow in their filth and care not to be cleansed.”

A perpetual source of trouble was of course the slave-trade: negroes being the staple of the land, and ivory the other and minor item, the great profits could not fail to render it the subject of contention. The reasons why the Portuguese never succeeded in making themselves masters of Sonho are reduced by the missioner annalists to three. Firstly, the opposition of the people caused by fear; secondly, the objections of the Sonhese to buying arms and ammunition; and, thirdly, the small price paid by the Portuguese for “captives.” The “Most Reverend Cardinal Cibo,” writing in the name of the Sacred College, complained that the “pernicious and abominable abuse of slave-selling” was carried on under the eyes of the missioners, and peremptorily ordered them to remedy the evil. Finding this practically impossible, the holy men salved their consciences by ordering their flocks not to supply negroes to the heretical Hollanders and English, “whose religion is so very contrary to ours,” but to the Portuguese, who would “withdraw the poor souls out of the power of Lucifer.” One father goes so far, in his fear of heretical influences, as to remunerate by the gift of a slave the dealer Ferdinando Gomez, who had supplied him with “a flask of wine for the sacrament and some other small things,” yet he owns F. Gomez to be a rogue.

As the Portuguese would not pay high prices like the heretics, disturbances resulted, and these were put down by the desperate expedient of shutting the church-doors — a suicidal act not yet quite obsolete. Whereupon the Count of Sonho, we are told, “changed his countenance almost from black to yellow,” and complained to the bishop at Loanda that the sacraments were not administered: the appeal was in vain, and, worse, an extra aid was sent to the truculent churchmen. Happily for them, the small-pox broke out, and the ruler was persuaded by his subjects to do the required penance. Appearing at the convent, unattended, with a large rope round his neck, clad in sackcloth, crowned with thorns, unshod, and carrying a crucifix, he knelt down and kissed the feet of the priest, who said to him, “If thou hast sinned like David, imitate him likewise in thy repentance!”

The schismatics caused abundant trouble Captain Cornelius Clas “went about sowing heretical tares amidst the true corn of the Gospel;” amongst other damnable doctrines and subtleties, this nautical and volunteer theologian persuaded the blacks, whom he knew to be desirous of greater liberty in such matters, that baptism is the only sacrament necessary to salvation, because it takes away original sin, as the blood of the Saviour actual sin. He furthermore (impudently) disowned the real presence in the consecrated Host; he invoked Saint Anthony, although his tribe generally denies that praying to saints can be of any use to man; and he declared that priests should preach certain doctrines (which, by the way, were perniciously heretical). Thus in a single hour he so prevailed upon those miserable negroes that their hearts became quite as black as their faces. An especially offensive practice of the Hollanders, in the eyes of the good shepherds, was that of asking the feminine sheep for a whiff of tobacco — it being a country custom to consider the taking a pipe from a woman’s mouth a “probable earnest of future favours.” When an English ship entered the river, the priests forbade by manifesto the sale of slaves to the captain, he being a Briton, ergò a heretic, despite the Duke of York. The Count of Sonho disobeyed, and was excommunicated accordingly: he took his punishment with much patience, although upon occasions of reproof he would fly into passions and disdains; he was reconciled only after obliging 400 couples that lived in concubinage to lawful wedlock, and thus a number of “strayed souls was reduced to matrimony.”

We can hardly wonder that, under such discipline, a large ecclesiastical body was necessary to “maintain the country in its due obedience to the Christian faith,” and that, despite their charity in alms and their learning, no permanent footing was possible for the strangers. Nor can we be astonished that the good fathers so frequently complain of being poisoned. On one occasion a batch of six was thus treated near Bamba. In this matter perhaps they were somewhat fanciful, as the white man in India is disposed to be. One of them, for instance cured himself with a “fruit called a lemon” and an elk-hoof, from what he took to be poison, but what was possibly the effect of too much pease and pullet broth. In “O Muata Cazembe “(pp. 65–66), we find that the Asiatic Portuguese attach great value to the hoof of the Nhumbo (A. gnu), they call it “unha de grãbesta,” and use it even in the gotta-coral (epilepsy).

And yet many of these ecclesiastics, whom Lopez de Lima justly terms “fabulistas,” were industrious and sensible men, where religion was not concerned. They carefully studied the country, its “situation, possessions, habitations, and clothing.” They formed always outside their faith the justest estimate of their black fellow-creatures. I cannot too often repeat Father Merolla’s dictum, “The reader may perceive that the negroes are both a malicious and subtle people that spend the most part of their time in circumventing and deceiving.”

Nor has spiritual despotism been confined to the Catholic missions in West Africa: certain John Knoxes in the Old Calabar River have repeated, especially in the case of the king “young Eyo,” whom they excluded from communion, all the abuses and the errors of judgment of the seventeenth century with the modifications of the nineteenth. And we must not readily endorse Dr. Livingstone’s professional opinion. “In view of the desolate condition of this fine missionary field, it is more than probable that the presence of a few Protestants would soon provoke the priests, if not to love, to good works.” Such is not the history of our propagandism about the Cape of Good Hope. Dr. Gustav Fritsch (“The Natives of South Africa,” 1872), thus speaks of the missionary Livingstone, who must not be confounded with the great explorer Livingstone: “A man who is borne onward by religious enthusiasm and a glowing ambition, without our being able to say which of these two levers works more powerfully in his soul. Certain it is that he endured more labours and overcame more geographical difficulties than any other African traveller either before or after him; yet it is also sure that, on account of the defective natural-historical education of the author, and the indiscreet partisanship for the natives against the settlers, his works have spread many false views concerning South Africa.” This, I doubt not, will be the verdict of posterity. See “Anthropologia,” in which are included the Proceedings of the London Anthropological Society (inaugurated 22 January, 1873. No. 1, October, 1873. London: Baillière, Tindall, and Co.) The Review (pp. 89–102), bears the well-known initials J. B. D., and it is not saying too much that no man in England is so well fitted as Dr. Davis to write it. I quote these passages without any feeling of disrespect for the memory of the great African explorer. Truth is a higher duty even than generous appreciation of a heroic name, and the time will come when Negrophilism must succumb to Fact.

1 In Carli Gramga and Fomet, evident cacography.

Chapter 17.

Concluding Remarks.

I have thus attempted to trace a picture of the Congo River in the latter days of the slave-trade, and of its lineal descendant, “L’Immigration Africaine.” The people at large are satisfied, and the main supporters of the traffic — the chiefs, the “medicine-men,” and the white traders — have at length been powerless to arrest its destruction.

And here we may quote certain words of wisdom from the “Congo Expedition” in 1816: “It is not to be expected that the effects of abolition will be immediately perceptible; on the contrary, it will probably require more than one generation to become apparent: for effects, which have been the consequence of a practice of three centuries, will certainly continue long after the cause is removed.” The allusion in the sentence which I have italicized, is of course, to the American exportation — domestic slavery must date from the earliest ages. These sensible remarks conclude with advocating “colonization in the cause of civilization;” a process which at present cannot be too strongly deprecated.

That the Nzadi is capable of supplying something better than slaves may be shown by a list of what its banks produce. Merolla says in 1682: “Cotton here is to be gathered in great abundance, and the shrubs it grows on are so prolific, that they never almost leave sprouting.” Captain Tuckey (“Narrative,” p. 120) declares “the only vegetable production at Boma of any consequence in commerce is cotton, which grows wild most luxuriantly, but the natives have ceased to gather it since the English have left off trading to the river,” I will not advocate tobacco, cotton and sugar; they are indigenous, it is true, but their cultivation is hardly fitted to the African in Africa. Copper in small quantities has been brought from the interior, but the mineral resources of the wide inland regions are wholly unknown. If reports concerning mines on the plateau be trustworthy, there will be a rush of white hands, which must at once change, and radically change, all the conditions of the riverine country. Wax might be supplied in large quantities; the natives, however, have not yet learnt to hive their bees. Ivory was so despised by the slave-trade, that it was sent from the upper Congo to Mayumba and the other exporting harbours; demand would certainly produce a small but regular supply.

The two staples of commerce are now represented by palm-oil, which can be produced in quantities over the lowlands upon the whole river delta, and along the banks from the mouth to Boma, a distance of at least fifty direct miles. The second, and the more important, is the arachis, or ground-nut, which flourishes throughout the highlands of the interior, and which, at the time of my visit, was beginning to pay. As the experience of some thirty years on different parts of the West Coast has proved, both these articles are highly adapted to the peculiarities of the negro cultivator; they require little labour, and they command a ready, a regular, and a constant sale.

When time shall be ripe for a bonâ fide emigration, the position of Boma, at the head of the delta, a charming station, with healthy air and delicious climate, points it out as the head-quarters. Houses can be built for nominal sums, the neighbouring hills offer a sanatorium, and due attention to diet and clothing will secure the white man from the inevitable sufferings that result from living near the lower course.

With respect to the exploration of the upper stream, these pages, compared with the records of the “First Congo Expedition,” will show the many changes which time has brought with it, and will suggest the steps most likely to forward the traveller’s views. At some period to come explorers will follow the line chosen by the unfortunate Tuckey; but the effects of the slave-trade must have passed away before that march can be made without much obstruction. When Lieutenant Grandy did me the honour of asking my advice, I suggested that he might avoid great delay and excessive outlay by “turning” the obstacle and by engaging “Cabindas” instead of Sierra Leone men. At the Royal Geographical Society (Dec. 14th, 1874) he thus recorded his decision: “For the guidance of future travellers in the Congo country, I would suggest that all the carriers be engaged at Sierra Leone, where any number can be obtained for 1s. 3d. a day. From my experience of them I can safely say they will be found to answer every requirement, and the employment of them would render an expedition entirely independent of the natives, who, by their cowardice and constant desertion, entailed upon us such heavy expenses and serious delays. My conviction, after nearly four years of travel upon the West African coast, is this: if Sierra Leone men be used, they must be mixed with Cabindas and with Congoese “carregadores,” registered in presence of the Portuguese authorities at S. Paulo de Loanda.

I conclude with the hope that the great Nzadi, one of the noblest, and still the least known of the four principal African arteries, will no longer be permitted to flow through the White Blot, a region unexplored and blank to geography as at the time of its creation, and that my labours may contribute something, however small, to clear the way for the more fortunate explorer.

Appendix I.


Instruments used for altitudes:—

Pocket aneroid, corrected +0.55, “R.G.S”
Casella’s Alpine Sympiesometer, corrected to 67° (F.).

N.B. — Returning to Fernando Po, found that part of the liquid has lodged in upper bulb, and therefore corrected index error by standard aneroid 1.15 (Symp. = 29.258, and standard, 30.400).

Observations at the Congo mouth in February, 1863 (from log of H.M.S. “Griffon”).

    Thermometer    Barometer           Winds               Place
Engine     in sea.                 Force & Direction
Room.                              A.M.      P.M.

86°       76°       29.90     (1)  S.E. (1)  N.N.W.    Loanda.
92°       77°       29.92     (1)  S.W. (2)  W.N.W.    En route to Congo.
108°      76°       29.90     (1)  S.   (3)  S.S.W.    En route to Congo.
86°       78°       29.90     (2)  S.   (3)  W.        En route to Congo.
88°       78°       29.90     (2)  S.W. (2)  S.S.W.    En route to Congo.
94°       80°       29.90     (2)  S.E. (2)  S.W.      En route to Congo.
90°       83°       29.90     (2)  S.   (2-3)S.        Congo.
90°       80°       29.90     (0)  Calm (1)  W.        Congo.

(Signed)          F. F. Flynne,
                     Assistant-Surgeon in Charge.

Place and Date.     Time of Day.   Thermometer.   Symp.               Remarks.

9th September  6 a.m.          65°    28.00 cor. 29.12 Cold morning, light wind from N.N.E.,
   Banza nokki 9 a.m.          72°    27.70 cor. 28.82   threatened rain, 8 a.m.; noon misty,
on hills above Noon.           78°    27.90 cor. 29.02   day hazy; 3 p.m., sun hot, wind cooler
river          3 p.m.          80.5°  27.85 cor. 28.97   from west; evening, stiff sea-breeze,
               6 p.m.          72°    27.90 cor. 29.02   people complain of cold; night, heavy

10th Sept.     6 a.m.          67°    27.90 cor. 29.02 Misty morning, warm at 9 a.m., wind; noon,
   Same place, 9 a.m.          75°    27.75 cor. 28.87   hot sun, high sea-breeze; 3 p.m., hot
Nokki.         Noon.           83°    27.85 cor. 28.97   sun, cool west wind; cloudy evening;
               3 p.m.          85°    27.75 cor. 28.87   windy night, dew cold and heavy.
               6 p.m.          74°    27.85 cor. 28.97
          Altitude of Nokki above sea, 1,430 feet.

11th Sept.     9 a.m.          77°    27.70 cor. 28.82 Misty morning, warm but clouding over;
   Banza       Noon.           87°    27.55 cor. 28.67   at noon high sea-breeze, glare and hot
Chingufu       3 p.m.          83°    27.45 cor. 28.57   sun, when clouds break 97° in sun,
above Nokki;   6 p.m.          73°    27.50 cor. 28.62   2 p.m.; 3 p.m., high sea-breeze up
see also 18th                                            river; 6 p.m., cold sea-breeze, cloudy
and 19th Sept.                                           sky.
          Altitude of Chingufu, 1,703 feet.


12th Sept.          6 a.m.     65°    27.70 cor. 28.82 Clear fine morning; high west wind
  First observation      Nekolo.                         at 6 a.m.; pocket aneroid 29.00
  Chingufu,         9 a.m.     76°    28.50 cor. 29.62 Shady verandah facing to west; at
others at Nekolo    Noon.      84°    28.35 cor. 29.47   noon aneroid 30.05; 3 p.m., hot
lower down & near   3 p.m.     85°    28.40 cor. 29.52   sun, westerly breeze, few clouds;
river.              6 p.m.     77°    28.30 cor. 29.42   6 p.m., very clear, east wind
                                                         strong; no dew at night.

                         Negolo Nkulu.
13th Sept.          6 a.m.     70°    28.45 cor. 29.57 Close cloudy morning; 9 a.m.,
  Negolo and near   9 a.m.     77°    28.50 cor. 29.62 alternately clear and cloudy,
  Congo River.      Noon.      90°    28.45 cor. 29.57 glare, no wind; noon bright and
                                                       sultry, no clouds; 3 p.m., in shady
                                                       cove 10 feet above river; rain at
                                                       5.30 p.m., lasted two hours;
                                                       dispersed by westerly breeze.
                         Cove near river.
                    3 p.m.     94°    29.10 cor. 30.22
                         Height of Negolo, 828 feet.

                         Left bank.
14th Sept           6 a.m.     74°    29.30 cor 30.50  Dull, warm, and cloudy.
                         Right bank.
Banza Vivi on       9 a.m.     84°    29.35 cor. 30.57 Aneroid 30.60, dull day.
  hills above right Noon.      80°    28.95 cor. 30.07 Anerodi 30.10 dull day, very little
  bank.             3 p.m.     84°    28.35 cor. 29.47   breeze, village shut in, clouds
                    6 p.m.     79°    28.85 cor. 29.97   from west

                         Banza Vivi.
15th Sept.          6 a.m.     74°    29.15 cor. 30.25 Thick drizzle from west, no wind.
                         At Banza Simbo, half way up Vivi range, aneroid 29.42.
Banza Nkulu         Noon       78°    28.10 cor. 29.22 Under tree facing north; puffs of
  above rapids.                                          west wind, threatened rain, none
                    6 p.m.     75°    28.10 cor. 29.22 In veranda facing north-east; clear
                                                         night, heavy dew.

                         Banza Nkulu.
16th Sept.          6 a.m.     69°    28.20 cor. 29.32 Grass wet, heavy dew, rain
                                                         threatened, aneroid 29.50.
                         100 feet above rapids.
                    7.30 a.m.  73°    29.25 cor. 30.37 Aneroid 30.55.
Banza Nkulu again   Noon.      80°    28.10 cor. 29.22 Aneroid 29.55, dull, cloudy, rain
                    3 p.m.     75°    28.00 cor. 29.12 Dull day, clearer towards evening,
                    6 p.m.     75°    28.00 cor. 29.12   very heavy dew.
                         Altitude of Nkulu, 1212 feet.
                         Altitude of Yellala Rapids, 390 feet.

17th Sept.          5.30 a.m.  67°    28.15 cor. 29.27 Grey, cool; threatens sunny day.
                         Right bank of river.
                    9.20 a.m.  77°    29.30 cor. 30.42 Cool west wind.
                         In canoe on river below Little Rapids.
                    10.50 a.m. 81°    20.20 cor. 30.32 Aneroid 30.57(59)
                         Left bank 20 feet above water, under fig-tree facing north.
                    Noon.      81°    29.20 cor. 30.32 Aneroid 30.50.
  Negolo Town       3 p.m.     83°    28.30 cor. 29.42 Day hot, aneroid in verandah 30.50.
                         Banza Chingufu.
                    6 p.m.     71°    27.55 cor. 28.67 Clear evening, misty towards night,
                                                         young moon with halo.
                         Height of river below Vivi Fall, 195 feet.

18th Sept.          6 a.m.     65°    27.60 cor. 28.72 Cool, grey, no wind.
  At Chingufu as    9 a.m.     76°    27.65 cor. 28.77 Strong land wind, from east, no
  before.                                                sun, heavy clouds N.E.
                    Noon.      90°    27.50 cor. 28.62 High west wind, hot sun.
                    3.30 p.m.  88°    27.35 cor. 28.47 Clear at 1 p.m., thermometer 100°
                                                         little wind, sun hot.
                    6 p.m.     77°    27.45 cor. 28.57 Clear evening, no dew, misty moon,
                                                         high sea-breeze at night.

19th Sept.          6 a.m.     67°    27.70 cor. 28.82 Still grey morning, no wind.
  At Chingufu.      9.30 a.m.  76°    27.65 cor. 28.77 Lighter, wind from west.
                    Noon.      81°    27.60 cor. 28.72 Dull, light west wind.
                    3 p.m.     88°    27.45 cor. 28.57 Cloudy and sunny, west wind.
                    6 p.m.     72°    27.50 cor. 28.62 Clear, fine, little wind.
                         How do these agree with September 11?

20th Sept.          6 a.m.     69°    27.70 cor. 28.82 Fine, clear, and still morning.
                         On river.
  Down river        9 a.m.     82°    29.35 cor. 30.47 Hot day, aneroid 30.55; at 10 a.m.
                         Off Chacha village on river.
                    Noon.      87°    29.35 cor. 30.47 Sea-breeze, sun hot, but obscured
                                                         by smoke of bush fires.
                         On river.
                    3 p.m.     86°    29.20 cor. 30.32 Aneroid 30.40, stiff sea breeze.
                         Last observation taken about 5 miles above Boma.

21 Sept.            9 a.m.     76°    29.30 cor. 30.42 Cool, cloudy, pleasant.
  At Boma.          Noon.      81.5°  29.25 cor. 30.37 Dull, threatens rain.
                    3 p.m.     86°    29.25 cor. 30.37 Dull, muggy, cloudy.

22nd Sept.          6 a.m.     77°    29.10 cor. 30.22 Dull, cloudy, cool; instrument in
  Boma.                                                  verandah facing south-west.
                    9 a.m.     76°    20.30 cor. 30.42
                    Noon.      84°    29.30 cor. 30.42 Dull and warm.
                    3 p.m.     84°    29.10 cor. 30.22 Very dull, strong sea-breeze comes
                                                         up in afternoon, and lasts till
                                                         9 p.m.
                    6 p.m.     79°    29.20 cor. 30.32 Dull night.
                         Mean altitude of Boma (commonly called Embomma), 73 feet.

23rd Sept.          6 a.m.     70.5°  29.20 cor. 30.32 Dull morning
  Boma.             9 a.m.     81.75° 29.25 cor. 30.37 Clear and sunny.
                    3 p.m.     92°    29.10 cor. 30.22 Clear, hot, and sunny.
                    6 p.m.     79°    29.15 cor. 30.27 High wind, sun.

24th Sept.          6 a.m.     74°    29.20 cor. 30.32 Cool and clear.
  Boma.             9 a.m.     81°    29.30 cor. 30.42 Hot and clear.
                    12.30 p.m. 93.75° 29.10 cor. 30.22 Hot and clear.
                    3 p.m.     93.57° 29.05 cor. 30.17 Very strong sea-breeze till late at
                    6 p.m.     79.5°  29.15 cor. 30.27 Very strong sea-breeze till late at

25th Sept.          6 a.m.     74°   29.20 cor. 30.32  Dull, no sun, rain threatened.
                    Noon.      81°   29.20 cor. 30.32
                    3 p.m.     83°   29.19 cor. 30.31  Aneroid 30.15.
                    6 p.m.     78°   29.10 cor. 30.22  Dull, no sun, wind subsided at

                         Porto da Senha at factory.
26th Sept.          6 a.m.     78°    29.25 cor. 30.37 Aneroid 30.62, day clear.
                    9 a.m.     76°    29.30 cor. 30.42 Aneroid 30.40, hot sun.
                         On passage in canoe down river.
                    Noon.      87°    29.20 cor. 30.32 Aneroid 30.45.
                    3 p.m.     95.5°  29.00 cor. 30.12 Aneroid 30.52.
                         Mean altitude of Porto da Lenha, 38 feet.

28th Sept.          6 a.m.     71.25° 29.15 cor. 30.27 Dry, cloudy morning.
  Banana factory,   9 a.m.     75°    29.20 cor. 30.32 Calm, land and sea breezes very
  mouth of river,                                        regular.
  60 feet above     Noon.      81°    29.10 cor. 30.22 At noon thermometer at seaside in
  sea level.                                             sun (overcast) 83.5°.
                    3 p.m.     75.5°  29.05 cor. 30.17
                    6 p.m.     74°    29.05 cor. 30.17 Symp. (corrected) 30.32°.

29th Sept.          6 a.m.     73°    29.20 cor. 30.32 Weather calm; at seaside in sun
  same place.       9 a.m.     80°    29.20 cor. 30.32   (overcast) thermometer 74.5°.
                    Noon.      83°    29.10 cor. 30.22
                    3 p.m.     80°    29.15 cor. 30.27 Symp. (corrected) 30.32°.
                    6 p.m.     74°    29.05 cor. 30.17 Night cold and windy.

30th Sept.          6 a.m.     71°    29.20 cor. 30.32 Clear weather, high wind.
  same place.       9 a.m.     79°    29.15 cor. 30.27

Appendix II.

Plants Collected in the Congo, at Dahome, and the Island of Annabom, by Mr. Consul Burton.

Received at the Herbarium, Royal Gardens, Kew, September, 1864.

Argemone Mexicana Dahome.
Cleome Guineensis, Hf. Congo.
Gynardropsis pentaphylla, D. C. Ditto.
Ritcheia fragrans. Br. Dahome.
Alsodeia sp. Congo.
Flacourtia sp. Dahome.
Polygala avenaria, Willd. Congo.
Polycarpæa linearifolia Dahome (not laid in).
Seda cordifolia, L. Congo.
Seda an S. humilis (?) Ditto.
Seda urens, L. Ditto.
Abutilon sp. Ditto.
Urena lobata, L. Annabom and Congo.
Hibiscus cannabinus, L. Dahome.
Hibiscus vitifolius, L. Congo.
Hibiscus (Abelmoschus) Moschatus, Moench Ditto.
Hibiscus aff. H. Sabdariffæ Dahome.
Gossypium sp. Congo.
Walthenia Indica, L. Dahome.
Walthenia (?) Congo.
Triumfetta rhomboidea (?) Congo, Annabom, Dahome.
Acridocarpus sp. Congo.
Citrus Aurantium (?) Annabom (not laid in).
Citrus sp. Annabom (not laid in).
Cardiospermum Helicacabum, L. Annabom.
Anacardium occidentale, L. Congo and Annabom.
Spondias dubia? Reich. Annabom.
Cnestis(?) sp. Dahome.
Cnestis(?) sp. Congo.
(?)Spondias sp. (very young) Ditto (not laid in).
(?)Soindeia sp. fl. ft. Congo.
Rosa sp. Ditto (not laid in).
Jussieua acuminata, Jno. Congo.
Jussieua linifolia(?) Vahl. Ditto.
Mollugo Spergula, L. Ditto.
Combretum spinosum(?) Dahome (fl. only).
Combretum sp. Congo.
Quisqualis ebracteata(?) Ditto.
Combretum sp. (fruct.) Ditto (not laid in).
Combretum sp. Congo.
Modeeca tamnifolia(?), Kl. Annabom.
Syzygium Avariense, Kth. Congo.
Melothria triangularis(?), Kth. Ditto.
Melothria(?) sp. Ditto.
Cucurbitaceæ (3 other spp. very imperfect and not laid in).
Umbelliferæ Congo.
Desmodium Mauritianum(?), D.C. Ditto, Annabom(?)
Desmodium do. v. adscendens Congo.
Desmodium latifolium, D.C. Dahome.
Desmodium Gargeticum (?), D. C. Annabom.
Cajanus Indicus, L. Congo.
Eniosema cajanoides Ditto.
Eniosema aff. id. Ditto.
Eniosema aff. glomerata Ditto.
Abrus precatorius(?) Annabom.
Pisum sativum Congo.
Phaseolus sp. Annabom.
Rhynchaesia sp. Congo.
Tephrosia sp. Ditto.
Milletia(?) sp. Ditto.
Milletia(?) Ditto.
Milletia or Lonchocarpus (?) Congo.
Indigofera af. I. endeeaphylla. Jacq. Annabom.
Indigofera sp. Congo.
Indigofera sp. Dahome.
Indigofera sp. Ditto.
Sesbania sp. Congo.
Crotalaria sp. Dahome.
Glycine labialis (?) Annabom.
Erythrina sp. (?) Dahome.
Berlinia sp. (?) Congo.
Cassia occidentalis, L. Ditto (not laid in)
Cassia mimosoides (?), L. Congo.
Dichrostachys nutans (?) Ditto.
Mimosa asperata (?), L. Congo (not laid in)
Zygia fastigiata (?) Ela Dahome.
Vernonia (Decaneuron), Senegalensis Ditto, Annabom.
Vernonia Congo.
Vernonia an V. pandurata (?) Ditto.
Vernonia cinerea Ditto.
Ethulia conyzoides Ditto.
Vernonia an V. pauciflora (?) Dahome.
Vernonia stæchadifolia, Sch. Ditto.
Ageratum conyzoides, L. Annabom, Congo.
Mikania chenopodiifolia, Wild. Ditto.
Grangea, sp. Congo.
Bidens pilosa, L. Ditto.
Coronocarpus (?) Dahome.
Blumea (?) sp. Ditto.
Blumea sp. Ditto.
Blumea sp. Ditto.
Chrysanthellum Sengalense (?), D.C. Dahome.
Verbesinoid. dub. Congo.
Gnaphalium an luteo-album (?) Ditto.
Hedyotis corymbosa, L. Ditto.
Otomeria Guineensis (?), Kth. Ditto.
Randia longistyla, D. C. Dahome.
Borreria ramisparsa (?), D. C. var. Ditto.
Octodon (?) sp. Dahome.
Spermacoce Ruelliæ (?), D. C. Ditto.
Baconia Corymbosa, D. C. Ditto.
Baconia aff. d. Annabom.
Rubiaceæ, dub. Congo.
Rubiaceæ Ditto.
Rubiaceæ Annabom.
Diospyros (?) sp. Congo.
Cynoctonum (?) aff. Ditto.
Ipomæa sp. (?). Ditto.
Ipomæa sp. Ditto.
Ipomæa sp. Ditto.
Ipomæa sp. Dahome.
Ipomæa filicaulis, Bl. Congo.
Ipomæa sp. Ditto.
Ipomæa involucrata. Dahome.
Ipomæa sessiliflora (?) Clius (?) Ditto, Congo.
Leonotis nepetifolia. Bil. Congo.
Ocymum an O. gratissimum (?) Ditto (not laid in).
Moschoesma polystachya (?) Ditto (ditto).
Heliophytum Indicum, D. C. Ditto.
Heliotropium strigosum (?), Willd. Dahome.
Brillantaisia an B. patula, P. A. (?) Congo.
Dicliptera verticillaris (?), Juss. Ditto.
Asystasia Coromandeliana (?) Dahome.
Justicia Galeopsis Ditto.
Lycopersicum esculentum Congo.
Capsicum an C. frutescens (?) Ditto (ditto).
Solanum Ditto (ditto).
Solanum Annabom (ditto).
Solanum Congo (ditto).
Schwenckia Americana, L. Ditto.
Scoparia dulcis, L. Congo (not laid in).
Spathodea lævis (?) Dahome.
Sesamum Indicum, var. Ditto.
Plumbago Zeylanica, L. Congo (ditto.)
Clerodendron multiflorum (?), Don. Ditto, imp., Ditto.
Clerodendron sp. Congo.
Lippia sp. Ditto.
Lippia an L. Adoensis? Ditto.
Stachytarphita Jamaicensis, V. Dahome.
Celosia trigyna (?), L. Congo.
Erua lanata Ditto (ditto).
Pupalia lappacea, Moq. Annabom.
Achyranthes involucrata, Moq. Dahome.
Achyranthes argentea (?), Lam. Congo.
Celosia argentea, L. Dahome (ditto).
Amaranthus paniculatus, L. Congo.
Euxolus irridis Congo.
Phyllanthus pentandrus (?) Dahome.
Phyllanthus Nivari, L. Congo.
Acalypha sp. Ditto.
Manihot utilissima (?) Ditto.
Antidesma venosum Ditto.
Euphorbia pilulifera, L. Annabom.
Croton lobatum Dahome.
Phytolacca an P. Abyssinica (?) Congo (bad, not laid in).
Ricinus communis (?) Congo (not laid in).
Phyllanthus sp. Ditto.
Cannabis sativa, L. Ditto (ditto).
Boerhaavia paniculata Ditto (ditto).
Polygonum Senegalense, Meiss Ditto.
Castus Afch. Ditto (ditto).
Aneilema adhærens (?) Ditto.
Aneilema an A. ovato-oblongeum Ditto.
Aneilema Beninense Congo.
Commolyna (?) Dahome.
Fragts. Commolyneæ (not laid in).
Phœnix (?) spadix Congo.
Canna Indica (?) Congo and Annabom.
Chloris Varbata (?), Sw. Congo (not laid in).
Andropogon (Cymbopogon) sp. (?) Ditto.
Andropogon, an Sorghum (?) Ditto (ditto).
Panicum an Oplismenus (?) Ditto (ditto).
Panicum sp. Congo and Annabom.
(?) Eleusine Indica Annabom (not laid in).
Eragrostis megastachya, Lk. Congo.
Leptochloa sp (?) Ditto.
Pennisetum sp. Ditto.
Pennisetum sp. Dahome.
Pennisetum sp. Congo.
Mariscus sp. Annabom.
Cy. flagellatus (?) Hochst Congo.
Cy. sphacelatus Annabom.
Scleria an S. racemosa Congo.

Appendix III.

Heights of Stations, West Coast of Africa, Computed from Observations Made by Capt. Burton.

1863.                              feet.
Sept. 9.--     On route to Banza
          Nokki                    1322
Sept. 11.      Nokki               1553
Sept. 9.--     Nokki, on hills     1577\
            above river.           1347 |
                "                  1393 |
                "                  1379 |
Sept. 10.       "                  1404 |- Mean = 1430 feet.
                "                  1517 |
                "                  1371 |
                "                  1467 |
                "                  1415/
Sept. 11.--    Chingufu above      1656\
            Nokki                  1775 | Mean 1703 feet:
                "                  1769 | See Sept. 18., &c.
Sept. 12.       "                  1613/

Nelongo's Village, lower down      781-\
  and nearer village.              872 |
                "                  818 |
                "                  961 |-Mean = 828 feet.
Sept. 13.       "                  861 |
                "                  766 |
                "                  736-/
Sept. 13.--    Cove near Congo  River   78 feet.
Sept. 14.--    Hills above Banza   315
              River.               411
                "                  865
Sept. 15.--    Banza River         179 at level of river.
            Banza Nkulu above      1149 \
            rapids.                1172 |-Mean = 1140.
Sept. 16.       "                  1099 /
          Banza Nkulu              1144 \
                "                  1270 |-Mean = 1212.
                "                  1270 |
Sept. 17.       "                  1162 /
          Nelongo's Village–
                 Negolo            923
              Banza Chingufu      1732
Sept. 18.--    Chingufu.          1711 \
                "                 1611 |
                "                 1697 |
                "                 1854 |
                "                 1804 |
Sept. 19.       "                 1600 |-Mean = 1694 feet.
                "                 1609 | See Sept. 11.
                "                 1636 |
                "                 1751 |
                "                 1775 |
Sept. 20.       "                 1586 /
Sept. 21.        Boma.               9 \
                 "                   9 |
                 "                  19 |
                 "                 189 |
Sept. 22.        "                   9 |
                 "                  57 |
                 "                 135 |
                 "                  76 |
Sept. 23.        "                 140 |
                 "                  19 |
                 "                  78 |-Mean = 73 feet.
                 "                 124 |
Sept. 24.        "                 113 |
                 "                  29 |
                 "                  59 |
                 "                 107 |
                 "                 124 |
Sept. 25.        "                 113 |
                 "                  67 |
                 "                  58 |
                 "                 180 /
Sept. 26.--    Porto de Lenha.      38
Sept. 28.--    Banana factory.      94 \
                 "                  18 |
                 "                  67 |
                 "                 150 |
                 "                 160 |
Sept. 29.        "                  28 |-Mean = 56 feet.
                 "                  19 |
                 "                  48 |
                 "                  29 |
                 "                  16 |
Sept. 30.        "                  47 |
                 "                  29 /

Appendix IV.

(Form of French Passport.)

Immigration Africaine.

Ce jourd’hui _______________ mil huit cent soixante _______________ par devant nous _______________ Commissaire du Gouvernement Français, Agent d’émigration, conformément à l’article 8 du décret du 27 Mars 1852, assisté de _______________ témoins requis, a comparu le nommé _______________ noir libre, né au village de _______________ côte de _______________ âgé de _______________ lequel nous a déclaré consentir librement et de son plein gré à partir pour une des Colonies Françaises d’Amérique pour y contracter l’engagement de travail ci-après détaillé et présenté par M _______________ au nom de M. Régis, au profit de l’habitant qui sera désigné par l’Administration locale à son arrivée dans la Colonie.

Les conditions d’engagement de travail sont les suivantes:

ART. 1.

Le nommé ______________________________ s’engage, tant pour les travaux de culture et de fabrication sucrière &c. que pour tous autres d’exploitation agricole et industrielle auxquels l’engagiste jugera convenable de l’employer et généralement pour tous les travaux quelconques de domesticité.

ART. 2.

Le présent engagement de travail est de dix années à partir du jour de l’entrée au service de l’engagiste. L’engagé doit 26 jours de travail effectifs et complets par mois; les gages ne seront dus qu’après 26 jours de travail. La journée de travail ordinaire sera celle établie par les règlements existant dans la Colonie. A l’époque de la manipulation l’engagé sera tenu de travailler sans augmentation de salaires suivant les besoins de l’établissement où il sera employé. (The employer can thus overwork his slaves as much as he pleases.)

ART. 3.

L’engagiste aura le droit de céder et transporter à qui bon lui semblera, sous le contrôle de l’Administration le présent engagement de travail contracté à son profit. (N.B. — The owner can thus separate families.)

ART. 4.

L’engagé sera logé sur l’établissement où il sera employé; il aura droit, de la part de l’engagiste aux soins médicaux, à sa nourriture, laquelle sera conforme aux règlements et à l’usage adopté dans la Colonie pour les gens de travail du pays. Bien entendu que toute maladie contractée par un fait étranger, soit à ses travaux, soit à ses occupations, sera à ses frais. (Thus bed and board are at the discretion of the employer, and the gate of fraud is left open.)

ART. 5.

Le salaire de l’engagé est de:

12 francs pour les hommes,
10 francs pour les femmes,
8 francs pour les enfants de 10 à 14 ans.,

par mois de 26 jours de travail, comme il est dit à l’article 2, à partir de 8 jours après son débarquement dans la colonie. Moitié de cette somme lui sera payée fin chaque mois, l’autre moitié le sera fin de chaque année. (Not even festivals allowed as holidays.)

ART. 6.

L’engagé reconnait avoir reçu en avance, du représentant de M. Régis, la somme de DEUX CENTS FRANCS dont il s’est servi pour sa libération et pour divers frais à son compte, Ces avances seront retenues sur ses salaires à raison de par mois.

ART. 7.

L’engagé déclare par avance se soumettre aux règlements rendus dans la Colonie pour la police du travail et de l’immigration.

ART. 8.

A l’expiration de son temps d’engagement le rapatriement sera accordé à l’immigrant pour lui, sa femme, et ses enfants non adultes, à la condition par celui-ci de verser mensuellement à la Caisse d’immigration le dixième de son salaire.

Si l’engagé renonce à son rapatriement, toute somme versée par lui lui sera remboursée.

En cas de réengagement les conditions en seront débattues de gré-à-gré entre l’engagé et le propriétaire engagiste.

Fait et signé de bonne foi, le

Certifié par le délégué de
l’administration faisant fonctions
d’Agent d’émigration.

This web edition published by:

The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005