« AnteriorContinuar »
« It was not possible for me to behold the wonderful fertility of the soil, the vast herds of cattle, proper both for labor and food, and a variety of other circumstances favorable to colonization and agriculture; and reflect withal, on the means which presented themselves of a vast inland navigation, without lamenting that a country, so abundantly gifted and favored by nature, should remain in its present savage and neglected state.”—p. 312.
But nothing in Mr. Park's work is more deserving of our atten. tion than his description of the negro character and dispositions, in all those places where the Slave Trade has left them in their natural state. See the anecdote in p. 69. See also the return of the black. smith to his home :
“ When we arrived at the blacksmith's place of residence, we dismounted and fired our muskets. The meeting between him and his relations was very tender: for these rude children of nature, free from restraint, display their emotions in the strongest and most impressive manner. Amidst these transports, the blacksmith's aged mother was led forth, leaning upon a staff. Every one made way for her; and she stretched out her hand to bid her son welcome. Being totally blind, she stroked his hands, arms, and face, with great care, and seemed highly delighted that her latter days were blessed by his return, and that her ears once more heard the music of his voice. From this interview I was fully convinced, that whatever difference there is between the Negro and the European in the conformation of the nose and the color of the skin, there is none in the genuine sympathies and characteristic feelings of our common nature.” p. 82.
The following incident is still more striking :
“ About sunset, however, as I was preparing to pass the night in this manner, and had turned my horse loose, that he might graze at liberty, a woman, returning from the labors of the field, stopped to observe me, and perceiving that I was weary and dejected, inquired into my situation, which I briefly explained to her ; whereupon, with looks of great compassion, she took up my saddle and bridle, and told me to follow her. Having conducted me into her hut, she lighted up a lamp, spread a mat on the floor, and told me I might remain there for the night. Finding that I was very hungry, she said she would procure me something to eat. She accordingly went out, and returned in a short time with a very fine fish : which, having caused to be half broiled upon some embers, she gave me for supper. The rites of hospitality being thus performed towards a stranger in distress, my worthy benefactress (pointing to the mat, and telling me I might sleep there without apprehension) called to the female part of her family, who had stood gazing on me all the while with astonishment, to resume their task of spinning cotton; in which they continued to employ themselves great part of the night. They lightened their labor by songs; one of which was composed extempore, for I was myself the subject of it. It was sung by cne of the young women, the rest joining in a sort of chorus. The air was sweet and plaintive, and the words, literally translated, were these :_- The winds roared, and the rains fell. The poor white man, faint and
weary, came and sat under our tree. He has no mother to bring him milk; no wife to grind his corn. Chorus. Let us pity the white man; no mother has he, &c. &c.” Trifling as this recital may ap pear to the reader, to a person in my situation the circumstance was affecting in the highest degree. I was oppressed by such unexpected kindness; and sleep fled from my eyes. In the morning I presented my compassionate landlady with two of the four brass buttons which remained on my waistcoat ; the only recompence I could make her.” p. 197.
The picture which he gives of the ardent affection of the Negroes for their native country is in the highest degree beautiful and touching: it proves most clearly how severe upon such men must be their compulsory exile from their home.
“ When their country has been desolated, and their ruined towns and villages deserted by the enemy, such of the inhabitants as have escaped the sword and the chain generally return, though with cautious steps, to the place of their nativity; for it seems to be the universal wish of mankind, to spend the evening of their days where they passed their infancy. The poor Negro feels this desire in its full force. To him, no water is sweet but what is drawn from his own well ; and no tree has so cool and pleasant a shade as the tabba tree of his native village. When war compels him to abandon the delightful spot in which he first drew his breath, and seek for safety in some other kingdom, his time is spent in talking about the country of his ancestors'; and no sooner is peace restored than he turns his back upon the land of strangers, rebuilds with haste his fallen walls, and exults to see the smoke ascend from his native village.” .“ I have been often gratified by observing the strength and tenderness of the attachment subsisting between mothers and sons.”Winterbottom's Travels
“ They” (the Africans) " are in general of mild external manners ; but they possess a great share of pride, and are easily affected by an insult. One of the severest insults which can be offered to an African is to speak disrespectfully of his mother.” p. 211, “ The respect which they pay to old people is very great."
The hospitality of the Africans has been noticed by almost every traveller.
The progress which the Africans are capable of making in the arts appears clearly from the account which Mr. Park gives of their different manufactures—as salt, pp. 4. and 203; cotton-cloth, pp. 17 and 281 ; gunpowder, p. 116; rich dyes, p. 281; weaving and sewing, p. 282 ; tanned and dyed leather, iron smelting and manufacture, pp. 283, 285, 341, 348, and 349 ; gold smelting, and the manufacture of beautiful gold trinkets and ornaments, p. 285; soap, p. 341. · Their commercial habits appear to be equally confirmed, and their journeys, for the purposes of trade, are long and constant.--. See pp. 4. 58. 203. 256. and 341.
Dr. Winterbottom in his Travels, made about 1796, says, “The Foulahs,” in the country bordering on the Windward Coast of Africa, “ impart to leather a red color equal to that of morocco in beauty.”
" Another class of men are equally celebrated as blacksmiths ; be. sides making every kind of necessary utensil, they inlay the handles and chase the blades of swords, &c. with great neatness, and they make a variety of elegant fancy ornaments for the women, out of pieces of gold and silver dollars.”
“ A considerable degree of ingenuity in the arts with which they are acquainted, must be allowed to all these nations, and is evident in the construction of their houses, and the formation of a variety of domestic and agricultural utensils.”
• They have various substitutes for hemp and flax, of which they make fishing lines and nets, equal in strength and durability to those of Europeans.”
Africans' Natural Disposition.
FROM GOLBERRY'S TRAVELS, ABOUT 1786. “ The Foulhas of the banks of the Senegal are intelligent and industrious.”
“ The Mandings are likewise dispersed over the western countries : they are well informed, graceful, and active."
« The Jalofs are the finest Negroes of this part of Africa : they are tall and well made ; their features are regular, their physiognomy is open, and inspires confidence. They are honest, hospitable, generous, and faithful. Their character is mild ; they are inclined to good order and civilization, and possess an evident disposition for benevolent actions.
“ Their character is in general honest and sincere ; hospitality is a natural virtue among them.” p. 93.
“ Mandings are very active, intelligent, and cunning, in commer. cial affairs; notwithstanding which, their general character is very hosa pitable, sociable, and benevolent. Their women are also very lively, spirited, good, and agreeable." p. 146.
« The Negroes have both taste and ingenuity.” p. 306.
• The women are always kind, attentive, and complaisant.” – p. 309.
« All that I have said of the Negroes tends to prove that they are in general good men, naturally gentle and benevolent." p. 412.
« The picture I have given of the situation of the Blacks, and of the peaceable, careless, and simple life of these favorites of Nature, is by no means exaggerated.
“ The Mandingoes in particular are a very gentle race ; cheerful in their dispositions, inquisitive, credulous, simple, and fond of flattery.
“ The maternal affection is every where conspicuous among them, and creates a correspondent return of tenderness in the child. An illustration of this has been given in p. 47. Strike me,' said my attendant, but do not curse my mother.'
« The same sentiment I found universally to prevail ; and observed in all parts of Africa, that the greatest affront that could be offered to a Negro, was to reflect on her who gave him birth.” P. 264.
« One of the first lessons in which the Mandingo women instruct their children, is the practice of truth.”
“ During a wearisome peregrination of more than 500 British miles, exposed to the burning rays of a tropical sun, these poor Slaves, amidst their more infinitely greater sufferings, would commiserate mine, and frequently, of their own accord, bring water to quench my thirst, and at night collect branches and leaves to prepare me a bed in the wilderness." p. 356.
Natural Disposition of the Africans, and Capacity
FROM ASTLEY's Voyages. James Welsh's Voyages to Benin.—“The people are very gentle and loving.”_Vol. I. p. 202.
“ The inhabitants of Whidah are more polite and civilized than most people in the world, not excepting the European."-Vol. III. p. 14.
Marchais.--" There are no people on earth," says that author, 6 more tender of their offspring, or that shew more parental affection.”_Vol. III. p. 20.
Nyendael.-“ Kingdom of Benin. The inhabitants are generally good-natured and civil, and may be brought to any thing by fair and soft means.”
Artis says, that “the people of Benin are a sincere inoffensive people.”
“The Negroes at Whidah are so industrious that no spot of land, except what is naturally barren, escapes planting, though even within the inclosures of their villages and houses.”_Vol. III. p. 8.
Captain Stebbs, about 1724.-" The Foleys are a cleanly, decent, industrious people, very affable.”—Vol. III. p. 199.
Dr. Trotter, of the Royal Navy, says - Of the family sold for witchcraft, consisting, he thinks, of the man, his mother, wife, and two daughters, the woman shewed the deepest affliction, the man a sullen melancholy; said, that having quarrelled with the Cabbosheer of Salt-pan, he, in revenge, had accused him of witchcraft; he refused food. His hands were secured, but persisting to refuse all sustenance, he died of hunger in eight or ten days.
“ Besides the instance already given of a slave starving himself to death, remembers another ;- a woman was repeatedly flogged, and victuals forced into her mouth; no means, however, could make her swallow, and she lived the last four days in a state of torpid in. sensibility.”
State of the Slaves in the Middle Passage. • Slaves in the Passage are so crowded below, that it is impossible to walk through them, without treading on them; those who are out of irons are locked spoonways (in the technical phrase) to one another.
“ It is the first mate's duty to see them stowed in this way every morning: those who do not get quickly into their places, are compelled by the cat. In this situation, when the ship had much motion, they were often miserably bruised. In the Passage, when the skuttles must be shut, the gratings are not sufficient for airing the rooms; he never himself could breathe freely unless immediately under the hatchway. Never saw ventilators used in these ships ; a wind-sail was often tried on the Coast, but he remembers none used in the Passage. Has seen the Slaves drawing their breath with all those laborious and anxious efforts for life which is observed in expiring animals, subjected by experiment to foul air, or in the exhausted receiver of an air-pump.
“ Believes the practice of dancing them is general in the trade; in the Brookes it was not used till exercise became absolutely necessary for their health, those in irons were ordered to stand up and make what motions they could, leaving a passage for such as were out of irons to dance round the deck. Such as did not relish the exercise of dancing were compelled to it by the cat; but many still refused, though urged in this way to a severe degree.”
Nature and Consequences of the Slave Trade. Captain Wlison, of the Royal Navy, was between five and six months in Africa in 1783 and 1784, as commander of the ship Race- . horse, and resided chiefly at Goree, where he learnt how Slaves were generally procured for the trade, as matter of public notoriety, from frequent conversations with many respectable inhabitants, themselves traders in Slaves (p. 13), who spoke the French, English, and Negro languages; and who were frequently at his table,
“Slaves are principally procured for the Slave Trade by intestine wars; kings breaking up villages; crimes, or imputed crimes; and
“ Villages are broken up by the king's troops surrounding them in the night, and seizing such of the inhabitants as suit their purpose. This practice most common when there is no war with another state.
“ It is universally acknowledged, and he firmly believes, that free persons are sold for real or imputed crimes, for the benefit of their judges.”
Mr. Wadstrom is “ a native of Sweden and the chief Director of the Assay Office there. Was in Africa near three months in 1787, 1788 (p. 37), with Dr. Spaarman, engaged by the King of Sweden 10 make discoveries. The department allotted to witness was mineralogy, antiquities, and what regards the state of man.
“ He thinks he knows perfectly how Slaves are obtained between