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Aspect of the Country-Conduct of the Natives—Arrive at Caume-Dress of

the Soldiers and Officers — Reception of the Mission by the King-Court of the King of Dahomey—The Female Soldiers and Body-guard — Treaty of Commerce and Friendship-Abolition of the Slave-trade-Presents from the King-Start for Abomey, the Capital.

Saturday, March 27.—THE bugle awoke us all up some time before daylight, so that coffee was prepared, the beds, &c., packed up, and every body started with the first appearance of dawn. The morning air was so cool and refreshing, that Mr. Freeman and I walked five miles through the forest to the village of Atocoon, in the outskirts of which there are numberless dragon-trees. Having got into our hammocks, we rattled along six miles more to the village of Eaire, where we had expected to breakfast, but, on our arrival, found, much to my disappointment, for my walk had given me a ravenous appetite, that the governor had proceeded to Aseboo; there was nothing for it but to push on, hungry as I was ; however, I could not help noticing a pretty little fetish house, with windows of coloured glass, just outside Eaire.

The five miles to Aseboo seemed very long, and when we got settled in our usual station, the market-place, we had to wait nearly two hours for breakfast, the men who carried the canteens having stopped some time at Eaire.

Immediately after breakfast, we completed our last stage for the day, six miles to Apah, where we arrived between twelve and one o'clock, having travelled upwards of twenty miles, with the exception of the small cultivated spots round the villages, through a dense forest, the scenery of which is rendered very beautiful by the great variety of foliage, from the light and elegant leaves of the acacia to the dark sombre masses of the adoom and other trees.

Our quarters here resemble those at Alladah, with the addition of innumerable wasps' nests in the roof, and the appearance of the slenderwaisted gentry by no means add to our comfort. The head man has sent us a plentiful supply of water, which enabled us to enjoy the great luxury of a good bath. In the evening we took a survey of the kroom, the various enclosures of which are concealed by“ bush.” The adoom-tree, or African oak, as it is erroneously called, is plentiful ; and the naked branches of the monkey-bread tree, with its curious pendant fruit, look strangely amid the luxuriant foliage that meets the eye on all sides.

Sunday, March 28.—We were up again, and off at daylight this morning, and as we had to pass over several miles of bad road, called the marsh, for which the hammock-men had made preparations by taking off the covers of the hammocks, Mr. Freeman and I determined to walk a mile through some extensive plantations brought us into the forest, and we soon perceived a great change ; for, instead of the smooth, red-sand covered path we had hitherto travelled, we found ourselves walking over


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an irregular road of hardened mud ; the long-continued fine weather had dried it thoroughly, so that it was not so bad as we had been led to expect, but I can well imagine that in wet weather it must be almost, if not totally, impassable, and must then well merit its appellation, the marsh. Monkeys abounded, and we could see them and hear them in all directions.

After two hours and a half's steady walking, we reached firm ground again, and I would have got into my hammock, for I was somewhat fatigued, but that I saw a group of fine cotton-trees a short distance ahead, and my experience of the country enabling me to judge that they stood in the market-place of a village; a small bit of pride (the more fool I) made me walk another mile up hill to Earedie ; here I found that the governor had gone on to Agreemah, a large kroom three miles distant ; but discovering a case of champagne, and having bought a piece of cassada for three cowries, and a spiced ball for two cowries more, I sat down under an umbrella-tree, and with the assistance of the champagne and that best of all sauces, the Spartan sauce, made a most delicious breakfast.

The market-place of Earedie is on the right hand side of the path, and the kroom, which is very small, lies at the back, almost totally concealed from view.

When we reached Agreemah, we found the market-place, in which, as usual, our breakfast-table was spread, close to one of the king's houses ; and shortly after our arrival, a present of water and fowls, with country food for our people, was sent us by some of the king's wives inhabiting it. Just as we were preparing to start, a messenger arrived from the king to tell us that he was at Caume, and would be delighted to see us. All the ceremonies I have already mentioned, as observed in messages to or from the king, were observed upon this occasion.

An hour and a half brought us to Hayah, where we are to pass the night. As we were sitting at our wine after dinner, another messenger came from the king with a present of liqueurs, in which we drank his health, and that of the Queen of England; and all the arrangements for our reception to-morrow, and the number of guns for the salute (a point upon which they have been very anxious) having been settled, the messenger returned to Caume.

Two of the bearers were kicking up a row just now; but the caboeire's head-servant (old Nowyie) soon settled the matter by tying them up,—to teach them a little sense, as he says. Considering all things, the people have behaved themselves exceedingly well, probably in a great measure induced thereto by the knowledge that any complaint on our parts would endanger their heads; the women occasionally have a small squabble, but we soon astonish them by letting at them a queer, grey-headed old black, whom we have installed bully-in-chief, and he certainly does his work con amore, and puts all to rights in a very short time. Over and over again, I have laughed most heartily at various little scenes between him and the women, who are completely overwhelmed by the torrent of abuse that flows from old Mensarika's thick lips.

Apropos to laughing, I have been not a little amused at the very serious way in which Richard Lander complains in his narrative of having been obliged to laugh with the natives of Africa ; he tells us, that in his


younger days he never even smiled for five years, and that afterwards he most certainly never laughed without very good cause. My disposition is

very different; many a time in my school-boy days has my back suffered from

my inability to resist a laugh, and there has ever been something excessively ludicrous to me in the grinning face of a negro.

Monday, March 29. - According to custom, we started at daylight, and after travelling for about an hour and a half through an open country, which presented several very pretty undulating views, and abounded with partridges, arrived at a house that had been prepared for us on the outskirts of Caume. Here we breakfasted and dressed, the

governor and myself in uniform, and Mr. Freeman in a gown. At ten o'clock we were conducted, our band playing and banner flying, a distance of two or three hundred yards, to a large tree, under the shade of which our chairs were placed, and here we sat down, the governor in the middle, Mr. Freeman and myself on each side, and the interpreter on a low stool before us.

Our situation commanded a view of the road leading from the palace, and after waiting about twenty minutes, we perceived two men coming towards us, the one with a table on his head, the other with a large

The table was placed before us, and glasses, liqueurs, &c., taken from the case, placed upon it, in preparation for the ceremonies about to take place, for it is an invariable piece of etiquette upon the arrival and departure of each set of visitors to drink with them, first giving the glasses a sharp click together; any inconvenience that might be caused by this fashion, in the reception of numerous parties, being guarded against by the custom of merely putting the lips to the glass, and giving the contents to the attendants, who immediately drink them off and wash the glasses, so as to be ready for further use.

While the above arrangements were being made, a procession, with all sorts of umbrellas and banners, approached us; as it did so, we could perceive that the banners were mostly imitations of the union-jack; others were white, some bore a distant resemblance to the Spanish and Portuguese flag ; one represented, in a rude manner and in profile like the Egyptian paintings, a warrior striking down his enemy; and another was tattered and pierced with shot-holes ; several of the poles were surmounted by skulls ; by the time we had made these observations, two caboeires with armed attendants came up, and shaking handsthe shaking hands, by the way, always terminates with two loud snaps made by bringing the second finger of each person's hand sharply in contact, as in snapping the finger and thumb-welcomed us in the king's name, to which the governor duly replied; and the caboeires having seated themselves on their stools, under the shade of their wide-spreading umbrellas, with their followers squatted on each side of them, the drinking business was solemnly gone through with. Their band, whose instruments were limited to horns made from elephants' teeth, and gourds covered with a pretty net-work, in which a great number of serpents' bones, beautifully white, were worked so as to rattle at every movement, then struck up, and uniting their sweet voices to their instruments, gave us a concert that made in noise what it wanted in melody; while, at the same time, the soldiers ran howling about, gesticulating and firing their muskets in true negro style, to the evident satisfaction of their chiefs, who were both


fine men; one of them had a peculiarly stern cast of countenance; the other, on the contrary, looked as amiable as possible.

Their dress consisted of a kind of loose doublet reaching nearly to the knees, with a large cloth wound round the waist, and thrown over the shoulder in a not ungraceful manner; on the arms they wore a kind of silver armlet, reaching from the wrist to within an inch or two of the elbow, and fastened by clasps of rude workmanship, and each carried a short native sword in the hand.

The stool, umbrella, and armlets, are all distinctive marks of the rank of caboeire, and no chief ever moves without his stool, by the height of which you may tell his rank, for these stools are the Dahoman order of the Bath, and are received from the king himself.

The dress of the soldiery is made up of a doublet, with or without sleeves, a cloth round the waist, a cartouche-box, musket, sword, battleaxe, &c. The hilt of the sword and the stock of the musket are generally strung with cowries, bits of iron, or any thing else that will jingle and make a noise.

In a few minutes, the caboeires took their departure, and made way for the rest of the procession, which took a circuit round us three times, yelling and screaming, more to their own gratification than ours. After the third circuit, the soldiers first came up, and saluting us with three bows, formed right and left, to allow of the advance of about a dozen men ; three or four of whom had each a couple of silver horns, about six inches high, on his forehead. When within a few paces


these men burst into a not unpleasing air, and, no doubt, chanted our praises and welcome, and the irresistible power of the king; this done, they retired, and two caboeires (one, a very old man, dismounting from a small pony) came forward, shook hands, had their stools placed, sat down, drank, and told us that they were sent by the king to conduct us to his presence.

The soldiers then formed a line, and began a discharge of musketoons, the butts of which they placed on the ground, and a pretty dust the recoil kicked up; one immense fellow, wishing to astonish us and show his strength, fired as they fire muskets, and nearly dislocated his shoulder for his pains, to the great amusement of the crowd.

The salute over, we started for the palace, the procession ahead of us ; and, thinking the distance was short, walked two or three hundred yards, but then got into our hammocks, and were carried half a mile through the town to a large square before the principal entrance of the palace, where the king was waiting to receive us.

But before being presented, it was necessary to go through the following ceremonies: we were placed, seated in our chairs, under a tree, about fifty yards from and facing the entrance (a shed on a large scale), in which the king was reclining on a couch, surrounded by his officers, &c., and a great number of soldiers squatted on the ground, filled one side of the square. The procession that had preceded us and our band, then went three times round the square, making obeisance each time they passed before the king—the natives falling down, throwing dust over themselves, and kissing the ground; after the third round, we were led across the square to the king, who stood up, shook hands with us (not omitting the final snap), and expressed the highest gratification at seeing his excellency.

A cloth being then taken off a table, on which were spread various liqueurs, wines, &c., wine-glasses were filled with water, and the king, having proposed the Queen of England's health, touched the governor's glass, and drank; thereby giving rise to an amusing scene, for some of his attendants immediately spread cloths before the king, so as to conceal his face, and the whole assemblage, invoking a blessing, I suppose, raised an uproar by shouting and clapping hands. The same thing was repeated (and also on every future occasion of the king's drinking), when, the glasses being refilled with liqueur, he drank akoom, or welcome, to us.

The king is an exceedingly fine man, upwards of six feet high, with an agreeable and sensible expression of countenance. His right eye is somewhat diseased, and his head shaven with the exception of a small piece at the

upper and back part. His dress was very simple ; he was naked to the waist, round which a large cloth was wound and fell in folds. to his feet ; the only ornaments he wore were two or three iron and brass. rings on the arms, and he, too, held a native sword in his hand.

Numerous male attendants stood on both sides, and the caboeire,, Mowyie* by name, under whose care we were especially placed, remained. close to him during the whole interview, and was frequently addressed ; a part of his female body-guard, among whom one young woman standing against a pillar was conspicuous, filled the back of the entrance shed, and one very good-looking girl knelt by him holding a small silver basin partly filled with sand into which he very often spat.

The women of the body-guard are dressed in the same style as the men soldiers, with the addition of a short pair of drawers and a small white skull cap, having a black alligator worked on each side ; they are armed with muskets, swords, battle-axes, &c.

After a few inquiries as to how the governor had liked the journey from the coast, the caboeires were brought up, and presented one after another to, and shook hands with, his excellency. The first presented was a noble-looking man, the head of the commissariat ; then came the prime minister ; after him the commander of the troops, and so on to the number of thirty ; and we were much struck with the dignified and easy manner in which the principal caboeires came forward and expressed their pleasure at seeing the governor.

During the time thus occupied, a salute had been fired by some cannon at a short distance from the palace, and at the conclusion of the presentations a messenger brought in two small baskets, each containing pebbles that marked the number of guns

and the governor.

fired for the


* This is a good example of the errors into which people travelling hastily through a country, with the language of which they are utterly ignorant, are so liable to fall. Since writing the above, I have found out that I have here applied the name of his office to the individual. The mowyie is the second officer of the kingdom, and upon the decease of the king shares with the tamegaw the responsible duty of appointing which of his sons shall succeed him.

The tamegaw, or prime minister, ranks immediately after the king, and is the only person in his dominions whose head the king may not take off at his plea

He advises with the king upon matters of government. The mowyie is the master of ceremonies, and directs and manages all the public festivals, &c. He also takes charge of all strangers, black or white, that visit Dahomey. The tamegaw and he are judges in criminal cases, and one or the other is almost constantly with the king.


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