The World of Waters
Mrs. David Osborne
Part 5 out of 5
isinglass. The bird always builds in the caves of the rocks, at a
distance from any human dwelling. Along the sea-shore, these nests
are particularly abundant, the caverns there being more frequent.
The finest are those obtained before the nest has been contaminated
by young birds. Some of the caverns are very difficult of access,
and dangerous to climb; so that none can collect the nests but
persons accustomed to the trade from their youth."
GEORGE. "Oh, yes! I remember all the particulars of that business;
we were told at one of our meetings; but I do not care to taste
them: it is both nasty and cruel to eat bird's-nests."
CHARLES. "Sumatra is, next to Borneo, the largest island in the
Eastern seas. It is situated in the midst of the torrid zone, is
upwards of 1000 miles long, nearly 200 in breadth, and is divided
from Java by the Straits of Sunda.
"The Sumatrans are a well-made people, with yellow complexions,
sometimes inclining to white. They have some of the customs of the
South Sea Islanders; amongst others, those barbarous practices of
flattening the noses, and compressing the heads of children
newly-born, whilst the skull is yet soft or _cartilaginous_. They
likewise pull out the ears of infants to make them stand at an angle
from the head. They file, blacken, and otherwise disfigure the
teeth; and the great men sometimes set theirs in gold, by casing the
under row with a plate of that metal."
GEORGE. "Is Sumatra a gold country?"
"Why," said Mr. Wilton, smiling, "have you never heard of the gold
of Mount Ophir? Well, that is the name of the highest mountain in
GEORGE. "Then there is gold in Sumatra, and I suppose it is washed
down by the rivers. Is there any other metal there?"
MR. WILTON. "Gold is the most abundant; but saltpetre and naphtha
are among the products. Quantities of rice are grown here, and a
singular method is adopted for separating the grain from the ear.
The bunches of paddy are spread on mats, and the Sumatrans rub out
the grain under their feet, supporting themselves, for the more easy
performance of this labor, by holding with their hands a bamboo
placed horizontally over their heads."
[Illustration: A WATER SPOUT]
CHARLES. "I should hope they wash the rice after this process:
although, as rice is so dry, they doubtless consider it unnecessary:
I find Sumatra is a foggy island, and contains only one important
MR. BARRAUD. "Fogs are not its worst calamities: thunder-storms and
water-spouts off the coasts are very frequent."
GEORGE. "What produces water-spouts?"
MR. BARRAUD. "Dr. Franklin supposed that water-spouts and whirlwinds
proceed from the same cause. A fluid moving from all parts
horizontally towards a centre, must at that centre either mount or
descend. If a hole be opened in the bottom of a tub filled with
water, the water will flow from all sides to the centre, and there
descend in a whirl; but air flowing in or near the surface of land
or water, from all sides towards a centre, must at that centre
ascend, because the land or water will hinder its descent."
MR. WILTON. "As Charles states, Acheen, with regard to business
transactions, is the only place of note in the island of Sumatra.
The inhabitants have no coin, but make their payments in gold dust,
which they keep in divided parcels, contained in pieces of bladder,
and these are weighed by the person who takes them in payment. They
have some odd forms about them; for instance, in _marriage_ and
_burial_. The bride is bargained for with the parents, and if
settled satisfactorily, the young couple partake together of two
different sorts of rice, and the ceremony is concluded by the father
of the lady throwing a piece of cloth over them.
"When a man of rank dies, his body is kept in a coffin for several
months; the soft parts dissolving during that interval are conveyed
in a fluid state by a bamboo tube, from the bottom of the coffin
into the earth."
EMMA. "How very disgusting! and how very unwholesome for the
relatives of the deceased, in such a hot country too. I wonder the
inhabitants do not all die from infection."
MR. STANLEY. "These practices do vastly increase the mortality; but
old customs are not easily abolished. Do you sail as far north as
the Bay of Bengal, Charles?"
CHARLES. "No, sir, all that portion of the ocean has been navigated:
our next island is Borneo."
MR. STANLEY. "But I suppose there would be no objection to my
putting in a word on the Burman Empire, which probably you are not
_much_ acquainted with. Parts of it are in the same longitude as the
north of Sumatra; and I merely wish to mention some peculiarities
connected with the Burmese. The government is entirely despotic, and
the sovereign almost deified. When anything belonging to him is
mentioned, the epithet 'golden' is invariably attached to it. When
he is said to have heard anything, 'it has reached the golden ears:'
the perfume of roses is described as grateful to the 'golden nose.'
The sovereign is sole proprietor of all the elephants in his
dominions; and the privilege to keep or ride on one is only granted
to men of the first rank. No honors here are hereditary. All
officers and dignities depend on the crown. The 'tsaloe,' or chain,
is the badge of nobility, and superiority of rank is signified by
the number of cords or divisions."
GEORGE. "Is it true that they are a proud, consequential people?"
MR. STANLEY. "Yes, quite true. Men of rank have their barges tugged
by war-boats, common watermen not being admitted into the same boat
"A singularly absurd custom takes place in this country, in certain
forms of political homage shown to a white elephant,--a
preternatural animal kept for the purpose,--superbly lodged near the
royal palace, sumptuously dressed and fed, provided with
functionaries like a second sovereign, held next in rank to the
king, and superior to the queen, and made the recipient of presents,
and other tokens of respect from foreign ambassadors."
CHARLES. "Well, that _is_ an odd superstition. I am much obliged to
you for going out of the track to tell us these strange 'sayings and
doings' of the Burmese. Are we now to resume our station?"
MR. WILTON. "You are pilot. Charles; we rely on your guidance! Go
where you please: we are not to control your movements."
CHARLES. "Then, like Sir James Brooke, I will go to Borneo; but I do
not expect to be made a rajah for my trouble: indeed I scarcely know
if I should like to live there, although it is the largest island in
the world, and is very fertile, and contains diamond mines and vast
quantities of gold."
MR. STANLEY. "By-the-by, that reminds me of the fact that the petty
prince of Mattan, in Borneo, is in possession of one of the largest
diamonds in the world. It was obtained a hundred years ago from the
mines of Landak, and is worth 269,378_l_."
EMMA. "Which are the other large diamonds?"
MR. WILTON. "The Great Russian diamond, which is valued at
304,200_l._; and the Great Pitt diamond, valued at 149,605_l_. But
we are departing from our subject. Borneo is, next to New Holland,
the largest island in the world. It is 900 miles long, and 700
DORA. "When did Sir James Brooke go to Borneo, and what was his
object in going?"
MR. WILTON. "In August, 1839, he anchored off Borneo; and his object
was purely philanthropic. He went to spread abroad the glorious
truths of Christianity--to arouse the slumbering energies of these
interesting people--to increase trade--to suppress piracy,--and to
gain information for the profit of his own native land. Such were
his principal motives. Particulars of his success, of the benefits
he has conferred on thousands of his fellow-creatures, and of his
travels and adventures, may be seen in his own published journal, to
more advantage than I can possibly set them before you."
MR. BARRAUD. "Since Sir James Brooke's visit, the Dido and several
other vessels of war have cruised in the Asiatic Archipelago, all
tending to suppress piracy, and encourage native trade and commerce.
The island of Labuan, off the north-west of Borneo, has been ceded
to England, and Sir James Brooke appointed agent for the British
Government,--an appointment which confers on him additional power
and influence; besides which, the Sultan has nominated him Rajah of
Sarawak. Thus in the course of a few years has a complete revolution
been worked in one of the finest portions of our globe, and a new
and better system of things been established, all through the
enlightened and philanthropic energy of a single individual."
CHARLES. "Borneo is the chief of the Sunda group, is extremely
fertile, producing all sorts of tropical fruits, and various spices
and drugs. Much of the interior is covered by immense forests,
inhabited by wild animals, and aboriginal tribes of human beings
almost as wild. It is in Borneo that the largest of the monkey
tribe, the ponga, equalling the human race in stature, is to be
found; also the ourang-outang, or Simia Satyrus, which comes nearer
to man in his looks, manners, and gait. Some writers assert that
these animals light fires, at which they broil their fish and rice;
but these accounts are not verified by recent observers. Wild bees
are so numerous here, that their wax forms a very extensive article
MRS. WILTON. "Borneo is called, by the natives, Pulo Kalamantan.
Borneo was the name of a city, the residence of a powerful prince in
1520, when Magellan went there: hence the Spaniards concluded that
the whole island belonged to this prince, and they called it all
Borneo. There are a great many tribes of Indians in this large
island, and the sea-coasts are inhabited by Malayans, of whom Sir
James Brooke speaks in the higher terms, as regards honesty,
cleanliness, &c. They understand the art of cutting, polishing, and
setting their diamonds. Gold and silver filigree works they excel
in; and they are otherwise ingenious, but can scarcely be considered
DORA. "South-west of Sumatra, in latitude 12 deg. south, longitude 97 deg.
east, are the Cocos or Keeling Islands, which are entirely coralline
in their formation; very fertile, with a salubrious climate. In
1830, Captain Ross and Alexander Hare, Esq., undertook to cultivate
these islands, and render them productive. They succeeded, and they
now form a fine settlement."
CHARLES. "I shall feel greatly obliged if Mr. Stanley will take the
helm, and steer us across the Indian Ocean; for there are such
hundreds, I might almost say thousands, of islands, that I feel
convinced I shall run you all ashore, where none of you are disposed
MR. STANLEY. "Come, then, I will relieve you for a while, because it
would be most unpleasantly awkward for the ladies to be cast ashore
on a desert island; and equally so on an inhabited one, if they
possessed no letters of introduction to the natives.
"In crossing the Indian Ocean, we must sail by a great many islands;
but I do not think it will be prudent to go ashore until we arrive
at the Isle of Bourbon, and there we can pass a few days very
comfortably before we sail for Madagascar."
EMMA. "Oh, yes! Bourbon is quite a civilized island. It belongs to
the French, does it not, mamma?"
MRS. WILTON. "Yes, my dear; but the discovery was not theirs.
Mascarenhas, a Portuguese navigator, claims the credit. He
discovered it in 1545, and it bore his name until the French took
possession of it in the next century. When they first occupied it,
the sides of the mountains were covered with forests, which reached
even to the shores. The whole of the lower lands have since been
cleared; but the centre of this island is still covered with its
primitive vegetation, which affords forty-one different species of
woods serviceable for arts and manufactures. The coasts abound with
fish and large turtles, and furnish also coral and ambergris.
Bourbon contains a college, and numerous schools, sixteen churches,
two hospitals, two establishments for the relief of the poor, and
MR. BARRAUD. "Why are we to take no notice of the fine colony of
Mauritius, or Isle of France? It is quite as large as Bourbon:
moreover it is a British possession."
MR. STANLEY. "I see no just cause or impediment why we should not
land there. Let us see, what is its size?"
CHARLES. "Its circumference is about 140 miles. Port Louis is its
principal town, and is said to contain 30,000 inhabitants; it has an
excellent harbor, capable of containing 50 large vessels; and it is
well protected by nature from the violence of the weather, and from
the attacks of enemies, by strong fortifications."
GEORGE. "Now to Madagascar. I am longing to go there; for I know
nothing about either country or people."
MRS. WILTON. "Madagascar is a large and beautiful island, with
mountains, valleys, lakes and streams, diversifying its whole
extent. It is between 800 and 900 miles long, and between 200 and
300 broad. The metals dug here, are gold, silver, copper, steel, and
iron; and a great variety of precious stones are found in the rivers
and brooks of Madagascar. Civet is plentiful, and is taken from the
civet cat; and the natives obtain musk from the crocodile, and call
it tartave. Tananarievo, the capital, stands on the summit of a
lofty hill, and commands an extensive prospect of the surrounding
country. The principal houses are of wood, and the palace of the
king is about the centre of the town, enclosed in a high palisading
of strong poles."
GEORGE. "If the palace be so homely, what can the poor folks' houses
MR. WILTON. "Oh! they are of wood too, but mere huts; they have no
chimneys, and the door and window affording the only means of escape
for the smoke arising from the fires, which are kindled on the floor
of the house, the soot collects on the inner side of the roofs of
their dwellings, where it is never disturbed by the people, who
consider it a badge of honorable ancestry to have large quantities
of soot hanging in long black shreds from the roof of their
EMMA. "What a dirty badge! Are they dirty people?"
MR. STANLEY. "They are not exactly dirty, but very slothful; and
when not compelled to exert themselves in husbandry or war, they
pass their time in sleep. They have little thought for the morrow;
and, in fact, seem to be a thoroughly contented happy race; and so
they ought to be, in one sense, for they are surrounded by every
comfort, and even luxury, which the hand of nature can produce.
Their characteristic feature is simplicity; and they regard the
example of their forefathers as authority for every action."
DORA. "They are Christians, I believe?"
MRS. WILTON. "I wish I could say they are, my dear Dora. Some
Christians there certainly are in Madagascar; but the majority are
ruled by superstition. They acknowledge one only true God, the
Creator of heaven and earth, and the Supreme Ruler of the universe,
and they call him 'Ungharry,' or 'Zanhare,' which signify the
'Highest God,' or 'God above.' They believe him to possess infinite
power; but they consider him too great a being to condescend to
attend to the concerns of mortals: they therefore suppose that four
inferior spirits are appointed, to whom are delegated the affairs of
the world. These are denominated the Lords of the North, South,
East, and West. The East is supposed to be the dispenser of plagues
and miseries to mankind, by the command of the Great God. The other
three are employed in the dispensation of benefits. Besides this,
they have faith in a _world_ of spirits, and believe that every
family has its guardian angel, which is generally supposed to be
the soul of a particular ancestor; and, strangely enough, although
they believe in the immortality of the soul, they deny that there
can be a future punishment, or that the soul can suffer evil after
its separation from the body; but they assert that bad men will be
punished in this world by a complication of misfortunes, and that
the good will be rewarded by health, constancy of friends, increase
of fortune, and obedience of children."
GRANDY. "There was at one period great hopes concerning Madagascar.
Missionaries went out, and were cordially welcomed by the
authorities, although the people, from ignorance, were hostile. But,
poor creatures! white men had never visited their shores but to
carry away their children and friends to sell them for slaves in
different parts of the world; and, of course, they were very
suspicious; so much so, that when the missionaries first endeavored
to establish schools in Madagascar, the parents refused to allow
their children to attend, alleging that the white men wanted them
for no other purpose than to eat them; for they attributed all their
sorrows to the cannibalism of the white people, believing that the
slaves they captured were caught, as wild animals would be, only for
food. They carried their antipathy so far, that, rather than permit
their little ones to enter the schools, they hid them in rice holes,
where they were often suffocated. King Radama reigned at that time,
and, being a convert himself, he naturally desired the conversion of
his people. He reasoned with them, and prohibited the secretion of
the unfortunate children, and after a time, by God's blessing, the
people became aware of the advantage of the schools and many were
converted from the error of their ways, and died rejoicing in God
their Saviour. But Radama died also; and there arose a sovereign who
knew not God; enemies crept into the fold, and endeavored to destroy
the good work of the pious missionaries. They partially succeeded;
and in 1837 these worthy men were obliged to quit Madagascar, and
have never since been able to revisit it with any prospect of
success. We cannot understand why this great work should be allowed
to fall to the ground; but God in His wisdom appears to have
withheld his blessing for a season, and we must in patience await
GEORGE. "The Malagasses were never cannibals, were they?"
MR. WILTON. "No. Their ordinary food consists of the natural produce
of the soil; principally rice, dressed in the simplest manner, and
seasoned with pepper; and they usually drink hot water or broth from
the boiled meats; wines, of which they make several kinds, are
reserved for the entertainments of their friends on occasions of
festivity or ceremony. Their usual dinner hour is ten in the
morning, and that of supper four in the afternoon."
MR. STANLEY. "Although not cannibals, their superstition prompts
them to many acts of cruelty; for instance, one half of the infant
population is murdered by the misfortune of being born on an unlucky
day; and, to prove the truth of the dogma, they are deliberately
killed. One mode of perpetrating this unnatural deed, is by taking
the infant to a retired spot in the neighborhood of the village,
digging a grave sufficiently large to receive it pouring in a
quantity of water slightly warmed, putting a piece of cloth upon the
infant's mouth, placing it in the grave, filling this up with earth,
and leaving the helpless child, thus buried alive, a memorial of
their own affecting degradation, and the relentless barbarism of
their gloomy superstition, and a painful illustration of the truth
of God's word, which declares that 'the dark places of the earth are
full of the habitations of cruelty.'"
MR. WILTON. "We cannot enlighten these people without help from on
high; and their circumstances are too melancholy to dwell on. Let us
continue our voyage, and pray for their conversion. Who can inform
me how many bays there are around this great island?"
GEORGE. "I can, papa. There are fourteen on my map; and the Bay of
Antongil, up in the north-east, is the largest"
MR. WILTON. "So it is, George; and near it lies the Island of St.
Mary, which once formed the principal retreat of the pirates who, in
the 17th century, infested the Indian Ocean. It is a delightful
island, abounding in every necessary of life. Now, I have a droll
story to tell you, and that will conclude our remarks on
#Translation of a Malagassy Fable, accounting for the enmity between
the Crocodile and the Dog.#
"A serpent and a young crocodile dwelt in the same part of the
country. The serpent fixed itself in a tree by the water-side; and
underneath the same tree the young crocodile watched for prey. After
a time a dog came to drink; the crocodile pursued him; down came the
serpent to stop the crocodile. "What have you to do with me?" said
the crocodile.--"Why, you are seeking to eat everybody that passes
this way," replied the serpent--"Be quiet,"--said the crocodile,
"lest I give you a blow with my tail, and cut you in two."--"And
pray what are you?" asked the serpent: "I suppose you are thinking
that, because I have neither hands nor feet, I can do nothing; but,
perhaps, you have not looked at _my_ tail, how sharp it is."--"Cease
your noise," replied the crocodile, "or I'll just break you in two."
The serpent, then becoming excessively angry, struck the crocodile
with his tail, and wounded his loins, so as nearly to break his
body. All the fish were astonished; and, addressing the crocodile,
said, "How is this,--you that can conquer people and cattle, however
large, and anything else?" The crocodile, ashamed, dived out of
sight; while the serpent resumed his place on the tree. The
crocodile, however, hoping to repay him, kept watching for prey.
After a time, there came a goose to the water. The crocodile
pursued, and got hold of him; when down came the serpent, to stop
him, as before. "Where are you going?" cried the crocodile.--"Let
that goose alone," said the serpent, "lest I kill you." The
crocodile replied contemptuously, and the serpent, enraged,
exclaimed, "Well, this time, see if you are not the worse for it;"
and then he struck the crocodile, and wounded him on the face, and
made him scream again. So he was conquered _that_, time, and the
goose got off. Then all the little fish came again, and said to the
crocodile, "How is it that you are beaten by that foolish serpent?
You are wise and powerful, and that little fellow conies and beats
you." Completely ashamed, again the crocodile hid himself in the
water, and began to think by what means he might conquer this
serpent upon the tree. After thinking a long time, the crocodile
determined on boring a hole through the root of the tree; and for a
whole week he kept on boring. Presently, a dog came to drink;
afterwards a goose; also a man; but, the crocodile keeping at his
work, the serpent exulted in having intimidated his adversary, and
said, 'There's nothing so strong, then, as I am." The crocodile
heard him, and labored with all his might to finish boring at the
root, one branch of which remained to cut. The crocodile then
watched at the water-side a good while, when down came the dog to
drink: the crocodile pursued him; the serpent, as before, came to
oppose him, calling out, "Let that dog alone there, lest you get the
worst of it."--"You," said the crocodile, "do not fear God. Yonder
dogs deceive us, and that's the reason I pursue them: as to people,
I never touch them, unless they are guilty of witchcraft. I only
eat the small things,--so just let _me_ alone." When the serpent
heard that, he replied, "There _is_ no God; for if there were, I
should have had both hands and feet: there is no God at all. But I
will have your carcass to-day." Then the dog and the serpent
together made an attack on the crocodile; the crocodile got weaker,
and dived in the water; when all the little fish came again, and
expressed their astonishment, as before, that he should be conquered
by that little serpent, "Wait a little," said the crocodile, "and
you will see I am not conquered by him." The serpent got up the tree
as usual; the crocodile watched,--bored the hole completely,--then
looked up, and saw the serpent sound asleep on a branch overhanging
the water; then, cutting what remained of the root, the tree broke
and fell into the water, the serpent falling with it. Then all the
fishes acknowledged that the crocodile was superior, for he had got
the serpent into the water, and made him dive in it, and kept him
under water half-an-hour. The serpent, however, survived it, and
repented of what he had done. "Oh! that I had never opposed you;
only let me go, and I will never attack you again."--"Ah!" said the
crocodile; "but as often as I pursued the dog, I was pursued by you;
so you must suffer in your turn." Thus the crocodile made him
heartily repent before he let him go. "Then," said the serpent, "if
ever I touch you again, may I be conquered." After that, the
crocodile let him go. He was glad to get off; but he had been
beaten, and took an oath not to renew the attack when the crocodile
went to look out for prey. The crocodile, however, owed the dog a
grudge, because he had attacked him, and so laid all his family
under a curse to devour the dog whenever opportunity offered.
"Unless you do that," said he, "may you die without posterity; for
yonder dog took part with the serpent against me."
MR. STANLEY. "Well, George, are you like the serpent? Have you had
enough of the water?"
GEORGE. "Oh! no! I shall be very sorry when the voyages are over."
MR. STANLEY. "You have been on the ocean a weary while. Have you,
like Sir James Ross, reached either of the Poles?"
GEORGE. "No, sir; but we have been very near the North Pole; have we
CHARLES. "Yes; in the Arctic Ocean we have been as high as 80 deg.
parallel of north latitude to Spitzbergen; and in the Antarctic as
high as the 66 deg. parallel of south latitude, to the New South
MR. STANLEY. "Well done! You will not then start any objections on
the score of cold, to accompany me to Kerguelan's Land?"
"Oh dear, no!" exclaimed the boys. "We do not mind the cold."
MR. STANLEY. "Kerguelan's land was discovered in 1772 by Monsieur de
Kerguelan, a French navigator, who took it for a continent, and so
reported it to his government. He was sent back the following year
to make critical examination. Three years after this, Captain Cook
fell in with the island, and, not finding it of any importance,
called it Isle of Desolation. But, despite its name, it is not a bad
place by any means. It is a safe and commodious harbor, and
abundance of fresh water. However, considering its latitude, it is
exceedingly bare of vegetation; and there is only one plant which
claims attention, that is the famous cabbage discovered by Captain
Cook. For 130 days his crew enjoyed the luxury of fresh vegetables,
which were served out with their salt beef and pork, and prevented
sickness among them."
GEORGE. "Are there any animals on the island?"
MR. BARRAUD. "Numbers of birds; penguins, albatrosses, gulls, ducks,
cormorants, &c.; and the island is the resort of seals and
CHARLES. "It cannot be a very pretty place?"
MR. STANLEY. "Here is an idea of it. The whole island appears to be
deeply indented by bays and inlets, the surface intersected by
numerous small lakes and water-courses. These becoming swollen by
the heavy rains, which alternate with the frost and snow,
accompanied by violent gusts of wind, rush down the sides of the
mountains and along the ravines in countless impetuous torrents,
forming in many places beautiful foaming cascades, wearing away the
rocks, and strewing the valleys below with vast fragments."
CHARLES. "That is _grand_, but decidedly not _comfortable_."
GRANDY. "Sailors need great powers of endurance to undergo such
hardships as they must continually encounter on these voyages of
discovery. How grateful we ought to feel towards the brave men who
hazard life, property, everything to extend our knowledge! for how
many happy hours are we indebted to their researches! how often have
we perused with delight, the voyages, the discoveries, the exciting
descriptions of enterprising sailors! and all, perhaps, without
reflecting that the very adventures which have so much amused us,
may have been the ruin of all their hopes, and the destroyer of all
their happiness in this world. While you are sipping your wine,
preparatory to our last voyage, I will tell you a true
#Story of a Sailor as related by himself.#
"Four years ago I left the port of Boston, the master of a fine ship
bound for China. I was worth ten thousand dollars, and was the
husband of a young and handsome wife, whom I married but six months
before. When I left her, I promised to return to her in less than a
twelvemonth. I took all my money with me, save enough to support my
wife in my absence, for the purpose of trading when in China, on my
own account. For a long time we were favored with prosperous winds;
but when in the China seas a terrible storm came upon us, so that in
a short time I saw the vessel must be lost, for we were drifting on
the rocks of an unknown shore. I ordered the men to provide each for
himself in the best possible manner, and forget the ship, as it was
an impossibility to save her. We struck: a sea laid me upon the
rocks senseless; and the next would have carried me back to a watery
grave, had not one of the sailors dragged me further up the rocks.
There were only four of us alive; and when morning came, we found
that we were on a small uninhabited island, with nothing to eat but
the wild fruit common to that portion of the earth; and there we
remained sixty days before we could make ourselves known to any
ship. We were at length taken to Canton; and there I had to beg, for
my money was at the bottom of the sea, and I had not taken the
precaution to have it insured. It was nearly a year before I had an
opportunity of coming home; and then I, _a captain_, was obliged to
ship as a common sailor. It was two years from the time I left
America that I landed in Boston. I was walking in a hurried manner
up one of its streets, when I met my brother-in-law. He could not
speak nor move, but he grasped my hand, and tears gushed from his
eyes. 'Is my wife alive?' I asked. He said nothing. Then I wished
that I had perished with my ship, for I thought my wife was dead;
but he very soon said, 'She is alive.' Then it was my turn to cry
for joy. He clung to me and said, 'Your funeral sermon has been
preached, for we have thought you dead for a long time.' He said
that my wife was living in our little cottage in the interior of the
state. It was then three o'clock in the afternoon, and I took a
train of cars that would carry me within twenty-five miles of my
wife. Upon leaving the cars I hired a boy, though it was night, to
drive me home. It was about two o'clock in the morning when that
sweet little cottage of mine appeared in sight. It was a warm
moonlight night, and I remember how like a heaven it looked to me. I
got out of the carriage and went to the window of the room where the
servant girl slept, and gently knocked. She opened the window and
asked, 'Who is there?' 'Sarah, do you not know me?' said I. She
screamed with fright, for she thought me a ghost; but I told her to
unfasten the door and let me in, for I wished to see my wife. She
let me in and gave me a light, and I went up stairs to my wife's
room. She lay sleeping quietly. Upon her bosom lay her child, whom I
had never seen. She was as beautiful as when I left her; but I could
see a mournful expression upon her face. Perhaps she was dreaming of
me. I gazed for a long time; I did not make any noise, for I dared
not wake her. At length I imprinted a soft kiss upon the cheek of my
little child. While doing it a tear dropped from my eye and fell
upon her cheek. Her eyes opened as clearly as though she had not
been sleeping. I saw that she began to be frightened, and I said,
'Mary, it is your husband!' and she clasped me about my neck, and
fainted. But I will not describe that scene. She is now the happy
wife of a poor man. I am endeavoring to accumulate a little
property, and then I will leave the sea forever."
MR. WILTON. "A vote of thanks for Grandy. That little narrative has
agreeably refreshed our minds, while the wine and cake has had the
like effect on our bodies. Now, voyage the last!"
GEORGE. "Oh, papa! that sounds so strangely. I cannot bear the last
of anything; and now particularly, it reminds us how soon our happy
evening meetings will be at an end, and naught left but the bare
recollection of them."
MRS. WILTON. "Well, my dear, I will not distress you by repeating
the obnoxious word. We will start anew, and sail round the coast of
Africa. We are a goodly party, and I dare venture to say, shall not
lack for amusement during the voyage."
MR. STANLEY. "Then we are not to go so far south as Victoria Land,
and see all the wonderful things Sir James Ross saw?"
MR. WILTON. "No: we have been in the cold long enough, and I am
rejoiced that we have no more enormous icebergs to encounter--no
more still ice-fields stretching away in every direction, or
clashing and grinding under the influence of mighty storms--no more
mountains cased in eternal ice; but we have really bid adieu to the
wintry desolation of those frozen regions that
'Lie dark and wild, beat with perpetual storms.'"
MR. STANLEY. "I am glad to get into a more genial climate, and I
perceive our next voyage commences in the Mediterranean; that is, if
it be the intention of our young discoverers to call at the bays on
the north of Africa."
DORA. "It is our intention, sir; and the first gulf, called
Malillih, is on the coast of Morocco. Mrs. Wilton has kindly
undertaken the land survey."
MRS. WILTON. "Morocco is now only the remains of a state, although
at one period, when the Moors were in the zenith of their power, it
was a splendid country. Still, however, the inhabitants entertain
the loftiest ideas of themselves and their native land, and
half-naked creatures as they are, they style the Europeans 'agein,'
or barbarians, and hold them in contempt."
GRANDY. "But the Moors, although Mohammedans, are not destitute of
virtues; and, as a peculiarly good trait in their character, a Moor
never abandons himself to despair; neither sufferings nor losses can
extort from him a single murmur; to every event he submits as
decreed by the will of God, and habitually hopes for better times.
We might learn something even from the Moors."
MR. STANLEY. "Ay! but we must keep at a distance if we wish the
ladies of our party to learn; for the Moors would altogether object
to teach them, as women are there regarded merely as tools
--creatures without souls. They would not admire our ladies
either, for their idea of female loveliness is most singular. Beauty
and corpulence are synonymous. A perfect Moorish beauty is a load
for a camel; and a woman of moderate pretensions to beauty requires
a slave on each side to support her. In consequence of this depraved
taste for unwieldy bulk, the Moorish ladies take great pains to
acquire it early in life; and for this purpose, the young girls are
compelled by their mothers to devour a great quantity of kous-kous
and to drink a large portion of camel's milk every morning. It is no
matter whether the girl has an appetite or not, the kous-kous and
milk _must_ be swallowed, and obedience is frequently enforced by
DORA. "How very disagreeable! I scarcely know which is the worst
stage of the affair, the cause or the effect."
EMMA. "I should say the _cause_; for the fat comes by degrees, and
cannot inconvenience them so much as swallowing quantities of food
and drink when they require it not."
MR. WILTON. "They have other quaint notions. Among the points of
etiquette which prevail at the court of Morocco, the following is
mentioned:--The word _death_ is never uttered in presence of the
Sultan. When it is unavoidable to mention the death of any person,
it is expressed by such words as, 'He has fulfilled his destiny;' on
which the monarch gravely remarks, 'God be merciful to him!' Another
point of whimsical superstition is, that the numbers _five_ and
_fifteen_ must not be mentioned in presence of the sovereign."
GEORGE. "I should be continually saying forbidden words if I were
there; so we will go on, if you please, pilot."
EMMA. "I have the bays. They are Boujanyah, and Storah, on the coast
of Algiers. This state is inferior to Morocco, both in extent and
fertility; but the city has a grand harbor, is itself very populous,
and contains some splendid ruins."
DORA. "I have the gulfs. They are Tunis, Hammamet, and Khabs, on
the coast of Tunis, which was once the seat of Carthaginian power,
but like the other states, is now reduced to a tithe of its former
greatness, although it is still one of the finest cities in Africa.
It has a good harbor and fortifications. The manufactures are silks,
velvets, cloth, and red bonnets, which are worn by the people."
MR. WILTON. "There is yet another Barbary state to pass: who has a
word for Tripoli?"
CHARLES. "I have, madam. Tripoli is the most easterly, and the most
wretched of the Barbary states. It extends straggling along a great
extent of coast, where may be seen the enormous Gulf of Sidra or
Sert, called by the natives 'Djou al Kabit,' or Gulf of Sulphur, and
the Gulf of Bombah. Tripoli received its name from once containing
three cities of considerable importance, which are now little else
MRS. WILTON. "The 'Research' has not tarried long on that coast, at
any rate. We must now suppose ourselves _authors_ instead of
_travellers_; and without thinking of impossibilities, straightway
carry our ship overland, across the Isthmus of Suez, and launch
quietly on the waters of the Red Sea."
MR. BARRAUD. "It is scarcely fair to pass Egypt without a
recognition: the Egyptians would sympathize with us in our
partiality for the _ancient element_. They are special lovers of two
things--gardens and water. Even stagnant water, if sweet, they
consider a luxury; running water, however dirty, they hold to be
extremely luxurious; when during the inundation, the canal of Cairo
is full, all the houses on its banks are occupied by persons, who
sit in their leisure hours, smoking by its muddy waters; but the
height of their enjoyment consists in sitting by a fountain--this
they esteem equal to paradise."
MRS. WILTON. "In the Red Sea there are eleven gulfs of moderate
dimensions, and some small bays: we will not wait to examine them,
as they are not important; but how are we to sail out of this sea?
George, will you undertake to pilot us?"
GEORGE. "I know no other way out than through the Straits of
Babelmandeb, by Abyssinia, of which country I should like to have a
MRS. WILTON. "The country consists of a succession of hills and
valleys, the former for the most part well-wooded, and the latter
fertile; with the climate mild upon the whole for so tropical a
latitude. For the people and customs I must refer you to some other
more intelligent member."
MR. STANLEY. "The present Bishop of Jerusalem went to Abyssinia
some years ago; and he has sketched a few interesting particulars
concerning the people. 'As soon as a child is born, it is
immediately taught to drink lukewarm butter, with a little honey.
After the age of six or seven years, the children are considered
servants. The boys are shepherds, till the age of fourteen or
fifteen, and reside with their parents; but if their parents are
poor, they leave them, by their own choice at the age of eight or
nine years, in order to get their livelihood by keeping cattle
elsewhere. The girls are occupied in managing the little affairs of
the house; and begin to fetch water, which is always at a distance,
as soon as they can walk steadily. At the age of eight or nine years
they begin to fetch wood from the mountains. There are some fathers
who send their children into convents to have them instructed; but
there are many who will not do this, lest their children should
become monks: on this account many boys desert their parents, in
order to seek instruction for themselves. Some enter the house of a
priest as servants during the day, and they receive instruction at
night. Others go, after the lessons are over, to get food by
begging. There are also many persons in easy circumstances who
support those children who seek for instruction without the help of
their parents. Nearly all the great men send their children into
convents to learn reading, and to repeat the psalms from memory;
this is all the instruction they receive. The daughters of the
higher class learn nothing but spinning and managing the affairs of
the house; there are, however, a _few_ ladies who can read.'"
[Footnote 18: Right Rev. Samuel Gobat.]
MR. BARRAUD. "They seem early accustomed to habits of industry; but
in other respects, the training of the children is not very rigid:
almost the only crime they punish them for, is stealing. Mr.
Stanley's author, Bishop Gobat, says, he saw a mother, usually of a
very meek temper, and who would not see a man cause suffering to the
smallest reptile, burn the skin off both the hands and lips of her
daughter, only nine years of age, for having dipped her finger into
a jar of honey!"
EMMA. "Oh! how extremely cruel! they surely are not Christians."
GRANDY. "They are--and differ very little from the Roman Catholics
of more civilized countries. Some of the points of variation in
their doctrine are as follow:--They believe in no separate
purgatory; but that almost all men go to hell at their death, and
that from time to time, the Archangel Michael descends into that
place of torment, in order to deliver men's souls, and to introduce
them to paradise, sometimes for the sake of the prayers and
meritorious works of their relatives and their priests. They have a
great number of tales in support of this doctrine; the one they most
frequently make use of, is the story of a man who had done nothing
but evil when on earth, except that he had always observed the
_fast_ on Wednesday and Friday. When he died, he descended into
hell, to a dark place; but had always two lights surrounding him, by
the assistance of which he could go to the gate which separated hell
from paradise. The Archangel Michael then went to receive him;
saying, that the two lamps which had saved him, were the _fasts_
which he had observed on Wednesdays and Fridays."
MR. STANLEY. "That is one of the fallacies of the Romish Church. But
I am not surprised that popery acquires such power over the
ignorant; for it assails the mind through every sense; through the
sight by its pageantry, the hearing by its splendid music, the
smell by the delicious odor of the incense, and thus gratifies and
soothes its votaries by the application of forms destitute of power.
But enough of this; if we venture on such a subject, we are
continually reminded, that to speak evil of other sects is
malicious, and that we cannot disapprove of a man's doctrine without
having an uncharitable feeling towards the individual. _I_ most
strenuously deny the truth of that assertion; for I reckon many
amongst my dearest connections, whose friendship I value extremely,
but whose religious tenets I utterly repudiate. But I fear this is
incomprehensible to the youngsters; we will return to business.
"The coast of Africa, from the Red Sea to the River Juba, which is
as far as the equator, is inhabited by a tribe called Somauli, who
are reckoned to be descendants from the aborigines of the country,
and were early subjected to the laws of the Koran, by the Arab
merchants trading with them. They are a mild people, of pastoral
habits, and confined entirely to the coast; the whole of the
interior of this portion being occupied by an untamable tribe of
savages, called Galla, perhaps the most uncultivated and ferocious
people in existence."
EMMA. "We shall cross the equator before we enter another bay; then,
in the parallel of 3 deg. south, lies the Bay of Formosa, on the coast
of Zanguebar; and 4 deg. nearer south, is the little island of Zanzibar.
I am a stranger here."
MRS. WILTON. "Zanzibar is a most valuable possession of the Imaun
of Muscat, on account of its abundant produce of grain and sugar.
The climate is particularly fatal to Europeans, so that the crews of
vessels trading there are never allowed to sleep on shore. But there
is perhaps no place, where refreshments are so cheap as in this
island: fowls may be had for two shillings the dozen, sugar
twopence, and rice one penny a pound; and a large bullock is sold
for one sovereign."
CHARLES. "No great advantage to get food cheap in a country so
unhealthy that you lack the appetite to eat it."
MR. BARRAUD. "No; we will not go there to victual _our_ ship. Here
are the Seychelle Isles almost in the latitude of Formosa Bay;
suppose we ''bout ship' and look in upon them. There appear to be
fifteen, and navigators say they are composed of granite rocks.
Their chief inhabitants are French Roman Catholics, who have very
little of either religion or morality, but spend the greater portion
of their time in dancing and gambling. All the blacks resident on
these isles are unhappy slaves, although their owners live in
GEORGE. "They are such small islands, and some of them so close
that, if I lived there, I would build bridges to go from one island
MR. BARRAUD. "The inhabitants do that without a bridge. They have
numerous canoes, built and fitted with much skill and neatness. In
these they pay their visits, and at the close of a party a stranger
would be surprised at hearing the announcement--'Madame le Jeune's
_canoe_ is waiting!' instead of Madame le Jeune's _carriage_ stops
the way.' But that is the fashion in the Seychelle Isles. Torches
are at hand; the ladies and gentlemen are lighted to the water,
where some stout negroes almost in a state of nudity, await to
transport them to their own island."
DORA. "That may be very delightful when you are accustomed to it,
but I should prefer a carriage.
"There are no more indentations until we enter Mozambique Channel,
where we shall find Pemba Bay and Sofala Bay."
MRS. WILTON. "Pemba Bay is on the coast of Mozambique, which belongs
to the Portuguese. The harbor of Mozambique is formed by a deep
inlet of the sea. At the entrance are three small islets, which,
together with reefs and shoals, render the anchorage perfectly safe
in the worst weather. The city stands on an island of the same name,
formed of coral, very low and narrow, and scarcely one mile and a
half in length. The streets in the city are narrow, although the
houses are mostly lofty and well constructed; but the place in
itself is fast sinking into insignificance, and its finest buildings
falling rapidly into decay. Mozambique, like many other cities of
the world, is now reduced from its ancient wealth and vice-regal
splendor, to the almost forgotten seat of desolation and poverty."
MR. WILTON. "Between this island and Sofala Bay is the slave town
Quillimane. It is in a commodious situation and one of the finest
countries in the world; but is continually in a state of turmoil,
from the different tribes striving by mutual conflict to obtain
prisoners for sale to the Portuguese, who wickedly excite the wars
and fatten and grow wealthy on the blood and wretchedness they
GRANDY. "The port of Sofala, its castle, its town; in short
everything relating to it, is most interesting; for in olden time
this was the Ophir of King Solomon, whence his fleets returned laden
with gold, algum-trees, and precious stones."
GEORGE. "Then the Ophir of Sumatra is not the real Ophir, but only
named after the place in Africa, because it was rich in gold?"
MR. WILTON. "Exactly so, George. I did not then explain it, as I
wish you to feel sufficient interest in the subject to inquire into
the truth yourself."
DORA. "Delagoa Bay. This coast is a continued tract of land and
sand-hills from fifty to five or six hundred feet high, with a few
straggling black rocks."
MR. WILTON. "The inhabitants of this coast are a harmless race, but
have their own little peculiarities; and one of the greatest
luxuries in life in the opinion of a Delagoan is smoking the
'hubble-bubble.' A long hollow reed, or cane, ending in two branches
the lower one immersed in a horn of water, and the upper one capped
by a piece of earthenware, forming a bowl, is held in the hand; they
cover its top, with the exception of a small aperture, through
which by a peculiar action of the mouth, they draw the smoke through
the water below; they fill the mouth, and after having kept it there
some time, they eject it with violence from the ears and nostrils.
It makes them giddy, half stifles them, and produces a violent
coughing, accompanied by profuse perspiration, and yet these people
consider it highly strengthening and beneficial."
CHARLES. "Is not Caffraria near here?"
MR. STANLEY. "Yes: but you must go a few miles inland to see them;
for the Caffres have an extraordinary dislike to water, and will
never trust themselves on it, but from extreme necessity."
MR. BARRAUD. "The Caffres (Kaffirs) are worth looking at, for they
are a fine, handsome race of men, nearly black, with very good and
pleasing features. Their dress, male and female, is composed
principally of softened hides; but the women are so fond of
ornaments as often to wear fifty necklaces at one time. Their huts
are constructed in the form of a beehive, and are perfectly
water-tight and warm. In times of peace the men tend the cattle, the
women cultivate the land. The elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo,
hippopotamus, lion, and various others are hunted in Caffraria with
great spirit by the natives. Of a Divine Being whom they call
'Uhlanger,' or 'Supreme,' they have some idea; but as to a state of
future rewards or punishments they are altogether in ignorance.
Sorcery and witchcraft in various forms most extensively prevail,
and are the causes of much cruelty."
GRANDY. "To hundreds of the Caffres, however, the preaching of the
everlasting Gospel has been productive of much temporal and eternal
benefit; and an interesting illustration of this occurs in some of
the missionary records, which also exemplifies the character of the
#Story of the little Caffre.#
"A little girl about eight years of age, was reclining on the
ground, in the cool of the day, when four wolves rushed upon the
place. One of them seized the child by the head, a second by the
shoulder, and the other two by her legs. The people of the kraal
with all possible speed flew to her help, and succeeded in releasing
her, but apparently too late. They tried for a few days to help her
with their medicines; but finding all hope fail, and as from the
heat and flies she had now become loathsome, they gave her her
choice, either to be put to death by the youths of the place, or go
to the woods to die or be farther devoured as might happen. The
little girl chose the woods. In this forlorn condition she
determined to cast herself on the mercy of the missionaries; and
although she had never been at the station, she believed from what
she had heard, that could she reach the place, she should receive
that protection and help which her unnatural relatives refused to
give. With this resolution she set out; and although she had to
travel several miles through deep glens, she succeeded in reaching
the station, an awful picture of deformity and suffering, all but
in a state of nudity, covered with large wounds to the number of
fourteen, among the most ghastly of which was that of the head and
face, where the wolf having endeavored to grasp the whole head, had
torn the mouth open to the ear, stripping the head of the upper part
of its covering and making a ghastly wound of eight inches. Through
the mercy of God she recovered, and was scarcely at all deformed;
but she refused ever to return to the cruel people who forced her
into the woods to die. She became a Christian, and the Rev. Mr.
Shaw, who relates the incident, says, that one day, as he was
walking a little distance from his house, he heard some one engaged
in fervent prayer; he listened, it was the voice of a child; and
going towards the place, he beheld in a secluded spot among the
weeds, the young Caffre girl who had been rescued from the jaws of
death, earnestly pouring out her soul to the God of her mercies,
when she thought no eye saw, and no ear heard her, but God."
MRS. WILTON. "How encouraging for the missionaries to find that the
seed had been sown on good ground, and was brought to bear the fruit
of righteousness through the blessing of the Almighty God!"
DORA. "Algoa Bay is on the coast of that portion of Cape Colony,
known by the name of Albany. It was discovered by Bartholomew Dias.
His sailors becoming discontented with their long voyage, hesitated
to proceed any further, and he, to satisfy their scruples, landed
with the chief officers and several seamen, on an island in this
bay, hoping by the touching solemnities of religion to soften a
decision so discouraging to his adventurous hopes. He caused the
sacrament to be administered at the foot of a cross which he then
planted with his own hands, and which has given the name of Santa
Cruz to the island. There, upon this rugged spot, at present only
visited by a few fishermen, and where European foot had never before
trodden, were the symbols of Christianity first displayed in the
MRS. WILTON. "Graham's Town is the emporium of these eastern
frontier districts of Cape Colony, and its main streets present a
scene of incessant commercial activity; while almost every article
whether of utility or of ornament, may be as readily obtained as in
most of the provincial towns of the mother country. There are
several good inns, where visitors may command and receive every
reasonable comfort and attention. Religious services are well
attended, and numerous schools established, in which the children
are making encouraging progress. The flowers and fruits of most
parts of Europe flourish here, and the climate is unexceptionable.
There are a great many missionaries in Graham's Town; and on the
whole it may be safely averred, that the general intelligence of the
inhabitants is not a whit inferior to that of the middle and lower
classes of any country in the United Kingdom."
EMMA. "Camtoos or St. Francis Bay, is a few miles further along the
coast, and Plestenburg, Mossel, Vaccas, and St. Sebastian's Bay,
are among those in the south of Cape Colony.
"Cow Bay, or Bahia das Vaccas, is in latitude 34 deg. south, longitude
22 deg. east, and is so called on account of the vast number of sea-cows
which used to frequent it in former times. The chief value of these
animals is in their ivory tusks, which, being harder than those of
the elephant, and not so liable to turn yellow, are much more
esteemed by dentists. Their hides are also valuable for harness
leathers; and the skins of the young ones make handsome coverings
"St. Sebastian's Bay is at the mouth of Breede River, and is said to
possess good holding ground. It is seldom visited, except by vessels
intending to enter the river; and, as that is not our intention, we
will pass it, and go on until we come to False Bay, near the Cape of
MR. WILTON. "False Bay is rather a _sound_ than a _bay_. It contains
within its capacious bosom several fine and safe inlets, among which
Simon's Bay is the most important, for there is the naval arsenal
and _depot_: but the proximity of the metropolis, and its more
convenient bay, distant only twenty-one miles, diverts the whole of
the trade from this excellent and perfectly land-locked harbor."
MRS. WILTON. "The Cape of Good Hope is a crown colony. Its affairs
are administered by a governor and a lieutenant-governor. The first
has his residence at Cape Town; the second, at Graham's Town. With
much truth we may describe the inhabitants of Cape Colony at large,
as a serious and religious people. In the towns and villages the
strictest attention is paid to a close and regular attendance on
public worship; and in the country districts, where churches are
'few and far between,' and the opportunities difficult, the private
altar is every morning and evening duly served by the head of each
family. The Lord's Supper is administered four times a year at every
town and village, when the greater part of the population make a
point of resorting thither with all the members of their families,
though the distance to be traversed for the purpose often exceeds
MR. BARRAUD. "Cape Town is situated on the shores of Table Bay,
which is the chief harbor of the Cape of Good Hope, and is
exceedingly commodious; and close by rises a mountain of the same
name, to the height of 3582 feet, by a declivity so gradual, that it
has been ascended on horseback. I do not wish to detract from the
general goodness of the inhabitants of Cape Town, but I must say
they are an eager money-getting race. On the arrival of a ship from
England an auction is generally held, and the various articles
exhibited, damaged and sound, under the shade of some tree in the
centre of the town; where an Englishman would be amused to see one
of the first merchants shuffling round with a handful of tea, and
telling the audience that it is just upon the rise, and recommending
that he be allowed to send home a pound or two."
MR. STANLEY. "When I was there a few months since, I was much
struck with the appearance of the streets. They are broad and
handsome; but a wide _ditch_, which the townsfolk dignify with the
name of a canal, runs through the centre. There is generally but
little water in this ditch, but millions of restless mosquitoes,
which populate the whole town, and (I speak from experience) are a
perfect torture. The houses being mostly plastered, have a
stone-like and cleanly appearance, with their green Venetian blinds,
and plantations of acacias and other Eastern trees, waving
gracefully in front of them. The climate is salubrious, and
provisions of all kinds abundant and cheap. I was within a very few
miles of Constantia, so famous for its wines. Unfortunately I had no
time to visit it, but a description given by a gentleman, who
was there much about the same time, will, perhaps, answer our
purpose better than my account. He says:--'The approach to
Constantia is as romantic and beautiful as it is possible to
conceive, from the mixture of the English shrubs and flowers with
those of Southern Africa. Here we passed by a long hedge of monthly
roses, all in full flower. Over our heads waved the fine foliage of
the banana and plantain. There was a long vineyard loaded with
grapes, and the African negroes employed therein. Now we pass an
avenue of English oaks; and this brings us to a fine large octagonal
building in the Dutch style, which is the residence of the
proprietor of Lower Constantia.' Mr. Leigh next describes the
interior of the wine vaults as 'a long building, 100 yards or more;
on either side enormous butts, with polished oak ribs, kept in the
cleanest style.' As I cannot offer you a glass of wine from these
celebrated butts, I will not detain the party any longer."
[Footnote 19: Mr. Leigh, surgeon of the Australian Company's ship
CHARLES. "The finest bay in the world falls to my share. It is
Saldana Bay, which is capable of containing at safe anchorage the
whole British fleet, during all seasons of the year."
MR. WILTON. "But dame Nature, always capricious in her favors, has
denied fertility to the adjacent soil; and the supply of water is
limited, in consequence of which it is seldom resorted to, except by
foreign whalers fishing on the coast. Almost the same may be said of
St. Helena Bay, and for the same reasons. How many more bays in Cape
EMMA. "Only one, papa, and that is Donkin's Bay. We must then sail
along the Hottentot coast until we arrive at Walwisch Bay."
GEORGE. "Papa, are not the Boschmen dwelling somewhere near here?"
MR. WILTON. "Why, they are a wandering people, and can scarcely be
said to hold any definite territory of their own; but they are to be
found north of Cape Colony, and are thus designated from the place
of their residence, which is in the bushes or woods. They are a
dirty, wild, savage people, and make a boast of the most inhuman
actions, to get glory from their companions. They neither cultivate
the ground, nor tend cattle, but are dependent on the chase for
MR. STANLEY. "Many superstitions and traditions are entertained by
these rude people; among them there is one related by Sir J.E.
Alexander as follows:--
"It is believed in the land that some of the Bosch people can change
themselves into wolves and lions when they like. Once on a time, a
certain Namaqua was travelling in company with a Bosch woman
carrying a child on her back. They had proceeded some distance on
the journey, when a troop of wild horses appeared; and the man said
to the woman, 'I am hungry, and I know you can turn yourself into a
lion: do so now, and catch us a wild horse, that we may eat.'
"The woman answered, 'You'll be afraid.'
"'No, no,' said the man; 'I am afraid of dying of hunger, but I am
not afraid of you.'
"Whilst he was yet speaking, hair began to appear at the back of the
woman's neck, her nails began to assume the appearance of claws, and
her features altered. She set down the child.
"The man, alarmed at the change, climbed a tree close by. The woman
glared at him fearfully, and, going to one side, she threw off her
skin petticoat, when a perfect lion rushed out into the plain. It
bounded and crept among the bushes, towards the wild horses; and
springing on one of them, it fell, and the lion lapped its blood.
The lion then came back to where the child was crying, and the man
called from the tree, 'Enough, enough! do not hurt me! Put off your
lion's shape. I will never ask to see you thus again.'
"The lion looked at him and growled. 'I will remain here till I
die,' said the man, 'if you do not become a woman again.'
"The mane and tail then began to disappear; the lion went towards
the bush where the skin petticoat lay; it was slipped on, and the
woman, again in her proper shape, took up the child. The man
descended, partook of the horse's flesh, but never again asked the
woman to catch game for him."
GEORGE. "This is very droll: but I think they must be very ignorant
people to believe such absurdities."
EMMA. "I have Walwisch Bay. There is a broad sandy beach around it,
and sand-hills heaped up in various forms inland, and the general
aspect of things here is very wild and Arabian-like. The climate is
healthy and good. It is hot in the beginning of the year; but from
May until August it is cool and pleasant."
MRS. WILTON. "About three miles from Walwisch Bay, or Bay of Whales,
is a Hottentot village, containing nearly 300 inhabitants, who are a
friendly, harmless people, but very indolent and filthy. Both sexes
dress alike, in the skins of animals sewed together with the sinews
of the same animals, in the form of a blanket, which they throw over
their shoulders, with the hair-side next to their bodies. The women
are only distinguished by the profusion of their ornaments. These
consist of shells, bones, and minerals of different kinds, and are
worn about the neck and wrists. They are all expert hunters and
fishers. They devour their fish raw, and the small ones without even
divesting them of their entrails; what they cannot eat they pickle
with salt procured at the head of the bay."
GEORGE. "What nasty disgusting people, to eat raw fish!"
MR. WILTON. "In appeasing the cravings of hunger they are, in fact,
horribly disgusting, being actually more fond of the entrails of
cattle and sheep than of any other part; and when an animal is
killed, these people positively devour its entrails raw, even before
they are cold, while they will refuse to partake of the carcass,
cooked or otherwise."
DORA. "Now we pass on to Great and Little Fish Bays, which are on
the coast of that wretched slave country, Benguela."
GRANDY. "Ah! poor Africa is cursed with evils, unknown to the rest
of the human race in any section of the globe--reptiles of the most
deadly venom, beasts of unparalleled ferocity, deserts of sand, and
moral deserts a thousand times more appalling. But her greatest
curse of all is the white man's cupidity, tearing asunder the
tenderest ties of human nature, and plunging villages and families
into mourning and despair. The hyena, the tiger, the crocodile, are
creatures existing by the will of God; the man-stealer is a
sin-created monster! The depredations of the former are the effects
of hunger; those of the latter avarice--the meanest passion that can
enter the human breast."
MR. WILTON. "It is now sixty years since Great Britain commenced
offensive warfare against the African slave-trade; but grieved am I
to say that little good has resulted from it; for the slave-trade is
still carried on as extensively as ever. Our ships, which are
continually on the look-out to recapture the slave-vessels, scarcely
ever take more than fifteen in the course of twelve months; and the
cost of maintaining this force to our country is 600,000_l_.
annually. This money, in my humble opinion, might be more
advantageously laid out--mean in reference to this degraded and
demoralized quarter of the world, Africa. It might be expended in
planting industry, knowledge, and security; in fact, in civilizing
the wretched people; and surely that would more effectually check
the slave-trade than the occasional capture of one or two cargoes.
For the African slave-trade is not the _cause_, but the _effect_, of
African ignorance, as any wretched creature there will seize and
sell his more wretched neighbor for the paltry sum of a dollar."
MRS. WILTON. "This civilization will take years to effect; for
deep-rooted evils cannot be destroyed in a day, among an ignorant
and prejudiced people."
EMMA. "We are at Fish Bay. Dora, will _you_ continue."
DORA. "Yes: Fish Bay is one of the finest places in the world for
fishing with a 'seine,' by which thousands of barrels of excellent
fish are caught in the course of the year."
GEORGE. "What sort of a town is Benguela?"
DORA. "Small: it consists of not more than 200 houses, mostly one
story high. Everything good to eat can be procured here; but there
is no good water, except in the rainy season."
MR. STANLEY. "Then we had better make all sail, and get away, for it
would be sad work to be becalmed with--
'Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.'
While we are in these latitudes, we may as well visit the two
islands, which look so tempting after a long voyage on the great
Atlantic. Come boys: St. Helena for Charles--Ascension for George."
CHARLES. "St. Helena was discovered by those pioneers of navigation,
the Portuguese, on Saint Helen's day, the 21st of May, 1501. It is
1200 miles from the continent, in latitude 5 deg. south, longitude 15 deg.
west. It is a beautiful island, inhabited by about 300 English
families, whose ancestors took possession of it in 1600. The
Portuguese stocked it well with cattle and fruit, and the English
now benefit by their forethought. 'St. Helena,' says a clever
writer, 'is the dark monument of the most conspicuous man that
has arisen within the period of certain history.' Of course that
means Napoleon Bonaparte. I have done."
[Footnote 20: Captain Morrell]
GEORGE. "Ascension Isle lies between Africa and Brazil: it was
discovered in 1508. It is about 39 miles in circumference, and of
nearly a circular form. It has water only in one spot, called the
Green Mountain, from the rich verdure with which it is covered. The
natural productions are not numerous. Guinea-fowl have been
introduced, and are now quite wild. Ten head of cattle were likewise
imported, which have also taken to the woods, and are hunted by the
garrison as required. This island was at one period overrun with
enormous rats, to destroy which somebody with good intent imported a
cargo of cats, which are now become as great a plague as their
predecessors, keeping the sportsmen constantly on the alert to
MR. STANLEY. "Well done, George! I am glad to hear you not only
remember the information, but try to retain the phraseology of the
geographers. That is the right method to improve your memory; do not
halt at the trouble it cost you, for you will be abundantly repaid
in the end."
DORA. "We have only one more bay on this side of the equator to
notice. Among the numerous bays on the western coast of Africa,
first in rank stands Kabenda Bay, near Congo. It is a very fine
harbor, and is so agreeable a situation that it is denominated the
'Paradise of the Coast.' The sea is always smooth, and debarkation
easy. The town of Kabenda stands amidst delightful scenery, composed
of lofty cliffs, verdant hills, and deep luxuriant vales; it is
resorted to principally by slavers, who trade thither for slaves,
ivory, and wood. The poor inhabitants, strange to say,
notwithstanding their oppression, have a great respect for white
men, and believe that they know everything, or, in their dialect,
'_sabe ebery ting_.'"
MR. BARRAUD. "There is a fact worthy the attention of travellers
connected with the kingdom of Loango, which you will perceive lies
immediately north of Congo. It contains amongst its inhabitants
numbers of black Jews scattered throughout the country. They are
despised by the negroes, who do not even deign to eat with them.
They are occupied in trade, and keep the sabbath so strictly that
they do not even converse on that day; they have a separate
burying-ground, very far from any habitation. The tombs are
constructed with masonry, and ornamented with Hebrew inscriptions,
the singularity of which excites the laughter of the negroes, who
discern in these hieroglyphics only serpents, lizards, and other
MRS. WILTON. "Crossing the line is no longer a novelty to such
experienced voyagers as we are, and I think Dora may carry us on to
our next station without further remark."
DORA. "The Gulf of Guinea."
MR. WILTON. "Plenty of sea-room _there_, Dora; but I hope we are to
keep along the coast, for with the exception of Fernando Po and St.
Thomas's, I know of no place where I should feel disposed to go
MRS. WILTON. "We are on a coasting expedition, although, for the
_furtherance of science_, we occasionally sail out of the direct
track; and as, in this instance, the mention of your inclination to
visit these two islands implies some knowledge of their situation,
we expect you will furnish the meeting with the requisite
MR. WILTON. "Your mamma is very sharp upon me, George. Take warning
by my case, and do not interfere with the pilot."
GEORGE. "Ha, capital! Now, papa, Ferdinand Po!"
MR. WILTON. "Our sojourn there will be very brief; not because the
island is deficient in fertility, but simply because the society of
the natives would be intolerable to civilized noses. They are the
filthiest people in the whole world. Words cannot convey an idea of
their disgusting nature. They have long hair matted together with
red clay and palm oil. This composition has a most outrageous smell,
and with it they smear their faces and bodies. They are, generally
speaking, a stout, athletic, well made race of people, and
particularly harmless in their dispositions, though from their
appearance you would not imagine that to be the case, as each
individual is always armed with a spear about eight feet in length,
made of hard wood, and barbed at each end; which, added to their
fierce color and smell, would daunt the courage of a more
"St. Thomas's should have been first, as it is nearer the equator.
It is one of the four Guinea Islands; Prince's Island and Anaboa
will make up the number. I know very little of it, except that it
helps to furnish the Portuguese shipping with provisions and fresh
water. Now I have satisfied the demands of the meeting, and will
promise not to interfere again."
CHARLES. "I shall be rejoiced at your interference, sir, if it
always have the effect of bringing out your stores; and, now I am
pilot for a short time, I beg to state that I shall not require any
apology, should you interrupt _me_ in the discharge of my duty, but
be thankful for the same.
"Fernando Po. It is in the Bight of Biafra, the coast of which bight
is thus described by Dr. Bayle:--'This coast is forbidding in its
aspect, dangerous to approach, repulsive when examined, and
disgusting when known.' There: that is not a very inviting account:
had we not better sail on? Who cries forward?"
"Forward all," exclaimed Mr. Stanley; and Charles was about to
proceed, when George interrupted him to inquire if the chimpanzee
were not a native of these parts.
MR. STANLEY. "Yes, my boy; it is found not very far from the
GEORGE. "Is it not the largest ape in Guinea?"
MR. STANLEY. "Right again. I will tell you all I know about the
gentleman. Its height is four feet, and there is no appearance of a
tail. Monsieur de Grandpie gives an account of one which he had the
opportunity of observing during a voyage. This animal had learned to
heat the oven, and was particularly careful that no coals should
escape to set fire to the vessel. It perfectly understood when the
oven was sufficiently heated, and never failed to apprise the baker
of the circumstance; while he in his turn so entirely confided in
it, that he hastened with his bread as soon as the animal went to
fetch him, and was never once led into an error. When they turned
the capstan, it endeavored to assist with all its power, like a
sailor. When the sails were loosened, it mounted the yards of its
own accord. It belaced the shrouds as well as any sailor; and
observing how the end of the rope was fastened to prevent its
hanging, it did the same to the rope of which it had possession. It
was as clever as many of the men, and much more nimble, and was
treated by the sailors as one of their own crew. This animal died on
the passage, owing to the brutal treatment of the second mate. It
bore his cruel usage with the greatest resignation, raising its
hands in a suppliant manner to implore a remission of the stripes he
inflicted. From that moment it refused to eat, and died of hunger
and suffering on the fifth day, almost as much regretted as one of
the crew would have been. The chimpanzee generally walks upright,
supported by the branch of a tree, after the manner of a
walking-stick. The negroes dread it, and with much reason; for it is
powerful, and uses its power with great harshness whenever they
meet. I believe you may see a chimpanzee in the Zoological Gardens
in the Regent's Park. We will go some day on speculation, George.
Now, Charles, 'forward!'"
CHARLES. "The Bight of Benin washes the coast of Dahomey and other
countries, known also by the name of the Slave Coast. Dahomey,
including the subjugated districts, extends at least 150 miles into
the interior. The principal town is Abomey, lying about three
degrees east longitude."
MRS. WILTON. "Whidah on this coast must be noticed, as it is so
connected with Dahomey. It was once an independent kingdom; but in
the year 1727 was conquered by Guadja Irudo, King of Dahomey. Its
capital contains about 20,000 inhabitants. In Whidah the religion is
pagan; but for some unaccountable reason they worship their divinity
under the form of a particular species of snake, called _daboa_,
which is not sufficiently large to be terrible to man, and is
otherwise tamable and inoffensive. These _daboas_ are taken care of
in the most pious manner, and well fed on rats, mice, or birds in
their _fetish_ houses or temples, where the people assemble to pay
their adoration, and where those also who are sick or lame apply for
GRANDY. "Their creed is an odd mixture. They believe in two beings,
equal in power; the one doing good, the other evil; and they pray to
the demon to allow them to remain unmolested by the magicians, who
are constantly endeavoring to injure them."
MR. STANLEY. "In Dahomey the tiger is an object of religious regard;
but the people wisely deem it the safest mode of worship to perform
their acts of devotion to his skin only, and it is stuffed for that
purpose. The government of this country is entirely despotic. The
sovereign may cut off as many heads as he likes, and dispose of his
subjects' property as he thinks fit, without being accountable to
any earthly tribunal. He has from three to four thousand wives, a
proportion of whom, trained to arms under female officers,
constitute his body-guard."
CHARLES. "What a royal regiment! all queens; why the sight of them
would strike terror into an English army. I should throw down my
MR. STANLEY. "But their enemies are not so gallant, and hesitate not
to fight this female army, who very often gain the advantage by
being so well disciplined."
MR. BARRAUD. "In Dahomey, at a particular period of the year, a
grand annual festival is held; and, amidst feastings and rejoicings,
deeds are done from which the civilized mind recoils with horror.
Numbers of human victims are sacrificed in solemn form.
"They are generally prisoners of war set aside for the purpose; but
as seventy is the required number, should there not be so many
prisoners, the king makes it up from his own subjects. Their bodies
are thrown to wild beasts, while their heads are used to decorate
the walls of the royal palace! Still more barbarous is the notion of
enjoying the gratification of trampling on the heads of their
enemies; and, in order to do this, the King of Dahomey has the
passage leading to his bedchamber paved with the skulls of his
EMMA. "O cruel murderous people! Sail on, Charles, and leave them
far behind. Is not the next coast Ashantee?"
CHARLES. "Yes; Ashantee is at present the most powerful state in all
Western Africa, and, in fact, rules over a considerable portion of
it. The natives are remarkable for oratory, and will discourse
fluently on a given subject for hours. A taste for music is also
extensively cultivated, and their taste is evidenced by the native
band at Cape Coast Castle, which plays admirably by ear several of
the most popular English tunes. The Ashantees, and the natives of
the countries contiguous to this coast, build their houses of mud
and sticks, which composition they call '_swish_.'"
MR. WILTON. "They are a more civilized set than the people of
Dahomey; and the Danes have furnished us with a portrait of one of
their kings, whose name was Opocco. Here is the account:--'The
monarch was seated on a throne of massive gold, under the shade of
an artificial tree with golden leaves. His body, extremely lean, and
inordinately tall, was smeared over with tallow mixed up with gold
dust. A European hat, bound with broad gold lace, covered his head;
his loins were encircled with a sash of golden cloth. From his neck
down to his feet cornelians, agates, lazulites, were crowded in the
form of bracelets and chains, and his feet rested on a golden basin.
The grandees of the realm lay prostrate on the ground, with their
heads covered with dust. A hundred complainers and accused persons
were in a similar posture; behind them twenty executioners, with
drawn sabres in their hands waited the royal signal, which generally
terminated each cause, by the decapitation of one or other of the
"The Danish envoy was introduced; and passing a number of bloody
heads, recently separated from the bodies, approached the throne.
The magnificent flaming prince addressed him with the following
most gracious questions:--'I would willingly detain thee for some
months in my dominions, to give thee an idea of my greatness. Hast
thou ever seen anything to be compared with it? 'No! lord and king,'
replied the obsequious envoy, 'thou hast no equal in the world!'
'Thou art right,' said Opocco, 'God in heaven does not much surpass
me!' The king drank some English beer from a bottle, and then handed
it to the Dane; the latter took a little, and excused himself by
saying that the liquor would intoxicate him. 'It is not the beer
that confounds thee,' said Opocco; 'it is the brightness of my
countenance which throws the universe into a state of inebriety!'
This same king conquered the brave prince Oorsoock, chief of the
Akims, who slew himself. He caused the head of the vanquished prince
to be brought to him, decked it with golden bracelets, and in
presence of his generals directed to him the following speech:
--'Behold him laid in the dust, this great monarch, who had
no equal in the universe, except God and me! He was certainly the
third. Oh! my brother Oorsoock, why wouldst thou not acknowledge
thyself my inferior? But thou hopedst to find an opportunity of
killing me; thou thoughtest that there ought not to be more than
_one_ great man in the world. Thy sentiment was not to be blamed; it
is one in which all mighty kings ought to participate.'"
GRANDY. "What fearful arrogance and presumption! It sufficiently
testifies their direful state of ignorance, which ignorance, I
trust to hear, will soon be effectually removed; for there are now
missionary establishments on this coast, which, since the year 1834,
have been progressing. At first, the ministers were much dispirited,
owing to the evil effects of the climate on the European
constitution, for after a year or two they were cut off by death;
and, in order to continue the mission, other pious men and their
wives were obliged to be sent out. Again, these died; but yet the
work prospered; and now, blessed be God! the few whose lives have
been spared, are enabled to report that many natives have turned
unto the Lord their God. Every Sabbath morning, public worship is
celebrated in the chapel at Cape Coast Town, when the beautiful
liturgy of our Church is read; and the decorum which is observed by
the natives, who read the responses, appears in striking opposition
to the wild irrational service which they formerly offered at the
temple of their fetish."
MRS. WILTON. "The unconverted believe in a Supreme Being; but they
have a curious tradition respecting the creation, which has
prevailed among them from the earliest period of their history. They
believe that, in the beginning of the world, God, having created
three white and three black men, with an equal number of women of
each color, resolved, in order that they might be left without cause
of complaint, to allow them to fix their own destiny, by giving them
the choice of good and evil. A large box or calabash was placed upon
the ground, together with a sealed paper or letter. The black men
had the first choice, and took the calabash, expecting that it
contained all that was desirable; but, upon opening it, they found
only a piece of gold, some iron, and several other metals of which
they did not know the use. The white men opened the paper, and it
told them everything. All this is supposed to have happened in
Africa, in which country it is believed God left the blacks, with
the choice which their avarice had prompted them to make, under the
care of inferior or subordinate deities; but conducted the whites to
the water-side, where he communicated with them every night, and
taught them to build a small vessel, which carried them to another
country, from whence, after a long period, they returned with
various kinds of merchandise to barter with the blacks, whose
perverse choice of gold in preference to the knowledge of letters
had doomed them to inferiority."
MR. STANLEY. "Affairs would have been better ordered for the blacks,
had they allowed the ladies to have a voice in the selection; but
they never had a good opinion of the fair sex, and they are no wiser
at the present day as many of their customs sufficiently testify.--A
peculiar provision is made in Ashantee with reference to the female
sex. One of the king's sisters is constituted the governess of the
empire, or queen over the females, and all are said to be placed
under her control and direction: but whatever may be the nature and
object of the training to which she subjects them, it is certain
that it is not intended to make the wife the rational companion and
confidential friend of her husband; for if an Ashantee wife is
detected in listening to a conversation of her husband, her
curiosity is sure to cost her an ear; and if she betray a secret
with which she has by any means become acquainted, her incensed
husband punishes her by cutting off her upper lip. The sight of
women who have suffered such inflictions, is common even in the
MR. BARRAUD. "These are the cruelties of a barbarous people, but
they are not horrified at deeds of blood; indeed, such is the union
of barbarism and magnificence in this African country, that on a
court day there is invariably in immediate attendance upon the king
the royal chief executioner, a man of gigantic size, bearing a
massive gold hatchet, and having exhibited before him the execution
stool, clotted with human blood and partly covered with a caul of
MRS. WILTON. "That is done, no doubt, from policy, to inure his
courtiers to scenes of horror, in hopes of rendering them callous to
human suffering and courageous in the field of battle. Ah, well! we
have heard enough of _them_: let us now visit some other country."
DORA. "Liberia is the next station and much more desirable; for the
climate is better than most other parts of the coast, the soil
fruitful, and the inland population quiet and inoffensive, and more
inclined to industry than their neighbors."
GRANDY. "There is a thriving missionary establishment at Liberia,
which I hope will before long exert its benign influence over the
Bowchee people, who are located some few miles distant. They are a
miserable race, entirely devoid of feeling; the gentle appeals of
nature are unknown to them; parental tenderness dwells not in their
bosoms, for they will sell their children as slaves to the greatest
strangers in the world, with no more remorse of conscience than if
they had been common articles of merchandise. I will tell you a
story of a Bowchee mother:--'A travelling slave-dealer passing
through the place had purchased several of their children of both
sexes, from the inhabitants, and amongst others an old woman had an
only daughter, whom she parted with for a necklace of beads. The
unhappy girl, who was about thirteen or fourteen years of age, on
being dragged away from the threshold of her parent's hut, clung
distractedly around the knees of her unfeeling mother, and looking
up wistfully in her face burst into a flood of tears, exclaiming
with passionate vehemence:--"O mother! do not sell me; what will
become of me? what will become of yourself in your old age if you
send me from you? who will fetch you corn and milk? who will pity
you when you die? Have I been unkind to you? O mother! do not sell
your only daughter. I will take you in my arms when you are feeble
and carry you under the shade of trees. I will repay the kindness
you showed me in my infant years. When you are weary, I will fan you
to sleep; and whilst you are sleeping, I will drive away flies from
you. I will attend on you when you are in pain; and when you die, I
will shed rivers of sorrow over your grave. O mother! dear mother!
do not push me away from you; do not sell your only daughter to be
the slave of a stranger!" Her tears were useless--her remonstrances
vain. The unnatural parent, shaking the beads in the face of her
only child, thrust her from her embraces; and the slave-dealer drove
the agonized girl from the place of her nativity.'"
EMMA. "Oh! how very shocking! Poor girl! how dreadful to have such
cruel, relentless parents. Oh dear! I hope the work of the
missionaries will be blessed, and that God will soften the hard
hearts of those savage and mercenary people."
CHARLES. "Between Liberia and Sierra Leone are Sherboro' Bay and
Yawry Bay. Sierra Leone, or 'Mountains of the Lioness,' is so
unhealthy that we should not live long if we went there."
MRS. WILTON. "You are right, Charles. It was established as a colony
in 1787, for the express purpose of laboring to civilize the
Africans. All the cargoes of the recaptured slavers are taken there,
and every comfort and convenience afforded to the unfortunate
negroes. But it is so extremely unhealthy that Europeans can
scarcely carry out their plans, and death mows them down in the
midst of their usefulness."
CHARLES. "Then I may conclude that all members are desirous of
proceeding. Between Sierra Leone and Cape Verd the bays are
immaterial; but from Cape Verd, sailing north, we pass four
tolerable-sized indentations--Tindal, Greyhound, Cintra, and Garnet
Bays. Then a brisk wind will speedily waft us to the point from
whence we started, viz. the Straits of Gibraltar."
MR. WILTON. "We have nearly come to a conclusion then, and without
any of the misfortunes incidental to travellers. We have gone over
the vast extent of waters which encompass our globe, and been for
some months engaged in examining the wonders of the ocean, without
meeting any of the monsters of the deep, such as krakens,
sea-serpents, &c.; nevertheless, I am not so skeptical as to
disbelieve all I have not the opportunity of viewing with my own
bodily eyes. I do think that the sea contains monsters such as Mrs.
'Things all misshapen, slimy, cold,
Writhing, and strong, and thin,'
which it would be dangerous to observe too near; and I shall feel we
have gained an advantage by these little meetings if they lead you
young folks to reflect on the probabilities of different travellers'
assertions, before you either receive or reject them."
MRS. WILTON. "We have sailed all round the coast of Africa, but
would there be any danger in going to the lakes of Africa?"
MR. WILTON. "None that I am aware of; and as there are only three of
any magnitude there, we shall not be long on the excursion. I will
visit two myself, and report discoveries.
"Lake Ludea is in Tunis, and is scarcely worth the expense of a
journey thither. Lake Maravi is in the south, near Mozambique, and
is rather larger, but not an agreeable situation. Mr. Stanley, will
you be good enough to conduct the ladies to the banks of Lake
MR. STANLEY. "I should be sorry to take the ladies to such a
country; but I will venture alone and, like you, collect the
necessary information, if that will suit the purpose?"
EMMA. "Oh! yes, sir, that will do quite as well."
MR. STANLEY. "Lake Tchad is the largest inland sea in Africa, its
circumference about 300 miles, its situation in the country of
Bornou. It contains sweet, fresh, and still water; is surrounded by
many lakes, both fresh and salt; and has several rivers running into
it, although it has no outlet, which is the cause of its
occasionally overflowing the surrounding country. Bornou is not a
pleasant place, it swarms with innumerable creeping horrors, and
savage animals; the latter often enter the villages, and carry off
the unfortunate slaves while at work. Simplicity, good-nature, and
ugliness are the peculiar characteristics of the people; and
although the men are not warriors, nor the women favored by nature,
they are certainly a kind, inoffensive race. Angornou is the largest
and most populous town of Bornou; it is situated a few miles from
Lake Tchad, and contains 30,000 inhabitants. Major Denham gives a
very good account of an interview with the Sultan of Bornou. He
writes:--'The Sultan received us in an open space in front of the
royal residence: we were kept at a considerable distance, while his
people approached to within about 100 yards, passing first on
horseback; and after dismounting and prostrating themselves before
him, they took their places on the ground in front, but with their
backs to the royal person, which is the custom of the country. The
Sultan was seated in a sort of cage, of cane or wood, near the door
of his garden, on a seat which, at the distance, appeared to be
covered with silk or satin, and through the railing looked upon the
assembly before him, who formed a semicircle in front of him.
Nothing could be more absurd and grotesque than the figures who
formed this court. Large stomachs and large heads are indispensable
for those who serve the court of Bornou, and those who unfortunately
possess not the former by nature, make up the deficiency with
wadding. A little to our left, or nearly in front of the Sultan, was
an extempore declaimer, shouting forth praises of his master, with
his pedigree; and near him one who bore the long wooden "frum-frum,"
on which he ever and anon blew a blast, loud and unmusical,' The
major says, the appearance of these courtiers was ridiculous in the
extreme, squatting down in their places, or tottering under the
weight and magnitude of their turbans and their stomachs, while
their thin legs, that appeared underneath, but ill accorded with the
bulk of the other parts. I see George laughing at the picture I have
drawn of these curious little men, but you would not dare to laugh
in the presence of the mighty Sultan of Bornou; he would immediately
exclaim, 'Off with his head!' if you so far outraged the rules of
Bornouan etiquette. I will now give you a description of a wedding
in this African country, and we will then bid the people a long
farewell. The bridegroom's friends, to the number of 200 or 300,
sally forth, dressed in their best clothes, to meet the bride.
Behold her! mounted on a bullock whose back is covered with blue and
white cloths. She is followed by four female slaves, laden with
straw baskets, wooden bowls, and earthen pots; after them appear two
other bullocks carrying the remainder of the _fair_ bride's dowry.
She is attended by her mother, and five or six young ladies, who act
as bridesmaids. According to their mode of salutation, we must
gallop up to them repeatedly. See! the ladies cover their faces, and
scream their thanks; and as it is extremely indelicate to gaze upon
the bride, we must cast our eyes on the ground, wheel our horses
round, and gallop back again. You will ask, 'Is that all; and where
is the bridegroom?' Ah! poor fellow! he has been parading the
streets all the day, with a crowd after him, dressed in all the
finery he could buy or borrow, while the people blew horns, beat
drums, and cried, 'May you live forever!' 'God prosper you!' 'Gray
hairs to you!' There is no further ceremony. The bride is handed
over to her husband in the evening by her mother, and henceforth
they are man and wife."
GEORGE. "Oh! what very odd things are done in strange lands! I am so
sorry our examinations are over, and I wish we could begin them all
again. What religion are the people of Bornou?"
MR. STANLEY. "They are Mohammedans; and very superstitious, trusting
greatly to their medicine men."
GRANDY. "I have really enjoyed these meetings as much as the young
folks, for I think there is no study more delightful, nor more
useful, than that which makes us acquainted with the world and its
inhabitants. As our business has been mostly on the waters, I
consider that we ought not to close the subject without calling to
mind the period when 'the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the
earth,' and 'all that was in the dry land died.' Beware, my dear
children, that you forget not the awful catastrophe from which the
family of faithful Noah alone escaped; nor that the cause of it was
the iniquity of men!"
GEORGE. "I never see a rainbow, but I think of the Deluge, because
you taught me the texts concerning God's covenant, dear Grandy, and
the promise that the earth should no more be destroyed by a flood:
but I have often wondered what could be the size of the ark to
contain so many living creatures."
MR. WILTON. "I believe I can inform you somewhat on that head. A
scriptural cubit measures twenty-one inches, and it has been
calculated according to the dimensions given in the 6th chapter of
Genesis, that the ark must have been of the enormous burden of
CHARLES. "Enormous! why our first-rate men-of-war are scarcely 3000
tons, and yet how large they look. How long was it in building?"
MRS. WILTON. "Many authors agree in stating it to have been one
hundred and twenty years in building."
MR. STANLEY. "There is now no alternative--our discussion _must_
come to an end. The last voyage has been highly interesting,
although, perhaps, not in the most delightful portion of the globe;
but I cannot help expressing a sincere wish, that your _real_ voyage
to the West Indies may afford you as much enjoyment and edification;
and its termination be as happy and well-ordered, as this
_imaginary_ voyage, which has not only proved us all tolerable
sailors and respectable navigators, but also testified that the good
ship 'Research' has truly merited her name, and earned many laurels
for herself and owners."
Mr. Stanley then presented George with a beautiful telescope, as a
reward for his perseverance in the acquirement of geographical
knowledge. He charged him to make a profitable use of it, for the
benefit of the captain on their voyage to Jamaica; and, added he, as
he placed the valuable gift in the hands of the delighted boy: "Keep
a sharp look-out, George; and mind that you are the first to shout a
sail! a sail! Then you will see how the faces of the weather-beaten
sailors will brighten as they run to _have a look at her_. Then will
the captain call for his speaking trumpet, and some such questions
as these will be put to the _stranger._ Where are you bound? Where
do you come from? Are you all hearty on board? The boatswain will
then hang out the black board, with the latitude and longitude
marked on it; the stranger will do the same. If they agree, all well
and good, they each sail on their separate courses, wishing for fair
winds and a prosperous voyage; such as I sincerely hope may fall to
the share of the members of our little Society."
We must now leave our young friends, as we cannot accompany them
across the Atlantic for want of a vessel. The "Research" having
behaved so well in their late expeditions, she is still to be
honored with their company; and being a merchant ship, she cannot
accommodate many passengers.
Should my readers be anxious to hear of the safe arrival of their
young friends in the "Land of Springs," I must beg to refer them to
Lloyd's for particulars of "Research," A. 1. 400 tons burden,
Commander Frederic Hamilton.
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