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of the cabocere's liquors, and interchanging palaver, some dozen or so natives suddenly made their appearance, and casting themselves in the dust, with deep prostrations, repeated salams, and clapping of hands, paid their lowly reverence, and as suddenly retired from the
We had now come to the end of our interview, and rising from our seats, we resumed our returning route, escorted by the stately governor, and attendant suite, even out into the street, where, with a
hearty grasping of hands, and the usual snapping of fingers, we parted 1 with Abbas, much pleased and gratified with our hurried visit, and the strange things we had witnessed.
The balance of my story is soon told. Proceeding to the French fort, we again met a kind reception, and rich in presents and good wishes, about two, P. M., once more entrusted ourselves to our luxurious hammocks and trusty bearers, for the returning passage of the dark lagoon. Naught occurred to mar our return trip, or detract from the pleasure, comfort and safety of the whole excursion. But as the tide was higher in the lagoon than when we came through the previous day, it would have been a severe trial to delicate nerves to find one's self suspended on the heads of naked savages, either feeling the inky water oozing in beneath, or lifted in no comfortable or graceful position on brawny shoulders, where a false step, a slip of hand or head, might spill you into an element where swimming might be a thing to think of, but not to practise, and a filthy strangulation within the compass of probable events. But thanks again to our faithful Wydahns — passed the perils of the watery journey, behold us on the beach once more, and soon transported, safe, but not innocent of a ducking from the heavy rollers, through, I might almost say, a mountain surf, into our expectant boat. And as we pulled slowly to the ship, our good friends and hosts on shore spoke for their kind feelings and wishes through the ready battery, which roared out their loud adieu. Waving hats and kerchiefs, with many a hearty cheer, we rendered back the compliment, and soon were welcomed back by friends and messmates, as men restored from some strange and perilous adventure. And now that all the excitement is over, and the visit paid and well enjoyed, let us trust that not a man of all our party shall have to pay with fever his frolic on the shore, but have additional cause hereafter to congratulate himself that he shall have it in his power to say, I was one of those who saw and heard the strange men and things at Wydah.
Before winding up my day's narration, I must not omit to say, as said Lander, at Badagry, that. It is the custom in this place, that when a man cannot pay his respects in person to another, he sends a servant with a sword or cane, in the same manner as a gentleman delivers his card in England. Instances of this description we observed in abundance, and the message.cane' is as sure a passport and
protection as the signet ring of the Middle Ages, or the Legalization or Visa of modern times. Again, though we saw none of them, we were told that the cabocere employs a number of women as bodyguard and soldiers; and it is asserted, that on one occasion, when the
Wydahns had secured a strong position, and driven off the invading army of Dahomey, these petticoat warriors redeemed the day, and restored victory to the Dahoman banner. In this the Wydahn governor imitates his lord and master at Abomey; for, as we are informed by travellers, that monarch keeps a large band of these bold Amazons, who not only know how to wield the arms that kill, but are celebrated as the best huntresses and most daring victors over elephants and other wild beasts that the country boasts of. And when, in addition to all this, we are told by those who have seen and know, that the present monarch is a superior man, for his kind, rich, powerful, hospitable and intelligent, and that his capital and country are full of strange and interesting things, it may be well conceived that our curiosity was excited, and our inability to see and hear for ourselves particularly annoying. Moreover, our respect for this monarch-despot and divinity though he be, was increased by the fact, stated as such, at least, that he himself disapproves of the human sacrifices that are annually made to the superstition of the people, and the tyranny of custom; and though his palaces and houses be decorated with huñan bones, and cruelty be stamped on, all his wars and forays, he still only submits to the overruling necessity which forces him to the perpetration of things at which it would appear, he protests and is opposed. A gentleman, resident at Wydah, who has made a trip lately to the capital, assured me of many of these facts, and stamps most of what has been written of this great African potentate, as sheer exaggera, tion. He was received kindly and politely, found the country in good cultivation, and the people quiet and contented; and is convinced that the monarch of Dahomey, must be indeed rich and powerful beyond what is generally understood and believed. The Governor Abbas, whom we visited,
is the representative of royalty, so far as the natives are concerned. The principal power and influence are vested in the old De Sonza, through whom white traders and strangers must communicate with Abomey. The Governor, in a word, is the official agent of his lord and master for domestic purposes, and the Portuguese is the man whom he most consults and defers to, and through whom, as it were, the foreign relations and commercial intercourse go on. But when the old man dies, it is a question whether his mantle will fall upon either of his children's shoulders, or whether some other aspiring and enterprising stranger shall fill the vacated place. But be it as it may, the road to riches, honors and emoluments in this benighted land, would seem to be the slave trade. To this lucrative business, industry and commerce are sacrificed, and it is a very doubtful matter whether king or people can be persuaded or compelled to abandon this shocking traffic, for more regular pursuits, however strong the appeal or flattering the prospects; and yet the profit on slaves does not appear to be great enough to justify the risk and penalty. For the blacks cost about eighty or ninety dollars ahead here, and bring only two hundred and Afty to four hundred and fifty in Brazil. So that when the chances of being caught are considered, it would not seem so good a business as at first blush one might feel inclined to infer. Still this portion of the world is the hot-bed, the fruitful thea.
tre of the slave trade, and I very much question whether cruisers, money, force or cunning, will ever eradicate the curse or cure the evil. So long as these dealers in human flesh can afford to lose two out of five shipments in running the gauntlet off the coast; so long as the returns shall be more inviting and enriching than the slower and peaceful occupations of agriculture and commerce, and the feuds among the natives be perpetuated, so long shall the market be well supplied, and the pains, risks and penalties be provoked and encountered. The demand will always regulate the supply, and so tempting are the inducements, so familiar and so popular the business among these people, that nothing less than a general consent of civilized nations to make it piracy and affixing immediate and inevitable death as a punishment for all parties caught in the act or privy to the trade, or else by subsidy or more tempting rewards, securing the coöperatian of the King of Dahomey, and other slave-dealing tribes and potentates, will ever produce the desired result, and rid the world of this violation of the laws of God and man. Confiscation, pecuniary loss, cutting off and setting adrift on the coast, public condemnation, destroying baracoons, armed cruising, and all the present appliances for punishment and prevention, will, in my humble opinion, do little or nothing toward effecting the much-to-be-desired consummation. Death, instantaneous and inevitable death, at the yard-arm and by hemp, not disgrace, ignominy or loss in character and pocket, will do the work. Colonization, did climate and circumstances permit, by civilized people, might go far toward effecting this end, but nature and destiny seem to make this sun-scorched, fever-stricken coast, forbidden soil to the white man, and none of the race can long expect or hope to survive the insidious, deadly effects of the climate, and the privations of the horrid exile. If our own blacks could line the coast, resist the hostility and incursions of the native tribes, and would prove faithful to the regenerating mission, much might possibly be done in the good work and in the right direction, but this is an event to dream of and desire, not to look for or realize.
Enough have I heard, seen and understood to make me very desponding about the suppression or diminution of the slave trade with the actual means applied by England, France and the United States for that purpose.
sound well in official reports, make some noise in the public tribunes and prints, but still will it stand forth a fact that the slave trade goes bravely and profitably on, and christian interference is derided and made abortive. Let those whom it concerns look that this be corrected and made otherwise.*
* NOTE BY THE AUTHOR. — While preparing the foregoing pages for the KNICKERBOCKER, I was 80 struck with the following as confirmatory of the views entertained and expressed by myself on the subject, that I deem it fit and appropriate to extract: 'The Liverpool Times of the seventh of July, contains a report of the select committee appointed by the House of Commons, being in continuation of the inquiry to consider the best means which Great Britain can adopt for the final extinction of the slave trade.. The result of the inquiry is, that a long and large experi. ence of attempts to suppress the slave trade by a naval force, leads to the conclusion that to put down that trade by such means is impracticable,' and the report recommends that 'Great Britain should be released from those treaty engagements in respect to this trade, which place the question of maintaining a blockading squadron beyond the free and exclusive control of the British authorities. The committee entertain the hope that a suppression may be effected by pacific means, the improvement and civilization of the natives.''
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 8. To-day the roadstead does not look as lively and animated as yesterday. For the King Fisher and Brittermast which looked in last night, have started on their several cruises, and we are making our arrangements for our southern trip. Diminutive bullocks and goats, vegetables and fruits, are coming in upon us as · dashes' from Governor Abbas and the Señors de Sonza, and the ship is quite a menagerie of beasts and birds, few ornamental but most of them decidedly useful and acceptable donations, noisy though they be, and decidedly in the way. Our departure was postponed yesterday, for the purpose of giving M. de Sonza and his friends an opportunity of seeing the ship, but in this we were doomed to disappointment, for owing to Señor Antonio's indisposition and the unfavorable state of the beach-surf, our boat despatched in the forenoon for such of the gentlemen as wished to pay us a visit, returned with only Mr. Roberts, the British factor, on board. He partook of a collation in the cabin, and after being shown around the ship, and entertained to the best of our abilities, returned to shore. Soon after his departure, about three P. M., we got under way, and soon after the return of our boat, were overtaken by a sudden squall, which although stiff and irregular enough to induce us to shorten sail, and render every thing snug, was not sufficiently strong to make us uncomfortable. But before midnight the sky cleared again, and we are making our course with our usual comfort and good luck.
We have every reason to hope that this change for the better will be lasting, and that our progress southward will be
easy. As a remark which may be of some interest, I ought to state, before leaving the subject of our visit to Wydah, that it is rather a remarkable thing, as showing the light which the trade is looked upon among these people, that not a few of the slave-dealers in the town, and those none of the poorest, were originally themselves its victims, and upon emerging from their servitude in Brazil, have returned to their native country, and are now engaged in the business. From the appearance of the soil, of a red clayish color, one might suppose that its capacity of production would be trifling, and so infer that it is no wonder why slave-dealing should be preferred to all other kinds of business; but the earth, unpromising as it seems, is exceedingly fertile, and of great depth. It produces abundantly coffee, the cotton-plant, bananas, oranges, calabashes, corn, etc, and requires but little cultivation, nature supplying the negligence and laziness of its owners. And land is deemed of such little value, that if a white man wants it to
When we reflect that in addition to our own force of eighty guns, the British keep up on the west coast a squadron of twenty-five sail, at an annual expense of at least three hundred thou. sand pounds sterling, and the French government does somewhere near the same thing, and yet thirty thousand Africans are yearly exported into slavery, we may well be allowed, while entertaining hope, to express great misgiving and apprehension as to the future state and effect of this horrid traffic.
build on or till, he has but to call upon the cabocere, and he has as much as he may need for the asking. But though vegetation is so prolific, and the soil so productive, domestic animals appear to be small and stunted in their growth. Cattle, horses, dogs, goats and sheep, are generally on a very small scale, while, on the other hand, alligators, snakes, birds of prey, elephants, rhinoceroses, tigers, panthers, etc., prove how generous and liberal is Nature when untrammelled by artificial interference. Some few miles in the interior, between Wydah and Abomey, many of these large species of animals are found in abundance, and they are eagerly hunted by the natives. Of birds we saw white cranes, filthy-looking vultures, curlews, wild ducks, flocks of brownish birds with long tails, and one in particular, attracted the notice of one of our party, of a green color, resembles our kingfisher, and is known as the hour-bird. It is said that it either calls out regularly every hour, or that a fixed time, say a couple of hours or so, elapses between its notes, in the uniform and measured return of which it never fails or makes the least mistake. The celebrated Wydah bird, in spite of its name, is not a native of this place, but comes from Badagry, further to the southward and not far from Lagos.
As a specimen of the small proportions of some of the Wydahn domestic animals, one of our officers had the curiosity to get the measures and weight of a cow, bull and two goats, a part of the • dashes' from the cabocere and the Señors de Sonza. The first was five feet in length; girth, four feet four inches; height, three feet three inches; the second, length, four feet four inches ; girth, three feet eleven inches ; height, two feet nine inches; average weight when dressed, one hundred and forty pounds. The goats measure, one, two feet four inches in length, and one foot nine inches long; the other, two feet three inches in length; height, one foot eleven inches.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 9. This morning we are favored with a fine, bright day and delightful breeze. We are calculating upon reaching Lagos either this evening or early on the morrow, and were even induced for a while to believe that we might stand in for Badagry on our way to the former place, and perchance procure something strange and interesting from that great African curiosityshop, so particularly visited and described by Lander. But the breeze could not be persuaded to favor us on this occasion, and so by one P. M. we had altered our course, and were soon steering direct for Prince's Island, thus bidding an unexpected adieu to the coast.
The only event of much personal importance that has occurred since our departure from Wydah, was my resignation of the catership. It being found that the arduous duties of that important office interfere with those I am expected to fulfil in the cabin, I have therefore shuffled off the honors and emoluments' of a post which I had occupied for so brief a period. But, thank Heaven, I am relieved, and have but to wish my successor, the master, a more efficient, economical and satisfactory administration than his too lenient prede