another down to slavery. The work before us, tells us in solemn and warning accents, what good might have been done, what calamities might have been prevented, had England adequately performed all that lay so easily within her power, towards a complete settlement of the indefeasible right of the poor African to liberty. A beginning, however, seems to have been made in the good work, of combining the information which has been, or may be, acquired by acute and intelligent observers, respecting the negro character. Our author has most properly omitted no opportunity that was presented to him of inquiring into the moral state of the liberated Africans ; of becoming acquainted with their habits and pursuits; of examining into the extent of their faculties, as these are variously displayed in their habitations, and in their daily employments.

Had those gentlemen of equal ability with Mr. Leonard, who preceded him in his visit to the African station, been only possessed of half the diligence, and half the desire for human improvement, which the above gentleman has displayed in this small volume, the situation of the African negro would at this moment, in our humble judgment, be in a very different state from what we unhappily find it to be. From what we have said in a general way, the reader will, no doubt, anxiously accompany us whilst we trace the interesting course in which Mr. Leonard is our guide.

In September, 1830, his Majesty's frigate Dryad sailed from St. Helen's, for the western coast of Africa, under the pendant of Commodore Hayes, who had been newly appointed to command the British naval force on the African station. The object of this force, it is scarcely necessary to repeat, was the suppression of the slave trade in that quarter ; the author now before us was happily attached to the expedition, in the highly respectable office of military surgeon. The voyage being of considerable length, it was natural that Mr. Leonard should have sought to gratify his curiosity on the way; and as he is evidently a man of intelligence and observation, we feel that it would be unfair to pass over his descriptions of the intermediate scenes through which he passed.

Teneriffe, he tells us, looks like an immense cinder, universally black and irregular, and is calculated to excite disappointment, if not terror, in the traveller who sees it, until he approaches the shore on which stands the port of Santa Cruz. This place is described by him as forming a most welcome contrast with the general character of the island, on account of its houses being prettily painted with white, orange, or pink, and roofed with red tiles. Sometimes a flat roof forms a sort of garden, from which arise little groves of orange and banana trees, giving to Santa Cruz a character of the highest beauty and interest.

On landing at the Mole, the first object which attracted our author was the singular head dress of the lower classes of females ; it consists, he says, of an oval-shaped piece of flannel, half as large as a common shawl, broadly edged with white satin riband, placed on the head, with one edge as far forward as the brow, the two extremities of the oval hanging down as low as the middle before, and the edge corresponding to that on the brow extending down as far as the waist behind. Over this is placed a gentleman's common black beaver, or a coarse straw hat of the same shape. The aristocratical portion of the sex wear the same superstructure, but of finer material.

Santa Cruz is the residence of General Morales, the present Governor of the Canary Islands. He occasionally makes a circuit of these islands, and seems to discharge the duty of general colonial governor with efficiency, and to the general satisfaction. Would it not be well, Mr. Leonard inquires, if in these times of difficulty, some such economical plan as this were resorted to by Great Britain, with the judicious view of saving to the public the salaries which she annually pays to a number of “ fuddling governors ?” The General himself, however, seems to be the only party to whom his office does not produce unmixed gratification, for his wretched salary of three thousand dollars a year, was, at the period of our author's visit to Santa Cruz, in arrear for fourteen months. This fact speaks woefully of the pecuniary embarrassment under which the governor's master, King Ferdinand, must labour.

The Dryad pursued her course, anchoring at Porto Praya, in the Cape Verd Islands ; at Porto Grande, in the Island of St. Vincent ; and amongst other islands at Boa Vista, where Mr. Leonard was amused with the very awkward appearance of the militia. The following description of the town-house sentinel, he says, is a fair specimen of the general condition of this ludicrous force :

He was a tall, stout black, carrying a rusty musket, having his head covered with an old straw hat; his body, with a grey jacket, out at elbows, the sleeves too short for his long arms; coarse shirt, of incalculably remote purification; and unmentionables of an unkown colour, and most perflated and cribiform construction ; shoes and stockings desunt. The various hue of the rest of the military of the island, both in dress and colour of the skin, not less grotesque.- p. 29.

Within fifty miles of the destination of the Dryad, she hailed two vessels, one of which appeared to be his Majesty's brig Plumper, and another, under French colours, from the Sherboro', with three hundred slaves on board. The captain of the Plumper examined this vessel, and had the clearest evidence that she was engaged in this infamous and forbidden trade. But let us only attend to the state of the law as manifested by the impunity with which this outrage was treated. It seems that, by the provisions of the existing treaties between France and Great Britain, the latter is entitled to exercise the right of search, and consequently we have not the power of detaining a French slave ship. Indeed, by virtue of the treaties ratified upon the subject of the slave trade, the French vessels are not to be detained by any nation but their own. The consequence is, that under the disguise of the French flag, an enormous trade is carried on in slaves. There is, to be sure, a French national squadron on the coast of Africa ; but from its negligence, or want of zeal, it offers scarcely any impediment to the continuance of the traffic. The vessel which had been in company with the Plumper, was a specimen of the sort of licentiousness with which the trade is carried on; and it seems that both Portuguese and Spanish slave dealers are enabled to take advantage of the shelter provided by the French colours, and obtain with facility French papers to support them in their nefarious projects. The ship with three hundred slaves on board, under these circumstances, could not be detained, and she sailed without let or hinderance to Guadaloupe, the port for which she had been destined, with her living cargo. Mr. Leonard adds the following dreadful particulars:

Upon inquiry, he stated that he took the brig a considerable distance up the river; that she was anchored so close to the shore that her yards almost brushed the trees ; that on the fall of the tide the vapour arising from the slimy ooze on the banks was so dense, that one might, to use a common but forcible expression, “ almost have cut it with a knife.This officer informed us also, that the Primrose, Commander Broughton, had captured a large ship, with five hundred and fifty slaves on board, called the Veloz Passagera, mounting twenty long guns, after a severe action, during which the former had three killed and twelve wounded, among whom was the captain ; the latter, forty-six killed and twenty wounded, ten or twelve of whom died afterwards. The Conflict had also captured, by means of her boats, an armed schooner, called the Nympha, with one hundred and sixtynine slaves, bound to Boa Vista, belonging to Colonel Martinez above mentioned. Here, too, the action was warm while it lasted, the Conflict's boats having eleven wounded, four severely; the prize, fifteen killed and several wounded. It is the interest of the crews of these vessels to defend themselves to the utmost, as they receive no part of their wages, which is from thirty to sixty dollars a month, according to the rank they hold, until their live cargo is safely disembarked at the destined port, when they have a certain number of dollars additional, according to the number of slaves landed alive; and in the event of capture, they forfeit every thing.-pp. 34, 35.

On the morning of the first of December, just two months after departing from St. Helen's, the Dryad reached the anchorage of Freetown. The description of this latter place is very striking; but the chief peculiarities by which it is distinguished, must be, by this time, familiar to most of our readers. At a distance, the town presents an aspect calculated to interest the beholder, from the rural character of its vicinity, from the regularity and neatness of the buildings, and the appearance of luxuriant foliage which every where meets the eye ; but a closer examination detects it at once to be no more than a gilded sepulchre, where the elements of death and putrefaction abound. The most remarkable objects in the streets of Freetown, are the low wooden boxes, somewhat resembling pig sties, placed outside the doors of the wealthy inhabitants. In this receptacle—which in general is obtained from slave ships, and which is laid on the upper deck for the use of the captain and mate, when in all other parts of the vessel there is no room from the amount of the living cargo_in this receptacle, the author tells us, a krouman or negro sits all night, as a watchman. Numbers are seen also in the streets of tall, slender, intelligent looking persons, dressed in long, loose, coarse, blue and white robes, with their arms and legs bare, their heads covered with a red or white cap, their hair platted in numerous cords, which hang down, their feet enclosed in sandals, and their arms and necks furnished abundantly with emblems possessing the power of charms. These persons are either Foulahs, Serawhoolahs, or Mandingoes, and their occupation is trade.

One feature of Freetown struck our author very sensibly, namely, the almost total absence of all beasts of burden, or carriages of any sort. The duties of camels, horses, oxen, mules, and asses, are uniformly performed by the wretched biped of an African, from the neighbouring coast. The markets of this place formed a subject of attention to Mr. Leonard. The fruit and vegetables are sold at one market, where also are laid down for purchasers, pots of palm oil, containing what our author calls a diabolical mixture of this oil and of farina, which is used as food by the blacks, coarse soap, yams, cassava, half cleaned rice, green ginger, straw hats, fowls, and tobacco. The fish is only brought into the market in the evening; the supply consisting chiefly of bream, gray mullet, garroupa, and rock cod. When the fishermen arrive in the evening, the scene of confusion is increased beyond all endurance. One might think, Mr. Leonard says, that one had got within the precincts of Lucifer, and was seeing and hearing the multitudinous community of Belzebub, at one time howling as if in torture, at another breathing out sulphurous vapours, as if from the very abyss of Tartarus.

Adjoining Freetown is a hamlet, the houses of which are built in the complete Indian style. They are inhabited by a tribe called Kroumen, a body of male emigrants from the Grain Coast, near Cape Patmos, who come to Sierra Leone to be employed chiefly as temporary boatmen. They are regarded by Mr. Leonard as the Scotchmen of Africa, being an industrous thrifty race. Their colour varies from a dark copper to complete black, and they are all tattooed. The distinction by which they are usually known is the figure of an arrow tattooed on each temple. The arrow has its point to the eye. Each of the front teeth of the upper jaw is filed to a point; in some cases a piece of the tooth is removed, and in either case a savage appearance is communicated to the visage. As it is usual for every ship of war to take in a posse of Kroumen, for the purpose of manning her boats with persons acquainted with the country, the Dryad of course had her complement. Twenty of

ulphurom one time howearing ti

them were received on board. They were chiefly muscular and athletic young men, nearly all having served in the navy on former occasions. The insuperable difficulties which attended even the pronunciation of their real names, gave rise to an expedient for a fresh christening of them. Some diverting seaman on board general stands godfather to the strangers, and whatever names he choses to set down for each in the ship's book, they retain it during the term of service. As a specimen of naval wit, we give the following catalogue :

Namboe ............ Jack Ropeyarn.

Jack Fryingpan.
Yiepam ............

Great Tom.
Woorawa ..

Peas Soup.
Blattoo ..

Will Centipede.
Nieca .....

Jack Neverfear.
Niepa .....

Jack Toggle.
Ba Sidi ............ Tom Seedy,
Niaie ......... ... Government Packet.-p.58.

At Freetown we find, as in every corner of the world to which British influence extends, too dear a church, and missionaries of doubtful character. Lander, in his records of Clapperton, tells us that Freetown church, which stood the people of England in merely the trifling sum of from 50,0001. to 80,0001., was so superfluously capacious, as to afford a space within its walls where buyers and sellers were indecently disputing and wrangling. The temple is at length undergoing some repairs, which are intended to have the effect of reducing its size to something like the required proportion. The missionaries are very busy in this place, and have numerous chapels. They superintended, until a recent period, the instruction of the liberated Africans located in different villages in the peninsula. The cessation of their attendance as instructors of the African, was produced by an occurrence of which we prefer allowing the witness himself to give the account:

A strong instance of moral turpitude has recently occurred among these men, which has caused no inconsiderable degree of exultation to their lay brethren, whose peccadilloes they sometimes magnify into heinous offences, and who, consequently, think and speak as most other men “of carnal minds ” would do under similar circumstances. “ The office of a clergyman," they say, “must at all times command respect, and we are induced to respect the man, when his demeanor is compatible with the office, and his life irreproachable.” But when a parson, merely because he is a parson, ventures to assume any arrogant degree of superiority over his lay brethren, and holds them up for petty offences and imaginary misbehaviour, as stained and branded with the mark of the beast, as if he himself were spotless, he must, of course, expect to meet with the ridicule, the pity, and contempt, which such a supercilious, unwarrantable, and unchristian-like assumption deserves, let his conduct in other respects be ever so irreprehensible in our

« ElőzőTovább »