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their dignity to take a little trouble, in order to do a great deal of good. We should have been very glad to have seconded the views of the Climbing Society, and to have pleaded for the complete abolition of climbing boys, if we could conscientiously have done so. But such a measure, we are convinced from the evidence, could not be carried into execution without great injury to property, and great increased risk of fire. The Lords have investigated the matter with the greatest patience, humanity, and good sense; and they do not venture, in their Report, to recommend to the House the abolition of climbing boys.
MISSION TO ASHANTEE. (E. REVIEW, 1819.)
Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee, with a Statistical
Account of that Kingdom, and Geographical Notices of other Parts of the Interior of Africa. By T. Edward Bowdich, Esq. Conductor. London, Murray. 1819.
CAPE COAST CASTLE, or Cape Corso, is a factory of Africa, on the Gold Coast. The Portuguese settled here in 1610, and built the citadel; from which, in a few years afterwards, they were dislodged by the Dutch. In 1661, it was demolished by the English under Admiral Holmes; and by the treaty of Breda, it was made over to our Government. The latitude of Cape Coast Castle is 5° 6' north; the longitude 1° 51' west. The capital of the kingdom of Ashantee is Coomassie, the latitude of which is about 6° 30' 20" north, and the longitude 2° 6' 30" west. The mission quitted Cape Coast Castle on the 22d of April, and arrived at Coomassie about the 16th of May — halting two or three days on the route, and walking the whole distance, or carried by hammock-bearers at a foot-pace. The distance between the fort and the capital is not more than 150 miles, or about as far as from Durham to Edinburgh ; and yet the kingdom of Ashantee was, before the mission of Mr. Bowdich, almost as much unknown to us as if it had been situated in some other planet. The country which surrounds Cape Coast Castle belongs to the Fantees; and, about the year 1807, an Ashantee army reached the coast for the first time. They invaded Fantee again in 1811, and, for the third time, in 1816. To put a stop to the horrible cruelties committed by the stronger on the weaker nation; to secure their own safety, endangered by the Ashantees; and to enlarge our knowledge of Africa — the Government of Cape Coast Castle persuaded the African Committee to send a deputation to the kingdom of Ashantee: and of this
embassy, the publication now before us is the narrative. The embassy walked through a beautiful country, laid waste by the recent wars, and arrived in the time we have mentioned, and without meeting with any remarkable accident, at Coomassie the capital. The account of their first reception there we shall lay before our readers.
• We entered Coomassie at two o'clock, passing under a fetish, or sacrifice of a dead sheep, wrapped up in red silk, and suspended between two lofty poles. Upwards of 5000 people, the greater part warriors, met us with awful bursts of martial music, discordant only in its mixture; for horns, drums, rattles, and gong-gongs, were all exerted with a zeal bordering on frenzy, to subdue us by the first impression. The smoke which encircled us from the incessant discharges of musketry, confined our glimpses to the foreground; and we were halted whilst the captains performed their Pyrrhic dance, in the centre of a circle formed by their warriors; where a confusion of flags, English, Dutch, and Danish, were waved and flourished in all directions ; the bearers plunging and springing from side to side, with a passion of enthusiasm only equalled by the captains, who followed them, discharging their shining blunderbusses so close, that the flags now and then were in a blaze; and emerging from the smoke with all the gesture and distortion of maniacs. Their followers kept up the firing around us in the rear.
The dress of the captains was a war cap, with gilded rams' horns projecting in front, the sides extended beyond all proportion by immense plumes of eagles' feathers, and fastened under the chin with bands of cowries. Their vest was of red cloth, covered with fetishes and saphies in gold and silver; and embroidered cases of almost every colour, which flapped against their bodies as they moved, intermixed with small brass bells, the horns and tails of animals, shells, and knives ; long leopards' tails hung down their backs, over a small bow covered with fetishes. They wore loose cotton trousers, with immense boots of a dull red leather, coming half way up the thigh, and fastened by small chains to their cartouch or waist belt; these were also ornamented with bells, horses' tails, strings of amulets, and innumerable shreds of leather; a small quiver of poisoned arrows hung from their right wrist, and they held a long iron chain between their teeth, with a scrap of Moorish writing affixed to the end of it. A small spear was in their left hands, covered with red cloth and silk tassels; their black countenances heightened the effect of this attire, and completed a figure scarcely human.
- This exhibition continued about half an hour, when we were allowed to proceed, encircled by the warriors, whose numbers with the crowds of people, made our movement as gradual as if it had taken place in Cheapside; the several streets branching off to the right presented long vistas crammed with people; and those on the left hand being on an acclivity, innumerable rows of heads rose one above another: the large open porches of the houses, like the fronts of stages in small theatres, were filled with the better sort of females and children, all impatient to behold white men for the first time; their exclamations were drowned in the firing and music, but their gestures were in character with the scene. When we reached the palace, about half a mile from the place where we entered, we were again halted, and an open file was made, through which the bearers were passed, to deposit the presents and baggage in the house assigned to us. Here we were gratified by observing several of the caboceers (chiefs) pass by with their trains, the novel splendour of which astonished us. The bands, principally composed of horns and flutes, trained to play in concert, seemed to soothe our hearing into its natural tone again by their wild melodies; whilst the immense umbrellas, made to sink and rise from the jerkings of the bearers, and the large fans waving around, refreshed us with small currents of air, under a burning sun, clouds of dust, and a density of atmosphere almost suffocating. We were then squeezed, at the same funeral pace, up a long street, to an open-fronted house, where we were desired by a royal messenger to wait a further invitation from the king.' -—(pp. 31–33.)
The embassy remained about four months, leaving one of their members behind as a permanent resident. Their treatment, though subjected to the fluctuating passions of barbarians, was, upon the whole, not bad; and a foundation appears to have been laid of future intercourse with the Ashantees, and a mean opened, through them, of becoming better acquainted with the interior of Africa.
The Moors, who seem (barbarians as they are to be the civilisers of internal Africa, have penetrated to the capital of the Ashantees: they are bigoted and intolerant to Christians, but not sacrificers of human victims in their religious ceremonies;- nor averse to commerce; and civilised in comparison to most of the idolatrous
natives of Africa. From their merchants who resorted from various parts of the interior, Mr. Bowdich employed himself in procuring all the geographical details which their travels enabled them to afford. Timbuctoo they described as inferior to Houssa, and not at all comparable to Boornoo. The Moorish influence was stated to be powerful in it, but not predominant. A small river goes nearly round the town, overflowing in the rains, and obliging the people of the suburbs to move to an eminence in the centre of the town where the king lives. The king, a Moorish negro called Billabahada, had a few double-barrelled guns, which were fired on great occasions; and gunpowder was as dear as gold. Mr. Bowdich calculates Houssa to be N. E. from the Niger 20 days' journey of 18 miles each day; and the latitude and longitude to be 18° 59' N. and 3° 59' E. Boornoo was spoken of as the first empire in Africa. The Mahometans of Sennaar reckon it among the four powerful empires of the world; the other three being Turkey, Persia, and Abyssinia.
The Niger is only known to the Moors by the name of the Quolla, pronounced as Quorra by the negroes, who, from whatever countries they come, all spoke of this as the largest river with which they were acquainted; and it was the grand feature in all the routes to Ashantee, whether from Houssa, Boornoo, or the intermediate countries. The Niger, after leaving the lake Dibbri, was invariably described as dividing into two large streams; the Quolla, or the greater division, pursuing its course south-eastward, till it joined the Bahr Abiad ; and the other branch running northward of east, near to Timbuctoo, and dividing again soon afterwards—the smaller division running northwards by Yahoodee, a place, of great trade, and the larger running directly eastward, and entering the lake Caudi, under the name of Gambaroo. • The variety of this concurrent evidence respecting the Gambaroo, made an impression on my mind,' says Mr. Bowdich, almost amounting to conviction. The same author adds, that he found the Moors very cautious in their accounts;