Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

by exertion ; without which, in my opinion, Africa will remain for ever in the same barbarous and uncivilized state.

The People of the Coast, called Fantees, have done every thing in their power to prevent the Ashantees, Natives of the Interior, froin having any communication with it, as, by excluding them from Trade, they act as brokers between the Ashantee and the European Merchant: they are a vile, abandoned set of People, and rob both one and the other; and what is more extraordinary, we have countenanced them in it, although it is both unjust to the Ashantees, and in direct opposition to our own commercial interests, as a Free Trade with the Natives of the interior would be of great National importance, and which the King of the Aslantees is most anxious to establish.

Alliances with the Chiefs by Residents in the Principal Towns could easily be formed; a Major whom I saw at Cape Coast Castle, was on the point of proceeding to the Capital of the Ashantees, when the then Governor, General Torrane, died, and this laudable undertaking was relinquished.

Their present Religion has no tendency whatever to improve their morals, as they consider the charms which they purchase of the Fettishmen to have sufficient virtue to keep them from the most serious evils, and as an absolution for any sins they may coinmit; and I am sorry to say, that the licentious and immoral state in which many of the English in this Country live, not only tends to destroy all respect for Religion in the Natives, but must give them a contempt for the European character in general. If we except the Danish Castle at Accra, there is not a place of worship on the whole Coast ; nor do the English Garrisons or Settlers ever assemble to perform any Religious ceremonies. The Natives must have a bad opinion also of our Military character, from the specimen they have of our Company's Officers, who not only lose the character of Soldiers for that of Traders, but frequently join the Fantees in cheating the Ashantees, in consequence of the latter not being acquainted with the Fantee language.

The Natives of the Coast, who live under one English Fort, frequently insult those living under another, and boast of the protection they receive from the very Flag they insult, thus rendering our Flag subservient to a cruel and sanguinary warfare; and I must confess that I felt pain to know that the British Flag and Uniform is everywhere dishonoured in Africa. Whilst we were at Cape Coast Castle, I saw several of the Ashantees: they appeared shrewd, active, and intelligent; not the least appearance of the common Negro countenance, but very much resembling the Moors, and many of them wore turbans ; 2 of them said they had seen White Men in the back Country, meaning, no doubt, the shores of the Mediterranean or Red Sea; and I have Do doubt, if the Slave Trade was abolished altogether, that the Africans, on many parts of the Coast might soon be induced to hire themselves on board our Merchant Ships trading there, and to and from the West Indies; and this would not only be the means of civilizing them, but be of great importance in a Mercantile point of view, as the Natives would be much more preferable in such a Climate than European Seamen, and their wages do not exceed 4 dollars per month; and as a corroboration of this statement, I had several men on board the Inconstant during my stay on the Coast, who in a short time became as active and useful as many of the seamen of the Ship, and wished to go to the West Indies with us.

I am strongly of opinion that something must be done soon : our Merchants were formerly supported by the Slave Trade, which they carried on to a great extent, independent of their having at that time the whole of the Gold and Ivory Trade in their own hands.

Since the Abolition, the War has prevented competition from Foreign Nations, but now the whole Coast is inundated with French, Dutch, American, and other Flags; and they are abundantly supplied with arms and powder, which enables them to undersell our own Merchants, whose Trade is falling off rapidly, and the decline in the price of Gold and Ivory in Europe has also materially affected them. Symptoms of decay are evident: at Cape Coast Castle houses are become unsaleable, and all accounts agree as to the present difficulties and future apprehensions.

Our Fort at Annamaboe is, I understand, the best Fortification of the whole; but it has only 2 Officers and 15 men. Tantumquerry Port is of little or no use. Winnebah Fort is abandoned : at this place there is a good River;—a great acquisition for Ships, as there is nothing but rain-water to be got on any part of the Coast. Accra, or Accarah, is certainly the most picturesque, fertile, and healthy spot on the whole Coast of Africa: a plain extends some miles in the interior, when you come to hills, covered with rich soil, and a beautiful Country well wooded and watered, and every thing that is necessary for forming a Colony; every kind of vegetable grows here, and could be produced in any quantity. There are now a great quantity of cattle, and herds of buffaloes, a little in the interior,—on the plain there is a great quantity and variety of game, such as deer, hares, pheasants, guineafowls, partridges, pigeons, &c. &c., and every kind of live stock in abundance. I went to visit the banks of the River Saccom, which runs at the back of Accra about 8 miles, and which could be conducted to the Town with great ease and little expense; there is also a reef of rocks extending from the English Fort some distance into the sea, on which a Pier might be raised with little trouble, as there is plenty of good stone and lime close to the spot; if this was done, Vessels of 120 tons and upwards might load and unload inside the pier with safety.

a

In the road, the ground is so good and strong, that it is necessary to sight your anchor every 24 hours. The Climate of this place is so superior to any other part of the Coast, that Invalids frequently go there to recover their health. The Natives at Accra are very superior iu civilization, appearance, and manners, to any other on the Coast; their Town is clean and neat, and in their Houses they have all the useful and necessary household Utensils, arranged with as much order as in a Cottage in England; this is to be attributed to their having had, for many years, a free intercourse with the Ashantees and other Nations of the interior, and to their being naturally more industrious and fond of agriculture.

There are now no English Settlements to the leeward of Accra, nor Had I any communication with the shore.

Several Spanish armed Vessels have lately appeared on the Coast, engaged in the Slave Trade; they generally carry from 14 to 20 guns, and about 80 men, and come out with the determination to fight any Vessel they have a chance with. These Vessels have committed several acts of Piracy: the Paz, of 14 guns, was taken by the Colonial Brig a short time since, with the Master and Mate of an English Merchantman on board, which they had taken some days previous.

The Spaniards bave taken off upwards of 1,800 Slaves, between Cape St. Ann and Cape Mount, within the last 4 months; and I am of opinion that the Slave Trade was never carried on with such system and dispatch as at this moment; and if some active measures are not taken, it will increase next Year tenfold. Should His Majesty's Government determine to suppress this vile Traffic, it cannot be done with Schooners, or dull-sailing Ships; for the Spaniards are not only completely equipped, and sail fast, but are generally commanded by active and enterprising men, either French or Americans. They are seldom to be found at anchor on the Coast. Their general plan is to make the land near where they intend to purchase their Slaves; if the Coast is clear, they immediately land their Cargo and Supercargo, and stand out to sea until they consider the Slaves are ready, they then stand in as before, and if the signal agreed on is given, take on board the cargo, and are off in a few hours, all their water and provisions being complete before they arrive on the Coast. They consider their capture, if met with, as certain ; which appears

h to me very extraordinary, as they must know that our Government have not issued any orders agaiust them, is really Spaniards. I am therefore strongly led to believe, that the principal part of their trade in Slaves is carried on with the funds, and for the benefit, of the Subjects of other Powers who have abolished it.

I should enter more at large on the subject of the Spanish Slave Schooners, but I am aware that the Chief Justice at Sierra Leone has

transmitted to my Lord Bathurst a detailed account of the numerous Vessels that have been, and are now expected on the Coast; with a full statement of the many atrocities they have been guilty of.

Having now, Sir, endeavoured to give you, for the information of their Lordships, as correct and fair a view of our Settlements in Africa as my short stay in that Country would enable me to make, I beg leave to offer my opinion as to the means best calculated to improve the condition and civilization of the Natives, and at the same time open an extensive and profitable Trade to this Country.

The continuance of the Trade appears to me to be the principal, if not the sole cause of the present neglected and barbarous state of Africa.

All the Kings and Chiefs have for years maintained their power, dignity and riches by this Traffic; and as long as any Nation is allowed to carry it on, they will not givo up a Commerce so easy and lucrative, to pursue that of Trade and Agriculture; which is not only precarious, and attended with much labour and difficulty, but it is as yet what they neither like nor understand.

The first step, therefore, towards Civilization, as I have before observed, will be to abolish the Slave Trade entirely; but, at the same time, to open other sources by which the leading Men may derive the same advantages and emoluments which they have hitherto done by this vile trade. At present they are decidedly against you, nor is it a matter of surprise that they are so; for although the Abolition Act is in our opinion a very just and humane policy, it is considered by the Natives as a ruinous one to them.

I have already given it as my opinion, that a free and extensive intercourse and trade couid, with ease, be opened in the interior of Africa; to effect which, I would recommend cultivating the friendship and goodwill of the several kings and Chiefs, by making them suitable Presents, and allowing them a participation in trade, for which they are all most eager, and would enter into with spirit, if effectually deprived of a Slave-market, and our Forts and Castles were in the hands of Government, so that a Merchant could receive benefit from their protection; the present system being incompatible with the interest of the separate and open Trader. The African is very superior in intellect and capacity to the generality of Indians in North America, they are more social and friendly to Strangers; and, except in the vicinity of the European Settlements, are a fine, noble race of men. It is only in a commercial point of view that I think Africa at present worthy our attention. Agriculture I would leave to the Natives, who would, if there was an extensive trade and consumption on the Coast, soon find it their interest to cultivate the ground. I am also persuaded that our West Indian Colonies might soon be supplied with abundance of live

a

stock, whereas that profitable trade is at present in the hands of the Americans; our Government pay an enormous price, and our Íslands are very ill supplied. When we were at Barbadoes, no fresh beef could be obtained, (though there is an Order in favour of purchasing for Ships from the Coast of Africa,) and the squadron on that Station had not any fresh beef for several weeks. To facilitate and protect our Trade on that Coast, I would strongly recommend our obtaining from the Portuguese Government 2 Islands, either St. Jago or St. Nicholas, off the Cape de Verd Islands, and St. Thomas on the Equator. The first would not only answer for a safe depot for our Merchants trading to that part of the Coast, but would afford pasture for the cattle; from whence they could be transported to our West India Islands, and supply our outward.bound Ships and Western Cruizers with refreshments. It would open the Cattle Trade to our Merchants, at the expense of America ; and would prevent our Enemy making it their haunt in War, by which they are enabled to elude our Cruizers, and continue longer at sea. Several American Privateers refitted at these Islands, and also their Frigates, one of which remained at Brava upwards of a week.

St. Thomas, on the Equator, is a very fine fruitful Island, about the size of the Isle of Wight; it abounds in cattle, goats, hogs, poultry, and fruit of every description ; the sugar-cane grows in the most luxuriant manner, and the coffee is very superior to the West Indian. There is a very good Port for Merchant Vessels, and 2 good Bays for Ships of War; and it is so situated, that the Ships from the Gold Coast can fetch it from the starboard tack, the wind being in general from S. to S. W.; and it is the most desirable part for Ships to sail from, if bound up the Coast, to Europe or to the West Indies, as by keeping to the Southward of the Equator, you have the wind at South, and sometimes at S.S. E. The Inconstant went from St. Thomas's to Sierra Leone, a distance of 1,300 miles, directly to windward, in 10 days. If a Vessel attempts to keep nearer the Coast, she gets into the influence of the westerly winds, and a strong current always going to the eastward. The Brisk Sloop of War was weeks going from Cape Formosa to Sierra Leone, by keeping the coast on board.

This Island is also well situated for a very profitable Trade to the Rivers Gaboon and St. John's, or River Danger. It would also be superior, as a Settlement for the captured Negroes, to Sierra Leone, not only from its climate, and being an Island, but from its being directly in the vicinity of where the Slave Trade is carried on; whereas, as I have before stated, Sierra Leone is in every respect the most unft and worst situation on the whole Coast.

This Island was formerly very flourishing, and in a high state of cultivation, particularly sugar-cane, until the Brazil Trade became so

« AnteriorContinuar »