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Recollections of Thirty-nine Years in the Army
Chapter VII


Sail for Guinea—Arrive—Cape Coast Castle—Fantees—Sorne characteristics— Domestic " slaves "—Obsequies—First impressions—Tornado season—Sickness and mortality—Personal—Husband of L.E.L.—"Healthy" season - Amusements—Natural history pursuits—Snakes—King Aggary—Chiefs - Accra—Apollonia—Burying the peace - drum—Axim— River Encobra—The "royal" capital—Savage displays—Prisoners released—Scarcity of fresh water—The king surrendered—Brought in manacled—His atrocities—Retribution—Return march—Cape Coast—Fantee women—Force disbanded— "Reliefs "—Departure—Incident on board—Barbados-----The island and its people—Compared with tropical India—Homeward bound—Arrive in England—Comments—Chartists—Leave of absence.

COLD, misty, and raw was the day in the first week of January, 1847, when, at Gravesend, a small party, of which I was one, embarked on the brig Emily, bound to Cape Coast Castle. Still more miserable the four following days and nights, during which the little vessel remained at anchor, a thick dark fog enveloping us; horns and gongs sounding at intervals, to avert a collision, if possible. At last the pall lifted, and we were on our way. My fellow-passengers, four in number, were three junior officers of the 1st West India Regiment, and the wife of one of them. The ship had a burthen of only 130 tons; no separate cabins, no accommodation suitable for officers, and none whatever for a lady. Around the cuddy, as the "saloon" was called, a series of bunks were arranged; one of these was told oft to each of us, ingress being attained either feet or head foremost, according to individual fancy and agility. Every possible consideration was shown by all on board to the lady, whose sorry plight we all commiserated; hers was indeed a sad example of the discomforts to which a subaltern's wife was exposed. Our prospects so far were by no means happy, for the circumstance became increasingly plain that only "black sheep" were considered to be sent to "the Coast"; many years had to elapse before Africa was to spring into fashion.

Fifty-two days at sea—for steam communication with the West Coast was a thing of the future—and then the headland of Grand Drewin came in sight. That point sighted, our little ship glided along the coast, carried southward by the oceanic current at the rate of three knots an hour or thereabouts. Arrived in the roads of Elmina, at the time a Dutch settlement, we disembarked by means of small canoes, made by hollowing out a branch of the bombax or silk cotton tree, each canoe "manned" by three black boys, the eldest of whom did not apparently exceed twelve years of age. We made direct for the house of Mr. Bartels, not that we had an introduction to that well- known gentleman, but for the double reason that "everybody" did so, and that Elmina boasted neither of hotel nor other public place to which new arrivals could resort. The hospitable gentleman on whom we had thus thrown ourselves showed us every kindness. Next day means of conveyance to our destination were provided for us. Mine consisted of a long narrow basket, carried on the heads of two strong Africans, one at either end. In that way we travelled over some miles of roadless ground; in others along the sea beach left dry by the receded tide, and so arrived at Cape Coast Castle, the capital of our settlements on the Coast of Guinea.

The fortress had in its day been used for many purposes, from the time when in 1610 it was erected by the Portuguese, and by them made use of as a slave hold, down to the present (1847). Captured by the Dutch from its original possessors in 1643, it was taken from the latter by Admiral Holmes in 1661; recaptured by the Dutch fleet under De Ruyter in 1665, but the same year ceded to England. In 1757 it was attacked unsuccessfully by the French, since which it has remained free from the din of war, although from time to time conflicts have occurred between the native tribes occupying the neighbouring districts. In 1672 the first African Company received a charter from Charles II. From that date till 1844 the fort continued in the possession of that Company and its successors; in the year named it came directly under the administration of the Colonial Office, as a dependency of Sierra Leone. At the time of our sojourn there, Cape Coast Castle was occupied by a portion of a West India regiment by officers belonging thereto, and to military departments; by the Governor, also by the "mixed court," by which law or justice, or both, were administered. A school for African children, the apartment being used for Divine service on Sundays, was in close proximity to the billiard-room. An annexe ot the fort was utilised as a prison for the worst class of malefactors, and the native police in charge of them, the prisoners being engaged in chain gangs by day, working on roads and public works within the settlement. Since the days of slavery, what had been "barracoons" for captives have been transformed into water tanks for the supply abundantly provided by the rainy season.

The inhabitants of the territory around Cape Coast Castle and of the Gold Coast generally are in the mass known as Fantees. Originally dwellers in the regions beyond the river Prah, they were forced to cross it, and driven to the coast line by the people now called Ashantees, who took possession of and gave their name to the country so conquered. Although under protection of the British Government, the Faritee chiefs (in 1847) pay tribute to the Ashantee king, who still assumes suzerainty over them. That suzerainty, since 1826, has been maintained without right on their part, the Ashantees having in that year been defeated at Doodwa, near Accra, by a Fantee force, led by British officers. In the same year, however, though earlier in it, a small force,' under Sir Charles Macarthy, was disastrously beaten by the Ashantees. That officer, rather than fall alive into the hands of his enemies, is said to have shot himself; they to have devoured his heart, in the belief that by that act of cannibalism they might become endowed with the high attributes which they admired in him.

A noticeable characteristic of the people was the total absence among them of ceremony, rite, or other observance pertaining to religious worship. That certain phases of superstitious impressions existed among them was evident by their belief in "lucky" and "unlucky" days. Neither a fisherman nor bushman would proceed on their avocations on a Friday, as it was by them devoted to their "Fetish." Although caste as understood in India is unknown among Fantees, the existence of septs or families approaches in some respects the social and religious divisions of the Hindoos. Each Fantee sept is distinguished by its special badge or armorial bearing, taken usually from some wild animal of the forest, as among Scottish Highlanders and other civilized nations, ancient and modern.

Ten years had nearly elapsed since slavery on the Gold Coast, as in all other British dominions, was abolished. In all but name conditions remained unchanged; former domestic slaves, now called servants, remained with their former owners, by whom they were housed, clothed, and fed as heretofore. It was related that when, in 1838,1 emancipation was proclaimed, the negroes here appealed against being "sent away," on the plea that they and their children had ever been cared for; that as freed men and women they were without country to return to, or means of earning their living, save with their old masters and mistresses. Their appeal was listened to, and now (1847), when asked jokingly, rather than in earnest, to whom do they belong, they answer proudly that they are "slave" of, say Mrs. Jackson, Mr. Barnes, Mr. Hutton, and so on, all highly respected residents of Cape Coast.

A "slave" girl of the class alluded to having died, ceremonies, elaborate in kind, took place over her body. Placed in a sitting posture, and so supported in a corner of a room, it was enveloped in a shroud of costly damask; the feet rested upon a cushion similarly covered; neck and arms decorated with heavy ornaments of solid gold; the body embellished by more or less artistic designs composed of gold dust applied to some adhesive material. In the mouth was a twig of shrub; on an adjoining table a goodly supply of rum and tobacco. On the floor of the room sat a crowd of female mourners, whose dirge was loud if not melodious. These ceremonies over, the dead, still covered with ornaments, was deposited in the grave prepared for it in the floor of the dwelling-house of the survivors; but, as stated to us, at the end of a year, the body would be "turned on its side to make it comfortable," and then the golden ornaments removed.

Two months had elapsed since our arrival, and impressions of the place were noted after this manner:—At the end of February, temperature in the shade between the moderate extremes of 84° F. and 86° F.; sky clear and cloudless, sea breeze recurring each morning, and continuing during the hours of daylight. Behind, and from close proximity to the town, the "bush" or dense forest begins; two inconsiderable hills, each surmounted by a "fort," dominate us. Some few roads or pathways extend in various directions inland and along the beach side to the Salt Pond, their borders lined with cacti and with flowering shrubs, the occurrence of reptiles of various kinds, and creeping things innumerable, adding to our walks of interest and excitement in giving the former chase. Among the forest trees a species of bombax was a striking object, its branches so thickly covered with nests of the tailor- bird (Ploceus) that they touched each other, and looked not unlike a series of gigantic honeycombs. The absence of the bamboo was noted with surprise, considering the latitude of the locality. Nor was any cultivated field to be seen, the explanation being that each year small patches of the bush are cut down, the ground cleared, crops sown or planted, and once gathered in the "field" is quickly restored to its original wild state till again required for agricultural purposes. Birds and butterflies, some of both highly coloured, dashed through or fluttered among the herbage, but no voice of song properly so called as yet came from the former.

With the advent of the tornado season, the face of nature underwent a sudden change. From the south-east came rapidly a mass of dense black cloud. As it seemed arrested overhead, it assumed the form of an arch; from its concavity forked lightning flashed, then heavy thunder rolled. The previous stillness gave place to a rush of wind at hurricane speed, followed by such a downfall of rain as we had never previously seen, even in India. A few repetitions of these, and the rainy season was upon us. Then suddenly cultivation was begun in places previously covered by bush; crops of Indian corn, yams (Convoivuius Batatas), ground-nuts (Aractzis hypogea), and the castor-oil plant sprang up with a rapidity truly astonishing.

With the first regular downpour of rain came a serious change in health of our small party within the fort, also of the few settlers whose places of business were in the town immediately outside; and for a few succeeding months we were destined to realize the true significance of a sickly season on the Coast of Guinea. Fever in one or other of its local forms made its appearance, affecting the older residents in that of ague, while the newly arrived were attacked by the more violent form, called at the time their "seasoning," from which the chances of recovery were considerably less than those of death. Of the three officers and the wife of one who had been my fellow-passengers, one of the former speedily succumbed. The other two, together with the lady, suffered severely, and made imperfect recoveries, while outside the fort conditions were no less serious. The blanks so made in our numbers were sadly apparent, and yet the survivors from attacks, and those who had not been struck down, found in each successive death this rather ghastly consolation, that, as the ratio of mortality was "being made up," so did their chances of escape increase. All this while the few of us who were capable of the exertion took our walk morning and evening when the weather permitted, our one promenade that towards "the Salt Pond." As we did so, the melancholy sight presented itself, of a small number of newly arrived missionaries gloomily pursuing the same route, "waiting," as we were informed, "for their seasoning," before being sent inland to their respective stations. One after another was missed; it was announced that "he was down with hi seasoning"; and then—the receipt of a black- edged envelope told the rest.

Meantime I retained my health to a degree that under the circumstances was remarkable. As a result of this happy exemption from sickness, various duties devolved upon me in addition to those within my proper sphere, among those extra responsibilities being professional work in the Colonial Hospital, and charge of the Commissariat Department for the troops—the latter altogether alien to my training or tastes. So conditions went on till July, a month which proved to be the most unhealthy and deadly of any throughout the year. It was then that, night after night, I was the solitary member of "our mess" who took his place at table. I made the acquaintance of, and speedily became on friendly terms with, some mice, whose place of residence was under the floor, but which freely communicated with the messroom by numerous apertures, and was in other respects dilapidated; nor did it take long before some of the little animals acquired sufficient confidence to scramble up my leg and so on to the table, partake of dinner with myself, thus calling to my mind the story of the Prisoner of Chillon. With the month of August came improved health conditions, and for the four or five succeeding months all was cheerful in that particular and important respect.

Among those who succumbed during the sickly months was Captain Maclean, husband of the poetess, L. E. L.—Letitia Elizabeth Landon, who died at Cape Coast Castle in 1838, under circumstances of great mystery. It was hoped that among his papers would be found some containing his own account of the sad occurrence, but that hope was not realized. From careful inquiries, however, I was led to the belief that her death was due to natural causes, and to them alone. Now the body of the deceased husband was laid in the grave close to that of the wife,' and both rest under the pavement of the castle quadrangle. The story of the gifted lady interested some of our number, as incidents connected with her short life on the Coast were related by Mr. Hutton and others who had enjoyed her acquaintance.

The occurrence of the "healthy season" was hailed as such event could only be in a locality where every man had to run the gauntlet for life during four to five out of the twelve months which make up the year. Amusements of different kinds were instituted, short excursions taken in various directions along such roads or pathways as existed for purposes of communication along the coast and to places inland. In the absence of horses—for these most useful animals when brought to the coast rapidly pine away and die—our means of transport consisted, for the most part, of a chair so placed between two poles as to be thus carried by two or four Africans, according to the weight of the individual. There were a few small light carriages, in some respects like a Bath chair, in others like a victoria, drawn by Africans, who, to judge by their antics and shouts as they raced against each other, must have enjoyed the work immensely. Picnics became "the order of the day"; Saints' days, birthdays, and holidays were most "religiously" kept, and for the most part very enthusiastically celebrated. On one of these occasions we visited what at one time had been a coffee plantation in the near vicinity, but then deserted; the buildings reduced to ruin, the coffee bushes choked by the ordinary bush, the natural impression being that the owner had fallen a victim to his "seasoning," that he had no successors on his estate; or, if he had, that they had also succumbed.

Pursuits relating to natural history became so many sources of pleasant and intellectual occupation. Ornithology was especially interesting, combining as it did observation of birds in their natural haunts and conditions. A large number of specimens were shot, one portion being subsequently given to the Natural History Museum of Edinburgh, another to Sir William Jardine, by whom notes taken at the time were publIshed. A song bird (Drymoica men/ails) that fell to my gun was for the first time, I believe, given as an illustration in that brochure; another illustration being that of a large and handsome swallow named after me, Hirundo Gordon

On one occasion, while combining ornithological study and "sport," I had an unpleasant experience with one of several kinds of poisonous snakes that here abound, frequenting chiefly prickly herbage in immediate proximity to such roads and pathways as then existed, as also the sedgy tract of open ground near the Salt Pond, a little way westward of the settlement. While traversing that tract I came suddenly face to face with a large black cobra. One barrel of my fowling- piece had been already discharged. The remaining shot—a mixture of Nos. 6 and 9—was fired, more as a result of instinctive action than steady aim, by me, but with good effect. The charge traversed the body of the reptile as if it were a bullet, so close was it to me ; then its writhings were such that I came within them, not a little to my own horror. In the emergency my Fantee "boy" speedily dispatched it by means of the heavy stick he carried for the purpose of beating the bush. The skin—considerably over six feet long—ornamented the wall of my barrack-room while I remained on the coast. Puff-adders are numerous, and from their sluggish movements are easily killed. On one occasion I killed six partially-grown individuals during a morning's walk on the Salt Pond road.

When, as already stated, administration of British settlements on the Gold Coast was taken over by the Colonial Office, it was made immediately subordinate to that of Sierra Leone. The inconvenience of that arrangement was soon made manifest. The force with which the oceanic current runs southward along the coast is sufficient during some months of the year to prevent sailing brigs from beating up against it
and as at the time alluded to a regular line of steamers had not been introduced, the outcome of that state of things was the inconvenient necessity of letters and dispatches for the headquarters of the Government and Command being sent via England, several months becoming thus necessary before answers could be received. Cape Coast Castle and its dependencies had a Governor and Colonial Secretary, both of whom were resident. Justice was administered by a court presided over by a British official designated Judicial Assessor, assisted by selected native chiefs. Of them, "King Aggary," then upwards of eighty years of age, was the most prominent and distinguished. As a young man he had served on board a British man-of- war, in accordance with the custom of the time, and so, according to his own manner of expression, he "had learned sense."

For a long time past native rulers whose "kingdoms" adjoined British settlements along the Gold Coast had voluntarily placed themselves under protection of our flag, and thus in a manner become British subjects. Their several laws and customs were retained, with the exception of human sacrifice, a practice abandoned many years ago. Succession to rank and property descended through the female line; that is, the eldest son of the eldest daughter became heir-apparent. In the kingdom of Akim the sovereign is a female, the succession being also in the female line.

A visit to Accra occupied two days, and a similar time to return. The path along which I travelled—for no road existed—led for the most part through the bush close to the beach; at times it was by the beach itself, so that only when the tide was low was it practicable to proceed at all. At intervals the occurrence of rugged promontories and heaps of boulders rendered it by no means an easy undertaking to get over them. Arriving at the river Sekoom, its borders were lined by mangrove trees (Rhizophora), the long tendril-like roots of which interlaced above the soft mud alternately covered and left exposed as the tide flows and ebbs. In some places the trunks of those trees were covered within tide mark by a small species of oyster, and presented the additional peculiarity of a few small fish—the climbing perch (Anabas scandens) laboriously ascending to the height of a couple of feet or so from the water level, there "holding on" for a little, then dropping into the muddy river after basking in the sun. At Accra, three forts, belonging respectively to England, Holland, and Denmark, were in close proximity to each other the first occupied by some twenty black soldiers and half a dozen native militiamen, the guns old and useless, the fortress itself dilapidated ; the second nothing more than a trading store of the Governor; the third, the strongest of the three, but noted for its extreme unhealthiness. Subsequently we learned that it was completely destroyed by an earthquake.

Several of the forts that had belonged to the former African Company were abandoned some years previous to the present date (1848); among others that of Amelycha, or Apollonia, about seventy miles to windward of Cape Coast Castle. For a time matters in the district so called progressed very well under the rule of a humane and otherwise good native chief named Yansu Acko; but having died in 1830, he was succeeded by Quako Acko, a man of cruel and tyrannical disposition, who, although he continued to fly the British flag, gradually became less and less loyal, and finally withdrew allegiance altogether. Meanwhile he was in a continual state of warfare with the States adjoining his own, extending his depredations to Asinee and Axim, respectively belonging to France and Holland. In 1835 his conduct had become so outrageous that a force from Cape Coast Castle was sent against him, and for his misconduct he was subjected to a fine of 300 ounces of gold dust. So little effect had this upon him, however, that in 1838 a second expedition was sent against him, and a further fine of Soo ounces inflicted upon him. From that time to the present he has persisted in annoying the adjoining States. Within his own "kingdom" his word was absolute, his great ambition apparently to surround his palace with festoons composed of skulls of enemies slain in battle or of captives butchered. With increasing boldness as time went on, he destroyed several villages within Dutch territory, and carried away some of their inhabitants. He maltreated officers and men belonging to French and British ships, who landed at his capital for purposes of trade. Finally, when remonstrated with by the Governor of Cape Coast,' he insulted and otherwise maltreated the members of the embassy sent to him, certain of whom he retained as captives. The Governor took action against the recalcitrant chief. Orders were issued directing the formation of a contingent force, some thousands strong, to consist of men pertaining to vassal tribes. A brig was chartered for the occasion; ammunition and stores of various kinds, including casks of fresh water, placed on board; for it was known that the scene of coming operations was destitute of that necessary element. Ammunition was issued to the "volunteer" contingent, to whom pay in advance was distributed. At this point the officer named to command fell ill and speedily died of coast fever, and his place had to be taken by a lieutenant of the 1st West India Regiment; the Commissariat officer being non-effective from sickness, the duties pertaining to his office fell upon me in addition to my own.

The resources of the colony in respect to white men limited the number of those available for the present expedition to six only, the "regular" troops to no more than about half a company of the 1st West India Regiment. Four of us by ship; two accompanied the levies proceeding by land, their forces increasing as they advanced. Arrived off Dixcove, we landed at that place, to witness the native ceremony, and excitement attending thereon, of "burying the peace-drum." The unusual noise and tumult connected with the ordeal seem to have attracted the notice of wild denizens of the adjoining forest, one of which, a baboon of large size, "assisted" with his presence on the occasion; he was declared to be "the great Fetish"; his advent to be a happy augury for the undertaking before us. Our next point was Axim, at that time Dutch, but now British. There we landed; there the entire force at our disposal assembled, and arrangements were completed to enter hostile territory. The small party of whites was accommodated within the fort, the native forces bivouacking in and around the town,—the town consisting chiefly of sheds or huts composed of palm branches inartistically tied together. In the open space or market place in its centre stood a pole to which were fixed portions of human skeletons, remains of freebooters from Apollonia, who having been caught were "disposed of according to African fashion. In the vicinity roads were non-existent; some rugged pathways were all the thoroughfares with which the place was provided.

Between Axim and the river Encobra stretched a sea beach two miles in extent, broken at intervals by irregular masses and boulders of primitive rocks; beyond it to a similar distance a belt of impenetrable forest, pathways through which, formerly existing, had for some years past become obliterated. Through that tract of bush we had to make a way, not only for ourselves, but also for our "forces." Armed with an axe and long knife such as bush men in this part of Africa use, we cut a path for ourselves to the summit of a promontory from which it was practicable to take bearings for further progress. Meanwhile, and all through the following night, large numbers of men were busy clearing a road by which the mass of our contingent could advance. At daybreak our strange body of irregulars was mustered, and what a sight it presented! War dresses, wild in character, grotesque in aspect; umbrellas of many colours, carried over particular chiefs; uncouth gesticulations in the performance of war dances; strange sounds from drums, horns, trumpets, and other "musical" instruments, the chief ornaments on which were jawbones and other fragments of human mortality, combined to impress us with the aspect of savagery so presented. At the head of one of the "companies," and in command, was a lady, who thus asserted her hereditary position as chief of her tribe.

In the early hours of a day in the first week of April (1848), our "army" began its march towards the left bank of the Encobra. By previous arrangement a number of canoes, sufficient to take the force across that river, were already outside the bar at its mouth, and these were quickly utilised for our purpose. A dense mass of natives crowded the opposite side of the river, its dimensions quickly increasing as others emerged from the bush. Our "artillery" consisted of two twelve-pounder rocket tubes, and two others of smaller calibre. In the absence of a "combatant" officer, I had been put in "command" of these, and having previously indulged in the necessary practice, was in a position to open fire upon the "enemy" as soon as the necessary order was given by the Governor, who was in supreme command. A few missiles were discharged; a few lanes ploughed among them, and then pell-mell the mass vanished in the forest. Having got across the river, we speedily reached an Apollonian village, deserted by its ordinary occupants, who in their haste had left behind their flocks and herds, both of which were quickly annexed by our "contingent." Continuing what proved to be an extremely fatiguing march along the sea beach,— often having to wade more than knee-deep in the rippling tide,—we passed on the border of the forest a succession of villages, from all of which their occupants had fled. Towards evening we reached a town of considerable size. Our day's march had been extremely exhausting, so that rest for the night was most welcome, especially to us white men.

In the course of the succeeding night, such snatches of sleep as we obtained were several times interrupted by the beating of tom-toms, braying of trumpets, the rushing hither and thither of considerable portions of our army. Now it was an alarm of night attack by "the enemy"; then the noisy return of a foraging party, bearing with them as trophies the heads of two Apollonians, which they cast before the Governor as tokens of their prowess. Resuming our march early the following morning, we arrived at the river Abimoosoo, across which we were floated by means of canoes that had so far followed by sea, keeping just outside the line of breakers. Shortly thereafter we were met by a messenger from "the king" against whom we were in progress ; his office Ito express the desire of his Majesty to know with what object the Governor had brought an army into his country. The reply was a ball cartridge (according to the custom of the coast), together with a reply that if the king surrendered, then "a palaver" would be held, but not till then. Meantime we pressed on, and in the early part of the afternoon entered the capital of the king, to find it completely abandoned. Never before had I felt so "done up" and exhausted as now. I was, moreover, ill, and had every reason to believe that an attack of the much-dreaded fever of the coast was upon me.

As if to celebrate the entry of our "army" into the royal city, arrangements were speedily made by the native leaders to have a grand procession. When it did take place, no more wild and "savage" display could well be imagined than that presented by it. All around us were ghastly relics of death and murder. The palace garnished with festoons of human skulls, of which I counted one hundred and eighty after the greater part of such ornaments had been torn from their places and kicked about as playthings by our "soldiers." The avenue leading to the palace was formed by palm-trees growing at short distances from each other along either side of the roadway. From time to time the king had disposed of a certain number of his enemies by living sepulture in a standing position; a cocoa nut placed on the head of each, the earth thrown in, and as in the progress of time the plume of palm grew higher and higher, each tree received the name of the particular enemy represented by it. At different points around, the larger trees were ornamented with various relics of humanity, skeleton hands and other fragments being nailed or otherwvise attached to stems and branches.

During the few following days different portions of our contingent were variously employed. An expedition, led by two of our white associates,' started inland, with a view, if possible, to capture the fugitive king; another, consisting entirely of blacks, having started independently into the bush, returned in triumph, with "music," war dances, and much discordant noise, bearing with them gory heads of three Apollonians who had fallen into their power. A third party of our people, having proceeded on an independent expedition, came upon two men who had been made prisoners by order of that chief, each of them laden with three sets of heavy irons, which they had worn continuously during the two previous years. The manacles were removed after much labour; but their unhappy bearers, when relieved of them, were unable to stand erect. So long had they been kept in a sitting posture by sheer weight of their fetters, that the joints had become accommodated to it. Shortly afterwards eighty-eight other prisoners were discovered, their fetters similarly removed, but they themselves fixed in the sitting posture to which they had for longer or shorter periods been borne down by iron manacles.

Everywhere around the town the bush was impenetrable, for all communication with neighbouring tribes had been cut off for some years past, the pathways thus become obliterated by the forest. Attempts to cut new ones were but partially successful. Meanwhile serious difficulties beset us in respect to water, for the lagoons and rivers within available distance being brackish, they quickly ceased to be resorted to. A few casks of fresh water from our chartered ship thrown overboard were washed ashore, their contents carefully distributed among ourselves; but the fact became very evident that this supply being extremely limited, our "occupation" of the town must be short indeed, whether the object of our expedition was obtained or not.

Most fortunate for us there was treason in the king's camp. By reason of his cruelty and tyranny, he had rendered himself hated by and hateful to his subjects. Now their opportunity had arrived. Three of their chiefs having tendered their submission, so far imitated certain civilized nations as to negotiate for the surrender of their king—their terms by no means exorbitant, namely one hundred ounces of gold dust, and a flag to them respectively. And so the bargain was closed.

A few more days passed, during which "palavers" of all sorts took place, and parties dispatched in various directions, though seemingly without result. Evening approaches; there is unusual tumult among our contingent. Discordant noises, emitted from drums, horns, and human mouths, announce the approach of large bodies of men; they are the former subjects of the king,' whom they carry manacled and give over to the British leader. We feel relieved by the prospect of speedy ending of our privations and fatigues; for of our number, four are prostrate by sickness. So long as our prisoner, savage as he is, continued out of sight, we did our best to follow him up relentlessly. Now that he is in our presence, bound hand and foot, an object of abject misery, big tears rolling down his coarse black face, some of us were unable to smother a shade of sympathy for the man, monster of cruelty as he was.

Of atrocities committed by him the record of two will here suffice. He caused his mother to be secured to a stake at low-water mark when the tide was out, her eyelids to be cut off, her face turned towards the sun,—so left until overwhelmed by the returning flood, and her sufferings put an end to. His pregnant sister he caused to be cut open while alive, that he might see the position in her womb of the unborn infant, then directed that according to native custom her body should be buried within the palace.

In the room under the floor of which the remains were interred, bearing upon them her golden ornaments, the captive king was placed under guard, and so remained during the following night. With the return of daylight it was seen that the floor had been opened by the guard, the remains exhumed, all ornaments wrenched therefrom; the body itself, considerably advanced in decay, offensive to sight and smell, thrown back into the still open grave. Thus the king had spent the night side by side as it were with the remains of his murdered sister, witness to the acts of savagery to which they were subjected.

Our object attained, the return march began at midnight; our prisoner, several of his wives, together with other members of his family, being under the charge of a strong guard. The four sick white men, unable to take their proper places in the ranks, were carried, country fashion, in the long baskets already described, our bearers being subjects of the king whom we were carrying away prisoner. Again the beach, left dry by the receded tide, was our highway, and along it our "brave" men proceeded. How the sick fared is illustrated in my own experience. As the fierce tropical sun ascended in the heavens, the fever from which I suffered increased, headache was severe; fresh water there was none wherewith to moisten the parched mouth. In this plight, having by signs indicated my desire that my basket should be placed on the ground, I endeavoured to make my way to the ripples left by the recurring waves; but in so doing strength gave way, and I fell prostrate on the sand. Immediately I found myself being gently lifted back to the basket by my carriers. One of them climbing a cocoa-nut tree that grew in our immediate vicinity, cut off a large specimen of its fruit, which was speedily opened by a companion beside me, its "milk" emptied over my face and given me to drink. At the time and often since I have thought gratefully of that act by the wild African, and have contrasted it with its counterpart met with among "civilized" peoples.

Arrived at Axim, and the necessary arrangements completed, we re-embarked on the little brig that had already done good service in connection with our expedition. The captive chief, or "king" as he was called, was speedily on board, under the care of a guard, the anchor raised. Wind and current favoured us, and so we quickly arrived off Cape Coast. In the early hours of morning we landed. Our prisoner was securely placed in a cell of that fortress. The populace of the native town, on hearing the news, were in great commotion; our friends, merchants and others, from whom we had parted a month before, were full of congratulations. Then followed invitations to dinner, picnics, and so forth, until the rainy season, already threatening, fairly broke upon us and put a stop to all.

Among other characteristic incidents related to us was that, as soon as our expedition had marched away, the women of Cape Coast, omitting the slight costume usually worn by them, went about their ordinary occupations in a state of nudity. One of the oldest of the foreign residents, astonished at the circumstance, inquired as to the reason for such an extraordinary proceeding; he received as answer from the perambulating statue so addressed the Fantee equivalent of "What does it matter? All the men have started for the war," much emphasis being given to the word "men."

The work of paying up and disbanding the contingent portion of the force was quickly carried out. In the former, gold dust was the currency employed, of which the equivalent value of three-halfpence was the daily rate given, no allowance being required for food. Years passed away, and then I learned that the wretched king, having lost his reason in his confinement, pined away, and died a drivelling idiot in his prison. One by one our party of white men engaged in this small but extremely trying piece of service dropped away, and for many years before the time when the present notes are transferred to these pages I have been the sole survivor. The expedition was mentioned approvingly in the Times some months after it had become a thing of the past. Medals and decorations for similar services in West Africa were then in the future.

Fifteen months on the Gold Coast; then came the welcome news that a ship with "reliefs" on board was sighted. Great was the excitement as we watched her gradual approach; great the zest with which their arrival was welcomed; hospitable the reception accorded to them; great the marks of kindness in various ways shown to us by residents. It was long since news had reached us from England, for regular mail communication did not exist. Papers now received were eagerly read, for they were filled with details illustrative of a threatening political aspect in various kingdoms of Europe.

Taught by experience how treacherous and dangerous was the climate of Cape Coast, I determined to proceed by the first ship to sail, irrespective of immediate destination, the chief object being "to get away." The arrival of the transport Baretto Jurnor, with reliefs of West Indian soldiers and African recruits for regiments in the West Indies, afforded me the desired opportunity. On 24th of May we embarked, the ship dropped with the current to Accra, and then sailed for Barbados.

Glad and thankful to have successfully run the gauntlet as it were against the climate of Guinea, the clear sea air, notwithstanding its temperature of 83° F., had its usual beneficial effect on health impaired on the Coast. The transport in which we sailed had on board three hundred Africans, of whom about one-half were soldiers, the remainder recruits, that is, captured slaves, selected from among those in the Adjudication Yard 1 at Sierra Leone, and duly " enlisted" into West India regiments. A good many of the soldiers were accompanied by their wives and children. Among the "recruits" was a very strong athletic African named Kakungee, one of a cargo of slaves, the vessel conveying whom had recently been captured by a British maii-of-war. A fellow-slave, but now "recruit," gave information of the violent and uncontrollable temper of Kakungee while on board the slave ship; that on two occasions he had suddenly attacked fellow-slaves, killing his victims before a rescue could be effected. With a view to guard against similar occurrences on board the Barello Junior, he having speedily shown the violence of his disposition, he was secured to the deck by means of a cask—in one end of which was a hole sufficiently large to let through his head, but not his shoulders—being put over him and cleated down. In that manner he was kept during the early part of our voyage, food and liquids given to him, but his hands prevented from being made use of for either purpose. His imploring requests to be relieved, and promises of good behaviour, led to his release, and being allowed to mix with his fellow-countrymen. Suddenly and without provocation he attacked a comrade. A Yorruba man of great physical strength came to the rescue ; dealt the assailant such a blow that he reeled to leeward, and striking his head against a stanchion, lay insensible in the scupper. For nine days he remained in that condition, notwithstanding means used for his restoration; at the end of that time he died—a victim to his own incorrigible violence.

Twenty-nine days from Accra, our ship lay at anchor in Carlisle Bay, Barbados.' Proceeding on shore to make the usual official reports to the military authorities, we gained particulars in regard to the widespread revolutionary spirit through the nations of Europe; that in London serious demonstrations were threatened. Unhappily we also learned that an outbreak of yellow fever had occurred among the troops occupying barracks on the Savannah; that among victims of the disease were some medical officers. The upshot was that I was ordered on shore for duty. That afternoon I "took over" the barrack-room assigned to me, vacated very shortly before through death of its occupant. Disinfection and other means of modem sanitation were little if at all thought of in those days; nor, up to the present, close upon half a century since the event, has the malady extended to me.

The general aspect of Barbados is at first sight very beautiful. Approaching the island from the northward, it appears as a mass of rich green vegetation, the border of sea grape trees, like so many bearded men,—whence its name was taken,—becoming more distinct as we approach. Towards its interior a succession of hills rise to a height of eight hundred or a thousand feet, their sides mostly covered with turf, with here and there clumps of trees, the intervening valleys divided by different estates and lots upon which are grown sugar-cane and guinea-corn. The houses have such a home-like look that the name of "Little Scotland," long since given to the island, seems appropriate, more especially when the landscape is viewed from the summit of one of those hills inland, to which in one of our excursions we proceeded. Unhappily a check—temporarily, it is hoped—has been brought upon the once flourishing sugar industry of the island. Since the emancipation of slaves took place, properties have altogether fallen in value, proprietors have been ruined, the universal complaint being that the freed slaves cannot be got to work. Geologically the chief component rocks of Barbados consist of coral limestone and coral. In respect to its fauna, it has the peculiarity of possessing but a small proportion of venomous snakes as compared with the other islands of the West India group. The people who have been born on the island are known as "Birns." Their colour is a mixture of red and albinoid white; their special characteristic said to be pride.

Comparing the climate of Barbados with that of tropical India, the former has various advantages. To a certain extent it is bracing and exhilarating; the prevailing breeze, as it comes across the Savannah, pleasant to the sensations, so that officers and other persons ride out at all hours of the day, their faces ruddy, themselves to all appearance in robust health. At intervals of seven to eight years, epidemics of yellow fever occur, such as that which recently attacked the 66th and 72nd Regiments, and after a temporary decrease in its severity, recurred with more than usual intensity and mortality. With regard to physical conditions, geological and otherwise, there is to all appearance nothing of a kind to supply explanation, whether of the advent, increase, temporary cessation, sudden return with increased intensity, and final cessation; neither can explanation be drawn from those conditions for the lengthened duration of non-epidemic intervals, or of the cyclical return of the disease in pestilential form.

Embarked on board the Prince Royal transport, I sailed for England. During the homeward voyage only one incident deserving notice occurred. In a. clear moonlit night we became aware that we were in collision with a vessel of no great size. As we rushed on deck, we were shocked to observe that the craft suddenly disappeared a short distance astern of us. No less to his own surprise than ours, a sailor belonging to her was found on our deck, cast upon us in a portion of her rigging that lay across it. He was carefully seen to by us, taken to Portsmouth, and there handed over to the Spanish Consul, for we had ascertained that the ship run down had sailed from Corunna.

Gravesend reached, we disembarked; in due time reported our arrival at Headquarters. The authorities granted the usual period of leave of absence in accordance with Regulations at the time in force. From them also I received a letter conveying the thanks of Earl Grey for services performed in Africa. A few days thereafter I learned that of our "reliefs," three in number, two had died within a month after landing at Cape Coast, one of them my own successor. Fortunate, therefore, was my resolve not to delay departure.

Often is the statement made, but nearly always by persons who live at home at ease, that deaths of British officers in Africa and other tropical countries are due to their irregularities and vices, not to combined conditions collectively constituting climate. The officers with whom I was associated on the Gold Coast were in their habits and general manner of life as nearly as possible like their contemporaries in England; nor did the few who at times exceeded somewhat appear to suffer in any respect more than did those of more temperate habits. It is the climate of Guinea, and it alone, that kills the white man, and in yet greater proportion the white woman.

An incident which occurred shortly after I had arrived in London was in its way illustrative of the state of public feeling at the time. It was while spending an evening in Portman Street Barracks,' then occupied by the Scots Fusilier Guards, that orders from the Horse Guards directed that the battalion should be kept within barracks and under arms; information at the same time circulated that on the previous day there had been a "rising" of the Chartists at Ashton, near Birmingham, and that a similar outbreak in London was intended. Subsequently we learned that the Duke of Wellington, then Commander-in-Chief, had made ample arrangements for such a contingency, though with so much secrecy and discretion that not a soldier was to be seen on the street. But the anticipated outbreak did not take place.

A portion of leave granted was devoted by me to the combined objects of restoring health and gaining knowledge. At the beginning of the winter session I re-entered at Edinburgh University to benefit by the lectures of Sir George Ballingall. Meanwhile, a friend was interesting himself in appropriate quarters in view to my being released from further service on "the Coast."


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