« PreviousContinue »
island is so situated, as to afford not only a secure but a convenient depôt. : We now know, by the enterprizing exertions of Clapperton, that a road is open to the fertile and populous districts of Central Africa; and who can doubt that commerce will find its way thither, and in its train carry with it those improvements in civilization which have hitherto been its invariable concomitants? The paltry trade at present carried on by the Arabs over the Great Desert would no longer be worth pursuing, and the few thousand negro victims, who are at present dragged across that dreary waste, would thus be annually saved from death and slavery. Though we do not imagine that any of the great rivers which flow into the Bights of Benin and Biafra' proceed from Haussa, or that the much talked of Niger crosses the great and continuous chain of mountains which cost Mr. Clapperton five days in passing, but that they take their origin from the southern side of these mountains, yet it is evident that the slaves from the interior, after passing the chain, are marched down to the banks of these rivers for embarkation; and there can be little doubt, from their magnitude, that they are navigable by steam-boats to the very feet of the mountains. By the latest accounts from Clapperton he was at Katunga, on the borders of the Fellata country, situated in lat. 9° 12 and long. 6° 10' E., being on the same meridian nearly with Saccatoo, and the same parallel with the scene of Major Denham's disastrous engagement with the Fellatas; he had fallen in with no great river: the Kowarra, however, which was seventy miles west of Saccatoo, was described to him as running about thirty miles east of Katunga; which strengthens the probability of Denham's supposition that it joins the Shary, after skirting the northern feet of the mountains. Even in this case, the Kowarra or Niger might be made a most advantageous conveyance of mercantile commodities through the central and best parts of Africa, when once a communication has been opened between the seacoast and the dominions of Bello.*
* We have heard, since this was printed, that the undaunted and indefatigable Clapperton had reached the capital of his friend Bello ; and also that the consul of Tripoli had reported the safe arrival of Major Laing at Timbuctoo. We have indeed seen a letter from Mr. Houtsen, the merchant who accompanied Clapperton to Katunga, and wlio had returned to the coast, relating that, before bis departure from that city, he had received intelligence that Clapperton, on bis approach to the frontiers of Barghoo, which borders upon Bello's dominions, had been met by the sovereign of that country at the head of 500 horsemen, to conduct him to his capital. The letter states that it was highly probable Mr. Dickson, who had proceeded from Dahomey, was already at Saccatoo. We have now, therefore, every reason to hope that the interior of Northern Africa, beyond the Great Desert, will no longer, remain a Terra Incogvita, and that the information brought back by our intrepid travellers may be turned to the mutual advantage of their native country and of the long-suffering African; but, be the result
The expense of keeping a squadron constantly employed for the suppression of the slave-trade, the bounty of ten pounds per head paid for every slave captured, and the salaries and other expenses of the Mixed Commission, which, all together, we should imagine, fall not far short of half a million a year; and, above all, the dreadful mortality, and, at the same time, the absolute insufficiency of an English squadron, to whatever extent it might be thought proper to increase it, for the execution of the object in view, so long as the French persevere in pursuing and encouraging the trade-these, taken together, are sufficient grounds, in our opinion, for making the experiment of a change of system ; that is . to say, for abandoning the attempt to abolish the trade by attacking it on the ocean or at the mouths of the rivers; and, in place of this, ascending the rivers into the interior, by armed steam-boats of a light draft of water, and thus cutting off all communication between the slave-hunters and the slave-factors.
We have before us a manuscript account of a transaction between Spain and Portugal respecting Fernando Po, which shows that neither of these powers has any claim to the posses , sion of that island; and, consequently, that it is open to any. power to negociate with the natives for a settlement upon it.
In the year 1778 the Portugueze ceded the islands of Annabon and Fernando Po by treaty to Spain; and in the same year the Spaniards sent out an expedition to take possession of them. The men, ere they reached these regions, were sorely worn down by disease, occasioned by delay, and by want of provisions and medicines; a party were landed in a debilitated state on Fernando Po, and the rest proceeded to Annabon, where, being well received by the natives, the Spanish flag was hoisted, Te Deum sung, and mass said. Here, however, as soon as the natives discovered that the Spaniards were come as lords and masters, not simply as visitors and friends, they, by the advice of a black priest, refused, in the most positive terms, to allow the strangers, to take possession of the island. The commander of the Portugueze frigate, which accompanied the expedition, wished them to land troops and compel the natives to submit; but this the Spanish commander would not allow, as he had the positive orders of his sovereign only to accept of their voluntary submission, and to avoid all contest; they therefore re-embarked and set sail for the island of St. Thomas; and from thence proceeded to Fernando Po, where it had been resolved to form a settlement in
what it may, the various expeditions that have been sent forth with the view of gaining intelligence and promoting the interests of humanity, will form lasting evidence of the enlightened and disinterested spirit of the British government under the colonial administration of the Earl Bathurst.
the Bay of Conception, on the southern side of the island, as both the anchorage and soil were there most promising. Here they found some huts, with natives of both sexes, to whom they distributed looking-glasses, knives, and other trifles. The next day they erected a cross, hoisted the Spanish flag, prepared to pitch their tents, and build a temporary hospital; but the natives had disappeared. A severe sickness soon spread through the garrison, so that one half of them had died in the course of five months, and the remainder were incapable of carrying on the works. They sent a schooner to St. Thomas's to bring them assistance in men and provisions, but she was found in so defective a state as to be unable to return. In the mean time the poor remainder of the Spaniards—for they had been reduced to fifty-five -mutinied against the commander. They said it never could have been the intention of the king of Spain that they should remain on the island until this miserable remnant should also perish. They therefore took the opportunity of a Spanish ship from the Canaries to embark, one and all, and to abandon an island which had been so fatal to their companions. Of 547 men, who originally embarked, 67 only returned to Spain. The cause of this mortality was not entirely owing to want of provisions and medicines, but partly also to the bad choice of a situation on the island, being to leeward, and to the uncleared state of the country.
Since this abandonment of Fernando Po, neither Spaniards nor Portugucze have made any attempts to occupy it. The Spanish commander complains that the Portugueze practised a fraud upon his government; denies, in short, that this nation ever had had any connection with Fernando Po, or even landed upon it. The Count of Argelejos, the commander of the expedition, in his remonstrance against this fraudulent transaction, thus rea
* For the lawful transfer of a dominion, one of two titles is indispensable, either a right of property, or actual possession. No person can pretend to deliver over as his own that which belongs to another. Under these suppositions we ask, how could the crown of Portugal lawfully give to the crown of Spain the island of Fernando Po without having either property in it or possession of it? It was only seen in the reign of Alphonso V, by a gentleman of the name of Fernando Po, and without further conquest, either temporal or spiritual, this nation asserts its claim of direct sovereignty. How easy would it be for many needy wretches, now struggling with poverty, to make conquests in this manner, if whatever they see with their eyes they could claim as their property! The commissioner, therefore, who was named by the court of Portugal in 1778, ought rather to have invited the Spaniards to undertake the conquest of the island of Fernando Po, either by force of arms or by fraud and cunning, than pretend to make a delivery and solemn
cession of an island in the name of his king, when that king could neither deliver nor cede that which was not his own.'— MS. Account, &c.
This reasoning is quite conclusive, and the document in question establishes two facts: first, that Spain, finding herself grossly imposed on, renounced all claim on the island, and broke off the treaty; and secondly, that Portugal had no claim to the island, by right of discovery or of possession.
On the northern part of the coast of Africa, by the personal exertions of the late General Turner-exertions which his
generous zeal pushed beyond the bearing even of a remarkably robust and vigorous frame-a blow has been struck against the slave traffic, which, if followed up by an equal degree of energy on the part of his successor in the government of Sierra Leone, eannot fail to be attended with the happiest results. The general ascended the rivers on which the slaves are usually embarked, protected and re-assured the honest trader and the industrious natives, but pursued with fire and sword those unfeeling wretches whose trade is to encourage rapine and murder among the innocent inhabitants as far as their influence can reach into the in: terior.
• The best information,' says the general, which I can collect, warrants my rating the number annually exported at not less than 15,000, all of whom will in future be employed in cultivating the soil, preparing and collecting articles of export, and improving their own condition"; por will the kings or head-men of these or the surrounding nations have, in future, any interest in carrying on those cruel and desolating wars which depopulated whole districts.
He states that, in consequence of the treaty he had concluded with the neighbouring districts, the chiefs of the country embracing the two rivers Pongos and Nunez,ʻso celebrated for their slaving transactions,' had sent to him their voluntary offer to abolish for ever the slave-trade, (and others have since done the same,) on condition of receiving in return the protection of Great Britain, and the benefit of a free trade with our settlements; and he thus concludes his dispatch to Lord Bathurst :• Our name and influence are spreading with incredible rapidity throughout this part of Africa, and I have little doubt but I shall have the honour ere long to announce to your lordship the total abolition of the slavetrade for a thousand miles round me, and a tenfold increase to the trade of this colony.'
General Turner, we are bound to mention, partook of none of those gloomy ideas to which the unhealthiness and the mortality on the coast of Africa had, for some years ere his death took place, given prevalence—and which have not, to say the least of the matter, been weakened by the circumstances of this gallant and
devoted officer's own subsequent fate. He, down to the last, speaks in sanguine terms of the rapid improvement of Sierra Leone, both in regard to its internal management, and the security and extension of its trade; and in these views he is supported by the testimony of the Commissioners, who state that the agriculture of the colony has improved and increased, and that its produce is now fully sufficient to support its augmented population. • The people,' says General Turner, ' by being thrown more upon their own resources, are becoming industrious and orderly, respectful to their employers, submissive and obedient to the laws;' and he adds, what is most important, that the name and character of the colony are spreading rapidly, and that the rulers of distant nations are eagerly seeking our friendship and alliance, and openly soliciting a trade with us. Indeed we hesitate not to say, that, once establish a commercial intercourse of this kind, encou. rage it even at a loss for a time, and wage unrelenting war with every slave-dealer on the banks of the rivers-and the civilization of Africa is ensured; but so long as the slave-trade is permitted to exist, we are equally certain that rapine and murder, barbarism and desolation, will continue to mark its footsteps.
It is to Africa herself, we must repeat, and to the slave-trade, that the chief attention of the rational philanthropist ought at present to be directed. These are the primary objects which ought to engage the zeal that is not without knowledge.
ERRATUM.-P. 157. line 5. for models read medals.