Page images






70. If we except some trifling and unsuccessful attempts Minerals of the Chevalier de la Brue, in the beginning of the present searched for. century, the Europeans have never made any particular search for metals or minerals in Africa. Of late, indeed, the directors of the Sierra Leona company, sent out my countryman Mr. A. Nordenskjold, a very skilful mineralogist on this business: but sorry I am to say, he fell a victim to his spirited exertions in the wet season, before he was able to accomplish the object of his mission. His death is lamented by many of the learned throughout Europe, as a public loss, and with great reason; for I may venture to say, that never were greater ability, industry, and zeal in the cause of science and of mankind, united in one person. It is to be hoped, however, that the company will not be discouraged by this unfortunate event; but will pursue the search with the attention it deserves. It is well known that very Gold. considerable quantities of gold are found near the surface, and in the channels of torrents, in the inland parts; although the negroes cannot be said to be skilful in collecting it. About the year 1728, the gold brought annually into Europe from Africa was valued, by the English writers, at £ 271,732 sterling. According to the cotemporary Dutch accounts, Africa furnished Europe with gold to the value of £230,000 yearly*. The near agreement of these estimates seems to


that neither of them were very remote from the truth. “ Guineas were first coined in King Charles II.'s

gentleman, who has often visited the gold coast, told me that he had seen a very
large species of nutmeg, brought from the interior parts by the negroes, some of
whom wear strings of it by way of ornament.
* Atlas Maritimus et Commercialis, printed 1728, folio 271.




C HA P. reign. They went for twenty shillings, and had their name

from the gold whereof they were made, being brought from that part of Africa called Guinea, which the elephant on them likewise denotes*." “ From 120,000 to 150,000 ounces of gold were formerly imported from the gold coast of Africa annually; and in one year 400,000 guineas were coined from what was brought from thenceť.”

71. These facts will doubtless be interesting to many readers ; but, for my own part, I confess that I am more partial to the useful, than to what are called the precious, metals. Gold and silver, as hitherto used, or rather abused, have occafioned infinite mischiefs to society. Effodiuntur opes, irritamenta malorum. These words of an ancient poet (Ovid) are but too applicable to modern times. But iron, and the other humbler metals, are so indispensibly necessary to man, without their assistance every thinking person must see that civilized society could never have existed, and will be disposed to look upon them as peculiar gifts of Providence; especially as the discovery of iron, the most useful of all metals, is so very remote from any experiments that we can suppose uncivilized tribes capable of making. Hence it gives me much satisfaction to be able to state, from the best authority, that the inhabitants of the mountains of

* Postlethwayt's Commercial Dictionary, printed 1763, Article “Coin."

+ Treatise upon the Trade from Great Britain to Africa, by an African merchant, printed 1772, App.p.2.-It is worthy of remark that Brazil, while in the hands of the Dutch, as it was for a whole century, produced no gold; because they did not search for it. The Portuguese, afterwards getting possession of that country, opened the gold mines, which are now said to be the richest in the world. May not the fate of the African mines be similar?--For an interesting memoir, relative to the discovery of gold up the river Gambia, see the Appendix,


[ocr errors]


Bambouc and Gallam, about 700 miles up the Senegal, CHA P. possess this valuable secret, or at least possess plenty of excellent malleable iron*. The Chevalier de la Brue, describes it as so malleable, that the natives of those parts, work it into pots with hammers, and says they do not value European iron, unless it be already formed into some useful instrument t. Whether the natives extract this iron from it's ore, or whether they find it in a malleable state, M. de la Brue does not say, and I will not presume to speak positively on a point so much disputed among the learned. Professor Pallas, in particular, affirms that he found malleable iron in Siberia; and a certain eminent naturalist, lately flattered himself, that he had made the same discovery in Africa. I confefs, however, with all due respect for such authorities, that I am inclined to think iron, from it's great corruptibility, is of all metals, the least to be looked for, in any other than a mineralized state; unless placed by nature in such a particular, and hitherto unknown, vehiculum, as has entirely excluded the air from it. Doctor Pallas, indeed, very fairly transmitted specimens of this malleable iron to several chymists throughout Europe; but most of them were of opinion, that it had undergone the

* During my stay at Goree, I often conversed with a negro captive, called Tumanisisi, who came from Fouta Jallo (as he pronounced it) a confiderable dis. tance above Gallam, and who was very much regarded and trusted by his master, M. Auguftus Newton of Goree, with whom he had lived ten years. This negro told me, that he had been often down in the mines in his country, which, he said, were very deep, and had also many galleries, or horizontal passages. These he described as very long, and, in some places, very high and wide, with openings from above, to give air and light. He added, that those' mines were wrought by women, who, when they went down into them, always carried victuals along with them. + Nouvelle Relation de l'Afrique Occidentale par Labat, Tome 4. P. 57.


CHA P. action of fire, and that the matrix, to which it was united,

was nothing more than the scoria of the metal. However
this be, it is certain that the natives of the inland countries,
just mentioned, dig up and manufacture iron; for I was af-
sured of the fact by several respectable officers at Goree.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

72. HA

AVING given some account of the climate, soil,

and produce of the part of the coast laid down in the

map, it seems natural to make a few observations on the comparative salubrity of different places and situations; and to offer to Europeans, who propose to reside in that region, some advice respecting the preservation of health, in a country


very different from that to which they have been accustomed. This appears to me to be a matter of such serious importance, that I mean afterwards to propose the superintendance of it, as a separate department in the direction of every new colony.

73. “ Men," says Dr. Lind, who exchange their native, plants fimi- for a distant, climate, may be considered as affected in a larly affected by being

manner somewhat analogous to plants removed into a foransplanted. reign soil; where the utmost care and attention are requir

ed to keep them in health, and to inure them to their new
situation ; since, thus transplanted, some change must hap-
pen in the constitutions of both *.”
* Ellay on the Diseases of hot Climates, Introduction, p. 2.

74. During

Men and

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]


74. During my stay in Africa, I have often observed with C H A P. astonishment, how little the Europeans, both individuals and public bodies, appear to regard the preservation of health. They could not act more absurdly, if they aimed at ruining their constitutions, in order to bring upon the climate a degree of reprobation which, with all it's faults, it really does not deserve. I cannot better express my own sentiments and observations on this head, than in the words of the able and intelligent physician just quoted.

75. “ It is not uncommon,” says he, “ in many trading Africa, if factories, to meet with a few Europeans pent up in a small would be as spot of low, damp ground, so entirely surrounded with healthful as thick woods, that they can scarcely have the benefit of walk- lubrious Welt ing a few hundred yards, and where there is not so much lands. as an avenue cut through any part of the woods for the admission of wholesome and refreshing breezes. The Europeans have also unfortunately fixed some of their principal settlements on low, inland, unventilated spots, on the foul banks, or near the swampy and oozy mouths of rivers, or on salt marshes, formed by the overflowing of the ocean, where, in many places, the putrid fish, scattered on the shore by the negroes, emit such noisome effluvia, as prove very injurious to health. Notwithstanding what has been said, I think it will hardly admit of doubt, that if any tract of land in Guinea was as well improved as the island of Barbadoes, and as perfectly freed from trees, underwood, marshes, &c. the air would be rendered equally healthful there, as in that pleasant West Indian Island *.”

76. As an instance, in support of this position, the doctor Infance in mentions the Portuguese town of St. Salvadore, which, “not

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

St. Salvadore.

* Essay on the Diseases, &c. p. 50.

« PreviousContinue »