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Mr. Afzelius's account of the natural productions.
NoTE A Α. 792. At Ý 525, I signified my intention of inserting in this Appendix, the “ Subfance of two Reports” from Mr. Afzelius, subjoined to the Report of the Direc tors; but interesting materials have so unexpectedly multiplied on my hands, that I find I can only afford room for the following Abridgment of an Account of the Natural Productions of S. Leona *.
ANIMALS. Oxen & affes. 793. Cattle thrive well, and even grow fat, but not so commonly as in Europe .
A number of bulls, oxen and cows graze in the savannahs.-Some few asses, sent to the colony, are used in labour, and do not suffer by the climate ; but are not equal to
mules. Sheep, goats, 794. Sheep change their wool into hair. They suffer from the heat, are comhogs.
monly lean, and do not increase much. But goats and hogs are very prolific, and as fine and large as in any other countries. The colony is sufficiently stocked with
these animals. Antelopes, 795. Porcupines, wild hogs, squirrels and antelopes, may also be classed among &c.
the animals found at S. Leona proper for food. The skin of the latter appears to be
proper for gloves. Lions, &c. 796. The beasts of prey are lions, leopards, hyænas, musk cats, and many kinds
of weasels, which last are very destructive to poultry. The skins of some of these might be of use in a commercial view. There are two species of mulk cats at S.
Leona, the civet and the zibet cat. Japanzee. 797. The Japanzee or Chimpanzee, common in the mountains of S. Leona,
resembles man more than even the Ourang Outang. Of two brought to the colony, one died foon; the other, being older, lived some months. He was nearly 2 feet high, but their full ftature is nearly '5 feet. He was covered with black
* Having already bestowed a Chap. (the sth.) on natural productions, I certainly would no fwell my work with any thing more on the subject, if I did not think the descriptions of so able a na turalist as Mr. Afzelius, infinitely more worthy of attention than any thing I can pretend to write os the fubje£t. The reader, however, will observe, that the memoir, of which I here offer him an abridgment, is itself given by the Directors, only as “ The substance” of two reports from Mr. A. I have not seen those reports; but, from that gentleman's known caution and accuracy, I may venture to say that they were not intended for publication, in any shape ; especially, as I know how difficult it is for a person to express himself accurately in a foreign-language, which the English is to Mr. A. as well as to myself. I believe, I may pronounce them to have been mere popular descriptions, intended for the use of gentlemen concerned in the S. Leona undertaking, who could not well be supposed minutely converfant in the technical language and arrangement of natural history. The learned reader, therefore, will not suppose Mr. A's two original reports, still less their substance, and least of all, this Abridgment of their Substance, to be specimens of Mr. A's profesional abilities. 8
hair, long and thick on the back, but short and thin on the breast and belly. His AppendIX.
799. Green, hawk's bill, or loggerhead, turtles, are very common, and some. Amphibious times of an immense fize. Fresh water turtles, and land turtles, are also found, animals, &c. the latter in abundance; and it is thought that they might be imported into England to good profit. Crocodiles, or alligators, of a non-descript fpecies, 10 or 12 feet in length, have been found; and lizards of six species, among which are the Guana and the Cameleon, Snakes are almost innumerable; they haunt the houses in the night in search of poultry; the largest yet discovered measured 18 feet, which did not prove venemous.
800. The insects are very numerous. The most remarkable are the termites, Infeets, &c. (commonly called wood-ants, or bug-a-bugs) which destroy wooden houses and fences; ants, which devour provisions; cockroaches and crickets, which destroy clothes, linen and leather ; musquitoes, fand-flies, scorpions, tarantulas and centi. pedes; also wild bees, which furnish plenty of wax and honey. The vermes are little known; the barnacles are very large, and injurious to veisels not copper-bottomed.
801. Fishes are in great variety, both in the sea and the river. The spermaceti Fishes, &c. whale has been occasionally found at S. Leona, but oftener down the coast. Be sides the whale, the shark, stinging-ray and porpoise, there are eels, horse-mackarel, tarpoons, cavillos, mullets, snappers, yellowtails, old-maids, tenpounders, and fome other fishes; all of which, except the eels and tenpounders, are efeemed fine eating. Oysters are found in great abundance, and another shell fish, which the natives eat. Among the Zoophites, none is more worthy of notice than the common sponge, which covers all the sandy beaches of the river, particularly on the Bullom shore, and would fetch a high price in G. Britain.
APPENDIX. pers beft in swamps, it will thrive also on elevated land; but, like other aquatics, it
grows smaller and thinner, though the grain is better. Of this quality is the rice on the eminences of S. Leona, while on the plains of the Bullom shore, and other such tracts, it grows as luxuriantly as in Carolina, and if cieaned with equal care, it would be equally white; but at present, through the negligence of the na ives, both the rice intended for consumption, and for trade, retains part of the brownish rind. The rice fields are prepared during the dry season, and receive the seed in the tornado season, antecedent to the rains; but the seasons varying, the time for
sowing is irregular. In the year 1792, rice was sown in June, and reaped in Oct. Citada, 2. This constitutes, after rice, the chief food of the inhabitants, and it's culture
requires time and care. It fucceeds best in sandy, open places. In 3 or 4 months after planting, the roots grow fit for use. The natives do not reap the whole at once, but dig up a few roots as they want them; but, before the succeeding rains, they clear the field, never extending their plantations beyond the supposed exigencies of a single year. The natives sometimes make cakes of cassada, which though dry, are well tasted and extremely white: they also boil or roast this article. A kind of ale might poslibly be prepared from it, as is done by the Arawalks of Surinam*.
to be cauti. oully uled.
• As no part of household economy requires so much care and caution as the preparation of Car. sada, some further account of it cannot fail to be acceptable to such of my readers, as may bave occafion to reside in any new tropical colony.-Dr. Browne mentions two species of that plant, which are used in the Sugar Illands as food; and which he thus describes. “ IATROPHA 4 Foliis pal. matis pentadactylibus, radice conico-oblonga, carne fublattea."-"“ latropba, Foliis palmatus, lobis lanceolatis, levibus integerrimis.”” Linn. Sp. Pl.-The Cassava, Casada or Casadar.— The juice of the root is sweetish, but more or less of a deleterious, or poisonous, nature, both fresh and in the putrid ftate.--But, however, unwholesome or violent, the rough juice may be found, immediately after it is expressed, &c. it has been lately discovered by an ingenious gentleman, who has practised many years in the warm parts of America, that a little mint water and salt of wormwood will calm the most violent symptoms that arise on taking it; and prevent all bad consequences, even in the human species, if it be but timely administered. IATROPHA 5. Foliis palmatis, lobis incertis, radice ebo longá, funiculo valido per centrum du&to, carne nivea.—Ibe sweet Cassada,"——(The Linnæan descrip tion of this last species, if any, Dr. B. has not inserted.) —" This plant,” continues the Doctor, “ is very like the foregoing, both in habit and appearance, and cultivated in the same manner; but the root is free from any of that deleterious quality that is generally observed in the juices of the other sort. It is always planted in separate pieces, for fear of a mistake, and roasted or boiled for use; but the latter seems to be the best method of dressing it." Nat. Hift. of Jamaica p. 349, where the learned author describes the method of preparing the farine, or meal, from the first fpecies above men. tioned.. See also Long's 3d. Vol. But I apprehend that in all such processes, experience is a safes guide than any descriptions to be found in books.—Not knowing into whose hands this work may fall, I have inserted the above extracts, by way of caution to persons unacquainted with the danger of using casada indiscriminately, and without being duly prepared, by some person practically skilled in the operation, which though not difficult, requires great care and attention.—A certain eminent botanift, and also a friend of mine who has been long in the W. Indies, both advise me, by all means, to infert this note.
3. These resemble potatoes, and are dry, farinaceous, and nutritious. Though Appendix. elsewhere there are many species of yams, there is but one in S. Leona. The largest root in the Company's gardens weighed only about 4lb. the soil being pro
Yams. bably too hard for it. The natives do not bestow so much pains on yams as cassada.
4. These are good and useful roots, in no particular, however, resembling the Sweet potatoes true potatoes, except that like them, they are farinaceous roots. They thrive best in a loose soil, but the natives are as inattentive to them as to yams. The leaves boiled make a good dish on the table, and afford an excellent nourishment for sheep, goats, or pigs 5. These are eaten by the natives, either raw or roasted.
Ground-nuts. 6. Though abundant, they are not so much used as they deserve to be. The leaves, Eddoes. if young, are as good as spinach; and the roots, when boiled, resemble chesnuts. They are fit for use when 3 months old, but are best after 4 or 6 months growth.
7 and 8. Country potatoes of two forts; ift, Ajuck, a round root, somewhat big- Country potager than a hazel nut, found in abundance in low places, with a long item, which toes. creeps round it on the ground; it's taste is better than that of sweet potatoes; but it is less solid. And, 2dly, Abunk, which grows on the branches of the tree in a strange manner, and is a singular excrescence of an irregular, angular and tuberous shape. It takes somewhat like sweet potatoes.
9. A common, handsome and useful tree, indicating a good soil. It supplies the Oil-palm, inhabitants with oil, wine and food. The wine in appearance perfe&tly resembles whey, tastes well when fresh, but is apt to ferment, to change in 3 or 4 days to the strongest vinegar, of a disagreeable smell. It is collected by tapping the tree. The oil is obtained from the fruit, which is of the size of a hazel nut, consisting of a hard kernel, enclosed in a thick, fat matter, covered with a thin skin, which diffolves and yields the oil, which is used by the natives by way of butter to their rice. This oil, though liquid at first, in a short time hardens, and turns rancid: a superior oil is made, though in small quantities, by bruising and boilling the kernels in water. The interior substance of the top of young palm-trees being boiled, eats like cabbage: the leaves serve the natives for baskets. 10 and 11. These grow very commonly, and are two useful trees, nearly related Plantains &
bananas. to the palm. Plantains are larger than bananas, more regular, bent at the base, and fewer in each cluster, harder and less luscious. They are eaten raw, boiled, or roasted. Bananas are among the superior fruits of this country, soft and sweet, and generally eaten raw : above 100 grow in a cluster. The leaves are used for various economical purposes; and the fibres forve in some places for thread.
12. A fine fruit of a deep green, but when ripe of a yellow colour. When Papaw. green it is boiled, when ripe eaten raw as a fruit. The leaves are used inflead of soap, the hollow falks for pipes, and ropes may be made of the bark. 13. Some green fruit of this kind has been discovered in a neighbouring bay. Guava.
APPENDIX. 14 and 15. These are very common in their wild fate, bearing ripe fruit
throughout the year, though not always in equal abundance. The oranges are exOranges and cellent, and larger than those of Europe. Lemons planted long ago by the Portulimes.
guese in the neighbourhood, have degenerated so much as to resemble limes. Pompions.
16. These are to be found wild, wherever the ground is loose; but though more solid, are not so large as the European. They are used for pies and puddings,
and may be had throughout the year. Melons, &c.
17, 18, 19, 20. Squash, water, melon, cucumber and musk, melon. These arrive at the greatest perfection, and by proper care might be made to surpass the Euro
pean. The first settlers found no water melons, but took the feeds with them. Pine applēs. 21. These are far better flavoured than those of Europe, but tougher in the
middle. They are to be found all the year, growing wild in the woods, and on de
clivities near water. They are also planted by the natives. Pigeon peas.
22. This is a good pulse, and is dressed like English peas or beans. It grows wild in the skirts of woods, and in old rice and callada fields, and may be had
throughout the year. Maize or In 23. This is cultivated more on the Bullom shore than near Freetown; it redian corn.
quires but 3 months to ripen, so that several harvests are afforded in a year, The grain is boiled in salt water, or roasted in the ear and eaten with butter, but sometimes it is eaten raw. The natives of the Gold Coast make puddings of it.
Goats and cattle eat the blades with avidity. Millet.
24. Millet of two kinds, is found wild and used for poultry; the ftalks of the
larger sort contain a refreshing juice. Cocoa-nut
25. Cocoa trees grow in Sherbro, where they have been planted. The nuts are
eaten raw or made into pies. Cashew.
26. Cashew nuts, according to Lieut. Matthews, were introduced by the Euro
peans; but none have been seen at S. Leona, except on the Bullom shore. Ockra.
27. The fruit of a little tree resembling the English seatree mallows, very common in S. Leona. The pods render soup gelatinous and highly nourishing; the leaves boil like spinach.
28. These have been found, in small quantities, near S. Leona. They probably Sugar-cane.
will thrive exceedingly, as soon as the land fhall have been some time in cultivation.
29. This is common in low lands about Freetown: it abounds with a juice re. Butter and tallow tree. sembling gamboge in taint and durability, which exudes after the least laceration.
The wood is firm, and seems adapted to various uses. The fruit is nearly oval, about twice the size of a man's fist; the rind is thick, pulpy, and of a pleasant acid; in the inside are found from 5 to 9 seeds, of the fize of a walnut, containing an oleaginous matter, used by the natives, with their rice or other food.