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agriculture is no where adopted; the plough therefore, is wholly unknown. The chief implement used in husbandry is the hoe, which varies in form in different districts; and the labour is universally performed by slaves.
On the 6th of October the waters of the Gambia were at the greatest height, being fifteen feet above the high-water mark of the tide ; after which they began to subside ; at first slowly, but afterwards very rapidly ; sometimes sinking more than a foot in twenty-four hours: by the beginning of November the river had sunk to its former level, and the tide ebbed and flowed as usual. When the river had subsided, and the atmosphere grew dry, I recovered apace, and began to think of my departure; for this is reckoned the most proper season for travelling; the natives had completed their harvest, and provisions were every where cheap and plentiful.
Dr. Laidley was at this time employed in a trading voyage at Jonkakonda. I wrote to him to desire that he would use his interest with the slatees, or slave-merchants, to procure me the company and protection of the first coffle (or caraỹan) that might leave Gambia for the interior country: and in the mean time I requested him to purchase for me a horse and two asses. A few days afterwards the Doctor returned to Pisania, and informed me that a coffle would certainly go for the interior in the course of the dry season ; but that as many of the merchants belonging to it had not yet completed their assortment of goods, he could not say at what time they would set out.
As the characters and dispositions of the slatees, and people that composed the caravan were entirely unknown to me, and as they seemed rather averse to my purpose, and unwilling to enter into any positive engagements on my account; and the time of their departure being withal very uncertain, I resolved, on further deliberation, to avail myself of the dry season, and proceed without them.
Dr. Laidley approved my determination, and promised me every assistance in his power, to enable me to prosecute my journey with comfort and safety.
This resolution having been formed, I made preparations accordingly. And now, being about to take leave of my hospitable friend, (whose kindness and solicitude continued to the moment of my departure,*) and to quit for many months, the countries bordering on the Gambia, it seems proper, before I proceed with my narrative, that I should, in this place, give some account of the several Negro nations which inhabit the banks of this celebrated river, and the commercial intercourse that subsists between them, and such of the nations of Europe, as find their advantage in trading to this part of Africa. The observations which have occurred to me on both these subjects will be found in the following Chapter.
* Dr. Laidley, to my infinite regret, has since paid the debt of nature. He left Africa in the latter end of 1797, intending to return to Great Britain by way of the West Indies; and died soon after his arrival at Barbadoes.
Description of the Feloops, the Jaloffs, the Foulahs, and Mandingoes.
-Some Account of the Trade between the Nations of Europe and the Natives of Africa by the Way of the Gambia, and between the native Inhabitants of the Coast and the Nations of the interior Countries—their Mode of selling and buying, &c.
The natives of the countries bordering on the Gambia, though distributed into a great many
distinct governments, may, I think, be divided into four great classes; the Feloops, the Jaloffs, the Foulahs, and the Mandingoes. Among all these nations, the religion of Mahomet has made, and continues to make considerable progress; but in most of them, the body of the people, both free and enslaved, persevere in maintaining the blind but harmless superstitions of their ancestors, and are called by the Mahomedans kafirs, or infidels.
Of the Feloops I have little to add to what has been observed concerning them in the former Chapter. They are of a gloomy disposition, and are supposed never to forgive an injury. They are even said to transmit their quarrels as deadly feuds to their posterity ; insomuch that a son considers it as incumbent on him, from a just sense of filial obligation, to become the avenger of his deceased father's wrongs. If a man loses his life in one of those sudden quarrels, which perpetually occur at their feasts, when the whole party is intoxicated with mead, his son, or the eldest of his sons (if he has more than one), endeavours to procure his father's sandals, which he wears once a year, on the anniversary of his father's death, until a fit opportunity offers of avenging his fate, when the object of his resentment seldom escapes his pursuit. This fierce and unrelenting disposition is, however, counterbalanced by many good qualities; they display the utmost gratitude and affection towards their benefactors ; and the fidelity with which they preserve whatever is intrusted to them is remarkable. During the present war they have, more than once taken up arms to defend our merchant vessels from French privateers; and English property of considerable value, has frequently been left at Vintain, for a long time, entirely under the care of the Feloops; who have uniformly manifested on such occasions the strictest honesty and punctuality. How greatly is it to be wished, that the minds of a people so determined and faithful, could be softened and civilized by the mild and benevolent spirit of Christianity!
The Jaloffs (or Yaloffs) are an active, powerful, and warlike race, inhabiting great part of that tract which lies between the river Senegal and the Mandingo States on the Ganubia ; yet they differ from the Mandingoes, not only in language, but likewise in complexion and features. The noses of the Jaloffs are not so much depressed, nor the lips so protuberant, as among the generality of Africans; and although their skin is of the deepest black, they are considered by the white traders, as the most sightly Negroes in this part of the Continent.
They are divided into several independent states or kingdoms; which are frequently at war either with their neigh
bours, or with each other. In their manners, superstitions, and government, however, they have a greater resemblance to the Mandingoes (of whom I shall presently speak) than to any other nation; but excel them in the manufacture of cotton cloth ; spinning the wool to a finer thread, weaving it in a broader loom, and dying it of a better colour.
Their language is said to be copious and significant ; and
Fook aug wean, &c.