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The government is monarchical ; and the regal authority, from what I experienced of it, seems to be sufficiently formidable. The people themselves, however, complain of no oppression ; and seemed all very anxious to support the king, in a contest he was going to enter into with the sovereign of Kasson. The Serawoollies are habitually a trading people ; they formerly carried on a great commerce with the French in gold and slaves, and still maintain some traffic in slaves with the British factories on the Gambia. They are reckoned tolerably fair and just in their dealings, but are indefatigable in their exertions to acquire wealth, and they derive considerable profits by the sale of salt, and cotton cloth, in distant countries. When a Serawoolli merchant returns home from a trading expedition, the neighbours immediately assemble to congratulate him upon bis arrival. On these occasions the traveller displays his wealth and liberality, by making a few presents to his friends; but if he has been unsuccessful, his levee is soon over; and every one looks upon him as a man of no understanding, who could perform a long journey, and (as they express it) bring back nothing but the hair
Their language abounds much in gutturals, and is not so harmonious as that spoken by the Foulahs; it is, however, well worth acquiring by those who travel through this part of the African continent; it being very generally understood in the kingdoms of Kasson, Kaarta, Ludamar, and the northern parts of Bambarra. In all these countries the Serawoollies are the chief traders. Their numerals are,
Tamo. Twenty Tamo di fillo. We arrived at Joag, the frontier town of this kingdom, on the 24th of December; and took up our residence at the house of the chief man, who is here no longer known by the title of Alkaid, but is called the Dooty. He was a rigid Mahomedan, but distinguished for his hospitality. This town may be supposed on a gross computation, to contain two thousand inhabitants. It is surrounded by a high wall, in which are a number of port holes, for musquetry to fire through, in case of an attack. Every man's possession is likewise surrounded by a wall; the whole forming so many distinct citadels ; and amongst a people unacquainted with the use of artillery, these walls answer all the purposes of stronger fortifications. To the westward of the town is a small river, on the banks of which the natives raise great plenty of tobacco and onions.
The same evening Madiboo the Bushreen, who had accompanied me from Pisania, went to pay a visit to his father and mother, who dwelt at a neighbouring town called Dramanet. He was joined by my other attendant, the black
smith; and as soon as it was dark, I was invited to see the sports of the inhabitants, it being their custom on the arrival of strangers, to welcome them by diversions of different kinds. I found a great crowd surrounding a party who were dancing by the light of some large fires to the music of four drums, which were beat with great exactness and uniformity. The dances, however, consisted more in wanton gestures, than in muscular exertion or graceful attitudes. The ladies vied with each other in displaying the most voluptuous movements imaginable.
December 25th. About two o'clock in the morning a number of horsemen came into the town, and having awakened my landlord, talked to him for some time in the Serawoolli tongue; after which they dismounted, and came to the Bentang, on which I had made my bed. One of them, thinking that I was asleep, attempted to steal the musquet that lay by me on the mat; but finding that he could not effect his purpose undiscovered, he desisted ; and the strangers sat down by me till daylight.
I could now easily perceive, by the countenance of my interpreter, Johnson, that something very unpleasant was in agitation. I was likewise surprised to see Madiboo and the blacksmith so soon returned. On inquiring the reason, Madiboo informed me that as they were dancing at Dramanet, ten horseinen, belonging to Batcheri, king of the country, , with his second son at their head, had arrived there, inquiring if the white man had passed: and on being told that I was at Joag, they rode off without stopping. Madiboo added, that on hearing this, he and the blacksmith hastened back to give me notice of their coming. Whilst I was listening to
this narrative, the ten horsemen mentioned by Madiboo arrived; and coming to the Bentang, dismounted and seated themselves with those who had come before, the whole being about twenty in number, forming a circle round me, and each man holding his musquet in his hand. I took this opportunity to observe to iny landlord, that as I did not understand the Serawoolli tongue, I hoped, whatever the men had to say they would speak in Mandingo. To this they agreed ; and a short man, loaded with a remarkable number of saphies, opened the business in a very long harangue, informing me that I had entered the king's town without having first paid the duties, or giving any present to the king, and that, according to the laws of the country, my people, cattle, and baggage, were forfeited. He added, that they had received orders from the king to conduct me to Maana,* the place of his residence; and if I refused to come with them, their orders were to bring me by force ; upon his saying which, all of them rose up and asked me if I was ready. It would have been equally vain and imprudent in me to have resisted or irritated such a body of men; I therefore affected to comply with their commands, and begged them only to stop a little until I had given my horse a feed of corn, and settled matters with my landlord. The poor blacksmith, who was a native of Kasson, mistook this feigned compliance for a real intention, and taking me away from the company, told me that he had always behaved towards me as if I had been his father and master; and he hoped I would not entirely ruin him, by going to Maana ; adding, that as there was every
* Maana is within a short distance of the ruins of Fort St. Joseph, on the Senegal river, formerly a French factory. VOL. I.
reason to believe a war would soon take place between Kasson and Kajaaga, he should not only lose his little property, the savings of four years' industry, but should certainly be detained and sold as a slave, unless his friends had an opportunity of paying two slaves for his redemption. I saw this reasoning in its full force, and determined to do my utmost to preserve the blacksmith from so dreadful a fate. I therefore told the king's son that I was ready to go with him, upon the condition that the blacksmith, who was an inhabitant of a distant kingdom, and entirely unconnected with me, should be allowed to stay at Joag till my return: to this they all objected; and insisted, that as we had all acted contrary to the laws, we were all equally answerable for our conduct.
I now took my landlord aside, and giving him a small present of gunpowder, asked his advice in so critical a situation : he was decidedly of opinion that I ought not to go to the king: he was fully convinced, he said, that if the king should discover any thing valuable in my possession, he would not be over scrupulous about the means of obtaining it. This made me the more solicitous to conciliate matters with the king's people; and I began by observing, that what I had done did not proceed from any want of respect towards the king, nor from any wish to violate his laws, but wholly from my own inexperience and ignorance, being a stranger, totally unacquainted with the laws and customs of their country : I had indeed entered the king's frontier, without knowing that I was to pay the duties beforehand, but I was ready to pay them now ; which I thought was all they could reasonably demand. I then tendered them, as a present to the king, the five drachms of gold which the king of Bondou had given