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nothing will enrage an inhabitant of that town so much as desiring him to catch a lion alive.”
About one o'clock in the afternoon of the 3d of December, I took my leave of Dr. Laidley and Messrs. Ainsley, and rode slowly into the woods. I had now before me a boundless forest, and a country, the inhabitants of which were strangers to civilized life, and to most of whom a white man was the object of curiosity or plunder. I reflected that I had parted from the last European I might probably behold, and perhaps quitted for ever the comforts of Christian society. Thoughts like these would necessarily cast a gloom over the mind, and I rode musing along for about three miles, when I was awakened from my reverie by a body of people, who came running up and stopped the asses, giving me to understand that I must go with them to Peckaba, to present myself to the King of Walli, or pay customs to them. I endeavoured to make them comprehend that the object of my journey not being traffic, I ought not to be subjected to a tax like the Slatees, and other merchants who travel for gain ; but I reasoned to no purpose. They said it was usual for travellers of all descriptions to make a present to the King of Walli, and without doing so I could not be permitted to proceed. As they were more numerous than my attendants, and withal very noisy, I thought it prudent to comply with their demand, and having presented them with four bars of tobacco, for the king's use, I was permitted to continue my journey, and at sunset reached a village near Kootacunda, where we rested for the night.
In the morning of December 4th, I passed Kootacunda, the last town of Walli, and stopped about an hour at a smal
adjoining village to pay customs to an officer of the King of Woolli: we rested the ensuing night at a village called Tabajang; and at noon the next day (December 5th) we reached Medina, the capital of the King of Woolli's dominions,
The kingdom of Woolli is bounded by Walli on the west, by the Gambia on the south, by the small river Walli on the north-west, by Bondou on the north-east, and on the east by the Simbani wilderness.
The country every where rises into gentle acclivities, which are generally covered with extensive woods, and the towns are situated in the intermediate valleys. Each town is surrounded by a tract of cultivated land, the produce of which, I presume, is found sufficient to supply the wants of the inhabitants; for the soil appeared to me to be every where fertile, except near the tops of the ridges, where the red iron stone, and stunted shrubs sufficiently marked the boundaries between fertility and barrenness. The chief productions are cotton, tobacco, and esculent vegetables ; all which are raised in the valleys, the rising grounds being appropriated to different sorts of corn.
The inhabitants are Mandingoes; and, like most of the Mandingo nations, are divided into two great sects, the Mahomedans, who are called Bushreens, and the Pagans, who are called indiscriminately, Kafirs (unbelievers), and Sonakies (i. e. men who drink strong liquors.) The Pagan natives are by far the most numerous, and the government of the country is in their hands; for though the most respectable among the Bushreens are frequently consulted in affairs of importance, yet they are never permitted to take any
share in the executive government, which rests solely in the hands
of the Mansa, or sovereign, and great officers of the state. Of these, the first in point of rank is the presumptive beir of the crown, who is called the Farbanna ; next to him are the Alkaids, or provincial governors, who are more frequently called Keamos. Then follow the two grand divisions of freemen and slaves :* of the former, the Slatees, so frequently mentioned in the preceding pages, are considered as the principal: but in all classes great respect is paid to the authority of aged men.
On the death of the reigning monarch, his eldest son (if he has attained the age of manhood) succeeds to the regal authority. If there is no son, or if the son is under the age of discretion, a meeting of the great men is held, and the late monarch's nearest relation (commonly his brother), is called to the government, not as regent, or guardian to the infant son, but in full right, and to the exclusion of the minor. The charges of the government are defrayed by occasional tributes from the people, and by duties on goods transported across the country. Travellers, on going from the Gambia towards the interior, pay customs in European merchandize. On returning they pay in iron and shea-toulou : these taxes are paid at every town.
Medina,† the capital of the kingdom, at which I was now arrived, is a place of considerable extent; and may contain from eight hundred to one thousand houses. It is fortified in the common African manner, by a surrounding high wall built of clay, and an outward fence of pointed stakes and prickly bushes; but the walls are neglected, and the outward fence has suffered considerably from the active bands of busy housewives, who pluck up the stakes for firewood. I obtained a lodging at one of the king's near relations, who apprized me, that at my introduction to the king, I must not presume to shake hands with him. It was not usual, he said, to allow this liberty to strangers. Thus instructed, I went in the afternoon to pay my respects to the sovereign ; and ask permission to pass through his territories to Bondou. The king's name was Jatta. He was the same venerable old man of whom so favourable an account was transmitted by Major Houghton. I found him seated upon a mat before the door of bis hut: a number of men and women were arranged on each side who were singing and clapping their hands. I saluted him respectfully, and informed him of the purport of my visit. The king graciously replied, that he not only gave me leave to pass through his country, but would offer up
* The term, which signifies a man of free condition, is Horia; that of a slave, Jong
+ Medina in the Arabic signifies a city; the name is not uncommon among the Negroes, and has probably been borrowed from the Mahomedans.
for my safety. On this, one of my attendants, seemingly in return for the king's condescension, began to sing, or rather to roar, an Arabic song; at every pause of which, the king himself, and all the people present, struck their bands against their forehead, and exclaimed, with devout and affecting solemnity, Amen, Amen !* The king told me, furthermore, that I should have a guide the day following, who would conduct me safely to the frontier of his kingdom. I then took my leave, and in the evening sent the king an order upon Dr. Laidley for three gallons of rum, and received in return great store of provisions.
* It may seem from hence that the king was a Mahomedan; but I was assured to the contrary. He joined in prayer on this occasion probably from the mere dictates of his benevolent mind; considering, perhaps, that prayers to the Almighty, offered up with true devotion and sincerity, were equally acceptable, whether from Bushreen or Pagan.
December 6th, early in the morning, I went to the king a second time, to learn if the guide was ready. I found his majesty sitting upon a bullock's hide, warming himself before a large fire; for the Africans are sensible of the smallest variation in the temperature of the air, and frequently complain of cold when a European is oppressed with heat. He received me with a benevolent countenance, and tenderly entreated me to desist from my purpose of travelling into the interior; telling me that Major Houghton had been killed in his route, and that if I followed his footsteps, I should probably meet with his fate. He said that I must not judge of the people of the eastern country by those of Woolli: that the latter were acquainted with white men, and respected them ; whereas the people of the east had never seen a white man, and would certainly destroy me. I thanked the king for his affectionate solicitude, but told him that I had considered the matter, and was determined, notwithstanding all dangers, to proceed. The king shook his head, but desisted from further persuasion ; and told me the guide should be ready in the afternoon.
About two o'clock, the guide appearing, I went and took my last farewell of the good old king, and in three hours reached Konjour, a small village, where we determined to rest for the night. Here I purchased a fine sheep for some beads, and my Serawoolli attendants killed it with all the ceremonies prescribed by their religion : part of it was dressed