At length we arrived, much fatigued, at Mr. Green’s (at Massou), with whom we rested for the night, receiving every kindness and attention in his power to bestow. I am indebted to this gentleman for a variety of useful information relative to a wide extent of country. His education and acquirements are of the first class, and I could not view such a man, insulated from polished society, which he was qualified to adorn, and shut up in the wilds of Africa, among barbarians, without a mixture of pain and surprise; nor did I depart from him without sympathy and regret, after he had confided to me his motives, and the outlines of his life, which were marked with eventful incidents, and extraordinary occurrences.
It was my object to have proceeded from Massou to Rocond, the principal town of Smart’s residence, and from thence to penetrate to the falls of the river, which, from every information I received, exhibit a sublime scene; but, on account of the disturbed state of the country, and that chiefs absence, I was obliged to give up my intention, and return to Rochell, from whence we rowed down the river to the town of our little hospitable chief, Billy Manshu; where we stayed the night. The following day we arrived safe at Miffare; and although Smart had given orders at Mahera to stop all canoes, we were suffered to pass; the chiefs observing, “that they knew we would not tell their enemies, when we came among them, what we saw them do.” Had we been strangers, it is more than probable we should have fallen victims to the fury of these barbarians, who, in the towns we passed, were excited to a savage fierceness, highly descriptive of the natural ferocity of the African character.
At Miffare, formerly occupied by Monsieur Berauld, as previously noticed, who had lately paid the common debt of nature, and who was here buried by his own desire, I had the opportunity of ascertaining a singular custom prevalent in this country towards the dead, and which strongly elucidates the prevailing ideas of its inhabitants, relative to the immortality of the soul and a future state.
After Monsieur Berauld’s interment, his women, and the head people of the town, assembled round the grave occasionally, for a series of days, requiring every evening, from Mr. Hodgkin, a candle to light his grave, which they kept burning during the period of their mourning, under the idea that it would light him in the other world. In addition to this, a still more singular rite was performed on this occasion, by Alimami, of the Port Logo, and a numerous assemblage of natives, who sacrificed a bull to the departed spirit of Berauld, who was held in great estimation among them. From authority I cannot doubt, I am persuaded that when slaves have been redundant, human sacrifices have been offered to the manes of their favourite chiefs and princes. This horrid custom, which is even extended, in many of the districts of Africa, to the productions of the earth, is a most serious subject to contemplate, and a feature of barbarism, pregnant with melancholy consequences to that class of beings, whom a late legislative act has abandoned to contingencies, and the uncontrolled power and avarice of other nations.