At two. P.M. came to an anchor before the fort and settlement of Bance Island, which we saluted with seven guns. The river is navigable up to this island for ships, and small craft proceed a number of miles higher, on the branches of the Port Logo and Rochell. It is obscured from the view by the island of Tasso, until bearing round a point of that island called Tasso Point; the eye is then attracted by a regular fortification, and even an elegant range of buildings and store-houses, which, with great propriety, may be considered as one of the most desirable positions upon the windward coast of Africa, to command the interior commerce of the countries bordering upon the river Sierra Leone and its branches, and that of the rivers to the northward, the Scarcies and adjoining rivers, the Rio Pongo, with the Isles De Loss, Rio Grande, Rio Noonez, &c. and those which fall into the sea from Cape Sierra Leone to Cape Palmas.
Tasso is an island adjoining, about a mile and a half distant, of some extent, and a remarkably fertile soil. It is attached to Bance Island; bearing cotton of a very good staple, and is capable of producing any tropical production. Considerable labour and expense have been applied to introduce cultivation into this island, and to exemplify to the African the advantages derivable from his native soil, by the civil arts of life; while under a still more scientific superintendency, it would become a possession of very considerable consequence in an agricultural view.
Bance Island is little more than a barren rock, of about three-quarters of a mile in extent. The entrance into the fort is through a folding door or gate, over which, throughout the night, a watch is constantly placed. The expectations excited by its external appearance were by no means lessened by a view of the interior of the fort, in which were assembled several traders, and chiefs, with their attendants. I was much the object of their curiosity and attention; and in their manner, all came up to me, to give me service , as expressed in the idiom of their language. This ceremony is simply performed by touching the fingers, accompanied in the Timminy language by the usual obeisance of Currea , or, how do you do? The reply to this is Ba, which means good, I return you service.
The Grumittas, or free black people, are assembled outside the fort, in houses or huts built with mud, upon the general construction in Africa, which usually is an oblong square, raised little more than eight feet; or a circle of the same height, over which is thrown a roof of bamboo, or other thatch, supported by posts about five or six feet asunder, forming a canopy, which shelters them from the rays of the sun, or the inclemency of the weather, and affords a shade under which they retire in the extreme heat of the day, where they repose in their hammocks, or rest upon their mats. This group of buildings or huts is denominated Adam’s Town, from the black chief