The women of this nation are handsome, and of a sprightly temper, and their countenances are more regular than those of the common Negroes; the hair in both men and women is much longer, and not so woolly, but they have a most disgusting custom of forming it into ringlets, bedaubed with oil and grease, which gives them a very barbarous appearance. The Foolah tongue, is different from that of the surrounding nations, and its accent is more harmonious.
To the southward of the Rio Pongo, to Sierra Leone, lie the countries of the Bagoes, Soosees, Mandingos, Timminees, and Boolams, all idolaters except the Mandingos, who, like the Foolahs, associate in their religion a mixture of fetishism and Mahomedanism. The Timminees are a more harmless race of men than any of the other infidel nations, and their dispositions are more calculated to industrious avocations than their neighbours.
I have already noticed the Mandingos, but, as I consider this nation and the Foolahs of the first consequence, from their power and influence over the other nations of this part of the coast, I shall add a few more observations upon them.
From what I have before stated, it will appear that the Mandingos are a numerous people in Africa, gaining a daily influence and authority in the district now under consideration. Besides the tribes of this people who inhabit the countries between the Soosees and Timminees, there are various others established in the country of Bambouk, and on the borders of the Gambia, but the great body occupy an extensive territory above the sources of that river.
The empire of the Mandingos is not, however, so considerable as that of the Foolahs, but from their increasing influence over the western countries, from their docile and cunning dispositions, their knowledge in merchandize, and acquirements in book-knowledge, their power must, in process of time, be greatly increased; and it will be of the utmost moment to civilize them, in order to acquire an influence over the more barbarous states.
Notwithstanding the cunning and dissimulation which characterizes these people, they are generous, open, and hospitable, and their women are aimiable and engaging: they are more zealous Mahomedans than the Foolahs; their colour has a mixture of yellow, but their features are more regular than the other nations of Africa which I have seen. The Foolahs, the Mandingos, and the Joliffs, bordering on the Senegal, are the most handsome Negroes on this part of Africa; the hair of the latter, however, is more crisped and woolly, their nose is round, and their lips are thick; this nation, in particular, is blacker than those approximating towards the line; nor are the Negroes in the Krew coast, and towards Palmas, so black as the nation I now speak of; which may tend to prove, that the colour of the Africans does not arise from a vertical sun, but from other physical causes yet unknown.