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Sec. 1. Remembrances respecting Sierra Leona, in August 1607, the Bay, Country, Inhabitants, Rites, Fruits, and Commodities.
The island, which we fell in with some ten leagues south from the bay of Sierra Leona, in lat. 8 deg. N. has no inhabitants; neither did I learn its name. It has some plantains, and, by report, good watering and wooding for ships; but about a league from the shore there is a dangerous ledge of rock, scarcely visible at high water. The bay of Sierra Leona is about three leagues broad, being high land on the south side, full of trees to the very edge of the water, and having several coves, in which we caught plenty and variety of fish. On the farther side of the fourth cove is the watering place, having excellent water continually running. Here on the rocks we found the names of various Englishmen who had been there. Among these was Sir Francis Drake, who had been there twenty-seven years before; Thomas Candish, Captain Lister, and others. About the middle of the bay, right out from the third cove, lieth a sand, near about which there are not above two or three fathoms, but in most other parts eight or ten close in shore. The tide flows E.S.E. the highest water being six or eight feet, and the tide is very strong. The latitude is 8 deg. 30’ N.
The king of Sierra Leona resides at the bottom of the bay, and is called by the Moors Borea, or Captain Caran, caran, caran, having other petty kings or chiefs under him; one of whom, called Captain Pinto, a wretched old man, dwells at a town within the second cove; and on the other side of the bay is Captain Boloone. The dominions of Borea stretch 40 leagues inland, from which he receives a tribute in cotton-cloth, elephants teeth, and gold; and has the power of selling his people as slaves, some of whom he offered to us. Some of them have been converted to Christianity by the Portuguese priests and Jesuits, who have a chapel, in which is a table inscribed with the days that are to be observed as holy. The king and a few of his principal attendants are decently clothed in jackets and breeches; but the common people have only a slight cotton-cloth round their waists, while the women have a kind of short petticoat or apron down to their knees; all the rest of their bodies, both men and women, being quite naked; the young people of both sexes having no dress whatever. All the people, both men and women, have all parts of their bodies very curiously and ingeniously traced and pinked [tatooed], and have their teeth filed very sharp. They pull off all the hair from their eye-lids. The men have their beards short, black, and cropped, and the hair on their heads strangely cut into crisped paths or cross alleys; while others wear theirs in strange jagged tufts, or other foolish forms; the women’s heads being all close shaved.