Richard Jobson (1623) The Golden Trade, pp. 27-37.
The severall Inhabitants, &c.
TO speake of the Country, and the inhabitants, I take my beginning from the mouth of the River, whereat our first entrance, we find the Black men called Mandingos, and that they do continue amongst themselves, still one and the selfe same language: Those of them who are inhabiting , or dwelling in the mouth of the River, or within certain leagues of the first enterance, are very fearefull to speake with any shipping, except they have perfect knowledge of them, in regard they have beene many times, by severall nations, surprized, taken and carried away; but upon some knowledge they will resort to the shore neare unto us, and bring with them Beeves, Goates, Hennes, and aboundance of Bonanos, in the West Indies called Plantanos, a most excellent good, and wholesome fruit; likewise of their Country pease, and other graine, and in way of Trade some hides: they there alone have the domination, their Kings and Governors being there seated, as in the upper parts, of whom especially my discourse is intended, howbeit for the more playner proceeding, I must breake of a while from them, and acquaint you first, of another sort of people we finde dwelling, or rather lurking, amongst these Mandingos, onely some certaine way up the River.
And these are, as they call themselves, Portingales, and some few of them seeme the same; others of them are Molatoes, betweene blacke and white, buut the most part as blacke, as the naturall inhabitants: they are scattered, some two or three dwellers in a place, and all are married, or rather keepe with them the countrey blacke women, of whom they beget children, howbeit they have amongest them, neither Church, nor Frier, nor any other religious order. It doth manifestly appeare, that they are such, as have beene banished, or fled away, from forth either of Portingall, or the Iles belonging unto that governement, they doe generally imploy themselves in buying such commodities the countrey affords, whereini especially they covet the contry people, who are sold unto them, when they commit offences, as you shall reade where I write of the generall governement: all which things they are ready to vent, unto such as come into the river, but the blacke people are bought away by their owne nation, and by them either carried, or solde unto the Spaniard, for him to carry into the West Indies, to remaine as slaves, either in their Mines, or in any other servile uses, they in those countries put them to: Some few of these sorting themselves together, in one time of the yeare, have used to go up this River, in a boate or small barke, as farre as Setico, and there to remaine in a trade, from whence it is certainely knowne they have returned much gold, above which place they never attempted, which is not halfe the way, we have already gone up, since our trading there. With these, in their places of dwelling, wee are very conversant, notwithstanding, we received such a horrible treachery from them, as is set downe in my beginning, in regarde they tell us, those that were the Actors thereof, are banished from amongst them, as being hated and detested for the fact. Howsoever, wee hope, and desire it may stand, for all our Nations warning, never to let them have the like occasion, but beleeve, ever they will doe as they say, in telling us they do love and wish us wel, provided they may never have us under their power, to be able to doe us ill, which it behooveth us to take especially care of.
The conditions they live subject unto, under the black Kings, makes it appeare, they have little comfort in any Christian countrey, or else themselves are very carelesse what becommeth of their posteritie; for whensoever the husband, father, or maister of the familie dies, if hee be of any worth, the King seizeth upon what hee hath, without respect, either to wife, children, or servant, except they have warning to provide before, or are capable of themselves, to looke out for the future time; whereby we finde in some those few places we trade with them, poore distressed children left, who as it were exposed to the charitie of the country, become in a manner naturalized, and as they grow up, apply themselves to buy and sell one thing for another as the whole country doth, still reserving carefully, the use of the Portingall tongue, and with a kinde of an affectionate zeale, the name of Christians, taking it in a great disdaine, be they never so blacke, to be called a Negro: and these, for the most part, are the Portingalls, which live within this River, who since they see we have followed a trade, and begunne to settle upon it, in regard they much doubt, wee waite an opportunitie (as they say amongst themselves) to have a valuable satisfaction, for the wrong their Nation began with, knowing the Englishmen doe not ordinarily digest such horrible abuses, it hath made such as were of worth, and dwelling upon the coast, who were woont to looke into the River, forbeare that recourse, and also those, that were of the best and most ablest estates, to quit their dwellings, and to seeke out else-where, leaving none but a few poore snakes, who for feare, rather than love, offer themselves, to do us any maner of service: which feare of theirs, is the more increased, because the naturall blacke people, out of their morall understanding, and were some of them spectators of their bloody murther, the shippe then riding before the Towne, when the fact was done, and by them rightly understood, to be treacherously done in betraying our faithfull trust, contrary to the great protestations and obligements before these inhabitants made and confirmed, did not onely uterly disallow of the fact, but exclaiming against them, caused them to forsake their dwellings in that Towne, neither have they at this time any habitations there, notwithstanding they had had continuance for many yeares before.
And further, when some of our people, who were above in the River, not knowing of this evill accident, and were upon occasions returning to the shippe, whom they found so miserably lost, and carried away, the people of the Towne, especially some principall, and most powerfull men, tooke such compassion upon them, that they fed them, and lodged them, with a greater deale of loving care, and that for no small time, untill they had devised and concluded amongst themselves, what course to take; and having resolved, to take a tedious iourney by Land, in seeking to crosse the country to the North-ward, untill they came to Cape de Verde, where they were sure to meete with shipping, they not onely fitted them, with such necessaries as they could, but also sent of their owne people, as guides with them: and being in that manner commended from one King to another, were loving entertained, lodged, and fed, and with new guides still conveyed, never leaving them, untill their desire was satisfied, and they safely arrived, where they found convenient shipping, and still the commendations that went along with them, from one blacke King to another, was, in regard their shippe was betraied, and taken away by the Portingall, whereby they found such compassion, that in some places they had horses to ride on, and in other places were entreated to rest, and recreate themselves, longer then they were willing.
And thus much is said, for those people of the country, amongst whom the Portingalls dwelt, had their aboade, and all familiar commerce; but for those blacke people who are dwelling above in the River, where these Portingalls never had any habitation, onely as I sayd, a trade, in their boates up some part of the River, and amongest whom wee have setled our selves, with great league and testification of much amitie (as I must deliver when I come unto them,) these I say, when there was only five off our men dwelling amongst them, their houses seated by the River side; and that certaine Portingals, in a smalbark or Boat, were to passe by them in following their Trade to Setico, being a matter of some 16 leagues, above the place our men lived at: these people when they saw our men make ready their armes, & prepare their peeces, to stand on their guard, being so few of them, not daring to trust the Portingals flattering promises, did not only but themselves in companies for their defence, but likewise animated our men, to set upon them, promising if they would give the on-set, they would prosecute it, to the confusion of every man of them, in the same manner, as they had before dealt with us, with great vehemency pressing them, as a thing they were epecially bound to do, which our men refusing they in themselves did carry towards them a kind of sullen, and insolent behaviour: so as their bloody act, wherewith they thought to daunt, and discourage us, in seeking or following of any trade here, and more securely to settle themselves, hath no doubt, (by Gods providence) if it be carefully considered and dilligently observed, by a timely following of what doth offer it selfe, turned to the cleane contrary, and through their owne guilt, enforc'd them to avoyde the place, leaving it of their owne accords, whereby if wee imbrace the occasion, many good and profitable ends may bee made, and this have I truely related: the Portingal, who as he sees we prepare with earnestnesse, to follow this Trade, with the like earnestnesse, will prepare to leave the River, which preparations as I hope and desire, may speedily and earnestly in our Countries behalfe be under gone, and followed, so in his preparation I would be no hinderer, but thinke it a faire riddance, of a false friend, and so I leave him.
The wandering Fulbie.
There is one people more, dwelling, and abiding among these Mandingos, and under their subiection, of whom it is necesary for me to speak, before I come to the principall. These are called Fulbies, 1 being a Tawny people, and have a resemblance right unto those we call Egiptians: the women amongst them, are streight, upright, and excellently well bodied, having very good features, with a long blacke haire, much more loose then the blacke women have, wherewith they attire themselves very neatly, but in their apparell they goe clothed and weare the same habite, the blacke woemen do; the men are not in their kinds, so generally handsome, as the women are, which may be imputed to the course of lives, whereof I proceede to tell you; Their profession is keeping of Cattle, some Goats they have, but the Heards they tend are Beefes, whereof they are aboundantly stored: In some places they have setled Townes, but for the most part they are still wandering, uniting themselves in kindred and families, and so drive their heards together; where they find the ground and soyle most fitte for their Cattle, there, with the Kings allowance of the Country, they sit downe, building themselves houses, as the season of the yeare serves, and in such places as lies most conveient, for preservation of their Heards they looke unto: during the times of the raines, they retire to the mountaines, and higher grounds, and againe as they grow drie, and barraine to the low plaines and bottomes, even to the River side; that in the times of our chiefest Trade, their cattle are feeding by us, and the women with their commodities daily customers to us. These mens labour and toyle is continuall, for in the day time, they watch and keep them together, from straying, and especially from comming to neare the River, where the Crocodile doth haunt, and in the night time, they bring them home about their howses, and parting them in severall Heards, they make fires round about them, and likewise in the middle of them, about which they lie themelves, ready uppon any occasion to defend them from their roring enemies, which are Lyons, Ounces, and such devouring beasts, whereof the Country is full, as when I speak of them wilbe perceived.
This is the poore Fulbies life, whereunto he is so enured, that in a manner he is become bestiall, for I have noted diverse times, when we have come up in the morning, before his Cattle had been disperst, or gone to feede, when we have called for the Mr, or chiefe of them, to make a bargaine for a beefe, or beeves, as we had occasion, hee would come unto us, from forth the middle of the heard, and those parts of him which were bare, as his face and hands, but especially his face, would stand so thicke of flyes, as they use to sit in the hot Summer time upon our horses, and teemes here in England, and they were the same manner of flye wee have, which the Fulbie would let alone, not offring to put up his hand, to drive them away, therein seeming more senslesse, then our Country beasts, who will wiske with their tayles, and seeke any other defence, to avoyde or be rid of them, but for our owne parts we were faine, during our parley with them, to hold a greene bow, to beate of the flie, finding his stay never so little, very offensive. These people live in great subiection to the Mandingo, under which they seeme to groane, for he cannot at any time kill a beefe but if they know it, the black-men will have the greatest share, neither can hee sell or barter with us for any commodity hee hath, but if it be knowne the other will be his partner, in so much as when the men come unto us, they will watch the blacke-mans absence, or hiding their commodities, draw us covertly to see it, that they may have their returne private, and not sticke many times, when he knowes the other out of hearing, to speake many disdainfull words against him: And of these people the Country is very full, being disperst and spread in such manner of families, as I sayd before, over the whole Country; and higher up in the Country, as we here, and I shall shew hereafter, they are in on part principall, and have excluded the Blackes, holding domination amongst themsselves, and for the most part continually in warre. The language the Fulbie speaks, is different from the black-men, the women are our chiefest customers, for in most places, within the ebbing and flowing, where we did lie for Trade, we should be sure to have their custome every day, which was to bring us new milke, sowre milke, and curdes, and two sorts of butter, one new and white, the other hard and of an excellent colour, which we called refined butter, and it is without question, but for a little freshnes, as good as any we have at home: all which they brought unto us, in great and small gourds like dishes, made up very handsomely, and one thing let me not forget to give them due praise in, that in what somever you received from them, you should have it so neate and cleane that in your milke you shold not perceive a mote, nor in her butter any uncleanlines: nay the gourds, or dishes, they brought it in, on the very outsides would shine, with cleanlinesse, and one the inward parts, without any nastinesse, and if at any time, by any mischance, there had beene a mote, or haire, which you had shewed unto her, she would have seemed to blush, in defence of her cleanely meaning.
In noting of which, I have diverse times sayd, there was a great difference between them, and the Irish Calios, although their manner of lives had great resemblance in following of their Cattle, and as they were out of heart in one ground, to remoove whole Townes together, which but few yeares since was the Irish Kernes true course of life; but with cleanlinesse your Irish woman hath no acquaintance, and therefore I returne backe to my Tawny Fulbie: the commodities shee askt for were small beades, and poore knifes of 16 d. a dozen, with other trifling things, but after they once saw and tasted of salt, which in their language they called Ram-Dam, there was no other thing could so well please them, although it were never so little; we found the variety of these things many times agreeable to our natures, and therefore gave faire recourse unto the people, for if we denide but one day to buy of them, we should want their company a weeke after, what earnest occasion somever we had to use them; and these things were to be had from none but them, because the Mandingo, or Blacke-man applies himselfe, at no time, in keeping or preserving of Cattle, but leaves it to this painefull Fulby, whom I likewise leave looking to his Heards, and come to the commaunding Blacke.
1. "Fulbe" (or "Fulah" or, more common in modern usage, "Fulani") is the plural of Peulh (variously, Pel, Pullo, etc.), a tribe of the area (of some mysterious and disputed origin). "Fulbies" is therefore a double plural. (Fulah, Fulani, etc. is also the name of their language, usually classified, for what it's worth, as a member of the West Atlantic branch of the Niger-Congo group of the larger group Niger-Kordofanian.)
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