Richard Jobson (1623) The Golden Trade, pp. 105-136.
Our travell up the River. [(Part 2)]
There is, without doubt, no people on the earth more naturally affected to the sound of musicke than these people; which the principall persons do hold as an ornament of their state, so as when wee come to see them, their musicke will seldome be wanting, wherein they have a perfect resemblance to the Irish Rimer sitting in the same maner as they doe upon the ground, somewhat remote from the company; and as they use singing of Songs unto their musicke, the ground and effect whereof is the rehearsall of the auncient stocke of the King, exalting his antientry, and recounttng over all the worthy and famous acts by him or them hath been atchieved; singing likewise extempore upon any occasion is offered, whereby the principall may bee pleased; wherein diverse times they will not forget in our presence to sing in the praise of us white men, for which he will expect from us some manner of gratification. Also, if at any time the Kings or principall persons come unto us trading in the River, they will have their musicke playing before them, and will follow in order after their manner, presenting a shew of State. They have little varietie of instruments, that which is most common in use, is made of a great gourd, and a necke thereunto fastned, resembling, in some sort, our Bandora; but they have no manner of fret, and the strings they are either such as the place yeeldes or their invention can attaine to make, being very unapt to yeeld a sweete and musicall sound, notwithstanding with pinnes they winde and bring to agree in tunable notes, having not above sixe strings upon their greatest instrument: In consortship with this they have many times another who playes upon a little drumme which he holds under his left arme, and with a crooked stocke in his right hand, and his naked fingers on the left he strikes the drumme, & with his mouth gaping open, makes a rude noyse, resembling much the manner and countenance of those kinde of distressed people which amongst us are called Changelings;1 I do the rather recite this that it may please you to marke, what opinion the people have of the men of this profession, and how they dispose of them after they are dead: but first I would acquaint you of their most principall instrument, which is called a Ballards made to stand a foot above the ground, hollow under, and hath uppon the top some seventeene woodden keyes standing like the Organ, upon which hee that playes sitting upon the ground, iust against the middle of the instrument, strikes with a sticke in either hand, about a foote long, at the end whereof is made fast a round ball, covered with some soft stuffe, to avoyd the clattering noyse the bare stickes would make: and upon either arme hee hath great rings of Iron: out of which are wrought pretty hansomly smaller Irons to stand out, who hold upon them smaller rings and iuggling toyes, which as hee stirreth his armes, makes a kind of musicall sound agreeing to their barbarous content: the sound that proceeds from this instrument is worth the observing, for we can heare it a good English mile, the making of this instrument being one of the most ingenious things amongst them: for to every one of these keyes there belongs a small Iron the bignesse of a quill, and is a foote long, the breadth of the instrument, upon which hangs two gourdes under the hollow, like bottles, who receives the sound, and returnes it againe with that extraordinary loudnesse; there are not many of these, as we can perceive, because they are not common, but when they doe come to any place, the resort unto them is to be admired; for both day and night, more especially all the night the people continue dauncing, untill he that playes be quite tyred out; the most desirous of dancing are the women, who dance without men, and but one alone, witth crooked knees and bended bodies they foot it nimbly, while the standers by seeme to grace the dancer, by clapping their hands together after the manner of keeping time; and when the men dance they doe it with their swords naked in their hands, with which they use some action, and both men and women when they have ended their first dance give somewhat unto the player: whereby they are held and esteemed amongst them to be rich; and their wives have more Cristall blew stones and beades about them, then the Kings wives: but if there be any licentious libertie, it is unto these women, whose outward carriage is such wee may well conceit it: and this one especiall note, howsoever the people affect musicke, yet so basely doe they esteeme of the player, that when any of them die, they doe not vouchsafe them buriall, as other people have; but set his dead corps upright in a hollow tree, where hee is left to consume: when they have beene demanded a reason for so doing, they will answer, they are a people, who have alwayes a familiar conversation with their divell Ho-re: and therefore they doe so dispose of them: which opinion of theirs caused us to neglect and especially in their hearing to play upon any Lute or Instrument which some of us for our private exercise did carry with us, in regard if they had hapned to see us, they would in a manner of scorne say, hee that played was a Iuddy: The greatest resort of people, with the most abondance of these Iuddies, is at their times of Circumcision,2 wherein they observe one due season, and for that I desire heerein to give a full relation, I will follow my discourse with what I saw, and as an eye-witnes am able to deliver.
I have set downe before, where I report the manner of our going up the river, that I carried with me foure blackes; whereof the one was a boy, or young youth, whom I call by the name of Samgully;3 who in regard of his continuance with George Tompson, and after him with the rest of our company, had learned to speake pretty English; and withall had taken such an affection towards us; that he did seeme even hartely to neglect father and mother, and his owne home, in his desires to follow us; he was about the age of 17. yeeres, a straight youth and of a handsome growth; yet he was not circumcised: howbeit hee should have beene the yeere before, but his absence with the white people, which was some of our company, when the time of circumcision came, was the only cause he mist cutting them:4 and this yeere hee was to be circumcised, or else there was some great penalty to light upon his friends, or danger to himselfe; which appeared in their earnestnesse to keepe him from going up with us; notwithstanding, hee was stollen beyond the towne his friends dwelt in with us, as farre as our boate would goe in two tides; and there overtooke us his mother: who on the shore made grievous moane to have him sent backe, the boy had spide her, and hid himselfe in the boate, bidding us say that he was gone backe, and albeit her moane was great, because shee saide, he would be absent againe in the time of circumcision, which would bee the next Moone; and if wee would not put him on shore, she would throw her selfe from the banke into the river; the boy lying along in the boate, said, she will not drowne, shee will not drowne, let us bee gone; and alongst hee went with us: It was the eight day of Ianuary when his mother made this moane, and the ninth day of February after we came by that place againe, and that evening, as the Sunne set, came to an anker at the port that belonged to the towne where the boyes friends dwelt, which was called Boo Iohns towne, a man whom we did well affect:5 the towne stood some mile from the water side to carry the boy home, and refresh our selves, wee were willing to walke on shore.
So taking our Chirurgion, and one more of my consorts, with our blacke Alchade, who wee hired from this town, wherein his mother likewise dwelt, and our blacke boy, ashore we went, the banke6 was high from the river; which the boy first gat up, where presently ascended, he begn to leape and sing, making great shewes of ioy, holding up his hand, and pointing towards the towne, which as I said was a mile from us: but when wee likewise ascended, wee heard a great noyse of musicke and shooting, whereat the boy so much reioyced, and said it was the cutting of Prickes; for so hee cald it, and that hee was come time enough: wee walkt towards the towne, and as the evening went in came thither, I had an intent to have gone to the Maister of the towne his house; but my Mary-bucke told mee, hee had a world of strangers, and was earnest with mee to goe to his mothers house; we were also to passe by the house where our blacke boies father and mother dwelt: the father in regard he was blind, and kept house, we saw not; but his mother being within, and hearing one call her sons name, came forth and met him, and presently turning her head to the side of the house, fell into a bitter weeping, calling onely upon his name, Samgulley, Samgulley; I would have had the boy alongst where I lay, but hee was taken from us, and not suffered to goe; howbeit I charged him he shold not be cut, which as they told us, was to be done in the morning; untill I came to see him, which he promised, and so we departed to our lodging: at which place likewise was many people, and much musicke; but after a while that wee had beene there, they all quitted the place, shewing a kind of modestie, not to disturbe us. There was no housing, nor dwellings, but was full of people; nay likewise, under every shady and convenient tree, there was great fyres, whereas there was, their pots a seething, and their victual adressing, and also their mats laid, to take up their lodging, sorting themselves together in great companies, and in most places, having musicke, drumming, and dauncing; making such a noyse and din, as might well proceede from such kinde of Actors: and amongst them likewise they had commerce, one thing for another, so as it had a manner of resemblance to our fayres here in England; neither was there want of any manner of provision, for as much as all kind of people that came thither, brought some manner of sustenance with them, and the people of the place, did provide and reserve themselves against this time, so as I may well say it had a right resemblance to our countrey martes.
Amongst the rest of these dispersed companies; I tooke speciall notice of one, who stood more remote, and was closde and severed in, under the shady trees, with reedes, and bowes set up together like a hedge, from whence proceeded, a greater noyse of voyces; as also drumming, and thumping, mor clamorously: demaunding what it meant, I was answered, in that place remained those youthes that were cut, and they were to continue until such time as they were recovered of their sorenes, and that the greatnesse of the noyse did come from those people who kept them company, which were the yonger sort of people, above their age; who had already past, and received their circumcision: I went likewise that night, after we had supt, to the maister of the townes house; who had sent unto mee to mend my supper, a brace of Partridges, and finding there the Ballards, or best musicke, and the younger sort of women gathered together beheld their dancing, and for that they might see we had such pleasures amongst us; I tooke one of them by the hand, and daunced with her, whereof they gave testimony of great gladnes, inviting the rest of my company to doe the like: Boo Iohn the maister of the place, excusing himselfe that we lay not at his house, in regard of much company and noyse: but more especially, because one of his wives was lately delivered of a child, unto whom he carried me within a house by her selfe, where she lay after their fashion upon a mat handsomely; I gave unto the mother for the childe, a few poore beades, which were thankfully taken, and he said, if it had been a man child, it should have had one of our companies name, with whom he had beene longest acquainted; but saith he, my wife Dowry is with child, and if shee bring a man child, it shall carry your name; for so shee earnestly desires: these familiarities past betwixt us, after which wee betooke our selves to our severall lodgings, and were nothing frighted with the roaring cry of thei divell; who at these ceremonious meetings so soone as the evening comes is conversant by his roaring voyce amongst them, and so continues all, or the most part of the night, whereof I shall presently give you relation: But first, I must conclude of their circumcision; for the sight whereof, as even now I told you, we did reserve our selves to receive advertisement of our Samgulleyes cutting, which was to be done in the morning. And accordingly, the Sunne some two houres high, we had a messenger came to entreate we would send him a white cloath, and that hee would pray us to come & see him. As soon as we came, he was broght forth into the open field betweene the houses, and the place where they remained, who were cut the day before; they had taken away his clothes, they broght him ashore in; which was shirt, breeches, and a cap of stript stuffe, after the bravest fashion of the country, and onely brought him with a white cloath close about him: whereas we did expect some great ceremony after a religious manner to be performed: He was first set downe upon a little mole-hill, divers people comming foorth to see him, amongst which were most women, who stood directly a little distance off, looking on: the maister of the towne was likewise there, and three of us; amongst which our Chirurgion was one to comfort him not to feare: hee was very confident, entreating me to lay my hand upon his shoulder; from amongst the blackes came foorth an ordinary man, with a short knife in his hand, which he whetted as he came, like one of our butchers unto a beast; and causing the boy to stand up, he tooke of his cloath, giving it to a stander by to hold, so as he was starke naked, and set his hands upon his sides, being neither bound nor held: howbeit there were some by, who offered to hold his armes, but because hee promised not to move, they let him alone, the executioner taking hold of his members, drawing the skinne over very farre, as we conceived, cut him largly, and had three severall cuts afore hee had done, whereat the boy shrunke very little; insomuch as the maister of the towne who stood by told us, hee had very seldome seene any abide it with so great a courage: to our thinking it was exceeding feareful and full of terror, insomuch as I told the doer in a very angry manner he had utterly spoyled him; when he askt wherein, I replyed, in cutting him so deepe: His answere was, it is so much the better for him, and without any curiosity taking up his cloath shewed his owne members, that it might appeare he was cut as farre; howbeit my distaste was such upon him, that I could not yeeld to give him any thing in the way of gratuitie to wash his hands withall, and as the manner of the countrey is to doe by such as are friends, to the party circumcised: the thing performed, the boyes white cloath was cast over him, and by two men, who held his armes, he was hurried apace to the same quarter, where the other that were cut remained: We made first a request that they would let us goe along to the place with him, and were going with some of the people; but presently in hast overtooke us foure ancient men, who did not onely stay our going, but made shew of much displeasure to such as were going with us, and would by no meanes suffer wee should come amongst them: then we desired we might have the boy away with us, telling them wee had better meanes to cure him, and so make him sooner well, then they had, shewing our Chirurgion unto them, who they knew had healed wounds and sores amongst them; but wee could not prevaile, by the interposing of these auncient men some of the rest seeming to consent unto us: so as wee were there driven to leave our boy, who amongst the rest of his consorts, had without doubt no other chirurgery to cure their tender maladies, but onely to attend the expectation of time, who by the helpe of their youth & nature might weare it out, which appears the rather to us, in regard at these times, there is unto these youths allowed a certaine licentious liberty, whereby they may steale and take away peoples hennes, or powltry; nay from the Fulbies, a biefe or cattle to eate and banquet withall amongst themselves without any offence to the lawes, or government of the countrey; which at other times is strict in that behalfe, thereby animating, and encouraging their spirits to more alacritie, and according to the condition of their wanton age by these stolen delights to draw them more willingly from the thing, and make the time of their recovery lesse tedious to themselves, and discourageable to others. And if I might bee worthy to deliver my opinion, considering this their circumcision, as I have carefully observed, I should conclude, it were done of meere necessitie, as a mortall lawe for the preservation of their lives and healthes, and so found out by their precedent auncestors, and by strict observations laid peremptorily upon them, wherein I should submit my selfe in the account I could give to more able iudgement: onely this you may please to note, it is done without any religious ceremony, and the word in their language is expressed unto us by no other signification, then cutting of prickes; and this is done in certaine bigger townes of the countrey, whether the smaller townes and habitations make their resorts, bringing their youth to be all cut together.
And to make up the number at all these meetings, there is one sure card that never failes, which is their roaring devill, that before I spake of, whose attendance may seeme to keepe the youth in awe, and he is called by the name of Ho-re, whose strange report I proceed unto: There is at all these meetings, some distance of from the place, heard the noyse of a roaring voice, resembling the greatest base of a mans voice; when we demand of them what it is, they will answer, with a kinde of feare, it is Ho-re, and then describe him to be a fearefull spirit, that none may come neere, without danger of being destroyde, carryed away, or torne in pieces: there is at all their meetings, upon the first notice of his voice, a preparation for him of all manner of victuals, they have amongst them, every one imparting somewhat, all which is carryed towards the voyce, and there under a tree set downe, and within small time, bee it of what quantitie soever; it will be found devoured, and not so much as a bone to bee seene, uneaten, or left behind, and if they be not ready forthwith to carry him such provisions, as shall content him, some of their uncircumcised sons are instantly taken away; females he meddles not with, and saide to remaine in Ho-reyes belly, some of them nine or tenne daies, from whence they must be redeemed with some belly provision: and it is strange to heare, how confidently they will report unto you, that they have been carryed away, and beene abiding there: wherein this is observed, that looke how many dayes he hath beene kept away, or remaining, as they say in Ho-reyes belly, so many dayes after they returne, it must be, before they will, or dare open their mouths, to speake a word. For confirmation of which, this I have seene: as I walkt one day into the countrey from our dwelling to Ferambras house, distant some foure mile, in the way we were to passe through a towne of the Fulbies, among the people that lookt upon us, I was shewed a youth of some eighteene yeares of age, who they said, came but the night before out of Ho-reyes belly:7 I went towards him, and urged him to speake unto me, but still he went backe from mee, and kept his finger before his mouth, notwithstanding I made what meanes I could, by pulling and pinching of him, and more to terrifie him, making proffers with a false fyer to shute at him, beeing naturally exceeding fearefull of our gunnes, I could not prevaile, neither make him open his mouth: notwithstanding afterwards, the same fellow did often come, and have commerce amongst us: nay our people, who were lying, and dwelling in the countrey, had beene at severall times frighted with the voyce of this Ho-rey, for having staide in their fowling, or being abroade, untill night hath overtaken them, in their comming home, as they have saide, they have heard the voyce of Ho-re, as they might conceive, some miles from them, and before they could passe tenne steppes, hee hath seemed to be in their very backes, with fright whereof, maintained by their imagination, of their report went of him, they have not, without a gastly dread, recovered home: unto which place of dwelling, he never was so bold to make any attempt: and verily my opinion is, that it is onely some illusion, either by the Marybuckes, or among the elder sort, to forme and keepe in obedience those younger sort:for better approbation of what I suppose, I will crave the patience, to set downe what I observed at the circumcision of our blacke boy: The nights were very light, the Moone being then about the full towards midnight, comming from Bo Iohns house to the place at Faye, Ho-reyes voyce was wondrous busie, as it seemed to me, not farre of. I spake unto my consorts, we would secretly take our armes, and steale downe, to see what it was, one of our three was backeard and unwilling, whereby it came to passe, our Marybucke understood what we intended, who came earnestly unto mee, intreating, I would give over that dangerous attempt, saying, I could not finde him, for one cry would be hard by me, another instantly beyond the river, which was a mile of, and there was great danger, he would carry me into the River with him: when hee perceived, he could not alter my resolution, he held mee by the arme, andpointing to a blacke, not farre from mee, held downe his head. I went to that man, being a lusty fellow, to speake unto him, whose voyce was growne so horse, by crying like Ho-re, he had no utterance, whereupon I returned to my Marybucke, and saide, there is one of your Devils; who with a smile went his way from me.
But that the divell hath great recourse amongst them, is without question, especially, as I noted before, with the Rimers or Iuddyes; I will specifie one intelligence we had, and so leave him there amongst them: When wee came first up the River, we were uncertaine of our owne times, much lesse then any other, could fixe houres of going, staying, or comming to a place: howbeit wee were to come to a towne called Pompetane, at which place dwelt a Portingall, called Iasper Consaluos, who had a young kinsman with him, called Marko, but no women but blacks; this dwelling of his was the highest by many leagues of any Portugall in the River; and very faire quarter, ever past betwixt us, we came to this place, the 14. of December, betweene eight and nine in the morning, and notwithstanding, the dwelling housees were somewhat remote from the river, we found standing upon the banke at the landing place this Consaluos, who in friendly sort saluted us, and caryed us up to his housing, where presently we found ready a very good breakefast of hens, and other good refreshing, which he said, was provided for us: we seemed to marvell he should know of our comming thither, but after he told us, that the evening before, he was at another towne within the land, and had no meaning to come home, when as there came unto him a Iuddy or Fidler, which dwelt in the towne with him, and did likewise shew us the man, who told him that Ho-re had acquainted him, that the next morning, and at such an houre, there would be so many white men at Pompentane, naming the number that were in our boates, and that there they would land: but to what purpose, either to doe good or hurt, the Devill was ignorant; and upon this intelligence, I retyred my selfe, and came away hither to meete you, whereat wee seemed much to wonder, being altogether our selves uncertaine of any houre, in regard, we divers times went a shoare, and shooting at fowle and such like occasions divers times lighted upon us; notwithstanding the divells intelligence, we were no wayes discomforted; for he did confesse, hee was altogether ignorant of our intended actions, and the conclusion was, how by his intelligence, the worst hurt we had, was a better, and more readier breakefast.
It followes, concerning what trades, or occupations is in use amongst them, whereof wee note only three: the first and chiefest is the Ferraro or Smith, who holds a good repute: notwithstanding, they have no Iron of their owne making, but what is brought unto them, whereof they have most needefull use, and neither may, nor can live without it: for first of the Iron we bring unto them, they doe fashion and make all those short swords they were, next the heads of their Assigies, or Iavelings, as also the heads of their throwing darts, and the barbed heads of their shooting arrowes, which are covered over with their deadly poyson: in many of these the Smith doth shew a pretty kind of art and making: but the most needfull use amongst them, is the toole or instrument, wherewith they till their ground: without use of which, they could hardly have their being, and therefore Iron, a principall commodity, that they doe call upon; at the lower part of the River, where the Portingall frequents, they have more for exchange then above, whereas we are upon a certeine trade: for wee cut our Iron of twelve ynches, and that is the proportion lookt afer, and so high as it flowes, the Kings and Governors will call for that length: but passing above eight ynches will goe as friendly; which in either of them, is gaine enough, the returne even in the worst, yeelding ten for one, carrying our yron in barres, we are inforced to make use of their Smiths, to cut it to the proportion, wee must use, and therefore sending for him, he comes to the water side, bringing his shop with him, that is his bellowes; and a small Anvill, which hee strikes into the ground under a shady tree, and onely of one kind of red wood, amongst them, they can make artificiall charcoale, which will give our Iron his true heate, as any seacoale, his boy blowing the bellowes, that lye on the ground, the nose of them, through a hard earth, made of purpose with a hole in it, and in this manner with a hammer and a toole, they cut it for us, receiving satisfaction, to us easie enough, but what it is consists of Iron; and chary we must be to looke to our measuring, or he will use his best understanding to purloyne; and this for the Smith and his esteeme amongst them: The next is he whom we call a Sepatero; one that doth make all their Gregories, wherein truely is a great deale of art shewen, they being made and fashioned of leather into all shapes, both round and square, and triangle, after that neate manner as might be allowed for workemanship, even amongst our curious handicrafts: these men are likewise they that make their saddles and bridles; of which bridles I have seene so neately made up, as with leather, even here in our own countrey, could hardly be mended: whereby appeares, they have knowledge to dresse their leather. Howbeit I conceive, onely their goats and deare skinnes, which they can colour and dye: but to greater beasts hides, their apprehension cannot attaine, and some of these are held for curious persons, and deepe capacities: for they will bee feeling of some stuffe garments we weare, and do thinke, and will boldly say, that wee doe make them of the hides, we buy from them, and will not doe it in their sight, because they shall not learne; and for our paper, we bring, they absolutely conclude, it is made of the hyde, and likewise many other things they see us use, they will say, comes and is framed of those Elephants teeth we carry from them, allowing much of a more deeper knowledge in us, then themselves in many things applying it amisse, and to impossibilities.
Another profession we finde, and those are they who temper the earth, and makes the walles of their houses, and likewise earthen pots they set to the fire, to boyle and dresse their food in; for all other occasions, they use no other mettle, but serve themselves with the gourd, which performs it very neatly; onely one principall thing, they cannot misse, and that is their Tabacoo pipes, whereof there is few or none of them, be they men or women doth walke or go without, they do make onely the bowle of earth, with a necke of the same, about two inches long, very neatly and artificially coloring or glasing the earth very handsomly, all the bowles being very great, and for the most part will hold halfe an ounce of Tabacco; they put into the necke a long hand, many times a yard of length, and in that manner draw their smoake, whereof they are great takers, and cannot of all other things live without it. These are the 3 professed trads, other things they need, and that are in use amongst them, are common to every man, to doe or make, as his occasion requires, whereof the most especiall in use is matts, such as they eate their meate upon, sit upon, and also make their beddes, having no other thing indeede to lie uppon, and therefore, as wee rightly terme it, is the Staple commoditie, they have amongst them: while we were in the River, at a place called Mangegar, against which we had occasion to ride with our ship, both up and downe, in the open fields, about a mile distance from my housing, is every monday a market kept; which is in the middle of the weeke, unto which would come great resort of people, from round about, as heere in our countrey, who would disperse and settle themselves, with their commodities under the shady trees, and take up a good space of ground, & any thing what the Countrey did yeeld, was there brought in, and bought and sold amongst them. Now through the whole countrey there is no use of any coyne, or money, neither have they any, but every man to choppe and barter one thing for another, and the onely nominated thing is matts, as in asking the price of this, or that I desire, the word is, how many matts shall I give you? so as they are still in use; and these are the severall Trades, and manner of course the common people follow, or have among them.
And so I passe to their laborious travell, and generall trade amongst them, from which none are exempted, but the Kings and principall persons themselves, or such as by age are past their labour, otherwise all, the Mary-bucke, both Priest, and people, and of all sizes, as they are able, put to their hands to till the earth, and sowe their corne. And for that the goodness of God unto us may the more appeare, and the Reader stirred up the rather, to acknowledge his mercies, let us call to minde, the words which God sayd unto Adam, after his fall in Paradise; In the sweate of thy browes shalt thou eate thy bread: and with care and sorrow shalt thou eate it, and acknowledge these people, to abide the curse indeed; and our selves mittigated, through his mercifull favour: For the earth likewise receiving a curse, doth naturally bring foorth unprofitable things, whereby man is forced for his necessary sustenance, to till and plant the same: now God hath lent and given unto us, the beasts of the field, (which likewise they enjoy) but he hath endued us with an understanding and knowledge, to make the beasts, and cattell, to serve and obey our wills in plowing and opening the earth, thereby easing, and as it were taking away the sweat of our browes, which knowledge hee hath denied unto them, and notwithstanding they have so many heards of fitting cattell, they understand not to make use of them, but even with their owne hands, in the true sweat of their browes, doe they follow their painefull labour, as I heere relate it: They reserve great fields to sowe their corne in, which they raise up in furrowes, as decently as we doe here, but all their labour, is with their hands, having therein a short sticke, of some yard in length, upon the end wherof is put a broad Iron, like unto our paddle staves, which Iron set into the ground, one leading the way, carries up the earth before him, so many others following after him, with their severall Irons, doing as he leadeth, as will raise up a sufficient furrow, which followed to the end of the ground, they beginne againe in this painfull and laborious manner, fitting the earth for the graine, wherein our old proverb is to be allowed of, May hands make light worke; otherwise it would appeare a most tedious kind of labour. They have sixe severall sorts of graine, they doe feede upon, amongest which none isknowne to us by name (I meane heere in England) but onely Rice; the other may rather be called a kinde of seed then corne, being of as small a graine as a mustard seed, neither do they make any bread, but boyling their graine, rowle it up in balls (as I have said before8) and so eate it warme: in like sort they boyle their Rice, and eate it warme; and even to us it is a very good and able sustenance: all other graines being sowed, the ground is with their Irons spadled over, and so left to his growth: but in Rice they do set it first in smal patches of low marish grounds, and after it doth come up, disperse the plants, and set them in more spacious places, which they prepare for it, and it doth yeeld a great increase; they doe likewise observe their seasons, to set other plants, as Tobacco, which is ever growing about their houses; and likewise, with great carefulnesse, they prepare the ground, to set the seedes of the Cotten wooll, whereof they plant whole fields, and comming up, as Roses grow, it beareth coddes, and as they ripen, the codde breaketh, and the wooll appeareth, which shewes the time of gathering.
And before I passe to speake of other naturall plants, that proceed and come forth without labour, I must not omit to relate heere, the farther misery of this labouring people, that thereby wee may discerne, the greater mercy we doe enjoy, for whereas it hath pleased God, to affoord unto us seasonable times, to plant and sowe, and againe to reape, and enjoy our labour, sending likewise gentle showres and raines, wherby we receive them in a due season; he hath not dealt so with all Nations, whereof these are witnesses; for although their seasons are certaine, yet they are violent and fearefull: For from September, unto the latter end of Maie following, almost nine moneths, they never taste any showres of rain, so as their ground is so hard, through the extreame heat of the Sunne, that they can make no use thereof, but are compelled to stay untill raine doth fall, to moysten the earth, that their instruments may enter, to prepare the same: which raines, at the first come gently, now and then a showre, but not without thunder, and lightning; Towards the end of Iune, it then groweth more forcible, powring it selfe violently foorth with such horrible stormes, and gusts of winde, and with such fearefull flashes of lightning, and claps of thunder, as if (according to our phrase) heaven and earth would meet together: in all which notwithstanding, the miserable people are driven to worke and labour, in the open field, for loosing the season of the grounds softnesse; and as it doth beginne, after a more gentle manner, in the same nature and distance of time it passeth away, the most extreame force being from the middle of Iully, untill the middle of August, and the abundance of raine that then doth fall, may bee supposed, in that it doth raise the River from his usuall height, directly upright thirty foote, and where it hath not banke to defend it over-flowes the shoares, and therefore they prepare their habitations, in their owne discretions, accordingly, and in some yeares not without danger: Now in regard many people of our Country, have beene lost, and that our Seamen directly charge the unholsomnesse of the ayre, to be the sole cause, I would presume a little to argue it, delivering my opinion, hoping it may invite some abler understanding, to search into it, and produce some better assistance, to avoyde the inconvenieence, then I am able to deliver.
It is certaine, in regard of the grounds hardnesse in those nine moneths when the raines are past, that the superficies, or upper part of the earth, doth receive all that venome, or poysonous humours which distill either from trees or plants, whereof there is store, as we see by the aboundance they use in poysoning their Arrowes, and some of their Launces; and likewise, what doth issue from their venemous Serpents, and Snakes, of which kindes there are very many, both great, and exceeding long; also Toades and Scorpions: the poyson doth remaine and continue in the drynesse of the ground, and rakte up in the dust and sand, which upon the first raines, being moystned, and the earth wet, by the exhalation of the hot Sunne is drawne up, and in short time in the next showres fals downe againe; in my poore iudgement, some reason appeares that those first times must be very pestilent, and full of danger; which in some sort testifies it selfe, in regard those first raines, lighting upon the naked body, doe make blaines and spots, which remaine after them, much more then after the raines have continued, and more perfectly washt, and cleard the superficies; and not onely upon the bodies, but in the garments, or clothes worne; who being laide by, after they are wet with the first raines, doe sooner, and in greater number breed and bring foorth untoward wormes; whereas other wayes, after the raines are more common, it doth not produce any such effect, or if it doe, very little. To this I say, that it is a thing to be especially observed, as much as men may, to avoide the being in those first raines, and more especially to be provided of water, either to drinke, or to dresse meate withall, before those seasons fall; except it bee those who ddwell and abide upon the land, and may have meanes to cover and keepe close their springs; but for men to water, in those pestilent times, and in the open Rivers, as the Saint Iohns men in their first voyage did, I say it was a desperate attempt, and might have been the confusion of them all, as indeed there were but few of them escaped; and that the countrey is not so contagious, as they would have their reports to make it, those people of ours may be witnesse, who being willing to stay behind, and remayning there almost three yeeres, there was not one of them dyed, but returned all into their owne countrey, being eight of them in number, except onely Captaine Tompson, who as I repeate before, was slaine by an unhappy accident.
I would willing also venter here, and speake my opinion, what naturally may be saide, concerning these contagious times; but with this proviso, it is done to animate others, who if they knew the certaine course and season, with the true manner of each particular circumstance, would be able to demonstrate better, and so recctifie me in that where I shall doe amisse. These seasons I say, begin gently in the end of May, when the Sunne drawes to the end of his Northerne progresse, in the Tropicke of Cancer, whose power, as it may appeare, draweth up after him those great and clowdy vapours, which directly, come perpetually out of the Southeast, and from no other place or point, which following after the force of the Sunne, as they rise higher, and neerer the heate, begin to dissolve; but as the Sun turnes backe againe, and comes in his reverse to meete with these massie vapours, sending in his forceable raynes amongst those clowdy substances, compels them to give way, and breake in sunder, the violence whereof produceth that terrible thunder, and fearefull lightning which followeth, and great abundance of raine which falleth: which as it doth appeare, is most terrible, when the Sunne, and those vapours are as it were incorporate; for from the middle of Iuly, untill the middle of August, the extremity is, and by that time in September, the Sunne is againe in his equinoctiall the aire doth cleare, and all the stormes doe end; and so it appeares, that as the Sunne, after his comming from the Equinoctiall, in his whole Northern progresse is raysing, and drawing these vapours after, so in his reverse againe from the Tropicke, untill he comes to the Equinoctiall he is dissolving, and clearing the same againe, all which observing as a naturall man, I commend to the ingenious practitioner, either to amend, or make use of; And in my selfe, with humble thankefulnesse give glory to God, who shewes his almight power to these unbeleeving people, that in regard, they will not accept of that pleasing, and peacefull intelligence of our loving and meeke Saviour his blessed Sonne; they shall feele and feare his omnipotent power, in trembling under those incomprehensible terrours, which as hee saith in Iob, are prepared for his enemies: Againe, if it hath pleased him to appoint certaine places upon the earth, where more especially those great and fearefull workes of his shall appeare, thereby to daunt and keepe down the hawty aspirings of sinnefull man; how much are we bound to praise, and acknowledge his everlasting goodnesse, in not seating us and our habitations those contagious clymates, and how much more is his great power manifested, that hath appointed bounds, and lymits, as hee saith himselfe of the swelling Seas, so likewise of these fearefull seasons; hethereto shall you come, and shall exceed no further.
And now to adde comfort unto us that are, or shalbe called to travell these parts: first, the times and seasons are certaine, that men may either avoide them by leaving the countrey, when they are to come, or by preparing themselves with things necessary, bee the better able to endure them, when they are come; of which now wee have had such experience, as wee can expound things outwardly, by Gods permission requisit and availeable, and inwardly frame our bodies and dispositions to the countrey and seasons agreeable: and this is encouraged with a comfortable resolution, that the continuance is not long, and that wee know the ends, and termination of the season, which before experience, was a fearefull discourager: So I returne backe, to speake of the naturall plants, which following the laborious courses, I was driven to omit.
They have naturally growing, which is but onely neare the mouth of the river, Bononos a very excellent fruit, and they are as delicious, good, and great, as any that are in the West Indies; likewise within that lymit, store of small Lemmons, or Lymes, and for Orenges, wee have seene, and had brought unto us, farre up in the river, at some times good store, that shewes there are trees in the countrey, and that they might be stored, if the people were ingenious, and either would or could knowe how to plant them: but to speake of things that the whole countrey yeeldeth plentifully, and what is esteemed and set by amongst them, whereof especially, wee note Palmeta trees, and in some places there are whole grounds or groves of them, the use whereof is to draw from them a most sweete and pleasant drinke, which we call Palmeta Wine, and as wee approve and like of it to bee toothsome, so likewise in operation, wee find it wholesome; the manner whereof is tis, they do cut into the body of the tree holes, in some more, in some lesse, as the tree is in substance, to which holes, they place a hollow cane cut sloping to goe the neatlier in, into which the iuyce of the tree distilleth, and is conveid, as in pipes, unto gourdes set handsomely into the ground reddy to receive it, which is in lesse then twenty foure houres taken away, and as they please disposed of: now this is of that eteeme, that the vulgar sort may not meddle with, but the principall persons, and therefore they will send of this unto us, foure or five miles distance, as a curteous present; the tast whereof, doth truely resemble white Wine when it comes first over into England, having the same sweetnes of tast, and in colour, if they were together, not to be distinguisht; onely this is the misery, it will not keepe above one day, for if you reserve of ituntill the morning it will growe sowre, notwithstanding any dilligence that can be used; and of this kind there are severall sortes and tastes, as there are in white Wines, which the people themselves distinguish by severall names; calling some Sabbagee, Bangee, Tangee, and other names, as the trees are from whence it comes. Some Palmeta trees, doe likewise carry great store of Apples, which the countrey people will feede upon, especially the yonger sort.
And being entred into their good liquor, I must not forget, to speake of the knowledge they have in making a compounded drinke, which wee can afford to tast, and accept of; and it is made of some corne, boild and ordered as wee doe our Ale; they call it Dullo, it is not common amongst them, but when the King or principall person will make a feast, he calles all the inhabitants about him, and having a great gourd or two, sometimes three, of this liquor in his presence they drinke round, and it is devided amongst them, making an end of all before they part, and it is of that operation, it will warm their braines, and set their tongues a working: the poore Fulbye finding that wee affect it, will many times watch for a private conveyance, but if the Blackes meet with him, they will surely drinke it, and send him home againe, having lost his market; Now because I speake of gourdes, which are growing things, it is fit I tell you, they doe grow, and resemble iust that wee call our Pumpion, and in that manner are placed, and carried upon their walles and houses, being of all manner of different sorts; from no bigger then an egge, to those that will hold a bushell, and the necessary use they have of them, to eate, and drinke, and wash their clothes in, with divers other very fit occasions, gives the[m] iust cause to preserve them although the meate, or substance that growes within them is to bee throwne away, in regard of the extreame bitternesse, whereof the shell it selfe so savours, as no use can be made, untill it be perfectly seasoned; and they have likewise growing Pumpions in the selfe same manner wee have, and in like case they doe convert to sustenance: But to rise higher from the ground; they have likewise great store of Locust trees, which growing in clusters of long cods together in the beginning of May, growes to his ripenes, which which the people will feede upon, especially the younger sort, if they can make shift to get them downe, the trees being bigge, and of a good heigth; with this I must ioyne hony, which doth appeare likewise to growe; and the countrey is very full, wherein the people use one of the ingenious parts I see amongst them, for upon those great trees, which are growing about their houses, in many places you shall have them make baskets of reedes and sedge, which tthey will make fast, on the out bowes of the tree, and in those the Bees will come and breede, whereof in time they receive the profit, having so many baskets on some convenient trees, that in our ignorance, before wee knew it, being distant of, we might conceit it was some fruit the tree had yeelded; also in holes of hollow trees, amongst the woods still bees are plenty, so that another Iohn Baptise, if any were, might in this place and that with plenty receive his full of Locust and wild hony.
And for trees of great and large bodies, they be here, especially one sort, which doth carry upon a long stalke, a great and round fruit, yeelding a kinde of pleasing pith within: Whereupon the Baboones and Munkyes use to feede; whereof there had neede be store, in regard of their number, as I shall declare hereafter: and some of these trees retaine that bignesse, that sixe men by fadoming can hardly compasse: there are other huge trees, one whereof doth carry a stony apple, which being through ripe, to eate is tolerable, and serves if hee fall to feede the wilde swine, but that is in place, where the Baboone is a stranger: And I will conclude their fruites, with that which is in most esteeme amongst them; which is a fruite in proportion, much like our bigger sort of chesnuts, flat on both sides, but hath no hard shell on the outside, they call them Gola, and we Nuts: the tast of him, when he is bitten, is extreame bitter, but the operation of him, is with them so set by, that ten is a present for a King: this operation we finde, that after we have eaten of him downe, notwithstanding his bitter taste, the water wee drinke presently after, although it be out of the River, shall have a relish like white wine, carrying that sweetnesse, as if it were mixt with suger; and likewise the Tobacco wee take presently after, shall have that sweetenesse one would much admire: other operation we finde none, yet so doe they esteeme them that the auncient persons having lost their teeth, and not able to bite it, have morters wherewithall carryed to bruise it, that they may not be bard of the Iuice, and comfort of it; neyther are they for the common people: Fifty, of these nuts in the habitation where we dwelt, presented to the King, would buy a wife, and many times as a wonderfull great present, I have had sixe of them sent me, howbeit, we never sawe any of them grow, neither are they, as they say amongst them, but brought from another people, and they are of most valew, still the lower, and neerer the mouth, yet there they bee, and the Portingals will make, as if they bring them into the River, by a trade they have in a great baye, beyond Cacho, where they meete with a people, that brings them gold, and many of these nuts; and of this we can say, that when we were at the highest part of the river, the people brought them abundantly unto us, and did wonder much, we made no more esteeme or care to buy them: but where they grow, or whence they had them, wee are yet ignorant, although the Portingall affirmes, they come from the golden countrey, neither will they last, or continue by any knowledge we have to keepe them, being subiect to wither, or be eaten with wormes, as by tryall I prooved, keeping of them, to have shewed in England, as I much desired. they have neither Onyons, nor Garlike: howbeit, Garlike is a thing they much desire, wherewith we see them rather rub their heads and bodies, then affect to feede on: neither have they any herbs, or flowers, which either for taste or smell they esteeme, but onely one called Binning, which carrying a sharpe, or sowre taste like Samphire, we used for sauce, and that they seeing, would ordinarily bring unto us: howbeit when we came upon divers mountaines, and sundry woods, wee should retaine such sweete smells, as would be very pleasing; from whence we concluded the Bees did gather, and make up their hony. And I will make my conclusion of the Plants amongst them, with that which unto me brought admiration; which was a tree, or bush, commonly growing upon the toppe of the River banke, resembling much our great Barbery bushes, onely having a little ragged leafe, whereunto comming, with all the diligence might bee devised, not to touch or moove it, but onely with all gentlenesse, betweene your fingers and thumbe, touching a leafe, the whole bowe should presently close up every leafe together, as if they feared and found themselves offended: but if you toucht or stird a little sprigge, the whole tree should close his leaves after a most sensible manner. Whereof taking especiall notice, wee did allow it to be the sensible tree, of which auncient authours have written; which wee did observe to carry a kinde of yellow flowers like our hedge roses: with the strangenesse whereof concerning plants, I here conclude my story.
1. That is, an imbecile (supposedly because the child has greatly changed from its former self, presumably as a result of fever or disease; or because some force has exchanged one child for another).
2. 1623 "Cricumcision".
3. Or Samgulley; on him and his companions, Part VI, p. 83
4. "them": sic; presumably "then".
5. Margin: "This Bo Iohn was brother to Ferambra." Boo Iohn has appeared before, in Part IV pp. 57 ff. . Ferambra, "lord of the Country", appears in part VI, p. 100.
6. 1623: "bakne".
7. This seems to conflict with the earlier statements that (1) Ho-re eats uncircumcised boys and (2) boys must, under some unnamed penalty, be circumcised when they are 16 or at the oldest, 17. Perhaps this particular youth is not a member of a people given to circmcision.
8. On page 39. On page 65 Jobson describes a kind of compounded cake of grains (he compares it a "ielly") served on festive occasions among the marabouts.
James Eason welcomes comments and corrections on this page.