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Posted by elsiegonzalez on October 5, 2009


CONTAINING Whatever is worthy of Notice, in EUROPE, ASIA, AFRICA and AMERICA IN RESPECT TO The Situation and Extent of Empires, Kingdoms, and Provinces; their Climates, Soil, Produce &c.

WITH The Manners and Customs of the several Inhabitants; their Government, Religion, Arts, Sciences, Manufactures, and Commerce

The whole consisting of such ENGLISH and FOREIGN Authors as are in most Esteem; including the Descriptions and Remarks of some celebrated late Travellers; not to be found in any other Collection. Illustrated with a Variety of accurate MAPS, PLANS, and elegant ENGRAVINGS.



Printed for J. KNOX, near Southampton-Street, in the Strand. MDCCLXVII.


I LEFT England, says Mr. Moore, in July 1730, on being appointed a writer in the service of the Royal African company, and on the 9th of November came to an anchor in the mouth of the Gambia. As we sailed up that river near the shore, the country appeared very beautiful, being for the most part woody; and between the woods were pleasant green rice grounds, which after the rice is cut, are stocked with cattle. On the 11th we landed at James’s Island, which is situated in the middle of the river, that is here at least seven miles broad. This island lies about ten leagues from the river’s mouth, and is about three quarters of a mile in circumference. Upon it is a square stone fort regularly built , with four bastions; and upon each are seven guns well mounted, that command the river all round: beside, under the walls of the fort facing the sea, are two round batteries, on each of which are four large cannon well mounted, that carry ball of 24 pounds weight, and between these are nine small guns mounted for salutes.

Beside the fort, there are several factories up the river, settled for the convenience of trade; but they are all under the direction of the governor and chief merchants of the fort. For this purpose the company have here about three or four sloops of about 30 tons each, and about the same number of long boats; some of which are constantly employed in fetching provisions and water from the main for the use of the garrison, and the rest are employed in carrying goods up to the factories, and bringing from them slaves, elephants teeth, and wax.

Soon after my arrival, I supped upon oysters that grew upon trees: this being somewhat remarkable, it may be thought worthy of an explanation. Down the river, where the water is salt, and near the sea, the river is bounded with trees called Mangroves; whose leaves being long and heavy, weigh the boughs into the water: to these leaves the young oysters fasten in great quantities, where they grow till they are very large, and then you cannot separate them from the tree, but are obliged to cut off the boughs with the oysters hanging on them, resembling ropes of onions.

On the 22d of February, one of the kings of Fonia came to the fort, and on his landing was saluted with five guns. He came to see the governor, or rather to ask for some powder and ball, in order to enable him to defend himself against some people with whom he was at war: he was a young man, very black, tall, and well set; was dressed in a pair of short yellow cotton-cloth breeches, and wore on his back a garment of the same cloth, made like a surplice: he had on his head a very large cap, to which was fastened part of a goat’s tail, which is a customary ornament with the great men of this river; but he had no shoes nor stockings. He and his retinue came in a large canoe, holding about 16 people, all armed with guns and cutlasses. With him came two or three women, and the same number of Mundingo drums, which are about a yard long, and a foot or twenty inches diameter at the top, but less at the bottom; made out of a solid piece of wood, and covered at the widest end with the skin of a kid.

They beat upon them with the left hand, using only one drum-stick; and the women will dance very briskly to the sound. They staid at the fort all night, and then returned home, having nine guns fired at their going off.

It may be here proper to observe, that there are many different kingdoms on the banks of the Gambia, inhabited by several races of people, as Mundingoes, Jolloiffs, Pholeys, Floops, and Portuguese. The most numerous are called Mundingoes, as is likewise the country they inhabit: these are generally of a black colour, and well set. When this country was conquered by the Portuguese, about the year 1420, some of that nation settled in it, who have cohabited with these Mundingoes, till they are now very near as black as they: but as they still retain a sort of bastard Portuguese language, called Creole, and as they christen and marry by the help of a priest annually sent thither from St. Jago, one of the Cape de verde islands, they still esteem themselves Portuguese Christians, as much as if they were actually natives of Portugal; and nothing angers them more than to call them Negroes, that being a term they use only for slaves.

On the north-side of the river Gambia, and from thence in-land, are a people called Jolloiffs, whose country extends even to the river Senegal. These people are much blacker, and handsomer than the Mundingoes; for they have not the broad nose and thick lips peculiar to the Mundingoes and Floops.

In every kingdom and country on each side of the river are people of a tawney colour, called Pholeys, who resemble the Arabs, whose language most of them speak; for it is taught in their schools; and the koran, which is also their law, is in that language. They are more generally learned in the Arabic, than the people of Europe are in Latin; for they can most of them speak it, though they have a vulgar tongue called Pholey. They live in hords or clans, build towns, and are not subject to any of the kings of the country, though they live in their territories; for if they are used ill in one nation, they break up their towns and move to another. They have chiefs of their own, who rule with such moderation, that every act of government seems rather an act of the people than of one man. This form of government is easily administered, because the people are of a good and quiet disposition, and so well instructed in what is just and right, that a man, who does ill, is the abomination of all.

In these countries the natives are not avaricious of lands; they desire no more than what they use, and as they do not plough with horses or cattle, they can use but very little.

The natives make no bread, but thicken liquids with the flour of the different grains. The maize they mostly use when green, parching it in the ear, when it eats like green peas. their rice they boil in the same manner as is practiced by the Turks; and make flour of the Guinea corn and mansaroke, as they also sometimes do of the two former species, by beating it in wooden mortars. The natives never bake cakes or bread for themselves, but those of their women who live among the Europeans learn to do both.

The Pholey are the greatest planters in the country, though they are strangers in it. They are very industrious and frugal, and raise much more corn and cotton than they consume, which they sell at reasonable rates; and are so remarkable for their hospitality, that the natives esteem it a blessing to have a Pholey town in the neighbourhood: beside, their behaviour has gained them such a reputation, that it is esteemed infamous for any one to treat them in an inhospitable manner.

The most general language used in these countries is the Mundingo; and whoever can speak it, may travel from the river’s mouth up to the country of the Jencoes, or the merchants; a people so called, from their annually buying a great number of slaves there, and bringing them down to the lower parts of the river, to sell them to the Europeans; though I believe their country cannot be less than six weeks journey from James’s Fort.

The next language mostly used here is called the Creole Portuguese; though I believe it would be scarce understood at Lisbon: it is, however, sooner learnt by Englishmen, than any other language used on the banks of this river, and is always spoken by the linguists or interpreters; and these two I learnt whilst in the river.

The Arabic is not only spoken by the Pholeys, but by most of the Mahometans in the river, though they are Mundingoes; and it is observed, that those who can write that language are not only very strict at their devotions three or four times a day; but are remarkably sober and abstemious in their manner of living.

On the 4th of April I went to Gillyfree, which is a large town, a little below James’s fort, inhabited by Portuguese, Mundingoes, and some Mahometans, who have here a pretty little mosque. The English company have a factory here, pleasantly situated, facing the fort, and also some gardens that supply the fort with greens and fruit.

A native here took me to his house, and shewed me a great number of arrows, daubed over with a black mixture, said to be so venomous, that if the arrow did but draw blood it would be mortal, unless the person who made the mixture had a mind to cure it; for the man observed, that there were no poisonous herbs, whose effects might not be prevented by the application of other herbs.

On the 11th, came down the river a vessel commanded by captain Pyke, a separate trader, from Joar, loaded with slaves, among whom was a person of an elegant figure, named Job Ben Solomon, who was of the Pholey race, and son to the high priest of Bundo, in Foota, a place about ten days journey from Gillyfree. This person was travelling on the south side of the Gambia, with a servant, and about 20 or 30 head of cattle, which induced the king of a country a little within the land, to seize not only the cattle, but Job and his man, both of whom he sold for slaves to captain Pyke. The Pholeys, his humane countrymen, would have redeemed him; but they had the mortification to find that he was carried out of the river before they had notice of his being a slave; and captain Pyke sailed with him to Maryland. Job, who was a person of extraordinary abilities, and distinguished merit, was not so unhappy as he had reason to expect: but his adventures will be hereafter related, when I shall have occasion to mention his return to this country.

On the 29th, the governor and I set out for Vintain, where we arrived in three hours, though it lies about six leaguesfrom James’s fort. On our coming to the town, the Alcade, and all the principal inhabitants came to welcome us; and soon after came the prince, in whose dominions the town is situated.

The inhabitants are not very curious in their furniture, for the most that any of them have is a small chest for cloaths,a matt raised upon posts from the ground, to lie on; a jar to hold water, a callabash to drink it with; two or three wooden mortars, in which they pound their corn and rice; a basket which they use as a sieve, and two or three large callabashes, out of which they eat with their hands instead of spoons. They are not very careful of laying up store against a time of scarcity; but chuse rather to sell what they can, as upon occasion they can fast two or three days without eating; but then they are always smoaking tobacco, which is of their own growth.

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