To the Gold Coast for Gold

To the Gold Coast for Gold

TO THE GOLD COAST FOR GOLD RICHARD F. BURTON In Two Volumes--Vol. I. TO OUR EXCELLENT FRIEND JAMES IRVINE (OF LIVERPOOL F.R.G.S F.S.A &C.) WE INSCRIBE THESE PAGES AS A TOKEN OF OUR APPRECIATION AND ADMIRATION FOR HIS COURAGE AND ENERGY IN OPENING AND WORKING THE GOLDEN LANDS OF WESTERN AFRICA _'Much have I travelled in the realms of gold'_ SHAKESPEARE PREFACE. The following extract from 'Wanderings in West Africa' a book which I wrote in 1862 and published (anonymously) in 1863 will best explain the reasons which lately sent me to Western Africa:-- In several countries for instance Dinkira Tueful Wasa (Wassaw) and especially Akim the hill-region lying north of Accra the people are still active in digging gold. The pits varying from two to three feet in diameter and from twelve to fifty deep (eighty feet is the extreme) are often so near the roads that loss of life has been the result. 'Shoring up' being little known the miners are not unfrequently buried alive. The stuff is drawn up by ropes in clay pots or calabashes and thus a workman at the bottom widens the pit to a pyriform shape; tunnelling however is unknown. The excavated earth is carried down to be washed. Besides sinking these holes they pan in the beds of rivers and in places collect quartz which is roughly pounded. They (the natives) often refuse to dig deeper than the chin for fear of the earth 'caving in;' and quartz-crushing and the use of quicksilver being unknown they will not wash unless the gold 'show colour' to the naked eye. As we advance northwards from the Gold Coast the yield becomes richer.... It is becoming evident that Africa will one day equal half-a-dozen Californias.... Will our grandsons believe in these times ... that this Ophir--that this California where every river is a Tmolus and a Pactolus every hillock is a gold-field--does not contain a cradle a puddling-machine a quartz-crusher a pound of mercury? That half the washings are wasted because quicksilver is unknown? That whilst convict labour is attainable not a company has been formed not a surveyor has been sent out? I exclaim with Dominie Sampson--'Pro-di-gious!' Western Africa was the first field that supplied the precious metal to mediaeval Europe. The French claim to have imported it from Elmina as early as A.D. 1382. In 1442 Goncales Baldeza returned from his second voyage to the regions about Bojador bringing with him the first gold. Presently a company was formed for the purpose of carrying on the gold-trade between Portugal and Africa. Its leading men were the navigators Lanzarote and Gilianez and Prince Henry 'the Navigator' did not disdain to become a member. In 1471 Joao de Santarem and Pedro Escobar reached a place on the Gold Coast to which from the abundance of gold found there they gave the name of 'Sao Jorje da Mina' the present Elmina. After this a flood of gold poured into the lap of Europe; and at last cupidity having mastered terror of the Papal Bull which assigned to Portugal an exclusive right to the Eastern Hemisphere English French and Dutch adventurers hastened to share the spoils. For long years my words fell upon flat ears. Presently the Ashanti war of 1873-74 brought the subject before the public. The Protectorate was overrun by British officers and their reports and itineraries never failed to contain with a marvellous unanimity of iteration the magic word--Gold. The fraction of country twenty-six miles of seaboard out of two hundred by a depth of sixty--in fact the valley of the Ancobra River--now (early 1882) contains five working companies. Upwards of seventy concessions to my knowledge have been obtained from native owners and many more are spoken of. In fact development has at length begun and the line of progress is clearly traced. At Madeira I was joined (January 8 1882) by Captain Cameron R.N. C.B. &c. Our object was to explore the so-called Kong Mountains which of late years have become _quasi_-mythical. He came out admirably equipped; nor was I less prepared. But inevitable business had delayed us both and we landed on the Gold Coast at the end of January instead of early October. The hot-dry season had set in with a heat and a drought unknown for years; the climate was exceptionally trying and all experts predicted early and violent rains. Finally we found so much to do upon the Ancobra River that we had no time for exploration. Geography is good but Gold is better. In this joint book my energetic and hard-working friend and fellow-traveller has described the five working mines which I was unable to visit. He has also made an excellent route-survey of the country corrected by many and careful astronomical observations. It is curious to compare his work with the sketches of previous observers Jeekel Wyatt Bonnat and Dahse. To my companion's industry also are mainly due our collections of natural history. We are answerable only for our own not for each other's statements. As regards my part I have described the Gold-land as minutely as possible despite the many and obvious disadvantages of the 'photographic style.' Indeed we travellers often find ourselves in a serious dilemma. If we do not draw our landscapes somewhat in pre-Raphaelite fashion they do not impress the reader; if we do critics tell us that they are wearisome _longueurs_ and that the half would be better than the whole. The latter alternative must often be risked especially in writing about a country where many at home have friends and relatives. Of course they desire to have as much detail about it as possible; hence the reader will probably pardon my 'curiosity.' The Appendix discusses at some length the various objections made to the Gold Coast mines by the public which suffers equally from the 'bull' and the 'bear' and from the wild rumours set afloat by those not interested in the speculation. I first dispose of the dangers menaced by Ashanti invasions. The second number notices the threatened labour-famine and shows how immigration of Chinese of coolies and of Zanzibar-men will when wanted supply not only the Gold Coast but also the whole of our unhappy West African stations miscalled colonies which are now starving for lack of hands. The third briefly sketches the history of the Gold-trade in the north-western section of the Dark Continent discusses the position and the connections of the auriferous Kong Mountains and suggests the easiest system of 'getting' the precious metal. This is by shallow working by washing and by the 'hydraulicking' which I had studied in California. The earlier miners have it is believed begun at the wrong end with deep workings shafts and tunnels; with quartz-crushers stamps and heavy and expensive machinery when flumes and force-pumps would have cost less and brought more. Our observations and deductions drawn from a section of coast will apply if true as I believe they are to the whole region between the Assini and the Volta Rivers. I went to the Gold Coast with small expectations. I found the Wasa (Wassaw) country Ancobra section far richer than the most glowing descriptions had represented it. Gold and other metals are there in abundance and there are good signs of diamond ruby and sapphire. Remains to be seen if England has still honesty and public spirit enough to work this old-new California as it should be worked. I will answer for its success if the workers will avoid over-exclusiveness undue jealousy and rivalry stockjobbing and the rings of 'guinea-pigs' and 'guinea-worms.' RICHARD F. BURTON. CONTENTS OF THE FIRST VOLUME. CHAPTER I. PRELIMINARY: TRIESTE TO LISBON II. FROM LISBON TO MADEIRA III. A FORTNIGHT AT MADEIRA IV. MADEIRA _(continued)_--CHRISTMAS--SMALL INDUSTRIES--WINE--DEPARTURE FOR TENERIFE V. TO TENERIFE LA LAGUNA AND OROTAVA VI. THE ROUTINE ASCENT OF MOUNT ATLAS THE 'PIKE' OF TENERIFE VII. THE SPANISH ACCOUNT OF THE REPULSE OF NELSON FROM SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE VIII. TO GRAND CANARY--LAS PALMAS THE CAPITAL IX. THE COCHINEAL--THE 'GALLO'--CANARY 'SACK'--ADIEU TO THE CANARIES X. THE RUINED RIVER--PORT AND THE TATTERED FLAG XI. SIERRA LEONE: THE CHANGE FOR THE BETTER TO THE GOLD COAST FOR GOLD. CHAPTER I. PRELIMINARY: TRIESTE TO LISBON. The glory of an explorer I need hardly say results not so much from the extent or the marvels of his explorations as from the consequences to which they lead. Judged by this test my little list of discoveries has not been unfavoured of fortune. Where two purblind fever-stricken men plodded painfully through fetid swamp and fiery thorn-bush over the Zanzibar-Tanganyika track mission-houses and schools may now be numbered by the dozen. Missionaries bring consuls and consuls bring commerce and colonisation. On the Gold Coast of Western Africa whence came the good old 'guinea' not a washing-cradle not a pound of quicksilver was to be found in 1862; in 1882 five mining companies are at work; and in 1892 there will be as many score. I had long and curiously watched from afar the movement of the Golden Land our long-neglected El Dorado before the opportunity of a revisit presented itself. At last in the autumn of 1881 Mr. James Irvine of Liverpool formerly of the West African 'Oil-rivers' and now a large mine-owner in the Gulf of Guinea proposed to me a tour with the object of inspecting his concessions and I proposed to myself a journey of exploration inland. The Foreign Office liberally gave me leave to escape the winter of Trieste where the ferocious Bora (nor'-nor'-easter) wages eternal war with the depressing and distressing Scirocco or south-easter. Some One marvelled aloud and said 'You are certainly the first that ever applied to seek health in the "genial and congenial climate" of the West African Coast.' But then Some One had not realised the horrors of January and February at the storm-beaten head of the ever unquiet Adriatic. Thus it happened that on November 181881 after many adieux and _au revoirs_ I found myself on board the Cunard s.s. _Demerara_ (Captain C. Jones) bound for 'Gib.' My wife was to accompany me as far as Hungarian Fiume. The Cunard route to 'Gib' is decidedly roundabout. We began with a run to Venice usually six hours from the Vice-Queen of the Adriatic: it was prolonged to double by the thick and clinging mist-fog. The sea-city was enjoying her usual lethargy of repose after the excitement of the 'geographical Carnival' as we called the farcical Congress of last September. She is essentially a summering place. Her winter is miserable neither city nor houses being built for any but the finest of fine weather; her 'society'-season lasts only four months from St. Stephen's Day; her traveller-seasons are spring and autumn. We found all our friends either in bed with bad colds or on the wing for England and elsewhere; we inhaled a _quant. suff._ of choking vapour even in the comfortable Britannia Hotel; and on the morning of the 23rd we awoke to find ourselves moored alongside of the new warehouses on the new port of Hungarian or rather Croatian Fiume. Fiume had made prodigious strides since I last saw her in 1878; and she is gradually taking the wind out of the sails of her sister-rival. While old Tergeste wastes time and trouble upon futile questions of policy and angry contrasts between Germans and Slavs and Italians and Triestines Fiume looks to the main chance. The neat clean and well-watered little harbour-city may be called a two-dinner-a-day place so profuse is her hospitality to strangers. Here too we once more enjoyed her glorious outlook the warm winter sun gilding the snowy-silvery head of Monte Maggiore and raining light and life upon the indigo-tinted waters of Fiume Bay. Next to Naples I know nothing in Europe more beautiful than this ill-named Quarnero. We saw a shot or so of the far-famed Whitehead torpedo which now makes twenty-one miles an hour; and on Nov. 25 we began to run down the Gulf _en route_ for Patras. It was a pleasure to emerge from the stern and gloomy Adriatic; and nothing could be more lovely than the first evening amongst the Ionian Islands. To port backed by the bold heights of the Grecian sea-range lay the hoary mount and the red cliffs 780 feet high of Sappho's Leap a never-forgotten memory. Starboard rose bleak Ithaca fronting the black mountain of Cephalonia now bald and bare but clothed with dark forests till these were burnt down by some mischievous malignant. Whatever of sterility deformed the scene lay robed under a glory of colour painted with perfect beauty by the last smile of the sun. Earth and air and sea showed every variety of the chromatic scale especially of rose-tints from the tenderest morning blush of virgin snow to the vinous evening flush upon the lowlands washed by the purple wave. The pure translucent vault never ceased to shift its chameleon-like hues that ranged between the diaphanous azure of the zenith and the faintest rainbow green a border-land where blue and yellow met and parted. The air felt soft and balmy; a holy calm was on the face of creation; all looked delicious after the rude north and we acknowledged once more that life was worth living. Patras also has greatly improved since I last saw her in 1872. The malaria-swamps to the north and south of the town have been drained and are being warped up: the 'never-failing succession of aguish fevers' will presently fade out of the guide-books. A macadamised boulevard has been built and a breakwater is building. The once desert square 'Georgios A'' has been planted with trees which should be Eucalyptus; and adorned with two French statues of bronze which harmonise admirably with the surroundings. The thoroughfares are still Sloughs of Despond after rain and gridirons of St. Laurence in dusty summer; but there are incipient symptoms of trottoirs. And throughout there is a disappearance of the hovels which resembled Port Sa'id in her younger day and a notable substitution of tall solid houses. All this has been brought about by 'fruit' which in Patras means currants; that is 'Corinthian grapes.' The export this year is unusual 110000 tons including the Morea and the Islands; and of this total only 20000 go to France for wine-making. It gives a surprising idea of the Christmas plum-pudding manufacture. Patras also imports for all the small adjacent places inhabited by 'shaggy capotes.' And she will have a fine time when that talented and energetic soldier General Tuerr whom we last met at Venice begins the 'piercing of the Isthmus.' _A propos_ of which one might suggest to Patras with due respect that (politically speaking) 'honesty is the best policy.' Being at Patras on St. Andrew's Day with a Scotch demoiselle on board we could hardly but pilgrimage to the place of the Apostle's martyrdom. Mrs. Wood kindly sent her daughters to do the honours. Aghyos Andreas lies at the extreme south of the town on the system of ruts called a road which conducts down-coast. The church is a long yellow barn fronting a cypress-grown cemetery whose contents are being transferred to the new extramural. A little finger of the holy man reposes under a dwarf canopy in the south-eastern angle: his left arm is preserved at Mount Athos in a silver reliquary set with gems. Outside near the south-western corner is the old well of Demeter (Ceres) which has not lost its curative virtues by being baptised. You descend a dwarf flight of brick steps to a mean shrine and portrait of the saint and remark the solid bases and the rude rubble arch of the pagan temple. A fig-tree under which the martyrdom took place grew in the adjacent court; it has long been cut down probably for fuel. The population of Patras still affords a fine study of the 'dirty picturesque' with clothes mostly home-made; sheepskin cloaks; fustanellas or kilts which contain a whole piece of calico; red leggings and the rudest of sandals; Turkish caps and an occasional pistol-belt. The Palikar still struts about in all his old bravery; and the _bourgeois_ humbly imitates the dingy garb of Southern Italy. The people have no taste for music no regard for art no respect for antiquities except for just as much as these will bring. They own two and only two objects in life: firstly to make money and secondly to keep and not to spend it. But this dark picture has a bright side. No race that I know is so greedy of education; the small boys instead of wending unwillingly to school crowd the doors before they are opened. Where this exceptional feeling is universal we may hope for much. The last evening at Patras showed us a beautiful view of what is here called Parnassus (Parnasso) the tall bluff mountain up the Gulf whose snows at sunset glowed like a balass ruby. We left the Morea at 2 A.M. (December 2) and covered the fifty-two miles to Zante before breakfast. There is and ever has been something peculiarly sympathetic to me in the 'flower of the Levant.' 'Eh! 'tis a bonny bonny place' repeatedly ejaculated our demoiselle. The city lies at the foot of the grey cliffs whose northern prolongation extends to the Akroteri or Lighthouse Point. A fine quay the Strada Marina has been opened during the last six years along the northern sea-front where the arcades suggest those of Chester. It is being prolonged southwards to the old quarantine-ground and the modern prison which rests upon the skirts of the remarkable Skopo the Prospect Mountain 1489 feet high. This feature which first shows itself to mariners approaching Zakynthos from north or from south has a saddle-back sky-line with a knob of limestone shaped like a Turkish pommel and sheltering its monastery Panaghia of Skopo alias Our Lady of the Look-out. Below it appears another and a similar outcrop near a white patch which has suggested marble-quarrying; and the northern flank is dotted with farmhouses and villas. The dwarf breakwater so easily prolonged over the shallows has not been improved; but at its base rises a brand-new opera-house big enough for a first-rate city. Similarly at Barletta they raised a loan to build a mole and they built a theatre. Unlike Patras Zante long had the advantage of Italian and then of English rule; and the citizens care for music more than for transformation-scenes. The Palikar element also is notably absent; and the soldiers are in uniform not in half-uniform and half-brigand attire. I missed the British flag once so conspicuous upon the southern round tower of the castle where in days or rather nights of old I had spent not a few jolly hours; but I heard with pleasure that it is proposed to make a _haute-ville_ of the now deserted and crumbling triangle a _Sommerfrisch_ where the parboiled citizens of Athens will find a splendid prospect and a cooling sea-breeze. Mr. E. Barff kindly accompanied us in the usual drive 'round the Wrekin' for which we may here read the 'wreck.' We set out along the sea-flank of the Castle hill. This formation once a regular hog's-back has been split by weather about the middle; and its southern end has been shaken down by earthquakes and carved by wind and rain into precipices and pinnacles of crumbling sandstone which form the 'Grey Cliffs.' Having heard at Patras the worst accounts of Zante since it passed under Greek rule I was not a little surprised by the excellent condition of the roads and the general look of prosperity. Turning to the right we entered Mr. Barff's garden-house where the grounds were bright and beautiful with balsam and mignonette dahlias and cyclamens chrysanthemums and oleanders jasmine and double-violets orange-blossoms and a perfect Gulistan of roses roses of York and Lancaster white pink and purple yellow and green--a perfumed spring in dreary December. Laden with bouquets we again threaded the olive-grounds whose huge trunks are truly patriarchal and saw basking in the sun old Eumaeus the Swine-King waiting upon his black and bristly herd. The glimpse led to a characteristic tale. A wealthy Greek merchant in London had made the most liberal offers to his brother a shepherd in the hills of Cephalonia; the latter returned his very best thanks but declared himself perfectly happy and unwilling to tempt fortune by change of condition to England. Greece it is evident has not ceased to breed 'wise men.' We returned _via_ the landward flank of the hog's-back along the fine plain ('O Kampos') bounded west by the range called after Mount Meriy the apex rising 3274 feet. Anglo-Zantiots fondly compare its outline with the Jura's. The look of the rich lowlands 'the vale' as our charts call it suggested a river-valley but river there is none. Every nook and corner was under cultivation and each country-house had its chapel and its drying-ground for 'fruit' level yards now hidden under large-leaved daisies and wild flowers. We passed through the Graetani village whose tenants bear a bad name and saw none of the pretty faces for which Zante is famed. The sex was dressed in dark jackets and petticoats _a l'italienne_; and the elders were apparently employed in gathering 'bitter herbs' dandelion and the wild endive. Verily this is a frugal race. The drive ended with passing up the Strada Larga the inner High Street running parallel with the Marina. After Turkish fashion trades flock together shoemakers to the south and vegetable-vendors to the north. There are two good specimens of Venetian palazzetti one fantastic the other classical; and there is a rough pavement which is still wanting in Patras. A visit to the silk-shop of Garafuglia Papaiouanou was obligatory: here the golden-hued threads reminded me of the Indian Tussur-moth. Also _de rigueur_ was the purchase of nougat and raki the local mandorlato and mastache almond-cake and grape-spirit. Zante appears to me an excellent home for a large family with a small income. A single man lives at the best hotel (Nazionale) for forty-five francs per week. A country-house with nine bedrooms cellarage stabling dog-house orangery and large garden is to be had for 25_l._ a year. Fowls cost less than a franc; turkeys if you do not buy them from a shipchandler two francs and a half. The strong and sherry-flavoured white wine of Zante rarely exceeds three shillings the gallon sixpence a bottle. And other necessaries in the same proportion. But oh that St. Dionysius patron saint of Zante would teach his _proteges_ a little of that old Persian wisdom which abhorred a lie and its concomitants cheating and mean trickery! The _Esmeralda_ after two days and one night at Zante was charged 15_l._ for pilotage when the captain piloted himself; for church where there is no parson; and for harbour dues where there is no harbour. It is almost incredible that so sharp-witted a race can also be so short-sighted; so wise about pennies so foolish about pounds. On Saturday we left Zante in the teeth of a fresh but purely local north-easter which whistled through the gear and hurled the spray high up Cape Skinari. The result was as the poet sings-- That peculiar up-and-down motion Which belongs to the treacherous ocean. Not without regret I saw the last of the memorious old castle and of Skopo the picturesque. We ran along the western shore of Cephalonia the isle of three hundred villages: anyone passing this coast at once understands how Greece produced so many and such excellent seamen. The island was a charming spectacle with its two culminations Maraviglia (3311 ft.) and Elato (5246 ft.) both capped by purple cloud; its ...