Volume 2, Chapter 4, Sections 6-11 -- Original Journals of the Voyages of Cada Mosto, and Pedro de Cintra, to the Coast of Africa; the former in the years 1455 and 1406, and the latter soon afterwards:  *section index*


Volume 2, Chapter 4, Section 6 -- Account of the Country of Budomel continued.

On account of the great heats in the kingdom of Senegal, and all the other countries of the Negroes on the coast, no wheat, rye, barley, or spelt can grow, neither are vines cultivated, as we knew experimentally from a trial made with seeds from our ship: for wheat, and these other articles of culture, require a temperate climate and frequent showers, both of which are wanting here, where they have no rains during nine months of the year, from October to June both included. But they have large and small millet, beans, and the largest and finest kidney beans in the world, as large as hazel nuts, longer than those of the Venetian territory, and beautifully speckled with various colours as if painted. Their beans are large, flat, and of a lively red colour, and they have likewise white beans. They sow in July, at the beginning of the rains, and reap in September, when they cease; thus they prepare the soil, sow the seed, and get in the harvest, all in three months; but they are bad husbandmen, and so exceedingly averse to labour, that they sow no more than is barely sufficient to last them throughout the year, and never lay up any store for sale. In cultivating the ground, four or five of them go into a field with spades, with which they turn up the soil about four inches deep; yet such is the fertility of the soil, that it makes ample returns for this slight culture, without any farther trouble.

The liquors of the Negroes are water, milk, and palm wine, which they call mighol, or migwol, which is taken from a tree of the palm tribe, very numerous in this country, somewhat like the date tree, but not the same, and which furnishes this liquor the whole year round. The trees are tapped in two or three places near the root, and from these wounds a brown juice runs out, as thin as skimmed milk, into calabasses that are placed to receive the liquor, which drops but slowly, as one tree will only fill two calabasses from morning till night. This migwol, or palm-wine, is an exceedingly pleasant drink, which intoxicates like wine unless mixed with water. Immediately after it is drawn from the tree it is as sweet as any wine whatever; but the luscious taste goes off more and more as it is kept, and at length it becomes sour. It drinks better than at first after three or four days, as it depurates by keeping, and is not so sweet. I have often drank of it, indeed every day that I remained in the country, and liked it better than the wines of Italy. This liquor is not so abundant as that everyone may have it at discretion; yet all may have some, especially the chiefs, as the trees are not planted in gardens, like vines and fruit trees in Europe, but are found wild in the forests, and are consequently accessible to all.

In this country there are several sorts of fruit which resemble those of Europe, though not exactly the same, and which are very good, though they grow wild; and were they to be cultivated as ours are, they would prove much better than such as are produced in the northern climates, the quality of the soil and air in this part of Africa being more nutritive. The whole country is plain and fertile, abounding in good pasture, and is covered by an infinite number of large and beautiful trees, that are not known in Europe. It contains several lakes of fresh water, none of them large, but very deep, and full of excellent fish, which differ much from those that are caught in Italy, and many water serpents, which the natives call Kalkatrici. They use a kind of oil with their victuals, which tastes like oil of olives, has a pleasant flavour of violets, and tinges the food even better than saffron, but I could not learn what it was produced from.[1] There is likewise a plant which produces large quantities of small kidney-beans.

In this country there are many kinds of animals, but serpents are particularly numerous, both large and small, some of which are venomous. The large ones are more than two paces long,[2] but have neither legs nor wings, as has been reported by some persons, but some of them are so very thick as to have swallowed a goat at one morsel. These serpents retire in troops, as the natives report, to certain parts of the country where white ants are found in prodigious swarms, and which, by a kind of instinct, are said to build houses for these serpents, of earth which they carry in their months for that purpose, resembling ovens, and often to the number of 150 in one place.[3] The Negroes are great enchanters, and use charms upon almost all occasions, particularly in regard to serpents, over which they have great power. A Genoese, worthy of credit, who was in this country the year before my arrival, and who likewise lodged with Bisboror, the nephew of Budomel, told me he once heard a load noise of whistling about the house in the middle of the night. Being awakened by the noise, he saw Bisboror get out of bed and order two negroes to bring his camel. Being asked where he meant to go at that time of night, he said he had business which must be executed, but would soon return. On coming back after some time, and the Genoese expressing curiosity to learn the object in which he had been engaged, Bisboror asked if he had heard the hissing noise about the house during the night, and said that it had been made by the serpents, which would have killed a great many of his cattle, if he had not sent them back to their quarters by the employment of certain enchantments. The Genoese was astonished at this story, but Bisboror said he had no need to wonder at this small matter, as Budomel could do a great deal more extraordinary things with the serpents than he could. In particular, when he had a mind to envenom his weapons, he used to draw a large circle, into which, by means of his enchantments, he brought all the serpents of the neighbourhood, from which he selected those he thought most poisonous, and allowed all the others to go away. With the blood of these serpents, mixed up with the seeds of a certain tree, he infected his weapons with so deadly a poison, that, if they drew but the least drop of blood, the person or animal wounded by them was sure to die in a quarter of an hour. Bisboror farther offered to shew him an example of the efficacy of this art, but the Genoese declined witnessing the experiment. This story of the serpents is the more probable, that I have heard of persons in Italy who could charm them in a similar manner; but I am apt to believe that the Negroes are the most expert sorcerers in the world.

The only tame animals in the kingdom of Senegal are oxen, cows, and goats; having no sheep, which love a temperate or cold air, and could not live in this hot climate. Nature, however, has provided mankind with necessaries fitted for their various occasions; having furnished the Europeans with wool, as they have need of warm clothing, while the Negroes, who live in such intense heat, have been supplied with cotton by the Almighty. Owing to the heat, in my opinion, the cattle of this country are much smaller than those of Italy. It is a great rarity to see a red cow in this country, as they are all black or white, or mottled with black and white spots. Beasts of prey, such as lions, leopards, and wolves, are numerous, and there are plenty of hares. Wild elephants go about in troops, like the wild swine in Italy, but can never be tamed, as they are in other parts of the world. As the elephant is a well-known animal, I shall only observe in general, that those of Africa are of a very large size, as may be easily conceived by the size of their teeth, which are imported into Europe. Of these large teeth, or tusks rather, each elephant has two in the lower jaw, the points of which turn down, whereas those of the wild boar are turned up. Before my voyage to Africa I had been told that the elephant could not bend its knee, and slept standing; but this is an egregious falsehood for the bending of their knees can be plainly perceived when they walk, and they, certainly lie down and rise again like other animals. They never shed their large teeth before death; neither do they do any harm to man unless provoked. In that case the elephant makes his attack with his trunk, which is a kind of nose, protruded to a great length. He can contract and extend this proboscis at pleasure, and is able to toss a man with it as far as a sling can throw a stone. It is in vain to think of escape by running, let the person be ever so swift, in case the elephant pursues in earnest, as his strides are of prodigious length. They are more dangerous when they have young ones in their company than at any other time; of which the females have only three or four at a birth. They feed on the leaves and fruit of trees, pulling down the large boughs with their trunks, and bringing them to their mouths. This trunk is composed of a very thick cartilage, and is pliable in every direction.

There are many kinds of birds in this country, and parrots are particularly numerous, which are much hated by the negroes, because they do much damage to their crops of pulse and millet. There are said to be several kinds of parrots, but I never saw more than two. One of these is like the kind which is brought into Italy from Alexandria in Egypt, but rather smaller. The other kind is much larger, having a brown head, neck, bill, and legs, with a yellow and green body. I procured a considerable number of both sorts, particularly of the smaller kind, many of which died; but I brought 150 back to Portugal, where I sold them for half a ducat each. These birds are very industrious in constructing their nests, which they build with bulrushes and the small leaves of the palm, and other trees, in a very curious and ingenious manner. Choosing the slenderest branch of a tree, the parrot fastens a bulrush of about two spans long to its outer extremity, at the depending end of which rush it weaves its nest in a most beautiful manner, suspended like a ball, and having only one passage for entering. By this means they contrive to preserve their young from being devoured by the serpents, as the small twigs from which the nests are suspended are unable to bear the weight of the serpents. There are likewise abundance of those birds called Pharaoh's hens[4] in Europe, which come to us out of the Levant. They have likewise other birds, both large and small, which are quite different from any that are known in Italy.

As I was long on shore, I went several times to see their markets or fairs, which were held every Monday and Friday in a meadow, not far from where I resided. The men and women from four or five miles around came to this place with their various commodities; and those who lived at a greater distance went to other markets nearer their habitations. The great poverty of the natives appeared manifest in the goods they brought to these fairs; consisting of small quantities of cotton cloth, and cotton yarn, pulse, oil, millet, wooden tubs, palm matts, and every thing else useful to life, according to their manners, likewise arms, and some small quantities of gold. Having no money or coin of any kind, all their trade was carried on by way of barter, or exchange of one thing for another, sometimes two or three things for one, according to their different values. All these blacks used to gaze on me, as if I had been a prodigy, having never seen a white man before. Some took hold of my hands, which they rubbed with spittle, to see if the whiteness was natural or artificial, and expressed their wonder to find that my skin was not painted. They were as much astonished at my dress, being clothed in the Spanish fashion, with a black damask waistcoat, and a cloak over it: They seemed much surprised at the waistcoat, and greatly admired the woollen cloth, which they had never seen any of before. My chief purpose in going to these fairs, was to see what quantity of gold was brought thither.

Horses are very scarce, and of great value in the country of the Negroes, being brought all the way from that part of Barbary which lies nearest to Europe, by the Arabs and Azanhaji. Owing to the great heat, horses do not live long here; for they grow so fat that they cannot stale, and so burst. They are fed with bean leaves, which are gathered after the beans are brought from the fields; and, being dried like hay, are cut small, and given to the horses instead of oats. They give millet also, which contributes greatly to make them fat. A horse and his furniture sells for from nine to fourteen negroes, according to his goodness and beauty; and when a negro lord buys a horse, he sends for his horse sorcerers, who cause a fire to be kindled of the stalks of certain herbs, and hold the horses head by the bridle over the smoke, while they repeat over some few words by way of incantation. They afterwards have him anointed all over with fine oil, and having kept him eighteen or twenty days, without allowing any one to see him, they affix some Moorish charms to his neck, which have the appearance of small square billets of writing, folded up and covered with red leather; and affirm, that, they will go into battle with greater safety by means of these scrolls or annulets.

The women of this country are very pleasant and merry, especially the young ones, and delight in singing and dancing, taking this diversion only at night by moonlight; and their manner of dancing is very different from that of the Italians. Many things in our ships seemed wonderful to the Negroes, particularly our cross-bows; but much more our artillery. When some of them were on board my ship, I caused one of the guns to be fired off, which threw them into a dreadful panic; and their terror was much increased on being told that one cannon-shot could kill an hundred men. On which account, they alleged that it must be something belonging to the devil. They were likewise greatly astonished at a bag-pipe, which, one of our sailors played upon to divert them; and, on examining the several parts and ornaments of the instrument, they conceived that it was a living animal, which sung in different voices. Observing their simplicity, I told them it was a musical instrument, and put it into their hand unblown to examine. They then perceived that it was a work of art, but believed that it was something supernatural, and could only have been devised by a superior being, it sounded so sweetly, and in so many different tones, having never heard any thing which could be compared to it in their estimation. The ship, also, and its various contrivances, as its anchors, masts, sails, and shrouds, afforded them great subjects for admiration and wonder. They looked upon the port-holes in the stern as real eyes, by which the vessel was able to find her way in the sea; and observed, that travellers on land found difficulty to find the road from one place to another, while we were able to travel along the trackless ocean; and that the whites must therefore be the greatest of sorcerers, not inferior to the devil himself. They shewed great admiration on seeing a lighted candle in a candlestick, having themselves no other artificial light but that proceeding from a fire. They have honey-combs, but when they find these, they suck out the honey, and throw away the empty comb as useless. At one time, I bought some honey-combs from a negro, and shewed him how to extract the honey; after which, on asking him if he knew what remained, he said it was good for nothing: But he was greatly astonished on seeing it made into candles, and lighted in his presence; saying, that the Europeans knew every thing. Their only musical instruments are two, one of which they have from the Moors, which is like a large drum;[5] the other is somewhat like a fiddle, having only two strings, which they play on with their fingers, but gives no sounds that can be called harmonious.

[1] This is almost certainly palm oil, the origin of which will appear in another division of this work.--E.
[2] The text must be here erroneous, as two paces, or ten feet, will scarcely suffice in describing the boa constrictor, sometimes near thirty feet long.--E.
[3] An account of the termites, or white ants of Africa, will appear hereafter. The circumstance of serpents taking up their abode in the large anthills, must be entirely accidental.--E.
[4] Probably the Pintado, or Guinea fowl.--E.
[5] This in Ramusio is called Tabacche, and Sambuka in Grynaeus.--Astl.



Volume 2, Chapter 4, Section 7 -- Continuation of the Voyage from Senegal, by Cape Verd, the river Barbasini, and to the river Gambia; and return to Portugal.

Having seen a considerable part of the dominions of Budomel, and received the slaves which were bargained for, in exchange for my horses and other merchandize, I resolved to proceed on my voyage round Cape Verd, and to prosecute discoveries along this dangerous coast, and in particular to go in search of the kingdom of Gambia or Gambia, which Don Henry had pointed out, on the information of a person who was well acquainted with the country of the Negroes, as not far from Senegal; and from whence it was reported that considerable quantities of gold might be procured. Longing to go in quest of this gold, I took my leave of Budomel, and repaired to the river Senegal, where I went on board the caravel and got under weigh as soon as possible. Soon after leaving the river Senegal, as we were standing onward with a press of sail towards Cape Verd, we descried, one morning, two ships in the offing. On joining company, we found that one of these belonged to Antonio, an experienced Genoese navigator, and the other to some gentlemen in the service of Don Henry, and that they had sailed in company, with the intention of passing Cape Verd, to explore the coast beyond it, in search of new discoveries. Our intentions being similar, I offered to join company, and we accordingly proceeded together along the coast to the southward, in sight of land.

We came in sight of that cape next day, being about thirty Italian miles from our last anchorage.[1] Cape Verd was so named by the Portuguese, who discovered it about a year before,[2] because it is covered with trees which continue green all the year. This is a high and beautiful cape, which runs a considerable way into the sea, and has two hills or small mountains at its outer extremity. There are several villages of the Senegal negroes, or Jalofs, upon and about this promontory, which are composed of thatched cabins close by the shore, and in sight of those who sail past. There are also some sand banks, which extend about half a mile into the sea.[3]

Having doubled the cape, we came to three small uninhabited islands, full of green trees;[4] and being in want of water, we anchored at that which seemed the largest and most fruitful, in hopes of meeting with a spring, but could find none to answer our purpose. We met, however, with the nests and eggs of several kinds of birds, such as we had never seen before. This was in the month of July 1456, and we continued here all day, fishing with lines and large hooks, catching a prodigious number of fish, among which were dentali, and gilded fish,[5] some of which weighed from twelve to fifteen pounds each. On the next day we proceeded in our course, keeping always in sight of land, and found a kind of gulf formed by the coast on the south side of the cape.[6] This coast is all low, and full of fine large trees, which are continually green, as the new leaves grow before the old ones fall off, and they never wither like those in Europe; and the trees grow so near the shore that they seem to drink, as it were, the water of the sea. The coast is most beautiful, insomuch that I never saw any thing comparable to it, though I had sailed much both in the Levant and the western parts of Europe. It is well watered everywhere by small rivers, but these are useless for trade, as they do not admit ships of any size. Beyond this little gulf, the coast is inhabited by two negro nations, called Barbasini and Serreri, which are not subject to the king of Senegal, neither have they any king or lord of their own; but one person is more honoured than another, according to his condition or quality. They are great idolaters, without laws, and living in almost a state of nature, and extremely cruel, and refuse to become subjected to any lord. That their wives and children may not be taken from them and sold as slaves, as is the custom among all the negro nations which are under subjection to kings or lords, they use bows and poisoned arrows, the wounds from which are incurable, if even the smallest blood is drawn, and the wounded person or animal soon dies. Their colour is jet black, and their persons are well made. The country is full of woods, lakes, and streams, from which they derive great security, as they can only be invaded through narrow defiles, by which means they set the neighbouring lords at defiance. In former times, the kings of Senegal often attempted to reduce these two nations under obedience, but were always worsted, owing to the natural strength of the country, and their arrows. Running along the coast to the south with a fair wind, we discovered the mouth of a river about a bow-shot wide, but not deep, to which we gave the name of the Barbasini river, and have marked it on the chart which I made of the coast, as sixty miles from Cape Verd.[7] In sailing along the coast, we only made sail at sun rise, having a man continually on the top, and two others on the prow or head, to look out for breakers, and always came to anchor at sunset, about four or five miles from the land, in ten or twelve fathoms water.

Proceeding on our voyage in this cautious manner, we came to the mouth of a river which appeared to be as large as the Senegal,[8] and struck by the fineness of its appearance, and its rich woods which came down to the very shores, we cast anchor, and determined to send one of our negro interpreters on shore, to endeavour to establish a friendly intercourse with the natives. Every ship which sails from Portugal for the coast of Africa is supplied with some of these negro interpreters, who consist of slaves that had been sold by the lords of Senegal to the first Portuguese who touched on the coast, and who have learnt the Portuguese language and become Christians. These are hired from their masters in Portugal, who receive, for their hire, a prime slave from the cargo on returning from the voyage; and when any of these interpreters have thus earned four slaves for their master, they become free. Having cast lots to determine which of the three ships should send an interpreter on shore, it fell on the ship commanded by the Genoese gentleman; on which he sent an armed boat, ordering the men not to touch the shore, but to push off as soon as they had landed the interpreter; who was charged to inform himself respecting the condition and government of the country, and to inquire whether it produced gold or any other commodity worth coming for. No sooner was the interpreter landed, and the boat shoved off to some distance as ordered, than several natives came out of the wood, who had been in ambush, with bows, arrows, and other weapons, from the time they saw our ships approach the coast, as if they had been in hopes that some of our people might land upon the coast. After a short parley with our interpreter, they furiously assaulted him with their gomies, or short Moorish swords, and slew him; our people in the boat being unable to give him any assistance. This intelligence was brought to the ships, where it excited much surprise; and, concluding that these people must be extremely barbarous, who could treat one of their own race with so much barbarity, and would consequently use us cruelly if in their power, we immediately weighed anchor, and stood on our voyage farther to the south, which improved in the beauty and verdure of the trees as we advanced, always sailing within sight of the coast, which is everywhere low land covered with trees.

We came at length to the mouth of a very large river, which is not less than six or eight miles wide at the entrance, and narrows a little way within to three or four miles; and finding that it could be safely entered, we determined to cast anchor for the night; and to endeavour to learn next day if this were the river and kingdom of Gambra, or Gambia, of which we were in search.[9] We judged, however, from its noble river, that we had now attained the so anxiously desired country of Gambia, and flattered ourselves in the hope of finding a country of vast riches, where we might make our fortunes at once, by returning laden with gold, and other rich commodities. Next day, having but little wind, we sent on the small caravel before, well manned, with directions, as their ship was small and drew little water, that they were to proceed as far as possible up the river, observing whether there were any bar or sand banks at its mouth, and to take the soundings with great care; and if the river were found navigable, they were to return and make signals to that effect. Finding four fathoms' water at the entrance, the caravel brought to, and made the concerted signal; on which it was thought proper, as that caravel was small, to send another boat well armed along with her up the river, and they were strictly enjoined, in case the natives were hostile, to enter into no conflict with them, but to return immediately to the other ships, as the object of our voyage was to cultivate friendship and trade with the country, which could only be accomplished by policy, not by force. The boats accordingly proceeded up the river for two miles, leaving the small caravel at anchor, and found the banks everywhere beautiful, with sixteen fathoms water. But as the river above this made several returns or reaches, they did not think it prudent to venture any higher.

When on their way back, they saw three almadias or canoes near the mouth of a small river which runs into the large one. These almadias resemble the skiffs used in Italy which are called zoppoli, and are hollowed out of one large piece of wood. Although our boats were strongly armed, yet, in obedience to their orders, and for fear of being attacked with poisoned arrows, which the Negroes of Senegal had told us were used by all the natives of Gambia, they took to their oars, and made all possible haste back to the ship. By the time they got on board, the almadias, which followed them close, were within arrow-flight. There were about twenty-five or thirty negroes in these three almadias, who stopped for some time gazing at the caravel, which was quite a new sight to them; but would neither speak nor come nearer, notwithstanding every endeavour by signs, to induce them to approach, and at length they returned to the shore. About three next morning, the other three caravels that had remained at anchor without [[=outside]] the river, sailed with the rising tide and a light breeze into the river, to rejoin the small caravel, and to proceed up the river, hoping to meet with a more civilized people than had been seen in the almadias. In this way we sailed up the river, one after the other, the small caravel leading; and when we had got about four miles up, we perceived ourselves to be followed by a number of almadias, without knowing whence they came. On this, we tacked about, and bore down towards the almadias, having first fortified ourselves in the best manner we could, to defend us against their poisoned arrows, and made every thing ready for battle, in case of need, though by no means well provided with arms. Our order of sailing was now reversed, and my ship was foremost in going down the river. We soon came to the almadias, which separated into two divisions, having my ship between them, when I had an opportunity to count their numbers, as they gave over rowing, raised their oars, and gazed in wonder at our ship: There were in all fifteen almadias of considerable length, having from 130 to 150 negroes, all well made, of a good size, and very black. They wore white cotton shirts, having white caps, like those worn by the Germans, on their heads; but with a wing on each side, and a feather in the middle, which I supposed to be a distinguishing mark of their being soldiers. There stood a negro on the prow of each almadia, having a round target, apparently of leather, on his arm; and for some time they neither attacked us, nor we them. When they saw the other caravels bearing down upon them, they dropped their oars, and taking up their bows, sent a flight of arrows on board. Seeing this attack, our ships discharged four pieces of cannon, at them, and they were so stupified by the report, that they threw down their bows, and stared about in amazement, at the effect which the stones from the cannon made on the water around them. They continued in this astonishment for some time; but seeing that the cannon ceased to fire, they plucked up courage, and renewed the fight, advancing within a stone's throw of the ship. On this our sailors began to use their cross-bows; and the first shot, which was made by the natural son of the Genoese gentleman, hit a negro on the breast, who instantly fell down dead. Those in the almadia where he fell, took up the dart and gazed at it with wonder; yet they continued the attack with great vigour, and were courageously opposed by our caravels, insomuch that many of the Negroes were soon killed, without the loss of one man on our side. The Negroes now changed their mode of attack, and made a furious united attack on the stern of our smallest caravel, which was both ill manned, and insufficiently armed. On observing this, I brought up my ship to her assistance, and the other large caravel doing the same, we placed the small one between us, and we all vigorously plied our cannon and cross-bows against the almadias, which were at last forced to retire. We now linked all the three caravels together, and dropped one anchor, which was sufficient for us all, as it was calm weather, and the current by no means strong.

We next endeavoured to enter into some conversation with the Negroes, and often hailed them by means of our interpreters. At length one of the almadias drew near, and on being [[=they were]] asked the reason of their hostility to strangers, who came among them only to trade in a friendly manner, as they had already done with the Negroes of the kingdom of Senegal, and were desirous of being on the same friendly terms with them, if they thought proper, and were come from a far distant country, with presents for their king or lord, from the king of Portugal, who was desirous of peace and friendship with them. Our interpreters also entreated the Negroes to inform us what country we were in, who was their king, and what was the name of the river; and desired them to come freely on board, and take what goods they pleased; adding, that they might make a return in any commodities they thought proper, and in any quantities they pleased, or might have our goods for nothing. To all this they made answer, "That they had some intelligence of the Christians already, and of their dealings with the Negroes of Senegal, who must be very wicked people for entering into friendship with them; as they were well assured the Christians were men-eaters, who bought the Negroes only to devour them, and, for this reason, they were resolved to have no correspondence with them, except to destroy them, and then to send their effects to their lord, who dwelt three days journey up the country." They added, that the name of their country was Gambra, but I have forgotten the name they gave the river.[10] At this time a brisk breeze sprung up, and, as we now thoroughly knew the hostile dispositions of the Negroes, we bore down upon their almadias; but they fled to the shore, and we dropt down to the mouth of the river.

While we remained off the mouth of this river, we only once saw the north star in clear weather, and it was then so low as hardly to appear above the height of a lance above the sea.[11] We likewise observed, in about the same elevation, due south by the compass, a constellation of six large bright stars, in the figure of a cross, in this form:

* * * * * *

We conjectured this to be the southern chariot, but could not expect to observe the principal star, as we had not yet lost sight of the north pole. In this place, on the first of July, we found the night to be eleven hours and a half long, and the day twelve hours and a half. The climate is always hot, and I was tol, that even the rain in the inland parts falls warm, in consequence of the great heat of the air. It is true, that there is some difference of the heat at different seasons, and when the heat is a little diminished, the natives call it winter. The rains begin in July, and continue till the end of October, and fall every day about noon; at which time certain clouds arise in the N.E. by E. or E.N.E. which are accompanied by prodigious thunder and lightning, and vast torrents of rain. In this season, which is in the beginning of July, the Negroes sow their grain, in the same manner with the people in Senegal. Their provisions consist of millet, pulse, flesh and milk. There is not so much dawn at break of day in this southern latitude as with us in Italy; for, within half an hour after the darkness of the night begins to dispel, the sun appears, and during all that dawn the atmosphere is turbid, as if filled with smoke, and the moment the sun appears this mist is dissipated. I could only account for this phenomenon, by attributing it to the low and flat surface of this country, which is destitute of mountains, and my companions were of a similar opinion.

On holding a consultation among the commanders of the three caravels, we came to a resolution of proceeding about an hundred miles up the river, in hopes of meeting with a less ferocious and better disposed people in the interior, than those we had encountered at the mouth of this river: But the sailors were impatient to return home, without incurring any farther dangers, and unanimously and loudly refused their consent to our determination, declaring that they had already done enough for the present voyage. Upon this being made known to us, and being well aware that seamen are of headstrong and obstinate dispositions, we conceded to their clamours, and steered next day for Cape Verd, on our return to Portugal.[12]

[1] Cape Verd is about 100 miles from the southern mouth of the river Senegal; so that the voyagers probably anchored every night within sight of the scarcely known coast.--E.
[2] This is erroneous, as it was discovered in 1446 by Denis Fernandez, nine years before.--Clarke.
[3] It is necessary to be cautious with respect to these early voyages, which, having gone through various transcriptions and translations, are liable to numerous errors. In our best charts, this sand bank, intermixed with sunk rocks, extends two miles out to sea.--E.
[4] Called the Birds islands, or the Magdalens.--Clarke.
[5] In Ramusio these fish are called Orate vecchis, and in Grynaeus Ostreas veteres.--Astl.
[6] This appears to indicate the gulf between Cape Emanuel, near the isle of Goree, and the Red Cape.--E.
[7] The river named Barbasini is above eighty-five miles S.S.E. from Cape Verd, measuring to its northern entrance, and forms a small island or delta at its mouth, having another entrance about eighteen miles farther south. There is a small island named Fetti off its northern entrance, of which no notice is taken by Cada Mosto. The natives on this part of the coast, to the north of the Gambia, are now called Barras.--E.
[8] From the sequel, I am apt to conclude that this second river is the Barbasini of our charts; and that the river named Barbasini in the text of Cada Mosto, is that named Joall in modern charts.--E.
[9] Cada Mosto betrays strange ignorance of the previous discoveries of the Portuguese, considering that he had resided some time with Don Henry at Sagres. This fine river was discovered in 1447, nine years before, by Nuno Tristan, who ascended it some way, and was slain there by the poisoned arrows of the Negroes. Perhaps even Don Henry was misled by the name of Rio Grande which it then received, and confused the Venetian in his search for the Gambia.--Clarke.
[10] From this it would appear, that Gambra or Gambia is the name of the country, not of the river. Johnson says that the natives always call it Gee, which merely signifies the river.--Astl.
[11] The centre of the mouth of the Gambia is in lat. 13° 30' N.--E.
[12] It may be noticed, that during the whole of his narrative, Cada Mosto constantly speaks of Spain, and the Spanish language, as if forgetting that the ships and crews were Portuguese.--Clarke.



Volume 2, Chapter 4, Section 8 -- The Second Voyage of Cada Mosto, in 1456, to the coast of Africa, in which the Cape de Verd Islands were Discovered.[1]

As I could say little or nothing about the condition of the country of Gambia, on my return to Portugal, on account of being obliged to leave it so suddenly; partly owing to the intractable and fierce disposition of the natives, and partly through the perversity of our sailors, who refused to proceed in exploring the river; the Genoese gentleman, Antonio, who had been with me in the former voyage, and I, resolved next season to fit out two caravels, in order to return to the river Gambia; and Don Henry, who was much pleased with our intentions, determined to send one of his caravels along with us. Every thing being made ready for our voyage, we sailed from Lagos, near Cape St Vincent, with a favourable wind, in the beginning of May, and steered for the Canaries, which we made in a few days; but as the wind continued favourable, we did not touch there, and continued our course to the southward; and, as we were favoured by a current setting to the S. W. we sailed on at a great rate. At last we came in sight of Cape Branco, keeping well out at sea, and on the following night we were assailed by a great storm from the S. W. which occasioned us to steer W. by N. for two days and three nights, in order to weather the tempest, rather than turn back. On the third day, to our great joy and surprise, we descried land, being much astonished to discover land in a quarter where no person could have expected it.[2] Two men were immediately sent aloft, who cried out that two large islands were in sight. This news was communicated through the ships, to our great satisfaction, as we were sensible these islands were unknown in Portugal. Judging it probable that these islands might be inhabited, and eager to try our fortune, we steered towards one of them, which we soon came up with, and sailed round a part of it, till we found safe anchorage. The weather being now much calmed, we sent our boat on shore, well manned and armed. The men landed, and having examined some part of the island, brought back word that they could meet with no signs of inhabitants whatever.

Next morning, to clear up all doubts, I sent ten men to land on the island, well armed with guns and cross-bows, whom I ordered to go to the top of some mountains within sight, and to look from thence, not only for people, but for more islands. These men executed my commands, but found no appearance of any inhabitants. They found, however, an incredible number of pigeons, which were so tame, being strangers to man, that they readily allowed themselves to be caught, and our people brought great numbers of them to the caravels. But, what was of much more importance, they brought intelligence of having discovered three other islands; one of which being to leeward, towards the north, could not be seen from the ships, while the other two lay to the south, all within sight of each other. These men likewise noticed something resembling islands towards the west, but at so great a distance that they could not be clearly distinguished, neither did I think proper to sail in that direction, lest I should lose time in visiting uninhabited islands, like this at which we had touched. The fame of my discovery of these four islands, brought other navigators afterwards to explore this group; who round them to be ten in number, both large and small included, and altogether uninhabited, except by pigeons and other birds, and having a fine fishery.[3]

Leaving the first island, we came in sight of the other two, and searched for an anchoring place near one of them, which was full of trees. Discovering the mouth of a river, and being in want of water, we came to anchor, and sent our boats on shore to supply our wants. Some of our people went a little way up the river, where they found some small lakes containing remarkably fine white salt, of which they brought large quantities to the ships, laying in what store was thought necessary, as we did likewise of water. We found here great numbers of tortoises, or turtle, the shells of which were larger than a target. The sailors cooked these into different dishes, as they had done before in the gulf of Arguin, where these animals are found in plenty, but not so large as here. Out of curiosity I ate some of the flesh of these tortoises, which seemed very good, having a good smell and taste, and was not inferior to veal. We salted a great number of them, which proved a valuable addition to our stock of provisions during the voyage. We caught likewise a prodigious quantity of fish, both off the mouth of the river and in the stream; and, though we knew not the kinds, they were large and well-flavoured. The mouth of this river is a good arrow-shot across, and it is deep enough to admit a vessel of 150 tons. We remained two days in this place for refreshments, taking in a good stock of tortoises and fish, and large quantities of pigeons, which we killed without number. To the first island at which we anchored we gave the name of Bona Vista, as being the first we got sight of; and to this other, which seemed the largest of the four, the name of St. Jago, having cast anchor there on the day of St. Philip and St. James. Everything being in readiness for pursuing our voyage, we took our departure from these islands, and shaped our course for Cape Verd. We arrived at Spedegar, and keeping within sight of land, we came to a place named the Two Palms, which is between Cape Verd and the river Senegal. Being perfectly acquainted with the coast, we doubled the Cape next day, and came once more to the river Gambia, into which we immediately entered; and, finding no opposition from the Negroes or their almadias, we sailed up the river, always by day, and continually sounding. Such of the almadias as we saw on the river kept at a distance, close to the banks of the river, and never ventured to approach. About ten miles up the river we cast anchor on a Sunday morning, at an island where one of our sailors was buried who had died of a fever; and as his name happened to be Andrew, we called it the island of St. Andrew.[4]

Leaving this island we proceeded up the river, followed by some of the Negroes in their almadias, yet always keeping at a considerable distance. Our interpreters often hailed them, and shewed them various trinkets, which were offered for their acceptance, and endeavoured to entice them to come near, by telling them that we were good-natured civilized people, from whom they had nothing to fear. Wrought upon by these representations, the Negroes at length approached, and came up with my caravel; and at last one of them, who understood the language of our interpreter, came on board. He was greatly surprized at every thing he saw in and about the caravel, especially with the sails and rigging, having no other idea of moving a vessel on the water but by means of oars. He was no less amazed at our colour and dress, as his nation mostly go stark naked, or with a single white cotton shirt as their sole dress. We were exceedingly kind and attentive to this Negro, and made him many presents of trinkets, and other things of small value, with which he was much delighted. I asked him many questions respecting the country, through our interpreter, and at length learnt that we were in the country of Gambia, of which Forosangoli was chief lord; and, by what we could learn from him, the residence of Forosangoli was at the distance of nine or ten days journey, in a direction between the south and the southwest. He said that Forosangoli was tributary to the king of Melli, who is the great emperor of the Negroes; that there were many inferior lords, who dwelt near the river on both sides, and, if we pleased, he would conduct us to the residence of one of these lords, named Battimansa, and would endeavour to negociate a treaty of peace and friendship between him and us. Being much pleased with this offer, we carried this Negro along with us, and treated him with much attention; and, sailing up the river, we came to the place where Battimansa resided, which, in my opinion, was above forty miles from the mouth of the river. In going up the river, into which several lesser rivers fall, we sailed to the eastwards, and at the place where we came to anchor, we found it much narrower than at the mouth, being not above a mile in breadth, by our estimation.[5] On coming to this place, we sent one of our interpreters and the native Negro to Battimansa, with a present of a handsome garment, called an alzimba, made of Moorish silk, in the form of a shirt; and they were desired to inform him of the reason of our coming into his country, signifying, "That the Christian king of Portugal had sent us thither, to enter into a treaty of friendship and peace with him, and that if he had any call for our commodities, our king would supply him with them every year."

As soon as our messengers had discharged their commission, Battimansa sent some of his Negroes to the caravel, with whom we entered into friendship, and bartered several things for Negro slaves and some gold; but gold was by no means to be had in any thing like the plenty we expected, from the account given of this country by the natives of Senegal, who, being themselves extremely poor, consider that to be a large quantity which we think very trifling. The Negroes value their gold as a very precious thing, even at a higher rate than the Portuguese, yet we got it in barter very reasonably for things of very small value. We continued here eleven days, during which the caravels were continually resorted to by great numbers of Negroes from both sides of the river, who came to see the novelties, and to sell their goods, among which there were a few gold rings. Part of their commodities consisted of cotton cloth and cotton yarn; some of the pieces being all white, some striped blue and white, and others again with red, blue, and white stripes, all very well wrought and coloured. They likewise brought civet for sale, the skins of civet-cats, monkeys, large and small baboons of various sorts; and these last being very plenty they sold them cheap, or for something not exceeding ten marquets in value, for each; and the ounce of civet for what was not worth more than forty or fifty marquets; not that they sold their commodities by weight, but I judged the quantity to be about an ounce. Other Negroes brought various sorts of fruit for sale, among which were many small wild dates, which they seemed to think much of, but which our people thought not good, as the taste was different from those of Europe: As for me, I would not venture to eat any of them, lest they might have given me the flux, or some other distemper. Our ships were every day crowded with people of different aspects and languages,[6] and the natives were continually going up and down the river from one place to another, both men and women, in their almadias. They have no sails, and propel their almadias entirely with oars, which they use on both sides, all the rowers standing up. One man stands at the stern, who rows sometimes on one side, sometimes on the other, to keep the almadia steady in her course. They have no pins or row- locks to steady their oars, but hold them fast with both hands; their oar being a pole, like a half lance, seven feet and a half long, with a round board like a trencher fastened to one end, and with these they row with great safety and swiftness, in the mouths of their rivers, which are very numerous; but they seldom go out to sea, or to any distance from their own coasts, lest they should be taken by their neighbours and sold for slaves.

[1] There is some difficulty respecting the date of this second voyage. In the former, Cada Mosto sailed from Portugal in March 1455. In the course of his proceedings, the month of November is mentioned, and some subsequent transactions are said to have happened in July, which, on this arrangement, must necessarily have been of the year 1456. If, therefore, the dates of the former voyage be accurate, the second ought to have been dated in 1457.--E.
[2] This part of the narrative is involved in difficulty, and most be erroneous. A storm from the S. W. off Cape Branco, almost in lat. 21° N. and a N. W. course, could not possibly lead to the discovery of the Cape Verd islands, almost six degrees farther south, and at least six degrees farther west. This difficulty may be solved, by supposing the storm from the N.E. and that the ships drove to the S.W. from off Cape Branco.--E.
[3] This passage alludes to the voyage of Antonio de Noli in 1462. And it may be remarked, that de Faria, who mentions the discovery of these islands by Noli, takes no notice of the actual discovery by Cada Mosto. --Astl.
[4] The editor of Astley's Collection considers this as having been St James'es island, which is about twenty miles up the Gambia: But there is a small island near the northern bank, now called Charles I. which exactly corresponds with the distance in the text.--E.
[5] According to our best maps or charts of the Gambia, this river is never less than four miles broad, and generally above five, till we get near 100 miles up the river, to the reach which encircles the Devils Point, where it still is two miles wide. It is possible that the original journal of Cada Mosto may have had leagues of three marine miles each, in which case the residence of Battimansa may have been at or near the Devil's Point, above 100 miles up the river.--E.
[6] Though this country will be amply described in other voyages in our Collection, it may be proper to remark, that both sides of the river Gambia are inhabited by a mixed population of three nations, the Feloops, Foleys, and Mandingoes, each of whom have their own separate villages interspersed. This population is divided into many states, lordships, or little kingdoms; as Joalli, Barrah, Kolar, Badibu, Barsalli, &c. on or near the northern bank; Kumbo, Fonia, Kaen, Jagra, Yamini, &c. on the southern.--E



Volume 2, Chapter 4, Section 9 -- Some Account of the Manners and Customs on the Gambia, and of the Elephant and Hippopotamus.

It now remains for me to relate what I observed and was informed of concerning this country, during my short stay. The religion of the Negroes of Gambia consists of various kinds of idolatry; they place great reliance on sorcery and other diabolical things, yet all believe in God. There are many Mahometans among them, who trade to many countries, yet are not settled in houses, because the natives are ignorant.[1] They live very much in the same manner with the natives of Senegal, and have the same kinds of provisions; but they cultivate more sorts of rice. They eat dog's flesh, which I never heard of being used anywhere else. They are clothed in cotton garments, and have great abundance of cotton in their country, which may be the reason of the Gambians not going naked, as those of Senegal do, where cotton is very scarce. The women dress in the same manner; and when they are very young take great delight in delineating figures on their necks, breasts, and arms, with the point of a hot needle, which are never obliterated, and which resemble the flowers and ornaments which are wrought on silk handkerchiefs. The country is excessively hot, and the heat increases as we go to the south; besides which, we found it much hotter up the river than at sea, owing to the immense number of trees with which the country everywhere abounds. Some of these trees are of very great dimensions. Near a spring where our sailors were in use to fill our water casks, not far from the banks of the river, there grew an exceedingly large tree, but its height was by no means proportional to its thickness; for though it measured seventeen cubits in girth near the ground, its height, by estimation, was only twenty paces. This tree was hollow, but the branches were very large, avid extended to a great distance, forming a thick and ample shade. But there were many other trees much larger than this, by which the richness and fertility of the soil may be easily conceived; and the country is intersected by numerous streams.

There are many elephants in this country, but the natives are ignorant of the art of taming these animals, as is practised in other countries. One day, while we lay at anchor in the middle of the river, we observed three elephants come out from the wood and walk by the riverside, on which we sent our boat with some of the people towards them, but they immediately returned into the wood. These were all I ever saw alive; but, sometime afterwards, Guumi-mensa,[2] one of the Negro lords, shewed me a dead young elephant, which he had killed after a chase of two days. The Negroes hunt on foot in the woods, using only arrows and assagays, or javelins, which are all poisoned. When they hunt the elephant they conceal themselves behind trees, and even sometimes mount to their tops, leaping from one tree to another in pursuit of the elephant, which, being a large unwieldy animal, is often wounded in many places before it can turn round, or place itself in a posture of defence; but, in an open field, no person dare attack one, nor could even the swiftest escape from their pursuit, as I have been informed by many of the Negroes. The teeth of this dead elephant, which was shewn me by Guumi-Mensa, one of which still remained in the jaw, did not exceed three spans long, which distinctly shews that it was quite young in comparison of those whose teeth are from ten to twelve spans in length; yet, small as it was for an elephant, we computed that the weight of its carcass was equal to five or six oxen. Guumi-Mensa made me a present of what part of this elephant I liked best, and gave the remainder to his huntsmen to feast on. Understanding that elephant's flesh was eaten by the Negroes, I had some both roasted and boiled, of which I tasted, that I might be able to say that I had fed upon the flesh of an animal which had never been eaten by any of my countrymen; but I found it hard, and of an unpleasant relish. I brought one of the legs and a part of the trunk on board our caravel, together with some of the hair from its body, which was a span and a half long, of a black colour, and very thick. On my return to Portugal, I presented this hair to Don Henry, together with a part of the flesh salted up for that express purpose, which he received with much satisfaction, as it was the first of the kind that had been brought from the countries that were discovered under his auspices. The foot of the elephant is round, like that of a horse, but without hoofs; instead of which it is covered by a very thick, hard, black skin, and defended by five nails on the fore part, which are round and of the size of a grossone.[3] Though young, the foot of this elephant measured a span and a half in diameter. From the same Negro lord I received the foot of a full-grown elephant, the sole of which was three spans and an inch in diameter; which, together with a tooth of twelve spans long, I presented to Don Henry on my return, who sent it afterwards as a great curiosity to the Dutchess of Burgundy.

In the river Gambia, and in other rivers on this coast, besides the Calcatrici[4] and other animals, there is one called the river horse, or hippopotamus, of the same nature almost with the sea cow, and which lives both on land and in the water. This animal is as large in the body as a cow, with very short legs and cloven feet, having a large head like that of a horse, and two huge teeth like the tusks of a wild boar, some of which I have seen upwards of two spans long. This animal, when it gets out of the river, walks on the land like any other four-footed beast; and so far as I know, was never before discovered by any Christian traveller, except perhaps in the Nile. We saw likewise a number of bats, or rather owls, upwards of three spans long; and many other birds, quite different from those of our country both in appearance and taste, yet very good to eat.

[1] The meaning of this expression is obscure. Perhaps it implies that their Mahometan teachers had no mosques, because the Negroes were ignorant of the means and method of construction. The knowledge of God among the northern Negroes was assuredly due exclusively to the Mahometan missionaries.--E.
[2] Called Gnumi-Mensa in Grynaeus. According to Jobson, Mensa, or Mansa, signifies a king in the Mandingo language.--Astl.
[3] A Venetian silver coin, not exceeding a silver penny.--Astl.
[4] This animal is nowhere explained. Perhaps the crocodile or alligator.--E.



Volume 2, Chapter 4, Section 10 -- Continuation of the Voyage from the Gambia to the river Kasa-Mansa, Cape Roxo, the rivers of St. Ann and St. Domingo, and the Rio Grande.

Having continued eleven days in the river Gambia, and many of our people becoming affected by acute fevers, we dropt down the river on the evening of the eleventh day, departing from the country of Batti-Mansa,[1] and got out of the river in a few days, so stocked with commodities as to encourage us to proceed farther; and indeed, having been so far successful, and having a plentiful supply of provisions, and everything necessary for prosecuting the voyage, we considered as incumbent on us to attempt some farther discoveries towards the south. We accordingly steered southwards with a favourable wind; but finding the land to run a considerable way to the S.S.W. from the mouth of the Gambia, to a certain point which we took for a cape,[2] we stood out to the west to gain the open sea, the whole coast to the south of the Gambia being low, and covered with trees to the waters edge. On gaining an offing, we found that the beforementioned point was no actual cape or promontory, as the shore appeared perfectly straight on the other side; yet we kept at some distance out to sea, as we observed breakers for several miles out to sea.[3] On this account we had to proceed with great caution, keeping always two men at the head of the ship, and one in the main-top, to look out for shoals and breakers; and as a farther precaution, we sailed only during the day, and came to anchor every night. In this cautious progress, our caravels sailed always one before the other, having fixed the order of sailing by lot, and changed the leader every day, in order to avoid all disputes.

At the end of two days sail in this manner, always in sight of land, we discovered on the third day the mouth of a river about half a mile wide,[4] and towards evening we observed a little gulf or inlet, which we supposed might be the entrance of another river; but as it grew late, we came to anchor for the night. Next morning we sailed into this gulf, and found that it was the mouth of a large river, not a great deal less in my opinion than the Gambia, and both its banks were full of very beautiful tall trees. We cast anchor within the mouth of this river, and agreed to send two armed boats on shore with our interpreters to get intelligence respecting the country, according to our usual practice. This was done accordingly, and our interpreters brought back word that the river was called Kasamansa, from a Negro lord of that name who resided at a place about thirty miles up the river; but who was absent from his residence, on a warlike expedition against the lord of a neighbouring territory.

On receiving this intelligence, we sailed from this river next day, without attempting any traffic with the natives. This river of Kasamansa is twenty-five leagues, or 100 miles, to the south of the Gambia.[5] Standing on about twenty-five miles farther, we came to a cape which is a little more elevated than the rest of the coast, and as its front had a red colour, we named it Cape Roxo, or Rosso. Proceeding forwards, we came to the mouth of a pretty large river about a crossbow-shot wide, which we did not enter, but to which we gave the name of the river of St. Ann.[6] Farther on still, we came to the mouth of another river, not less than the former, which we named St. Dominic, or St. Domingo;[7] distant from Cape Rosso, by our estimation, between fifty-five and sixty miles. In another days sailing, we came to a very large river, which at first appeared to be a gulf, and was judged to be about twenty miles in breadth; but we could observe the beautiful trees on the south side, and it took us a considerable time to sail across to that side. On getting over to that side, we observed several islands in the sea, and as we wished to procure some intelligence concerning the country, we came to an anchor. Next morning two almadias came off to us from the land, one of which was as long as a caravel, and carried about thirty hands; the other was smaller, and was manned by sixteen Negroes. They came towards us with great eagerness; and, not knowing what might be their design, we took to our arms and waited their approach. As they drew near, they fixed a white cloth to the end of an oar, which they held up as a signal of peace, and we answered them in a similar manner. The Negroes then came alongside of our ships, the largest of the almadias coming up to the caravel in which I was. They gazed at every thing they saw, examining the form of the ship, the masts, yards, sails, and rigging with much attention, and they seemed astonished at seeing the white colour of our people. Our interpreters spoke to them, in order to learn the name of the country, but could not understand a word of their language, which was a great mortification to us, as we were obliged to leave the place without getting any intelligence; but we purchased a few gold rings from one of the Negroes, agreeing about the price by signs.

Finding ourselves in a country where our interpreters were of no use, and considering therefore that it would be to no purpose for us to proceed any farther, we determined to return. We stayed two days in the mouth of this large river, which we therefore named Rio Grande,[8] and where we found the north pole very low.[9] In this place we found great irregularity in the tides; for, whereas at Venice, and all other places in Europe, the flux and reflux are each of six hours continuance, the tide here only flows four hours, and ebbs eight, and the violence of the flowing tide is quite incredible, insomuch that we had great difficulty to stem it with three anchors a-head. Nay, such was its impetuosity, that we were sometimes obliged to hoist our sails, and even then it exceeded the force of the wind.

Taking our departure from the mouth of this vast river, on our way back to Portugal, we directed our course to two large islands and some small ones, which lay about thirty miles distance from the continent, which we found quite low, yet full of large and beautiful green trees, and inhabited by Negroes.[10] Encountering here the same difficulty of intercourse, for want of knowing their language, we made no stop, but took our departure for Portugal, where we arrived in safety.

[1] At this place Grynaeus calls him Batrinense; though he had named him rightly Bati-mansa before.--Astl.
[2] This is now called Cape St Mary.--E.
[3] This seems to allude to what is now called Bald Cape, about twenty miles south from Cape St Mary, and stretching somewhat farther west; from which there extends breakers or sunken rocks a considerable distance from the land.--E.
[4] Between the mouth of the Gambia and that of the Casamansa, there are three inlets, which appear to be smaller mouths of the latter river. The most northern of these is named St Peter, the most southerly Oyster river; the intermediate one has no name.--E.
[5] The actual distance is barely a degree of latitude, or less than seventy English miles. Cada Mosto probably estimated by the log, the more circuitous track by sea.--E.
[6] Cada Mosto does not mention the remarkable change which takes place here in the direction of the coast. From the Gambia to Cape Rosso, the coast runs direct south; after which its direction is E.S.E. to the mouth of the river St. Ann.--E.
[7] Called in modern charts, Rio S. Dominica.--E.
[8] According to de Faria, Rio Grande was discovered by Nunez Tristan in 1447, nine years before it was visited by Cada Mosto.--Astl.
[9] Cada Mosto is exceedingly superficial in his account of the Rio Grande; and it even seems dubious if he ever saw or entered this river, as he appears to have mistaken the navigable channel between the main and the shoals of the Rio Grande for the river itself; which channel extends above 150 English miles, from the island of Bulam in the E.S.E. to the open sea in the W.N.W. This channel agrees with his description, in being twenty miles wide, whereas the real Rio Grande is greatly smaller than the Gambia.--E.
[10] These may be the island of Waring and the Marsh islands, at the north-western entry of the channel of the Rio Grande, forming part of the Bissagos islands.--E.



Volume 2, Chapter 4, Section 11 -- The Voyage of Piedro de Cintra to Sierra Leona, and the Windward coast of Guinea; written by Alvise da Cada Mosto.

The two voyages to the coast of Africa in which Cada Mosto was engaged, and which have, been narrated in the foregoing Sections of this Chapter, were followed by others; and after the death of Don Henry, two armed caravels were sent out upon discovery by orders from the king of Portugal, under the command of Piedro de Cintra, one of the gentlemen of his household, with injunctions to proceed farther along the coast of the Negroes than had hitherto been effected, and to prosecute new discoveries. In this expedition, Piedro de Cintra was accompanied by a young Portuguese who had formerly been clerk to Cada Mosto in his two voyages; and who, on the return of the expedition to Lagos, came to the house of his former employer, who then continued to reside at Lagos, and gave him an account of the discoveries which had been made in this new voyage, and the names of all the places which had been touched at by Piedro de Cintra, beginning from the Rio Grande, the extreme point of the former voyage.[1]

De Cintra first went to the two large inhabited islands at the mouth of the Rio Grande which I had discovered in my second voyage, where he landed, and ordered his interpreters to make the usual inquiries at the inhabitants; but they could not make themselves understood, nor could they understand the language of the natives. Going therefore into the interior, they found the habitations of the Negroes to consist of poor thatched cabins, in some of which they found wooden idols, which were worshipped by the Negroes. Being unable to procure any information in this place, Cintra proceeded, in his voyage along the coast, and came to the mouth of a large river between three and four miles wide, which he called Besegue, from a lord of that name who dwelt near its mouth, and which he reckoned to be about forty miles from the mouth of the Rio Grande.[2] Proceeding about 140 miles from the river Besegue, along a very hilly coast; clothed with high trees, and having a very beautiful appearance, they came to a cape to which they gave the name of Verga.[3] Continuing along the coast, they fell in with another cape, which, in the opinion of all the seamen, was the highest they had ever seen, having a sharp conical height in the middle like a diamond, yet entirely covered with beautiful green trees. After the name of the fortress of Sagres, which was built by the deceased Don Henry on Cape St. Vincent, the Portuguese named this point Cape Sagres of Guinea.[4] According to the account of the Sailors, the inhabitants of this coast are idolaters, worshipping wooden images in the shape of men, before which they make offerings of victuals as often as they eat or drink. These people are more of a tawny colour than black, having marks on their faces and bodies made with hot irons. They go almost entirely naked, except that they wear pieces of the bark of trees before them. They have no arms, as there is no iron in their country. They live on rice, millet, beans, and kidney beans, larger than ours; and have also beef and goats flesh, but not in any great abundance. Near to Cape Sagres there are several very small uninhabited islands.

The inhabitants of this river have large almadias, carrying from thirty to forty men, who row standing, without having their oars fixed to any thing, as formerly noticed. They have their ears pierced with many holes, in which they wear a variety of gold rings. Both men and women have also a hole through the cartilage of the nose, in which they wear a gold ring, just like that of iron in the noses of our buffalos, which they take out when eating. The ladies belonging to the kings and great men, by way of extraordinary grandeur, have gold rings on other parts of their body, which decorum prevents us from particularizing.

Passing Cape Sagres, they sailed about forty miles farther along the coast, and came to the Rio de San Vincents, which is about four miles wide; and about five miles farther they found another, which they called Rio Verde, larger at the mouth than the former.[5] Both of these rivers were so named by the sailors in the caravels. About twenty-four miles beyond the Rio Verde, they came to another cape which they called Cape Liedo, signifying the cheerful, because of the beautifully verdant country in its neighbourhood.[6] From Cape Liedo there extends a large mountain for about fifty miles along the coast, all of which is very high, and covered with tall verdant trees. At the end of this mountain, and about eight miles from the shore, there are three small islands, the largest of which does not exceed ten or twelve miles in circumference. To these the sailors gave the name of Saluezze;[7] and they named the mountain Sierra Leona, or the Lion Mountain, on account of the continual roaring of thunder on its summit, which is always enveloped in clouds.

Proceeding beyond Sierra Leona, the coast was quite low, and the shore full of sand banks running out into the sea. About thirty miles from the southern extremity of the mountain, they found a river near three miles wide at the entrance, and because the water had a red colour, they called it Rio Roxo.[8] And farther on they found a cape, likewise of a red colour, which they named Cape Roxo.[9] And they gave the same name of Roxo to a small uninhabited island, about ten miles off at sea, where the north polar star seemed only the height of a man above the horizon. Beyond Cape Roxo, the sea forms a gulf, about the middle of which there enters a river, which the seamen called St Mary del Nievos, or of the snow, as having been discovered on the day of that Saint. On the other side of the river there is a cape, with an island close beside it.[10] This gulf is full of sand banks, running ten or twelve miles along the coast, on which the sea breaks with considerable violence, and has a strong current both in the ebb and flow of the tide; and the little island just mentioned is named Scauni, on account of these sand banks. Twenty-four miles distant from this river is a large cape called St. Ann, having been discovered on the day of that saint; and the whole coast between is low, with very shallow water. Twenty-four miles beyond this cape is the river of Palms, so named from the abundance of these trees which were seen there. The mouth of this river, though of sufficient width, is so full of shoals and sand banks as to render its entrance very dangerous. About seventy miles farther on, there is another small river called Rio de Fumi, or Smoke River; so named because at the time of its discovery, they saw nothing but smoke along this coast, made by the Negroes.[11] Beyond this river about twenty-four miles, there is a cape which runs a great way out into the sea, on which stands a high mountain, on which account it was called Cabo del Monte, or Cape Mount. About sixty miles still farther on, to the S. E. there is another and smaller cape, on which is a small mountain or hill, which was named Cape Cortese, or Misurado. The first night after their arrival at this place, the voyagers saw many fires among the trees, made by the Negroes on seeing the ships, as they had never seen such objects before.

About sixteen miles beyond Cape Misurado, there is a large forest of trees close to the shore, to which they gave the name of St. Mary's Grove. The caravels came to anchor beyond this wood, and several almadias came off from the shore towards them. There were two or three naked negroes in each, having sharp pointed sticks in their hands, which our seamen supposed to be darts; some of them had small knives, and they had only two targets and three bows among them all. These Negroes had their ears and noses pierced, from which hung some strange ornaments resembling human teeth. The interpreters spoke to them, but could not understand their language. Three of these Negroes ventured on board one of the caravels, one of whom was detained by the Portuguese, and the other two allowed to go away; for Cintra had been ordered by the king, in case of discovering any country where the interpreters did not understand the language, that he was to bring away one of the natives either by force or fair means, that he might be able to give an account of his country, either by some of the Negroes in Portugal happening to understand his language, or after he had acquired the Portuguese.

Piedro de Cintra, having determined to proceed no farther, returned back to Portugal from Cape Misarado, to which he had traced the coast of Africa from the Rio Grande. Upon his return, this negro who had been detained off Cape Misurado, was examined by several Negroes, and at length was understood by a Negress who belonged to an inhabitant of Lisbon; not indeed by his own proper language, but by means of another which was known to them both. Whatever intelligence may have been procured on this occasion, was not made public, except that there were unicorns in his country. After this Negro had been kept for some months in Lisbon, and had been shewn many of the curiosities of Portugal, the king ordered him to be supplied with clothes, and sent him back in a caravel to his own country. But from that coast no other ship had arrived before my departure, which was on the first of February 1463.[12]

[1] For this exordium or introduction, we are indebted to the editor of Astley's Collection of Voyages and Travels, said to have been a Mr John Green. The infant Don Henry of Portugal died in 1463; so that there must have been an interval of six or seven years between the second voyage of Cada Mosto and this of Piedro de Cintra: Though de Faria seems to put this voyage as having been executed before the death of that excellent prince, yet Cada Mosto, who then actually resided at Lagos, could not be mistaken is this important particular.-- Astl.
[2] In a note to the second voyage of Cada Mosto, it has been already noticed that he seems to have given the name of Rio Grande to the channel between the Bissagos islands, or shoals of the Rio Grande and the Main. This river Besegue, may possibly be the strait or channel which divides the island named particularly Bissagos, or more properly Bissao, from that of Bassis or Bussi. Yet this river Besegue may even have been that now called Rio Grande, in which, about twenty-four leagues above its mouth, there is an island called Bissaghe.--E.
[3] It is strange that the Rio de Nuno, close by this cape, the estuary of which is not less than seven or eight miles wide, should be here omitted; but the present voyage is very superficially narrated throughout.--E.
[4] The text is here obviously defective, as no river is mentioned before; but the allusion must be to the river Pongo, Pongue, or Pougue, at the mouth of which Cape Sagres is situated; indeed that cape seems to be formed by one of the islands off the mouth of the river.--E.
[5] There are a number of small rivers on the coast, between Cape Sagres and Cape Tagrin, such as Tofali, Dania, Buria, Berrea, Tanna, Pogone, Cagrance, dos Casas; but our modern charts have none named as in the text on this part of the coast.--E.
[6] This is now called Cape Tagrin, and forms the northern point at the entrance of the Sierra Leone river, otherwise called the Mitomba or Tagrin river. The southern point is named Cape Sierra Leone; and in some maps is likewise named Liedo very improperly. It is necessary to distinguish carefully between the _Cape_ of Sierra Leone, and the mountainous ridge of the same name, which appears to extend a considerable way along the coast to the S. E. near fifty miles, to the river Kates, or Sa. Ma. della Neue. But, from the baldness of the narrative, there is great difficulty in tracing out this voyage.--E.
[7] These are now called Bananas islands, in lat. 8° N.--E.
[8] Perhaps the Camaranca.--E.
[9] Probably that now called Tassa Point, or Cabo de S. Anna.--E.
[10] This account seems again to refer to the river Camaranca and Tassa Point; otherwise called Cape St Ann; yet this cape is brought in immediately afterwards. Indeed this voyage is inextricably confused, probably incorrect or corrupt.--E.
[11] The large island of Sherbro, with Sherbro Strand and Shoals, a very prominent feature of this part of the African coast, is here entirely overlooked; unless we suppose de Cintra to have gone on the outside of that island, considering the sound as a river, and naming the N. W. point of Sherbro island Cape St Ann.--E.
[12] We have already seen that Don Henry died in this year, which must, therefore, be here an error of the press, either in the original publication by Cada Mosto, or in some of the after editions.--E.


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