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SECTION III. Voyage to Guinea, in 1554, by Captain John Lok198

As in the first voyage of the English to Guinea, I have given rather the order of the history than the course of navigation, of which I had then no perfect information; so in this second voyage my chief purpose has been to shew the course pursued, according to the ordinary custom and observation of mariners, and as I received it from the hands of an expert pilot, who was one of the chiefest in this voyage199, who with his own hand wrote a brief journal of the whole, as he had found and tried in all things, not conjecturally, but by the art of navigation, and by means of instruments fitted for nautical use200. Not assuming therefore to myself the commendations due to another, neither having presumed in any part to change the substance or order of this journal, so well observed by art and experience, I have thought fit to publish it in the language commonly used by mariners, exactly as I received it from that pilot201.


On the 11th October 1554, we departed from the river Thames with three good ships. One of these named the Trinity, was of 140 tons burden; the second, called the Bartholomew, was 90 tons; and the third, called the John Evangelist, was 140 tons. With these three ships and two pinnaces, one of which was lost on the coast of England, we staid fourteen days at Dover, and three or four days at Rye, and lastly we touched at Dartmouth. Departing on the 1st November, at 9 o'clock at night, from the coast of England, off the Start point, and steering due south-west all that night, all next day, and the next night after, till noon of the 3d, we made our way good, running 60 leagues. The morning of the 17th we had sight of the island of Madeira, which to those who approach from N.N.E. seems to rise very high, and almost perpendicular in the west. To the S.S.E. is a long low land, and a long point with a saddle through the midst of it, standing in 32° N. [lat. 32° 30' N. long. 16° 12' W.] And in the west part are many springs of water running down from the mountain, with many white fields like fields of corn, and some white houses in the S.E. part. Also in this part is a rock at a small distance from the shore, over which a great gap or opening is seen in the mountain.

The 19th at noon we had sight of the isles of Palma, Teneriffe, and Grand Canarea. The isle of Palma rises round, and stretches from S.E. to N.W. the north-west part being lowest. In the south is a round hill over the head-land, with another round hill behind and farther inland. Between the S.E. end of Madeira and the N.W. part of the island of Palma, the distance is 57 leagues202, Palma being in 28°.(lat. 28° 45' N. long 17° 45' W.) Our course between the S.E. end of Madeira and the N.W. part of Palma was S. and S. by W. so that we had sight of Teneriffe and the Grand Canary. The S.E. part of Palma and N.N.E. of Teneriffe lie S.E. and N.W.(rather E. and W.) distance 20 leagues(33 leagues.) Teneriffe and Grand Canarea, with the west part of Fuertaventura, stand in 27° 30'203. Gomera is a fair island, but very rugged, W.S.W. from Teneriffe, the passage between running from N. by W. to S. by E. In the south part of Gomera is a town and good road-stead, in lat. 28° N. Teneriffe is a mountainous island, with a great high peak like a sugar-loaf, on which there is snow all the year, and by that peak it may be known from all other islands. On the 20th November we were there becalmed from six in the morning till four in the afternoon. On the 22d November, being then under the tropic of Cancer, the sun set W. and by S. On the coast of Barbary, 25 leagues N. of Cape Blanco, at 3 leagues from shore, we had 15 fathoms water on a good shelly bottom mixed with sand, and no currents, having two small islands in lat. 22° 20' N.204 From Gomera to Cape de las Barbas is 100 leagues (116), the course being S. by E. That cape is in lat. 22° 30,(22° 15') all the coast thereabout being flat, and having 16 and 17 fathoms off shore. All the way from the river del Oro to Cape Barbas, at 7 or 8 leagues off shore, many Spaniards and Portuguese employ themselves in fishing during the month of November, the whole of that coast consisting of very low lands. From Cape Barbas we held a course S.S.W. and S.W. by S. till we came into lat. 20° 30', reckoning ourselves 7 leagues off shore, and we there came to the least shoals of Cape Blanco. We then sailed to the lat. of 13° N. reckoning ourselves 20 leagues off; and in 15° we did rear the crossiers, or cross stars, and might have done so sooner if we had looked for them. They are not right across in the month of November, as the nights are short there, but we had sight of them on the 29th of that month at night. The 1st of December, being in lat. 13° N. we set our course S. by E. till the 4th at noon, when we were in 9° 20' reckoning ourselves 30 leagues W.S.W. from the shoals of the Rio Grande, which extend for 30 leagues. On the 4th, being in 6° 30', we set our course S.E. The 9th we changed our course E.S.E. The 14th, being in lat. 5° 30' and reckoning ourselves 36 leagues from the coast of Guinea, we set our course due E. The 19th, reckoning ourselves 17 leagues from Cape Mensurado, we set our course E. by N. the said cape being E.N.E. of us, and the river Sesto E. The 20th we fell in with Cape Mensurado or Mesurado, which bore S.E. 2 leagues distant. This cape may be easily known, as it rises into a hummock like the head of a porpoise. Also towards the S.E. there are three trees, the eastmost being the highest, the middle one resembling a hay-stack, and that to the southward like a gibbet. Likewise on the main there are four or five high hills, one after the other, like round hummocks. The south-east of the three trees is brandiernaure? and all the coast is a white sand. The said cape stands within a little of six degrees (lat. 6° 20' N. long. 10° 30' W.) The 22d we came to the river Sesto or Sesters, where we remained till the 29th, and we thought it best to send our pinnace before us to the Rio Dulce, that they might begin the market before the arrival of the John Evangelist. At the river Sesto, which is in six degrees less one terce, or 5° 40', we got a ton of grains205. From Rio Sesto to Rio Dulce the distance is 25 leagues, Rio Dulce being in 5° 30' N. The Rio Sesto is easily known by a ledge of rocks to the S.E. of the road206, and at the mouth of the river are five or six trees without leaves. It is a good harbour, but the entrance of the river is very narrow, and has a rock right in the mouth. All that coast, between Cape Mount and Cape Palmas, lies S.E. by E. and N.W. by N. being three leagues offshore207, and there are rocks in some places two leagues off, especially between the river Sesto and Cape Palmas.

Between the river Sesto and the river Dulce are 25 leagues. Between them and 8 leagues from Sesto river is a high land called Cakeado, and S.E. from it a place called Shawgro, and another called Shyawe or Shavo, where fresh water may be had. Off Shyawe lies a ledge of rocks, and to the S.E. is a headland named Croke, which is 9 or 10 leagues from Cakeado. To the S.E. is a harbour called St Vincent, right over against which is a rock under water, two and a half leagues from shore. To the S.E. of this rock is an island 3 or 4 leagues off, and not above a league from shore, and to the S.E. of the island is a rock above water, and past that rock is the entrance of the river Dulce, which may be known by that rock. The N.W. side of the haven is flat sand, and the S.E. side is like an island, being a bare spot without any trees, which is not the case in any other place. In the road ships ride in 13 or 14 fathoms, the bottom good ouse and sand. The marks for entering this road are to bring the island and the north-east land in one. We anchored there on the last day of December 1554, and on the 3d of January 1555 we came from the Rio Dulce. Cape Palmas is a fair high land, some low parts of which by the waterside seem red cliffs, with white streaks like highways, a cables length each, which is on the east side of the Cape. This is the most southerly land on the coast of Guinea, and is in lat. 4° 25' N. From Cape Palmas to Cape Three-points or Tres puntas, the whole coast is perfectly safe and clear, without rock or other danger. About 25 leagues to the eastward of Cape Palmas the land is higher than in any other place till we come to Cape Three-points, and about ten leagues westward from that Cape the land begins to rise, and grows higher all the way to the point. Also about 5 leagues west from that Cape there is some broken ground with two great rocks, within which, in the bight of a bay, there is a castle called Arra belonging to the king of Portugal, which is readily known by these rocks, as there are none other between Cape Palmas and Cape Three-points. The coast trends E. by N. and W. by S. From Cape Palmas to Arra castle is 95 leagues, and from thence to the western point of Cape Three-points it is S.E. by S. and N.W. by N. This western point of Cape Three-points is low land, stretching half a mile out to sea, and on the neck nearest the land is a tuft of trees.

We arrived at Cape Three-points on the 11th January, and came next day to a town called Samma or Samua, 8 leagues beyond, towards E.N.E. there being a great ledge of rocks a great way out to sea between Cape Three-points and that town. We remained four days off that town, the captain of which desired to have a pledge on shore, but on receiving one he kept him, and refused to continue trade, even shooting his ordnance at us, of which he only had two or three pieces208. On the 16th of the month we came to a place called Cape Corea209, where dwelt Don John, and where we were well received by his people. This Cape Corea is 4 leagues eastward from the castle of Mina. We arrived there on the 18th of the month, making sale of all our cloth except two or three packs. On the 26th we weighed anchor and went to join the Trinity, which was 7 leagues to the eastwards of us, and had sold most of her wares. Then the people of the Trinity willed us to go 8 or 9 leagues farther to the east, to sell part of their wares at a place called Perecow, and another called Perecow-grande, still farther east, which is known by a great hill near it called Monte Rodondo lying to the westwards, and many palm trees by the water side. From thence we began our voyage homewards on the 13th of February, and plied along the coast till we came within 7 or 8 leagues of Cape Three-points. About 8 in the afternoon of the 15th we cast about to seawards. Whoever shall come from the coast of Mina homewards, ought to beware of the currents, and should be sure of making his way good as far west as Cape Palmas, where the current sets always to the eastwards. About 20 leagues east of Cape Palmas is a river called De los Potos, where abundance of fresh water and ballast may be had, and plenty of ivory or elephants teeth, which river is in four degrees and almost two terces, or 4° 40' N. When you reckon to be as far west as Cape Palmas, being in lat. 1° or 1° 30' N. you may then stand W. or W. by N. till in lat. 3° N. Then you may go W. or N.W. by W. till in lat. 5° N. and then N.W. In lat. 6° N. we met northerly winds and great ruffling tides, and as far as we could judge the current set N.N.W. Likewise between Cape Mount and Cape Verd there are great currents, which are very apt to deceive.

On the 22d of April we were in lat. 8° 40' N. and continued our course to the north-west, having the wind at N.E. and E.N.E. sometimes at E. till the first of May, when we were in lat. 18° 20' N. Thence we had the wind at E. and E.N.E. sometimes E.S.E. when we reckoned the Cape Verd islands E.S.E. from us, and by estimation 48 leagues distant. In 20° and 21° N. we had the wind more to the east and south than before; and so we ran N.W. and N.N.W. sometimes N. by W. and N. till we came into lat. 31° N. when we reckoned ourselves 180 leagues S.W. by S. of the island of Flores. Here we had the wind S.S.E. and shaped our course N.E. In 23° we had the wind at S. and S.W. and made our course N.N.E. in which direction we went to 40°, and then set our course N.E. having the wind at S.W. and the isle of Flores E. of us, 17 leagues distant. In 41° we had the wind N.E. and lay a course N.W. Then we met the wind at W.N.W. and at W. within 6 leagues, when we went N.W. We then altered to N.E. till in 42° where we shaped our course E.N.E. judging the isle of Corvo to be W. of us, 36 leagues distant. On the 21st of May we communed with John Rafe who judged us to be in lat. 39° 30' N. 25 leagues E. of Flora, and recommended to steer N.E.

It is to be noted that in lat. 9° N. on the 4th of September, we lost sight of the north star. In lat. 45° N. the compass varied 8° to the W. of N. In 40° N. it varied 15°. And in 30° 30' N. its variation was 5° W.

It is also to be noted that two or three days before we came to Cape Three-points, the pinnace went along shore endeavouring to sell some of our wares, and then we came to anchor three or four leagues west by south of that cape, where we left the Trinity. Then our pinnace came on board and took in more wares, telling us that they would go to a place where the Primrose210 was, and had received much gold in the first voyage to these parts; but being in fear of a brigantine that was then on the coast, we weighed anchor and followed them, leaving the Trinity about four leagues from us. We accordingly rode at anchor opposite that town, where Martine, by his own desire and with the assent of some of the commissioners in the pinnace, went on shore to the town, and thence John Berin went to trade at another town three miles father on. The town is called Samma or Samua, which and Sammaterra are the two first towns to the N.E. of Cape Three-points, where we traded for gold.

Having continued the course of the voyage as described by the before-mentioned pilot, I will now say something of the country and people, and of such things as are brought from thence211.

They brought home in this voyage, 400 pounds weight and odd of gold212, twenty-two carats and one grain fine. Also 36 buts of grains, or Guinea pepper, and about 250 elephants teeth of different sizes. Some of these I saw and measured, which were nine spans in length measured along the crook, and some were as thick as a mans thigh above the knee, weighing 90 pounds each, though some are said to have been seen weighing 125 pounds. There were some called the teeth of calves, of one, two, or three years old, measuring one and a-half, two, or three feet, according to the age of the beast. These great teeth or tusks grow in the upper jaw downwards, and not upwards from the lower jaw, as erroneously represented by some painters and arras workers. In this voyage they brought home the head of an elephant of such huge bigness that the bones or cranium only, without the tusks or lower jaw, weighed about two hundred pounds, and was as much as I could well lift from the ground. So that, considering also the weight of the two great tusks and the under jaw, with the lesser teeth, the tongue, the great hanging ears, the long big snout or trunk, with all the flesh, brains, and skin, and other parts belonging to the head, it could not in my opinion weigh less than five hundred weight. This head has been seen by many in the house of the worthy merchant Sir Andrew Judde, where I saw it with my bodily eyes, and contemplated with those of my mind, admiring the cunning and wisdom of the work-master, without which consideration such strange and wonderful things are only curiosities, not profitable subjects of contemplation.

The elephant, by some called oliphant, is the largest of all four-footed beasts. The fore-legs are longer than those behind; in the lower part or ancles of which he has joints. The feet have each five toes, but undivided. The trunk or snout is so long and of such form that it serves him as a hand, for he both eats and drinks by bringing his food and drink to his mouth by its means, and by it he helps up his master or keeper, and also overturns trees by its strength. Besides his two great tusks, he has four teeth on each side of his mouth, by which he eats or grinds his food, each of these teeth being almost a span long, as they lie along the jaw, by two inches high and about as much in breadth. The tusks of the male are larger than those of the female. The tongue is very small, and so far within the mouth that it cannot be seen. This is the gentlest and most tractable of all beasts, and understands and is taught many things, so that it is even taught to do reverence to kings, being of acute sense and great judgment. When the female is once seasoned, the male never touches her afterwards. The male lives two hundred years, or at least 120, and the female almost as long; but the flower of their age is reckoned 60 years. They cannot endure our winter or cold weather; but they love to go into rivers, in which they will often wade up to their trunk, snuffing and blowing the water about in sport; but they cannot swim, owing to the weight of their bodies. If they happen to meet a man wandering in the wilderness, they will go gently before him and lead him into the right way. In battle they pay much respect to those who are wounded, bringing such as are hurt or weary into the middle of the army where they may be defended. They are made tame by drinking the juice of barley213.

They have continual war with dragons, which desire their blood because it is very cold; wherefore the dragon lies in wait for the passing of an elephant, winding its tail of vast length round the hind legs of the elephant, then thrusts his head into his trunk and sucks out his breath, or bites him in the ears where he cannot reach with his trunk. When the elephant becomes faint with the loss of blood, he falls down upon the serpent, now gorged with blood, and with the weight of his body crushes the dragon to death. Thus his own blood and that of the elephant run out of the serpent now mingled together, which cooling is congealed into that substance which the apothecaries call sanguis draconis or cinnabar214. But there are other kinds of cinnabar, commonly called cinoper or vermillion, which the painters use in certain colours.

There are three kinds of elephants, as of the marshes, the plains, and the mountains, differing essentially from each other. Philostratus writes, that by how much the elephants of Lybia exceed in bigness the horses of Nysea, so much do the elephants of India exceed those of Lybia, for some of the elephants of India have been seen nine cubits high; and these are so greatly feared by the others, that they dare not abide to look upon them. Only the males among the Indian elephants have tusks; but in Ethiopia and Lybia, both males and females are provided with them. They are of divers heights, as of 12, 13, or 14 dodrants, the dodrant being a measure of 9 inches; and some say that an elephant is bigger than three wild oxen or buffaloes. Those of India are black, or mouse-coloured; but those of Ethiopia or Guinea are brown. The hide or skin of them all is very hard, and without hair or bristles. Their ears are two dodrants, or 18 inches in breadth, and their eyes are very small. Our men saw one drinking at a river in Guinea as they sailed along the coast. Those who wish to know more of the properties of the elephant, as of their wonderful docility, of their use in war, of their chastity and generation, when they were first seen in the triumphs and amphitheatres of the Romans, how they are taken and tamed, when they cast their tusks, and of their use in medicine, and many other particulars, will find all these things described in the eighth book of Natural History, as written by Pliny. He also says in his twelfth book, that the ancients made many goodly works of ivory or elephants teeth; such as tables, tressels or couches, posts of houses, rails, lattices for windows, idols of their gods, and many other things of ivory, either coloured or uncoloured, and intermixed with various kinds of precious woods; in which manner at this day are made chairs, lutes, virginals, and the like. They had such plenty of it in ancient times, that one of the gates of Jerusalem was called the ivory gate, as Josephus reports. The whiteness of ivory was so much admired, that it was anciently thought to represent the fairness of the human skin; insomuch that those who endeavoured to improve, or rather to corrupt, the natural beauty by painting, were said reproachfully, ebur atramento candefacere, to whiten ivory with ink. Poets also, in describing the fair necks of beautiful virgins, call them eburnea colla, or ivory necks. Thus much may suffice of elephants and ivory, and I shall now say somewhat of the people, and their manners, and mode of living, with another brief description of Africa.

The people who now inhabit the regions of the coast of Guinea and the middle parts of Africa, as inner Lybia, Nubia, and various other extensive regions in that quarter, were anciently called Ethiopians and Nigritae, which we now call Moors, Moorens, or Negroes; a beastly living people, without God, law, religion, or government, and so scorched by the heat of the sun, that in many places they curse it when it rises. Of the people about Lybia interior, Gemma Phrysius thus writes: Libia interior is large and desolate, containing many horrible wildernesses, replenished with various kinds of monstrous beasts and serpents. To the south of Mauritania or Barbary is Getulia, a rough and savage region, inhabited by a wild and wandering people. After these follow the Melanogetuli, or black Getulians, and Phransii, who wander in the wilderness, carrying with them great gourds filled with water. Then the Ethiopians, called Nigritae, occupy a great part of Africa, extending to the western ocean or Atlantic. Southwards also they reach to the river Nigritis or Niger, which agrees in its nature with the Nile, as it increases and diminishes like the Nile, and contains crocodiles. Therefore, I believe this to be the river called the Senegal by the Portuguese. It is farther said of the Niger, that the inhabitants on one side were all black and of goodly stature, while on the other side they were brown or tawny and of low stature, which also is the case with the Senegal.215 There are other people of Lybia, called Garamantes, whose women are in common, having no marriages or any respect to chastity. After these are the nations called Pyrei, Sathiodaphintae, Odrangi, Mimaces, Lynxamator, Dolones, Agangince, Leuci Ethiopes, Xilicei Ethiopes, Calcei Ethiopes, and Nubi. These last have the same situation in Ptolemy, which is now given to the kingdom of Nubia, where there are certain Christians under the dominion of the great emperor of Ethiopia, called Prester John. From these towards the west was a great nation called Aphricerones, inhabiting, as far as we can conjecture, what is now called the Regnum Orguene, bordering on the eastern or interior parts of Guinea. From hence westwards and towards the north, are the kingdoms of Gambra and Budamel, not far from the river Senegal; and from thence toward the inland region and along the coast are the regions of Ginoia or Guinea. On the west side of this region is Cabo Verde, caput viride, Cap Verd, or the Green Cape, to which the Portuguese first direct their course when they sail to the land of Brazil in America, on which occasion they turn to the right hand towards the quarter of the wind called Garbino, which is between the west and south.

To speak somewhat more of Ethiopia, although there are many nations called Ethiopians, yet is Ethiopia chiefly divided into two parts, one of which being a great and rich region, is called Ethiopia sub Egypto, or Ethiopia to the south of Egypt. To this belongs the island of Meroe, which is environed by the streams of the Nile. In this island women reigned in ancient times, and, according to Josephus, it was some time called Sabea, whence the queen of Saba went to Jerusalem to listen to the wisdom of Solomon. From thence, towards the east and south, reigneth the Christian emperor called Prester John, by some named Papa Johannes, or as others say Pean Juan, signifying Great John, whose empire reaches far beyond the Nile, and extends to the coasts of the Red Sea and of the Indian ocean. The middle of this region is almost in 66 degrees of E. longitude, and 12 degrees of N. lat.216 About this region dwell the people called Clodi, Risophagi, Axiuntiae, Babylonii, Molili, and Molibae. After these is the region called Trogloditica, the inhabitants of which dwell in caves and dens, instead of houses, and feed upon the flesh of serpents, as is reported by Pliny and Diodorus Siculus, who allege, that instead of language, they have only a kind of grinning and chattering. There are also people without heads, called Blemines, having their eyes and mouths in their breast. Likewise Strucophagi, and naked Gamphasantes; satyrs also, who have nothing of human nature except the shape. Oripei likewise, who are great hunters, and Mennones. Here also is Smyrnophora, or the region of myrrh; after which is Azania, producing many elephants.217 A great portion of the eastern part of Africa beyond the equinoctial line is in the kingdom of Melinda, the inhabitants of which have long been in use to trade with the nations of Arabia, and whose king is now allied to the king of Portugal, and pays tribute to Prester John.

The other, or interior Ethiopia, being a region of vast extent, is now only somewhat known upon the sea-coast, but may be described as follows. In the first place, towards the south of the equator, is a great region of Ethiopians, in which are white elephants, tigers, (lions) and rhinoceroses. Also a region producing plenty of cinnamon, which lies between the branches of the Nile. Also the kingdom of Habesch or Habasia,218 a region inhabited by Christians, on both sides of the Nile. Likewise those Ethiopians called Ichthyophagi, or who live only on fish, who were subdued in the wars of Alexander the Great219. Also the Ethiopians called Rapsii and Anthropophagi, who are in use to eat human flesh, and inhabit the regions near the mountains of the moon. Gazatia is under the tropic of Capricorn; after which comes the front of Africa, and the Cape of Good Hope, past which they sail from Lisbon to Calicut: But as the capes and gulfs, with their names, are to be found on every globe and chart, it were superfluous to enumerate them here.

Some allege that Africa was so named by the Greeks, as being without cold; the Greek letter alpha signifying privation, void of, or without, and phrice signifying cold; as, although it has a cloudy and tempestuous season instead of winter, it is yet never cold, but rather smothering hot, with hot showers, and such scorching winds, that at certain times the inhabitants seem as if living in furnaces, and in a manner half ready for purgatory or hell. According to Gemma Phrisius, in certain parts of Africa, as in the greater Atlas, the air in the night is seen shining with many strange fires and flames, rising as it were as high as the moon, and strange noises are heard in the air, as of pipes, trumpets, and drums, which are caused perhaps by the vehement motions of these fiery exhalations, as we see in many experiments wrought by fire, air, and wind. The hollowness also, and various reflections and breakings of the clouds, may be great causes thereof, besides the great coldness of the middle region of the air, by which these fiery exhalations, when they ascend there, are suddenly driven back with great force. Daily experience teaches us, by the whizzing of a burning torch, what a noise fire occasions in the air, and much more so when it strives and is inclosed with air, as seen in guns; and even when air alone is inclosed, as in organ pipes and other wind instruments: For wind, according to philosophers, is nothing but air vehemently moved, as when propelled by a pair of bellows, and the like.

Some credible persons affirm that, in this voyage to Guinea, they felt a sensible heat in the night from the beams of the moon; which, though it seem strange to us who inhabit a cold region, may yet reasonably have been the case, as Pliny writes that the nature of stars and planets consists of fire, containing a spirit of life, and cannot therefore be without heat. That the moon gives heat to the earth seems confirmed by David, in the 121st psalm, where, speaking of such men as are defended from evils by the protection of God, he says, "The sun shall not burn thee by day, neither the moon by night220." They said likewise, that in some parts of the sea they saw streams of water, which they call spouts, falling out of the air into the sea, some of them being as large as the pillars of churches; insomuch that, when these fall into ships, they are in great danger of being sunk. Some allege these to be the cataracts of heaven, which were all opened at Noah's flood: But I rather consider them to be those fluxions and eruptions said by Aristotle, in his book de Mundo, to happen in the sea. For, speaking of such strange things as are often seen in the sea, he writes thus: "Oftentimes also, even in the sea are seen evaporations of fire, and such eruptions and breaking forth of springs, that the mouths of rivers are opened. Whirlpools and fluxions are caused of such other vehement motions, not only in the midst of the sea, but also in creeks and straits. At certain times also, a great quantity of water is suddenly lifted up and carried about by the moon," &c. From these words of Aristotle it appears, that such waters are lifted up at one time in one place, and suddenly fall down again in another place at another time. To this also may be referred what Richard Chancellor told me, as having heard from Sebastian Cabot, as far as I remember, either on the coast of Brazil or of the Rio de la Plata, that his ship or pinnace was suddenly lifted from the sea and cast upon the land, I know not how far. Which, and other strange and wonderful works of nature considered, and calling to remembrance the narrowness of human knowledge and understanding, compared with her mighty power, I can never cease to wonder, and to confess with Pliny, that nothing is impossible to nature, whose smallest power is still unknown to man.

Our people saw and considered many things in this voyage that are worthy of notice, and some of which I have thought fit to record, that the reader may take pleasure, both in the variety of these things, and in the narrative of the voyage. Among other matters respecting the manners and customs of these people, this may seem strange, that their princes and nobles are in use to pierce and wound their skins in such way as to form curious figures upon it, like flowered damask, which they consider as very ornamental221. Although they go in a manner naked, yet many of them, and the women especially, are almost loaded with collars, bracelets, rings, and chains, of gold, copper, or ivory. I have seen one of their ivory armlets weighing 38 ounces, which was worn by one of their women on her arm. It was made of one piece of the largest part of an elephant's tooth, turned and somewhat carved, having a hole through which to pass the hand. Some have one on each arm and one on each leg, and though often so galled by them as to be almost lame, they still persist to use them. Some wear great shackles on their legs of bright copper, and they wear collars, bracelets, garlands, and girdles of certain blue stones, resembling beads. Some also of their women wear upon their arms a kind of fore-sleeves222, made of plates of beaten gold. They wear likewise rings on their fingers made of gold wire, having a knot or wreath, like those which children make on rush rings. Among other golden articles bought by our men, were some dog-collars and chains.

These natives of Guinea are very wary in driving bargains, and will not willingly lose the smallest particle of their gold, using weights and measures for the same with great circumspection. In dealing with them, it is necessary to behave with civility and gentleness, as they will not trade with any who use them ill. During the first voyage of our people to that country, on departing from the place where they had first traded, one of them either stole a musk-cat or took her away by force, not suspecting that this could have any effect to prevent trading at the next station: But although they went there in full sail, the news had got there before them, and the people refused to deal with them until the cat were either restored or paid for at a fixed price. Their houses are made of four posts or trees set in the ground, and are covered with boughs; and their ordinary food is roots, with such fish as they take, which are in great plenty. Among these are flying fishes, similar to those seen in the West India seas. Our people endeavoured to salt some of the fish which they caught on the coast of Africa, but some said that they would not take salt, and must therefore be eaten immediately; while others alleged that, if salted immediately when taken, they would keep good for ten or twelve days. Part of the salt meat taken by our people from England became putrid while on the coast of Africa, yet turned sweet again after their return to a temperate region. They have a strange method of making bread, which is as follows: They grind, with their hands, between two stones, as much corn into meal as they think may suffice the family, and making this flour into a paste with water, they knead it into thin cakes, which are stuck upon the posts of their houses and baked or dried by the heat of the sun; so that when the master of the house or any of the family are in want of bread, they take it down from the post and eat.

They have very fair wheat, the ear of which is two hand-breadths long and as big as a great bulrush, the stem or straw being almost as thick as a man's little finger. The grains are white and round, shining like pearls that have lost their lustre, and about the size of our pease. Almost their whole substance turns to flour, leaving very little bran. The ear is inclosed in three blades, each about two inches broad, and longer than the ear; and in one of them I counted 260 grains of corn. By this fruitfulness, the sun seems in some measure to compensate for the trouble and distress produced by its excessive heat. Their drink is either water, or the juice which drops from cut branches of the palmito, a barren palm or date tree; to collect which they hang great gourds to the cut branches every evening, or set them on the ground under the trees, to receive the juice which issues during the night. Our people said that this juice tasted like whey, but sweeter and more pleasant. The branches of the palmito are cut every evening to obtain this juice, as the heat of the sun during the day dries up and sears over the wound. They have likewise large beans, as big as chesnuts, and very hard, having shells instead of husks or pods. While formerly describing the fruit containing the grains or Guinea pepper, called by the physicians grana paradisi, I remarked that they have holes through them, as in effect they have when brought to us; but I have been since informed, that these holes are made on purpose to put strings or twigs through, for hanging up the fruit to dry in the sun. This fruit grows on a plant which does not rise above eighteen inches or two feet above the ground.

At their coming home, the keels and bottoms of the ships were strangely overgrown with certain shells, two inches or more in length, as thick as they could stand, and so large that a man might put his thumb into their mouths. It is affirmed that a certain slimy substance grows in these shells, which falls afterwards into the sea, and is changed into the bird called barnacles223. Similar shells have been seen on ships coming from Ireland, but these Irish barnacles do not exceed half an inch long. I saw the Primrose in dock, after her return from Guinea, having her bottom entirely covered over with these shells, which in my judgment must have greatly impeded her sailing. Their ships also were in many places eaten into by the worms called Bromas or Bissas, which are mentioned in the Decades224. These worms creep between the planks, which they eat through in many places.

In this voyage, though they sailed to Guinea in seven weeks, they took twenty to return; owing to this cause, as they reported, that about the coast at Cape Verd the wind was continually east, so that they were obliged to stand far out into the ocean, in search of a western wind to bring them home. In this last voyage about twenty-four of the men died, many of them between the Azores and England, after their return into the cold or temperate region. They brought with them several black slaves225, some of whom were tall strong men, who could well agree with our meats and drinks. The cold and moist air of England somewhat offended them; yet men who are born in hot regions can much better endure cold, than those of cold regions can bear heat; because violent heat dissolves the radical moisture of the human body, while cold concentrates and preserves it. It is to be considered as among the secrets of nature, that while all parts of Africa under the equator, and for some way on both sides, are excessively hot, and inhabited by black people, such regions in the West Indies [America], under the same parallels, are very temperate, and the natives are neither black, nor have they short curled wool on their heads like the Africans; but are of an olive colour, with long black hair. The cause of this difference is explained in various places of the Decades. Some of those who were upon this voyage told me that on the 14th of March they had the sun to the north of them at noon.

SECTION II. A Voyage from England to Guinea and Benin in 1553, by Captain Windham and Antonio Anes Pinteado | A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol.VII | SECTION IV. Voyage to Guinea in 1555, by William Towerson, Merchant of London 226