«The Blind African Slave, or Memoirs of Boyrereau Brinch, Nick-named Jeffrey Brace. Containing an Account of the Kingdom of Bow-Woo, in the Interior ...»
The Blind African Slave,
or Memoirs of Boyrereau Brinch, Nick-named Jeffrey Brace.
Containing an Account of the Kingdom of Bow-Woo, in the
Interior of Africa; with the Climate and Natural Productions,
Laws, and Customs Peculiar to That Place. With an Account of
His Captivity, Sufferings, Sales, Travels, Emancipation,
Conversion to the Christian Religion, Knowledge of the Scriptures, &c.
Interspersed with Strictures on Slavery, Speculative Observations
on the Qualities of Human Nature, with Quotation from Scripture:
Brinch, Boyrereau, Prentiss, Benjamin F. (Benjamin Franklin), 1774 or 5-1817.
Boyrereau Brinch Benjamin F. Prentiss 204 p., 1 ill.
ST. ALBANS, Vt.
PRINTED BY HARRY WHITNEY.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-CH digitization project, Documenting the American South.
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Library of Congress Subject Headings, 21st edition, 1998
LC Subject Headings:
Africa -- Description and travel.
African Americans -- Biography.
African Americans -- Religion.
African Americans -- Social conditions -- 18th century.
Blacks -- Africa -- Biography.
Slave trade -- Africa -- History -- 18th century.
Slavery -- United States -- History -- 18th century.
Slaves -- Biography.
Slaves -- Social conditions -- 18th century.
Slaves' writings, American.
United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- Participation,
2001-, Celine Noel and Wanda Gunther revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2001-08-29, Natalia Smith, project manager, finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
The following sheets contain a general narrative of an African slave; some account of his ancestors, the kingdom of Bow-woo situate on the river Neboah or Niger in the interior of Africa; a description of the soil, climate, vegetables, animals, fowls, fishes, inhabitants, population, government, religion, manners, customs, &c. with a detail of the manner, in which he was kidnapped by the English; a brief account of the custom of civilized nations, in lureing
the innocent natives of Africa into the net of slavery; and a regular narrative from his own mouth of his captivity, together with many of his native brethren, their sufferings in the prison, or house of subjection, his adventures in the British navy, travels, sufferings, sales, abuses, education, service in the American war, emancipation, conversion to the christian religion, knowledge of the scriptures, memory, and blindness.
WHILE we regret that one innocent man should be held in chains of bondage by another, at any period of time, Page 5 we must spurn with indignation any idea of the propriety of christian nations, with no other excuse than lust of lucre and difference of religion, holding as slaves, the whole African people, because they are not civilized, or bear not the same complexion, having no other crime, save credulity or innocence.
WHEN we look at the custom of European and American nations, of purchasing, stealing, and decoying into the chains of bondage the negroes of Africa, and that custom sanctioned by the laws of the several governments; that Page 6 public and private sales are legal; that they are bartered sold, and used as beasts of the field, to the disgrace of civilization, civil liberty, and christianity; each manly feeling swells with indignation at the horrid spectacle, and whoever have witnessed the miserable and degraded situation to which these unfortunate mortals are reduced, in the West Indies and southern states of United America, must irresistably be led to ask--Does not civilization produce barbarity?
Liberty legelize tyranny? And christianity deny the humanity it professes?
THIS simple narrative of an individual African cannot possibly compass all the objections to slavery; yet we hope, that the extraordinary features and simplicity of the facts, with the novelty of this publication, will induce many to read and learn the abuses of their fellow beings.
If the miserable owner of human blood is not moved to acknowledge the iniquity of his possession, and thereby emancipate his slaves, he will at least alleviate their sufferings.
Within the last century, many sentiments of barbarity and superstition have been done away, Page 8 "and pure and holy freedom" seems to be verging towards perfection. The Parliament of G.
Britain have emancipated their Catholic brethren, the advocates of African freedom have caused the walls of the House of Commons to reverberate the thunder of their eloquence, and a partial emancipation has been effected in their foreign dominions. In America, that spirit of liberty, which stimulated us to shake off a foreign yoke and become an independent nation, has caused the New-England states to emancipate their slaves, and there
is but one blot to tarnish the lustre of the American name, which is permitting slavery under a constitution, which declares that "all mankind are naturally and of right ought to be free."
Whoever wishes to preserve the constitution of our general government, to keep sacred the enviable and inestimable principles, by which we are governed, and to enjoy the natural liberty of man, must embark in the great work of extirminating slavery and promoting general emancipation.
St. Albans, Vt. August, 1810.
CONTENTS OF CHAP. 1.
General observations--account of the river Neboah or Niger--of an English vessel engaged in the slave trade-general account of the kingdom of Bow-woo--description of Deauyah, the capital--king's palace--face of the country--soil--climate--laws and customs, peculiar to this country--crimes how punished--mode of the creation of nobility--war feast--brief account of Boyrereau's ancestors--father, mother, brothers, sisters, &c.--speculative observations----scripture.
FEW indeed have been the travellers who have penetrated into the interior of Africa, as far as the kingdom of Bow-woo, which is situated between the 10th and 20th degrees of north latitude, and between the 6th and 10th of west longitude; and these few have been of that class of travellers, who are either incapable of, or have other pursuits than, communicating to the world that useful information, which has
so long been sought in vain. We have indeed obtained some knowledge of the river Neboah or Niger, which runs throu' this fertile dominion. According to the account in Morse's Universal Geography, this river is one of the longest in the world. It is said to be navigable for ships of any size, upwards of 1500 miles.
"The Niger, according to the latest accounts, rises near Sankaria, longitude 6 degrees 20 minutes west, latitude 11 deg. north, thence running northerly to Kniabia, thence Northeast to Bammako, thence generally a northeast course to Sego and Jennu, thence, after forming the island of Janbala 90 or 100 miles in length, it leaves Tombuctoo to the north, passes east by Houssa and is lost in the low lands and lakes of Ghana and Wangara; or if we can credit the accounts of Mr. Horneman, it continues its course easterly to the north of the mountains of the Moon; thence northeasterly, until it falls into Bahriel Arrak, which by some has been considered the Nile, from Abyssinia, thence passing Nubia, Sennaar, and Dongolia, it divides Egypt into two parts, pursuing a northerly course, and falls into the Mediterranean Page 13 by several mouths." But in examining the latest and most approved maps of Africa we cannot find such a river described and it is therefore believed, that no historian or engraver, have been able to delineate exactly the source, or direction of this river. Yet certain it is, that its source is north of the equator, and it is navigable for boats as far as the town of Deauyah, the capital of the kingdom of Bow-woo, which is situated in the county of Hughlough, about three miles from the river on an extensive plain, fertilized by the most luxuriant bounties of nature, peculiar to that clime. Accordding to some writers "this river has its source in the lake Bernu, and runs directly west, enters the Atlantic, or Western Ocean at Senegal, after a course of 2800 miles. It increases and decreases like the Nile, fertilizes the country, and has grains of gold in many parts of it. The Gambia and Senegal are only branches of this river."
In the year 1758, an English vessel, engaged in the slave trade, sailed up this river to the head of navigation; and came to anchor before the town of yellow Bonga.
Page 14 The hurricane months having commenced, they made their peace with the natives, the crew went on shore, and remained through the rainy season, which commences in May and continues until September. After this season of the year was past and during the time of high water, it appears that they continued their passage up the river about 70 miles farther, leaving the Captain, Supercargo, and some other officers and gentlemen to riot in the luxury of the land, with the chief inhabitants, whom their intrigue and apparent affability, the Europeans had induced to become friends. While the vessel lay at anchor in a kind of lake formed in the river, they sent out their boats to steal the innocent natives and succeeded but too well.
Here we will leave these dealers in human flesh and blood, and give some account of the kingdom of Bow-woo, before mentioned. This kingdom, or principality lies about, or the Capital stands about, 280 miles above the town of Yellow Bonga--and here the account is taken from the narrators own mouth who was only 15 or 16 years of age when he was taken Page 15 and borne away from prosperity, affluence and ease, into ignominious slavery.
This he considers to be a province or colony of the Empire of Morocco, the extent of its boundaries he is unable to ascertain, or can he tell accurately the number of its inhabitants. But the city of Deauyah, the capital and residence of the king, also the native place of Boyrereau, the narrator, is situated on the bank of a small river, about six rods wide, which empties into the Niger, three miles below the town, which is between five and six miles in length, along the east side of said river, and is built in a manner peculiar to that country--the houses are placed in rows, & are joined, only where broken off or intersected by cross streets. This town, besides public buildings, contains nine rows of houses, which are long and low, none more than one story high, except the King's Palace. They are generally built of a kind of clay, made into a cement, which is strengthened by being bound together by small sticks of timber in the body of the walls, so that the face of the same upon both sides is made perfectly smooth and painted, or rather coulored Page 16 white, red, blue, green, purple, or black, according to the fancy of the possessor, which variety renders the view very picturesque and really diverting to the beholder.
The King's palace is situated near the north part of that city, and is composed of about thirty buildings of a very diversified appearance, many of them are in some degree elegant, and this palace includes all the public buildings of the city, except a market and two places of public worship. The country adjacent, for many miles around, appears like a perfect plain, and thinly inhabited, except where there are villages, which are to be met once in about two leagues, generally, in every part of the kingdom, except in the mountanious part, of which he has but little knowledge.--The climate, as may naturally be supposed, is uniformly hot, except in the rainy seasons, (which is called in their language vauzier) as a very learned writer observes, "The natives in these scorching regions would as soon expect that marble should melt, and flow in liquid streams, as that water, by freezing, should loose its fluidity, be arrested Page 17 by cold, and ceasing to flow, become like the solid rock."
The King is absolute, and enjoys unlimited authority over his People; he has, properly speaking, no ministers: the first grade of nobility, perform the office of councellors of state, and are properly governors or first magistrates in counties, or small districts; and on important occasions, are summoned to sit in grand council before the King.
Petty offences are punished with whipping. Adultery is considered as a capital offence, and the offenders are both tried in grand council before the King, and if clearly proved guilty, by at least two witnesses, both the adulterer and adultress are buried alive, with their heads above ground, which are shot into pieces, and left exposed to view for the terror of others. Murder and Treason, are adjudged, and punished in the following manner: at the close of a war in which the King in person is commander in chief, he assembles
all of his chief officers to what is called the grand WarFeast, as a preparitory step to the banquet.