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Captain Canot or, Twenty Years of an African Slaver   By: (1804-1860)

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First Page:

[Illustration:

CAPTAIN CANOT

OR

TWENTY YEARS OF AN AFRICAN SLAVER

D. APPLETON & CO.]

CAPTAIN CANOT;

OR,

TWENTY YEARS OF AN AFRICAN SLAVER

BEING AN ACCOUNT OF

HIS CAREER AND ADVENTURES ON THE COAST, IN THE INTERIOR, ON SHIPBOARD, AND IN THE WEST INDIES.

WRITTEN OUT AND EDITED FROM THE

Captain's Journals, Memoranda and Conversations,

BY

BRANTZ MAYER.

NEW YORK: D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, 846 & 848 BROADWAY. LONDON: 16 LITTLE BRITAIN. M.DCCC.LIV.

[Illustration: MANDINGO CHIEF AND HIS SWORD BEARER.]

ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854, by

BRANTZ MAYER,

in the Clerk's Office of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.

TO

N. P. WILLIS,

OF IDLEWILD.

MY DEAR WILLIS,

While inscribing this work with your name, as a testimonial of our long, unbroken friendship, you will let me say, I am sure, not only how, but why I have written it.

About a year ago I was introduced to its hero, by Dr. James Hall, the distinguished founder and first governor of our colony at Cape Palmas. While busy with his noble task in Africa, Dr. Hall accidentally became acquainted with Captain Canot, during his residence at Cape Mount, and was greatly impressed in his favor by the accounts of all who knew him. Indeed, setting aside his career as a slaver, Dr. Hall's observation convinced him that Canot was a man of unquestionable integrity. The zeal, moreover, with which he embraced the first opportunity, after his downfall, to mend his fortunes by honorable industry in South America, entitled him to respectful confidence. As their acquaintance ripened, my friend gradually drew from the wanderer the story of his adventurous life, and so striking were its incidents, so true its delineations of African character, that he advised the captain to prepare a copious memorandum, which I should write out for the public.

Let me tell you why I undertook this task; but first, let me assure you that, entertaining as the story might have been for a large class of readers, I would not have composed a line for the mere gratification of scandalous curiosity. My conversations with Canot satisfied me that his disclosures were more thoroughly candid than those of any one who has hitherto related his connection with the traffic. I thought that the evidence of one who, for twenty years, played the chief part in such a drama, was of value to society, which, is making up its mind, not only about a great political and domestic problem, but as to the nature of the race itself. I thought that a true picture of aboriginal Africa, unstirred by progress, unmodified by reflected civilization, full of the barbarism that blood and tradition have handed down from the beginning, and embalmed in its prejudices, like the corpses of Egypt, could not fail to be of incalculable importance to philanthropists who regard no people as beyond the reach of enlightenment.

The completed task rises before me like a moving panorama whose scenery and background are the ocean and tropics, and whose principal actor combines the astuteness of Fouché with the dexterity of Gil Blas. I have endeavored to set forth his story as plainly as possible, letting events instead of descriptions develope a chequered life which was incessantly connected with desperate men of both colors. As he unmasked his whole career, and gave me leave to use the incidents, I have not dared to hide what the actor himself displayed no wish to conceal. Besides the sketches of character which familiarize us with the aboriginal negro in Africa, there is a good moral in the resultless life, which, after all its toils, hazards, and successes leaves the adventurer a stranded wreck in the prime of manhood. One half the natural capacity, employed industriously in lawful commerce, would have made the captain comfortable and independent... Continue reading book >>




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