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To the Gold Coast for Gold A Personal Narrative in Two Volumes.—Volume I   By: (1821-1890)

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TO THE GOLD COAST FOR GOLD

A Personal Narrative

BY Richard F. Burton AND Verney Lovett Cameron

In Two Volumes Vol. I.

TO OUR EXCELLENT FRIEND

JAMES IRVINE

(OF LIVERPOOL, F.R.G.S, F.S.A, &C.)

WE INSCRIBE THESE PAGES AS A TOKEN OF OUR APPRECIATION AND ADMIRATION FOR HIS COURAGE AND ENERGY IN OPENING AND WORKING THE GOLDEN LANDS OF WESTERN AFRICA

'Much have I travelled in the realms of gold'

SHAKESPEARE

PREFACE.

The following extract from 'Wanderings in West Africa,' a book which I wrote in 1862 and published (anonymously) in 1863, will best explain the reasons which lately sent me to Western Africa:

In several countries, for instance, Dinkira, Tueful, Wásá (Wassaw), and especially Akim, the hill region lying north of Accra, the people are still active in digging gold. The pits, varying from two to three feet in diameter, and from twelve to fifty deep (eighty feet is the extreme), are often so near the roads that loss of life has been the result. 'Shoring up' being little known, the miners are not unfrequently buried alive. The stuff is drawn up by ropes in clay pots, or calabashes, and thus a workman at the bottom widens the pit to a pyriform shape; tunnelling, however, is unknown. The excavated earth is carried down to be washed. Besides sinking these holes, they pan in the beds of rivers, and in places collect quartz, which is roughly pounded.

They (the natives) often refuse to dig deeper than the chin, for fear of the earth 'caving in;' and, quartz crushing and the use of quicksilver being unknown, they will not wash unless the gold 'show colour' to the naked eye.

As we advance northwards from the Gold Coast the yield becomes richer....

It is becoming evident that Africa will one day equal half a dozen Californias....

Will our grandsons believe in these times ... that this Ophir that this California, where every river is a Tmolus and a Pactolus, every hillock is a gold field does not contain a cradle, a puddling machine, a quartz crusher, a pound of mercury? That half the washings are wasted because quicksilver is unknown? That whilst convict labour is attainable, not a company has been formed, not a surveyor has been sent out? I exclaim with Dominie Sampson 'Pro di gious!'

Western Africa was the first field that supplied the precious metal to mediaeval Europe. The French claim to have imported it from Elmina as early as A.D. 1382. In 1442 Gonçales Baldeza returned from his second voyage to the regions about Bojador, bringing with him the first gold. Presently a company was formed for the purpose of carrying on the gold trade between Portugal and Africa. Its leading men were the navigators Lanzarote and Gilianez, and Prince Henry 'the Navigator' did not disdain to become a member. In 1471 João de Santarem and Pedro Escobar reached a place on the Gold Coast to which, from the abundance of gold found there, they gave the name of 'São Jorje da Mina,' the present Elmina. After this a flood of gold poured into the lap of Europe; and at last, cupidity having mastered terror of the Papal Bull, which assigned to Portugal an exclusive right to the Eastern Hemisphere, English, French, and Dutch adventurers hastened to share the spoils.

For long years my words fell upon flat ears. Presently the Ashanti war of 1873 74 brought the subject before the public. The Protectorate was overrun by British officers, and their reports and itineraries never failed to contain, with a marvellous unanimity of iteration, the magic word Gold.

The fraction of country, twenty six miles of seaboard out of two hundred, by a depth of sixty in fact, the valley of the Ancobra River now (early 1882) contains five working companies. Upwards of seventy concessions, to my knowledge, have been obtained from native owners, and many more are spoken of. In fact, development has at length begun, and the line of progress is clearly traced.

At Madeira I was joined (January 8, 1882) by Captain Cameron, R... Continue reading book >>




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