The plains we travel over are constantly varying in breadth, according as the furrowed and wooded hills approach or recede from the river. On the southern side we see the hill Bungwe, and the long, level, wooded ridge Nyangombe, the first of a series bending from the S.E. to the N.W. past the Zambesi. We shot an old pallah on the 16th, and found that the poor animal had been visited with more than the usual share of animal afflictions. He was stone-blind in both eyes, had several tumours, and a broken leg, which showed no symptoms of ever having begun to heal. Wild animals sometimes suffer a great deal from disease, and wearily drag on a miserable existence before relieved of it by some ravenous beast. Once we drove off a maneless lion and lioness from a dead buffalo, which had been in the last stage of a decline. They had watched him staggering to the river to quench his thirst, and sprang on him as he was crawling up the bank. One had caught him by the throat, and the other by his high projecting backbone, which was broken by the lion's powerful fangs. The struggle, if any, must have been short. They had only eaten the intestines when we frightened them off. It is curious that this is the part that wild animals always begin with, and that it is also the first choice of our men. Were it not a wise arrangement that only the strongest males should continue the breed, one could hardly help pitying the solitary buffalo expelled from the herd for some physical blemish, or on account of the weakness of approaching old age. Banished from female society, he naturally becomes morose and savage; the necessary watchfulness against enemies is now never shared by others; disgusted, he passes into a state of chronic war with all who enjoy life, and the sooner after his expulsion that he fills the lion's or the wild-dog's maw, the better for himself and for the peace of the country.
We encamped on the 20th of June at a spot where Dr. Livingstone, on his journey from the West to the East Coast, was formerly menaced by a chief named Mpende. No offence had been committed against him, but he had firearms, and, with the express object of showing his power, he threatened to attack the strangers. Mpende's counsellors having, however, found out that Dr. Livingstone belonged to a tribe of whom they had heard that "they loved the black man and did not make slaves," his conduct at once changed from enmity to kindness, and, as the place was one well selected for defence, it was perhaps quite as well for Mpende that he decided as he did. Three of his counsellors now visited us, and we gave them a handsome present for their chief, who came himself next morning and made us a present of a goat, a basket of boiled maize, and another of vetches. A few miles above this the headman, Chilondo of Nyamasusa, apologized for not formerly lending us canoes. "He was absent, and his children were to blame for not telling him when the Doctor passed; he did not refuse the canoes." The sight of our men, now armed with muskets, had a great effect. Without any bullying, firearms command respect, and lead men to be reasonable who might otherwise feel disposed to be troublesome. Nothing, however, our fracas with Mpende excepted, could be more peaceful than our passage through this tract of country in 1856. We then had nothing to excite the cupidity of the people, and the men maintained themselves, either by selling elephant's meat, or by exhibiting feats of foreign dancing. Most of the people were very generous and friendly; but the Banyai, nearer to Tette than this, stopped our march with a threatening war-dance. One of our party, terrified at this, ran away, as we thought, insane, and could not, after a painful search of three days, be found. The Banyai, evidently touched by our distress, allowed us to proceed. Through a man we left on an island a little below Mpende's, we subsequently learned that poor Monaheng had fled thither, and had been murdered by the headman for no reason except that he was defenceless. This headman had since become odious to his countrymen, and had been put to death by them.
On the 23rd of June we entered Pangola's principal village, which is upwards of a mile from the river. The ruins of a mud wall showed that a rude attempt had been made to imitate the Portuguese style of building. We established ourselves under a stately wild fig-tree, round whose trunk witchcraft medicine had been tied, to protect from thieves the honey of the wild bees, which had their hive in one of the limbs. This is a common device. The charm, or the medicine, is purchased of the dice doctors, and consists of a strip of palm-leaf smeared with something, and adorned with a few bits of grass, wood, or roots. It is tied round the tree, and is believed to have the power of inflicting disease and death on the thief who climbs over it. Superstition is thus not without its uses in certain states of society; it prevents many crimes and misdemeanours, which would occur but for the salutary fear that it produces.
Pangola arrived, tipsy and talkative.--"We are friends, we are great friends; I have brought you a basket of green maize--here it is!" We thanked him, and handed him two fathoms of cotton cloth, four times the market-value of his present. No, he would not take so small a present; he wanted a double-barrelled rifle--one of Dixon's best. "We are friends, you know; we are all friends together." But although we were willing to admit that, we could not give him our best rifle, so he went off in high dudgeon. Early next morning, as we were commencing Divine service, Pangola returned, sober. We explained to him that we wished to worship God, and invited him to remain; he seemed frightened, and retired: but after service he again importuned us for the rifle. It was of no use telling him that we had a long journey before us, and needed it to kill game for ourselves.--"He too must obtain meat for himself and people, for they sometimes suffered from hunger." He then got sulky, and his people refused to sell food except at extravagant prices. Knowing that we had nothing to eat, they felt sure of starving us into compliance. But two of our young men, having gone off at sunrise, shot a fine water-buck, and down came the provision market to the lower figure; they even became eager to sell, but our men were angry with them for trying compulsion, and would not buy. Black greed had outwitted itself, as happens often with white cupidity; and not only here did the traits of Africans remind us of Anglo-Saxons elsewhere: the notoriously ready world-wide disposition to take an unfair advantage of a man's necessities shows that the same mean motives are pretty widely diffused among all races. It may not be granted that the same blood flows in all veins, or that all have descended from the same stock; but the traveller has no doubt that, practically, the white rogue and black are men and brothers.
Pangola is the child or vassal of Mpende. Sandia and Mpende are the only independent chiefs from Kebrabasa to Zumbo, and belong to the tribe Manganja. The country north of the mountains here in sight from the Zambesi is called Senga, and its inhabitants Asenga, or Basenga, but all appear to be of the same family as the rest of the Manganja and Maravi. Formerly all the Manganja were united under the government of their great chief, Undi, whose empire extended from Lake Shirwa to the River Loangwa; but after Undi's death it fell to pieces, and a large portion of it on the Zambesi was absorbed by their powerful southern neighbours the Banyai. This has been the inevitable fate of every African empire from time immemorial. A chief of more than ordinary ability arises and, subduing all his less powerful neighbours, founds a kingdom, which he governs more or less wisely till he dies. His successor not having the talents of the conqueror cannot retain the dominion, and some of the abler under- chiefs set up for themselves, and, in a few years, the remembrance only of the empire remains. This, which may be considered as the normal state of African society, gives rise to frequent and desolating wars, and the people long in vain for a power able to make all dwell in peace. In this light, a European colony would be considered by the natives as an inestimable boon to intertropical Africa. Thousands of industrious natives would gladly settle round it, and engage in that peaceful pursuit of agriculture and trade of which they are so fond, and, undistracted by wars or rumours of wars, might listen to the purifying and ennobling truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Manganja on the Zambesi, like their countrymen on the Shire, are fond of agriculture; and, in addition to the usual varieties of food, cultivate tobacco and cotton in quantities more than equal to their wants. To the question, "Would they work for Europeans?" an affirmative answer may be given, if the Europeans belong to the class which can pay a reasonable price for labour, and not to that of adventurers who want employment for themselves. All were particularly well clothed from Sandia's to Pangola's; and it was noticed that all the cloth was of native manufacture, the product of their own looms. In Senga a great deal of iron is obtained from the ore and manufactured very cleverly.
As is customary when a party of armed strangers visits the village, Pangola took the precaution of sleeping in one of the outlying hamlets. No one ever knows, or at any rate will tell, where the chief sleeps. He came not next morning, so we went our way; but in a few moments we saw the rifle-loving chief approaching with some armed men. Before meeting us, he left the path and drew up his "following" under a tree, expecting us to halt, and give him a chance of bothering us again; but, having already had enough of that, we held right on: he seemed dumbfoundered, and could hardly believe his own eyes. For a few seconds he was speechless, but at last recovered so far as to be able to say, "You are passing Pangola. Do you not see Pangola?" Mbia was just going by at the time with the donkey, and, proud of every opportunity of airing his small stock of English, shouted in reply, "All right! then get on." "Click, click, click."
On the 26th June we breakfasted at Zumbo, on the left bank of the Loangwa, near the ruins of some ancient Portuguese houses. The Loangwa was too deep to be forded, and there were no canoes on our side. Seeing two small ones on the opposite shore, near a few recently erected huts of two half-castes from Tette, we halted for the ferry-men to come over. From their movements it was evident that they were in a state of rollicking drunkenness. Having a waterproof cloak, which could be inflated into a tiny boat, we sent Mantlanyane across in it. Three half-intoxicated slaves then brought us the shaky canoes, which we lashed together and manned with our own canoe- men. Five men were all that we could carry over at a time; and after four trips had been made the slaves began to clamour for drink; not receiving any, as we had none to give, they grew more insolent, and declared that not another man should cross that day. Sininyane was remonstrating with them, when a loaded musket was presented at him by one of the trio. In an instant the gun was out of the rascal's hands, a rattling shower of blows fell on his back, and he took an involuntary header into the river. He crawled up the bank a sad and sober man, and all three at once tumbled from the height of saucy swagger to a low depth of slavish abjectness. The musket was found to have an enormous charge, and might have blown our man to pieces, but for the promptitude with which his companions administered justice in a lawless land. We were all ferried safely across by 8 o'clock in the evening.
In illustration of what takes place where no government, or law exists, the two half-castes, to whom these men belonged, left Tette, with four hundred slaves, armed with the old Sepoy Brown Bess, to hunt elephants and trade in ivory. On our way up, we heard from natives of their lawless deeds, and again, on our way down, from several, who had been eyewitnesses of the principal crime, and all reports substantially agreed. The story is a sad one. After the traders reached Zumbo, one of them, called by the natives Sequasha, entered into a plot with the disaffected headman, Namakusuru, to kill his chief, Mpangwe, in order that Namakusuru might seize upon the chieftainship; and for the murder of Mpangwe the trader agreed to receive ten large tusks of ivory. Sequasha, with a picked party of armed slaves, went to visit Mpangwe who received him kindly, and treated him with all the honour and hospitality usually shown to distinguished strangers, and the women busied themselves in cooking the best of their provisions for the repast to be set before him. Of this, and also of the beer, the half-caste partook heartily. Mpangwe was then asked by Sequasha to allow his men to fire their guns in amusement. Innocent of any suspicion of treachery, and anxious to hear the report of firearms, Mpangwe at once gave his consent; and the slaves rose and poured a murderous volley into the merry group of unsuspecting spectators, instantly killing the chief and twenty of his people. The survivors fled in horror. The children and young women were seized as slaves, and the village sacked. Sequasha sent the message to Namakusuru: "I have killed the lion that troubled you; come and let us talk over the matter." He came and brought the ivory. "No," said the half-caste, "let us divide the land:" and he took the larger share for himself, and compelled the would-be usurper to deliver up his bracelets, in token of subjection on becoming the child or vassal of Sequasha. These were sent in triumph to the authorities at Tette. The governor of Quillimane had told us that he had received orders from Lisbon to take advantage of our passing to re-establish Zumbo; and accordingly these traders had built a small stockade on the rich plain of the right bank of Loangwa, a mile above the site of the ancient mission church of Zumbo, as part of the royal policy. The bloodshed was quite unnecessary, because, the land at Zumbo having of old been purchased, the natives would have always of their own accord acknowledged the right thus acquired; they pointed it out to Dr. Livingstone in 1856 that, though they were cultivating it, is was not theirs, but white man's land. Sequasha and his mate had left their ivory in charge of some of their slaves, who, in the absence of their masters, were now having a gay time of it, and getting drunk every day with the produce of the sacked villages. The head slave came and begged for the musket of the delinquent ferryman, which was returned. He thought his master did perfectly right to kill Mpangwe, when asked to do it for the fee of ten tusks, and he even justified it thus: "If a man invites you to eat, will you not partake?"