The quantity of hippopotamus meat eaten by our men made some of them ill, and our marches were necessarily short. After three hours' travel on the 13th, we spent the remainder of the day at the village of Chasiribera, on a rivulet flowing through a beautiful valley to the north, which is bounded by magnificent mountain-ranges. Pinkwe, or Mbingwe, otherwise Moeu, forms the south-eastern angle of the range. On the 16th June we were at the flourishing village of Senga, under the headman Manyame, which lies at the foot of the mount Motemwa. Nearly all the mountains in this country are covered with open forest and grass, in colour, according to the season, green or yellow. Many are between 2000 and 3000 feet high, with the sky line fringed with trees; the rocks show just sufficiently for one to observe their stratification, or their granitic form, and though not covered with dense masses of climbing plants, like those in moister eastern climates, there is still the idea conveyed that most of the steep sides are fertile, and none give the impression of that barrenness which, in northern mountains, suggests the idea that the bones of the world are sticking through its skin.
The villagers reported that we were on the footsteps of a Portuguese half-caste, who, at Senga, lately tried to purchase ivory, but, in consequence of his having murdered a chief near Zumbo and twenty of his men, the people declined to trade with him. He threatened to take the ivory by force, if they would not sell it; but that same night the ivory and the women were spirited out of the village, and only a large body of armed men remained. The trader, fearing that he might come off second best if it came to blows, immediately departed. Chikwanitsela, or Sekuanangila, is the paramount chief of some fifty miles of the northern bank of the Zambesi in this locality. He lives on the opposite, or southern side, and there his territory is still more extensive. We sent him a present from Senga, and were informed by a messenger next morning that he had a cough and could not come over to see us. "And has his present a cough too," remarked one of our party, "that it does not come to us? Is this the way your chief treats strangers, receives their present, and sends them no food in return?" Our men thought Chikwanitsela an uncommonly stingy fellow; but, as it was possible that some of them might yet wish to return this way, they did not like to scold him more than this, which was sufficiently to the point.
Men and women were busily engaged in preparing the ground for the November planting. Large game was abundant; herds of elephants and buffaloes came down to the river in the night, but were a long way off by daylight. They soon adopt this habit in places where they are hunted.
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.