Sunday, July 22, 2007

Major A.B. Ellis visits the Cape Verde Islands (1885)

Major A.B. Ellis of the 1st West India Regiment created this work from 'notes taken during visits made to the principal islands lying off the West Coast of Africa, in the course of fifteen voyages to and from South and West Africa, between the years 1871 and 1882.' An excerpt relating to the visit of Sao Antao: "The road from San Paolo is said to have been made at the instance of one of the former bishops of Santiago, who, considering it his duty to visit every portion of his see, once came to San Antonio. He landed at Paolo, and, instead of proceeding to Ribeira Grande by sea, he attempted to reach that place by land, although there was then no path even of the rudest description; and the natives, on the few occasions upon which they found it necessary to cross the mountains, were obliged to ascend and descend the cliffs and broken heights by means of ropes. When about half the journey had been accomplished, and the bishop had been hauled up a tremendous cliff, his heart failed him at the sight of an equally stupendous one which he would be compelled to descend if he continued in his determination to proceed, and he decided to return. The precipice which now separated him from San Paolo, however, seemed equally terrifying when viewed from above, and he emphatically declined to dangle in mid-air over it again. Being thus unable to advance or recede without risking his valuable neck, he made up his mind to remain where he was. Nothing could shake this deter­mination when once formed; and the mountaineers who had accompanied him left him what food they had with them and went on to Ribeira Grande. The faithful in San Antonio, on learning the awk­ward predicament in which their spiritual head now was, sent him supplies, clothing, and a tent, which were dragged over the heights by the less timorous peasants, and the ecclesiastical brethren of the bishop at once collected funds and commenced having a road made for his rescue. This was a work which necessarily occupied some years, and before it was completed the timid bishop died; but the inhabitants of San Antonio, finding the road useful, and more than half of it having already been made, carried on the work on their own account until it was finished." Read his entire account of visits to Sao Vicente and Sao Antao. This account is also added to the "Cape Verde: Historical Visits".