« AnteriorContinuar »
with fury and foains at the mouth; growls like a tiger and asks for rum. "The spirit then begins to influence," and the developements follow the rum. To administer adum or the oath, liquor is the most valued mode of trial.—(Beectiam, p. 220.)
All these things occur on the Slave Coast. The kings keep pens or prisons, called by the French "captiveries," in which all their slaves for market are placed. Should the supply be deficient, they do not hesitate to sell their wives, and put upon them the mark of the company that becomes the purchaser. To complete a cargo, in 1693, Philips says, the king sold three or four hundred of his wives, and seemed much pleased with his bargain. At the least disgust, says Bosman, the king will sell eighteen or twenty of his wives; but that, he says, cannot diminish the number; for he has three principal captains, whose only office is to fill Up the vacancies. As still, in some parts of civilized Europe, each family considers it an honour to yield a daughter to the pleasures of their master. Women, however, sometimes commit suicide to escape it, and prefer death to such a wretched sacrifice.
After the death of a king, for four or five days, every thing is abandoned to misrule and slaughter. Without slaughter and bloodshed, there can be neither honour nor amusement to an African. Persons found in the streets on these occasions are robbed and slain. The High Priest selects eight of the principal wives and buries them alive with the corpse. After this special sacrifice of the women, men, in unlimited numbers, are also immolated.
Upon the death of the King of Benin, a large ditch was dug, into which was thrown his body. A number of domestics, of both sexes, were covered over alive with the dead body. For some days after a trap-door, or covering, was raised to inquire of the king; and, upon the least cry of suffering, the hole was again closed. The same thing was repeated, day by day, until all sound had ceased to issue from the cavern. The ditch being finally closed, the new king is proclaimed, and the night is filled with disorder. Men, beasts, every thing found in the streets, are killed and thrown upon the sepulchral fosse. "What frightful customs," says the author! "It seems that under this burning sun the heads of men are agitated with a sanguinary delirium, and that these savages feel a frightful proclivity to crime, superstition and blood. Such is man in a state of nature, much below the tiger and the monkey, until their reason is cultivated." Too lazy, they have no taste for work, and put it all upon the women and slaves. Utterly uncivilized and debased, how can they begin to improve 1 If, in two thousand years and upwards, they have made no progress, how much will they make in two hundred thousand? We are not rejoicing over the enumeration of their degradations. We are calmly and fairly dissecting and exposing their nature, as it is found in a state which a stupid philanthropy still professes to prefer as a state of freedom!
The people of Benin think there is no use in worshipping God, for he is obliged to be good ; but the devil, being an evil spirit, capable of doing them harm, it is necessary to appease him by prayers and sacrifices. Somewhat upon the principle that offices among us are bestowed by politicians upon those whom they fear, rather than those they love—those who work against, rather than work for them. Human sacrifices are made on the occasion of most important ceremonies. If the necessary number cannot be had from the prisons, the streets are patrolled at night, and every one seized who may be found without a light. The poor thus become the victims, and are immolated, without the slightest pity or remorse. The people of Loango do not believe that men ever die of a natural death. What a sad moral does that teach. They believe in Mokissos or sorcerers, "swearing drinks" and exorcising; and many persons are tried for crimes by these absurd devices. If, upon the swallowing of certain "swearing drinks," one urinates freely, he is declared innocent; if he falls down, he is condemned. The rich are allowed to make trial by their slaves. Pardon or acquittal, however, may, at any time, be bought at the cost of a few slaves and a little rum. The whole affair shows skilful artifice and imposture. In this way enemies, however innocent, are made to fall, to gratify the vindictive and to profit the avaricious. According to their own accounts, the King of Loango, in Congo, has only the moderate number of seven thousand wives. The chief wife, Makonda, has great power over the king, by right of their institutions; and if he offends her, she has the right to take his life with her own hands. If she is of an age for pleasure, she may select her own man, who thereby becomes ennobled. But let him take care should he be surprised with another woman! His head pays for it! He has no such privileges as his betters! Unlike the fashions of the former kings of France, it is death to look at the king while he eats or drinks. A child of seven years old, son of a noble of the first class, unfortu. nately fell asleep one day in the eating apartment of the king, and awoke just as the despot was putting his cup to his mouth. The child was condemned to death, the only indulgence being a delay of six or seven days through respect to the father. After this brief respite, the head of the innocent was crushed by blows given him with a hammer upon his nose ; and the priest was careful that his blood fell upon Mokissos, or idols of the king. He was then dragged through the highway by a rope tied around his neck. Another case is reported still stranger and of equal atrocity. A son of the king, eleven or twelve years of age, having entered the hall while his father drank, was seized by the order of this prince, clad immediately in a rich habit, and treated with all kinds of rich drinks and food, but no sooner had he finished this sinister feast, than he was cut into quarters and distributed to various parts of the city, with proclamations of the cause of his punishment. Another child, still younger, had his head cut off at the instance of the High Priest, because, under similar circumstances, he had run to embrace the knees of his father. The High Priest caught drops of his blood, with which he rubbed the arms of the king to divert the evil presage. The same law even extends to a dog or beast. What comes from the king's table must be buried. No one must touch it. "Que d'ex. travagance et de barbarie /" says our author: "Quand rhommes est fait ami, est il un plus odeiux et miprisable animal?" The ceremonies necessary to create a new Mokissos or divinity, are given by our author—(p. 326.) This is managed by "convulsionnaires tnergtimens demoniaques," who play a similar role with our mediums in the spirit-rapping circles. "Fatit il (says he) que des nations policies aient a rougir d'avoir sus chez clle.s les memes extravagances?'''' Should not civilized nations blush at similar extravagances exhibited at their own doors.
In Congo, the negroes are generally black, but some are found of an olive colour. Their lips are not long and pendant as the Memedeans and the other negroes. Their hair, black and frizzled, is sometimes red, according to the author, though we doubt the truth of the statement. They might dye it, or it might be of a foxy brown. Their thick lips, flat nose, woolly hair, and the line of the face sloping backwards, deny to them all beauty, and suggest little hope of the exercise of intellectual energy or further developement.
They have no science or inclination to cultivate their minds in any manner. They count the years by winters, which commence in May and finish in November. They count the months by moons, and the days of the week by their markets; but they have no further division of time. Living in their little mud and straw hovels or fold*, the best of them raise a few chickens, grow a little rice, or millet, or Indian corn—have a few sugar-canes and guber-nuts (ground-nuts), scarcely equalling the possessions of our worst treated slaves, and by no means so well housed, and infinitely below the average condition of our blacks in the slave States. The wealth of the Mosicongos consists mostly of slaves and ivory. Congo, Songo and Bamba sell few slaves, as they are not valued on account of their excessive laziness and incapacity to work. The missionaries have never been able to cure them of concubinage. They will take as many mistresses as they can keep. Sometimes they take them on trial. The Christian method seems to them unprofitable and not "convenable." After a few weeks' trial, if the husband is disappointed or displeased, he returns the wife to her father. It does the lady no damage. "EUe ne trove pas moins Toccasion de subir bientot une noiivelle tpriuve.'''' Sometimes the women are vested with similar rights, and the writer says, "qu'elles sont plus inconstantes et plus opiniatre que les homines." While the husband eats, the wives and children wait upon him. (Not all, we presume.) As soon as born the children are submitted to the priest, and nothing cau exceed their slavish obedience to him in their future growth and progress.
At St. Paul, in Loanda, the Portuguese frequently possessed two or three hundred slaves in their service, and some even three thousand. There were many mulattoes who bore a mortal hatred to the negroes. The worst atmosphere of Africa is that of Benguila. It is dangerous to land on that coast, or to drink the water. The food itself seems imbued with disease. The whites there look like the dead risen from the tombs. The women often entice men into their arms in order to betray them, and that they may be apprehended by the husbands and sold as slaves. They are trained for the purpose. Jn Angola there are two kinds of slaves—one attached to the domain of the nobles, and the other ordinary slaves, acquired by war or purchase. The people of Angola amass no riches, but are content with a little miliet, some beasts, and their palm oil and palm wine. No where are beasts of burthen known. Their great trade with Europeans consists in slaves, which were carried principally to the Spanish and Portuguese colonies. The Spaniards and Portuguese, at an early period, exported some fifteen thousand each annually ; and their agents bought, in the interior, from one hundred and fifty to two hundred thousand. When they arrived at the coast they were meagre and feeble, from bad nourishment, and sleeping on the ground in the open air. They were, however, fattened up before transportation, and considerable care taken of their health. The sick were removed to separate lodgings by the Portuguese, and were supplied with a salutary regimen. Their sale to the Europeans necessarily wrought great and beneficial changes in their condition as a race. It helped the morals of the despots who sold, and the safety as well as morals of the victims. They were no longer slain because of scarcity of provisions, as is frequently done by native chiefs, or if they became unsaleable for any cause. In the