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Mahomedan Africa, including a part of the West, and most of Central Africa, must have a much larger population. This would give some forty or fifty millions, the greater part of whom are slaves. In Kano, Clapperton found the proportion of slaves thirty to one, and in another village seventy to one.
In pagan Africa, however, says Beecham, slavery prevails still more extensively. Every noble in Ashantee owns thousands. Their lives and services are equally at the disposal of their masters. The nobles or Caboceers, in their turn, belong to the king, and he can take their property whenever he pleases.
The King of Ashantee justified the slave trade to Mr. Hutchinson, on the ground that the slave population at home was too numerous for public safety; and Mr. Beecham admits that the suppression of the foreign slave trade, however desirable, would not, therefore, of itself, remove the causes of domestic slavery at home.-(p. 119.) Remedial measures depend on the Africans themselves. Ten thousand prisoners in the Gaman War were put to death in cold blood. Many, moreover, died, “because," said the king, this country does not grow much corn ;” and “unless 1 kill or sell them, they will grow strong and kill my people.” They believe the Fetiche makes war everywhere for strong men, because they can pay plenty of gold and make proper sacrifices. The law allows the King of Ashantee three thousand three hundred and thirty-three wives. These are attended by little boys with whips made of elephant's hide, and they lash all who do not turn aside out of their way, or dare to look at them. Mr. Morris saw the King of Dahomey with seven hundred and thirty wives bearing provisions, and many more in troops of seventy following. In Yariba, even a caboceer or common noble often owns two thousand, and the king of that country told Clapperton that he really did not know how many wives and children he had, but that hand to hand they would reach from Katianga to Jannah, more than one hundred miles. Seventeen hundred to a mile, would give one hundred and seventy thousand! A nice little family indeed! In one visit which he paid the traveller, the king had five hundred wives along with him. All this glory should put the Mor
mons to the blush! Poor devils, their allowance is small, being limited to but a score or two apiece! Wives are always purchased, not courted. A large family of daughters is, therefore, a fortune of itself; and those who can afford to buy are rich, for they are his slaves, and the enjoyment of his indolence is the fruit of their labour. In most tribes the wishes of the female are not consulted at all. “ All right,” Mrs. Stowe would say, “ in Africa, but very bad with
Sometimes a wife is purchased before she is born. Quando acciderunt, as the law would say. This is called consawing. For a more full account of the menage of an Ashantee gentleman, the reader is referred to pages 125 to 128 of Mr. Beecham. If boys become perverse, their father cuts off their ears. The man eats alone. The rest of the family wait upon him. Unfaithfulness of the wife is punished—sometimes with death-but may be paid for by the paramour. Sometimes the nose of the wife is cut off, especially when a prudent fear of their family preserves them from the severer penalty of death. Husbands and fathers employ their wives and daughters to decoy others, who become slaves for their punishment, if they cannot pay the fine assessed by a palaver. Their palavers are their parliaments; and bills of attainder pass upon incautious Jadies, as sometimes bappen with the great in haughty Christian Europe. The English fix their fines and prices for their wives in their palavers, but then it is mostly in aristocratic life. Perhaps this is the secret source of the great sympathy felt by such as are of Stafford House, for sons of Africa, who show so little for their own white tenants and starving poor. Psychology shows strange fancies of the mind, and it is a deep well whence to draw the truth. One of the most elegant and innocent exercises in which the ladies of Africa, éven of rank, take the greatest delight, is that in which they beat a particularly prominent part of their bodies against each other, with such force that the vanquished party is thrown flat on the ground. We have seen overgrown urchins of the male sex, at the same sort of sport in Christian countries, but never the females.
If an Ashantee's wise indulges that curiosity, thought to
be so natural to the sex, and listens to a private conversation of her husband, he crops an ear off, and thereby punishes the offending member. If she betrays a secret, he cuts off her upper lip. Heavens, how few lips would be left for kissing, if this were common law with us! Beecham says,
The sight of women who have suffered such inflictions at this day, in Coomasie (Kurnasi), may be had, as it was in the time of Bowditch.” The majority of the males, of course, have no wives, but they are slaves and need none in Borrioboola Gha. Celibacy is the general fate of the male slaves, who, however, constitute the principal military force. Of course prostitutes are openly countenanced, and many are maintained for state occasions--again like fashionable aristocratic society of Europe--and they are set apart with formalities and religious ceremonies. Wealthy females often bequeath them to the public on their death beds, as they endow with us a church, a school, or orphan asylum. The state lends its aid, and religion its authority, to confound vice with virtue, and to sanction and legalize crime and debauchery. This is the state of their present society, and it has been the same, no doubt, for centuries. Such has been the progress of civilization and Christianity among the Afri
In the war between Ashantee and Denkæra, one hundred thousand men perished in one engagement, and an equal number soon afterwards in another battle, when Abu Behr was taken prisoner-showing that they can rival white men in nothing but destruction, and that havoc, however great, can be committed by a savage as well as by a Buonaparte. Fantee, which not long since was supposed to possess millions of inhabitants, has been reduced by the Ashantee invasion to some few thousands. It appears, from Beecham, that the tradition of the Creation, which we believe La Harpe takes from Bosman, still remains prevalent in Africa. " It is believed,” says he, “ that in the beginning of the world, God having created three white and three black men, with an equal number of women of each colour, resolved, in order that they might be left without complaint, to allow them to fix their own destiny, by giving them the choice of good
and evil. A large box or calabasb was, in consequence, placed upon the ground, together with a sealed paper or letter. The black men had the first choice. They took the calabash, expecting that it contained all that was desirable; but, upon opening it, they found only a piece of gold, some iron and several other metals, of which they did not know the use. The white men opened the letter or paper, and it told them every thing. All this is supposed to have happened in Africa, where God kept the black men to the fate which their avarice had caused them to choose, and left them under the care of inferior deities; but conducting the whites to the water's edge, and communicating with them every night, taught then to build a vessel to take them to another country, from whence they now come to trade with the blacks, who had chosen gold instead of knowledge and letters." " - In this tradition,” says Beecham, " is to be found the source of those superstitions which entbral millions of their race. God certainly made them black, and we are not sure, from that circumstance alone, that they are not right in supposing that they were intended as an inferior race ; and we do not believe that they are happier for being made to rebel against their destiny and ancient belief." * We do not know," ? says a late writer on the Book of Job, - and cannot know, the mystery of the government of the world, and that it is not for man to seek it, or for God to reveal it." We believe that God did intend the black man to be inferior, or he would not have made him so. All inequalities of nature are of his doing, and u ho dares gainsay it? Did he not make the fool, the idiot, the dwarf, the deformed, the mute, the deaf. the
lind, the leprous, the lunatic, the sound, the beautiful, the sane, the mediocre and the genius ? Shall we set up one general wail and whine that the division has not been a fair one; that others have got more gold and more knowledge than falls to our lot ? - Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his house, nor his field, nor his servant, his ox, his ass, nor any thing that is bis."
With these people even the crocodile sometimes receives divine honours, and being greatly petted, often becomes very tame; sometimes too familiar for safety, and now and then
picks up a child in his great jaws. Their penates are, generally, calabashes filled with rubbish of all sorts. Any thing for Bossum. They have about one hundred and fifty or one hundred and sixty evil days in the year, when the most important and pressing things cannot be done. An incredible amount of time is thus lost. Men on journeys, no matter how important, must stop on those days. The priests there undertake, sometimes, to conceal fugitive slaves, but it is said never fail to deliver them up to their masters, upon pay. ment of a good fee or Fetiche money. These Fetiche oracles are said to be inaccessible to the poor. Believing that all good and evil comes from the Fetiche, they are, through that medium, completely in the power of the priesthood. The arts with which the latter maintain their power, are detailed by our author at page 191. Thousands of victims are immolated to these Fetiches at the instance of this priesthood.
Scarcely has one of their barbarous and bloody customs been abandoned, from the earliest period of which any thing is known of them. They still pave their court yards, palaces, and even the streets or market places of their villages or towns, with the skulls of those butchered in wars, at feasts, funerals, or as sacrifices to Bossum. Still their wives and slaves are buried alive, with the deceased husband or master. When Adahanzen died, two hundred and eighty of his wives were butchered before the arrival of his successor; which put a stop to it only to increase the flow of blood and the number of deaths in other ways. The remaining living wives were buried alive! amidst dancing, singing and bewailing, the noise of horns, drums, muskets, yells, groans and screechings; the women, marching by headless trunks, bedaubed themselves with red earth and blood. Their victims were marched along with large knives passed through their cheeks. The executioners struggle for the bloody office, while the victims look on and endure with apathy. They were too familiar with the horrid sacrifice to show terror, or to imagine that all was not as it should be. Their hands were first chopped off, and then their heads sawed off, to prolong the amusement. Even some who assisted to fill