Imágenes de páginas
[merged small][graphic]

THE TROUTS AND THE GUDGEON. bly, will elude the first attack; and the

second may be made, if not with success, at A FISHERMAN, in the month of May, least with safety. She had no sooner was angling with an artificial ily. He uttered this caution, than a GUDGEON threw his bait with so much skill, that a seized upon the pretended fly, and became young TROUT was rushing towards it, an example to the giddy daughter, of the when she was prevented by her mother. great importance of her mother's counsel. “Never,"

,” said she, “my child, be too pre. cipitate, where there is a possibility of danger. Take due time to consider, before you risk an action that may be fatal. How In early youth, ere cautious doubts arise, know

you, whether yon appearance be Each glittering bait appears a golden indeed a fiy, or the snare of an enemy? prize :Let some one else make the experiment Ah ! happy he, who, wise before too late, before you. If it be a fly, he, very proba- Can draw a lesson from another's fate.




warlike-indeed, they are soldiers, regu.

larly trained and set apart for the terrible DR. JOHNSON said it was possible, work of war, and they never marry. though not probable, that amazons ex- Nominally, however, they are the wives isted. Since the doctor's time, we have of the king's old soldiers, and are somelearned that they do exist, under condi- times, for distinction in the field, given tions very similar to those ascribed to the in marriage by his majesty to his favoured amazons of classical story. They are subjects. This may account in some degree for the extraordinary bravery exhi- evade all chance of personal encounter, bited by the African amazon at all times, and to make themselves and their proas the king's wars are always of a com-perty as scarce as the limited period at mercial nature-carried on not to avenge their disposal will admit. “ Cowries” insult or injury, but purely for the pur- (the current coin of these realms), cookpose of capturing victims for the slave ing pots, and children, are rapidly trade. The king is closely interested in secreted in the innermost recesses of the the success of his arms.

jungle. Young wives, whose value to a In fact, as Commander Forbes remarks, Carolina cotton-grower would be nearly the royal nigger Gueza is king not only equivalent to that of a five-year old drayof Dahomey, but of the slave trade and horse in Barclay and Perkins's stables, its merchants in Africa; and it is on this are hurriedly concealed in the depths of account, for the extravagant cruelty that recondite caverns. Troops of lads of prevails in his dominions, and for that about the age and size of Oxford underpeculiarity of enlisting an army of women, graduates, though infinitely more desirthat he is as widely renowned as any able in the eyes of a Brazilian merchant, monarch in Europe, almost. His domi- are hastily driven from the paternal home nions are not small. Lying inland on to save them from the pitiless invaders. the Guinea coast, they extend from the Meanwhile, each unfortunate elderly banks of the Niger almost to those of the gentleman, whose infirmities preclude his Volta ; and his rule over this territory is escape, begins to feel peculiar discomfort a reign of terror. Terror to us, that is to in the region of the Atlas, knowing that say; for his majesty's subjects appear to his coveted pericranium is of the precise be of so barbarous and bloodthirsty a value of nine shillings to any soldier of nature, that a mild rule would be impos- the king of Dahomey, for the adornment sible.

of the royal scullery, and will shortly be Dahomey has been a military nation, disposed of, without the possibility of his and little else, for two centuries ; but it having a voice in the transaction, by a was not till the present monarch usurped summary, and most unpleasant process. the throne (his brother was deposed for We remember a painful instance of the unmilitary conduct, which, probably, sudden onslaught of this barbarian host means some vague love of peace and upon a flourishing town on the banks of humanity) that the kingdom became so the Quorra river. The assizes were prodistinguished. Now it has subjugated all ceeding at the time. A learned and the surrounding country; and should any venerable judge, assisted by a black but neighbouring people become rich, or intelligent bar, was unravelling the intrinumerous, they are swiftly brought up cacies of a complicated case. by a declaration of war from the king of ceedings had attracted more than ordiDahomey. Thus it is, that on the western vary attention, and a very numerous and and north-western side of the country, grave audience, but all in that simplicity the stream of the Volta alone separates of attire which characterizes the statues Dahomey from the great rival monarchy of ancient Greece, and the robins of of Ashantee; while on the eastern side England. devastation has been carried on as far as The counsel for the defendant had it is convenient to march an army, even closed a long harangue in the harsh and on the profitable expedition of a slave unmusical dialect of his race, when sudhunt.

denly an unusual agitation was perceivIt is easy to imagine the consternation able at each avenue leading to the overof a feeble state lying in the ascertained crowded court. Neither the sheriffs por direction of his majesty's march. The his assistants were able to restore order. inhabitants, instead of congratulating The confusion increased ; and the worthy themselves upon the "royal progress,” judge was finally compelled to yield to and congregating to witness the imposing the pressure from witbout. For a few cavalcade, immediately endeavour to i moments the cause of the interruption

The pro

was not ascertained; but when the as- / which he has brought them. Against the tounding fact transpired, that an over- devoted city his troops march, whilst the whelming army of the Dahomans had king, nobles, and royal family remain surrounded the court-house, and that all encamped. Daylight is generally the attempt at resistance was vain, it is im- time of onset, and every cunning, secrecy, possible to describe the uproar and dis. and ingenuity is exercised to take the may that ensued. The enemy were not eneiny by surprise. After the destruclong in turning their advantage and their tion of a town, notice is sent to all neighprisoners to account. In a few minutes bouring cabooceers, or chiefs, calling upon the judge and jailer, both as nude as at them to swear allegiance to the conqueror. their birth, were handcuffed together ; Many do so at once, and receive their the angry plaintiff, his unpaid witnesses, original rank, with an equal, a Dahoman, and his leading counsel, the jury, attor to act as coadjutor; the remainder are neys, and members of some of the oldest persecuted till subjugated. On the re. and most respected families in the vici. turn from war, in January, the king nity, were manacled in pairs, marched resides at Cannah, and what is termed under a strong escort to a convenient makes a fetish,'-i. e., sacrifices largely spot, and there sold by their captors to -and gives liberal presents to the fetish their monarch, at prices averaging from people, and, at the same time, purchases eight to twelve shillings a couple. In the prisoners and heads from his sol. twenty-four hours they were all as closely diers; the slaves are then sold to the packed as figs in a drum, in the hold of a slave merchants, and their blood-money Yankee slaver, whose fortunate owners wasted in the ensuing custom,' Hwae. cleared an enormous profit upon the trans- nooeewha, as the great annual feast is action. By such cheerful and lucrative entitled in Dahoman parlance. Of these pastimes, the tedium of the Dahoman customs, the most important is that winter is beguiled, and the amiable prince held in March, and called the See-quethus recruits alike the energies of his ah-hee, at which the king's wealth is people and his own exchequer.

profusely displayed. That which is held The delights and the profits of war in May and June, is in honour of trade, keep the population of Dahomey down to with music, dancing, and singing. A about 200,000, of both sexes; and Abo- small schooner on wheels, laden with mey, the capital, has not more than gifts, is then drawn round the capital, 30,000 inhabitants ; of the whole popu. and the cargo afterwards scrambled for lation, not more than 20,000 are free-by the Dahoman army. August and the remainder are slaves. The regular September are occupied by preparations army numbers about 12,000, of whom for war, serving out powder, balls, or 5,000 are amazons. When the king goes gun-stones (small ironstones), and much to war, he levies in all about 24,000 men, palaver on war subjects. Before going and an equal number of commissariat fol. to war, the king makes a 'custom' to the lowers. Then he moves on his war-march, memory of his father, which generally with nearly 50,000 of both sexes, or one lasts a month; and thus ends the year, fourth of the whole population of the keeping the nation in a fever of excite, kingdom.

ment, dancing, singing, haranguing, “In the months of November and De firing, and cutting off heads; thus demoa. cember” (says Commander Forbes, from ralizing more and more the natures of a whom, and from the narrative of Lieu- people already amongst the most barbar tenant Bouet, of the French navy, we rous of the African nations." compile this article), “the king com- Thus, war is annual; or rather an mences his annual wars. For three suc- annual slave-hunt is undertaken to furnish cessive years his people have asked him funds for the royal exchequer. This comes for war upon a particular place; and he in in neat sums for the soldiery, male and marches forth, concealing, until within a female, though they are fed and partly day's march, the name of the place against clothed, but receive no pay, except at the

scramble of “cowries” at the feasts, or no means disgraced by that degree of “customs." Prisoners and “heads" are freedom which might be inferred from the purchased of them; and it is as well to be constituents of the army; while at home forthcoming with one of these articles, at the women are accommodated within the the close of the year. At the "customs” harem's walls, and when abroad share the the king will offer a present to a defaulter honours of royal wives. The bell anor a coward; those who have acted well, nounces to the traveller that he must not step forward and accuse him, claiming gaze on them; and they have few oppor. the present for themselves; and if the tunities of conversation with the opposite charge is substantiated, an execution sex. Their costume, however, is precisely follows.

the same as that of the man soldiersExecutions are affairs of every day, and a tunic, short drawers, and skull-cap the first man in the kingdom is the -all in uniform. The general dress of miegan, or chief executioner. The second the Dahomans is, a small cloth round the is called the mayo, or grand vizier. These loins, and a large cloth thrown over the ministers have each a "mother,” as she left shoulder, leaving the right arm and is called; a lady who is, in fact, a female breast bare, and reaching to the ankles. mayo, and a female miegan, whose duties Hats are seldom worn;

shoes never. are confined to the harem. To the mayo The women wear a cloth reaching to the belongs authority over the soldiers mas- knee, fastened under their breasts, leavculine; the amazons are under the autho- ing them exposed. According to rank rity of the miegan. We have engraved a and wealth, anklets and armlets of all portrait of the mayo now in office. metals, and necklaces of glass, coral, and We have said that the amazons are not beads, are worn by both sexes.

Our supposed to marry, “ and by their own readers can behold, on page 219, 'some statement,” says Mr. Forbes, “they have members of the amazonian band. Their changed their sex. •We are men,' they instruments are not the most musical. say, 'not women. All dress alike, diet First we have the tam-tam, which is alike, and male and female emulate each formed of the trunk of a large tree, hol. other; what the men do the amazons lowed out and covered at each end with endeavour to surpass. They take great skin. It is ordinarily two yards in length care of their arms, polish the barrels, and, and a yard in diameter. It is of a hideous except when on duty, keep them in covers. colour, for it painted with the blood of There is no duty at the palace except the enemy; and as for ornamentation, when the king is in public, and then a skulls are arranged about it in garlands. guard of amazons protects the royal per- Then there are gongs, formed of two son, though on review he is guarded by concave pieces of sheet-iron, joined togethe males, of whom a large detachment ther at their inner edges. Held in one wait at the palace gates ready for service. hand by a handle, it is struck with a The amazons are in barracks within the short iron rod. This instrument is shown palace inclosure, and under the care of in our engraving. The reader will pereunuchs and the camoodee, or treasurer. ceive that the gong is covered with net

action there is some reference to work, at which depend certain little tags, the cutting off of heads. In their dances the nature of which the reader will not --and it is the duty of every soldier and perceive. They are teeth, extracted from amazon to be a proficient dancer-with the jaws of enemies fallen in battle. The eyes dilated, the right hand is working band is augmented by numerous standards in a saw-like manner for some time, as if of bells, like those which have been im. in the act of cutting round the neck; ported into our own English bands from when both hands are used, a twist is sup- China; trumpets in brass, copper, and posed to finish the bloody deed.

ivory; and flutes and fifes of reed. There seems to be no doubt that the There is very little concert in the amazo. amazons well preserve their nun-like cha- nian band; the instrumentalists, of whom racter ; and a Dahomey campaign is by there are a hundred, select each their

In every

« AnteriorContinuar »