Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

flicted on those prisoners who are doomed to death, are too shocking and horrible to be exhibited in detail: one plucks out the nails of the prisoner by the roots; another takes a finger into his mouth, and tears off the flesh with his teeth; a third thrusts the finger, mangled as it is, into the bowl of a pipe made red hot, which he smokes like tobacco: they then pound his toes and fingers to pieces between two stones; they apply red hot irons to every part of his mangled body; they pull off his flesh, thus mangled and roasted, and devour it with greediness;– and thus they continue for several hours, and sometimes for a whole day, till they penetrate to the vital parts, and completely exhaust the springs of life. Even the women, forgetting the human, as well as the female nature, and transformed into something worse than furies, frequently outdo the men in this scene of horror; while the principal persons of the country sit round the stake to which the prisoner is fixed, smoking, and looking on without the least emotion. What is most remarkable, the prisoner himself endeavours to brave historments with a stoical apathy. “I do not fear death, (he exclaims in the face of his tormentors,) nor any kind of tortures; those that fear them are cowards, they are less than women. May my enemies be confounded with despair and rage! Oh, that I could devour them, and drink their blood to the last drop!” Such is a saint picture of the ferocious disposition of the Indians of America, which, with a few slight modifications, will apply to almost t whole of the original natives of that vast conti ment. Instead of the exercise of benevolent affections, and of forgiving dispositions; instead of humane feelings, and compassion for the sufferings of fellow-mortals, we here behold them transported into an ertravagance of joy, over the sufferings they had produced, the carnage they had created, the children whom they had deprived of their parents, and the widows whose husbands they had mangled and slain; because they had glutted their revenge, and obtained a victory. Nothing can appear more directly opposed to the precepts of Christ, and to the benevolence of heaven. If, from America, we cross the Atlantic, and iand on the shores of AFR1cA, we shall find the existing innabitants of that continent displaying dispositions no less cruel and ferocious.'Bosman relates the following instances of cruelties practised by the Adomese Negroes, inhabiting the banks of the Praa or Chamah river. “Anqua, the king, having in an engagement taken five of his principal Antese enemies prisoners, he wounded them all over; after which, with a more than brutal fury, he satiated, though not tired himself, by sucking their blood at the gaping wounds; but, bearing a more than ordinary grudge against one of them, he caused him wo be laid bound at his feet, and his body to be

pierced with hot irons, gathering his blood tha. issued from him in a vessel, one half of which he drank, and offered up the rest to his god. On another occasion, he put to death one of his wives and a slave, drinking their blood also, as was his usual practice with his enemies.”*Dispositions and practices no less abominable, are regularly exhibited in the kingdom of Dahomy, near the Gulf of Guinea. An immolation: of human victims, for the purpose of watering the graves of the king's ancestors, and of supplying them with servants of various descriptions in the other world, takes place every year, at a grand festival which is held generally in April and May, about the period, possibly, when the Bible and Missionary Societies of this country are holding their anniversaries. The victims are generally prisoners of war, reserved for the purpose ; but, should there be lack of these, the number (between sixty and seventy) is made up from the most convenient of his own subjects. The immolation ol victims is not confined to this particular period; for at any time, should it be necessary to send an account to his forefathers of any remarkable event, the king despatches a courier to the shades, by delivering a message to whoever may happen to be near him, and then ordering his head to be chopped off immediately. It is considered an honour where his majesty personally condescends to become the executioner in these cases; an office in which the king prides himself in being expert. The governor was present on one occasion, when a poor fellow, whose fear of death outweighing 'he sense of the honour conferred upon him, on 1 sing desired to carry some message to his fathe , humbly declared on his knees, that he was unacquainted with the way. On which the tyrant vociferated, “I’ll show you the way,” and, with one blow, made his head fly many yards from his body, highly indignant that there should have been the least expression of reluctance.f On the thatched roofs of the guard-houses which surround the palace of this tyrant, are ranged, on wooden stakes, numbers of human skulls ; the top of the wall which encloses an area before it, is stuck full of human jaw-bones, and the path leading to the door is paved with the skulls. In the kingdom of Ash ANTEE, similar practices uniformly prevail. “When the king of this country (says Dupuis) was about to open the campaign in Gaman, he collected together his priests, to invoke the royal Fetische, and perform the necessary orgies to ensure success. These ministers of superstition sacrificed thirty-two male, and eighteen female victims as an expiatory offering to the gods; but the answers from the priests being deemed by the council as still devoid of inspiration, the king was induced to make a custom, at the sepulchres of his ancestors, where many hundreds bled. This, it is af. ormed, propitiated the wrath of the adverse god.” The same king, when he returned, having disLovered a conspiracy, decreed, that seventeen of his wives, along with his own sister. should be strangled and beheaded. “His sister's paramour, and all those of his party, were doomed to the most cruel deaths, at the grave of the king's mother. While these butcheries were transacting, the king prepared to enter the palace; and in the act of crossing the threshold of the outer gate, was met by several of his wives, whose anxiety to embrace their sovereign lord impelled them thus to overstep the boundary of female decorum in Ashantee : for it happened that the king was accompanied by a number of his captains, who, accordingly, were compelled to cover their faces with both their hands, and fly from the spot. This is said to have angered the monarch, although his resentment proceeded no farther than words, and he returned the embraces of his wives. But another cause of anger soon after occurred, and he was inflamed to the highest pitch of indignation, and, in a paroxysm of anger, caused these unhappy beings to be cut in pieces before his face, giving orders, at the same time, to cast the fragments into the forest, to be devoured by birds and beasts of prey. Nor did the atonement rest here; for six more unhappy females were impeached of inconstancy, and they also expiated their faults with their lives. Like another Ulysses, his majesty then devoted himself to the purification of his palace, when, to surn up the full horrors of these bloody deeds, two thousand wretches, selected from the Gaman prisoners of war, were slaughtered over the royal death-stool, in honour of the shades of departed kings and heroes.”* Such are a few specimens of the ferocious dispositions of the petty tyrants of Africa. But we are not to imagine that such dispositions are confined to kings, and to the higher ranks of society. Wherever such malevolent passions are displayed among barbarous chief ains, they pervade, in a greater or less degree, the whole mass of the people, and almost every one, in proportion to the power with which he is invested, perpetrates similar barbarities. The following instance will corroborate this position, and, at the same time, show, for how many cruelties and acts of injustice the abettors of the infamous traffic in slaves, are accountable. It is extracted from Major Gray’s “Travels in Africa, in 1824.” The Kaartan force which the Major accomoan ed, had made 107 prisoners, chiefly women and children, in a predatory excursion into Bondoo, for the purpose of supplying themselves with slaves. The following is an account of the manner in which they were dragged along. “The men were tied in pairs by the necks, their hands

* Dupuis' Journal in Ashantee. * M'Leod's voyage to Africa.

* Dupuis' Mission to Ashantee, in 1823

secured behind their backs; the women by the necks only ; but their hands were not lest free, from any sense of feeling sor them, but in order to enable them to balance the immense loads of corn or rice which they were obliged to carry on their heads, and their children on their backs.” —“I had an opportunity,” says Major Gray, “of witnessing, during this short march, the new-made slaves, and the sufferings to which they are subjected in their first state of bondage. They were hurried along (tied) at a pace little short of running, to enable them to keep up with the horsemen, who drove them on, as Smithfield drovers do fatigued bullocks. Many of the women were old, and by no means able to endure such treatment. One, in particular, would not have failed to excite the tenderest feelings of compassion in the breast of any, save a savage African. She was at least sixty years old, in the most miserable state of emaciation and debility, nearly doubled together, and with difficulty dragging her tottering limbs along. To crown the heart-rending picture, she was naked, save from her waist, to about hals way to the knees. All this did not prevent her inhuman captor from

making her carry a heavy load of water, while,

with a rope about her neck, he drove her before his horse; and whenever she showed the least inclination to stop, he beat her in the most unmerciful manner with a stick.” Were we to travel through the whole interior of Africa, and round its northern, eastern, and western coasts, we should find, among almost every tribe, numerous displays of the most inhuman and depraved dispositions. The Algerines are characterized as the most cruel and dangerous pirates—base, perfidious, and rapacious, to the last degree. No oaths, nor ties, human or divine, will avail to bind them, when their interest interferes. Whatever respect they may pretend to pay to their prophet Mahomet, gold is the only true idol which they worship. The emperors of Morocco are well known as a set of rapacious and blood-thirsty tyrants, who have lived in a state of habitual warfare with Christian nations, and in the perpetration of deeds of injustice and cruelty. The Gallas, on the borders of Abyssinia, are a barbarous and warlike nation. They are hardy, and of a serocious disposition; they are trained to the love of desperate achievements, taught to believe that conquest entitles them to the possession of whatever they desire, and to look upon death with the utmost contempt; and, therefore, in their wars, they fight with the most desperate resolution, and neither give nor take any quarter. The inhabitants of Adel, too. are of a warlike disposition, and most frequently live in enmity and hostility with those around them. The Feloops are gloomy and unforgiving in their tempers, thirsting for vengeance even in the hour of dissolution, and leaving their children to avenge their quarrels. The inhabitants of the Grcis Coast, especially the Mulattoes, are said to be a most abandoned set of people. The men are drunkards, lewa, thievish, an treacherous, and the women are the most abandoned prostitutes, sacrificing themselves at all times, and to all sorts of men, without the last degree of restraint.* The natives of Ansico, which borders on Angola, live by plundering all who happen to fall in their way, some of whom they kill, and others they keep as slaves. “The Boshemen are land pirates, who live without laws and without discipline; who lurk in thickets, to watch the passage of travellers, and shoot them with poisoned arrows, in order to seize their cattle.”: “The negroes of Congo, (says M. de la Brosse in his Travels along the coast of Angola, in 1738,) are extremely treacherous and vindictive. They daily demanded of us some brandy for the use of the king and the chief men of the town. One day this request was denied and we had soon reason to repent it; for all the English and French officers having gone to fish on a smali lake near the seacoast, they erected a tent for the purpose of dressing and eating the fishes they had caught. When amusing themselves after their repast, seven or eight negroes, who were the chiefs of Loango, arrived in sedans, and presented their hands according to the custom of the country. These negroes privately rubbed the hands of the officers with a subtle poison, which acts instantaneously; and, accordingly, five captains and three surgeons died on the spot.” The Moors are characterized by Mr. Park as having cruelty and low cunning pictured on their countenances. Their treachery and malevolence are manifested in their plundering excursions against the Negro villages. Without the smallest provocation, and sometimes under the fairest professions of friendship, they will seize upon the Negroes' cattle, and even on the inhabitants themselves. The Bedouins are plunderers of the cultivated lands, and robbers on the high roads; they watch every opportunity of revenging their enemies, and their animosities are transmitted as an inheritance from father to children. Even the Egyptians, who are more civilized than the tribes to which I have now alluded, are characterized by excessive pride, vindictive tempers, inordinate passions, and various species of moral turpitude. There is a trait in the character of the women of this country, pointedly adverted to by Sonini, in his “Travels in Egypt,” which is particularly odious and horrible. On discovering any partiality in their husbands for other females, they are transported into an unbounded and jealous fury. Such are their deceit and cruelty on these occasions, that they instil into the blood of their faithless husband, a slow and mortal poison. Their revenge is meditated

w Cooke's Universal Geography, Vol. 1. p. 447. itid ! Wailant's Travels.

in silence, and they indulge the diabolical satisfaction of taking off an unhappy being by a lingering death. It is said, with confidence, that their own persons supply the horrid means of perpetrating their malicious designs on their husbands, and that they mix with their aliment a certain portion of an ingredient of a poisonous nature, which infallibly induces a slow langour and consumption, and in time brings the wretched victims to the grave The symptoms are dreadful. The body desicates, the limbs become excessively weak, the gums rot, the teeth loosen, the hair falls off, and, at length, after having dragged a miserable and tortured existence, for a whole year or more, the unhappy beings die in the most extreme forment. If we pass from Africa to the regions of Asia, we shall find similar depraved principles and practices pervading its several tribes, and the various ranks of its population. Here, tyranny, in all its degrading and cruel forms, reigns supreme and uncontrolled over a superstitious, a deluded, and an idolatrous race of mankind,-of which the following recent instances, in relation to a petty despot of Persia, may serve as a specimen. “The governor Zulfecar Khun is pronounced to be a cruel and unprincipled tyrant; unfortunately for the people, he has the ear of the sovereign, and they have no resource against his rapacity. He pays to the crown 7000 to hauns a year, but it is asserted, that he collects from the district 100,000. His oppression was so grievous, that the inhabitants, wearied out, went in a body to the king to complain ; but his majesty only referred them back to their tyrant, who, exasperated at their boldness, wreaked upon them a cruel vengeance. It is said, that he maimed and put to death upwards of a thousand of both sexes, cutting off the hands, putting out the eyes, and otherwise mutilating the men, and cutting off the noses, ears, and breasts of the women. The people, desponding and brokenhearted after this, paid, in as far as they were able, the rapacious demands of their oppressor, and the natural consequence, ruin and desolation has ensued.”S Sir John Chardin gives us the following account of the inhabitants of Mingrelia, particularly of the women. “The people are generally handsome, the men strong and well-inade, and the women very beautiful ; but both sexes are very vicious and debauched. The women, though lively, civil, and affectionate, are very perfidious; for there is no wickedness which they will not perpetrate, in order to procure, to preserve, or to get rid of their gallants. The men likewise possess many bad qualities. All of them are trained to robbery, which thev study both as a business, and as an amusement. With great satisfaction they relate the depredations

$ Frazer's Journey to Khorasan, 1823

they have committed; and, from this polluted source, they derive their greates praise and nonour. In Mingrelia falsehood, assassination, and theft, are good actions; and whoredom. bigamy, and incest, are esteemed as virtuous habits. The men marry two or three wives at a time, and keep as many concubines as they choose. They not only make a common practice of selling their children, either for gold, or in exchange for wares and provisions, but even murder thein, or bury them alive, when they find it difficult to bring them up.”

The Tartars, who occupy vast regions of the Asiatic continent, are uniformly described by travellers, as a rude, plundering, and uncultivated race of men. “ There is something frightful,” says Smellie, “in the countenances of the Calmuck Tartars. All of then are wandering vagabonds, and live in tents made of cloth or of skins. They eat the flesh of horses, either raw, or a little softened by putrifying under their saddles. No marks of religion, or of decency in their manners, are to be found among most of these tribes. They are fierce, warlike, hardy, and brutally gross, They are all robbers; and the Tartars of Daghestan, who border on civilized nations, have a great trade in slaves, whom they carry off by force, and sell to the Persians and Turks.”*

The Arabians, like the Tartars, live mostly without government, without law, and almost without any social intercourse. They still continue in a state of rudeness and of lawless independency. Their chiefs authorize rape, thest, and robbery. They have no estimation for virtue, and glory in almost every species of vice. They roam about in the deserts, and attack caravans and travellers of every description, whom they frequently murder, and plunder of their property.—The Chinese, though more highly civilized than the tribes now inentioned, and though they merit great applause for their ingenuity, industry, and perseverance, are as despicable in their moral characters, and as destitute of true benevolence, as alimost any nation upon earth. Avarice is their leading passion; and in order to gratify it, they practise every species of duplicity and fraud. They cannot be influenced by motives either of honesty or of humanity ; and they surpass every nation on the globe in private cheating. Captain Cook observes, that (the danger of being hanged for any crine being excepted) “there is nothing, however infamous, which the Chinese will refuse to do for gain.” In this opinion he concurs with every preceding and subsequent writer, and confirms it by a variety of striking proofs, of which an additional number may be seen in the accounts which have been published of our late emoassies to that enpire.

* Smellie's Philosophy of Natural History.

The Birmans are a lively inquisitive race, active, irascible, and impatient. While in peace, they give proofs of a certain degree of gentleness and civilization ; in war, they display the ferocity of savages.—The Malays, though inhabiting a country beautiful and delightful in the extreme, where resreshing gales and cooling streams assuage the heat, where the soil teems with delicious fruits, where the trees are clothed with a ..continual verdure, and the flowers breathe their fragrani odours, are remarkably ferocious in their manners. They go always armed (except the slaves,) and would think themselves disgraced, if they went abroad without their poignards. The inland inhabitants of Malacca, called JMonucahoes, are a barbarous savage people, delighting in doing continual mischief to their neighbours; on which account, no grain is sown about Malacca, but what is enclosed in gardens, with the thickest hedges, or deep ditches; for when the grain is ripe in the open plains, the Monucaboes never fail to set fire to it. The Persians, in their dispositions, says Mr. Franklin, are much inclined to sudden anger, are quick, fiery, and very sensible of affronts, which they resent on the spot. Chardin describes them as “warlike, vain, and ambitious of praise; exceedingly luxurious, prodigal, voluptuous, and addicted to gallantry.” It is well known that the wars and fiend-like cruelties in which the despots of this country have been engaged, have transformed many of its provinces into scenes of sterility and desolation.—The Hindoos are effeminate, luxurious, and early initiated into the arts of dissimulation. They can caress those whom they hate, and behave with the utmost affability and kindness to such as they intend to deprive of existence, by the most sanguinary means. Though they seldom scold or wrangle, they of en stab each other insidiously, and, without any public quarrel, gratify a private revenge. The destruction of infants, the immolation of widows, the drowning of aged parents, which prevail among them, and the cruel and idolatrous rites which distinguish their religious services, are too well known to require description.—The Turks, though grave, sedate, and rather hypocondriac, yet when agitated by passion, are furious, raging, ungovernable, fraught with dissimulation, Jealous, suspicious, and vindictive beyond conception. They are superstitious, and obstinately tenacious in matters of religion, and are incapable of exercising benevolence or even humanity towards Christians, or towards Jews. Interest is their supreme good, and when that comes in competition, all ties of religion, consanguinity, or friendship, are with the generality, speedily dissolved. They have deprived of their liberty, and of their wealth, all who have been subjectsd to their iron sceptre, and have plunged them into the depths of moral and of mental debasement. The page of history is filled with details of their devastations and cruelties, and the deeds of injustice and of horror which they have perpetrated, even in our own times, are scarcely equalled by the atrocities of the most savage hordes of mankind. If we take a survey of the numerous tribes which inhabit the Islands of the Indian and the Pacific Oceans, we shall find similar depraved and malevolent passions, raging without control, and producing all those malignant and desolating effects which have counteracted the benevolence of the Creator, and entailed misery on the human race. The dismal effects of the principle of hatred directed towards human beings, the disposition to cngage in continual warfare, and the savage ferocity of the human mind, when unrestrained by moral and prudential considerations, are nowhere so strikingly displayed, as in the isles which are scattered throughout the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Of the truth of these positions we have abundance of melancholy examples, in the reports of missionaries, and in the journals which have been published by late navigators, from which I shall select only two or three examples. The first instance I shall produce, has a relation chiefly to the inhabitants of New Zealand. With respect to these islanders Captain Cook remarks, “Their public contentions are frequent, or rather perpetual; for, it appears from their number of weapons, and dexterity in using them, that war is their principal profession.”— “The war-dance consists of a great variety of violent motions, and hideous contortions of the limbs, during which the countenance also performs a part; the tongue is frequently thrust out to an incredible length, and the eye-lid so forcibly drawn up, that the white appears both above and below, as well as on each side of the iris, so as to form a circle around it; nor is any thing neglected so as to render the human shape frightful and deformed. To such as have not been accustomed to such a practice, they appear more like demons than men, and would almost chill the boldest with fear; at the same time they brandish their spears, shake their darts, and cleave the air with their patoo-patoos. To this succeeds a circumstance almost foretold in their fierce demen nour, horrid and disgraceful to human nature, which is, cutting to pieces, even before being perfectly dead, the bodies of their enemies; and, after dressing them on a fire, devouring the tlesh, not only without reluctance, but with peculiar satisfaction.” There is perhaps nothing that can convey a more striking idea of the actions of pure malevolence, and of the horrible rage and fury of infernal fiends, than the picture here presented of these savage islanders. These people live under perpetual apprehensigns of being destroyed by each other; there being few of their tribes that have not, as they think, sustained wrongs srom some other tribe,

which they are continually on the watch to avenge and the desire of a good meal is no small incitemen'. Many years will sumetimes elapse before a favourable opportunity happens, yet the son never loses sight of an injury that has been done to his father.—“Their method of executing their horrible designs is by stealing upon the adverse party in the night, and if they find them unguarded (which is very seldom the case) they kill every one indiscriminately, not even sparing the women and children. When the massacre is completed, they either feast and gorge themselves on the spot, or carry off as many of the dead bodies as they can, and devour them at home, with acts of brutality too shocking to be described. If they are discovered before they execute their bloody purpose, they generally steal off again : and sometimes are pursued and attacked by the other party in their turn. To give quarter, or to take prisoners, makes no part of their military law; so that the vanquished can save their lives only by flight. This perpetual state of war, and destructive method of conducting it, operates so strongly in producing habits of circumspection, that one hardly ever finds a New Zealander of his guard, either by night or by day.” While the mind is kept in such a state of incessant anxicty and alarm, it must be impossible for human beings to taste the sweets of rational, or even of sensitive enjoyment. A melancholy gloom must hang over these wretched beings, and the dark suspicions, and the revengeful passions which agitate their minds, can only fit them for those regions of darkness where the radiations of benevolence are completely extinguished. The implacable hatred which these savages entertain towards each other, is illustrated, in the following short narrative from Captain Cook.-“Among our occasional visiters was a chief named Kahoora, who, as I was informed, headed the party that cut off Captain Furneaux's people, and himself killed Mr. Rowe, the officer who commanded. To judge of the character of Kahoora, by what I had heard from many of his countrymen, he seemed to be more feared than beloved among them. Not satisfied with telling me that he was a very bad man, some of them even importuned me to kill him ; and, I believe, they were not a little surprised that I did not listen to them; for according to their ideas of equity. this ought to have been done. But if I had sollowed the advice of all our pretended friends, I might have extirpated the whole race ; for the people of each hamlet or village, by turns, applied to me, to destroy the other. One would have almost thought it impossible, that so striking a proof of the divided state in which this people live, could have been assigned.” Similar dispositions are displayed throughout

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »