Sivut kuvina

· At the death of the mother of Quatchie Quofie, he adds, one of the four great men, the king, Quatchie Quofie, and Odumata, another of the great men, each sacrificed a young girl the moment the lady breathed her last, that she might not be without attendants in the other world, till a proper number could be despatched to her. The king, and the adherents and retainers of the family, sent contributions of gold, gunpowder, rum, and cloth for the custom. This custom was an economical one ; yet the quantity of powder amounted to nearly twelve barrels. · " I followed to the market-place of Assafon, one of the suburbs of Coomassie, where the king and the chiefs, in their usual splendonr, and attended by their various retinues, were seated : a semicircular area of half a mile was left open. Thirteen victims, surrounded by their executioners, stood near the king ; ruw and palm wine were flowing copiously; borns and drums were sounding their loudest notes ; when in an iastapt there was a burst of musketry near the king, which spread round the circle, and continued, without ceasing, for an hour. The greater the chief, the greater the charge of powder he is allowed to fire. On the death of his sister, the king fired an ounce.

« The firing over, the libations of palm wine followed, and the ladies of Quatchie's family came forward to dance. Many of them were elegant figures, and very handsome ; most of them were clad in yellow silk, and had a silver knife hanging from a chain round the neck. A few were dressed fantastically as fetish women. The Ashantees dance elegantly, a man and woman together, and the figure and movement approximate closely to the waltz.

"I saw the first victim sacrificed. His right hand was lopped off, and his head was severed from his body. The twelve other victims were dragged forward ; but the funeral customs of the Ashantees were not to my taste, and I made my way through the crowd, and retired to my quarters. Other sacri. fices, principally females, were made in the bush, where the body was buried.

" It is usual to 'wet the grave' with the blood of a free man. The heads of the victims being placed at the bottom of the grave, several of the unsuspecting lookers on are called upon, in haste, by the retainers of the family to assist in placing the coffin or basket; and just as it rests upon the heads, a stone from behind stuns one of these assistants with a violent blow, which is followed by a deep cut in the back of the neck. The unfortunate man is then rolled into the grave, and it is immediately filled up.

"I was assured that the custom for Sai Quamina, the late king, was celebrated weekly for three months, and that two hundred slaves were sacrificed, and twenty-five barrels of powder fired, each time. But the custom for the present king's mother, who was regent during his absence while in the Fantee war, was the most celebrated. The king himself devoted 3000 victims, upwards of 2000 of whom were Fantee prisoners ; five of the principal towns contributed one hundred slaves, and twenty harrels of powder each, and most of the smaller towns ten, and two barrels of powder."*

The Ashentees say that, at the begioning of the world, God created three black men and three white, with the same number of women, and placed before them a large box or calabash, and a sealed paper. The black men had the privilege of choosing, and they took the box, expecting it contained every thing; but when they opened it, they found only gold, iron, and other metals, of which they did not know the use. The white men opened the paper, and told them every thing. This happened in Africa, where God left the black men in the bush. The white men he conducted to the water side, where he taught them to build a ship, which carried them to another country. From hence they returned, after a long period, with various merchandize to trade with the black men, who might have been the superior people if they had chosen right.

The kings and governors are believed to dwell with God after death, enjoying to eternity the luxuries and state they possessed on earth; the paradise of the poor affords only a cessation from labour.

When the Ashantees drink, they spill a little of the liquor on the ground as an offering to the fetish ; and when they rise froin their chairs, or stools, their attendaots hastily lay the seat on its side, to prevent the devil, or evil spirits, from slipping into their master's place. This evil spirit is supposed to be white ; doubtless from the same motive or feeling which induces Europeans to say that he is black : for, indeed, who would wish to resemble the devil, either in colour or shape, however some of us may not object to a resemblance to him in character.

The religion of the Timmanees and Bulloms at Sierra Leone consists in a belief in the Supreme Author of all things, too good to do harm, therefore not needing to be supplicated ; in a number of inferior mischievous beings, inhabiting rocks,

* Bowditch.

woods, and waters, whose evil intentions they avert by sacrifices, the best part however, of which they eat themselves ; and, inferior to these, is a kind of tutelary spirits, that reside in or near their towns. They imagine that witches when they die, appear again in the form of a pigmy race, like our fairies, and that, divested of their former malignity, they quit their retreats at night and join in the revels of tbe people.

In the mountains of Sierra Leone, I have seen, says Winterbottom, many temples erected to the devil, consisting of trunks of trees planted in a circular form, with a roof of branches covered with leaves. In the middle of the circle was a square table, or altar, fitted with offerings ; and the pillars of these rude edifices were ornamented with sacrifices and oblatione.





1. Of the Supreme Being.-They acknowledge One Supreme Being, whom they denominate the Great Spirit, or the Master of Life, the Creator and the Governor of the World. He is with them the God of War: his name they invoke as they march. It is the signal to engage, and it is the war-cry in the hottest of the battle.

But, besides the Supreme Being, they believe in an infinite nomber of subaltern spirits, who are the objects of worship, and whom they divide into good and bad.

It is reinarkable, however, that these tutelary deities are not supposed to take men under their protection till something has been done to merit the favour. A parent, who wishes to obtain a guardian spirit for his child, first blackens his face, and then causes him to fast for several days. During this time it is expected that the spirit will reveal himself in a dream ; and on this account, the child is anxiously examined every morning with regard to the visions of the preceding night. Whatever the child happens to dream of the most frequently, even if it happen to be the bead of a bird, the foot of an animal, or any thing of the most worthless nature, be

comes the symbol or figure under which the Okki reveals himself. With this figure, in the conceptions of his votary, the spirit becomes identified ; the image is preserved with the greatest care-is the constant companion on all great and important occasions, and the constant object of consultation and worship.

The practice of blackening the face and fasting, together with the use of emetics, as a system of religious purification, for the purpose of obtaining a goardian spirit, appears to have existed formerly among the natives of Virginia and New-England ; thongh the first settlers were not always able to ascertain the real object of the ceremonies 'which they beheld.

As soon as a child is informed what is the nature or form of his protecting deity, he is carefully instructed in the obligations he is under to do him homage-to follow his advice communicated in dreams—to deserve his favours-to confide implicitly in his care—and to dread the consequences of bis displeasure. For this reason, when the Huron or the Iro. quois goes to the battle or to the chase, the image of his okki is as carefully carried with him as his arms. At night, each one places his guardian idol on the palisades surrounding the camp, with the face turned from the quarter to which the warriors, or hunters, are about to march. He then prays to it for an hour, as he does also in the morning before he con. tinues his course. The homage performed, he lies down to rest, and sleeps in tranquillity, fully persuaded that his spirit will assume the whole duty of keeping guard, and that he has nothing to fear.

The following account is given by the Missionaries." It bappened at one time, when they were engaged in a war with a distant and powerful nation, that a body of their warriors was in the camp, fast asleep, no kind of danger at that moment being apprehended. Suddenly, the great · Sentinel over mankind,' the owl, sounded the alarm; all the birds of the species were alert at their posts, all at once calling out, as if saying: 'Up! up! "Danger! Danger! Ohedient to their call, every man jumped up in an instant ; when, to their surprise, they found that their enemy was in the very act of surrounding them, and they would all have been killed in their sleep, if the owl had not given them this timely warning."

“It is impossible not to remark, that there is a smaller de. parture from the original religinn among the lodians of Amer. jca than mong the more civilized nations of Egrnt, Greece, and Rome. The idea of the Divine Upity is much more perfectly preserved ; the subordinate divinities are kept at

a much more immeasurable distance from the Great Spirit ; and, above all, there has been no autempt among them io de grade to the likeness of men, the invisible and incomprehensible Creator of the universe. In fact, theirs is exactly that milder form of idolatry which prevailed every where from the days of Abrabam, his single family excepted,' and which, after the death of that patriarch and of his son Isaac, infected, from time to time, even the chosen famıly itself.

2. The belief of a future state of rewards and punishments, has been kept alive among all heathen nations, by its connexion with the sensible enjoyments and sufferings, and the cunsequent hopes and terrors of men. Its origin must have been in Divine Revelation ; for it is impossible to conceive that the mind could attain to it by its own unaltered powers. The thought, when once communicated, would, in the shipwreck of dissolving nature, be clung to with the grasp of expiring hope. Hence no nations have yet been found, however rude and barbarous, who have not agreed in the great and general principle of retributive immortality ; but, when we descend to detail, and inquire into their peculiar notions, we find that their traditions are coloured by the nature of their earthly. occupations, and by the opinions which they thence entertain on the subject of good and evil. This remark is fully verified by the history of the American Indians, among whom the belief of the inmortality of the soul is mosi firmly established.

They suppose, that when separated from the body, it preserves the same inclinations which it had when both were uni, ted. For this reason they bury with the dead all that they had in use when alive. Some imagine that all men haye two souls, one of which never leaves the body unless it be to inhabit another. This transmigration, however, is peculiar to the souls of those who die in infancy, and who therefore have the privilege of commencing a second life, because they enjoyed so little of the first. Hence children are buried along the highways, that the women as they pass, may receive their souls. From this idea of their remaining with the body, arises the duty of placing food upon their graves ; and mothers have been seen to draw from their bosoms that nourishment which these little creatures loved when alive, and shed it upon the earth which covered their remains.

When the time has arrived for the departure of those spir. its which leave the body, they pass into a region which is destined to be their eternal abode, and which is therefore called the Country of Souls. This country is at a great distance toward the west, and to go thither costs them a journey of many

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