« AnteriorContinuar »
the women have earthenware drums, which are concealed from the men. Languor and apathy are the gifts of the climate; moreover, man in these lands, wanting little, works little. Two great bodies, indeed, seem everywhere to make of life one long holiday-the civilised rich, who have all things; and the savage, who possesses little or nothing. Yet are the Wanika, and indeed all wild men, greedy of gain-perfectly dishonest in quest of lucre, and not to be bound by agreement or oath. Like all nations in this part of Africa, they are essentially and instinctively thieves. They never go to war. Agriculture and settled life have enervated them, without supplying superior knowledge. They scratch the ground with small hoes-wander about with their few goats and cows -sit in the sun, and spend hours squatting round an old well whilst water collects, rather than dig a pit or dam a ravine. They thus labour three days, and rest on the fourth, called Yuna, from Yuma, the Moslem Sabbath this is their only idea of weeks. Their time is principally passed in intoxication, by means of thembu, or palm-wine. The drum scarcely ever ceases; as amongst the Sawahili, it sounds at all times, seasons, and occasions. The music is simple they are contented to recite, for the livelong night, such merum nectar as
"Kitósí múlǎlání káŭká.”*
The polity of the Wanika is the rude and lawless equality of Bushmen. None commands where none obeys; consequently there is no combination, no improvement. The chief plies his hoe like the serf; and even to protect life, men will not unite. Causes are decided according to the great African code, ancient custom, by a council of elders. Adultery is punished by the fine of a cow; the
"The bird starts not from the palm."
murderer is more generally mulcted than slain. Little is said concerning the death of a slave, and a man found pilfering is chastised by the proprietor with sword or arrow. The tribe is divided into half-a-dozen clans, each in number perhaps sufficient to stock a small European town. Petty political jealousies and dissensions are as necessary to these savages as to the highly civilised.
The Wanika are an anomaly in mental gifts. With time and tune well developed, they easily learned music from the missionaries; but they ever prefer their own meaningless recitative. At first they attended the schools; presently, with their usual laxity and levity, growing weary of application, they dubbed all who so exerted themselves Wazingu, or fools. They possess in a high degree the gift of most African races, an unstudied eloquence. Their unpremeditated speech rolls like the torrent; every limb takes its part in the work of persuasion, and the peculiar rhythm of their dialect is favourable to such displays of oratory. Few, however, can "follow the words"-that is to say, answer the heads of an opponent's speech. Such power of memory and logical faculty are not in them. The abuse of the gift of language makes them boisterous in conversation, unable to keep silence the negro race is ever loquacious-and to "bend their tongue like their bows for lies." They cannot even, to use a Zanzibar German merchant's phrase, "lie honestly." Their character may thus be briefly summed up: a futile race of degraded men, drunken, destructive, cowardly, boisterous, immoral, indolent, and improvident. Their redeeming points are a tender love of family, which displays itself by violent "kin-grief," and a strong attachment to an uninviting home.t
The men's dress is a tanned skin
+ A proletarian critic has complained of my description of Somal inconsistency: "This affectionately-atrocious people," he declares, "is painted in strangely opposite colours." Can he not, then, conceive the high development of destructiveness and adhesiveness, to speak phrenologically, combining in the same individual? and are not the Irish peasantry a familiar instance of the phenomenon? Such is the negro's destructiveness, that I have never seen him drop or break an article without a burst of laughter. During the fires at Zanzibar he appears like a demon
or a cotton cloth tied round the waist; strips of hairy cowhide are bound like garters below the knee, and ostrich and other feathers are stuck in the tufty poll. Their ornaments are earrings of brass or iron wire, and small brass chains; around their necks and shoulders, arms and ankles, hang beads, talisman-case, and "ghost-chairs "-generally some article difficult to obtain, like a leopard's claw. They now rarely tattoo, saying, "Why should we spoil our bodies?" This ornament is abandoned to women, who raise the skin with a long sharp thorn, prick it with a knife, and wash the wounds with ochre and water. Abroad, the Mnika carries his bow, and long hide quiver full of reed arrows, tipped with wood or iron, and poisoned by means of some bulbous root: the citizens of Mombas have wisely prohibited the sale of guns. He has also a spear, a knife at his waist for cutting coco-nuts, a Rungu or knob-stick in his girdle behind, and a long sword rudely imitating the straight Omani blade, half-sheathed, and sharpened near the point. On journeys he slings to his back a three-knobbed stool of solid wood-sitting on the bare ground is supposed to cause dysentery; he hangs round his neck a gourd sneeze-mull, containing powdered tobacco, with fragrant herbs and the dried heart of plantain; and he holds a long thin staff surmounted by a little cross, which serves to churn his blood-and-milk.t The wife's
toilette is as simple-a skin or cloth round the loins, another veiling the bosom, and, in some cases, a Márindá or broad lap of woven beads, like the Coëoo of Guiana, falling in front, and displaying a broader tail behind. A flat disk of thick brass wire adorns her throat, making the head appear
as in a platter; white and pink beads, or the scarlet beans of the abrus, form her earrings and necklaces, bracelets and anklets; and a polished coil of brass wire wound round a few inches of the leg below the knee, sets off the magnificent proportions of the limb. Young girls wear long hair, and "the bold bairn takes his bow" and arrows before thinking of a waist-cloth.
The Wanika are a slave-importing people. They prefer the darker women of the south to their own wives. Children are sold, as in India, only where famine compels, and all have the usual hatred of slavemerchants. "When that enlightened Arab statesman, H. E. Ali bin Nasir, H. H. the Imaum of Muscat's Envoy Extraordinary to H. B. Majesty," was Governor of Mombas, he took advantage of a scarcity to feed the starving Wanika from the public granaries. He was careful, however, to secure as pledges of repayment the wives and children of his debtors, and he lost no time in selling off the whole number. Such a feat was probably little suspected by our countrymen, when, to honour enlightened beneficence, they welcomed the statesman with all the triumphs of Exeter Hall, presented him with costly specimens of geology and gold chronometers, entertained him at the expense of Government, and sent him from Aden to Zanzibar in the H.E.I.C.'s brig of war "Tigris." This Oriental votary of free trade came to a merited end. In 1844 he was one of the prisoners taken by Bana Mtakha, chief of Sewy, after the late Sazzid's illstarred and ill-managed force had been destroyed by the Bajuny spear. Recognised by the enraged savages, he saw his sons expire in torments
waving brands over his head, dancing with delight, and spreading the flames as much from instinct as with the object of plundering. On the other hand, he will lose his senses with grief for the death of near relations: I have seen men who have remained in this state for years. But why enlarge upon what is apparent to the most superficial observer's eye?
In the "Reise auf dem Weissen Nil," extracted from the Vicar-General, Dr Ignaz Knoblecher's Journals (p. 32), we read of the chief Nighila and his followers carrying stools of tree-stumps ornamented with glass-ware. The other approximations in character, costume, and climate, between the upper country of the White River and the coast of East Africa, are exceedingly interesting.
+ A common article of diet in East Africa. Similarly, the Lapps mix reindeer blood with milk.
he was terribly mutilated during life, and was put to death with all the refinements of cruelty. The Wanika consider service, like slavery, a dishonour; they have also some food-prejudices which render them troublesome to Europeans. The missionaries were obliged to engage Moslems as menials.
We had proposed a short excursion inland from Mombas, but everything was against its execution. The land was parched up, provisions were unprocurable, and neither guides nor porters would face the plundering parties then near the town. Indeed, it is to be feared that the entrance to Chhaga, Kilimanjaro, and the hill-country, will be closed to travellers for many years. Such is the normal state of East Africa. The explorer can never be sure of finding a particular road practicable: a few murders will shut it for an age, and stop him at the very threshold of ingress. On the other hand, the merchant always commands an entrance for his goods: if one be blocked up, another forthwith opens. But last year the north-western province of Ukambany, called Kikuyu, first visited by the enterprising Dr Krapf at the imminent risk of life, began commercial intercourse with Mombas. The ground is reached after fourteen long stages, and the route bids fair to become a highway into Intertropical Africa. But let not geographers indulge in golden visions of the future! Some day the Arabs of Mombas will seize and sell a caravan, or the fierce Gallas will prevail against it. Briefly, no spirit of prophecy is needed to predict that the Kikuyu line will share the fate of many others. But a few years ago the Wakuafy were the terror of this part of Africa; they have now been almost exterminated by a tribe
of congeners speaking the same dialect, the Masai. The habitat of this grim race is the grassy and temperate region westward of Chhaga: nomades, but without horses, they roam over the country foraging their camels and herds, without, it is said, building huts, and halting where water and green meat abound. They are described as a fine, tall, and dark nation, like the Somal, with a fearful appearance, caused by their nodding plumes, their pavoises or shields long as those of Kafirs, their fatal knob-sticks, and glittering spears of shovel-breadth, made of the excellent charcoal-smelted ore of the interior. Their rude and abrupt manners terrify Sawahili strangers; they will snatch a cloth from the traveller's body, and, to test his courage, bend a bow with an arrowhead touching his limbs: life is valueless amongst them, and arms are the sole protection. When in peaceful mood, they are visited by traders from Mombas, Wasin, Tanga, and Pangany. This year, however, even those who went up from the southern points feared to pass the frontier. Cattle is the end and aim of their forays: all herds, they say, are theirs by the gift of their god and by right of strength-in fact, no other nation should dare to claim possession of a cow. They never attack, I am told, by night, like other Africans, disdain the name of robbers, and delay near the place plundered, dancing, singing, and gorging beef, to offer the enemy his revenge. They fear the gun because it pierces their shields, and, though rough in demeanour, they are not, according to travellers, inhospitable. Until this year they have shunned meeting Moslems and civilised men in the field: having obtained a victory, they will, I fear, repeat the experiment.
(To be Continued.)
THORNDALE; OR, THE CONFLICT OF OPINIONS.
READER, in this age of book-making and universal reading, you have often been required to visit in imagination the Bay of Naples. Possibly you have yourself been there. If so, you know the grotto of Posilipo, and the heights above it, commanding the celebrated view of the Parthenopoeian shores. Up near the summit of that hill, a little villa appears on a solitary platform, from which the rock descends in a precipice. It is the Villa Scarpa. There it stands-so elevated, yet so secluded, and from its terrace you look sheer over the beautiful expanse of waters, with all its islands and environing mountains. A colonnade fringes with shade the basement story of the villa; up these pillars clamber roses and myrtle, and in the interspaces appear vases and statues. You are within an hour's walk of the noisy swarming population of Naples; but here, on these heights, is perfect stillness, with perfect beauty. To the left are Vesuvius and Sorrento, to the right the shores of Baiæ,-while in front spreads the Bay, with the islands of Capri and Ischia in the distance, breaking and relieving the wide expanse and deep azure of the sea. How happy, you say, the tenant of that villa! How matchless the prospect for ever open to his eye, like a glorious silent picture! Picture! is it not rather the living Spirit of the Universe manifesting itself in glowing vision to the sight and soul of man?
Down in the city, thousands of lazzaroni are jostling and chattering in the noisy streets, or lie sunning themselves on door-steps and the beach, almost too lazy to eat their bit of bread and water-melon. Idlest of the idle, emptiest of the empty,-men in whom sense of duty and aspirations after happiness can reach no higher ideal of life than the dolce-farniente! Are these the tenants of this paradise? Can man indeed be so degraded where nature is so beautiful? Alas! it is so: Nature at times
deals hardly with the beautiful by wedding it to the mean, that the latter be not quite despised. But turn from those chattering multitudes, in whom the soul of the ape seems to animate the frame of man,-turn from this mere outside of humanity, and we will show you, close by, a being so different from these that he might well be the denizen of another planet. Come with us up to the Villa Scarpa. Push open the gate, and amid the odour and glow of flowers around, and with that glorious vision of the Bay beneath, let us advance along the terrace to the house. In the shady recess of the colonnade a slight tall figure stands leaning against a pillar, gazing quietly and fixedly upon the lovely view, now glowing in the full light of the sun. It is Charles Thorndale. Ere we interrupt his musing, you mark his pallid cheek; and as he turns to greet us, you are struck by his beaming eye. It is not an eye that looks through you,—it rather seems to be looking out beyond you: you are the half-forgotten centre round which the eddying stream of his thoughts is playing,and you stand amid his gaze like some islet in a river encircled on all sides by the silent sparkling flood. His air is half shy and retiring,—but seclusion has wrought no embitterment of temper, for his quiet face is full of kindness and gentleness. Yet there is a double weight upon him. Languid health pervades his whole air, and he has another burden also to bear. A cold shadow of melancholy hangs over him; and on his brow you see the clouding of that noble sorrow which falls at times on every sincere inquirer who finds himself baffled in his search for truth. With the strong, the busy, and the healthy that sorrow does not settleit but touches the spirit with its raven wing, and passes by. The very cares of business or duties of domestic life, not less than the electric touch of active human joys, ordinarily pre
Thorndale; or, The Conflict of Opinions. By WILLIAM SMITH, Author of " Athelwold, a Drama ;" "A Discourse on Ethics," &c. 1857.
vent the noble search for truth from "God-Immortality-Progress, these permanently overcasting the soul are my three watchwords; these are with that indefinable melancholy. the three great faiths which I deBut poor Thorndale! what has he to sire to keep steadily before my mind. dislodge it? He has no personal ambi- Much still remains obscure to me, tion, no domestic bonds, no duties, and would remain obscure were I to no cares. Life has no interest for live to the age of Methuselah, as to him-now at least-if philosophy can the precise conception we can permit yield no truth. No wonder, then, ourselves to form of God,-as to the that that kindly, pallid, lustrous face nature of our life Immortal, as to is burdened with sadness. the degree and description of Progress which man is destined to achieve on earth. But I can say and am happy in saying it—that these three faiths are mine.'
It was during a Continental tour, made when he was in perfect health, that Thorndale had first seen and been charmed with the exquisite retreat in which we find him. He was
not long to enjoy it now. So far as relates to life on earth, he is a doomed man. The pulmonary disease which was his excuse, rather than his motive, for quitting England, was of too decided a character to be checked by a change of climate. This he knew he allowed others to talk of the medicinal virtues of the air of Italy, he thought only of his beautiful solitude on Mount Posilipo. He wished to be alone, and "look his last" here. The habit of the pen, too, clung to him to the end; and in the little time left, he felt there was so much to think of-a whole world of thoughts still to be put in order, and all the fruitless fascinating speculations of philosophy to be reviewed once more, before they were parted with for ever. He is at Naples, the Elysian fields of the scholar and archæologist, but you will hear no mere scholarly talk upon petrified trifles of the past from him. Themes of the dilettanti ! how small you look in the light of everlasting truth, or when man is face to face with eternity!
"I am here upon classic ground," he says "surrounded, as they say, by classical associations ;-a Sybil's cave-the tomb of Virgil-the baths of one Emperor, the palace of another. Very slight and transitory, and mere affairs of yesterday, seem these grave antiquities to me. Such classical associations have ceased to affect me; they have fallen off from the scene. I see only this beautiful nature,-I meditate only upon man. Rome and the Cæsars are a little matter: God, Nature, and Humanity on these I think incessantly." Again he speaks:
He does not tell you this as you stand with him under the colonnade of the Villa. Musing and reserved, he does not speak on such themes, save to the rare few-the two or three
who enjoy his confidence. We are reading from a large solid note-book which lies on a table in the room within, close to the open window. Seen from that shaded recess, the panorama without presents quite a magical effect: the bay, with all its waters, islands, and mountain-shores, seems no longer to rest upon the earth at all, but to be lifted up and poised like the clouds, midway to heaven - rather itself a veritable heaven. And there Thorndale used to sit, admiring "that beautiful nature," and noting down, in disjointed fragments, those thoughts upon man, and souvenirs of his own life, which came back upon him most vividly when life itself was waning. Do not think he was all sad as he sat there. His burden of melancholy, indeed, was too great, but in essence it was divine. Let those secret pages tell how the hours passed with him :
"I cannot describe (he writes) that mysterious tremulous calm with which I look out upon this expanse of sun-lit waters,-tremulous they also with light, as I with feeling. Here, as I sit at the open window, with this beautiful bay outstretched before me, the mind is stirred as with the music of unutterable thoughts. Happy memories, and every sweet emotion I have known, come back and crowd around me. Once more! once more look too on me, and on me!' each thought seems to utter as it passes.. Why should I wish to live? Have I