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1856.]

THE KARENS.

139

Not as a child shall we again behold her;

For when with raptures wild
In our embraces we again enfold her

She will not be a child;
But a fair maiden, in her Father's mansion,

Clothed with celestial grace,
And beautiful with all the soul's expansion

Shall we behold her face.
And though at times, impetuous with emotion

And anguish long suppressed,
The swelling heart heaves, moaning like the ocean

That cannot be at rest-
We will be patient, and assuage the feeling

We cannot wholly stay,
By silence sanctifying, not concealing,
The grief that must have way.

LONGFELLOW.

THE KARENS. Our readers, we hope, have been interested in the notices we have introduced of Sau Quala, the Karen pastor. At present we have nothing to add with reference to him, but of his people, the Karens, much may be said. Their traditions, which are numerous, are of a curious and interesting character. They say, for instance, that the country which they now occupy is not their own, and that they came from the North, where they were independent of the Burmese and Siamese. On the banks of the Sitang, a river which flows into the sea, between the Salwen and the Irrawaddy, about 200 miles from its mouth, stands a city called Toungoo. That had once been their city and country, and from thence came all the Karens of Siam, Burmah, and Pegu. But even this appears to have been only the first place at which they settled on their arrival in further India, and their tradition points to some far more remote place than this as their original home. They speak of “the river of running sand, over which their ancestors crossed as they were advance ing, a fearful trackless region, where the sands rolled before the winds like the waves of the sea.” Our readers may compare with this the description given by the travellers Huc and Gabet, of the frightful deserts of Thibet, lying between the Blue Lake and Lassa. “Immediately after crossing the river of Tsaidam we found the aspect of the country totally changed. Nature becomes all of a sudden savage and sad: the soil, arid and stony, produces with difficulty a few dry saltpetrous bushes.” The passage of Bourhan-Bota mountain, remarkable for its pestilential vapours, is thus described—“Every body measured with his eyes the steep and rugged paths of the lofty ascent, gazed with anxiety at a light, thin vapour, which we were told was the pestilential vapour in question ... . Before long, the horses refused to carry their riders, and all, men as well as animals, advanced on foot, and step by step. By degrees our faces grew pale, our hearts sick, and our legs incapable of supporting us: we threw ourselves on the ground, then rose again to make another effort, then once more prostrated ourselves, and again rose to stumble on some paces further. In this deplorable fashion was it that we ascended the famous Bourhan-Bota.” Further on, passing

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THE LAND OF THE CHAGALELEGAT.

(DEC. another mountain, they say, "Almost immediately after attaining the summit, the sky became thickly overcast with clouds, and the wind began to blow with a violence which grew constantly more and more intense. The opposite sides of the mountain we found so encumbered with snow, that the animals were up to their girths in it: they could only advance by a series of convulsive efforts, which threw several of them into gulfs from which it was impossible to extricate them, and where they accordingly perished. We inarched in the very teeth of a wind so strong and so icy that it absolutely at times choked our respiration, and, despite our thick furs, made us tremble, lest we should be killed with cold." Similar difficulties lie between Lassa and the Western provinces of China.

All this is interesting; but the scriptural character of the traditions of the Karens is still more so. They say they were dispersed because they lost their faith in God and their love to each other, and that their language became confused in their dispersion. Their tradition of the fall of man is very singular, from its close resemblance to the Bible statement. We insert a fragment of itA yellow fruit took the great dragon, and gave to the children of God. A white fruit took the great dragon, and gave to the daughter and son of God. They transgressed the commandments of God, and God turned His face from

them; They kept not all the words of God-were deceived, deceived unto sickness: They kept not all the law of God-were deceived, deceived unto death.

It is difficult to conceive that these ideas could have been derived from any other source than the Old-Testament writings. The Karens themselves say they were obtained from their ancient books of skin, which taught morals, while the palm-leaf books treat only of wonders, i.e. fables. In this persuasion, that they once had books, the Karens are very decided : they say that they did not take care of their books, and that, when they lost their books, they lost the knowledge of God. It is strange, that, in connexion with this, the idea has prevailed amongst them that the knowledge of God would be restored to them through the instrumentality of white foreigners—“Look toward the ocean. The great bird shall ascend, and spread forth its white wings. This is the white foreigners, bringing you the words of the eternal God.

In another Number we shall describe Toungoo, which, since the termination of the last Burmese war, has become a Missionary station.

THE LAND OF THE CHAGALELEGAT. Off the west coast of Sumatra rise out of the ocean three hilly masses, called the Mantawe Islands, the channel between them and the mainland being some eighty miles across. Their place on the world's map is thus marked from 1° to 3° 40' S. lat., and 98° 30' to 100' E. long. Our readers, if they please, may look them out, and place their finger on the spot. Why do we select them as a subject? To remind our readers that there are places we have never heard of, which are, nevertheless, the homes of our fellow-men, who are living and dying without God. The northern, and largest island, Si-Berut, is seventy-two miles long and fourteen broad. The middle one, Si-Kobo, separated from the norihern by a strait about twenty-five miles broad, dotted with isles, is thirty-four miles long by ten broad; and the southern, Si-Galagan, 141

1856.7 THE LAND OF THE CHAGALELEGAT. fifteen miles distant from the central one, about forty-four miles by seven.

Along their whole length the islands are intersected by ranges of hills, the highest summits of which do not rise above 500 feet. These hill ranges are covered to their summits with trees, and the whole land, as viewed from the sea, appears a dense and continuous forest, almost impervious, and consisting of a great variety of trees and underwood, more or less matted by hanging and trailing plants. Some of the timber trees on the richer soil of the hills attain a great size. There is the Bintangur, large enough for the lowest mast of a first-rate man-of-war. Casuarinas grow along the shore, in long and regular rows, to the height of 100 or 150 feet. There are several species of the fig and the wild nutmeg ; but more prized by the inhabitants are the abundant natural groves of cocoanut and the sago palms. The plantain, bambú, &c., are also common.

The large wild beasts of Sumatra are unknown in these islands; but monkeys and Sumatran deer abound. The Indian crocodile inhabits most of the rivers ; and various kinds of zoophytes in the scas around are busily engaged in raising new islands to the surface. So long as the reefs remain beneath the surface, the water on them is remarkably clear and transparent; and, like a transparent wood, are seen the different corals, decked with brilliant colours, with beautifully coloured fishes moving amongst them in all directions. In dark nights these animals appear to be surrounded by light, and the water is full of small shining specks, like stars on a dark blue field.

The people who inhabit these islands are the Chagalelegat, a rude, simple, sequestered race, who are not found beyond the limits of these three islands, which are their home. The races contiguous to these are the Niba, in islands to the north, the Malayan tribes, and Battas, on the Sumatran shore; but with none have they any dealings, the Malays excepted, who visit them for timber and traffic. The numerous foreign traders who resort to the western shores of Sumatra, have not been attracted to these islands. The Chagalelegat, or Mantaweans, are about 11,000 in number, of middle size, well made, and very muscular. Some are remarkably handsome, with finely-moulded limbs. The nose is more or less flat; the mouth projecting, but not in the same degree as with the Malays; the eyes large and bright; the eyebrows thin, and only slightly curved; the hair fine, lank, and jet black; and the colour of the skin yellowish brown, with a ruddy tinge. They are robust, athletic, active, and expert in all bodily exercises incidental to their mode of life. Their ordinary occupations consist in hunting and fishing, the extraction and washing of the sago meal, the preparation of bark cloth, the collection of wood, oil, timber, rattans, wild fruits, and other forest produce. The house and garden once made, their highest industry and skill are employed in the fabrication of canoes, weapons, and implements for kiillng and snaring game and fish. In carving implements in wood, and in plaiting grass, rattans, &c., they show considerable ingenuity. Their houses are of two kinds -large ones, in which thirty or forty families live together, and small ones, adapted for one only. The former, which are always the property of a chief, have a length of 180 to 200 feet, and a breadth of 30 or 40 feet. The whole is, as it were, a colossal roof, covered with the leaves of the sago, having arched side walls; 142

THE LAND OF THE CHAGALELEGAT. [DEC. the doors being openings in the roof about three feet high. They are always built along the bank of a navigable creek or river, and, on account of the marshy ground, are raised on posts ten feet high. Long platforms erected alongside give entrance to the interior, and reach, by steps, to the bank of the river. There is one large apartment for common use, and a narrow passage from this leads through the middle of the house: on either side of which small pens, disposed in great number, serve as the sleeping and cooking places of the different families.

Dwelling by the water-side, they spend a great part of the day on the water, from which they draw a large portion of their subsistence. Their canoes, hollowed out of the stem of a thick tree by a common chopping knife and chisel, are of different lengths, from twelve to fiftysix feet. The largest, which are covered, have one or two masts, to which palm-leaf sails are fastened, and can carry forty persons. Children nine or ten years old have their small sampans, in which they venture fearlessly into the midst of the breakers. Rowing is performed by men and women with equal dexterity, and in a kneeling postore.

Like the Polynesian islanders, their dress and adornment consist of bark, leaves, and tattooing. The tattooing, which is performed with a copper or iron needle, is a painful operation. Their clothing consists of prepared bark, coloured yellow with turmeric. For protection against sun and rain they wear a hat made of the outer bark of the sago palm, light, but of formidable size, with a very broad brim, and running to a point. Both sexes are fond of adorning the hair, forehead, and ears, with flowers and leaves, while around the throat and arms are disposed various kinds of small chain and bands. They prefer corals of a dull blue colour, which the women hang from their necks to the weight of six or eight pounds. Copper rings are also worn all along the fore arm by the women, and by the men on the upper arm. The waist is also ornamented with different kinds of bands. Both in their persons and houses they are very uncleanly.

Their weapons are bow and arrow, spears, short swords, daggers, and shields : firearms they have none. The blades of the swords and spears, &c., are brought over from Sumatra in a roughly wrought state, and they bestow much labour on polishing and sharpening them. The point of the arrow is always smeared with poison.

They believe in a great number of malevolent spirits, who dwell everywhere-in the forests and caves, in the air, in the waters, and below the ground. Thunder and lightning, heavy winds and rains, conflagrations, inundations, and earthquakes, are supposed to be caused by these demons. These poor people are under continual fear, and in various ways endeavour to ward the evil influences which they consider to be so thickly around them. They never undertake any thing of importance without first consulting a kind of oracle, which consists in killing a fowl and cutting out the stomach from which the chief divines. Should a snake creep along or across the path when they are engaged in dragging home a large tree, which with much labour they have felled for some necessary purpose, they immediately abandon it where it lies. They have village festivals, which are held periodi. cally, or on the occurrence of any event of importance, such as the

1856.] SHALL WE GIVE, OR SHALL WE not give? 143 death of a chief, on the completion of a house, &c. They often last one or two months, the people eating to excess during the day-they have no intoxicating drinks—and dancing, singing, and talking during the night. In these festivals there is one point, which brings out the dark character of this people, and identifies the Mantawe islands as amongst the dark places of the earth which are full of the habitations of cruelty. To bring the feast to a proper conclusion, the killing of one or more men is thought necessary. Hence their murder voyages. The largest canoe of the village is fitted out for a distant voyage, and manned with a crew often amounting to one hundred. The people of the southern islands steer to the northern ones, and of the northern to the southward. Hence the bitter hatred which the inhabitants of different parts of these islands bear to each other. When they reach their destination, the canoe is anchored by heavy stones. The crew land, and conceal themselves in the forest, and shoot down the first persons they can surprise. Having effected their purpose, they put to sea as quickly as possible.

Here is sequestered man. He is not corrupted by communication with other nations. He is left to the development of his own natural tendencies. Is he virtuous, innocent, inoffensive? or is the Scripture true—“living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another ?" The poison of sin is rankling in their hearts. When shall they have the antidote?

SHALL WE GIVE, OR SHALL WE NOT GIVE ? Giving is the law of the universe. To cease giving is almost to cease being. The apparent exception in the system-accumulationis only a process preparatory to inore abundant and more useful giving. The sun gives light and heat to the globe; gives life, vigour, health, joy, beauty, to the whole planetary system. The clouds give rain in due season, and in the frosty nights of autumn they give a warm covering to the earth. The ocean gives moisture to the air, a path for our ships, fish for our tables, salt for our daily wants. The forest gives timber for our buildings, fuel for our fires, furniture for our houses, ships for our commerce, homes for birds and beasts. The air gives us the elements of life. The flowers give pleasure to a refined taste, and, by absorbing injurious gases, and emitting healthful ones, they give health to our frames.

The snow gives to the fields the fertilizing principles which it has received and brought down from the air. The fields of grain give us bread. The bowels of the earth give us precious stones and gems, yaluable metals and fuel. The dead stone walls around the fields collect from the atmosphere fertilizing qualities, and, as they are decomposed in the process of ages, give these elements again to the soil near them. Wire, properly arranged and stretched, gives music to cheer the soul, and to raise it in devotion to God. Every drop of water gives itself in its evaporation to become fructifying rain, or gentle dew, or the glorious rainbow, or the splendid array of summer clouds, or the garniture of the rising and setting sun.

God gives, and He has constituted the whole unintelligent creation to give. The bee gives his honey. The ox gives his strength and his

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