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their money and effects are loft, they stake country is founded upon no other princitheir wives, whom they account as their ples, than those of interest and superftiNaves, and therefore have a power to sell tion. In the latter, they exceed all other their children likewise; nay sometimes nations : “For allowing (says he) the anthemselves. So many disorders resulted cient heathens to value themselves upon from this mad passion, that a late king pro- thirty thousand deities; I dare venture to hibited all games of hazard, on pain of affirm, that the natives of Whidah may death. Unhappily, this law died with its lay just claim to four times that number." author, and gaming is now as fashionable However, he believes they have a faint and pernicious as ever. Their music is idea of the one true God, to whom they by no means despicable. They have one attribute omnipotence and ubiquity. instrument, resembling a harp, very agree. They believe a Being exists, the Creator of able. They play on it with great dexteri the universe ; but they neither pray, nor ty, and accompanying it with a sweet facrifice to this Being. He is (say they) voice, dance to the sounds in exact time, too highly exalted to take any concern with a pretty air and manner. They about them; and the government of the have likewise a kind of kettle drum world he leaves to the fetiches. To there, and trumpet, which they use in war; be as the mediators between God and them, fides Autes, and several wind instruments. they apply themselves. On a negroe being No other countries on the coast can boast asked how they performed their divine of such good music.
worship, and what number of gods they This country has its peculiar diseases, might have, he smiling, replied, the quera as well as its games and pleasures. The tion greatly perplexed him. “ Their air is bad, and fevers are frequent. These number (said he) is infinite : when we often prove fatal to the Europeans : dysen- undertake any thing arduous and importeries are likewise common. The natives tant, we first look out for a fit deity (a are diligent in the ure of medicines, and fetiche) to prosper the enterprize. Going offerings to their gods, for the recovery of out of doors with this view, we take the the sick. So fearful are they of death, first creature that presents itself, whether that they cannot support the sound of the dog, cat, or the lowest reptile, for a god; word, without visible emotion; and it is nay often a stone, tree, or the like. To death to pronounce it upon any occasion this we present an offering, accompanied before the king. Borman relates, that on with a solemn vow, that if the god will his first voyage to this country, he waited favour our designs, we will henceforward before his departure on the king, who worship him. If, accordingly, we succeed, owed him an hundred pounds. At tak- we attribute it to the influence of this new ing leave, he asked the monarch who Tould chosen deity, and pay our vow religiously; pay him at his return, in care he died ? if, on the contrary, we are disappointed, All the by-standers were shocked at the the god is rejected, and his worship nequestion ; (which it must be owned, car. glected. Thus we make and unmake our ried with it true Dutch bluntness) but the gods; we are their master's and servants ; king, who spoke a little Portuguese, told their number depends on our fortune, and him, “Not to give himself any concern perhaps their worship to our folly." The about that, for he should always live." just manner of thinking in this negroe The Dutchman perceived his error, took was owing to his having conversed much his leave abruptly, and departed. On his with the French, whose language he spoke return, he so frequently rallied them on perfe@ly. their weak fears, that in time the word But the chief fetiche is the snake, who grew familiar to the better fort; and the has here such extraordinary honours conking, who was a jovial fellow, at last re- ferred upon him, as cannot but raise our peated it as frequently as any of them. astonishment. They invoke this wretched But the people of meaner rank retained reptile on every occasion, when they stand their old apprehensions, which nothing in need of a divine affistance. They could remove. In general, the most vio. make the richest offerings to it; money, lent prejudices accompany the blindeft ig. filks, stuffs, live cattle, European as well norance,
as African commodities, with elegant en. As to religion, the last mentioned au- tertainments of all kinds, and the best and thor is of opinion, that the piety of this choicest food that can be procured. There
gifts are made by the people at the insti- this temple is the great and chief snake, gation of the priests, who keep them in which the negroes are so credulous as to the profoundest ignorance, and convert believe, is the very fame that was placed that ignorance to their own advantage, there from the beginning, when they first by these enormous impofitions. The had the happiness of being enlightened king himself is deceived as much as bis with the knowledge of this worship: ro people. He continually is offering to the of course, we may suppose, they think he temple of the snake the most valuable will never die. The priests will take care things. He is spurred on by the advice of they shall never know of its death, and his courtiers, who set before him the iin- will always have another ready to supply poflibility of gaining victories over his ene. its place. Although this chieftain-snake mies, or of enjoying his crown in peace, is the most honoured, yet all the rest are unless the divine being is first satished by likewise worshipped, fed, and fondled, No the homage paid to his servant the snake; insult or injury dare be committed to any and they never fail with the priests to of them by a native, on pain of death; Thare the booty.
and if an European should be so hardy as The origin of the worship of this snake, to pass an affront on the deity, he would the negroes affirm to be very ancient ; and not fail suffering from its votaries. Of it really appears to be so. Let the rise this the English had a tragical instance: for of it be when it would, we may take it for on their first settling in Whidah, the capgranted, it was in times of the darkest stu- tain having unthipped his goods on the pidity, and has been kept up, as it very shore, the failors found at night a snake likely was first instituted, by the cunning in their magazine, which they ignorantly artifices of those who have known how killed, and threw upon the bank, little to profit by it. The kings of Whidah dreaming of any bad consequences. The used formerly to make annual processions negroes foon discovered the sacrilege, and to the snake temple. These were cele- had it confirmed by the acknowledgment brated with great magnificence, and ter- of the English. Shocked at such horrid imminated with rich offerings. Presents of piety, they were not long in avenging it, great value were not only made to the by a method no less horrible. All the indeity and his priests, but to the nobi- habitants of the province assembled, attacklity that affifted at the solemnity. The ed the English, mafsacred them all to a man, present king has' with difficulty broke and then consumed their bodies and goods through the custom of making this pro- in the fire they had set to the warehouse. ceffion; and indeed seems tired of offe- Animals of all kinds are punithed with rings attended with so great an expence, death, for injuring a snake. In 1697, a and so little advantage. This, Bosman hog that had been teazed by one of them, says, he had an opportunity once of ob- gnashed and devoured it with its teeth : serving. Finding him one day in a violent whereupon all the hogs in the kingdom rage, he took the liberty of enquiring into were ordered to be Nain, and the order the occasion of bis majesty's passion. He was immediately put in execution; till frankly replied, he had this year sent much after some thousands had expiated by their richer offerings than usual to the snake, in death, the affront offered to the deity, the hopes of obtaining a good harvest : that king interposed, and a stop was put to the his viceroys urged him to make farther of- Naughter. With this care and attendance, ferings, and the priests threatened him these ridiculous deities multiply so faft, with a barren year, if he refused to com- that the kingdom swarms with them. ply. “However, says he, I have no in. They are a perfect nuisance from their tention of doing it: for if the snake will number and familiarity, and crawl about not grant a good year, he may let it alone: the houses so as to become very inconvehe will suffer with me. He cannot hurt nient: yet no one dares didodge them or me more than he has done, by emptying turn them out. These are very large and my coffers, and yet letting my corn rot." long, perfectly tame, and no ways mil
There is a very large temple erec. chievous or hurtful, unless provoked ; and ted for the residence of this deity; they are sure to receive no affronts in Whia revenue appointed for its support; dah. It must also be acknowledged, that priests and pontiffs to attend it. In they are of some service : for they have a
particular particular enmity to all venomous ferpents, of its divinity; and therefore it highly whom they always attack, and most times behoves the priests to keep them up to kill.
this belief. Besides, next to the diety himThe highest mark of superstition, igno- self, they reverence his ministers; and as rance, and most amazing credulity in the they suppose them acquainted with all his people, is their suffering themselves to be mysteries, it would be the highest impiety so grossly imposed upon by the priests, in to doubt the veracity of what they declare Jegard to offering virgins to this snake. to be true. The priests and priestesses are These facerdotal knaves apply to young so much respected, that their very office is girls, and tell them that the snake has a a protection for all crimes. Their power mind for them, and therefore they intreat is exorbitant, their riches are immense, them voluntarily to go to him, offering and their villainy and extortion intolerable: them liberal promises; and if these fail, Some of the nobility look upon them as using many menaces, and denouncing ter- impostors; but were they to disclose the rible execrations if they refuse to comply. least hint of such a thought, poison would After they have persuaded the girl into be the consequence. If we have a view their opinion, they order her to embrace to the dark ages of Christianity, and to the the opportunity at night, when the way is priests among all these ignorant nations ; clear, then they immediately fall a scream- we mall think Butler did not much exceed ing and howling, as if the snake had laid the truth, when he said, hold of her, and was carrying her off, They then administer a potion, which The priests of all religions are, presently renders her delirious; and this is And will be still the same; believed to be the effect of the snake's And all, tho' in a different way, having taken her. She then is carried by Are playing the same game. the priests to the hospital, provided on
Vicar of Bray. purpose for these occasions, to be cured. Their parents pay an extravagant price Amidst all this absurdity the negroes have for their board and maintenance, and for some glimerings of truth, at least the most the medicines applied to her, besides fees sensible among them. For they believe the for the house. All this goes into the · superior great, all-wise, and invisible deity pockers of the priests; and this is the end punishes vice, and rewards virtue ; that and intention of the scheme. The infiu- he causes the heavens to thunder, the ence these villains gain over the under- clouds to rain, the sky to lighten, and standing is amazing. By the time the the sun to shine : that his refidence is in girl obtains her liberty, she seems almost the heavens, whence with infinite justice persuaded of the reality of the cheat con- and goodness, by means of the inferior trived by the priests, and convinced that deities, the snake and other fetiches, he her brain had been actually disordered, governs the world. They have confused and her person seized by the snake. Hownotions of hell, the devil, and departed ever, to secure them against revealing the spirits. The former they call a subterfraud, the priest never fails to threaten raneous abode, where the wicked are them with the most signal vengeance, if punished by fire ; and this opinion has they ever harbour such suspicions, or re- been confirmed amongst them by the arveal any doubts upon the matter. They rival of a sorcerer, (probably a missionary) have been known to execute their me. who pretended to have come from thence. naces; and women who have blabbed There, he affirmed, he saw several persons the secret, have next day been found bu. of the court, particularly the late prime ried alive. All these particulars might minister. Itartle our belief, were they not attested We conclude with a short description by writers of undeniable credit. Neither of the country of Whidah. All Europe. will it appear strange that those who can ans speak of it with rapture, and extol it believe a reptile, or any other inanimate as the most beautiful in the world. The as well as animate thing to be a God, trees are strait, tall, and dispersed in the can have the reason to stop there, and not molt regular order, which present to the as well credit the power of that God. On eye fine long groves and avenues, clear of the contrary, they chink this a plain proof all brushwood and weeds. The verdure