Obrazy na stronie
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took some sand, tossed it about, and made several scrawls with it upon a board. At length he bid them look for a tree that was perfectly upright, and after that for a black and baldfaced cow, which being found, and brought to the tree, was killed; then the umossee took some of the blood with his hand, smeared the tree, and invoked not only the demons, but the spirits of deaan Trongha's forefathers; calling on them all to arise and hear what he had to say; which was to this effect That their grandson, deaan Trongha, was going to war against their most implacable enemy, the king of Mer faughla. In the next place, he ordered two men of equal strength to cut the tree down with hatchets, one to the northward, and the other to the southward, and to give stroke for stroke with each other; saying if the tree fell toward the former, bad success would attend their enterprise. Those of the vulgar sort who were then present, stood gaping to swallow, as it were, every divine word, that came out of the mouth of this wonderworking prophet. How the mistake happened, I can not say, but the tree fell to the northward, though it was beyond all doubt intended to fall the other way; for when deaan Trongha perceived it, let us cut up the beef (said he) with a smile, and be merry; that is the best part of the ceremony. We forgot to observe, that what little wind there was, was to the southward. We should have chosen a more proper time. He strictly enjoined, however, all present to say nothing at home to the women of what had passed : so we told them at our return that the tree fell to the southward ; in order that they should tell their husbands the same story.

This conduct of deaan Trongha's confirmed me in a suspicion, which I had entertained for some time, which was this: that some of these lords, who are men of sense, keep one of these umossees with a political view, and only to amuse the ignorant populace; who here, as well as in other parts, must be cajoled in their superstitious notions, and allured by such artifices as political governors know how to practise to advantage ; though they themselves regard but little what their conjurors say, of their talking with, and having familiar converse with the demigods and spirits

Here now was a seeming ill omen, and too many of the vulgar' sort had seen it, to be trusted with the secret; for which reason an expedient must be found out to avert and disannul it. The demons must be con. sulted and addressed a second time, to procure their favour and protection; so away goes the umossee, invoking again and again, and conjuring till he conjured me into the wars. A bird, called tuluho, which is something like our pheasant, but smaller, and very scarce to be found, must be caught dead or alive; then a seacrab, and a variety of other things, which he particularly named. These he blended all together, muttering incantations all the time. Then he bound them up in a clout, which was afterwards fixed on the top of a stick about the length and bigness of a walking-cane. This was a charm which was to prove destructive to the enemy. This he called the elodge; and this was to be carried in solemnity before the army. But who should be a proper person to be the bearer was the next question ; and the demons were to be again consulted on this important part of the affair; who were pleased to reveal to him, or (which is all the same thing to stupid bigots, who implicitly rely on whatever he shall say) that no one was qualified to carry this charm, but he who had no relations living on this island. Now from my former observations, I used frequently to contemn these umossees, and smile at their conjurations ; and after this hint, I need not, I presume, urge many words to demonstrate from whence his pretended revelation came, though he was pleased to father it on the demons, or demigods; or whatever other name we English may call them. For, to do the man justice, he had not the impiety or assurance to introduce deaan Unghorray, or the Supreme God, into any part of this religious farce.

“Upon this declaration of his," said deaan Trongha, in my absence, “ where shall we find a man without some relations !" “ That,” says he, “I cannot tell, but this is the mind of the demons, and they would never direct it, were there no such man to be found; you must therefore recollect yourself. Now I think of it,” says he,“ there is your white man Robin is the only man, I dare say, who is qualified for that important office;" “ but then,” said deaan Trongha, “notwithstanding he may be such a man, yet it is not proper for him to go, besides I have given him my word he shall not go against his inclination.” “Why then,” said the umossee, you must find out some other person more proper if you can.” Having done his business away he went, leaving the deaan in no small perplexity, who was a man of strict honour and a punctual observer of his word. Whereupon he sent for me, and told me, it was in my power to be very serviceable to the whole country, but more especially to himself, and that I should be gratefully rewarded for my compliance with his request; but he insisted first on my promise. “If it be not to kill a man,” said I, “ I should be proud of an opportunity to oblige you.” He then told me ingenuously the whole story, and that it could not possibly be helped, or else he would not have asked it of me. I paused a while, but upon a short recollection, said, all I feared was what I told him before; but since there was an absolute necessity for it, I should readily acquiesce.“ Hereupon,” said he, “I will protect you, and take as much care of your life and health as of my own.” And immediately ordered a slave to attend me, and all things necessary to be got ready for me.

I was to carry this charm, called the elodge, in my left hand, at about three or four stones cast distant from the army, during their march, and at night pitch it at the same distance from the camp, pointing it toward the enemy's country, then wash myself and mix among the crowd wherever I pleased. This was to be done till we should have an engagement with Woozington's army; I was to have ten beeves and two slaves for my trouble. The vulgar imagine that this charm has a poisonous quality, and that was the reason I was to wash before I came

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of them; but deaan Trongha told me privately, that he knew well enough I did not think it any way pernicious. “ No sir,” said I,“ I am very well assured there is neither harm nor good in it, and they shall see me lick it before their faces if they please, which none of them would venture to do for a hundred oxen. never think,” said I,“ that you yourself have that confidence in it, as you tell them, but you see the ill consequence of making use of these conjurors; for the common people are so strongly persuaded of their power over them by these charms, that were your own life to be in danger, you must do what this imaginary prophet says his demigods direct, though you were to carry this yourself.”

“What

you say," said he,“ is very true, and were I to refuse to let you carry it, they would refuse to march; or if they did, would charge me with every miscarriage consequent upon it.” “ Yes sir," said I, « but there is still a farther danger, for had the umossee but courage and cunning enough, you have put it in his power to make even yourself subservient to his directions; under the pretence of their being the orders of the demons. And it is but his saying his demons or spirits have ordered such or such a thing to be done, though it be even against yourself, they durst not disobey his orders ; for he has them all at his beck, if he did but know it.” And here I cannot but reflect, that not only Madagascar, and other heathenish couptries are possessed with this vice of superstition; but even christian nations have been, and are yet too much tainted with it: of this and its mischievous consequences, there have been many flagrant instances.

Soon after we marched out of town, I had a slave, like other great men, to carry my mat and provision for me, and was furnished with every thing I could reasonably desire. Now came the umossee, and put the elodge into my left hand, and I marched in state before them. The next day we joined Rer Befaugher, and two days after that, Rer Mundrosser ; James, the son of Efflep, and his man Toby, were both in the army, so that we had good company every evening,

soon as I had fixed my elodge and washed myself. We passed the great river Oneghaloyhe, wading through a ford, which lay a great way higher than where I passed it before. Here our people stocked themselves with beef; for we frequently halted at noon, on purpose to give them time to hunt Hattoy's cattle.

When I came to the river where several alligators lay, though I had my firebrand in my hand, yet I would not venture to pass over by myself. Then the umossee came up to me and said, I need not be afraid, for whilst I carried the elodge, the demons would protect me from all harm. I laughed at him and told him, “ I was well assured he did not imagine that I gave any credit to his assertion, neither have you any such notion of its power; but if you have, do you carry it over here, and either go with me or before me.” However, though he had more wit, I forced him to fetch two guns, that I might discharge them into the water to make the alligators retreat; and then I went over. We saw several people who belonged to two petty princes not far off, and were hunting here for their diversion; as they were not enemies, our people had abundance of discourse with them. Though we passed through a very mountainous wilderness, yet we lay but two nights in it, for they knew a much nearer way than I did when I came alone. When I saw Vohitchfutey, I returned in a very melancholy mood into the camp; insomuch that deaan Trongha took notice of it, and asked me, what I ailed ? I told him, we were now drawing near to Anterndroea, which had been a scene of misery to me, and I had terrible apprehensions of deaan Mevarrow. But he cheered me up, and said, they durst not venture to injure me, and he was very well assured that they would not attempt it, as well out of fear, as out of respect to him.

The next day we arrived at Madamvovo, the river at which I used to water my cattle, when in deaan Murnanzack's country. This was ordered to be the place of rendezvous, and deaan Murnanzack with his brethren, and their forces all met here. Deaan Afferrer

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