By the Abbe PROYART
Design and Division of the Work.
It is surprising enough, that though our vessels habitually frequent the coasts of Loango, Congo, and other Kingdoms in Africa, and our merchants have warehouses there, yet we know absolutely nothing of what passes in the interior of those
States, and what the people are who inhabit them. We land among them, give them european merchandise, take in slaves, and return. No one hitherto had penetrated into the country as an observer ; no one at least had remained there a sufficient time to
make such observations as might be relied on. We judge of those different people by the inhabitants along the coasts ; and because these persons, frequently imposed upon by europeans, make no scruple of imposing on them in return, we accuse the whole nation of duplicity. They fell men, - we accuse them of inhumanity. Is there, then, so much more humanity in buying them than in selling them? But we do not consider, that the men whom they sell are enemies taken in war, and whom in many cases they might have a right to put to death. We believe that the father sells his son, and the Prince his subjects ; he only who has lived among them can know that it is not even lawful for a master to sell his slave, if he be born in the country, unless he have incurred that penalty by certain crimes specified by law.
But these are not the only imputations on those people; it is pretended that they are as dissolute in their manners as they are perfidious and inhuman in the affairs of life ; and without hearing their answer to charges so grave, we proceed to arraign them, and assume conjectures and hearsay, vague and partial relations, as the proofs and testimonies.
They are at once accused, tried, and condemned. Persons who have never considered their country but from the top of the observatory, excommunicate them, with map in hand, and pronounce their regions to have fallen from all hope in the religion of
the true God. In a sentence so rigorous, founded on so frivolous an accusation, are we to recognize an age in which the dictates of reason and humanity alone are heard ?
These people have vices, - what people is exempt from vice ? But were they even more wicked and more vicious, they would be so much the more entitled to the commiseration, and good offices, of their fellowmen ; and should the missionary despair of making them Christians, men ought still to endeavor to make them men.
This office, so worthy of a true philosopher, was never discharged by any but the Christian philosopher : so true is it, that humanity as well as the other social virtues, are more the offspring of the Christian religion than of the philosophy of the day. Missionaries were they, who, notwithstanding prejudices so unfavorable to the people of whom we speak, made no hesitation in leaving their country to establish themselves among them, with the intention, if not of making them perfect, at least of improving them. In this history we shall hazard no conjecture we shall make no statement but upon irreproachable testimony. As they knew not the language of the country on their arrival, they had leisure to be observers, before they could become missionaries.
It is not to be expected that we should give a very extensive history of nations who, as yet, have neither acquired the use of letters, nor employ any substitute for them (*); so that the present work will be, not so much a recital of what has passed among them, as a portraiture of their actual condition.
* N.T. -There is substitute for letters in the Kingdom of Kakongo, known as Testos.
In this will be found the geographical situation of the places and the temperature of the climate ; the nature of the soil and its most common productions, vegetable and animal; the character of the people; their virtues and their vices; their alliances, their occupations, their Government and laws, their commerce and their wars, their language and Religion.
Of the Situation of the Country, and the Temperature of the Air.
The people of whom we treat inhabit the western coast of Africa, from the equinoctial line to the river of Zaira, the mouth of which is about six degrees of latitude South.
This extent of country is divided into several Kingdoms, the most remarkable of which is that of Loango : it commences at the village of Makanda : not at half a degree from the equator, as some travelers have stated, but about 4' 5 South latitude. It has twenty leagues of coast, and terminates at the river of Louango-Louisa, the course of which is 5' 5' of the same latitude. Bouali, the capital, commonly called Loango by the French, is situated about 4' 45'. The Kingdom of Kakongo* called by mariners Malimba, and that of N'Goio which they denominate Cabiuda, are to the South of Loango. To the north is found the Kingdom of Iomba, called by mariners and geographers Maiomba, but erroneously so, because Ma-lomba signifies King of Iomba, as Ma-Loango signifies King of Loango. Eastward of Loango are situated the Kingdoms of N'Teka, and another Kingdom of lomba, which is sometimes confounded with the former. Beyond these Kingdoms are others, unknown to us, and into which no europeans have hitherto penetrated.
* Some geographers call this Kingdom Caconda. Malimbo, is the port of Kakongo, as Cabiuda is of N'Goio. Thus, to call these Kingdoms Malimbo and Cabinda would be the same thing as if the English were to call France the kingdom of Calais, because their vessels touch at the port of that town.
As these different States are situated at no considerable distance from the equinoctial line, the days and nights are pretty nearly equal throughout the year; cold is never felt there. A naturalist in his cabinet would conclude that the heats must be excessive ; but persons on the spot find them tolerable; and it is impossible to avoid recognizing and admiring that Providence which has anticipated every thing, and which tempers and governs the great whole with wonderful economy. The year in these climates is divided into two seasons of nearly equal duration. The most agreeable and healthy commences in the month, of April, and terminates in October. During this time no rain falls; but in the night there are dews sufficiently abundant to promote the vegetation of plants. The sun, during six months of drought, would heat the earth to excess, were it not that the sky is most generally covered with vapors which intercept its rays and moderate the heats. The dry Season is not the hottest ; the summer is reckoned from the month of October to April. The heats in this period are excessive, and would be insupportable, especially to europeans, if there were nothing to mitigate their violence; but they are accompanied with abundant and almost continual rains, which refresh the atmosphere; they are all stormy rains, and few days pass in which thunder is not heard.
These rains form marshes in many places, the exhalations of which corrupt the purity of the air. The natives of the country suffer not the smallest inconvenience from them; but europeans, who are not inured to the climate, ought to remove as far as possible from those marshy tracts. The Kingdom of Kakongo, for this reason, is much more wholesome than that of Loango, because not only the rains are less frequent, but the face of the country is so disposed, as to favor their efflux.
CHAP. III. - Of the Soil, the Waters, and the Forests.
The land is in general light, and rather sandy; more fit for the growth of maize and millet, than for any of the kinds of grain which we cultivate in europe. It is also very fertile ; grass grows on it naturally to the height of eight or ten feet ; but the Natives know not how to husband and improve such good means: they merely work the surface with a sort of spade or hoe, and this in the rainy Season. This slight culture, however, is sufficient to make the land yield an hundred fold, and often much more, of whatever grain or plants may be bestowed on it. A single grain of maize produces as much as eight hundred, and commonly does not yield fewer than six hundred.
In the country are seen many mountains, and Some very high ones. They contain neither stones nor flints, but consist merely of an accumulation of the same earth which, covers the plains.
Not with standing six months of continual rain, there are vast plains uncultivated and lying waste for want of water. To whatever depth they dig, neither tuffa nor stone is found. It is a stratum of compact argil, which confines the water to the interior of the earth : it is interrupted in certain places, whence it occurs that the waters subsiding gradually undermine the surface, and often excavate large and deep abysses which open instantaneously during the fall of the rains. The inhabitants of the country flee as far as possible from the vicinity of these moving grounds, which are left uncultivated.
The Natives know not the use of wells, nor do they even dig any: it is from the lakes, fountains, and rivers, that they procure the waters they want, and sometimes they have to fetch it from, a great distance.
The streams and rivers which water the country, flow, for the most part, through deep valleys, and are shaded by thick forests, which keep the waters cool and fresh. The river Zaira, which forms the southern boundary of the Kingdoms of N'Goio and Kakongo, flows with equal abundance and rapidity, after the months of drought, and at the end of the rainy season. It has been observed, that such was the case with the little rivers, and even the smallest rivulets; they are never dried up ; nor is there even any perceptible diminution of their waters during the drought. Might it not be said, in explanation. of this phenomenon, that the water of the rains with which the earth is impregnated for six months in the year, discharges itself only by degrees, and during a similar space of time, into the rivers, and the reservoirs which constitute their sources.
Forests of perpetual verdure cover a great extent of the country. All the natives have the right of hunting there, and may cut as much wood as they think proper: but they content themselves with collecting the dead wood, which serves them for firing. Some of the forests are so thick, that the hunters cannot penetrate them, except by gaps and avenues which the wild beasts make, in order to get to the plains to feed during the night, and quench their thirst in the rivers.
CHAP. IV. - Of the Plants, esculent Vegetables, Pulse, and the Fruits of the, Earth.
THE people of these countries, naturally little inclined to labour, attach themselves particularly to the cultivation of those plants which produce most with least trouble; such is the manioc. Its stalk is a species of shrub of tender and juicy wood, which bears leaves much resembling those of the wild vine. A stalk of manioc produces every year ten or twelve roots, fifteen or twenty inches long and four or five in diameter. The manioc might be raised from feed, but as it shoots from the end, they cut the stalk into small pieces, which they fix in the earth during the rainy reason, and which bring forth the same year. In order that the same stalk may produce, for several years in succession, nothing is required but to leave in the ground, at the gathering, some of the smaller roots.
The manioc is the bread of the people, and a constant food which the poor have always in plenty; hence no beggars are to be seen in the country. If, however, the rain were not to fall at the usual season, which, as they assure us, is sometimes the case, there would ensue a most cruel famine; for these people preserve no provisions from year to year, nor have they any means of procuring supplies from abroad.
They prepare the root of the manioc in several ways: after having let it ferment in water for some days, they cut it, lengthwise, into flips, which they parch; otherwise they make a sort of compost of it. For this purpose, the natives have earthen vessels with two bottoms they put the manioc upon the upper one, which is perforated like a cullender ; the lower bottom is full of water: they close the vessel hermetically, and place it on the fire: the evaporation of the boiling water cooks the manioc, which would be insipid if it were not done in water.
There is a species of acid manioc, which is never eaten till after the juice has been expressed, and the juice is a poison. It has been observed, that the copper vessels in which they prepared this manioc, did not take the verdegris even for several days after they had been used for this purpose. The leaf of the manioc also is eaten, after the manner of spinage. Besides the manioc, there is nothing which the natives cultivate with more care than the Pinda, which we call Pistachio: it is a species of long nut, which incloses two almonds under a very slender film. This fruit is sown in furrows: it puts forth a stalk which at first resembles that of the trefoil ; but afterwards filaments shoot from it, which, after creeping some distance on the surface of the ground, penetrate into it by the summit. The stalk then shoots out a small yellow flower, which does not fructify : it is at the end of the filaments which have entered the earth that the fruit is found in great quantities. It is very good to the taste, but is indigestible ; they have it broiled before they eat it. They also bruise it in order to make a paste, which serves as a seasoning for their ragouts. They express from it a tolerably delicate oil.
There is found in this country a potatoe entirely similar to those which are cultivated in our own North American colonies. The Natives call it Bala-n'-poutou, a root of Europe; doubtless because the Portuguese must have brought it to them from America. It is of better quality and more saccharine than our European potatoes. The stalk, cut to bits and stuck in the earth, reproduces the species.
The Ignam is a thick shapeless root covered with knots, which inclose as many germs. In order to reproduce it, they cut it into small pieces which they rub upon the ashes, and leave them exposed to the heat of the sun; they then put them in the earth : each piece produces a long stalk which they support with a prop. The root of the Ignam is more pleasant to the palate than that of the manioc, but the natives neglect the culture of it because it produces little.
In the rainy season they plant four or five sorts of small beans similar to our haricots. There are several species of them, of which they cart gather three crops in less than six months. They have also an earth pea, the stalk of which resembles that of our wild strawberry plant; it trails along the ground like that of the Pinda, and it enters by filaments, at the ends of which the peas are found; they are agreeable to the taste, but indigestible in European stomachs.
The melons, pompions, and cucumbers demand scarcely any care. The spinage and sorrel grow in the fields without culture. Near the villages and along the roads is found purslain quite like ours. Dogs'-grafs is not, more uncommon there than with us, and the natives also use its root for making ptisan when they are sick.
Our Palma Christi is very common on the plains. Tobacco seems to be one of the natural productions of the country; the natives cast the seed of it at random into their courtyards and gardens, where it fructifies without tillage. Some persons, in imitation of the Europeans, take the tobacco as snuff, but all of them smoke; and the men and women have their pipes of potter's earth.
Cabbages, radishes, and the greater part of our European table-vegetabIes accommodate themselves perfectly well to the soil; chicory also grows here as fine as in
In many provinces they cultivate maize or Turkey-wheat. It grows so readily that in the space of six or seven months they gather six or seven crops from the same land. As the inhabitants of the country know not the use of mills, they pound the grains of maize in a wooden mortar and reduce it to meal, which they make into a paste and bake it under the cinders. Sometimes they parch their grains much in the same way as we roast our coffee, and eat it without any other preparation.
In the Kingdom of Kakongo there is a species of millet, the stalk of which grows as thick as a man's arm; it bears ears which weigh as much as two and even three pounds. This plant is indigenous ; they find it the midst of the dessert plains, but few people bestow any particular culture upon it.
Of the Trees and Shrubs.
THE palm-tree, of all fruit-trees, is that which the natives account the most useful: it grows to a height of forty or fifty feet, on a trunk of from fifteen to eighteen inches diameter. It sends out no branches, but merely a tuft of leaves with the spread of a fan at its top. These leaves, before they expand, form a large white lettuce, extremely tender and of a saccharine and vinous taste. The palm tree produces its fruit in bunches, each grain of which is of the size of a nut, and is called the palm-nut ; the skin (or shell) is yellowish. This nut is eatable ; but they generally-boil it in water or roast it on the coal, then they bruise it, and express from it an oil which serves to season their ragouts, or to anoint their bodies. Each nut bears a kernel, which is very hard, and encloses an almond, the taste of which the natives deem excellent.
They also draw from the palm-tree a liquor which the Europeans call palm wine. In order to do this they make a slight incision in that part of the tree where the fruit begins to form a small tumor before it blows ; they slick into the incision a leaf folded in the form of a gutter, to serve as a vehicle for the liquor, which is received in a calabash, attached over night to the palm-tree ; it is commonly found full the next morning. This liquor forms the common beverage of the rich ; it has the taste of our wine when brought fresh out of the winepress ; it is pectoral and refreshing : they say, that it intoxicates when it is taken to excess ; it acidulates in a few days. The natives of the country do not prefer any liquor to the palm-wine except the brandy, which is brought to them from Europe.
The cocoa-tree differs from the palm-tree only by its fruit ; it also produces grapes; but the grains are of the size of a small -melon. This fruit is clothed with a very bard shell, sufficiently solid to admit of beads being cut out of the entire substance. The
milky juice which issues in abundance from the opening of the cocoa is a sweet beverage, and at the same time very agreeable and nourishing, while the solid substance cut from its shell constitutes a good and tolerably wholesome food. It appears that the cocoa-tree is not indigenous, and that it was transported from America to Africa by the Europeans, because the cocoa is called banga n' poutou, nut of Europe.
The banana is more common than the cocoa-tree; it is rather a plant than a tree, growing however to the height of twelve or fifteen feet on a trunk of eight or ten inches diameter ; the fruit puts forth from the middle of this trunk in the form of a cluster of grapes, which we call regime. Each cluster bears from a hundred to two hundred bananas, and the banana is about eight or ten inches in length by about one inch in diameter; so that a good cluster is a man's burthen. A banana bears only one of them, and it dies as soon as the fruit is gathered ; hence it is the custom to cut down the tree for the sake of its produce ; but, for one foot which they cut there spring up several others. The trunk of the banana is invested with several layers of a species of tough rind, of which the young natives make cords : its leaves are seven or eight feet long by eighteen or twenty inches broad ; they are almost as firm in consistency as our parchment ; they fold and unfold in a thousand ways without cracking; they may be made into parasols, and are generally used for covering pots and great vessels.
The banana is the bread of the rich as the manioc is that of the poor. It would not however be difficult so to multiply the banana as to make it yield an adequate quantity for the subsistence of the common people. A plain of bananas is never exhausted ; and it requires tillage only the first year.
The banana fig-tree does not differ from the banana except by its fruits ; they also grow in clusters or bunches, but they are not so long by half, and they have neither the same taste nor the same properties. The banana is a species of bread : the banana fig is a delicate fruit. The substance of the banana is hard and farinaceous ; that of the banana fig is soft and pulpy.
The lolo-tree is a tree which grows to the height of twenty-five or thirty feet on a proportional trunk. They do not give themselves the trouble of planting it ; the pippins of its fruits cast by chance reproduce it in great quantities around the villages. If its root alone be injured it withers and dies. Its fruit, which the natives call lolo, and we papaye, has an agreeable and saccharine taste; it pretty much resembles in colour and size our green melons ; but it has not a similar taste ; and it encloses a greater quantity of pippins. The lolo is of the number of those fruits which belong to the first passenger who thinks proper to gather them. The missionaries used to make a pretty good soup of it.
The orange and citron trees grow very fine in these climates, and produce excellent fruits but the culture of them is entirely neglected ; and there is but a very small number of them to be seen in and about the villages.
The cazou is a fruit of the size of a melon, which holds fifteen or twenty red oblong nuts, nearly of the size and form of a pigeon's egg ; their substance is farinaceous and very nourishing. The natives never neglect to carry some with them when they go on a journey ; a moderate quantity of these nuts will serve for their subsistence during a whole day. Apparently they are a species of the cacao; but the beholder is not within reach to verify this conjecture by inspecting the stalk.
The tonga is an oblong fruit of the size of an egg, which encloses a quantity of pippins of the size of a lentil . From fifty to a hundred grow upon one stalk two or three feet high. The camba differs only from the tonga by being flat instead of round. The fruit grows in Provence ; it is there called berengenne.
There is found in the Kingdom of Kakongo a tree about ten feet high, which in the season of drought bears peas little different from ours in the pod, grain, or even in the taste.
The tomata is a small fruit of the size and colour of a cherry ; the natives use it as an ingredient in their ragouts as we, use onions in ours, but it is from motives of economy and for the sake of filling up rather than of seasoning ; this fruit, absolutely insipid of itself, imbibes the taste of the sauce without communicating any to it whatever; it grows on a shrub.
The pimento is another shrub, which grows to the height of four or five feet; its leaves, pretty much resembling those of the pomegranate, are of the finest green. Its fruit is a grain very like that of barley in shape, but thicker and of a dazzling red. This shrub charms the sight when it is covered with fruit ; the fruit is the pepper of the country ; the natives put a great deal of it in most of their sauces ; but it is so violent that it burns the tongue and palate of the Europeans to such a degree as to make the skin peel off.
There are found in many wet and marshy places sugar canes of the same species with those of St. Domingo, but the natives have no idea of cultivating them ; they suck the pith of those which they find, and some individuals make a trade, of collecting them to carry to market.
On the plains are seen basilics which differ from ours by the height of their stalk, which may, be about eight feet.
The cotton-tree is a shrub of the height of five or six-feet ; it bears a sort of large green fruits, which are clad with a down of about a line in thickness ; this down is the cotton. When the fruit is ripe it opens and displays several rows of pippins, the remainder is good for nothing. The natives suffer the cotton also to perish, although it would not prove inferior in point of quality to that of America.
No vine has been seen in the country ; but there are some in several provinces beyond the Zaira, and they thrive there very well. The soil of Loango, Cacongo, and other circumjacent Kingdoms perhaps would not be less favourable to it; but the women, who alone take charge of the culture of the earth, and who are already weighed with labour, do not care to augment their task by planting the vine, the juice of which, moreover, would not be for them but for their husbands.
The fruit trees frequently bear fruits and flowers at the same time, and in all seasons ; the greater part resume their budding in and soils and even in the greatest drought.
The trees of the forests are covered with leaves at all seasons the old ones fall only to give place to the new ones; some produce fruits fit for eating, others are perennially covered with sterile flowers which scatter around, to a great distance, the most agreeable odour. There occurs in the Kingdom of Jomba, which is to the north of Loango, a forest of red dye-wood. Among an infinite variety of trees of different kinds there is not to be found a single one resembling those we have in Europe. There are some of such prodigious girth that at a distance the beholder would take them for towers rather than for trees. The natives fell those only of middling size ; they hollow them into canoes of a single piece, which we call pyrogues, with which they go a fishing to sea and on the rivers.
Some of these trees are tender and spungy; they would resist the hatchet like the bark of the cork-tree; but they might easily be cut with a well-whet sabre; others are of a very hard wood. There are some to be found which, at the end of a few months after they have been felled, harden so much that they make anvils of them for forging red hot iron ; it would be an useless attempt to drive a nail into the wood with a hammer. The greater part of these trees perish by age and decay ; no one thinks of felling them, for no one would know what use to make of them.
Of the Animals.
THE inhabitants of these countries, certain of always finding manioc in their garden, trouble themselves very little about what they might procure wherewith to make good cheer. They prefer to found their hopes for the kitchen on the fortune of hunting or fishing, for days of banquet and regaling, to giving themselves the labour of rearing at their houses, cattle which the officers of the King might at any instant take away. They rear pigs, goats, and sheep. Their pigs are smaller than ours ; their goats yield no milk ; their sheep bear no fleeces of wool like those of European, climates; in other respects they quite resemble them.
They have ducks which bear crests, and are twice as large as ours ; but their fowls are very small ; they do not eat the eggs, because, they say, with a little patience an egg becomes a chicken. According to the same principle they say that the Europeans ought to pay them as dear for a couple of eggs as for a couple of chickens ; they however make some small abatement in the price, and if you bargain with them too much they answer coolly that they will wait until their eggs become chickens. It is in vain to object to them on the score of what these chickens will cost them before they are good to eat, because they do not fatten them; the mother takes them away with her into the plain, where they live with her at large like other birds. Those who say that for the value of six sous thirty fowls may be had in the Kingdom of Loango, are as grossly mistaken as when they pretend that fowls are fold at a pistole a-piece in the Kingdom of Congo ; but I doubt not that they deceive anybody ; there is no reader credulous enough to rely on the testimony of an historian, when he tells him that thirty fowls which sell for a hundred crowns in one Kingdom are sold for six sous in the neighbouring Kingdom.
Dogs and cats are to be found in this country. The cats have a longer muzzle than ours ; the dogs do not bark. A missionary saw on the confines of Loango a bay horse which was bounding over the plain; he was of good height, and very handsome ; he suffered himself to be approached very closely. At the moment when the missionary was regarding him, the minister for foreign affairs was coming by; he stopped and told the missionary that he knew that the horse would be very useful to him in the journey he proposed to take through the country ; that if he liked he might make a good bargain of him. The missionary agreed to it, on condition that he should deliver it to him ; but the difficulty of getting to put the bridle on him terminated the business. The tradition is, that the king of England formerly sent two horses, a male and a female, to the King of Loango; that this Prince, after having examined them, ordered them to be set at liberty ; that from that time they had, wandered over the plains and forests, where they bred young ones; that the horse, which was sometimes seen near Loango, was the lait of his species, the others being dead of old age, or having been worried by the tygers.
The plains feed a number of animals of all kinds ; quadrupeds, birds, and insects. No hares or rabbits have ever been seen there ; but there are two or three sorts of partridges to be found; some of them have plumage of the brightest red; those of every kind are as big as our hens. The quails and larks have nothing which distinguishes them from those of Europe. Only one kind of pigeon has ever been seen there ; its plumage is green, but its claws, beak, and eyes, are of a fine red . There is a certain bird of the size and pretty nearly the form of a turkey, but has a larger head, and bears, instead of a crest, a pierced horn like a horn at trictrac. A native came one day to the missionaries to offer them for sale an aquatic bird, which was much larger than the largest that we see in France ; he had his load of it ; but hearing them answer that they would not buy it, he did not leave them much time to examine it ; they only saw that it had a neck as long as an arm, and that it was as big as a sheep. The eagles are like those which are shown in our fairs. The crow differs in no respect from ours. There is a variety of other birds of prey. At the season when the natives set fire to the grass on the plains they are seen to fly over the flames. If they perceive any animal which has suffered itself to be overtaken by the fire, they pounce on him with impetuosity and carry him, away half roasted, without getting their wings at all damaged by the blaze. There are many nocturnal birds. The owl is as big as a turkey. The cuckoo is called coucou ; it-is a little, bigger than ours, and resembles it in plumage, but sings differently. The male begins to chant coo, coo, coo, mounting one note above another with as much precision as a musician would sound his ut, re, mi. When he has got to the third note the female takes it up, and ascends with it to the octave ; and they always recommence the same song. The swallow is the same with that which we see in Europe, but its flight is more uniform.
The sparrows breed numerously ; they fly in flocks like ours ; they chirp, in the same way; they are a little smaller, their plumage is finer and softer, and it shines like, satin.
The grasshopper is of the size of a small bird. It has a piercing and importunate cry ; it makes a great noise in the air ; you would think by the beating of its wings that a bird, of prey was hovering around. Another insect, of the size of a May-bug, is of the greatest, utility in so hot a climate; it is the scavenger and dustman of the whole country. It labours with indefatigable assiduity to, collect all the filth, that might infest the air, and makes small balls of it, which it hides very deep in holes which it has dug in the earth. It breeds in sufficient numbers to keep the towns and villages clean.
The shining or firefly flies by night, and bears a pretty strong light. It might be taken in a dark night for one of those exhalations which we call falling stars. The missionaries have examined some which came to rest on their huts ; they remarked their bodies were of the size of our glowworms, and that near the wings they did not differ greatly from them in shape ; which inclined them to judge that these insects, might be a variety of the same species.
The grass of the plains serves as a retreat to an infinite number of rats of different kinds ; the largest of which are of the size of our cats. Here are also frogs and toads larger than ours ; and a snail of the size of one's arm.
The woods are filled with all kinds of animals. The elephants of the country differ only from those which have been described to us by being in general smaller. Their largest tusks weigh only from fifty to sixty pounds. The natives do not dread them, and they never hunt them. The tusks they sell to the Europeans are those which they have found in the woods. The ivory of Loango is in great repute for its fineness and whiteness.
The missionaries have observed in passing along a forest, the track of an animal which they have never seen but it must be monstrous, the prints of its claws are seen on the earth, and formed an impression on it of about three feet ill circumference. In observing the posture and disposition of the footsteps, they concluded that it did not run in this part of its way, and that it carried its claws at the distance of seven or eight feet one from the other.
The lion resembles those of middling size which are seen in Europe.
The tiger is much more dreaded in these countries than the lion ; there are two species of them, without reckoning the tiger cat, which eats field mice, the young of birds, and sometimes fowls and ducks. The tigers of the first species are called tigers
of the woods, the others grass-tygers, from the place where they are accustomed to prowl for food. The grass-tygers are of the size of our great dogs ; they hunt rats and other animals which lurk in the grass, which the uncultivated lands produce; they
sometimes approach the huts by night to carry away fowls and other domestic animals ; but they take to flight as soon as they perceive a man. The wood-tyger is much bigger and taller than the former. He makes prey on the strongest animals, such as buffaloes and deer ; lie couches for them as they pass, leaps on their croup, tears them with his claws and teeth and never leaves hold until he has made them fall beneath him ; when this carnivorous animal is pressed by hunger, he comes out of the woods, and prowls by night round the villages, seeking to devour dogs, pigs, sheep, and goats.
Near the place where the missionaries are settled, one of these tigers having sallied forth at dusk from a neighbouring forest, carried off a little child whom his mother was bringing from the fields on her back ; he then fled with precipitation to devour his prey in the forest. It is not safe to pass alone through a wood, without being well armed. The tiger has a keen smell and piercing sight ; he scents a man from a great distance; if he sees him alone and unarmed, he draws near to attack him ; otherwise he shuns the encounter. It is very rare that a hunter perceives him within gunshot.
When a native has killed one of these tigers, he walks about, as if in triumph, among the villages, supported and attended by his friends; he then carries the beast to the chief, who immediately pays him a reward proposed by the government, for him who
diminishes the number of sanguinary animals. When a tiger bas devoured some animal in a village the peasants are sure that he will not escape them the following night; they tie the remains of his prey (if he has left any) to a stake ; or they lay a new bait for him ; they tie cords to it, which communicate with guns disposed in such a manner that they must necessarily discharge themselves on the tiger, if he comes to bite at the bait; he seldom fails to return on the following night ; he falls by his own means.
The discharge of the guns is the signal which bids the natives go and dispatch him, should he be still alive.
The buffalo is not reckoned among the domestic animals as in China ; he is wild and ferocious; he wanders in the woods and dessert plains, which he causes to refound with his disagreeable lowings and roarings ; he is rather taller than our common oxen ; from which, in other respects, he does not essentially differ. The buffalo does not flee before the hunter; and if the latter misses his aim, and has not time to climb a tree, he is instantly torn to pieces. When this animal cannot wreak his vengeance on him who has wounded him, he runs about seeking a chance victim for his fury. Woe to the first passenger whom he perceives, man, woman or child ; it is all over with him! Of a fatality of this kind, the missionaries were once witnesses. One of these buffaloes having rallied from the woods , turned on, a woman who was buried in cultivating her field ; he threw her on the ground, and never quitted her until the had expired in a most tragical way.
The wild-boars multiply slowly ; they feed on the roots of trees and tender wood they are smaller and less ferocious than those which feed on acorns in our European forests.
The animal which the natives denominate a wild dog is a species of wolf, which much resembles those we see in France ; as he does not hold rule over the woods he is more modest than ours ; a man never fears to encounter him. He does not bend his view on the larger prey, these he leaves to the lion and the tiger, who do not even spare him when he falls under their paws ; for want of other food he sometimes browses grass and eats roots like a goat.
The monkeys seclude themselves generally in the interior of the forest; they seldom walk on the ground ; they are always seen perching on the highest trees. This however does not hinder them, when pursued from making a deal of way in a short time, leaping from branch to branch and from tree to tree. The natives aim less at killing the monkeys than at taking them alive, to sell to the Europeans. The way to take them is to strew at the foot of the trees, whither they are want to retire, such fruits as they most relish, under which the snares are laid. The ape has always her young one at her fide; she carries it with her when she is pursued, and never abandons it but when she is mortally wounded. There are in the forests of this country baboons four feet high; the natives affirm that when they are hard pushed they come down from the trees with sticks in their hands to defend themselves against those who are hunting them, and that very often they chase their pursuers. The missionaries never witnessed this singularity.
The roebuck and deer are not rare in the forests, they differ in no way from those of Europe. The deer are smaller than ours and have no horns; the privation of this attribute is of great advantage to them in the thick forests, where they are continually liable to be hunted by carnivorous animals.
On the plains may be seen bounding along a stag, whom the smallness of his make renders an object of great curiosity. He resembles at all points the stags of the country ; like them he wants horns, he has a forked foot, a fine and limber leg ; he is nearly as big as a hare, but slenderer; his size is from twelve to fifteen inches. Although he runs
very light, he is sometimes caught by hand. His most ordinary retreat is among the long grass of untilled lands, which are to him what the trees of the forests are to the others. When the natives perceive him they take up a great quantity of cover, and, closing by degrees, hem in the stag. When this little animal sees himself surrounded, he no longer thinks of escaping, but suffers himself to be taken; but he is unable to survive the loss of his liberty ; if he be not killed he soon dies of grief, or he kills himself against the bars of the cage in which they have confined him ; his flesh affords delicate eating.
The forests are filled much more than the plains with an infinity of birds of the prettiest plumage ; but richness of colour is all they possess one never sees enough of them ; one hears too much of them ; their song is feeble and broken ; even the nightingale does nothing but warble; he is larger than ours.
Pheasants and guinea-hens are very common. Parrots and parroquets are not more rare : the natives take them from their nests to sell to the Europeans.
They distinguish two kinds of turtledove ; there is one not larger than a thrush which has ash-coloured plumage; the other is of the figure and size of ours ; she has the same plumage, and her wing is the same.
The natives do not yet know the art of domesticating bees, and making them labour on their account, by procuring abodes for them. The forests are the ordinary, retreat of this industrious insect. The hollow of a tree serves him for a hive, and he there deposits his combs. The bees of Africa work like the bees of Europe ; and from flowers entirely different extract the same honey and the same wax; without having their model communicated they copy it perfectly. On both hands there is the same wisdom in the preparations ; the same regularity in the proportions, the same activity in the execution ; there is no difficulty in perceiving that they are instructed by the same master. The honey which they yield is very delicate ; the natives make a regale of it ; they suck the comb and throw away the wax. They do not stifle the bees to obtain their honey; they make fire under the tree whole hollow serves for their retreat. The smoke makes them come out ; the honey is then taken ; the bees then re-enter the same tree, or seek a dwelling elsewhere.
Here are ants of several species ; there is one much larger than ours, she has equal foresight and application to labours ; and it is in this country that one might more effectually than in any other send men to his school, in the words of the Sage. These insects in the time of drought eagerly gather food for their subsistence during the rainy season. In order to defend themselves against the inundation's, they build, by dint of labour, small houses of glazed earth (potters' clay) which acquire almost the solidity of stone. The natives, on overturning them, make chafing dishes of them, which are much like our earthen chafing dishes, and they have no others.
In the thickest forests, where the rays of the sun never penetrate, there are many serpents. The most common is that which they call the serpent Boma, which is about fifteen feet long, and thick in proportion ; sometimes there are some found of much larger size. They told the missionaries that six months before their arrival in the country a little child had gone to the woods to take birds nests (almost the only occupation of children) ; his father finding that he tarried long, armed himself, as if for the chase, with his sabre and his gun to go and seek him ; on advancing into the forest by the most frequented road he perceived a serpent of enormous size ; not doubting that he was the murderer of his son he attacked and killed him. Having opened the carcase he found the child, enclosed in its belly as in a coffin ; it was dead, but had received no wound. The natives eat the serpents which they kill, and the flesh is not bad. When the Europeans ask them why they feed on these animals ? they themselves ask, why the Europeans do not feed on them? and they add, that if there is an animal which they ought to eat, it is most certainly that which seeks to eat them.
The rivers breed fine fish in great quantities ; that which they fish from the stream of the Zaire is very delicate. There are also fish-breeding lakes in this country ; there is one near the village of Kilonga, where the missionaries formed their first establishment. it abounds in fish of several species. Its carps are similar to those of our rivers in France, but more delicate. They fish up fine eels, which are much different from ours ; they have a flat and very thick head; their teeth are not edged; and they much resemble in form and size the grinaers of a man. Some rivers breed snakes, which are like small serpents.
The sea coasts are frequented by regular professed fishermen ; they take most generally a great quantity of ray and soles of different kinds. Although they embark only in perogues they sometimes take very large draughts and great fish. I have had in my hands a jaw which must have belonged to a monstrous fish; its teeth are twenty-four lines in circumference by twenty-nine in height ; they are fixed in sockets twenty-two lines in depth ; they are pretty well-edged at the extremity.
On the coasts of Loango there is a species of mischievous fish, which often occcasions damage to European captains ; it has a head three times as large as that of an ox ; it has a great passion for staving barks and canoes ; it approaches the places where the vessels are at anchor ; it raises its neck above the water ; and if it perceives a canoe it darts up to it with impetuosity ; staves it at the first onset with its head, and takes to flight; it disdains the perogues ; and never attacks them.
The nets of the natives are wrought much in the same way as thoses of our fishermen ; they make them of a flax filament, which would not yield in strength to the best hemp ; and this they procure from the banana-tree and from the bark of some other trees. It is not their practice to salt their fish, in order to preserve it. They dry it in the sun ; if it be hot enough; but more frequently they smoke it.
CHAP. VII. - Societies
The people of these countries, like ourselves inhabit towns and villages, and they present a most striking image of the origin of society. They are not drawn together so much by reciprocal wants as by ties of blood, which hinder them from separating. The families do not disperse, as with us, so that in the same town and even in the same village you discern an infinite number of little hamlets, which are so many families, each having its patriarch for a president. A family which finds itself too crowded and does not wish to confound itself with the neighbouring one, may go and settle on the first piece of land which is not already occupied, and there found a hamlet ; it is the affair of a single day, in a country where the father of a family is able, with the help of his wife and children, to carry away at one journey his house and all his furniture, goods and chattels. The heads of families are the first judges of them. When any dispute has arisen among them, they confront the parties ; and after hearing the pleadings on both sides, they pronounce a sort of sentence in juridical form. This domestic tribunal is the model of the other superior tribunals. The laws do not allow a woman to appeal from the sentence of her husband nor a son from the judgment of his father; indeed, they never think of doing so ; but in the sequel we shall see that from the tribunal of the chief of each village there is a power of appeal to the governor of the province, and, lastly, to the King.
The country is not equally peopled throughout; the towns and villages are most frequent along the banks of the rivers, the streamlets lakes and the fountains ; because, doubtless, water being one of the most essential necessaries of life, they who have the choice of land give the preference to that which offers it naturally, and leave the care of digging wells to the last comers. Those great and superb towns which are to be seen, all built along rivers, have had no other origin ; and if we could interrogate the first founders of Paris, they would answer that in erecting their huts on the same spots where we have since constructed palaces, they, like the people in question, thought of procuring a supply of healthy water to quench their thirst and wash their flocks ; and had not the smallest idea of building a town, still less of kindling its future splendour by the ease afforded it of extending its commerce.
The towns are, properly speaking, only great villages ; they differ from them solely in containing a greater number of inhabitants. Grass grows in them, as in the villages ; the streets are merely narrow pathways. A great town is really a labyrinth ; whence a stranger could never get out if he had not the precaution to take a guide with him. The citizens have nothing which distinguishes them from Villagers ; they are neither better clothed nor better lodged. The female citizens of the capital go to work in the fields, like the peasant girls of the smallest hamlet.
The vast forest of which we have been speaking would furnish the natives with the means of lodging and sheltering themselves very commodiously, if they would only give themselves the trouble; they might even, for want of stone, which is nowhere to be found in this country, make use of bricks, which might be worked from almost all the kinds of earth which the land contains. The woods would supply them with the fuel necessary for burning them. Their houses, which we call huts, are small cabins made of rushes or branches pretty skilfully interwoven. The covering corresponds to the structure ; it consists merely of leaves ; they use in preference those of the palm-tree, which are of sufficient consistency to resist for several years the rains and the vicissitudes of the weather. The door of the house is worked into one of the gable-ends, which they take care shall not be exposed to the wind in the rainy quarter. The people know not the use of windows. It is well known that we ourselves, not long ago, bad only very small ones, as many of our ancient castles sufficiently evince. Even now in many of our provinces old huts are found which admit the light only by a little door cut in the roof.
Any person in want of a house, goes to market with his wife and children. He buys that which suits him. Each one takes an article or piece according to his strength, and they go to put it in order. To hinder it from being blown down by the wind they Lie it to stakes driven deep into the ground. A house of this kind has nothing disagreeable in its appearance ; it is a fort of large basket turned upside down. The rich and knowing ones sometimes have their dwellings worked with a deal of art, and lined with mats of different colours, which are the ordinary tapestry of the country.
They who tell us that the inhabitants of Loango make beams to their houses of the palm-tree have no idea of such habitations ; and they know not that if they wished to erect edifices similar to ours they might find timber of every kind in their forests, much preferable to the palm-wood for this use. The King of Loango's palace, as several authors describe it to us, bears less resemblance to the real abode of that Prince than our palace of the Thuilleries bears to the convent of the Capuchins. They assign to this palace the extent of one ordinary town, yet it is composed only of five or six huts, rather larger than those we have been speaking of ; while the towns, on the contrary, contain thousands of them.
CHAP. VIII. - The Characters of the People. Their Vices and Virtues.
The author of the General History of Voyages expatiates greatly on the manners of these people, and also on their customs and usages. In his collection he has inserted different relations of what passes among them ; but after having perused them one might be led to ask if those who composed them had ever been in the country ? It is from this common source that several writers of our days have drawn the errors which they have published respecting the inhabitants of this country, and they have given us, doubtless unintentionally, imaginary portraits for indubitable fads. The more judicious among them, it is true, shocked at the manifest contradictions which they meet in each page of these relations, have contented themselves with extracting what appeared to them the most probable; but even the little they have extracted is too much for any one who wants nothing but truth, and is sufficient to demonstrate to any one who has lived among those people, that they have not been painted to the life.
No one can thoroughly know the genius of the people without studying it, and such a study is not the work of a few days. A traveller, supposing one in good earned, who travels with his journal in his hand through an unknown country, the language of which he does not understand, cannot acquire anything but a very superficial knowledge of the people who inhabit it. If by chance he should for several days in succession be witness of some traits of cruelty and perfidy, he will represent the people as cruel and perfidious. If he should have taken another route, and witnessed some acts displaying opposite virtues, (oposite) he passes an eulogium on their love of justice and humanity.
The relations of mariners are not always trustworthy, and ought not to fix our judgment on this matter any more than those of a traveller such as I am supposing. Not only does their business deprive them of leisure to become observers, they are not within the reach of becoming such ; having no connection with any except the small number of trafficking Africans who, from a spirit of gain and a greater facility of satisfying their passions, have corrupted the virtues which distinguish the bulk of the nation.
It must be confessed that those who dwell along the coasts, and the only persons who frequent the Europeans, appear inclined to fraud and libertinism ; but can we reasonably conclude from that, without further examination, as most historians do, that irregularity and double dealing are vices common to all ? We should laugh at the simplicity of an African who, after having passed some time at Paris without ever going a league from the town, should go and tell his own countrymen that our country people do nothing but drink, dance, and divert themselves ; because in traversing the villages in the neighbourhood of the capital he might have heard the noise of instruments, and seen written on the wall " here they keep weddings and feasts." This barbarian would Judge of our nation as we judge of his.
Although the Kingdom of Congo borders upon those of which we are now speaking, we have no, right to judge of its inhabitants by comparison, and attribute to the one what we know of the other. There may have been a time when these people resembled each other, but that time is no more. No one can deny that the stay which the Portuguese have made in Congo must have altered in a great degree the innocence and simplicity of the manners of its inhabitants. I shall however take great care not to impute to a holy and divine religion abuses which it condemns, and evils which call its groans. We must shut our eyes to the light of the sun, and be in fact as ill informed in history as certain modern philosophers appear to be in this point, to be ignorant from what an abyss of corruption the Christian religion has snatched mankind. All that can reasonably be concluded from this decline of manners, which has followed the preaching of the gospel in Congo and elsewhere, is, that if it be worthy the zeal of a Christian prince to favour the propagation of the faith among infidel nations, it is also worthy of his prudence and his duty not to destroy with one hand what he builds up with the other, by sending on the track of the missionaries a set of men who have nothing of the Christian but the name, which they dishonour, and whose worse than heathenish conduct makes the idolaters doubt whether the gods whom they worship be not preferable even to that of the Christian. Religion, such is the might of the empire of grace, had never ceased to make some progress in Congo ; and among all the licentiousness to which the Portuguese abandoned themselves, barbarians who had become Christians recalled them to a sense of their duty, and condemned their excesses by the practice of contrary virtues.
But since the natives of the country have driven out the Portuguese, and they no longer receive any but missionaries among them ; the latter find it a much more easy task to persuade them to the practice of evangelical morality. Cardinal Castelli, president of the congregation of the Propaganda, writes from Rome to the prefect of the mission of Loango, that there are actually more than one hundred thousand Christians in the single Kingdom of Congo. But the Capuchins, who, since the dissolution of the Jesuits, have succeeded to the charge of this vast and laborious mission beginning themselves to be in want of subjects, this flourishing branch of Christianity, if the hand which first formed it do not still support it, runs the risque of seeing itself destitute in a short time of the most needful helps.
They who give to the citizens of Loango, Kakongo, and N'Goyo, the characters and manners of the slaves whom we draw from among them for our colonies, are the most grossly mistaken of all ; since they judge of a nation by its most deadly enemies, and by the most desperate of its subjects. If they do sell us some slaves of the country, they are those whom their crimes have rendered unworthy of being citizens. But most of those whom we buy are taken in war from other savage nations, and who sympathize so little with the people in question, that they have never had either peace or truce with them. Those slaves in general have many bad qualities without any mixture of good ones : they must be made into good men before any thing can be done towards making them Christians. They frequent, the despair of slavery seems to close their heart against virtue.
The missionaries, since their settlement among nations whom the holy see has confided to their zeal, have applied themselves by living, and conversing among them, to the task of ascertaining their genius and manners, their qualities of mind and heart, their vices and virtues ; and the result of their observations seems to me to form a strong prepossession for them.
These people, generally speaking, have no application ; but they seem capable of acquiring that habit, as it is always necessity which commands application ; and as they have scarcely any necessities, it is natural that their minds should remain in a fort of inertness, or that it should be never exercised except on frivolous objects, which amuse without engaging. Those who trade, or who have the management o public affairs, want neither application nor activity, and the people themselves as soon as you present to them an objects capable of arousing and interesting them, such as religion, will engage in and pursue it ; as experience has already shown.
Sloth of body with them generally accompanies mental idleness. This vice however does not necessarily affect the nation, since it does not belong to the weaker sex. The women, inured from childhood to the hardest toils of husbandry, give themselves up to it with indefatigable ardour. The heat, it is true, invites man to repose but a
powerful interest awakes him, and renders him superior to the climate and to himself. Our own country people are never more active than in the season of the greatest heats, because it is that of harvest. It is known that the people of ancient Latium inhabited the mild climate of Italy; and their patriotism led them to triumph over the warlike hordes of the north. The Christian religion, which forbids idleness, and which is unwilling that Society should support that person who refuses to labour for it, would in sensibly induce men to labour, as education accustoms women to it; this is seen among, the Christians of Congo.
These defects, which are not irremediable, and which circumstances seem still to excuse, are moreover amply compensated by natural qualities and moral virtues, which in heathens are truly worthy of admiration. They are remarkable for a sound and penetrating mind ; when the truths of the Faith are explained to them, some make objections specious enough ; others make reflections full of good sense, or ask ingenious questions, which shew that they perfectly comprehend what is proposed to them.
They are endowed with a happy memory. The missionaries saw some who within a month have repeated God's commandments which they had heard only once recited in a public place. They make no use however of this faculty, for transmitting to future ages what passes among them that is memorable, assuming as a, principle that they should confine themselves to what is strictly necessary, as well for knowledge as for the wants of life; they all live, with regard to history, in that indifference which characterizes the inhabitants of our country places, who know no more of what passed in France under Louis the Great, than under Julius Caesar. If you ask them why they do not preserve the remembrance of what has been done by their fathers? they answer, that it signifies little to know how the dead have lived ; the main point is, that the living, should be honest people. According to the same principle, they keep no account of their age: " It would be," say they, " loading one's memory with an unless reckoning, since it does not binder us from dying, and gives us no insight into the term of one's life." They regard death as a precipice to which man hastens blindfold, so that it is of no use to him; to count his steps, because he can neither perceive when he comes to the last, nor can he avoid it ; that is no bad excuse.
The people of these countries, men and women, are very fond of talking and singing; whence it would appear that nature is riot consistent with herself ; for all the other animals are silent night and day. No song of birds is heard in the forests ; the cock never awakes his master, even the dogs cannot bark. But amid this general silence, the women as they till the field make it echo with their rustic songs ; and the men pass their time in telling stories, and in discoursing on the most trifling topics. The after noon is their particular time for holding. their assemblies under the shade of a spreading tufted tree. They fit on the, ground, in circles, cross legged. Most of them have a pipe in their mouths. Those who have palm wine bring some with them ; and now and then they interrupt the speaking to drink, a draught, passing the calabash round. He who begins the conversation sometimes speaks a quarter of an hour it a time. Every one listens in deep silence ; another takes up the talk, and they, listen in the same manner ; no one who speaks is ever interrupted. But when he has ceased to utter his tattle, the person whose turn it is to speak has a right to oppose him and utter his own. To see the fury which they throw into their declamations one would think they were cussing the most thorny subjects, and it is a matter of great surprise when on lending an ear, one finds that the argument is awretched earthen pot or a bird's feather, or some superstitious observances. Any one who attends their conversation and does not understand the language, might easily take it for a child's play. They have a usage among them singular enough, and well devised for keeping awake the attention of the hearers, and give a zest to conversations in themselves so stale ; when they speak in public they express numbers by gestures. He, for example, who would say, " I have seen six parrots and four partridges," says simply "I have seen - - - parrots and - - - partridges," and he makes at the same time two signs, one of which tells for six and the other for four, at the same time all present cry out six, four, and the talker goes on. If any one would seem puzzled, or pronounces after the rest, they would suppose him to have been asleep or in a reverie, and he would be considered impolite.
These people are very mild. Disputes and contests are rare among them; and they seldom or never come to blows. If they cannot agree they go and find a judge, who reconciles them in an instant. What a modern Historian says (The author of the General History of Asia, Africa, and America, tom 12.) , that the inhabitants of Loango immolate their slaves to the manes of their Kings, is an assertion destitute of the slightest foundation. They have not even an idea of those abominable sacrifices.
The trafficking Africans, who inhabit the coasts, are for the greater part mistrustful and self-interested, even to roguery. Holding as a principle that all the whites are accountable one for another, they would make no scruple of cheating a Frenchman if they could ; because ten years before they themselves would have cheated the English. But rapine and duplicity are by no means the character of the nation. On the contrary it is remarked that those who inhabit the interior of the lands, unite to a great deal of justice and frankness, a disinterestedness which may be called excessive. They literally follow the precept of the Gospel, not to take thought for the morrow. They do not even surmise that food and clothing ever can fail. They are always ready to share the little they have with those whom they know to be in need. If they have been fortunate in hunting or fishing, or have procured something rare, they immediately run and tell their, friends and neighbours, taking to each his share. They would choose to stint themselves rather than not give them this proof of their friendship. The reproach of avarice is the most cutting that can be made to any of them, and no species of Battery is more agreeable than to praise them for their freedom in giving ; and to say that they always give with open hand. They call the Europeans close fists, because they give nothing for nothing.
Politeness is not foreign to them. They anticipate each other with reciprocal deference's. They are especially attentive to the manner of giving and receiving falutations. If it be an equal that they meet, they make one genuflection, rise and clap their hands. He who meets a man who is markedly his superior, prostrates himself, bows his head, touches the ground with the ends of his fingers, draws them to his mouth, arid, as he lifts them up, claps his hands. The person thus saluted, be it a Prince or even a King, never avoids returning the salute, making the genuflection and clapping hands.
They are humane and obliging even to strangers, and to those from whom they have nothing to expect in return. They have no inns among them. A traveller who passes through a village at the hour of repast, enters, without ceremony, into the first hut, and is quite welcome.
The master of the house regales him with the best he has; and after he has reposed awhile conducts him on his way. The missionaries often undertake their journeys without provisions, or merchandise wherewith to procure any ; they are humanely and hospitably received every where, nor have they ever wanted any of the necessaries of life.
When a native perceives that his guest does not eat heartily, he picks out the best morsel in the dish, bites of it, and presents him the rest, saying "Eat, and take my word for it". This politeness is very far from our manners, but it is quite true to nature; one may see two little children in an orchard give and take the fruits that they have first tasted by setting their teeth in them.
During the last war we had with England, a French ship having run aground on the coast of Loango, two or three sailors saved themselves by swimming, and retired into a village called Loubou. The inhabitants of the place received them kindly, and provided generously for their wants. They lodged, fed and clothed them for several years, without requiring any labor from them; all their occupation was to go and walk along the coast, and when they discovered a vessel, they used to inform the natives, who put them into a pirogue to go and reconnoiter her. If she was English, they returned with great haste, for fear left their guests should fall into the hands of their enemies. They conducted themselves towards the sailors in this manner until they found a favorable opportunity of returning to France, without ever expressing any grudge at the expense which their sojourn occasioned. It was in the very village where this took place that the missionaries heard of it.
In one thousand seven hundred and sixty-seven, the prefect of the mission received a visit from a naval officer, who said, that having learnt that some French priests had arrived at Loango, he had repaired thither to confess himself, and to render thanks unto God along with them, for his having escaped the most imminent danger. He told them he had embarked in a ship from St. Malo ; that the captain of it, seeing a floating island which pressed close upon his quarter, had sent out a canoe with four sailors, to cut grass on it ; but that they, being drawn by the violence of the currents, had ruled against the waves for four days and four nights, without being able to regain their ship ; that at length on the fifth day, the wind drove their boat on shore of the four sailors who accompanied the officer, two had died of hunger and fatigue; a third had expired on the coast on getting out of the canoe. The officer and the sailor who were left, trailed on as well as they could to the next village. The inhabitants hastened to comfort them, and treated them very hospitably in every respect. When they were disposed to quit the place, the people assured them that they might still stay as long as they pleased, without fear of being chargeable to any one. They laid in no provision of food when they set out from Loango ; the people in all the villages where they stopped, offered them liberally whatever they wanted ; and this treatment they met with along their whole course, to the end of their journey.
These people are poor, compared with us ; but in truth, he who wants nothing is as rich as he who has every thing in plenty, and he lives much more contented. In our way of life, we should think that man the most to be pitied, who had not the means of procuring a bed to lie on or feat to fit on : at Loango, it would be sentencing a man to actual, punishment to oblige him to pass one night in a good bed, or to remain two hours in an armchair. The Mateia of Kakongo, one of the most powerful Princes in the Kingdom, has an apartment furnished in the European style; there are beds, commodes, beaufets garnished with silver mounting. The Prince offers seats to the Europeans who go to visit him ; as for himself, he finds it much more convenient to sit on the ground, according to the custom of the country. With these people, nothing is known either of houses of office, cellars, granaries or wardrobes. In entering a hut you perceive a mat, which is the master's bed, his table, and his seats; some earthen vessels, which constitute his kitchen tackle; some roots and fruits , these are his belly-provisions. When they take a piece of game or a fish, they make a ragout of it, which Europeans deem detestable, but to their taste it is delicious. If hunting or fishing furnishes them nothing for their table, they flick to their roots and fruits; and, they always appear content with what they are eating. If a stranger comes upon them, and they have only manioc to offer him, they make no excuse for making him partake such poor cheer ; supposing that he ought to, think it is because they have nothing better to offer him.
Reared in the midst of plenty, or at least in a good opinion of our own comforts of life, and of the wealth which procures them, we feel ourselves naturally led to, despise a people so simple and poor ; but if, they themselves understanding that we are, the laborious artisans of a thousand wants which they never experienced ; if, witnessing our delicacies, our profusion's, and the luxuries of our tables, they paid us back scorn for scorn, and said they were wiser than we were, I should doubt whether an impartial umpire would decide the difference in our favor.
It is an opinion which daily gains credit, that licentiousness of manners among these people is carried to very dissoluteness; thus aver the modern authors who treat on this country. Pretended travelers, sporting with the good faith of the public, are not afraid
of stating, that prostitution's, adultery, and the most monstrous excesses of debauchery, are tricks of custom among them, to such a degree, that husbands themselves favor the lightness of their wives, and that the obsequies of their dead are celebrated by abominations and infamy. A mercenary writer has little respect for truth, when he finds his account in disguising it. Such is the case here ; he is lure of giving pleasure by licentious tales to that numerous class of frivolous and libertine readers, who seize with avidity all that seems to ennoble their weakness, or to extend over thousands the empire of those passions which rule them. And notwithstanding, it is after these calumnious relations that systems are built, and hence we affirm very gravely, that the Christian religion can never be the religion of all climates ; for the chastity which it prescribes, forms an invincible obstacle to its establishment in torrid climates, and under the burning zone.
But they, who from the recesses of their cabinets, calculate, after their own way, the influence of climate on manners, and who make no difficulty in assigning (compass in hand) the regions beyond which the worship and religion of the true God cannot be extended ; those pretended sages, I say, ought to take heed how they thus constitute themselves accusers and judges of the Divinity ; for, supposing that they belong not to that horde of madmen, who regard the universe as the production of a blind agent, or the sport of chance, I would only wish to say this, to confound them "explain to us how it could have happened, that he who has ordained times and formed seasons ; who has divided the climates and presided over the general economy of the universe, should have so strangely miscalculated to his own disadvantage, by offering an abode to a great portion of his creatures, in regions where his name could never be known aright, and where his law would be despised ?" But providence has justified itself from this reproach, long before any one thought of making it. No one can be ignorant that it was in the hottest climates that the Christian religion operated the greatest miracles ; it was in the midst of the arid deserts and burning sands of the Thebais, that during many ages, whole millions of solitary men, before the admiring eyes of the whole world, preserved the most perfect chastity, and led a life totally angelic.
But whatever may be the result of observations made on other people, they cannot destroy those which the missionaries have made for many years, on those of whom we are speaking. To lit in true judgment, we must have seen every thing, calculated every thing ; the heat of the climate, if it is tempered by a sober and frugal life, will always be much less hurtful to chastity, than other stimulants in the coldest countries than the wines, the succulent viands, the sights, the impassioned accents of music, the licentious writings, the association and, intercourse of young persons of both sexes ; baits of voluptuousness which are quite unknown among the people in question. They feed habitually on roots, vegetables, and fruits ; they drink water; they lie on hard surfaces; they are chaste as it were, by nature, and without the efforts of virtue. They, however, attach honor to the practice of chastity, and shame to the contrary vices. An author , cited in the General History of Voyages, says, that at Loango they are persuaded that the crime of a maid who has not resisted seduction, would be sufficient to draw down a total ruin on the whole country, were it not expiated by a public avowal made to the King ; and the same, writer, impelled by I know not what kind of blind bias for calumniating the manners of this people, adds, that this avowal, however, has nothing in it humiliating. But it is easy to judge, that a fault which is deemed sufficiently enormous to provoke the wrath of Heaven, must condemn to opprobrium and shame, the culprit who is obliged to make the avowal.
A man, as we shall soon see, may marry, as many women as he finds willing to attach themselves to him ; but it is an unheard-of thing for a man and woman to cohabit publicly, without being lawfully espoused. There are never seen in this country, as in the great towns of Europe, any of those societies of women, who keep a school of debauchery.
They would not suffer them to traffic shamefully with their honor, by walking in the streets ; still less would they be allowed to exercise the infamous trade of seducing and corrupting youth. The language, though very rich, offers no term which corresponds with that of a female debauchee ; it is expressed by a Portuguese word.
The women have, like the men, their arms and bosoms uncovered, especially when at work ; but the custom is general; no one thinks of it ; no one is scandalized at it ; and it is on with authors to have concluded thence, that they brave all the laws of modesty, this nudity of a Negress who from morning to night is occupied in cultivating the field under a burning sun, is less insidious and less shocking to public decency, in that country, than the half-nakedness of our court ladies among us.
Whenever the missionaries found themselves among the inhabitants of the country, in the passage of rivers where there are no boats, they observed, that when a woman entered the water, all the men turned away their eyes until she had got to the other
side ; the women on their part, do the same when the men pass.
The young girls accompany their mothers every where, who require from them the strictest reserve. A youth durst not speak to a girl, except in her mother's presence; he cannot make her a present except when he asks her in marriage. A missionary one day met a little Negress returning from the fields with her mother; she said to him in the language of the country, and in a jocular tone, "Good day, man of God!" Her mother immediately gave her a severe reprimand for having spoken to a man, and with so little reserve. Dancing is in this country a daily exercise, but the men never dance except with men, nor the women except with women. The songs of joy, which generally accompany their dances, have nothing in them offensive to modesty.
CHAP. IX Of Marriages and Alliances.
Polygamy is authorized by the national laws, and it is allowable for a man to marry as many women as be thinks proper; but this liberty which the law allows, is restrained by nature. The number of women a among them does, not appear to surpass that of the men, perhaps it does not even reach it; so that a Grandee of the country cannot marry twenty women, without placing nineteen of his fellow citizens tinder the necessity of observing celibacy. Besides, a woman generally prefers the advantage of being the sole spouse of an individual, to the honor of being the wife of a lord, who must give her a great number of rivals; thus it is only the rich who can use the privilege, or rather the abuse of the law, for that is the only name which can suit a disposition which favors one party in society, to the detriment of the other. But as the class of rich persons is far from numerous, all the free men, and even most of the slaves still find means to marry. Those who stated that the commonest Natives in the country have each two or three wives, would have to reckon beforehand, whether the number of women twice or thrice surpassed that of the men; as those who allot seven thousand to a King of Loango, must have ascertained that there is that number in his whole capital; this, no one who has been upon the spot dare assure them.
The fathers and mothers leave to their boys the care of choosing a wife. The marriage of the girls is considered a household affair, which concerns the mother only. The wives bring no portion to their husband ; on the contrary, when a boy wants to have a maid in marriage, he goes to find her mother, and makes her those presents which he judges will be most agreeable to her. If these presents, or the band which offers them, do not please the mother, she refuses them. If she accepts them, the young man immediately presents gifts to the maid also, who is still free to receive or reject them. The acceptance of presents on the part of the mother and daughter is equivalent to a promise of marriage. The nuptials, however, are not celebrated until about a month afterwards ; and during that time the girl appears in public, with her body painted red, in order that all the world may know, that the man with whom she is seen to cohabit is her husband. Were not this ceremony previously observed, the marriage would be deemed illegal and sacrilegious and the parents of the girl would have a right to punish her with death. The term prescribed by usage being expired, the girl washes away the red color with which she has been stained, and the nuptials are celebrated with dances and rustic songs.
Marriage thus contracted, forms an indissoluble bond. There are only certain particular cases excepted by the law, which authorize a husband to divorce his wife; as for instance, when a Princess chooses him for her husband. Conjugal chastity is singularly respected among these people; adultery is placed in the list of the greatest crimes.
By an opinion generally received, the women are persuaded that if they were to render themselves guilty of infidelity, the greatest misfortunes would overwhelm them, unless they averted them by an avowal made to their husbands, and in obtaining their pardon, for the injury they might have done. There are still some more faults of which the wives think themselves bound to accuse themselves to their husbands. This accusation is a sort of religious ceremony. The husband takes care to be always easily to be intreated to pardon his wife for the faults which she avows to him ; but if she names an accomplice, he has a right to prosecute and bring that offender to justice ; and he never fails to do so, especially if the man has carried his "audacity so far as to stain the nuptial couch. When this crime is in agitation, the judge does not require other proofs than the denunciation of the husband, confirmed by the avowal of the wife; because he supposes that this avowal, which condemns her to infamy, cannot but be the cry of conscience. She is acquitted of it at the tribunal of the judge, as she is before her husband, for the sake of her repentance and shame ; but it is not so with the seducer ; the law ordains that he shall be placed in the power, and at the discretion of the man whom he has outraged; and he becomes his slave, at least unless he be rich enough to ransom himself. It is not to be supposed that such slaves are at all spared by their masters.
A Princess has the double right of choosing from among the people, such a husband as she thinks proper, even if he be already married, and to oblige him to have her alone for his spouse. As this last condition generally appears too hard to the Princess, it is rare that the Princesses find any of them willing to marry them, even the commoner's dread their alliance; but when it is offered them, they are obliged to accept it, on pain of being constrained by confiscation of body and goods. They have also a liberty, which none of the women of the people have; they can divorce a husband who no longer suits them, and choose another ; and it does not appear that they need assign any other motive for their divorce, than their will. In order that the divorced husband of a Princess may marry, or even take back his former wife, if he had one before his marriage with the Princess, he must obtain the permission of the King, who is generally very free and easy on this point.
The smal Kingdom of N'Goio acknowledges its dependence on that of Loango, by giving to the King a Princess of the blood, who is not to be the first among his spouses, and has none of the privileges of the other Princesses.
He on whom the Princess fixes her choice to become her husband, begins by rubbing his body with palm oil, and painting himself red: this is the, first exercise of a month's retreat, which he passes altogether at home, without ever stepping outside the door. During this time he feeds on the commonest meat, and drinks only water. At the end of the month he washes himself, and marries the Princess with a great deal of magnificence. But the day of his wedding is the last of his liberty. The husband of a Princess is less her spouse than her slave and her prisoner. He engages himself, in marrying her, never more to look on a woman during the whole time he cohabits with her. Never does he go out, unless accompanied by a numerous escort of part of his guards before, to drive aside all the women on the road where he is to pass. If, in spite of these precautions, a woman meet him on his way, and he has the ill luck to cast his eyes upon her, the Princess, on the deposition of her spies, may have his head chopped off, and she commonly uses this right. This sort of libertinism, sustained by power, often carries the Princesses to the greatest excesses : but nothing is dreaded so much as their anger. Cruelty seems to be their nature, and it might be said, that they wish to revenge themselves on all who approach them, of the sort of servitude to which their sex is condemned.
The condition of other women actually forms a striking contrast with that of the Princesses. While the latter treat their husbands as imperious mistresses ; the former are to theirs in a state of dependence bordering on slavery. When they speak to them, it is always kneeling. They alone are charged with the cultivation of the lands, and with all in-door work it is their business to provide for their own subsistence, and that of their children and busband.
If a man has many wives, each in her turn dresses his victuals and holds herself honoured in waiting on him at table, and then in receiving at his hand, the leavings for herself and children. The husband, in order not to, excite jealousy among his wives, uses no familiarity with any of them. He always dwells alone in his hut, and each of them in hers, with her children. This separation of dowelling does not prevent differences from arising among them now and then, which the husband, according to the. usage of the country, has a right to terminate juridically. On the complaint which, has been preferred to him, he orders the two rivals to appear together before him; each pleads her cause kneeling; whilst he himself sits on the ground with his feet crossed. After having heard them, he pronounces sentence ; they retire in silence, testifying the most entire submission to his judgment. It appears, that those who have several wives, make some distinction among them; and that some are wives of the first order, others of the second order; of the latter class there are some who are truly slaves. The lot of Princes wives differs much from that of Princesses ; they are not dispensed with in domestic labour, and they are frequently occupied like others in the cultivation of the lands.
The husband commonly is at the charge of giving dresses to his wife, and maintaining her house; he goes a hunting and fishing. When those who have many wives have procured a sufficient quantity of game and fish, they distribute it among all their
wives, scrupulously observing, that the shares are equal according to the number of their children. If what they have taken is not sufficient for all, they divide only with her who has charge of the kitchen that day. The commonalty of goods between
husbands and wives is not held in this country; it is attended with too many inconveniences for the usage of polygamy. As to successions, the children do not inherit from their father; but only from their mother. The goods of the father are reversible after
death to his eldest uterine brother, if he has one. In defect of brothers, to the eldest son of his eldest uterine sister, or lastly, to the eldest son of his nearest maternal relation.
Successions among the poor, that is to say, the bulk of the nation, are reduced to a house, a gun, a sabre, some wooden or earthen vessels, and a few macoutes; sometimes they are of still less value. Those of the rich, of the Princes and Kings, consist of Paves, cotton cloths covered with silver, coral, sabres, guns, and other effects drawn from Europe. As the King is proprietary of the Kingdom, the lands and lordships which the great hold by the title of Government, do not pass to their heirs, unless they purchase the preference, by dint of presents to the King and his Ministers.
CHAP. X. - Of the Education of the Children.
THE fathers take no particular care of the education of their children. They content themselves with inspiring them with a certain vague fear of the Divinity, of which they themselves have very confused notions. They induce them by example, more than discourse, to respect their superstitious practices ; to avoid lying, theft, and perjury. They also enjoin them to respect the Ganga or Ministers, and the aged. They give them lessons as occasion requires. There is no public school among these people, either for religion, or for sciences ; and there are few trades to which they can bind their children. The young girls are as laborious as their mothers. Always at their side, they share with them the hardest toils of the field, and all the cares of the household. They go to gather fire-wood in the forests, and draw water from the river, which is frequently a quarter of a league distant. But the little boys, following the example of their father, will take no part in the labours with which their sisters are overwhelmed ; and scarcely do they arrive at years of discretion, when they assume the tone of masters over them, as they see their father do over their mother. A missionary one day heard a mother giving a small commission to her son. The child was only about eight years old, but he answered gravely, "Do you think then that I am a boy ?"
Whilst the mother works with her daughters, the boys amuse themselves and idle away their time with children of the same age. They play but little ; sometimes they seek sugar-canes, ananas, and other fruits delicious to the taste ; but their great and almost only occupation, is to go a bird-nesting in the forests, where they find them in great numbers, and of the finest plumage. They also take them in traps and with nets, using ants' eggs for baits. Many children there are among us, who would more easily accustom themselves to this way of life, than to the severities of, study.
When they are come to the age of fifteen or sixteen, they engage voluntarily in fishing ; or they go to the chace as soon as they can find means to purchase a gun. Some of them manufacture macoutes, which are little bits of linen cloth, which pass for money in the country.
CHAP. XI - Of Arts and Trades.
THESE people have no knowledge of writing, nor any signs which may stand in its stead. They have therefore no records but tradition, which is maintained by certain usages. The arts among them are still in their infancy ; they exercise those only which are necessary to life, and even those in a very imperfect manner.
Their physicians are revered as very estimable men, quite essential to the welfare of society : their art forms part of the religion. They bear the name of Ganga, which in the language of the country signifies Minister. When they come to a patient, they ask him where his ailment lies ? and they set to blowing on the part affected ; after that they make formentations, and tie up his limbs in different places with bandages : these are the preliminaries used in all diseases ; they know nothing either of phlebotomy or of medicines. There are cases in which they employ simples of different sorts, but only, topically. The missionaries could not get to know the Virtues of them. They always chew some before they breathe upon their patients, which operation may well, especially in external hurts, produce some natural effect. The physicians of the country know also a very salutary remedy, in their opinion, for all diseases ; but this they only employ in favour of those who can afford the expense ; when they are called in to a rich man, they take with them all the performers on musical instruments they can find in the country : they all enter in silence ; but at the first signal which they give the musical troop begin their performance some are furnished with stringed instruments ; others beat on the trunks of hollow trees, covered with skin, a sort of tabor. All of them uniting their voices with the sound of the instruments, round the patient's bed, make a terrible uproar and din ; which is often continued for several days and nights in succession. To an European the remedy would be worse than the disease ; but this music, which charms the natives when they are in good health, cannot make them feel, in sickness, a more disagreeable sensation than the most harmonious concert would to one of us; and in this case the remedy must certainly not be so violent as might at first be imagined. Be that as it may, when the state of the patient begins to grow worse, they endeavour to draw from their instruments the most piercing sounds, and make the whole neighbourhood resound with their cries, as if they wanted to frighten Death and put him to flight. If they do not succeed in this, as it often happens, they console themselves in the thought, that they have done their duty, and that the relations of the defunct have nothing to reproach them with. All the time the choir of musicians remain near the deceased, the physicians pay him frequent visits, and come at stated hours to administer different remedies to him, and to blow upon his pained part.
The most common diseases of these climates are fevers, small-pox, measles, and palsy. The latter is called the King's disease ; the natives regard it as the punishment for some attempt meditated against the King; the paralytic, however, is never judicially prosecuted, because it is supposed that Heaven, who has deprived him of the use of some of his limbs, has punished him according to the degree of his malicious intention; but he is regarded as a wicked citizen.
The physicians prescribe no particular regimen to their patients ; they order them to have every thing they want, either to eat or drink, without any regard to quantity or quality ; but if they ask for nothing, nothing is to be offered them. This method is not without its inconveniences, but it may also have its advantages. As soon as the patient is dead, or when he is cured, his relations make a gathering on the spot for the profit of the physician who has attended him during his illness. When the gatherers went to the missionaries, they generally asked them for European brandy, assuring them, that it was the thing which would most please the Doctor.
As the greater part of our diseases are occasioned by excesses of the table, the natives who always lead an uniform, sober, and frugal life, are rarely sick, and a great number among them, attain an extreme old age. The actual King of Kakongo, named Poukouta, is one hundred and twenty-fix years of age. He has always been in good health, and it was only in the month of March last year, that he felt, for the first time, the infirmities of old age, and that his sight and legs began to weaken ; but his head is still sound, and he habitually employs five or six hours a day, in administering justice to his subjects. The Princess Ma-Inteva, his aunt, is about as old, and in equal health.
When the natives feel themselves indisposed, they make a ptisan of dog's tooth, which is the same as ours. Those who have ailings which do not oblige them to keep their bed, go themselves to the Doctors, who prescribe to them some superstitious practices, to which they attribute the cure, which nature herself operates.
Although these physicians, as we have just now sufficiently shewn, are no great, conjurors, the people believe them to be very deeply versed in the secrets of magic ;
and they also do not forbid themselves the acquisition of the occult sciences, which are attributed to them as well as the commerce, supposed to be established between them and the evil spirit whom they undertake to appease. The children of the Doctors succeed their fathers.
The missionaries one day had occasion to see a negro, the lord of a village, whom neither the found of instruments nor the breathings of the doctors, nor even their topical remedies, had been able to cure. His disease bore symptoms quite singular and peculiar ; at the moment when the fit seized him, day or night, he went out and ran at random over the plains and through the forests, making lamentable howlings and cries, like one possessed with a devil. His eyes were haggard and inflamed, he foamed at the mouth, and when he stopped, he appeared shaken with violent convulsions, although he, did harm to no one. The inhabitants of the country, when he was in this state, dreaded to meet him, more than they dreaded a wild beast. When these fits of fury subsided, the man appeared very rational, and spoke sensibly ; but all that the mis- sionaries could draw from him, and what he constantly told every body, was, that he was haunted by a great spectre, the sight of which shook him, and put him beside himself and then he knew not where he was, nor what he did. The missionaries not being able to follow this man, and to examine him in his mad fits, supposed that the disorder was occasioned by organic derangement; though it is not impossible that the demon who already possesses the souls of the wretched inhabitants of these countries, may also sometimes extend his dominion over the bodies : and that, by a just judgment of God, he begins to punish them, even in this life, for the sacrilegious worship they paid him.
We have spoken elsewhere of agriculture; it is the women who carry it on.
They have no other instrument of tillage than a little pointed spade, which is pretty much like the trowels of our masons. They who say they have seen a quantity of vine-dressers in Loango, ought to have seen, that there are no vines in the country.
The men, besides, by an universal prejudice, founded no doubt on their indolence, would think they degraded themselves if they tilled the ground. They prefer to attach honour to more amusing and less toilsome occupations ; almost all of them are hunters
and fishers. A great number are also carpenters, if we may give that name to those who construct such houses as we have described. There are also smiths among them, as well as potters, weavers, and salt-makers.
The smiths get their iron from Europe. To heat it they use charcoal. They hammer it on anvils made of wood harder than stone. There have been seen however, some small iron anvils in the King's forges at Loango. The workmen are slow, and not very skilful ; they make only small ware. The hammers they use are no heavier ,than those of our, upholsterers. Their bellows are of a pretty ingenious make.
The potters make all sorts of earthen vessels, which they bake in the midst of a great fire. They are fashioned almost as well, as those of Europe, although no wheel is used. The potters also make tobacco pipes, the great consumption of which forms a considerable branch of their petty trade.
The weavers make their cloths of a grass about two feet high, which grows untilled in the desert plains, and needs no preparation to be put to work. The length of the grass is the length of the web ; they make it rather narrower than long. This cloth is woven like ours; but they make it on their knees, without shuttle or loom having the patience to pass the wool through the threads with their fingers, in the same way that our basket-makers weave their hurdles. Although they work With such quickness that one can scarcely follow their fingers with ones eyes, they get slowly forward.
The best workmen do not make more than the length of an ell of cloth in the space of eight days.
Their little pieces, which we call macoutes, serve as the current money of the country. The merchants. have no right to refuse in exchange for them the goods they bring to market. Besides the common cloths, the natives make little bags, caps, and other articles some of which would be admired in Europe for the variety of the design, and the delicacy of the workmanship. In the country is found a tree, the inner bark of which is really a cloth, as strong and flexible as ours: the natives use it as macoutes, and as materials for clothes.
The peasants of the villages near the sea, are mostly salters. All their art consists in evaporating sea water over a great fire, which deposits the salt at the bottom of vessels employed for the purpose.
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