The Ethnology of the British Colonies and Dependencies
by Robert Gordon Latham
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Transcriber's Note:

Archaic, dialect and variant spellings (including quoted proper nouns) remain as printed, except where noted. Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note; significant amendments have been listed at the end of the text.

Greek text has been transliterated and appears between {braces}.

Non-standard characters have been transcribed as follows:

[oe], oe ligature; ā, ū, macron over a or u; ă, breve over a; ś, acute accent over s.






LONDON: Printed by SAMUEL BENTLEY and CO., Bangor House, Shoe Lane.



DEPENDENCIES IN EUROPE. PAGE Heligoland and the Frisians.—Gibraltar and the Spanish Stock.— Malta.—The Ionian Islands.—The Channel Islands. 1



The Gambia Settlements.—Sierra Leone.—The Gold Coast.—The Cape.—The Mauritius.—The Negroes of America. 34



Aden.—The Mongolian Variety.—The Monosyllabic Languages.—Hong Kong.—The Tenasserim Provinces; Maulmein, Ye, Tavoy, Tenasserim, the Mergui Archipelago.—The Mon, Siamese, Avans, Kariens, and Silong.—Arakhan.—Mugs, Khyens.—Chittagong, Tippera, and Sylhet.—Kuki.—Kasia.—Cachars.—Assam.—Nagas.—Singpho.—Jili. —Khamti.—Mishimi.—Abors and Bor-Abors.—Dufla.—Aka.—Muttucks and Miri, and other Tribes of the Valley of Assam.—The Garo.— Classification.—Mr. Brown's Tables.—The Bodo.—Dhimal.—Kocch. —Lepchas of Sikkim.—Rawat of Kumaon.—Polyandria.—The Tamulian Populations.—Rajmahali Mountaineers.—Kulis, Khonds, Goands, Chenchwars.—Tudas, &c.—Bhils.—Waralis.—The Tamul, Telinga, Kanara, and Malayalam Languages. 92


The Sanskrit Language.—Its Relations to certain Modern Languages of India; to the Slavonic and Lithuanic of Europe.—Inferences.— Brahminism of the Puranas.—Of the Institutes of Menu.—Extract. —Of the Vedas.—Extract.—Inferences.—The Hindus.—Sikhs.— Biluchi.—Afghans.—Wandering Tribes.—Miscellaneous Populations. —Ceylon.—Buddhism.—Devil-worship.—Vaddahs. 150


British Dependencies in the Malayan Peninsula.—The Oceanic Stock and its Divisions.—The Malay, Semang, and Dyak Types.—The Orang Binua.—Jakuns.—The Biduanda Kallang.—The Orang Sletar.—The Sarawak Tribes.—The New Zealanders.—The Australians.—The Tasmanians. 203



The Athabaskans of the Hudson's Bay Country.—The Algonkin Stock. —The Iroquois.—The Sioux.—Assineboins.—The Eskimo.—The Koluch.—The Nehanni.—Digothi.—The Atsina.—Indians of British Oregon, Quadra's and Vancouver's Island.—Haidah.—Chimsheyan.— Billichula.—Hailtsa.—Nutka.—Atna.—Kitunaha Indians.— Particular Algonkin Tribes.—The Nascopi.—The Bethuck.—Numerals from Fitz-Hugh Sound.—The Moskito Indians.—South American Indians of British Guiana.—Caribs.—Warows.—Wapisianas.— Tarumas.—Caribs of St. Vincent.—Trinidad. 224


The following pages represent a Course of Six Lectures delivered at the Royal Institution, Manchester, in the months of February and March of the present year; the matter being now laid before the public in a somewhat fuller and more systematic form than was compatible with the original delivery.





Heligoland.—We learn from a passage in the Germania of Tacitus, that certain tribes agreed with each other in the worship of a goddess who was revered as Earth the Mother; that a sacred grove, in a sacred island, was dedicated to her; and that, in that grove, there stood a holy wagon, covered with a pall, and touched by the priest only. The goddess herself was drawn by heifers; and as long as she vouchsafed her presence among men, there was joy, and feasts, and hospitality; and peace amongst otherwise fierce tribes instead of war and violence. After a time, however, the goddess withdrew herself to her secret temple—satiated with the converse of mankind; and then the wagon, the pall, and the deity herself were bathed in the holy lake. The administrant slaves were sucked up by its waters. There was terror and there was ignorance; the reality being revealed to those alone who thus suddenly passed from life to death.

Now we know, by name at least, five of the tribes who are thus connected by a common worship—mysterious and obscure as it is. They are the Reudigni, the Aviones, the Eudoses, the Suardones, and the Nuithones.

Two others we know by something more than name—the Varini and the Langobardi.

The eighth is our own parent stock—the Angli.

Such is one of the earliest notices of the old creed of our German forefathers; and, fragmentary and indefinite as it is, it is one of the fullest which has reached us. I subjoin the original text, premising that, instead of Herthum, certain MSS. read Nerthum.

"——Langobardos paucitas nobilitat: plurimis ac valentissimis nationibus cincti, non per obsequium sed pr[oe]liis et periclitando tuti sunt. Reudigni deinde, et Aviones, et Angli, et Varini, et Eudoses, et Suardones, et Nuithones, fluminibus aut silvis muniuntur: nec quidquam notabile in singulis, nisi quod in commune Herthum, id est, Terram matrem colunt, eamque intervenire rebus hominum, invehi populis, arbitrantur. Est in insula Oceani Castum nemus, dicatumque in eo vehiculum, veste contectum, attingere uni sacerdoti concessum. Is adesse penetrali deam intelligit, vectamque bobus feminis multa cum veneratione prosequitur. Laeti tunc dies, festa loca, quaecumque adventu hospitioque dignatur. Non bella ineunt, non arma sumunt, clausum omne ferrum; pax et quies tunc tantum nota, tunc tantum amata, donec idem sacerdos satiatam conversatione mortalium deam templo reddat; mox vehiculum et vestes, et, si credere velis, numen ipsum secreto lacu abluitur. Servi ministrant, quos statim idem lacus haurit. Arcanus hinc terror, sanctaque ignorantia, quid sit id, quod tantum perituri vident."—"De Moribus Germanorum," 40.

What connects the passage with the ethnology of Heligoland? Heligoland is, probably, the island of the Holy Grove. Its present name indicates this—the holy land. Its position in the main sea, or Ocean, does the same. So does its vicinity to the country of Germans.

At the same time it must not be concealed from the reader that the Isle of Rugen, off the coast of Pomerania, has its claims. It is an island—but not an island of the Ocean. It is full of religious remains—but those remains are Slavonic rather than German.

I believe, for my own part, that the seat of the worship of Earth the Mother, was the island which we are now considering.

In respect to its inhabitants, it must serve as a slight text for a long commentary. A population of about two thousand fishers; characterized, like the ancient Venetians, by an utter absence of horses, mules, ponies, asses, carts, wagons, or any of the ordinary applications of animal power to the purposes of locomotion, confined to a small rock, and but little interrupted with foreign elements, is, if considered in respect to itself alone, no great subject for either the ethnologist or the geographer. But what if its relations to the population of the continent be remarkable? What if the source of its population be other than that which, from the occupants of the nearest portion of the continent, we are prepared to expect? In this case, the narrow area of an isolated rock assumes an importance which its magnitude would never have created.

The nearest part of the opposite continent is German—Cuxhaven, Bremen, and Hamburg, being all German towns. And what the towns are the country is also—or nearly so. It is German—which Heligoland is not.

The Heligolanders are no Germans, but Frisians. I have lying before me the Heligoland version of God save the Queen. A Dutchman would understand this, easier than a Low German, a Low German easier than an Englishman, and (I think) an Englishman easier than a German of Bavaria. The same applies to another sample of the Heligoland muse—the contented Heligolander's wife (Dii tofreden Hjelgeluennerin), a pretty little song in Hettema's collection of Frisian poems; with which, however, the native literature ends. There is plenty of Frisian verse in general; but little enough of the particular Frisian of Heligoland.

A difference like that between the Frisians of Heligoland and the Germans of Hanover, is always suggestive of an ethnological alternative; since it is a general rule, supported both by induction and common sense, that, except under certain modifying circumstances, islands derive their inhabitants from the nearest part of the nearest continent. When, however, the populations differ, one of two views has to be taken. Either some more distant point than the one which geographical proximity suggests has supplied the original occupants, or a change has taken place on the part of one or both of the populations since the period of the original migration.

Which has been the case here? The latter. The present Germans of the coast between the Elbe and Weser are not the Germans who peopled Heligoland, nor yet the descendants of them. Allied to them they are; inasmuch as Germany is a wide country, and German a comprehensive term; but they are not the same. The two peoples, though like, are different.

Of what sort, then, were the men and women that the present Germans of the Oldenburg and Hanoverian coast have displaced and superseded? Let us investigate. Whoever rises from the perusal of those numerous notices of the ancient Germans which we find in the classical writers, to the usual tour of Rhenish Germany, will find a notable contrast between the natives of that region as they were and as they are. His mind may be full of their golden hair, expecting to find it flaxen at least. Blue and grey eyes, too, he will expect to preponderate over the black and hazel. This is what he will have read about, and what he will not find—at least along the routine lines of travel. As little will there be of massive muscularity in the limbs, and height in the stature. Has the type changed, or have the old records been inaccurate? Has the wrong part of Germany been described? or has the contrast between the Goth and the Italian engendered an exaggeration of the differences? It is no part of the present treatise to enter upon this question. It is enough to indicate the difference between the actual German of the greater part of Germany in respect to the colour of his hair, eyes, and skin, and the epithets of the classical writers.

But all is not bare from Dan to Beersheba. The German of the old Germanic type is to be found if sought for. His locality, however, is away from the more frequented parts of his country. Still it is the part which Tacitus knew best, and which he more especially described. This is the parts on the Lower rather than the Upper Rhine; and it is the parts about the Ems and Weser rather than those of the Rhine at all—sacred as is this latter stream to the patriotism of the Prussian and Suabian. It is Lower rather than Upper Germany, Holland rather than Germany at all, and Friesland rather than any of the other Dutch provinces. It is Westphalia, and Oldenburg, as much, perhaps, as Friesland. The tract thus identified extends far into the Cimbric Peninsula,—so that the Jutlander, though a Dane in tongue, is a Low German in appearance.

The preceding observations are by no means the present writer's, who has no wish to be responsible for the apparent paradox that the Germans in Germany are not Germanic. It is little more than a repetition of one of Prichard's,[1] in which he is supported by both Niebuhr and the Chevalier Bunsen. The former expressly states that the yellow or red hair, blue eyes, and light complexion has now become uncommon, whilst the latter has "often looked in vain for the auburn or golden locks and the light cerulean eyes of the old Germans, and never verified the picture given by the ancients of his countrymen, till he visited Scandinavia; there he found himself surrounded by the Germans of Tacitus."

For Scandinavia, I would simply substitute the fen districts of Friesland, Oldenburg, Hanover, and Holstein—all of them the old area of the Frisian.

Such is the physiognomy. What are the other peculiarities of the Frisian? His language, his distribution, his history.

The Frisian of Friesland, is not the Dutch of Holland; nor yet a mere provincial dialect of it. Instead of the infinitive moods and plural numbers ending in -n as in Holland, the former end in -a, the latter in -ar. And so they did when the language was first reduced to writing,—which it has been for nearly a thousand years. So they did when the laws of the Old Frisian republic were composed, and when the so-called Old Frisian was the language of the country. So they did in the sixteenth century, when the popular poet, Gysbert Japicx, wrote in the Middle Frisian; and so they do now—when, under the auspices of Postumus and Hettema, we have Frisian translations of Shakespeare's "As You Like it," "Julius Caesar," and "Cymbeline."

Now the oldest Frisian is older than the oldest Dutch; in other words, of the two languages it was the former which was first reduced to writing. Yet the doctrine that it is the mother-tongue of the Dutch, is as inaccurate as the opposite notion of its being a mere provincial dialect. I state this, because I doubt whether the Dutch forms in -n, could well be evolved out of the Frisian in -r, or -a. The -n belongs to the older form,—which at one time was common to both languages, but which in the Frisian became omitted as early as the tenth century; whereas, in the Dutch, it remains up to the present day.

If the Frisian differ from the Dutch, it differs still more from the proper Low German dialects of Westphalia, Oldenburg, and Holstein; all of which have the differential characteristics of the Dutch in a greater degree than the Dutch itself.

The closest likeness to the Frisian has ceased to exist as a language. It has disappeared on the Continent. It has changed in the island which adopted it. That island is Great Britain.

No existing nation, as tested by its language, is so near the Angle of England as the Frisian of Friesland. This, to the Englishman, is the great element of its interest.

The history of the Frisian Germans must begin with their present distribution. They constitute the present agricultural population of the province of Friesland; so that if Dutch be the language of the towns, it is Frisian which we find in the villages and lone farm-houses. And this is the case with that remarkable series of islands which runs like a row of breakwaters from the Helder to the Weser, and serves as a front to the continent behind them. Such are Ameland, Terschelling, Wangeroog, and the others—each with its dialect or sub-dialect.

But beyond this, the continuity of the range of language is broken. Frisian is not the present dialect of Groningen. Nor yet of Oldenburg generally—though in one or two of the fenniest villages of that duchy a remnant of it still continues to be spoken; and is known to philologists and antiquarians as the Saterland dialect.

It was spoken in parts of East Friesland as late as the middle of the last century—but only in parts; the Low German, or Platt-Deutsch, being the current tongue of the districts around.

It is spoken—as already stated—in Heligoland.

And, lastly, it is spoken in an isolated locality as far north as the Duchy of Sleswick, in the neighbourhood of Husum and Bredsted.

It was these Frisians of Sleswick who alone, during the late struggle of Denmark against Germany, looked upon the contest with the same indifference as the frogs viewed the battles of the oxen. They were not Germans to favour the aggressors from the South, nor Danes to feel the patriotism of the Northmen. They were neither one nor the other—simply Frisians, members of an isolated and disconnected brotherhood.

The epithet free originated with the Frisians of Friesland Proper, and it has adhered to them. With their language they have preserved many of their old laws and privileges, and from first to last, have always contrived that the authority of the sovereigns of the Netherlands should sit lightly on them.

Nevertheless, they are a broken and disjointed population; inasmuch, as the natural inference from their present distribution is the doctrine that, at some earlier period, they were spread over the whole of the sea-coast from Holland to Jutland, in other words, that they were the oldest inhabitants of Friesland, Oldenburg, Lower Hanover, and Holstein. If so, they must have been the Frisii of Tacitus. No one doubts this. They must also have been the Chauci of that writer, the German form of whose names, as we know from the oldest Anglo-Saxon poems, was Hocing. This is not so universally admitted; nevertheless, it is difficult to say who the Chauci were if they were not Frisians, or why we find Frisians to the north of the Elbe, unless the population was at one time continuous.

When was this continuity disturbed? From the earliest times the sea-coast of Germany seems to have been Frisian, and from the earliest times the tribes of the interior seem to have moved from the inland country towards the sea. Their faces were turned towards Britain; or, if not towards Britain, towards France, or the Baltic. I believe, then, that as early as 100 B.C. the displacement of some of the occupants of the Frisian area had begun; this being an inference from the statement of Caesar, that the Batavians of Holland were, in his own time, considered to have been an immigrant population. From these Batavians have come the present Dutch, and as the present Dutch differ from the Frisians of A.D. 1851, so did their respective great ancestors in B.C. 100—there, or thereabouts. But the encroachment of the Dutch upon the Frisian was but slow. The map tells us this. Just as in some parts of Great Britain we have Shiptons and Charltons, whereas in others the form is Skipton and Carlton; just as in Scotland they talk of the kirk, and in England of the church;[2] and just as such differences are explained by the difference of dialect on the part of the original occupants, so do we see in Holland that certain places have the names in a Dutch, and others in a Frisian form. The Dutch compounds of man are like the English, and end in -n. The Frisians never end so. They drop the consonant, and end in -a; as Hettema, Halberts-ma, &c. Again—all three languages—English, Dutch, and Frisian—have numerous compounds of the word ham=home, as Threekingham, Eastham, Petersham, &c. In English the form is what we have just seen. In Holland the termination is -hem, as in Arn-hem, Berg-hem. In Frisian the vowel is u, and the h is omitted altogether, e.g., Dokk-um, Borst-um, &c.

Bearing this in mind, we may take up a map of the Netherlands. Nine places out of ten in Friesland end in -um, and none in -hem. In Groningen the proportion is less; and in Guelderland and Overijssel, it is less still. Nevertheless, as far south as the Maas, and in parts of the true Dutch Netherlands, where no approach to the Frisian language can now be discovered, a certain per-centage of Frisian forms for geographical localities occurs.[3]

The remainder of the displacement of the Frisians was, most probably, effected by the introduction of the Low Germans of the empire of Charlemagne, into the present countries of Oldenburg and Hanover; and I believe that the same series of conquests, which then broke up the speakers of the Frisian, annihilated the Germanic representatives of the Anglo-Saxons of England; since it is an undeniable fact that of the numerous dialects of the country called Lower Saxony, all (with the exception of the Frisian) are forms of the Platt-Deutsch, and none of them descendants of the Anglo-Saxon. Hence, as far as the language represents the descent, whatever we Anglo-Saxons may be in Great Britain, America, Hindostan, Australia, New Zealand, or Africa, we are the least of our kith and kin in Germany. And we can afford to be so. Otherwise, if we were a petty people, and given to ethnological sentimentality, we might talk about the Franks of Charlemagne, as the Celts talk of us; for, without doubt, the same Franks either exterminated or denationalized us in the land of our birth, and displaced the language of Alfred and AElfric in the country upon which it first reflected a literature.

There are no absolute descendants of the ancestors of the English in their ancestral country of Germany; the Germans that eliminated them being but step-brothers at best. But there is something of the sort. The conquest that destroyed the Angles, broke up the Frisians. Each shared each other's ruin. This gives the common bond of misfortune. But there is more than this. It is quite safe to say that the Saxons and Frisians[4] were closely—very closely—connected in respect to all the great elements of ethnological affinity—language, traditions, geographical position, history. Nor is this confined to mere generalities. The opinion, first, I believe, indicated by Archbishop Usher, and recommended to further consideration by Mr. Kemble, that the Frisians took an important part in the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Great Britain is gaining ground. True, indeed, it is that the current texts from Beda and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle make no mention of them. They speak only of Saxons, Angles, and Jutes. And true it is, that no provincial dialect has been discovered in England which stands in the same contrast to the languages of the parts about it, as the Frisian does to the Dutch and Low German. Yet it is also true that, according to some traditions, Hengist was a Frisian hero. And it is equally true that, in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, we find more than one incidental mention of Frisians in England—their presence being noticed as a matter of course, and without any reference to their introduction. This is shown in the following extract:—"That same year, the armies from among the East-Anglians, and from among the North-Humbrians, harassed the land of the West-Saxons chiefly, most of all by their aescs, which they had built many years before. Then King Alfred commanded long ships to be built to oppose the aescs; they were full-nigh twice as long as the others; some had sixty oars, and some had more; they were both swifter and steadier, and also higher than the others. They were shapen neither like the Frisian nor the Danish, but so as it seemed to him that they would be most efficient. Then some time in the same year, there came six ships to Wight, and there did much harm, as well as in Devon, and elsewhere along the sea-coast. Then the king commanded nine of the new ships to go thither, and they obstructed their passage from the port towards the outer sea. Then went they with three of their ships out against them; and three lay in the upper part of the port in the dry; the men were gone from them ashore. Then took they two of the three ships at the outer part of the port, and killed the men, and the other ship escaped; in that also the men were killed except five; they got away because the other ships were aground. They also were aground very disadvantageously, three lay aground on that side of the deep on which the Danish ships were aground, and all the rest upon the other side, so that no one of them could get to the others. But when the water had ebbed many furlongs from the ships, the Danish men went from their three ships to the other three which were left by the tide on their side, and then they there fought against them. There was slain Lucumon the king's reeve, and Wulfheard the Frisian, and AEbbe the Frisian, and AEthelhere the Frisian, and AEthelferth the king's geneat, and of all the men, Frisians and English, seventy-two; and of the Danish men one hundred and twenty."

Lastly, we have the evidence of Procopius that "three numerous nations inhabit Britain,—the Angles, the Frisians, and the Britons."[5]

Whatever interpretation we may put upon the preceding extracts, it is certain that the Frisians are the nearest German representatives of our Germanic ancestors; whilst it is not uninteresting to find that the little island of Heligoland, is the only part of the British Empire where the ethnological and political relations coincide.

Gibraltar.—This isolated possession serves as a text for the ethnology of Spain; and there is no country wherein the investigation is more difficult.

It is difficult, if we look at the analysis of the present population, and attempt to ascertain the proportion of its different ingredients. There is Moorish blood, and there is Gothic, Roman, and Ph[oe]nician; some little Greek, and, older than any, the primitive and original Iberic. Perhaps, too, there is a Celtic element,—at least such is the inference from the term Celtiberian. Yet it is doubtful whether it be a true one; and, even if it be, there still stands over the question whether the Celtic or the Iberic element be the older.

When this is settled, the hardest problem of all remains behind; viz., the ethnological position of the Iberians. What they were, in themselves, we partially know from history; and what their descendants are we know also from their language. But we only know them as an isolated branch of the human species. Their relation to the neighbouring families is a mystery. Reasons may be given for connecting them with the Celts of Gaul; reasons for connecting them with the Africans of the other side of the Straits; and reasons for connecting them with tribes and families so distant in place, and so different in manners as the Finns of Finland, and the Laps of Lapland. Nay more,—affinities have been found between their language and the Hebrew, Arabic, and Syriac; between it and the Georgian; between it and half the tongues of the Old World. Even in the forms of speech of America, analogies have been either found or fancied.

Be this, however, as it may, the oldest inhabitants of the Spanish peninsula were the different tribes of the Iberians proper, and the Celtiberians; the first being the most easily disposed of. They it was, whose country was partially colonized by Ph[oe]nician colonists; either directly from Tyre and Sidon, or indirectly from Carthage. They it was who, at a somewhat later period, came in contact with the Greeks of Marseilles and their own town of Emporia. They it was who could not fail to receive some intermixture of African blood; whether it were from Africans crossing over on their own account, or from the Libyans, Gaetulians, and Mauritanians of the Carthaginian levies.

And now the great western peninsula becomes the battle-ground for Rome and Carthage; the theatre of the Scipios on the one side, and the great family of the Barcas on the other. On Iberian ground does Hannibal swear his deadly and undying enmity to Rome. At this time, the numerous primitive tribes of Spain may boast a civilization equal to that of the most favoured spots of the earth,—Greece, and the parts between the Nile, the Euphrates and the Mediterranean alone being excepted. As tested by their agricultural mode of life, their commercial and mining industry, their susceptibility of discipline as soldiers, and, above all, by the size and number of their cities, the Iberian of Spain is on the same level with the Celt of Gaul, and the Celt of Gaul on that of the Italian of Italy,—i.e., as far as the civilization of the latter is his own, and not of Greek origin. But this is a point of European rather than Spanish ethnology.

That the obstinate spirit of resistance to organized armies by means of a guerilla warfare, the savage patriotism which suggests such expressions as war even to the knife, and the endurance behind stone walls, which characterizes the modern Spaniards, is foreshadowed in the times of their earliest history, has often been remarked, and that truly. Numantia is an early Saragossa, Saragossa a modern Numantia. Viriathus has had innumerable counterparts. Where the indomitable Cantabrian held out against the power of Rome, the Biscayan of the year 1851 adheres to his privileges and his language; and what the Cantabrian was to the Roman, the Asturian was to the Moor. Both trusted their freedom to their impracticable mountains and stubborn spirits—and kept it accordingly. It is an easy matter to refer the peculiarities of the Spanish character to the infusion of Oriental blood; and with some of them it may be the case. But with many of them, the reference is a false one. Half the Spanish character was Iberic and Lusitanian before either Jew or Saracen had seen the Rock of Gibraltar.

Of the early Spanish religion, we know but little. A remarkable passage in Strabo speaks to their literature. They had an alphabet. This is known from coins and inscriptions. And it was of foreign origin—Greek or Ph[oe]nician. This nothing but the most inconsiderate and uncritical patriotism can deny. Denied, however, it has been; and the indigenous and independent evolution of an alphabet has been claimed; the particular tribe to which it has more especially been ascribed being the Turdetani. These—and the passage I am about to quote is the passage of Strabo just alluded to—are "put forward as the wisest of the Iberi, and they have the use of letters; and they have records of ancient history, and poems, and metrical laws for six thousand years—as they say."[6]

Now, whatever may be the doubts implied by the last three words of this extract, the evidence is to the effect that the old Iberians were a lettered nation; the antiquity of their civilization being another question. To modify our scepticism on the point, the text has been tampered with, and it has been proposed to read poems ({epon}) instead of years ({eton}). The change, to be sure, is slight enough—that of a single letter—from p ({p}) to t ({t}); nevertheless, as it is more than cautious criticism will allow, the reading must stand as it is, and the claim of the Turdetanians must be for a literature nearly as old as the supposed age of the world in the current century,—a long date, and a date which would be improbable, even if we divided it by twelve, and rendered {etos} by month instead of year. It denotes either some shorter period (perhaps a day) or nothing at all.

So much for the Iberians; of which the Lusitanians of Portugal were a branch; and of which there were several divisions and subdivisions involving considerable varieties both of manners and language. In respect to the latter there is the special evidence of Strabo that their tongues and alphabets differed. And so did their mythologies. The Callaici had the reputation of being atheists; whilst the Celtiberi worshipped an anonymous God,[7] at the full of the moon, with feasts and dances.

But who were the Celtiberi? I have already said that there were difficulties upon this point. The name makes them a mixed people; half Celt and half Iberic. If so, the French influence in the Spanish Peninsula was as great in the time of Hannibal, as it was wished to be in the time of Louis XIV.

With the exception of Niebuhr, the chief authorities have considered the Iberi as the aborigines, and the Celts as emigrants from Gaul. To this, however, Niebuhr took exceptions. He considered the warlike character of the Iberians; and this made him unwilling to think that any invader from the north had displaced them. And he considered the geographical distribution of the Celtiberi. This was not in the fertile plains nor along the banks of fertilizing rivers, nor yet in the districts of the golden corn and the precious wool of Hispania, but in the rougher mountain tracts, in the quarters whereto an aboriginal inhabitant would be more likely to retire, than an invading conqueror to covet, I admit the difficulty implied in his objection; but I admit it only as a presumption—against which there is a decided preponderance of material facts.

In the first place, there are the oldest names of the geographical localities throughout Spain. These, as shown by the well-known monograph of Humboldt, are not Celtic, and are Iberic.

In the next place, the Celtic frontier was by no means so near the geographical boundary of the Peninsula as it is often supposed to have been. Instead of the Celtic of Gaul reaching the Pyrenees, the Iberic of Spain reached the Loire—so that the province of Aquitania, although Gallic in politics, was Iberic in ethnology. This, again, is shown by Humboldt.

For my own part, instead of discussing the relation of the Celts of Celtiberia to the other inhabitants of Spain, I would open a new question, and investigate the grounds upon which we believe in an intermixture at all. Whatever respect we may pay to the statements of the classical writers, the name itself is not conclusive; since it would be just as likely to be given from an approach on the part of an Iberic population to the Celtic manners, or from the adoption of any supposed Celtic characteristic, as from absolute ethnological intermixture. Like modern observers, the ancient writers were too fond of gratuitously assuming an intermixture of blood for the explanation of the results of common physical or social conditions. Hence—without pressing my opinion on the reader—I confine myself to an expression of doubt as to the existence of Celts amongst the Celtiberi at all.

But this only simplifies the question as to the ethnological position of the Iberic variety of the human species. It does not even suggest an answer. They were the aborigines of Spain. They are the ancestors of the present Biscayans. Their tongue survives in the north-west provinces of Spain, and in the north-east corner of France. It has no recognized affinity with any known tongue; and it has undeniable points of contrast with all the languages of the countries around.

Yet it is only by means of the Basque language that the problem can be attempted. The physical conformation of the still extant Iberians, has nothing definitely characteristic about it. The ancient mythology has died away. The tribes most immediately allied have ceased to be other than unmixed. So the language alone remains—and that has yet to find its interpreter.

An Iberic basis—Greek, Ph[oe]nician, and Mauritanian intermixtures—possibly a Celtic element—Roman sufficient to change the language through four-fifths of the Peninsula—Gothic blood introduced by the followers of Euric—Arabian influences, second in importance to those of Rome only—such is the analysis of ethnological elements of the Spanish stock. The proportions, of course, differ in different parts of the Peninsula, and, although they are nowhere ascertained, it is reasonable to suppose that the Arab blood increases as we go southwards, and the Gothic and Iberic as we approach the Pyrenees. This makes Gibraltar the most Moorish part of Europe; and such I believe it to be.

Malta.—When we have subtracted the English, Italians, Greeks, and other nations of the Levant from the population of Malta, there still remain the primitive islanders, with their peculiar language.

Now this language is a form of the Arabic; and, with the exception of some of the dialects of Syria, it is the only instance of that language in the mouth of a Christian population. So thoroughly are the language and the religion of the Koran co-extensive.

At what period this tongue found its way to Malta is undetermined. As compared with any of the present languages of the island it is ancient. But it is not certain that, though old, it is the earliest. Carthaginians may have preceded the Arabs; Greeks the Carthaginians; and, possibly, Sicanians, or the earliest occupants of Sicily, the Greeks. I am unable, however, to carry my reader beyond the simple fact of the language being Arabic.

The only other Arabic dependency of Great Britain is Aden.[8]

The Ionian Islands.—The reader may have remarked the peculiar character of European ethnology. It consists chiefly in the analysis of the component parts of particular populations; and this it investigates so exclusively as to leave no room for the description of manners, customs, physiognomy, and the like—paramount in importance as these matters are when we come to the other quarters of the world. There are two reasons for this difference. First—the peculiarities of the European nations are by no means of the same extent and character with those of the ruder families of mankind. A similar civilization, and a similar religion, have effected a remarkable amount of uniformity; and, hence, the differences are those that the historian deals with more appropriately than the ethnologist. Secondly—such external and palpable differences as exist are generally known and appreciated. The analysis of blood, or stock, which, partially, accounts for them, is less completely understood.

Hence, in treating of the Maltese, there was no description of the Arabic stock at all. All that was stated was a reason for believing that the Maltese belonged to it. Such also, to a great degree, was the case with the Gibraltar population, and the Heligolanders. And such will be the case with the Ionian Islanders. It will not be thought necessary to enlarge upon the Greeks; it will only be requisite to ask how far the group in question is Grecian.

The very oldest population of the Ionian Islands I believe to have been barbarous—a term which, in the present classical localities, is convenient.

In the smaller islands, such as Ithaca and Zacynthus, the population had become Hellenized at the time of the composition of the Homeric poems. In Corcyra, on the other hand, the original barbarism lasted longer. Such, at least, is the way in which I interpret the passages in the Odyssey concerning the Phaeacians (who were certainly not Greek), and the later language of Thucydides respecting the relations of the Corinthian colonies of Epidamnus, and Corcyra. The whole context leads to the belief that, originally, the {apoikoi} were Greeks in contact with a population which was not Greek.

In respect to the stock to which these early and ante-Hellenic islanders belonged, the presumption is in favour of its having been the Illyrian; a stock known only in its probable remains—the Skipitar (Albanians, or Arnaouts) of Albania.

Time, however, made them all equally Hellenic, a result which was, probably, completed before the decline of Greek independence; since which epoch there have been the following elements of intermixture:—

1. Albanian blood, from the opposite coast.

2. Slavonic, from Dalmatia.

3. Italian, from Italy.

4. Turk—I have no pretence to the minute ethnological knowledge which would enable me even to guess at the proportions.

Upon the whole, however, I believe the Ionian islanders to be what their language represents them—Greek. At the same time they are Greeks of an exceedingly mixed blood.[9]

Again—of the foreign elements I imagine the Italian to be the chief. This, however, is an impression rather than a matured opinion.

The Slavonic element, too, is likely to be considerable. The Byzantine historians speak of numerous and permanent settlements, during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, both in Thessaly, and in the Morea; statements which the frequency of Slavonic names for Greek geographical localities confirms.[10] Neither, however, outweighs the undoubted Hellenic character of the language, which is still the representative of the great medium of the fathers of literature and philosophy.

The Channel Islands.—As Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, and Sark, are no parts of Great Britain, and are, nevertheless, European, I make a brief mention of them; although they are neither colonies nor dependencies: indeed, in strict history, Great Britain is a dependency of theirs.

They are Norman rather than French, and the illustration of this distinction, which will re-appear when we come to the Canadas—concludes the chapter.

The earliest population of France was twofold—Celtic for the north, Iberic for the south.

Its second population was Roman.

Its language is Roman—all that remains of the old tongues of the tribes which Caesar conquered being (1) certain words in the present French, (2) the Breton of Brittany, which is closely akin to the Welsh Celtic, and (3) the Basque dialects of Gascony, which is Iberic.

Now whether the old Gallic blood be as fully displaced by that of the Roman conquerors, as the old Gallic language has been displaced by the Latin is uncertain. It is only certain that the old and indigenous elements of the French nation, however indeterminate in amount—were not of a uniform character, i.e., neither wholly Celtic, nor wholly Iberic; but Celtic for one part of the country, and Iberic for another.

The ancient tribes of Normandy were Celtic. Hence, when the third element of the present Norman population was introduced, all that was not Italian was Welsh—just as it was in Picardy and Orleans, and just as it was not in Gascony and Poitou. There the old element was Iberic.

The third element—just alluded to—was Germanic; Germanic of different kinds, but chiefly Frank or Burgundian.

The fourth great element was the Norse or Scandinavian; introduced by the so-called Sea-kings of Denmark and Norway in the ninth and tenth centuries. These, as the empire of Charlemagne declined, insulted and dismembered it. They converted Neustria in Normandy=the country of the Northmen. The exact amount of their influence has not been ascertained; nor is the investigation easy. The process, however, by which we measured the original extent of the Frisian area is applicable to that of the Northmen. There are Norse names for French localities. Of these the most important are the compounds of -tot, -fleur, and -bec; like Yve-tot, Har-fleur, and Caude-bec.


-tot toft village. -fleur floet stream. -bec beck brook.[11]

Names of places thus ending are almost exclusively limited to Normandy; occurring, even there, most numerously within a few miles of either the sea or the Seine.

Furthermore, there is a fresh element suggested by a term of the "Notitia Utriusque Imperii," a document of the latter end of the fourth century. This is Litus Saxonicum per Britannias, a tract extending from the Wash to Portsmouth. Now the opposite shore of the continent was a litus Saxonicum also; within which lay Normandy. I believe that these Saxons were part of the same branch of Germans which invaded England; in other words, that portions of France, like portions of England, were Anglicized; the two processes differing in respect to their extent and duration. What was general and permanent on the island, was partial and temporary on the continent. That there were Saxons at Bayeux in the tenth century is asserted by express evidence.

Taking in the account the preceding invasions, and remembering that, both from Germany and Italy, Normandy is one of the most distant of the French provinces, we arrive at the following analysis.

The Channel Islanders are what the Normans are.

The Normans are Romanized Celts; the Roman element being somewhat less than it is elsewhere.

The Frank and Burgundian elements are also less.

But a Saxon element is greater.

And a Norse element is pre-eminently Norman.


[1] "Natural History of Man," p. 197.

[2] The form in c and sk (Skipton and Carlton) being of Danish, whilst those in ch and sh are of Anglo-Saxon origin.—See "Quarterly Review," No. CLXIV.

[3] The details of this investigation are given in full in the present writer's "Taciti Germania with Ethnological notes," now in course of publication.

[4] I include in this term the so-called old Saxons of Westphalia.

[5] The original passage is as follows:—"{Brittian de ten neson ethne tria polyanthropotata echousi, basileus te heis auton hekasto ephesteken, onomata de keitai tois ethnesi toutois Angiloi te kai Phrissones kai hoi te neso homonymoi Brittones. Tosaute de he tonde ton ethnon polyanthropia phainetai ousa hoste ana pan etos kata pollous enthende metanistamenoi xyn gynaixi kai paisin es Phrangous chorousin.}"—Procop. B. G. iv. 20.

Reasons which have induced me to go farther than any previous writer in respect to the importance of the Frisian element in the Anglo-Saxon invasion, and to believe that instead of Saxon being a native German name for any portion of the Germanic population, it was only a Celtic and Roman term for the Germans of the sea-coast, and (amongst these) for the Frisians most especially, are given, at large, in my ethnological edition of the "Germania of Tacitus."

[6] {Sophotatoi d' exetazontai ton Iberon houtoi, kai grammatike chrontai; kai tes palaias mnemes echousi ta syngrammata, kai poiemata kai nomous emmetrous hexakischilion eton, hos phasi.}

[7] This was probably the case with the Callaici.

[8] The famous Knighthood of Malta—without fear, but (though, perhaps, the best of its class) not without reproach, has no place here. Its ethnology belongs to the different countries which it dignified by its valour, or dishonoured by its profligacy.

[9] This I believe to have been the case with the ancient Greeks also; though the proof would require an elaborate monograph.

[10] The two together have led to a doctrine which has been best developed by Fallmerayer. It is this—that the modern Greeks are Sclavonians. The Russian school are the chief believers of this. In the few countries where ethnology is scientific rather than political, the more moderate opinion of the modern Greeks being a mixed stock prevails.

[11] Or beck.




The Gambia.—All our settlements on the Gambia are in the Mandingo country.

Of all the true and unequivocal Negroes, the Mandingos are the most civilized; the basis of their civilization being Arab, and their religion that of the Koran. Hence, they have priests, or Marabouts, the use of the Arabic alphabet, and a monotheistic creed.

Of all the Negroes, too, the Mandingos are the most commercial, not as mere slave-dealers, but as truly industrial merchants.

Of all the families of the African stock, with the exception of the Kaffres, the Mandingo is the most widely spread. It also falls into numerous divisions and subdivisions. Hence the term has a twofold power. Sometimes it is a generic name for a large group; sometimes the designation of a particular section of that group. The Mandingos of the Lower Gambia are Mandingos in the restricted meaning of the word.

For the Mandingo tribes, when we use the term in a general sense, the most convenient classification is into the Mahometan and the Pagan. That this division should exist is natural; since, with the exception of the Wolofs, the Mandingos are the most northern of all the western Negroes, and, consequently, those who are most in contact with the Mahometan Arabs, and the equally Mahometan Kabyles of Barbary and the Great Desert,—a fact sufficient to account for the monotheistic creeds of the northern tribes.

As for the Paganism of the others, we must remember how far southwards and inland the same great stock extends—indefinitely towards the interior, and as far as the back of the Ashanti country, in the direction of the equator.

This prepares us for finding Mandingos at our next settlement.

Sierra Leone.—The native populations which encircle this settlement are two—the Timmani towards the north, and Bullom towards the south.

Both are Negroes of the most typical kind, in respect to their physical conformation.

Both are Pagans.

Both speak what seem to be mutually unintelligible languages, but which have an undoubted relationship to each other, and to the numerous Mandingo dialects as well. It is this which induces me to place them in the same section with the more civilized Africans of the Gambia.

It is safe to say that they are amongst the rudest members of the stock; indeed it is only in the eyes of the etymologist that they are Mandingo at all. Practically, they, and several tribes like them, are Mandingo, in the way that a wolf is a dog, or a goat a sheep.

The Bullom and Timmani are the frontagers to Sierra Leone; and it was with Bullom and Timmani potentates that the land of the settlement was bargained for. The settlers themselves are of different origin. Mixed beyond all other populations of Africa, the occupants of Free Town are in the same category with the Negroes of Jamaica and St. Domingo; concerning whom we can only predicate that they have dark skins, and that they come from Africa. The analysis of their several origins, and their distribution amongst the separate branches of the African family, would be one of the most difficult feats in minute ethnology; and this would be but a fraction of the investigation. When the several countries which supplied the several victims of the slave-trade had been ascertained, the complicated question of intermixture would stand over; and there we should find lineages of every degree of hybridism—children, whose ancestors originated on different sides of Africa, themselves the parents of a lighter-coloured offspring, the effect of European intercourse.

At present it is sufficient to state that the nucleus of the Free Town population consists of what is called the Maroon Negroes. These were slaves of Jamaica, who, having recovered their freedom during the Spanish dominion in the island, were removed, by the English, in the first instance to Nova Scotia, and afterwards to their present locality.

Round this has collected an equally miscellaneous population of rescued slaves; and, besides these, there are immigrants, labourers, and barterers from all the neighbouring parts of the Continent—Krumen more especially.

A writer who, when we come to the Negroes of the Gold Coast, will be freely quoted, calls the Krumen the Scotchmen of Africa, since, with unusual industry, enterprise, and perseverance, they leave, without reluctance, their own country to push their fortunes wherever they can find a wider field. They are ready for any employment which may enable them to increase their means, and ensure a return to their own country in a state of improved prosperity. There the Kruman's ambition is to purchase one or two head of cattle, and one or two head of wives, to enjoy the luxuries of rum and tobacco, and pass the remainder of his days as

"A gentleman of Africa who sits at home at ease."

Half the Africans that we see in Liverpool are Krumen, who have left their own country when young, and taken employment on board a ship, where they exhibit a natural aptitude for the sea. Without being nice as to the destination of the vessel in which they engage, they return home as soon as they can; and rarely or never contract matrimony before their return. In Cape Coast Town, as well as in Sierra Leone, they form a bachelor community—quiet and orderly; and in that respect stand in strong contrast to the other tribes around them. Besides which, with all their blackness, and all their typical Negro character, they are distinguishable from most other western Africans; having the advantage of them in make, features, and industry.

A Kruman is pre-eminently the free labourer of Africa. In the slave trade he has engaged less than any of his neighbours, attaches himself readily to the whites, and, in his native country, as well as in Sierra Leone, Coast Town, and other places of his temporary denizenship, is quick of perception and amenable to instruction. His language is the Grebo tongue, and it has been reduced to writing by the American missionaries of Cape Palmas. It has decided affinities with those of the Mandingo tongues to the north, the Fanti dialects of the Gold Coast, and, in all probability, still closer ones with those of the Ivory coast. These last, however, are but imperfectly known; indeed, a single vocabulary of the Avekvom language, in the "American Oriental Journal," furnishes nine-tenths of our philological data for the parts between Cape Palmas and Cape Apollonia.

The best measure of the heterogeneousness of the Sierra Leone population is to be found in Mrs. Kilham's vocabularies. That lady collected, at Free Town, specimens of thirty-one African tongues, from Negroes then and there resident. Of these—

A. Eight belonged to the Mandingo group, viz., Mandingo Proper, Susu, Bambara, Kossa, Pessa, Kissi, Bullom, and Timmani.

B. Two were dialects of the Grebo (Kru): the Kru, and the Bassa.

C. Two were Fanti: the Fanti and the Ashanti, closely allied dialects.

D. Two were Dahoman: the Fot, and the Popo.

E. Two Benin: the Benin Proper, and the Moko, languages of a tract but little known.

F. One Wolof, from the Senegal.

G. Eight from the parts between the rivers Formosa and Loango, viz., the Bongo, the Ako, the Ibu, the Rungo, the Akuonga, the Karaba, the Uobo, the Kouri.

H. One from the river Kongo, i.e., the Kongo properly so-called.

I. Two from the Lower Niger, but, still separated from the coast—the Tapua (Nufi) and Appa.

K. Three from the widely-spread nations of the interior—the Fulah, the Haussa, and the Bornu.

I do not say that all Mrs. Kilham's specimens represent mutually unintelligible tongues; probably they do not. At the same time, as several decidedly different languages are omitted, the list understates, rather than exaggerates, the number of the divisions and subdivisions of the western African populations, as inferred from the divisions and subdivisions of the language.

Thus, no samples are given of the—

1. Sereres.—Pastoral tribes about Cape Verde.

2. Serawolli.—On the Middle Senegal, different, in many respects, from the Sereres, the Wolofs, and the Fulahs; nations with which they are in geographical contact.

3. The Feloops.—Between the Gambia and Cacheo, along the coast.

4. The Papels.—South of the Cacheo; and also coastmen.

5. The Balantes.—Coast-men to the south of the Papels.

6. The Bagnon.—Conterminous with the Feloops of the river Cacheo.

7. The Bissago.—Fierce occupants of the islands so-called.

8. The Naloos.—On the Nun and river Grande.

9. The Sapi.—Conterminous with the Naloo, and like all the preceding tribes, from the Feloops downwards, pre-eminently rude, fierce, intractable, and imperfectly known.

Southward, the unrepresented languages are equally numerous—especially for the Ivory Coast, and for the Delta of the Niger. Of these I shall only notice one—the Vey.

The settlement with which the tribes speaking the Vey language is in contact is one of which the tongue is English, but not the political relations. It is the American free Negro settlement of Liberia.

In the Vey language, it had been known for some time to the American missionaries, that there were written books, a fact not likely to be undervalued by those who felt warmly on the social and civilizational prospects of the coloured divisions of our species. One of these books was discovered by Lieutenant Forbes, of H.M.S. the Bonetta; local inquiry was further made by the Rev. W. S. Koelle; and the MS. was critically analyzed by Mr. Norris, of the Asiatic Society.[12]

The phenomenon, if properly measured, is by no means a very significant one; since, although the Vey alphabet, the invention of a man now living, so far differs from the Mandingo, as to be spelt by the syllable rather than the letter, it is anything but an independent creation of the Negro brain. Doala Bukara, its composer, an imperfect Mahometan, had seen Mahometan books, and, although he was no Christian, had seen an English Bible also. He knew, then, what spelling or writing was. He knew, too, the phonetic analysis of the Mandingo, a tongue closely allied to his own. And this is nine parts out of ten in the so-called invention of alphabets.

The true claims of Doala, in this way, are those of the phonetic reformers in England, as compared with those of Toth or Cadmus—real but moderate. His own account of the matter, as he gave it to Mr. Koelle, was, that the fact of sounds being written, haunted him in a dream, wherein he was shown a series of signs adapted to his native tongue. These he forgot in the morning; but remembered the impression. So he consulted his friends; and they and he, laying their heads together, coined new ones. The king of the country made its introduction a matter of state, and built a large house in Dshondu, as a day-school. But a war with the Guru people disturbed both the learners and teachers, so that the latter removed to Bandakoro, where all grown-up people, of both sexes, can now read and write.

This alphabet is a syllabarium.

The books written in it are essentially Mahometan; the Koran appearing in them much in the same way as the Bible appears in the more degenerate legends of the middle ages.

How far the Vey alphabet will be an instrument of civilization, is a difficult question. For my own part, I half regret its evolution; since the Arabic that served for the Mandingo, would have served for the Vey as well—or if not the Arabic, the English.

As a measure of African capacity it is of some value; and in this respect, it speaks for the Negro just as the Cherokee alphabet speaks for the American Indian. This latter was invented by a native named Sequoyah. Like Doala, he knew what reading was. Like Doala, too, he had a language adapted to a syllabarium. Hence, both the Vey and the Cherokee, the two latest coinages in the way of alphabets, are both syllabic.

We now move southwards to the—

Gold Coast Settlements.—The climate of Western Africa requires notice. It suits the native, but destroys the European. Of the two settlements, already mentioned, the Gambia is the most deadly; though Sierra Leone has the worst name. Both are on the coast; both, consequently, on the lower courses of the rivers, and both on low levels. The import of these remarks applies to the Negroes of America. At present, it ushers in a brief notice of the climate of the Gold Coast; this district being chosen for the purpose of description because it makes the nearest approach to the equator of any English settlement in Africa. Consequently, it may serve as a typical sample of the malarious parts of the coast in question.

From April till August is the rainy season, which gradually passes into the dry; heavy fogs forming during the transition. These last till the end of September. Occasional showers, too, continue till November. Then the weather becomes really clear and dry, until, towards the end of January, the dry parching wind, called the Harmattan, sets in, with its over-stimulant action upon the human system, and clouds of penetrating impalpable sand. If this is not blowing, the atmosphere is loaded with moisture; and this it is, combined with the heat of an intertropical sun, and the effluvia engendered by the decay of an over-luxuriant vegetation, which makes Western Africa the white man's grave. Not that the soil, even on the coast, is always swampy and alluvial. About Cape Coast it is rocky and undulating. Still, it is inordinately wooded, as well as full of spots where water accumulates and exhalations multiply. Yet the thermometer ranges between 78 deg. and 86 deg. Fahrenheit—a low maximum for the neighbourhood of the equator; a high one, however, to feel cold in. Nevertheless, such is the case. "From this peculiarity of the atmosphere, the sensations of an individual almost invariably indicate a degree of cold, especially when sitting in a room, or not taking bodily exercise; so that, to ensure a feeling of comfortable warmth, it becomes necessary to dress in a thicker material than what is usually considered best adapted for tropical wear, and to have a fire lighted in one's bedroom for some time before one retires to rest."[13]

The chief Africans of these parts—and we now approach the great officina servorum—alone tolerant of the heats, and droughts, and rains, and exhalations are—

1. The Fantis.

2. The Ghans.

3. The Avekvom (?)

A. The Fantis.—Of the true natives of the country these are the chief.

The term Fanti, like the term Mandingo, has a double sense—a general and a specific signification.

The particular population of the parts about Cape Coast is Fanti in the limited sense of the term.

The great section of the Negro family, which comprises, besides the Fantis Proper, the Ashanti, Boroom, and several other populations, is Fanti in the wide sense of the term.

The Fanti, Ashanti, and Boroom forms of speech are merely dialects of one and the same language.

A great proportion of the vocabularies of "Bowdich's Ashanti" are the same.

So are the Fetu, Affotoo, and other vocabularies of the "Mithridates."

The inhabitants of the Native Town of Cape Coast, a mixed population of Krumen, Fantis, and Mulattoes, amounting to as many as 10,000, are no true specimens of the African of the Gold Coast. European influences have too long been at work on them. Before the town was English it was Dutch; and it was English as early as 1661.

More than this. It is not certain that their fathers' fathers were the exact aborigines; in other words, a tribe akin to, but slightly different from them, seems to have been the earlier possessors. These were the Fetu—the remains of which can doubtless be met with among the populations of the neighbourhood; since we find in the "Mithridates" a Fetu vocabulary and an Affotoo one as well.

Now the Fantis that thus displaced the Fetu, were themselves fugitives from the conquering Ashantis; all, however, being the members of one stock, and the pressure being from the highlands of the interior towards the lowlands of the coast.

All three are truly Negro in conformation, and miserably Pagan in creed, the best measure of their political capacity being the organized kingdom of the Ashantis; and the lowest form of it, the system of clanships, chieftainships, or captainships of the proper Fantis of the coast. The details of these are of importance.

I cannot ascertain upon what principle those different divisions which are sometimes called tribes, sometimes clans, are formed; since it is by no means safe to assume that they necessarily consist of descendants from one common ancestor. The investigations concerning the tribes of ancient Rome show this.

It is easier to enumerate their external characteristics, and material elements of their union. In the Native Town there are four quarters, each occupied by a separate section of the population. This section has its own proper head, its own proper standards, and its own proper band of music.

What follows seems to apply to the rude state of society in the country around. Each division has its badge or device; so that we have the tribe, or clan, of the leopard, the cat, the dog, the hawk, the parrot, &c. On certain days there are certain festivals and processions, when the chief is carried in a long basket on the heads of two men, with umbrellas above him, and attendants around proportionate to his rank. When in distress, the Fanti has a claim upon the good offices of his tribe.

When a Fanti government becomes extensive enough to require organization, we find absolute monarchs with satraps (caboceers) under them; under these the heads of the different villages or towns, and under these captains of hundreds, fifties, and tens—an organization which is, perhaps, of military rather than social origin. The Ashanti kingdom gives us the best measure of extent to which a branch of the Fanti stock has developed itself into a political influence. As for the Constitution, it is a simple and unmitigated despotism; of which the most remarkable point is the law of succession. This follows the female lines, so that the heir-apparent is the eldest son of the reigning king's eldest sister. The same applies to the caboceers; except that, in cases of mental or physical incapacity, the rightful heir is set aside, and a path opened to the ambition of private adventurers.

Slavery is what we expect; and on the coast of Guinea it meets us at every turn, though not in the worst forms of the Trade. This flourishes in Dahomey, and along the whole of the Bight of Benin. In the Fanti countries, however, the milder form of domestic servitude preponderates; and along with it a chronic state of warfare. These two evils are connected with one another, as cause and effect. The conquest supplies the slaves; the slaves provoke the conquest.

Besides this there is a sort of temporary servitude, which reminds us of the Nexi of the Romans. This occurs when "a person, in order to raise a particular sum of money, voluntarily sells himself for a certain period, or until such time as he is enabled to pay the amount so borrowed, together with whatever interest may have been agreed upon. This is called the system of pawning, and the people so sold, pawns. Thus a native, in order to make a great display on any particular occasion, as on his marriage, or to have a grand 'custom' for a deceased relative, will forfeit his labour for a definite time, or give one of his slaves for a period agreed upon. Neither these pawns, however, nor the domestic slaves, entertain any feeling of disgrace, but on the contrary are happy and contented."[14]

Everything connected with the administration of justice is rude and savage; the severity of the punishment upon detection being the chief preventive. The awards, of course, depend much upon the individual character of the chiefs; and there are but few who have not exhibited horrible proofs of cruelty. These, however, are no measures of the temper of the people at large. The legitimate, normal, established, and familiar forms of torture give us this. It may just be a shade or two better than that of the autocrats—though bad at best. I still draw upon the writer already quoted. "The most common mode of torture is what is termed tying Guinea-fashion. In this the arms are closely drawn together behind the back, by means of a cord tied tightly round them, about midway between the elbows and shoulders. A piece of wood to act as a rack, having been previously introduced, is then used so as to tighten the cord, and so intense is the agony that one application is generally sufficient to occasion the wretch so tortured to confess to anything that is required of him. There are various other modes of torture in common use among the natives of Guinea. One is tying the head, feet, and hands, in such a way that by turning the body backwards, they may be drawn together by the cords employed. Another is securing a wrist or ankle to a block of wood by an iron staple. By means of a hammer any degree of pressure may thus be applied, while the suffering so produced is continuous, only being relieved by the wood being split, and the staples removed, but this may not be done until a crime has been confessed by a person who never committed it, and even then his limb has generally been destroyed. It would not be interesting to here enumerate the various tortures employed by a barbarous people, but when we recollect the refinement of the art of torture in our own country in the days of the maiden, the boot, and thumb-screws, we will cease to wonder that substitutes for these should be used in a country where civilization has not yet begun to elevate a people who are generally allowed to be the lowest of the human race.

"There are some superstitious rites employed by Fetish-men for the detection of crime; and whether it is that these people really possess such powerful influence over their wretched dupes, as to frighten into confession of his guilt the perpetrator of crime, or whether it is that they manage by their numerous spies to obtain a clue sufficient in most cases to lead to the detection of the person, is more than I can venture to assert; but, be the means employed what they may, a Fetish-man will assuredly very often bring a crime home to the right person, even after the most patient investigation in the ordinary way has failed to elicit the slightest clue.

"There is also what is called Trial by Dhoom. This consists in whoever are suspected of having committed a crime being made to swallow a decoction of dhoom wood of the country, and it is believed that whoever is innocent will immediately eject the deleterious draught, but the guilty person will die. This, however, is not much to be depended upon; for while it causes death in one instance, it may do so in all who partake of it; or on the other hand, from some accident in its preparation, it may be productive of no effect either upon the guilty or the innocent.

"The Rice test, although practised in this part of Africa, is, I believe, not peculiar to it, being also employed in the West Indies, and South America. Although no doubt originally introduced by a people in a low state of civilization, it is interesting in so far that it exemplifies the powerful influence which the mind possesses over the corporeal functions, and as it appears to have been in use among the blacks for centuries, we may give them the credit of having been practically aware that 'conscience doth make cowards of us all,' long before the Bard of Avon chronicled the fact. In the employment of this test in Guinea, those who are suspected of having committed a crime are assembled, and to each a small portion of rice is given, which they are required to masticate, and afterwards produce on the hand; and it is invariably the case that while all but the real culprit will produce their rice in a soft pulpy mass, his will be as dry as if ground in a mill, the salivary glands having, under the influence exerted upon the nervous system by fear, refused to perform their ordinary functions."

Something like this is common in many savage countries. In the shape of the dhoom test, it re-appears in Old Calabar, and, probably, elsewhere. There, the "king and chief inhabitants ordinarily constitute a court of justice, in which all country disputes are adjusted, and to which every prisoner suspected of capital offences is brought, to undergo examination and judgment. If found guilty, they are usually forced to swallow a deadly potion made from the poisonous seeds of an aquatic leguminous plant, which rapidly destroys life. This poison is obtained by pounding the seeds, and macerating them in water, which acquires a white milky colour. The condemned person, after swallowing a certain portion of the liquid, is ordered to walk about, until its effects become palpable. If, however, after the lapse of a definite period, the accused should be so fortunate as to throw the poison from off his stomach, he is considered as innocent, and allowed to depart unmolested. In native parlance this ordeal is designated as 'chopping nut.'"[15]

The hardest workers amongst the Fantis are the fishers, who use a canoe of wood of the bombax, from ten to twelve feet in length, and strengthened by cross timbers. The net—a casting net—is made from the fibres of the aloe or the pine-apple, and is about twenty feet in diameter (?).

Next to these come the farmers, whose rough agriculture consists in the cultivation of maize, bananas, yams, and pumpkins; and lastly, the gold-seekers. Of this there is abundance; and where the European coin of the coast ceases, the native currency of gold-dust begins. Sums of so small a value as three half-pence are thus paid; smaller ones being represented by cowries.

The highest of their arts is that of manufacturing gold ornaments, and this is the hereditary craft of certain families. These transmit the secret of their skill from father to son, and keep the corporation to which they belong up to a due degree of closeness, by avoiding intermarriage with any of the more unskilled labourers. A little weaving, and a little potting, constitute the remaining arts of the Fanti—as far, at least, as they are either fine or useful.

The craft of the Fetish-man comes under none of the preceding categories. He is the priest, sorcerer, or medicine man; the representative of "Paganism, in its lowest and most hideous form, the objects of their worship being the most repulsive reptiles, and their ceremonies the most degrading. They certainly have some idea of the existence of a First Cause, and believe themselves to be in the power of the Great Fetish, their protection or destruction being dependent upon the will of this power, of whose attributes they know nothing further. They also believe in the existence of a spirit of evil, and on some parts of the coast consider his power over them so great, that they address their supplications, and erect, for his especial service, small mud huts, usually of a conical shape, built under the shade of some stately palm or wild fig-tree, in one of the most inviting spots to be found. These huts bear the unattractive name among Europeans of 'devil's temples.' It will be seen thus, that this belief in the existence of the Great Fetish professed by the Fantees, is a faint glimmering of that natural religion which all nations possess. Of the creation of our species, they do not appear to entertain very correct ideas, unless it be that they owe their being to this Fetish, who, they say, in the beginning made two people, one of whom was black, the other white, and that both originally occupied the Fantee country. It would seem, however, from their account, that, after these two men were brought into existence, the Fetish was at a loss to know how to dispose of them, and in order to prevent any jealousy arising between them, had recourse to a sort of lottery, where there were all prizes and no blanks. Two packets were accordingly placed before them, and the black man drew first; nor was he disappointed with his prize, for it consisted of such a quantity of gold-dust, that it has not been taken out of the country yet. The remaining packet was of course the lawful property of the white man, and in the long run he had no cause to complain—for, on being opened, it was found to contain a book which taught him everything; and so do the poor wretches account for the superior intellect of whites, and the inexhaustible treasures of their own country.

"In the neighbourhood of Cape Coast, the natives seem to believe that this Fetish occupies more especially particular localities, and exists in the form of a particular animal, so that an isolated portion of rock is frequently called a Fetish-stone, and snakes even of the most poisonous description, in a certain locality, are preserved and allowed to propagate, undisturbed, their venomous species. In some places on the coast, temples dedicated to snake-worship are built, and the Fetish men, or priests, connected with them are frequently esteemed particularly holy, no doubt from the familiar terms upon which they, in course of time, become with the horrid reptiles, upon which the people look as the personification of their Fetish. The offerings made at these temples are often very valuable, the cupidity of the deities within not being easily satisfied. Gold-dust and clothes are the most acceptable offerings; but when these are not to be obtained, it is perfectly wonderful how large a quantity of rum and tobacco the snakes will consume before they vouchsafe their good offices for the removal of a disease from a cow, a wife, a child, or the detection of a thief, who, not unlikely, has been employed by themselves.

"These Fetish men and women, too, for there are Fetish women, and, consequently Fetish children, have spies in different directions, forming as many links of communication between the priesthood in various parts of the country, so that very few occurrences take place of which they have not the means of making themselves acquainted."[16]

The same writer continues, "Religious observances, properly so called, the Fantees have none, but each particular class has a certain day of the week upon which they cease from following their ordinary avocations—thus, a fisherman will not go to sea on a Tuesday; nor will a bushman enter the forest on a Friday—these days being dedicated to the Fetish, and thus, in some degree, representing the Sabbath of Christian nations. There are, in addition, several days throughout the year—apparently occurring at the desire of the Fetish men—in which the Fantees abstain from work, and during a period of war, it often happens that the movements of the opposing armies are much interfered with by the numerous occasions upon which it becomes necessary to propitiate the Fetish. One of these especial Fetish days may be here noticed, it being, apparently, the most important of those that occur during the whole year, and its object no less important than driving the devil out of the village. The period when this desirable object is effected, occurs during the month of December, the night-time being chosen as the most fitting for the ceremony. As soon as darkness has closed in, the inhabitants of a village collect at an appointed rendezvous, with sticks and staves, and under the directions of a leader, sally out, entering every house in their way, through the various apartments of which they knock about, and yell and howl with such violence that they would actually scare any devil but a most impertinent one. Having, as they think, completely rid the town of him, they pursue the retreating enemy for some distance into the bush, after which they return and spend the remainder of the night in carousals.

"There is another festival, which, as it partakes somewhat of a religious nature, may also be noticed here, viz., the yam-custom, which is held in September, to celebrate the goodness of the Fetish, in having granted an abundant harvest. On this occasion, the king of the village and the staff of Fetish men connected with it, take part. All the people who can by any possibility attend, assemble, a procession is formed, and then the most extraordinary mixture of costumes, the noises produced by numerous tom-toms, horns made from elephants' tusks, and the still ruder, if possible, rattle of two pieces of wood, or common metal, which the women beat together to a tune similar to what in Ireland is known as the Kentish fire. The constant firing of musketry, and the obscene dances performed by the two sexes form one of the most debasing and savage exhibitions it is possible to see. In this way does the procession parade the principal streets, the king seated in his basket carried by his slaves, and protected by the umbrellas, according to his rank—the Fetish-men dressed in white robes, also in their baskets. On arriving at the king's house sacrifices are usually offered—some fowls or eggs being now substituted in the vicinity of our settlements for a human being, but we have still too good reasons to believe, that even as near as the capital of Ashantee many human lives are sacrificed on this particular occasion, as well as in other festivals of various descriptions. The offerings being made, the Fetish-man partakes of the yam; the king then eats of the valued root; and after these two have pronounced them ripe and fit for food, the people consider themselves at liberty to commence digging.

"A being named Tahbil resides in the substance of the rock, upon which Cape Coast is built, and watches the town. Every morning, offerings of food or flowers are left for him on the rock. Most villages have a corresponding deity; and in earlier times, there is good reason for believing that human beings were sacrificed to him."

Likely enough—as may be seen from the practices at Fanti funerals, and as may be inferred from the analogy of the other parts of Western Africa.

If the survivors of a deceased Fanti be poor, the corpse is quietly interred in one of the denser spots of the jungles; and if rich, the funeral is at once costly and bloody; since gold and jewels are buried along with the dead body, and human victims as well. The ceremonial is as follows. The coffin is carried to the grave by slaves, when the retainers and friends press forwards, fix the number required (in general four), stun the selected individuals by a sudden blow on the head, throw the still breathing bodies into the grave of their master, and, whilst life yet remains, cover in the earth.

This horrible custom is truly West-African. How near we must approach the Mandingo frontier, before we get rid of it on the north, or how far south it extends, I am not exactly able to say. In Dahomey, where it attains its maximum development, it is worse than amongst the Ashantis, and amongst the Ashantis worse than in the proper Fanti districts. It certainly reaches as far southwards as Old Calabar, where, upon the death of Ephraim, a well-known Caboceer, "some hundreds of men, women, and children were immolated to his manes,—decapitation, burning alive, and the administration of the poison-nut, being the methods resorted to for terminating their existence. When King Eyeo, father of the present Chief of Creek Town, died, an eye-witness, who had only arrived just after the completion of the funeral rites, informed me that a large pit had been dug, in which several of the deceased's wives were bound and thrown in, until a certain number had been procured; the earth was then thrown over them, and so great was the agony of these victims, that the ground for several minutes was agitated with their convulsive throes. So fearful, in former times, was the observance of this barbarous custom, that many towns narrowly escaped depopulation. The graves of the kings are invariably concealed, so as, it is stated, to prevent an enemy from obtaining their skulls as trophies, which is not the case with those of the common people."[17]

I have said that it is in Dahomey, where the immolation of human beings is the bloodiest; and I now add that it is in Dahomey where those who look for the more characteristic peculiarities of the Negro stock, must search. But it is the bad side which will preponderate; it is the darkest practices which will develop themselves most typically. What we find in germs and remnants elsewhere, grow, in Dahomey, to inordinate and incredible proportions.

The sacro-sanctitude of the snake is doubled in Dahomey.

Slavery, bad along the whole Bight of Benin, is worse, still, in Dahomey.

In Akkim we find a female colonel. In Dahomey there is an army of Amazons, as indicated by Mr. Duncan, and as described in detail by Captain Forbes.

The Gha.—Accra, and the forts lately purchased from the Danes—Christiansborg and others,—are the localities of the Gha nation. I say Gha (or Ghan) because the author of a paper soon about to be noticed states, that this is the indigenous name of the people which we call Acra, Akra, Accrah, or Inkra—and it is always best to give the native name if we can.

Adelung, on the authority of Romer and Isert, gives the following account of the Negroes speaking the Gha language. He calls it Akra.

They began with conquering and reducing to a state of servitude the Adampi, or Tambi, Negroes of the hill country; these being a portion of their own stock, and speaking a mutually intelligible language.

But, in time, they were themselves conquered by the Akvambu, and broke up into two parts. One of these remained in situ, and is represented by the present Gha of Christiansborg. The other fled to the Little Popo, an island off the coast of Dahomey, and there settled.

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