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The Athenians, by way of epitaph, put only the name of the dead, with the epithet “ good,” or “ hero," and a word expressive of their good wishes to the defunct. The Lacedemonians allowed epitaphs to none but those who had died in battle. The Romans inscribed their epitaphs to the names, diis manibus.
The epitaphs of the present day are generally crammed with fulsome compliments which were never merited, characters which human nature in its best state could scarcely lay claim to, and expressions of respect which were never paid in the life-time of the deceased. Hence the French proverb, with great propriety, took its rise : Menteur comme ume épitaphe : He lies like an epitaph.
Virgils's celebrated epitaph, which is said to have been dictated by himself on his death bed, is in direct opposition to most modern inscriptions, being at once short, opposite, and modest :
Mantua me genuit : Calabri rapuere : tenet nunc
Me life, Brundusium death, Naples a grave. The following epitaph is the simple chronicle of an extraordinary man, and as well told, perhaps, as many of the lofty and pompous inscriptions in the Abbey of Westminster.
Beneath this stone, in sound repose,
(From Burchell's Travels in Africa.)
The busy party were surrounded by the sweetest scenery that landscape can produce. They had floated the animal to the bank, and labouring hard to get it out of the water; for, although it was but half grown, and only, what they called, a calf, its bulk being equal to two oxen at least, was more than they could manage ; till the Bushmen came to their asistance. At last it was rolled on to the grassy bank; and immediately, all who had knives, fell to work in cutting it up. The monstrous size, and almost shapeless mass of even a small Hippopotamus, when lying on the ground, and compared with the people who stood about it, appeared enormous. While they were employed in taking off the immoderately thick skin, I judged it would be making the best use of my time, to place the strange groupe in my sketch book; as their haste to cut up and dry the meat before it was spoilt by the heat of the weather, left me little time for examination. This animal is entirely of one uniform colour, which may be correctly imitated by a light tint of China-ink. The hide, above an inch in thickness and hardly flexible, was dragged off, as if they had been tearing the planks of a ship's side. It was carefully divided into such pieces, as would best admit of being cut into shamboks; as these constituted, to Klaarwater people, the greatest part of the profits. The ribs are covered with a thick layer of fat, celebrated as the greatest delicacy; and known to the colonists as a rarity, by the name of Zeekoe-spek' (Seacowpork.) This can only be preserved by salting; as, on attempting to dry it in the sun in the same manner as the other parts of the animal, it melts away. The rest of the flesh consists entirely of lean; and was as usual with all other game, cut into large slices, and dried on the bushes; reserving only enough for use. This latter portion, however, was no small quantity; as, in addition to a considerable number of self-invited Hottentots, who all, of course, expected a feast, there was also a party of Bushmen, con sisting of six men and five women, whom the report of the muskets had attracted to the spot.
This animal had been killed by only two balls, both of which entered the head. It is very seldom that they are wounded in any other part; but this does not happen from the impenetrable nature of the rest of the hide, a reason which has often been assigned, and originally invented, like many other such tales, for the purpose of exciting wonder. The truth that, as the Hippopotamus hardly ever quits the river but at night, and, by day, seldom ventures more than its head above the surface of the water, there is no other place left for the marksman.
The animal, when rendered wary by the suspicion of approaching danger, raises out of the water only his nostrils, eyes, and ears ; which, being all placed in the same horizontal plane towards the upper part of the head, it may with probability be concluded that nature assigned them this position, with a view to ensuring its safety, by enabling him to breathe, see, and hear, without exposing himself much to the observation and attacks of man : on which account, they are not so easily shot, as many other animals. Their great size is nothing in favour of the marksman ; and, unless he aim with as much precision as if it were but a hare, he fires in vain.
When no more than the upper part of the head is seen above water, it appears very much like the head of a horse, and sufficiently justifies the name of Hippopotamus (River-horse) given to it by the ancients; who, as this circumstance seems to prove, could rarely have had a sight of the entire animal, otherwise they would have discovered that, of all quadrupeds, this one bears, in form and general appearance, the least resemblance to a horse. Nor can any thing be more inapplicable, than the colonial name of Zeekoe (Sea-cow), to which animal, I never could perceive that it had, in any respect, the slightest similitude.
In the present animal there was no hair whatever, on any part of the skin, excepting a few scattered short bristles on the muzzle, the edges of the ears, and on the tail. The latter was extremely short, scarcely exceeding a foot. The eyes and ears were disproportionally small, while the mouth was altogether as extraordinarily large. Being not yet full grown, its tusks had not made their appearance. Three bushels, at least, of half-chewed grass were taken out of its stomach and intestines.
Every man had now turned butcher. The placid, noble stream gave to the scene a peaceful, yet animated character, which was strangely contrasted by the spot where our party were so busy at work. This indeed more resembled a flesh-market, where bushes were converted into shambles, and their branches were bending to the ground, overloaded with meat. Whichever way I turned my head, I beheld men, or women, or dogs, eating ; several large fires were crowded with cooks; all around were carving, broiling, gnawing, and chewing. Nor did I myself feel the least inclination to reprobate the practice, for, after a long fatiguing walk, and eight hours fasting, I confess that a Hippopotamus steak was not a thing to be rejected; and, even at this moment, I still remain convinced, that, if our English lovers of good eating could but once taste such a steak, they would not rest till they had caused“ fine lively Hippopotami” to be an article of regular importation. All the offal, bones, and head, fell, by custom, to the Bushmen's share. No sooner was the carcase cut open, than they fell to work upon the entrails ; occasionally wiping the grease from their fingers on to their arms, legs and thighs ; they were, besides, plentifully bespattered with the blood and filth, each rejoicing at the portion he had obtained.
Among these happy, dirty creatures, was one who, by her airs and dress, showed that she had no mean opinion of her personal accomplishments : she was, in fact the prettiest young Bushgirl I had yet seen ; but her vanity, and too evident conciousness of her superiority, rendered her less pleasing in my eyes, and her extravagance in dress made her, perhaps, a less desirable wife in the eyes of her countrymen ; for the immoderate quantity of grease, red ochre, buku, and shining powder with which her air was clotted, would ruin any but a very rich husband : herself and every part of her dress, were so well greased, that she must have been, in her nation, a girl of good family, and the number of leathern rings with which her arms and legs were adorned, proclaimed her to be evidently a person of property: round her ancles she carried about a dozen thick rings of this kind, which, added to a pair of sandals, gave her the appearance of wearing buskins.
But the most remarkable piece of affectation with which she adorned herself, was, three small bits of ivory, of the size and shape of sparrows' eggs, loosely pendant from her hair ; one in front, as low as the point of the nose, and one on the outerside of each cheek, all hanginig in the same length. These dangled from side to side as she moved her head, and, doubtlessly, made full amends for their inconvenience, by the piquancy they were thought to add to the wearer's beauty. The upper part of her head was covered with a small leathern cap, fitted closely, but quite unornamented, and I should have had pleasure in gratifying her with a present of a string of beads, to render this part of her dress more smart, if I had not been fearful that, by doing this, I should excite in her countrymen, an inclinatin to beg and importune for what I meant to reserve only for the nations in the interior. Her vanity and affectation, great as it was, did not, as one may sometimes observe in both sexes, in other countries, seem to choke her, or produce any alteration in the tone of her voice, for the astonishing quantity of meat which she swallowed down, and the readiness with which she called out to her attendants for more, plainly showed her to be resolved that no squeamishness should interfere on this occasion. With the rest of her female companions, the season of beauty had long passed by, and, if that season with other nations may justly be called short-lived, it may among Bush-women, with more than equal justice, be termed momentary. In five or six years after their arrival to womanhood, the plumpness of youth gives way to the wrinkles of age ; and, unless we viewed them with the eye of commiseration and philanthropy, we should be inclined to pronounce them the most disgusting of human beings. Their early, and it may be said, premature syinptoms of age may, perhaps, with great probability, be ascribed to a hard life, an uncertain and irregular supply of food, exposure to every inclemency of weather, and a want of cleanliness which increases with years. These, rather than the nature of the climate, are the causes of that quick fading, and decay of the bloom and apppearance of youth.
Mr. Burchell was among a tribe of Bushmen, and he writes as follows :-Curious to know what degree of intellect these beings possessed, I endeavoured, by means of an interpreter, to question them on a few moral points ; but he declared they were so stupid that it was not in his power to inake them comprehend at all. The principal question, and to which I was most desirous of having their answer, was, one would think, so intelligible, that their not understanding it must have been either pretended stupidity, or a wilful misrepresentation by the interpreter : I asked what they considered to be good actions, and what, bad; but to this they made no reply, nor could they at all conceive its meaning. I showed them a looking-glass; at this they laughed, and stared with vacant surprize and wonder, to see their own faces; but
expressed not the least curiosity about it; nor do I believe it excited in their minds one single idea ; and I may not, perhaps, be doing them an injustice by asserting that whether capable of reflection or not, the individuals never exerted it. When asked what were their thoughts respecting the glass ; what were their notions respecting white men; their senseless looks seemed to say, they made an effort to think, but found themselves utterly unable ; their only answer was, I don't know. They related to us, without the least emotion, and with apparent indifference, a horrid occurrence which lately had taken place in their kraal. An old man had three sons, one of whom had been married several years to a woman by whom he had two children. One of the brothers had conceived a liking for the woman, and she on her part was not averse to change her husband; it was therefore agreed between them, that he should be put out of their way. This (I shudder in relating it) was accomplished by the atrocious demon beating out his brother's brains as he lay asleep. This inhuman act appears to have excited no feelings of horror in the horde : the pair were at this time living together contented, and seemingly undismayed by their own reflections on the nefarious deed they had committed. Conscience herself seemed to have neglected her duty, and bestial ignorance to have ursuped her place. Instead of chasing him for ever out of their kraal, the father and the remaining brother allowed him to continue in their society in the same terms as if nothing had happened. I saw the murderer: he was a youth of apparently seventeen or eighteen years of age, and not an unpleasing countenance. They all exhibited, but the old man more remarkably, a poof of the good effects of our hospitality; and gave me the opportunity of witnessing how wonderfully and rapidly their appearance is improved by a plentiful supply of food. I should, without such proof, have thought it incredible, that so great an alteration could possibly take place in four days. On their first visit to us, the skin.of their bodies hung in large wrinkles; and the meagre emaciated state in which we found them, excited our greatest commisseration : but now the old man's wrinkles had