« PreviousContinue »
REMARKABLE ANECDOTE OF A SHEEP.
The following extrordinary instance of sagacity and maternal affection in an ewe, is related by Mr. Collet, of Evesham, in the Monthly Magazine for December, 1808 :
Walking with a lady through some meadows between two villages, of the names of Upper and Lower Slaughter, in the county of Gloucester, the path lay within about one hundred yards of a small brook. Many ewes and lambs were in the meadows : we were about half-way over it when an ewe came up to us and bleated very loudly, looking up in my face; and then ra off towards the brook. I could not help remarking this extraordinary behaviour ; but our attention was particularly roused when she repeated it ; and, bleating louder, seemed to wish for something in particular ; she then ran off as hefore, in the same direction, repeatedly looking behind her, till she reached the brook, where she stood still. After standing to look at her some time, we continued our walk, and had nearly reached the gate that led into the next meadow, when she came running after us the third tiine, and seemed more earnest, if possible, than before. I then determined to endeavour to discover the motive for such singular behaviour. I followed the ewe towards the brook ; seeing me advance, she ran as fast as she was able, looking behind her several times. When we came to the brook, she peeped over the edge of a hillock, looked into the water, looked up in my face, and pleaded with the most significant voice I ever heard from a quadruped. Judge of my surprise, when, on looking into the stream, I saw her lamb standing close under the hillock, with the water nearly over its back. I instantly drew it out, when the fond mother began to lick and give it suck, and, looking up to me, uttered several sounds very different from those she had uttered before, and evidently expressing thanks and pleasure. I needed not those thanks ; for I never performed oue action in my life that gave me more unmixed pleasure ; nor did ever a brute appear more grateful.
(Translated from the French of M. Florian.)
If one would believe what some philosophers assert, that this world is governed by two powers, one who gives us the little good we enjoy, and the other all the evil which abounds, we should be induced to think that in Africa his doctrine ha its foundation. No land produces so many poisons, venomous reptiles, or wild beasts. The little that we know of the history of Morocco, of the negroes of Andia, of the Jaggas, and other districts along the coast to the country of the Hottentots, appears very much to resemble the histories of lions, panthers and serpents, so worthy to partake of this burnt-up land with its cannibal kings who carry to market the flesh of their prisoners. In the midst however of these sanguinary monsters and disgusting horrors, (some who sell their children, others who eat their prisoners) natural equity and justice, real virtue, constancy in pain, and a contempt of death, are sometimes to be found. These examples, rare as they may be, are sufficient to interest us in these degraded beings, and to remind us they are men. Thus in the most barren desert, a few green plants, which console the distressed traveller, remind him that he is still upon the earth.
In the kingdom of Juida, on the coast of Guinea, beyond the cape of three points, and not far from the city of Sabi, in the year 1727, lived the widow Darina. She was the mother of three sons whom she had nursed with a tenderness fortunately very common in nature, but not so, in these climates, where children are looked upon as objects of commerce, and sold, by their unnatural parents. The eldest was called Guberi, the second Teloné, the younger Selico. All of them had good dispositions and adored their mother, who now aged and infirm, only existed by their attentions and care. The riches of this family were comprised in a hut, which they inhabited together, and a small field near it which supplied them with maize. Every morning one of the brothers alternately went a hunting, cultivated the field, or attended their mother. At night they met together, the hunter brought his partridges, his parrots, or his comb of honey, the farmer his herbs and roots,
and he who remained at home had the repast ready prepared ; they supped all four together, contending with each other for the pleasure of waiting on their mother; and afterwards laying themselves down on straw, slept in quiet till the return of day.
Selico, the youngest of the brothers, went often to Sabi to carry the earliest fruits as offerings of his poor family to the temple of the deity ; this deity, as is well known, was a huge .serpent, of the sort called fetiches, which have no venom, and who devour others which are venomous ; they are so much revered in Juida, that any person killing one would be thought guilty of a great crime : therefore this species of snake is increased to a prodigious degree ; and, being sacred, they are found in quantities in every town or village, where they eat familiarly from the plates, and even lay their eggs in the beds of the natives, who look upon it as the most fortunate of events, and a certain presage of their well-doing.
Selico was the handsomest, the best made, and the most amiable of all the negroes of Juida; he had seen, in the temple, Berissa, the daughter of the high priest, who surpassed all her companions in elegant grace and beauty. Selico adored her and was happy in having his love returned. Every Wednesday, sacred to religion and repose
the young lover hastened to the temple, and passed the day with his dear Berissa, conversing with her of his mother, his love, and the happiness they should enjoy when Hymen had united them. Berissa, did nut disguise her sentiments, and the aged Faculho, her father, who approved of this union, promised, as he embraced them, that he would soon crown their mutual tenderness.
At length this long wished for epocha came; the day was, fixed for the ceremony; the mother of Selico and his two brothers had already prepared the hut for the bride and bridegroom, when the famous Truro Audati, King of Dahomai, whose rapid conquests have been celebrated even in Europe, invaded the kingdom of Andia and exterminated its inhabitants. In advancing at the head of his formidable army, he was stopped by the large river which divides it from Juida, whose king, a pusillanimous and indolent' being, governed by his wives and ministers, never thought of opposing any troops to those of of the conqueror; he thought that his gods would defend his country, and ordered all the serpents fetiches to be carried to the banks of the river. The conqueror, surprised and piqued to have only, such reptiles to combat, plunged into the river with his troops and soon swam over. The gods, from whom such miracles were expected, were soon'cut into pieces, roasted, and devoured by the conquerors. The king of Juida, not thinking any farther effort of avail; Aed and hid himself in a neighbouring island. The warriors of Audati spread all over his kingdom, and with fire and sword burnt villages and forests, and massacred all without pity. Fear had dispersed what few inhabitants had escaped this butchery; the three brothers, at the first approach of the conqueror, had fled with their mother on their shoulders, to hide 'themselves in the thickest forest. Selico would not quit Darina as long as she was exposed to the smallest danger; but he no sooner saw her in safety than, trembling for Berissa, he hastened to Sabi to enquire after her, to save her, or to perish together. Sabi had just been taken by the Dahomais; the streets ran with blood ; the houses pillaged and destroyed ; the palace of the king, the temple of the serpent, were no longer any thing but smoking ruins, covered with carcases, whose heads the barbarians had, according to their custom, carried away with them. The unhappy Selico, in despair, wished for death, and dared it a thousand times in the midst of the soldiery, drunk with brandy and with blood. Selico searched all these miserable ruins, looking for, and calling, with cries of grief, on Berissa and Faculho; but in vain ! he could not discern their bodies amidst so many mutilated trunks. After having given up five days to this fruitless and melancholy search, Selico set out to return to his mother, no longer doubting but that Berissa and her father had fallen victims to the ferocious Dahomais. He found his mother in the same wood where he had left her with his brothers. The melancholy and distracted looks of Selico, frightened and alarmed a family already miserable. Darina wept over his misfortunes, and attempted consolations to which her son was insensible. He refused all food, and seemed determined to starve himself to death. Guberi and Teloné did not endeavour to alter his résolution by reasoning or intreaties; but pointed to their old mother, who now had not any longer home or bread, or any thing in this world but her children, and then asked if, after such a sight, he did not feel himself bold enough to live. Selico promised he would ; and endeavoured to think no more of his misfortunes, but to divide with his brothers their attention to his mother. They penetrated more into the interior parts of the forest, built a hut in a sequestered valley, and endeavoured to supply by the chace the maize and roots of which they were in want. Having lost their bows and arrows, and other things which they had not time to carry off with them, they soon felt the effects of famine. Fruits were scarce in this forest, where the monkies disputed them with the three brothers. The land only produced grass ; they had no instruments to work it, and no seed to sow, if it had been worked. The rainy season was setting in, and their distress still augmented. The poor mother continually suffering upon a bed of dried leaves, never complained, but was declining very fast : her sons, worn out with hunger, could no longer go into the woods, which were now under water : they set traps for small birds, and when they took any, which was very seldom, they carried them to their mother, and gave it her with a forced smile ; but the mother scarcely would eat it, because she could not make her sons partake of it.
Three months passed without bringing any change to their miserable situation. The three brothers, obliged at last to come to some determined resolution, consulted together unknown to Darina. Guberi proposed first that they should go to the coast, and that one of them should be sold to the first European factory, in order to buy bread, maize, instruments of agriculture, and every thing necessary to support their aged parent. A melancholy silence was the answer of the two brothers. To separate, to quit each other for ever to be the slave of white men! that idea distracted them. • Who will be sold ?” cried out Teloné, with a doleful voice--" Fortune shall determine it; (answered Guberi) let us throw three different sized stones into this pitcher of muddy water, shake it well, and he who draws ont the smallest shall be the unfortunate person.”—“ No, brother, (interrupted Selico) fortune has already determined. It is I who am the unfortunate person : you have forgotten then that I have lost Berissa, and that you alone hindered me from dying, by telling me I should be useful to my mother : now is the time, perform your promise, and sell me." Guberi and Teloné endeavoured, but in vain, to oppose the generous offer of their brother : Selico was deaf to their prayers, refused to draw lots, and threatened to go alone to the factory, if they obstinately persisted in refusing to accompany him. The two eldest at last consented, and it was agreed that Guberi should remain with his mother, and that Telone should accompany Selico to the Dutch factor, where he should receive the price, of his brother's liberty, and should then return with the provisions, &c. of which they were in want.
During this agreement Selico was the only one who did not weep; but what difficulty and distress did he suffer to hide his tears when he was to leave his mother, and bid her an eternal adieu! to embrace her for the last time! and to deceive her in swearing that he would soon return with Teloné! that they were only going to revisit their former habitation, and find if they could not again take possession of it! The good old woman believed them, but she could scarcely tear herself out of the arms of her sons ; she trembled for the dangers they were about to run; and by an involuntary foresight she ran after Selico, when he had disappeared from her presence. The two young brothers, of whom it was difficult to say which was the most to be pitied, arrived in a few days at the city of Sabi. The murders had ceased ; peace began to raise her head ; and the king of Darhomai, quiet possessor of the states of Juida, wished to encourage an intercourse with Europeans, and had given them an establishment within his walls. Many English and French merchants were admitted to his court, to whom he sold his