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THE INDIAN FEMALE.
[DEC. she be one of many wives in the harem of some rich Mohammedan. Then, indeed, she is spared from the toil, but she is the victim of jealousy, and is doomed to a monotonous life, like a bird in a gilded cage, so wearisome, that many would gladly escape from it, although at the cost of hard labour all their days. Her position among the tribes of Central Africa may be seen in another article in the present Number.
Let us look into the domestic life of the Indians of America. The reader will be able, from our remarks, to judge for himself as to the actual state of the wife and mother while the tribe remains in heathenism.
The man's special business is hunting, or in other ways providing food, keeping off intruders and enemies, preparing the canoes for travel, and attending to the arms and implements of war. When not engaged in these occupations, he lies listlessly in the sun, and leaves all other as rangements to the wife. Should game become scarce, and he thinks it necessary to shift his tent, the labour of the removal falls on the woman. The lodge, utensils, and fixtures of every kind, are borne upon the women's backs, sustained by a strap of leather round the forehead. On reaching the intended place of encampmeut, she has to set up the lodge. The snow, if it be winter, has to be cleared away; the poles to be set in the ground in a circle, then bent over and tied at top; the long sheets of white birch bark to be unrolled and spread upon the poles, and made fast above and below, so as not to be blown away by the wind. Cedar branches or pine branches must then be had, and spread as a flooring; the moveables stowed away; and then the fire has to be kindled. The sticks for the lodge-pines must be gathered by the wife. She takes a hatchet, of one or two pounds' weight, and, after collecting dry limbs in the forest, she breaks them into lengths about eighteen inches, and, tying them in bundles, or faggots, carries them to the lodge. She then lights her fire, which is of small dimensions. The lodge being of limited circumference, but little heat is required to warm the air, and by suspending a pot from above over a small blaze, she cooks the provisions. When all this is done, the women may sit down, warm their feet, and dry their mocassins. Sometimes the husband is long absent on hunting expeditions, and then all the burden of caring for the family falls on the
In the fall season, she takes her children in a canoe, or, if she have none, invites a female companion to go with her along the stream to cut the rush, of which she is to make mats in the winter, or to gather the wild rice. She has not only the mats to make, but the skins of the animals, which the hunter has brought home, to dress for the clothing, as she had their flesh to prepare for food. When the spring season comes, and the little patch of corn-ground is to be planted, she takes the small hoe, and, opening up the soft ground, deposits the treasured seed.
But the Indian is a most superstitious being. He is always in dread of bad influences crossing his path, and spoiling his luck. Woman, unhappily for her, is supposed to be, however unconsciously to herself, very closely identified with these influences. The wife, therefore, never walks in the path before her husband. It would be unlucky for her to do so; and when he is about to start on a hunting or war expedition, should she cross his path his luck is
Should she be ill, she may
THE KAREN MISSION.
135 not remain in the same wigwam with him; nor can she use a cup or bowl without rendering it, in his view, unclean. Nay, more, the Indian may leave his wife when it pleases him. He decrees his own divorce, and, where there are no children to restrain him, he breaks
and leaves her.
hristian females, to whom the Gospel has brought honour and dignity, how earnestly ought you not labour to send it torth to your heathen sisterhood !
THE KAREN MISSION.
Calcutta, May 1, 1858. I MENTIONED in my last letter the difficulties experienced in the Karen Missions, in consequence of the commercial crisis in the United States. The “ Friend of India” warmly recommended the case, and in the course of last month, eight thousand rupees were very cheerfully and promptly subscribed. The most interesting contribution was from our most distant station, Peshawur. As soon as the “ Friend of India arrived, Colonel Herbert Edwardes, the distinguished Commissioner, and Colonel Martin (of the Church Missionary Society), arranged a meeting; the General, Sir Sydney Cotton, took the chair, and Colonel Edwardes himself, I am told, spoke with remarkable effect. He sent me a message at once by telegraph, to say that three thousand rupees had been subscribed, and should be sent at once. “ And that,” as the “ Friend of India” said, in noticing it, “is the way they do things in the Punjab.
The Peshawur people are not subscribing to Missionaries eighteen hundred miles off because they have no Missions of their own to attend to. Far from it. In writing to me about the meeting, Colonel Martin says, “ I am just about to erect the first chapel across the Indus for native-Christian worshippers.” And no one, I think, can consider the position and prospects of the Peshawur Mission, without feeling that there are very few stations in the whole field of Missionary labour of superior importance. But we see in this case a new illustration of the expansive character of Christian sympathy. The appeal from the Karens reaches the heart of God's people at Peshawur, distant as they are, none the less readily, but probably all the more readily, because they are gaged in similar work up there, and have made sacrifices to carry on their own Mission. It is by such men-men who have already done more than most others for the progress of the Gospel—that the discovery is soonest made, that they are able to do yet more.
It is probable that our friends in Peshawur were animated to offer their succour by the desire to present a thank-offering. Their mercies have been wonderful. It pleased God to place over them, in Colonel Edwardes, one of the most able men in India, and to surround him by men like the late gallant General Nicolson, and to associate with him a man of kindred spirit, in General Cotton. The moment the news of the mutiny of Delhi reached them by telegraph, they held a council of war with General Reed and Brigadier Chamberlain, formed a plan for the defence of the Punjab, and forwarded it to Sir John Lawrence. That letter crossed one from that eminent man, which proved to contain a
THE NUFE COUNTRY.
[DEC. plan almost exactly similar; and from that time forth, there was manifested at Peshawur and at Lahore a remarkable unity of counsel and action, which appears to have been signally blessed and prospered, and by the effects of which, more than by any other measures whatever since the mutiny began, our empire has been preserved. It was by the blessing of God on the conduct of the authorities in the Punjab (chiefly Colonel Edwardes, General Cotton, General Nicolson, Sir J. Lawrence, Mr. Montgomery, and Mr. M‘Leod) that that great and warlike province was kept in peace; and it was certainly by Nicolson's march to Delhi that our weakened army there was enabled, at a most critical moment in our recent history, to take that city. That other noble feats of arms have been performed, I should be sorry to question, but I entertain no doubt, that history will detect in the fall of Delhi the turning point of the insurrection. And it will be no less apparent, that the policy of those who in the Punjab mainly contributed to that success, was very different to the traditional policy of the Indian Government. I might go farther, and show that the only station in the Punjab in which there was serious disaster (Sealkote), was also the only one in which attempts had been made to arrest the work of Missions. But it is a sad and solemn story, and I have no wish to recall its painful memories.
The ready sympathy exhibited in this Presidency with our friends in Burmah, will greatly encourage them ; but they have sustained a severe bereavement in the unexpected death of one of the most laborious Missionaries that ever laboured there, the Rev. J. H. Vinton. He came into Rangoon from a tour in the jungles, apparently quite well, but was seized with an insidious fever, and soon sank under its power in the midst of his usefulness, and in the prime of life. Very striking indeed is the recent history of Missions in Burmah! Four years ago there were twenty-three American Missionaries there. From various causes, the number is now reduced, I think, to thirteen ; and among those who have been taken away by death, some, like Mr. Ingolls and Mr. Vinton, were eminently devoted men. In the same period, however, the progress of the truth has been more rapid than ever. There has been less of man's work, and far more of God's. And thus, apparently, it always is, in seasons of special blessing, “ that no flesh may glory in his presence.” For, as the patriarch said, “ He sealeth up the hand of every man, that all men may knon his work.” (Job xxxvii. 7.)-News of the Churches.
THE NUFE COUNTRY.
Some months have now elapsed since the “Dayspring," the steamship employed in the Niger expedition, was wrecked on the rocks above Rabba. Since that time the members of the expedition, and, amongst others, our Missionary, the Rev. S. Crowther, have been encamped on the river's bank, waiting until another steamer could be sent from England to relieve them. This period of time has not been lost. The opportunity of obtaining the goodwill of the chiefs and people, of learning their language, and becoming acquainted with their habits and customs, has been diligently improved, and much work, as preparatory to a commencement of a permanent Mission amongst the Nufe people, has been accomplished.
THE NUFE COUNTRY.
137 Some of the information which he has acquired, has been forwarded to us by Mr. Crowther. It is of an interesting character, and we proceed to transfer a portion of it to our pages. The Nufe country has been conquered by the Felani, or Foulahs, by whom the aboriginal people are very cruelly oppressed. The Felani are a Mohammedan nation, by whom a great portion of these interior African countries has been over
They are characterized by pride, which is much fostered by their religion, as well as by their being masters of a vast territory in the central part of Africa. In the opinion of a Felani, no nation is so powerful as their own, nor is it surpassed in holiness by any people, the inhabitants of Mecca excepted. All nations subject to them, whether they profess Mohammedanism or otherwise, are called harbé “slaves :" if Pagans, they are called black kaferi, or blind harbe. “These are considered as given to them by God, to serve them as rewards of their faithfulness as his servants : hence their constant demand upon the poor kaferi for cowries and produce have become very oppressive. Very often some of the sons or nephews of the Sultan of Sokoto, or of the Felani kings of Nufe go about the country with a number of savage followers, and plunder the roads or the markets, by taking away whatever suits them best, whether cowries, goods, produce or cattle." Apart from the soldiers, who do not and will not work at all, the
population of Nufe may be divided into three parts, the farmers, the canoemen, and the general traders.
The farmers are the most numerous class of people in Nufe: they are mostly Pagans, and the most oppressed, the nature of their employment in the fields rendering them great sufferers during the time of war or of political disturbance, their produce, the results of a whole year's labour, on these occasions falling into the hands of the soldiers, who eat up every thing, as the locust does the grass of the field. Nor is it only their produce that is in danger, but their implements of husbandry, nay, their persons ; for they are liable to be caught and sold into slavery, and then, if not immediately ransomed by their relatives, they are sold into perpetual slavery, foreign or domestic. To escape this, they must abandon their farms to the mercy of the soldiers, and keep out of the way. Besides all this, they are heavily taxed.
The next class of the working population is the watermen, who are divided into three sections. The first, called Batasizi, are the inhabitants of the swamps along the banks of the river, who employ themselves mostly in fishing in their little canoes, with a little farming, particularly cultivation of rice, and conveying farmers, passengers, and petty traders, to the other side of the river. The Parongizi are owners of trading canoes. These are very large, constructed of broken pieces of canoes, and rough boards, put together by iron nails or staples, the crevices being stopped by soft cotton instead of oakum. These canoes are very leaky, and require constant baling, yet, heavily laden with produce, they traffic from one market to another. When descending the stream, the boatmen leave the canoe to be drifted by the current, the people sitting comfortably on the cargo, the man who sieers with his paddle at the stern, and another at the bow, giving occasionally a stroke. In ascending, they keep as near the bank as possible, to avoid the strong current, and, taking advantage of the bank, trees, roots, and shrubs, propel the boat with bamboo poles.
THE NUFE COUNTRY.
[Dec. The Kedezi are the canoemen employed by the kings, and, when an highway is interrupted by the streams, ferry over the caravans from one shore to the other. The canoes used for this purpose are of one solid wood, some fifty feet long by five feet wide the stern, propelled by bamboo poles. They can take from six to eight horses and donkeys, with the drivers. “Those owned by Pagans are known by a slip of white cloth besmeared with blood, or kola nuts used in sacrifice to propitiate the god of the river. Many of these canoes are ornamented with various cuts in the bows; amongst these, a cross is often met with, but they can give no account of it, except that they learned it from their fathers. Sometimes the canoes are owned by several persons ; some belong to the kings themselves ; others to persons of rank, who have a share in the proceeds; and others by persons of property,
who hire them out. Such is the traffice between Haussa and the Yoruba country, that, at the single ferry at Rabba, about 7000 beasts of burden are supposed to pass in six months ; the arising from the various ferries along the Nufe portion of the river during that period of time amounting to not less than 8800 dollars.
The traders have very little to do with farming or working canoes, but pursue, as their chief business, buying and selling: of these, the women are the most active. They deal not only in cloths of native manufacture, but also in such European goods as they can purchase from traders from the coast. The men, many of whom are both weavers and tailors, deal in tobes, shirts, country cloths and other garments used by men, while the women are mostly engaged in country cloths and caps for both sexes, beads, and other like articles in the shape of jewellery. A great deal of labour devolves on the women. The sole care of the children rests with them. Besides this, they are the chief carriers of loads, they grind the corn upon millstones, and they may be heard until a late hour of the night beguiling the tedious labour by songs. Early in the morning they have to prepare food out of the flour for their husbands' use or for sale, as they hawk it about from house to house. Thus they are soon worn out, and look ten years olderthan they really are. Perhaps, besides all this, they have been sold under a slave-bond, from which they have to redeem themselves or their children.
Mr. Crowther enumerates the produce of the country. In the interior, the palm-oil trees almost entirely cease, except on the banks of 'rivers, &c. : shea butter-trees take their place in great abundance. Cotton may grown to any amount, if there were a demand for it: at present the people grow but a scanty supply for home use. They manufacture their own cloths, and for these there would be constant demand if the weavers were industrious, but they are too much taken up with slavecatching to sit long at the weaving process. Mats are woven by the hand in various patterns and colours, about three inches wide, and neatly put together. The women manufacture earthen pots of various sizes, holding from a pint to twenty gallons.
Thus are they labouring and heavy laden, and yet ignoraut of Him in whom they might find rest to their souls. What suffering countries these are ! When shall the promised relief come, and the earth be gladdened by the advent of Him, who “shall judge the poor of the people, save the children of the needy, and break in pieces the oppressor ?"