« PreviousContinue »
rusted in blood; the sheaths were of leopard skin, or.. the shell of a fish like shagreen. The large drums, supported on the head of one man, and beaten by two others, were braced around with the thigh-bones of their enemies, and ornamented with their skulls. The kettle-drums, resting on the ground, were scraped with wet fingers, and covered with leopard skin. The wrists of the drummers were hung with bells and curiouslyshaped pieces of iron, which gingled loudly as they were beating. The smaller drums were suspended from the neck by scarves of red cloth ; the horns (the teeth of young elephants) were ornamented at the mouth-piece with gold, and the jaw-bones of human victims. The war-caps of eagles' feathers nodded in the rear, and large fans, of the wing-feathers of the ostrich, played around the dignitaries. Immediately behind their chairs (which were of black wood, almost covered by inlays of ivory and gold embossment) stood their handsomest youths, with corslets of leopard's skin covered with gold cockle-shells, and stuck full of small knives, sheathed in gold and silver, and the handles of blue agate ; cartouch-boxes of elephants' hides hung below, ornamented in the same manner; a large gold-handled sword was fixed behind the left shoulder, and silk scarves and horses' tails (generally white) streamed from the arms and waist-cloth: their long Danish muskets had broad rims of gold at small distances, and the stocks were ornamented with shells. Finely-grown girls stood behind the chairs of some, with silver basins. Their stools, of the most laborious carved work, and generally with two large bells attached to them, were conspicuously placed upon the heads of favourites; and crowds of small boys were seated around, flourishing elephants' tails curiously mounted. The warriors sat on the ground close to these, and so thickly as not to admit of our passing without treading on their feet, to
which they were perfectly indifferent; their caps were of the skin of the pangolin and leopard, the tails hanging down behind; their cartouch belts (composed of small gourds which hold the charges, and covered with leopard or pig's skin) were embossed with red shells, and small brass bells thickly hung to them; on their hips and shoulders was a cluster of knives; iron chains and collars dignified the most daring, who were prouder of them than of gold; their muskets had rests affixed of leopard's skin, and the locks a covering of the same ; the sides of their faces were curiously painted in long white streaks, and their arms also striped, having the appearance of armour.
“ The prolonged flourishes of the horns, a deafening tumult of drums, and the fuller concert of the intervals, announced that we were approaching the king; we were already passing the principal officers of his household, the chamberlain, the gold horn-blower, the captain of the messengers, the captain for royal executions, the captain of the market, the keeper of the royal burialground, and the master of the bands, sat surrounded by a retinue and splendour which bespoke the dignity and importance of their offices. The cook had a number of small services covered with leopard's skin held behind him, and a large quantity of massy silver plate was displayed before him, punch-bowls, waiters, coffee-pots, tankards, and a very large vessel with heavy handles and clawed-feet, which seemed to have been made to hold incense: I observed a Portuguese inscription on one piece, and they seemed generally of that manufacture. The executioner, a man of immense size, wore a massy gold hatchet on his breast; and the executionstool was held before him, clotted in blood, and partly covered with a cawl of fat. The king's four linguists were encircled by a splendour inferior to none, and their peculiar insignia, gold canes, were elevated in all directions, tied in bundles, like fasces. The keeper of the treasury added to his own magnificence by the ostentatious display of his service; the blow-pan, boxes, scales and weights, were of solid gold.
“ A delay of some minutes, while we severally approached to receive the king's hand, afforded us a thorough view of him : his deportment first excited my attention; native dignity in princes we are pleased to call barbarous was a curious spectacle : his manners were majestic, yet courteous; and he did not allow his surprise to beguile him for a moment of the composure of the monarch : he appeared to be about thirty-eight years of age, inclined to corpulence, and of a benevolent countenance : he wore a fillet of aggry beads round his temples, a necklace of gold cockspur shells strung by their largest ends, and over his right shoulder a red silk cord, suspending three saphies cased in gold : his bracelets were the richest mixtures of beads and gold, and his fingers covered with rings : his cloth was of a dark green silk; a pointed diadem was elegantly painted in white on his forehead ; also a pattern resembling an epaulette on each shoulder, and an ornament like a fullblown rose, one leaf rising above another until it covered his whole breast : his knee-bands were of aggry beads, and his ancle-strings of gold ornaments of the most delicate workmanship, small drums, sankos, stools, swords, guns, and birds, clustered together : his sandals, of a soft white leather, were embossed across the instep-band with small gold and silver cases of saphies : he was seated in a low chair, richly ornamented with gold : he wore a pair of gold castanets on his finger and thumb, which he clapped to enforce silence. The belts of the guards behind his chair were cased in gold, and covered with small jaw-bones of the same metal : the elephants' tails, waving like a small cloud before him, were spangled with gold, and large plumes of feathers were flourished
amid them. His eunuch presided over these attendants, wearing only one massy piece of gold about his neck : the royal stool, entirely cased in gold, was displayed under a splendid umbrella, with drums, sankos, horns, and various musical instruments, cased in gold, about the thickness of cartridge-paper ; large circles of gold hung by scarlet cloth from the swords of state, the sheaths as well as the handles of which were also cased; hatchets of the same were intermixed with them : the breasts of the Ocrahs, and various attendants, were adorned with large stars, stools, crescents, and gossamer wings, of solid gold.”
“ Shall we call a people, in the enjoyment of such wealth and splendour, barbarians ?” added Egeria, laying down the book," what then shall we say of those who are living in the midst of the wretchedness of Ireland ? Look at Miss Edgeworth's description of an Irish cottage ; you will find it at the 94th page of the first volume of her Fashionable Tales.”
“ It was a wretched-looking, low, mud-walled cabin. At one end it was propped by a buttress of loose stones, upon which stood a goat reared on his hind-legs, to browse on the grass that grew on the house-top. A dunghill was before the only window, at the other end of the house; and close to the door was a puddle of the dirtiest of dirty water, in which ducks were dabbling. At my approach, there came out of the cabin a pig, a calf, a lamb, a kid, and two geese, all with their legs tied, followed by cocks, hens, chickens, a dog, a cat, a kitten, a beggar-man, a beggar-woman with a pipe in her mouth; children innumerable, and a stout girl with a pitchfork in her hand ; altogether more than I, look. ing down upon the roof as I sat on horseback, and mea. suring the superficies with my eye, could have possibly
supposed the mansion capable of containing. I asked if Ellinor O'Donoghoe was at home? but the dog barked, the geese cackled, the turkeys gobbled, and the beggars begged, with one accord so loudly, that there was no chance of my being heard. When the girl had at last succeeded in appeasing them all with her pitchfork, she answered, that Ellinor O'Donoghoe was at home, but that she was out with the potatoes ; and she ran to fetch her, after calling to the boys, who were within in the room smoking, to come out to his honour. As soon as they had crouched under the door, and were able to stand upright, they welcomed me with a very good grace, and were proud to see me in the kingdom. I asked if they were all Ellinor's sons. All entirely,' was the first answer. Not one but one,' was the second answer. The third made the other two intelligible. • Plase your honour, we are all her sons-in-law, except myself, who am her lawful son.' "Then you are my foster-brother?' 'No, plase your honour; it's not me, but my brother, and he's not in it. Not in it?' • No, plase your honour ; because he's in the forge up above. Sure he's the blacksmith, my lard. And what are you?' • I'm Ody, plase your honour;' the short for Owen,”
DRAMATIC POETRY. “ No department of English poetry,” said Egeria, one evening after tea, on taking up a volume of Ben Jonson's works, “ no department of English poetry is more rich in beautiful passages than the dramatic, and none of which the riches are so little known.