|CHAPTER XXVIII. -- OLD CALABAR--VICTORIA'S JUBILEE--CAPE MOUNT--CLAY-ASHLAND -- HOLINESS ASSOCIATION--RELIGION OF AFRICA--TRIAL -- FOR WITCHCRAFT--THE WOMEN OF AFRICA.|
Old Calabar, West Africa, May 29, 1887. To-day I made my first visit to the King's Yard at Duketown. Mrs. Lisle and I, with a native Christian woman for interpreter, visited the women in the native town. Oh, the sadness, and the deplorable condition of these poor women. The wives of the kings and chiefs are not allowed to go out to church, or to go out at all without permission.
The first yard we visited was that of a big chief who has about twenty wives, and that number, or more, of slaves. The first court was the quarters and houses of these slaves. Passing out of this, up a dingy alley into a small court, then through a door into a large, open courtyard, we come to the quarters of the wives.
At the entrance of the first door are planted in the doorway four human skulls. I tried to step aside, but every way I stepped it seemed to me I stepped on one. It was a very uncomfortable feeling, but then I knew I had not done anything to the poor souls.
In the center of the yard of this large court was a tree with a little, low frame-work around it. Within this frame-work was a large American dish, such as we would use here to put a turkey on, with a human skull on. As I looked at it I thought of Daniel Webster. It was a skull quite resembling that of the great statesman; of such marvelous shape and proportions.
To the right, and very nearly in front, was the head of a goat. All had been sacrificed. I said, "When was this done?"
"Oh, years ago, men and women were offered for sacrifice; but since the missionaries have been here it has been stopped, and the skulls are a remembrance."
My second visit to the King's Yard was Sunday, June 12th. We went to four houses. I sang, and talked through an interpreter, and prayed, and told them how I found Jesus, and how He saved me. Poor things, how interested they seemed; and I saw the great tears in their eyes.
Some of the women were very good looking; good features and beautifully formed, as are also their children. Oh, how my heart longed after them for Jesus.
At the house of Ironbar, who is a big chief, the first thing we saw on entering was in one corner of the courtyard a large juju, the head of an elephant, which represents a superstition they all believe in, and which they all have, in some shape or form, in their houses. They also have the skulls of goats, numbers of human skulls, turtle shells, chicken feathers, lots of long strings, or bits of rag, hanging in strings and tied in different knots and loops, and plenty of dirty grease poured over them.
This was a big chief. He dressed like a gentleman, in English clothes, and was my first escort to the Presbyterian Church.
He had a train of servants behind him to carry his umbrella, which was large, and of different colors of silk; blue, yellow, green, red, etc., and a brass knob on top as big as a good sized teacup; two men could manage it quite well; then they would take turns. Ironbar went to church nearly every Sunday; and yet he was as full of superstition and heathenism as if he had never heard the Gospel.
At the third yard, buried at the threshold, there was a human skull, over which one must walk to get in. Oh, what horror! a human graveyard. But what about all you have not seen and heard of, of horrors? I said, "Oh, Lord, how long shall the dreadful night of heathenism last? Oh, that the day may break, and that right early. Amen."
At the fourth yard, as we passed the king's palace, to go to the court where his wives stayed, we looked in and saw the table, on which were bottles of champagne and brandy; and some eight or more of the lords, and princes, and rulers gathered around, while their servants stood ready to do their bidding; and as they drank their wine and smoked, I thought of King Belshazzar and the writing on the wall. May God hasten the time when this kingdom will be taken from them and given to the King of kings.
At the fifth yard we saw the queen; a great, fat woman, with most regular features, handsome brown skin, beautiful hands and arms, and very small feet; her hair was done up in beautiful style; she was very dignified, and tried to be pleasant, but I could see she was in no sympathy with Jesus. I ventured to give her a few words, sang a hymn, and left her. She was in full costume; about three yards of beautiful cloth about her loins was all she had on! She has slaves by the hundred.
A few days before one had hanged himself, supposed to have been kidnapped and brought in, and the horror of slavery there is, to many, as it was here, and they often kill themselves, by drowning and hanging; his head was cut off and taken to the queen as a relic. Some of the wives are girls of about fourteen.
Duketown, Old Calabar, June 20th, 1887. This is a great day in England and the Provinces; the jubilee of the fifty years' reign of the good queen. I should like to have been in England, and could have gone; but I thought how many poor missionaries would have been glad to be there, just for a little change and rest, as well as to be at the great royal anniversary, but their work, and, with some, the want of means, kept them from going; and I thought, though I needed the rest so much, and the doctor had told me I would need to get out of the country, and have an entire change of climate, before I could hope to be much better, that it was right to deny myself this great and only privilege that I should ever have of seeing such a demonstration, and in doing it the Lord blessed me, and I trust will answer the little prayer He put in my heart for the queen, whose reign for fifty years has been of such a beautiful, high moral, Christian character. May her life and health be very precious in His sight; may she live long, to be a blessing to all nations; and when her reign is ended here, may she reign with Him, who is the Lord of all nations, and out of all has redeemed unto Himself, by the blood of Christ, kings and priests unto God. Amen. Amen.
Clay-Ashland, Liberia, West Africa, July 12th, 1888. For a long time there has been a good deal of interest manifested among a number of Christians, on the subject of personal holiness; and since the revival, which has been going on for the last three weeks, this interest has been intensified, and under consideration at different times with several of the members, and with some of the leading Stewards of the church.