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This Handbook contains a total of 2268 proverbs, idioms, enigmas, laconisms, and words conveying know- ledge concerning the people's habits and superstitions. Imprim S par autorisation da &oi & rimprimerie roj^ale, 1826.
The people having formed a large circle, with the Caboceers, headmen, captains, and speakers in advance, and having saluted one another in due form, chose their speakers and witnesses to accompany them to the several groups, and delivered orations of a Hibernian and repeal tendency, which the Reverend Reporter transcribes with evident zest. XXUl are of very frequent occurrence amongst the Toruba proverbs, and the peculiarity just noticed will, I think, be found to prevail almost universally in them.*' I will conclude this portion of the subject with ex- tracting two passages from the Introduction above quoted. If you know the beginning well, the ead will not trouble you. Sopa bon T ay oq I, wandey botir bou la sopa a ko guenne.
We have also a specimen of a Ga-fable : '■ 6 ZTUl PSEFA. " Spider and Spider-son and three Ghosts," — the spider, who is supposed to have created the first man, being therein brought to shame.* Then follow Lalai, or songs, which are, however, mere tautologies. the Yoruba proverbs, that there is a degree of moral light observable in them which renders them peculiarly interesting, and gives them, I may add, a real value in connection with the inquiry into the moral government of the universe ; inasmuch as it presents us with a lively comment on the words of St. To love the king is not bad, but a king who loves you is better. Kon tey jamone kon nga bokala bakane, mon di Ba ande thy adonna. Man should take as companion one older than himself.
Such views may, perhaps, be excusable in those who have never heard black men speak, except in a language foreign to them, and which they had to learn from mere hearing ; but when I was amongst them in their native land, on the soil which the feet of their fathers have trod, and heard them deliver in their own native tongue stirring extempore speeches, adorned with beautiful PREPACE. And I believe that the Thousand and One Nights would supply as many instances as can be found in the Hebrew poets. adding insta Dces of the gradational, the antithetic, and the introverted, he concludes, " Such is the striking feature of parallelism which so evidently characterises the Yoruba proverbs.
XTU imagery, and of half-anrhour or an hour's duration ; or when I was writing from their dictation, sometimes two hours in succession, without having to correct a word or alter a construction in twenty or thirty pages ; or, when in Sierra Leone, I attended examinations of the sons of liberated slaves in Algebra, Geometry, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, etc. It is this which gives them their claim to the title of poetry ; for there does not appear to be anything which can be strictly called rhythm or metre in any of them ; although the feature which I am about to notice may be regarded as a slight approximation to it. What the conyalescent refuses, would give pleasure to the dead.
The author re- marks, " Short Ga-songs are composed at random during plays and processions, dances and labours. Paul concerning the Gentiles, * which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.' (Eom. 15.) These proverbs, in many instances, display ideas concerning the providence of God, the moral rectitude of actions, or the practice of social virtues, which (to say the least) we should hardly have expected to find in a people so wholly separated from the influences, direct or indirect, of that revelation which God was pleased to make of Himself to man.* The and second. Whoso knows one who will die with him, he (the known) will be his friend in this world.
*' It is hoped that the publication of these first specimens of Kanuri literature will prove useful in more than one way. Benin is not behind her sister provinces in tale and tradi- tion, bat my stay in that city was too short to make collections. almost poetical contrivance or con- struction of the parts, which marks a refinement of taste greater than we should naturally have expected.** ♦ " I believe that the number and the character of these Torubao with the Arab or Persian proverbs. XXI proverbial sayings will almost bear us out ia calling them the natioual poetry of the Yorubas. Independently of the advantage it offers for a practical acquaintance with the language, it also introduces the reader to some extent into the inward world of Negro mind and Negro thoughts ; and this is a circumstance of paramount importance, so long as there a nine-days' wonder in Europe, was the inyention of a race cognate with the Mandenga, and who probably derived from the Koran the idea of writing their mother-tongne. are any who either flatly negative the question, or, at least, consider it still open, ' "Whether the Negroes are a genuine portion of mankind or not.* It is vain to speculate on this question from mere anatomical facts, from peculiarities of the hair, or from the colour of the skin : if it is mind that distinguishes men from animals, the question cannot be decided without consulting the languages of the Negroes, for language gives the expre S' Stan and the manifestation of the mind. I am not aware of the existence amongst them of any heroic pieces, or war and hunting songs, such as those which prevail amongst the southern tribes, and of which Casalis has given us several remarkable specimens.
Considered in such a point of view, such speci- mens may go a long way towards refuting the old- fashioned doctrine of an essential inequality of the Negroes with the rest of mankind, which now and then shows itself, not only in America, but also in Europe. It is the same feature which Bishop Lowth considered one of the grand characteristics of, and which Bishop Jebb proved to be the sole distinctive characteristic of, the Hebrew poetry, — the system of parallelism.* After of each period, so that in two lines, or members, of the same period, things shall answer to things and words to words, aa if fitted to each other by a kind of rule or measure." With diffidence, due when differing in opinion with three bishops, I venture to remark, that in the Semitic dialects, and in other than Asiatic and Indo-European tongues, — as the Persian, — which imitate their style, the habit of balancing sentences naturally produces this paralklism. And they who maintain, as some have^done, that " the P. — '*A Zola-Kafir Dictionary Btymologically Explained, with copiocu illastrations and examples, preceded by an introdaction on the Zola-Kafir Language. of the national character," hare chosen, it appears to me, the more imperfect means of attaining the wished-fbr object.* For Africa has an embryo literature, and hardly re- quires that one should be begotten by strangers, *' for the propagation of Christian truth and the extension of civilisation/' Some peoples, as the wild and pastoral, tribes of the southern regions, have been said to be destitute of traditions. " The sarage custom of going naked," we are told, ** has denuded the mind, and de- stroyed all decorum in the language. Vidal draws the following deductions : — " Surely these are indications of no ordinary percep- tion of moral truths, and sui Bcient to warrant the infer- ence that in closeness of observation, in depth of thought, and in shrewd intelligence, the Toruban is oh rvx^v atnjp — no ordinary man. Many of them have, of course, passed into the languages of Persia and India, but there is no want of such idioms in those dialects of a purely indigenous origin : the latter is especially rich in this respect, and the student of Hindustani, or Hindi, can scarcely open a book in which he is not hampered by the recurrence in almost every page of idiomatic phrases of local application, unfamiliar allusions, and proverbial sententiousness." — Introduction to Capt. The existence of proverbs such as these, amongst a people situated as the Torubans are, is a fact pregnant with many thoughts, on which the theo- logian and the moralist may dwell with advantage, and may awaken in all an interest in a nation towards whom the sympathies of the public have been already directed by the exciting events of their recent political history. We can now see a little way into the thoughts and feelings of that people, which has come prominently before our notice as the butt of the last efforts of the expiring slave trade, and the repe Uer of those efforts : * we can now dive a little into that sea of mind, to which the Dahomian tyrant would fain have cried, * Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further ; ' which he would fain have bound in the chains of slavery like the Persian monarch of old, but which refused to be fettered, rising up wholly like a flood, and forcing his proud army to flee before it. Thomas Roebuck's Collection of Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases in the Persian and Hindoostani Languages. t So the poet says : — "All things are double, one against another.'* And to quote one proverb against another, there is our English dictum : — "Wise men make proverbs, and fools use them." XZYIU FBEFACE. The books from which I have copied are so scattered, as will appear in the following pages, that the general reader never has an opportunity of perusing them : and this will, it is trusted, justify me in publishing such a com- pilation. Dard's Grammar.* The Wolofs, formerly called joloffs,! Suivi d'an ap- pendice od sout ^tablis les particularity lea plus essentielles des prin- cipales langnes de L'Afrique Septentrionale. Dard, Instituteur de r£cole Wolofe-Fran9aise du S^n^I, Auteur des dictionnaires Wolof et Bambara.