The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit\ WEDNESDAY, MAY 28, 1890. FRANCE AND DAHOMEY.
That men are but children of a larger growth is an axiomatic truth, and it is not less true that nations or aggregations of mankind exhibit all the characteristics of individual men. Indeed, when nations go to war we generally see but a reproduction-on a large scale of the episode of schoolboy life in which the big bully demands the cake which has come, into the possession of some , fortunate, or unfortunate, little fellow, and proceeds to take and devour, by the law of might, that to which he has no manner of title by the law of right. This is especially the case when civilised nations make war upon uncivilised peoples—there is nearly always a cake in the possession of the latter which the former covets, and which is forthwith annexed vi.et armis. It is therefore, generally speaking, safe to assume that while the might is on the side of the aggressor, the right is on the side of those who are attacked, But there are exceptions to every rule, and though it may be that in her present affair with the Kingdom of Dahomey, France has an eye! to a possible extension of her colonial empire in Africa, yet so utterly barbarous is that kingdom that. all well-wishers of humanity will hope that her arms may be entirely successful, and a more humane system of government established in place of the bloodthirsty rule which now curses the land, and which is fittingly characterised as a standing outrage to humanity and civilisation. " Dahomey (writes a contemporary) is, as we all know, situated on the northwest coast of Africa, not far from the mouth of the Niger. ' It has this distinctive character, that it may be considered as inhabited by an army rather than by a nation, The source of its revenue is neither agricultural nor any kind of industry, but proceeds absolutely from a traffic in slaves. In the centre of this territory stands a town, Abomey, where the King, surrounded by his army, resides, and tyrannises over 100,000 slaves. Abomey is eight miles in circumference, and is encircled by a ditch five feet deep, from which springs up in one continuous line, the thick row of thorny acacias, which are its only fortification. It is entered by six gates, profusely studded with human skulls, blackened by the heat of the sun. There is no stream v;ithin the city, water being obtained from ponds some distance oft"; but the ordinary beverage of the inhabitants is rum ; and, in the barbaric orgiea in which they indulge, the blood of their victims is mixed with it. Their leader is simply a cruel hunter of men. At stated periods he sallies forth at the head of his army, which knows not where it is being led. He alone is aware of its destination : he alone has decided as to which tribe shall be massacred, or made captive and brought into bondage. Silently, at break of day, offensive, slumbering tribes of negroes, and slaughter cheni in hundreds as they rush, terror-stricken, out of their huts. Old people are invariably killed, infants are trampled to death, and young men and women are made prisoner's, ai^d brutally yoked together in chains, being doomed to a life of slavery, or to become the victims of human sacrifice in' a manner too terrible to relate. Such are the principal characteristic pursuits of this ferocious leader and his bloodthirsty savages, Having completed their devastation «.nd plunder, not forgetting to set fire to ; the ill-fated villages through which they pass, this invading horde, headed by their contingent of amazons, flushed with the intoxicating effects of carnage in which they have takeu a leading pni't^-retraces its steps towards Abomey, dragging in its train an entire tribe of helpless and unsophisticated African negroes, for the purpose of supplying the slave trade. It will easily be understood how terrible must be the apprehensions of neighboring peaceful tribes in view of this constantly recurring danger to which they may be subject at any moment, entailing, as it does, unlimited massacre, lasting sometimes over a period of three months. The inhabitants sacrifice to superstition and fear; and they offer up.in conciliation to imaginary enemies the physical sufferings of their victims, Surrounding these shrines, and suspended in mid air, are hundreds of corpses, which would infallibly engender an epidemic were it liot for the voracity of the numerous birds of prey which feed on them and soon pick the bones quite clean. They are the sanitary inspectors of Dahomey, and never has hygienic sapvice been more efficiently performed/ Here, indeed, is a picture of one of the dansesfc of the dark places of the earth, full of the habitations of cruelty, and France will merit the thanks of the civilised world if she undertakes t>he task of setting up a humane and enlightened administration, where, for ages, nothing but slavery, bloodshed and superstition have been known