Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/64

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52 The Voice of the Stone of Destiny.

that this genealogy, at one time seriously credited, is now treated as fable, but even yet the coronation ceremonies of ' His Sacred Majesty,' though not directly of pagan origin, witness to the mysterious sanctity that surrounds him.

A view of kingship thus exalted renders it easy to understand why, when circumstances compelled the choice of a king, the divine will must have been most anxiously consulted. It was not merely that the qualities of a leader in battle, a wise judge and administrator, and a prudent politician were needed. Luck and the favour of the gods were more than these, to say nothing of the marks of god- head, which in many cases it was necessary to discover in his person, conduct or knowledge. Hence the choice of the people, or rather the recognition by the people, would depend upon the auguries, or upon more direct indications of the decision of heaven. When Dagara, the King of Karague, on the western shore of Lake Victoria Nyanza, died, he left behind him three sons, any of whom was eligible to the throne. The officers of state put before them a small mystic drum. It was of trifling weight, but being loaded with charms, no one could lift it, save he to whom the ancestral spirits were inclined as the successor. Nor was this enough. The victor in this contest was required to undergo a further trial of his right. He was made to sit, as he himself informed Captain Speke, on the ground at a certain spot where the land would gradually rise up under him, like a telescope, until it reached the skies. The aspirant who was approved by the spirits was then gradu- ally lowered in safety ; whereas, if not approved, the elastic hill would suddenly collapse, and he would be dashed to pieces. It is needless to add, that Rumanika, Captain Speke's informant, claimed to have gone through the ordeal with success. -"^

These are barbarous auguries. But all auguries and

' Jou7~nal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile, by John lianning Speke (Edinburgh, 1863), p. 221.