Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/267

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Obeah in the West Indies. 257

published in London in 1884, a work now out of print and scarce. Formerly Her Majesty's Minister Resident and Consul-General in Hayti, his means of knowledge were very high. His work created a great sensation ; his accusations of frequent cases of cannibalism following upon Voodoo sacrifices being indignantly denied by the local authorities. How careful the British Minister was that these charges should not be hastily made is shown by his remarks in the preface to the second edition in 1889, where he says : " As my chapter on Vaudoux-worship and canni- balism excited considerable attention both in Europe and the United States, and unmitigated abuse in Hayti, I decided again to look into the question with the greatest care. The result has been to convince me that I under- rated its fearful manifestions. I have therefore rewritten these chapters, and introduced many new facts which have come to my knowledge."

Mr. Froude, the historian's, remarks upon this point are very pertinent. In TJie English in the West Indies, pub- lished in 1888, at p. 343, in describing the Haytians of Port-au-Prince as " Catholics with African beliefs under- neath," he says: "We English are in bad favour just now. . . . But the chief complaint is on account of Sir Spencer {sic) St. John's book, which they cry out against with a degree of anger which is the surest evidence of its truth." I may say that, so far as I am aware, the gravamen of these charges does not apply to Santo Domingo, formerly a Spanish possession, which forms the eastern and larger part of the same island.

In Chapter V. of this later edition. Sir Spenser St. John deals fully with this hideous question of Vaudoux worship, as he calls it in French patois. In speaking of the extent to which it exists amongst the better class of Haytians, he says that it may readily be believed that the masses are given up to this brutalizing worship and its rites, — indeed, almost every Haytian of the lower orders is more