Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/277

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Obeah in the West Indies, 267

survives in the Congo basin, but has never been traced to Haiti on trustworthy evidence. Isolated instances — about four or five — of cannibalism (the killing and eating of children) have occurred in the criminal records of Haiti during the last twenty years, but the convicted were in nearly all cases punished with death ; the one or two not executed had been proved to be mad, and were confined in prisons or asylums. These acts of cannibalism were mostly examples of mad, religious exaltation.

" Haiti Vooduism has absorbed elements of Freemasonry and Christianity. It predicts the future, investigates

crimes, arranges love and affairs The 2,500,000 Haitian

peasants are passionately fond of dancing, — will even some- times dance almost or quite naked. And following on this chorographic exercise is much immorality. It is for these dances and not for mystic ' voodu ' purposes that the drums may be heard tapping, booming, rattling all night. No secret is made nor is any shame felt about these village dances in which many young people take part. ... In fact, in almost all features of their lives, except in dress, language and rudeness of manners, the Haitian peasantry has returned to African conditions."

Of course it may be said that Sir Spenser St. John's book had been written before the twenty years' limit laid down by Sir Harry Johnston, but I do not think that anybody can now disbelieve the accuracy of the charges made by its author at that time, and verified, as he tells us it was, by his own further inquiries and by the testimony of his colleagues and other trustworthy sources. It is much to be hoped that Sir Harry Johnston's view can be justified at the present time in Hayti ; but his own admission that, except in certain particulars, " the Haitian peasantry has returned to African conditions," sounds very ominous. Nor is it borne out by Mr. Hall Caine, — who, writing about the same time as Sir Harry, gives an account of a voodoo meeting held by a negress priestess in a wood a few miles