Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/207

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not all nature forbid it? Do not the sun, the moon, the stars, the solemn night, and cheerful dawn, announce a Creator even to the children of the wilderness? Is it not proclaimed in the awful voice of thunder, and written on the sky by

"the most terrible and nimble stroke

Of quick, cross lightning?"

Is it possible that any reasoning creature can be so degraded as not to have some notion, however faint and inadequate, of an Almighty Being? Such a conception is necessarily included, more or less, in all forms of idolatry, even the most absurd and bestial. The indefinable apprehensions of a savage, and his dread of something which he can not describe, are testimonies that at least he suspects (however dimly and ignorantly) that the visible is not the whole. This may be the germ of religion—the first uncouth approaches of "faith" as the "evidence of things not seen"—the distant and imperfectly-heard announcement of a God.

May not our incorrect ideas on this head, in reference to the Ovambo, be attributed to want of time and insufficient knowledge of their language, habits, and shyness in revealing such matters to strangers? When interrogating our guide on the subject of religion, he would abruptly stop us with a "Hush!" Does not this ejaculation express awe and reverence, and a deep sense of his own utter insufficiency to enter on so solemn a theme? The Ovambo always evinced much uneasiness whenever, in alluding to the state of man after death, we mentioned Nangoro. "If you speak in that manner," they said in a whisper, "and it should come to the hearing of the king, he will think that you may want to kill him." They, moreover, hinted that similar questions might materially hurt our interest, which was too direct a hint to be misunderstood. To speak of the death of a king or chief, or merely to allude to the heir-apparent, many savage nations consider equivalent to high treason.

As already said, the Ovambo surround their dwellings