The Memorial Edition.


THIRTY years ago, no Europeans were at Dahome. None ventured into the interior to the Court of the Savage known as King Gelele {NOTE: Pronounce "Gél‑e‑le." For the pronunciation of "Dahome," see p. 106, note, post.} His time was spent in wars, his best troops being his many thousand Amazons, women crueller and fiercer than men. The prisoners were tortured, and their throats were cut. Whenever he required to send a telegram to his father, a man was slaughtered, and his soul was despatched with it. Women were cut open alive, in a state of pregnancy, that the King might see what it was like. Animals were tied in every agoniz­ing position to die; impaling and cannibalism were common, and it was impossible to go out of one's hut without seeing something appalling.


Thirty years ago, Richard Burton was chosen to go to Dahome, and to live with this savage, to endeavour to induce him to abandon these cruelties. He went as Her Majesty's Commissioner, bearing presents from the Queen. The King gave ample reasons for not being able to alter the customs of the country. He sent return presents to Her Majesty, and gave three to Richard Burton for his "favourite squaw." The King treated Richard very well, but any freak or sudden superstition might have caused him to be put to a cruel death. Gelele said that his prisoners of war represented his income, that his own people would kill him if he stopped "the customs," that if he received £50,000 a year he would attempt it, and that the only presents he wanted were a carriage and horses, and a white woman.


When Richard returned, he told me that he had seen enough dreadful sights to turn his brain. Earl Russell wrote me: "Tell Captain Burton that he has performed his mission to my utmost and entire satis­faction."


The following is his modest account of that mission, and information concerning the country, which I think and trust may prove infinitely useful to the French Army now occupying Dahome.


And I beg of the French Army, when they have righted the wrongs of the human race, to turn a kind thought to those of the poor tortured animals.


As in the Memorial Edition of the "Pilgrimage to Al‑Madinah and Meccah," Mr. Leonard C. Smithers has corrected the proofs from Sir Richard's own copy of the first edition, and has passed the sheets through the press.




July 12th, 1893.