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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 243 pages of information about The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African.
at length by the empire of Abyssinia, near 1500 miles from its beginning.  This kingdom is divided into many provinces or districts:  in one of the most remote and fertile of which, called Eboe, I was born, in the year 1745, in a charming fruitful vale, named Essaka.  The distance of this province from the capital of Benin and the sea coast must be very considerable; for I had never heard of white men or Europeans, nor of the sea:  and our subjection to the king of Benin was little more than nominal; for every transaction of the government, as far as my slender observation extended, was conducted by the chiefs or elders of the place.  The manners and government of a people who have little commerce with other countries are generally very simple; and the history of what passes in one family or village may serve as a specimen of a nation.  My father was one of those elders or chiefs I have spoken of, and was styled Embrenche; a term, as I remember, importing the highest distinction, and signifying in our language a mark of grandeur.  This mark is conferred on the person entitled to it, by cutting the skin across at the top of the forehead, and drawing it down to the eye-brows; and while it is in this situation applying a warm hand, and rubbing it until it shrinks up into a thick weal across the lower part of the forehead.  Most of the judges and senators were thus marked; my father had long born it:  I had seen it conferred on one of my brothers, and I was also destined to receive it by my parents.  Those Embrence, or chief men, decided disputes and punished crimes; for which purpose they always assembled together.  The proceedings were generally short; and in most cases the law of retaliation prevailed.  I remember a man was brought before my father, and the other judges, for kidnapping a boy; and, although he was the son of a chief or senator, he was condemned to make recompense by a man or woman slave.  Adultery, however, was sometimes punished with slavery or death; a punishment which I believe is inflicted on it throughout most of the nations of Africa[A]:  so sacred among them is the honour of the marriage bed, and so jealous are they of the fidelity of their wives.  Of this I recollect an instance:—­a woman was convicted before the judges of adultery, and delivered over, as the custom was, to her husband to be punished.  Accordingly he determined to put her to death:  but it being found, just before her execution, that she had an infant at her breast; and no woman being prevailed on to perform the part of a nurse, she was spared on account of the child.  The men, however, do not preserve the same constancy to their wives, which they expect from them; for they indulge in a plurality, though seldom in more than two.  Their mode of marriage is thus:—­both parties are usually betrothed when young by their parents, (though I have known the males to betroth themselves).  On this occasion a feast is prepared, and the bride and bridegroom
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