The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Lives of Celebrated Travellers, Vol. 2 (of 3)

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Title: The Lives of Celebrated Travellers, Vol. 2 (of 3)

Author: James Augustus St. John

Release date: May 22, 2021 [eBook #65413]

Language: English

Credits: Turgut Dincer, Barry Abrahamsen, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)


The Lives of Celebrated Travellers, Vol. II.

Harper’s Stereotype Edition.



Wand’ring from clime to clime, observant stray’d,
Their manners noted and their states survey’d.
Pope’s Homer.





Born 1656.—Died 1708.
Born at Aix—Education—Early passion for botany—Philosophy of Descartes—Aversion for the study of theology—Travels in France—Spain—The Pyrenees—Taken for a robber—Publishes his first work—Commanded to travel in the East—Candia—Mount Ida—Constantinople—Black Sea—Erzeroom—Georgia—Returns to Smyrna—France—Death 7
Born 1692.—Died 1751.
Born at Kendal—Educated at Oxford—Appointed chaplain of Algiers—Arrives in Africa—Environs of Algiers—Departs for Egypt—Alexandria—Cairo—Site of Memphis—Origin and destination of the Pyramids—Animals of Egypt—Dancing Serpents—Cannibals—Visit to Mount Sinai—Hospitality of the Arabs—Route of the Israelites—Is plundered by the Arabs—Curiosities of the desert—Waters of Marah—Returns to Egypt—Descends the Nile—Sails for Syria—Is taken prisoner and ransomed—Extraordinary ignis fatuus—Prodigious flights of storks—Waterspouts—Returns to Algiers—Arabs of Africa—Marries—Earthquakes—Visits the kingdom of Tunis—Ruins of Carthage—Lake of Tunis—City of Tunis—Roman ruins—Virgil’s Nympharum Domus—The Lesser Syrtis—Lake of Marks—Yellow-haired Kabyli—Natural history of Barbary—Locust clouds—Music—Eating of lions—Complexion of the Moors—Superstition—Returns to England—Dies 19
Born 1722.—Died 1752.
iiBorn in Eastern Gothland—Studies at Upsal—Acquires the friendship of Linnæus—Conceives the design of travelling in the East—Mode of raising travelling funds—Studies the oriental languages—Embarks at Stockholm—Arrives in the Grecian Archipelago—Harbour of Milo—Strange costume of the women—Island of Scio—State of medical science in the East—Smyrna—The Frank carnival—Dances—Beginning of Spring—Beautiful flowers and plants—Turkish cemetery—Excursion to Magnesia—Impregnation of figs—Sails for Egypt—Gardens of Alexandria—Asses of Egypt—Rosetta—Women hatching eggs—Politeness of the Turks—Circumcision feast—Voluptuousness—Serpent-charmers—The Pyramids—Vegetation of the desert—The lion ant—Impregnation of palm-trees—Soils of Palestine—Jerusalem—The Dead Sea—Apples of Sodom—The dudaim, or mandrakes—Silkworm—Cyprus—Dies at Smyrna 52
Born 1690.—Died 1762.
Born in Northamptonshire—Masculine education—Early life—Friendship with Mrs. Wortley—Marriage—Violent love of fame—Accompanies her husband abroad—Holland—Germany—Ratisbon—Absurd quarrels of ambassadors—Descends the Danube—Vienna—Letters of Pope—Coarseness of language—Extravagant costume of the women—Beauty of the empress—Bohemia—Mountain scenery—Dangerous pass—Dresden—New mode of making love—Dwarfs—Taste of royalty for the deformed—Prince Eugene—Hungary—Field of battle—Belgrade—Becomes acquainted with a handsome bey—Servia—Visit to the baths of Sophia—Exquisite female beauty—Ruins of Justinian’s Church—Teeth-money—Adrianople—Pretended intrigues of Lady Mary with the sultan—Beautiful costume of the women—Intrigues—Homeric antiquities—History of inoculation—Enthusiastic admiration of beauty—lovely wife of the kihaya—Dancing girls—Enters a mosque—Singular dwelling—Constantinople—Village of Belgrade—Elysium—Greek slaves—Cosmetics—Balm of Mecca—The Dardanelles—Hero and Leander—Site of Troy—Coast of Africa—Carthage—Arrival in England—Pope—Love—Quarrels—Grows weary of pleasures—Removes to Italy—Remains abroad twenty-two years—Returns to England—Dies 72
Born 1704.—Died 1765.
Born at Southampton—Education—Visits France—Italy—Returns—Departs for the East—Original travellers—Ruins of Egypt—Alexandria—Egyptian landscape—Mohammedan saints—Cairo—District of Faioum—Lake Mœri—Origin of the fable of the Elysian Fields—The Labyrinth—Ascends the Nile—The Cataracts—Returns—Embarks for the Holy Land—Arab harem—Jerusalem—The Dead Sea—Northern Syria—Mesopotamia—Lebanon—Tripoli—Cyprus—Worship of Venus—Paphos—Amathusia—Crete—White Mountains—Mount Ida—Islands of the Archipelago—Asia Minor—Constantinople—Mount Athos—Vale of Tempé—Field of Pharsalia—Zeitoun—Tremendous earthquake—Thermopylæ—The Euripus—Bœotia—Attica—Returns to England—Dies 101
Born 1690.—Died 1780.
iiiBorn at Antermony—Embarks for Petersburg—Sets out for Persia—Descends the Volga—The Caspian—Falcons—Extraordinary incident— Shamakia—Tabriz—Koom—Kashan—Scorpions—Ispahan—Returns to Petersburg—Departs for China—Arrives at Kazan—Beehives—Fogs and frosts of Siberia—Asbestos—Tobolsk—Swedish prisoners—Game—Singular manuscripts—Ancient tombs or barrows—Curious antiquities—White hares—Sable hunters—The Baikal Lake—Mongolia—Great wall of China—Pekin—Character of the Chinese—Fine arts—Population—Imperial hunt—Departs from China—Returns to Petersburg—Journey to Derbend—And to Constantinople—Returns to Scotland—Dies 125
Born 1751.—Died 1788.
Born at Groton in North America—Early studies—Intends becoming a missionary—Escapes from college to the woods—Returns—Again leaves college—Sails down the Connecticut alone in a canoe—Studies theology—Becomes a common sailor—Sails for Gibraltar—Enlists as a soldier—Is released—Returns to America—Sails for England—Arrives at Plymouth—Begs his way to London—Enters into the marine corps, and accompanies Captain Cook on his last voyage—The Cape—New-Holland—New-Zealand—Love adventure—Watteeoo—Tongataboo—Simple manners—Quarrels with the natives—Tahiti—Discovery of the Sandwich Islands—Nootka Sound—Behring’s Straits—Adventure on Onalaska—Return to the Sandwich Islands—Death of Cook—Returns to England—Sails for America—Leaves the English service—Sails for France—Stay at Paris—Proceeds to London—Disappointments—Undertakes a journey across Siberia—Sweden—Travels round the Gulf of Finland—Petersburg—Sets out for Siberia—Tobolsk—Irkutsk—Yakutsk—Is arrested—Returns to Europe—Engages to travel for the African Association—Sails to Egypt—Dies 163
Born 1750.—Died 1791.
Birth and parentage not exactly known—Enters the civil service of the East India Company—Madras—Calcutta—Benares—Mythology of the Hindoos—Assumes the Mohammedan character—Sails up the Ganges—Crosses the southern ridge of the Himalaya—Arrives in Kashmere—Richness and beauty of the landscape—Lake—Gardens of the Shalimar Rose of Kashmere—Shawl manufacture—Imitations—Wool—Number manufactured—Departs from Kashmere—Crosses the Indus—Sleeps in a mosque, where the moollah endeavours to rob him—Afghan cavalry—Arrives at Pashawer—Intense heat—Joins a kafilah—Travels by night—Mountain torrent—Drowning of a lady—Kabul—Is seized by a fever—Recovers—Reassumes his character of Christian—Quickly repents this step—Insults and difficulties—Ghizni—Mahmood—Kandahar—Proceeds to Herat—Once more assumes the Mohammedan character—Joins a caravan—Enters Khorasan—Tremendous cold—Poetry supplies the place of food—A conjurer—Host of pilgrims—Descendant of Mohammed—Anecdote—Mazenderan—Caspian Sea—Baku—Astrakhan—Petersburg—Arrives in England—Returns to India—Dies 198
Born 1730.—Died 1794.
Born at Kinnaird—Educated at Harrow—Wishes to become a clergyman—Returns to Scotland—Becomes a sportsman—Studies the law—Marries—Loses his wife—Visits Spain and Portugal—Returns through Germany and Holland—Projects an expedition against Spain—Is appointed consul of Algiers—Travels in Italy—Arrives in Algiers—Disputes with the dey—Leaves Algiers—Visits Tunis and Tripoli—Is shipwrecked, and plundered by the Bedouins—Embarks at Bengazi for Caramania—Sails for Syria—Visits Palmyra—Embarks for Egypt—Cairo—Transactions with the bey—Anecdote—Ascends the Nile—The Ababde Arabs—The Tigrè chief—Assuan—Descends the Nile—Proceeds to Kosseir—Adventure among the Arabs—Visits the mountains of emeralds—Crosses the Red Sea to Jidda—Anecdote—Surveys the Red Sea—Arrives at Masuah—Is in extreme danger—Escapes, and enters Abyssinia—Crosses Mount Taranta—Arrives at Dixan—Slave trade—Rich scenery—Fair in the forest Adowa—Palace of Ras Michael—Ruins of Axum—Beautiful scenery—Live cow eating—Monks of Waldubba—Crosses Mount Lamalmon—Arrives at Gondar—The book of the prophet Enoch—Visits the queen-mother—Becomes a physician, and excites the jealousy of the monks—Has an interview with Ras Michael—Triumphal entry of the Ras into Gondar—Beautiful wife of the Ras—Is promoted to a high office at court—Shoots through a shield and a table with a piece of candle—Profligate manners of the Abyssinians—Is appointed governor of a district—Visits the great cataract of the Nile—Sets out to discover the source of the Nile—Is entertained by a rebel chief—Placed under the protection of the Gallas—Reaches the sources of the Nile—Returns to Gondar—Leaves Abyssinia—Traverses the deserts of Nubia—Reaches Assuan—Descends the Nile—Embarks for Marseilles—Arrives in England—Publishes his Travels—Dies 233
Born 1712.—Died 1786.
vBorn at Portsmouth—Educated in London—Apprenticed to a merchant at Lisbon—Conceives an unsuccessful passion—Renounces all ideas of marriage—Returns to England—Visits St. Petersburg—Appointed agent of the Russian company in Persia—Arrives at Lanjaron—Proceeds to Astrabad—Burning forest—Persian compliments—City of Astrabad taken and plundered—Loses all his merchandise—Sets out in company with a hajji and an escort—Deserted by his guides, and left at a fisherman’s hut—Embarks in a canoe—Arrives at Teschidezar—Presented with a horse by the shah’s officers—Arrives at Balfroosh—Sets out alone for the camp of Nadir Shah—Extraordinary privation—Dangers and difficulties—Reaches Lanjaron—Hospitably entertained by Captain Elton—Desolating effects of the shah’s tyranny—Arrives at the royal camp—His tent near the royal standard—Narrowly escapes being burnt to death—Petitions for restitution of his merchandise—Nadir detested by his followers—Magnificence of the imperial camp—Splendid equipments of his numerous army—Hanway obtains an order for restitution of his property—Sets out on his return to Astrabad—Beautiful scenery—Orange groves, &c.—Curse of despotism—Loses himself in a forest—Attacked by an enormous wolf—Deserted by his escort—Instances of ferocious cruelty—Receives an offer of payment in female slaves—Refuses the offer—Regains his property—Invests it in silks—Arrives at Moscow—Succeeds to considerable property in England—Settles at St. Petersburg—Establishes himself as a merchant there—Desire of visiting home awakened—Peter I.—Dry dock of Cronstadt—Returns to England—Resides in London—Compiles his travels—Visits the Continent—Opposes the naturalization of the Jews—Promotes the paving of the streets of London—Absurdity of the French invasion—Founds the Marine Society—Discourages tea-drinking—Founds the Magdalen Hospital—Ridicules the custom of vails giving—Ludicrous anecdotes of this subject—Prince Eugene—Scheme for bettering the condition of chimney-sweeps—Laughable story—Devil taking a holyday—Ridiculous anecdote connected with Hanway’s frontispieces—Death—Amiable character 301
Born 1716.—Died 1795.
viBorn at Seville—Enters into the Spanish navy—Intrusted with the conduct of an expedition for measuring a degree of the meridian near the equator—Sails from Cadiz—Arrives at Porto Bello—Rapid river Chagre—Magnificent landscape—Curious trees, fruits, birds, insects, &c.—Monkeys crossing a river—Arrives at Panama—Employs himself in making astronomical observations—Sails for Guayaquil—Received with distinguished politeness—Extraordinary sufferings from mosquitoes—Arrives at the foot of the Andes—Mamarumi, or “mother of stone”—Beautiful cascade—Dexterity of mules in descending the mountain slopes—Chimborazo—Arrives at Quito—Pillars of sand—Their fatal effects—Enormous caves—Singular effects of the moon on the waters within them—Ascends Pichincha—Interesting description of his encampment there—Extraordinary manner of living—Intense cold—Delightful serenity of those lofty regions—Storms and tempests beneath—Difficulty of respiration—Danger of being blown down the precipices—Fall of enormous fragments of rock—Violence of the wind—Snow-storms—Effects of the climate on the limbs—Conversation painful from the state of their lips—Curious effect of intense cold on ardent spirits—Deserted by his attendants—Becomes reconciled to the hardships of his situation—Proceeds with his astronomical observations—Recalled to Lima—War between England and Spain—Commissioned to put the city in a state of defence—Lord Anson the English admiral—Returns to Quito—Resumes his scientific pursuits—Recalled to the coast—Sack of Payta by the English fleet—Honoured with the command of a frigate—Arrival of reinforcements—Returns to Quito—Comet of 1744—Impatient to revisit Europe—Embarks at Callao—Attacked by two English privateers—Escapes—Sails for North America—Arrives at Louisburg—Compelled to surrender to the English—Humanity and politeness of Commodore Warren—Sails for England as a prisoner of war—Arrives at Portsmouth—Courtesy and generosity of Captain Brett—Pretender—Is received with distinguished hospitality and politeness by the Duke of Bedford, Lord Harrington, and the Commissioners for French and Spanish prisoners—Obtains his papers—Martin Folkes—Is elected a member of the Royal Society—Embarks for Lisbon—Arrives at Madrid—Flattering reception—Travels through Europe—Receives the command of the Indian fleet—Appointed Governor of Louisiana—Returns to Europe—Dies in the Island of Leon 320



Born 1656.—Died 1708.

Tournefort was born at Aix, in Provence, on the 5th of June, 1656. He received the first rudiments of his education at the Jesuits’ College of that city; where manifestations of his passion for botany, to the gratification of which he devoted the whole of his life, appeared at a very early age. As soon as he beheld plants, says Fontenelle, he felt himself a botanist. He desired to learn their names; he carefully observed their differences, and sometimes absented himself from his class in order to botanize in the country, preferring nature to the language of the ancient Romans, which at that time was regarded as the principal object of education. Like the majority of those who have distinguished themselves in any department of science or art, he was his own master, and in a very short time had made himself acquainted with the plants found in the environs of his native city.

For the philosophy then taught in the schools he had but little predilection. Being in search of nature, which was almost wholly banished from the 8prevailing systems, he considered himself fortunate in discovering accidentally among his father’s books, the works of Descartes, which appeared to contain the philosophy which he sought. He was not, however, permitted to enjoy this gratification openly; but his ardour and enthusiasm were apparently exactly proportioned to the mystery by which it was attended.

Tournefort, being designed by his father for the church, of course included theology in his studies, and even went so far as to enter into a seminary. But his natural inclinations prevailed. The fathers and the doctors of the Sorbonne were less attractive than the plants of the field; and when he should have been engaged with

Councils, classics, fathers, wits,

he stole away to the garden of an apothecary of Aix, who delighted in the same studies, and there pursued in secret the course he had chosen for himself. But the treasures of the apothecary’s garden were soon exhausted. It therefore soon became necessary to discover a wider field; and as botanists, like most other mortals, consider stolen joys the sweetest, he occasionally penetrated into forbidden grounds, and exposed himself to the suspicion of having less exalted views than those by which he was really actuated. In fact, being one day discovered in a garden by some peasants, he was taken for a robber, and narrowly escaped the fate of St. Stephen.

There is something in the circumstances under which the science of botany is studied, which has a tendency to confer upon it a kind of poetical charm. It is not a sedentary pursuit. It leads the student abroad among the most magnificent and beautiful scenery of the earth, in all seasons, but more particularly during those in which external 9nature is loveliest. That botany should be pursued with passion is, therefore, not at all surprising; but it is difficult to understand how the imagination should become enamoured of anatomy, which, instead of generating cheerful and enlivening images, dwells wholly upon decay and dissolution. Tournefort, however, associated this gloomy science with botany, and is said to have equally delighted in both.

The death of his father, which took place in 1677, delivered him from theology and the church. He was now entire master of his time; and, in order the more completely to gratify his inclinations, made a tour through the mountains of Dauphiny and Savoy, where he collected a great number of fine plants, which formed the nucleus of his herbarium. This journey increasing instead of gratifying his curiosity, and probably adding fresh vigour to his naturally robust frame, while it at the same time enhanced his gayety, was merely the prelude to others more adventurous and extensive. In 1769 he set out from Aix for Montpellier, where, besides improving himself in his anatomical and medical studies, he enjoyed all the advantages which the rich botanical garden created by Henry IV. could afford an enlightened botanist.

At Montpellier Tournefort remained nearly two years. He then undertook an excursion into Spain, where he made large accessions to his herbary; and after wandering for some time among the mountains of Catalonia, accompanied by several physicians and young medical students, he directed his footsteps towards the Pyrenees. Fontenelle, in speaking of this excursion of Tournefort, seems to be principally astonished at the intrepidity with which our traveller encountered, not the dangers, but the cookery of the Pyrenees, which, to the Rouen epicurean, appeared more terrible than precipices or robbers. He was quite aware, says he, 10that in these vast solitudes he should find no subsistence, except such as the most austere anchorets might have partaken, and that the wretched inhabitants from whom even this was to be obtained were not more numerous than the robbers who might deprive him of it. In fact, he was more than once attacked and plundered by Spanish outlaws; and the contrivance by which he succeeded on such occasions in concealing a small quantity of money is sufficiently ingenious. He thrust a number of reals into the coarse black bread which he carried about with him as his only food, and this the robbers considered so utterly worthless that, although by no means fastidious, they invariably relinquished it to the traveller with extreme contempt.

Tournefort, having thus overreached the dull-headed banditti of Spain, roamed about at leisure through the wild regions of the Pyrenees, climbing the most abrupt and apparently inaccessible pinnacles. New plants, however, were found at almost every step, and the pleasure derived from this circumstance, which none but a discoverer can conceive, amply compensated him for the fatigues and dangers he underwent. One day during this tour he narrowly escaped with his life: a miserable house, in which he had taken shelter, fell down upon him, and for two hours he lay buried under the ruins, but was at length dug out by the peasantry.

Towards the end of the year 1681 he returned through Montpellier to Aix, where he classed and arranged all the plants which he had collected in Provence, Languedoc, Dauphiny, Catalonia, the Alps, and the Pyrenees; and the pleasure afforded him by the sight of his collection was an ample reward for all the fatigue and danger which he experienced in procuring it.

Tournefort’s reputation now began to diffuse itself. M. Fagon, principal physician to the queen, a man who ardently desired to advance the interests of 11botany, learning his extraordinary merit, invited him to Paris in 1683; and on his arrival obtained for him the place of botanical professor in the Jardin des Plantes. This appointment, however, by no means restrained his passion for travelling; for, although botany was perhaps his principal object, the delight arising from visiting new scenes was strongly associated with the weaker and more tranquil gratification afforded by science. He therefore once more undertook a journey into Spain, and while in Andalusia, where the palm-tree abounds, endeavoured to penetrate the mysterious loves of the male and female of this celebrated tree, but his researches were unsuccessful. He proceeded next into Portugal, from whence, when the object of his journey had been accomplished, he returned to France.

Shortly after this he visited England and Holland, in the latter of which countries he was invited, and even tempted by the offer of a more liberal salary than he enjoyed at home, to take up his residence as botanical professor. The offer was flattering, but Tournefort, persuaded that no worldly advantages are an equivalent for a permanent exile from home, wisely declined it. His own country was not ungrateful. In 1691 he was made a member of the Academy of Sciences; and his reputation, which was now rapidly gaining ground, paved the way to other more solid advantages.

Tournefort, notwithstanding his enthusiasm for science and thirst of reputation, was not in haste to appear before the public as an author. However, in 1694, having meditated profoundly and long upon the subject, he ventured to put forth his “Elemens de Botanique, ou Méthode pour connoître les Plantes,” which, though attacked by Ray and others, was highly esteemed by the greater number of naturalists. He now took his degree of M.D., and, shortly afterward, in 1698, published his history of the plants 12growing in the environs of Paris, with an account of their uses in medicine.

Such were his employments until the year 1700, when, to adopt the language of the times, he was commanded by the king to undertake a journey into Greece, Asia, and Africa, not merely for the purpose of making scientific researches, but in order to study upon the spot the manners, customs, and opinions of the inhabitants. This long and somewhat hazardous journey he hesitated to commence alone; for, as he justly observes, there is nothing so melancholy as to be ill in a foreign country, surrounded by entire strangers, ignorant of medicine yet daring to practise. However, he very quickly found two companions—the one a physician, the other a painter—and having made every necessary preparation, embarked at Marseilles on the 23d of April, 1700.

On the 3d of May they arrived at Canea, the principal port of Candia; and Tournefort, to whom the passage had appeared exceedingly tedious, experienced peculiar pleasure in commencing his eastern travels with the ancient kingdom of Minos. He found the environs of the city admirable, plains covered with forests of olive, fields richly cultivated, gardens, vineyards, and streams fringed with myrtle and rose laurel. One small inconvenience was felt, however, in traversing these lovely scenes. The Turks, as usual, had laid out their cemeteries along the highway, and not having sunk the graves to a sufficient depth, the bodies, powerfully acted on by the sun, exhaled an extremely fetid odour, which the wind wafted over the country, engendering noisome diseases. To add to the chagrin occasioned by this circumstance, they found, notwithstanding the assertions of Galen and Pliny, which had in fact tempted them into the island, that the plants of Crete were difficult to be met with even in Crete itself, though in the sequel the plants of the “White 13Mountains” amply made up for their first disappointments.

Tournefort, though a scholar, was by no means a classical enthusiast, and therefore his descriptions of celebrated places may generally be depended upon. If any thing, he was too much disposed, from a not uncommon species of affectation, to disparage the places on which the ancients have thrown the noblest rays of glory. From this disposition he caricatures the Cretan Ida, which he denominates “a great ugly ass’s back,” where you find neither landscape, nor fountain, nor stream, nor agreeable solitude; but, instead of all these, prodigious piles of barren rocks, surrounded by all the circumstances of desolation. From the summit he enjoyed, indeed, an extensive prospect, but he thought it much too dearly purchased by the fatigue of climbing so difficult a mountain; and, in order to put himself in good-humour with the scene, set down in the lee of a rock and made a good bowl of sherbet.

After visiting Retimo, Candia, and the other principal cities of the island, they made an excursion to the famous labyrinth which is hewn in the bowels of a hill near the ancient Gortyna. This singular excavation is entered by a rustic cavern, and conducts you by numerous windings entirely through the mountain. Tournefort regards it as a natural cavern enlarged by human industry. Wherever he met with any Greeks during his journeys in this island, their manners were distinguished by the most remarkable simplicity, men, women, and children crowding round the strangers, admiring their dresses, or demanding medicines.

Having satisfied his scientific curiosity respecting Candia, he proceeded to visit the various islands of the Archipelago, which he examined with attention. On almost every rock on which he landed some additions were made to his botanical or antiquarian treasures, and with this mass of materials continually 14accumulating, he pushed on to Constantinople. Being desirous of comprehending the barbarous but complex machine of the Ottoman polity, he made a considerable stay in this city, from whence, when he conceived his object to have been accomplished, he continued his travels towards the east, and following the footsteps of the Argonauts, whom the ancients, he tells us, regarded as their most famous travellers, proceeded along the southern shores of the Black Sea towards Colchos. Our traveller performed this part of his route in the suite of the Pasha of Erzeroom. The whole party embarked in feluccas, the pasha with his harem in one vessel, and the remainder of his people, together with Tournefort and his attendants, distributed in seven others. During the voyage they frequently landed on the coast, for the purpose of passing the night more agreeably than could have been done on board. Tents were pitched, and those of the ladies surrounded by ditches, and guarded by black eunuchs, whose ugly visages and fearfully rolling eyes struck a panic into the soul of our traveller, who seems to have regarded them as so many devils commissioned to keep watch over the houries of paradise.

Indeed, Tournefort, if we may take him upon his word, was exceedingly well calculated by nature for travelling securely in the suite of a pasha accompanied by his harem; for when he was cautioned by the great man’s lieutenant against approaching the female quarters too nearly, or even ascending any eminence in the vicinity, from whence their tents might be viewed, he remarked, with apparent sincerity, that he was too much in love with plants to think of the ladies! This was a fortunate circumstance. Plants are everywhere to be procured, for even in the East it has never been thought necessary to place a guard of black eunuchs over hellebore or nightshade; but had the smile of female lips, or the sunshine of female eyes, been necessary 15to his happiness, he must have languished in hopelessness, at least while in the train of a pasha.

Notwithstanding the nature of the government and the state of manners in the country through which he passed, he encountered but few difficulties, and no real dangers. He settled the geographical position of cities, he admired the landscapes, he described the plants; but being fully persuaded that the better part of valour is discretion, he engaged in no adventures, and therefore the current of his life ran on as smoothly on the shores of the Black Sea as it could have done on the banks of the Seine or Rhone.

On arriving at Trebizond our traveller continued his route by land; and here he began to experience something of danger. There was no proceeding singly through the country. Every road was beset with robbers; and, in order to protect their persons and property, men congregated together into caravans, small moving polities, the members of which were temporarily bound to each other by a sense of common danger. Every man went armed, as in an enemy’s country. On this occasion Tournefort remarks, that there would be less danger in traversing the wild parts of America than such countries as Turkey: for that the savages, or those independent tribes whom we persist in regarding as such, never fell upon any but their enemies; while in civilized and semi-barbarous countries, robbers make no distinctions of this kind, being the declared enemies of every person possessing property. And as for the cannibal propensities of the former, he does not imagine that they greatly alter the case; for when a poor wretch has been murdered, he does not perceive how it can make any great difference to him whether he be eaten by men, or left naked in the fields to be devoured by birds or wild beasts.

However, the caravan in which Tournefort travelled being commanded by the pasha in person, the 16robbers fled from it with as much celerity as they followed others, for every one who was caught had his head instantly struck off without the least delay or ceremony. This salutary rigour, which those who tasted of the tranquillity it produced were very far from blaming, enabled the whole party to move on perfectly at their ease; and as great men accompanied by their harems seldom move with any great celerity, our Franks enjoyed ample leisure for observing the face of the country, and collecting all such curious plants as nature had sown in the vicinity of their route. Tournefort greatly admired the spectacle presented by the caravan when in motion. Horses, camels, mules, some laden with merchandise, others bestrode by the rude warriors or merchants of the East, others bearing a species of cages said to contain women, but which, says our traveller, with evident chagrin, might as well have contained monkeys as reasonable creatures.

In this style they proceeded to Erzeroom, where they arrived on the 15th of June. Winter had not yet relinquished his dominion over the land, for, notwithstanding that the sun was exceedingly hot during the greater part of the day, the hills in the neighbourhood were covered with snow, large showers of which had recently fallen. The cold, as might be expected, is very rigorous here during the winter months, so that several persons have been known to have lost their hands and feet from the effects of it; and although coal might probably be easily obtained, the inhabitants suffer the more severely, inasmuch as wood, the only fuel used, is extremely scarce and dear. These inconveniences are equally felt by natives and foreigners; but our traveller encountered another misfortune, which, in all probability, was confined to himself and his companions. This affliction, which he laments like a hero, was caused by the absence of good wines and brandies, a deprivation which appears to have weighed far 17more heavily on his heart than the absence of houries.

From this city he made several excursions into the mountains of Armenia, which generally continue to be covered with snow until August; and having discovered a monastery, the monks of which possessed some excellent wine, his spirits revived, and he began to view the country with a less gloomy eye. Near this city are the sources of the Euphrates, springs remarkable for their extreme coldness, and, to be rendered fit for drinking, requiring perhaps a mixture of that nectar which our traveller obtained from the monks of Erzeroom. To add to this enjoyment, some very fine trouts were caught in the stream of the Euphrates, and being cooked immediately upon the spot, and eaten with a good appetite, were found to be particularly excellent. However, all these pleasures were not purchased without some expense of fear, for they were now in the country of the Koords and Yezeedis, who, roaming about the plains in dauntless independence, regardless of pashas and eager for plunder, would have been but too happy to have lightened the burdens of the Frank adventurers.

From Erzeroom, the environs of which afford a rich treasure to the botanist, they proceeded with a caravan for Teflis, the capital of Georgia. The country upon which they now entered was flat and well cultivated, artificial irrigation being required, however, to maintain fertility, without which the corn would be roasted upon the stock. In the islands of the Archipelago, on the other hand, where the heats, he observes, are sufficient to calcine the earth, and where it rains only in winter, the corn is the finest in the world. This renders it clear that all kinds of soil do not possess the same nourishing juice. The soil of the Archipelago, like the camel, imbibes sufficient water during the winter to serve it for a long time to come; but that of Armenia 18requires to be constantly refreshed by showers or by irrigation.

On his arrival in Georgia, we find our worthy traveller, who, during his sojourning in the camp of the Turkish pasha, preferred plants to pretty women, suddenly adopting a different creed, and, in order to enjoy the sight of a fair face, spreading out a quantity of toys upon the grass, the reputation of which it was hoped would quickly attract the ladies to the spot. In this expectation he was not disappointed. The young women from all the neighbourhood gathered round the merchandise; but, although they were in possession of robust health and good forms, their beauty fell far short of his anticipations. This is not surprising. The imagination invariably out-runs reality; and, moreover, the travellers who confer or take away a reputation for beauty, besides being naturally perhaps incorrect judges, are frequently influenced by considerations which are far from appearing on the face of their narrative.

Having made some short stay at Teflis, he proceeded on an excursion to Mount Ararat, famous throughout all the East as the spot on which the ark rested after the flood; after which he once more directed his footsteps towards the west, returned to Erzeroom, and thence proceeded by way of Tocat and Angora to Smyrna. From this city, after visiting Ephesus, Scalanouva, and Samos, he sailed for Marseilles, where he arrived on the 3d of June, 1702.

It was originally intended that our traveller should have included a large portion of Africa within the limits of his tour, but the plague raging at that period in Egypt deterred him from proceeding into that country. However, he was already, if we may believe M. Fontenelle, loaded with the spoils of the East, and could afford to relinquish Egypt to some future adventurer, for whom the plague might have fewer terrors. The number of plants which he discovered 19was certainly very considerable, amounting to not less than 1356 species, of which the far greater number naturally arranged themselves under the 673 genera which he had previously established, while for the remainder he created 25 new genera, but no new class. The rest of Tournefort’s life was spent in preparing the account of his travels for the press, but he did not live to see their publication. A blow in the breast, which he accidentally received, reduced him to a languishing and weak condition, and hastened his death, which took place on the 28th of December, 1708. His travels, printed at the Louvre, appeared shortly afterward in two volumes quarto, and have always maintained a considerable reputation.


Born 1692—Died 1751.

This curious and learned traveller was the son of Mr. Gabriel Shaw, of Kendal, in Westmoreland, where he was born in the year 1692. The first rudiments of his education, which appears to have been carefully conducted, he received at the grammar-school of his native town, from whence, in 1711, he removed to Queen’s College, Oxford. Here he took the degree of B.A. in 1716, and that of M.A. three years after. In the course of the same year he went into orders, and was appointed chaplain to the English factory at Algiers. As he has left no account of the mode in which he reached the point of destination, it is uncertain whether he proceeded to Africa wholly by sea, or performed a portion of the journey by land; but as it is certain that he was in Italy, where, among other places, he 20visited Rome, it is probable that it was upon this occasion that he traversed the continent of Europe, taking ship at some port of Italy for Algiers, where he arrived about the end of 1719, or early in the beginning of the year following. This city, which has long been an object of considerable curiosity to Europeans, I have already described, at least as it existed in the sixteenth century, in the life of Leo Africanus; and therefore shall merely observe upon the present occasion, that at the period of Shaw’s residence it was a small though populous city, not exceeding a mile and a half in circumference, but computed to contain little less than one hundred and twenty thousand inhabitants. Of antiquities, the peculiar objects of our traveller’s researches, it could boast but few specimens, though his practised eye discerned upon the tower of the great mosque several broken inscriptions, the letters of which, however, were either so inverted or filled up with lime and whitewash, that nothing could be made of them.

The environs are remarkable for their beauty, consisting of a rapid succession of hills and valleys, sprinkled with gardens and villas, to which the more wealthy among the citizens retire during the heats of summer. From these little white houses, perched in picturesque situations among evergreen woods and groves of fruit-trees, the inhabitants enjoy a gay and delightful prospect of the sea; while to those who sail along the shore these woods, villas, and gardens present a no less cheerful and animated scene. The springs which rise in these hills, and confer beauty and fertility upon the whole landscape, likewise furnish the city with an abundance of excellent water, which is conveyed to the public fountains through a long course of pipes and conduits.

Having remained about a year at Algiers, in the exercise of his professional duties, he was enabled, 21I know not how, to quit his post for a time, in order to satisfy the desire he felt of visiting Egypt and Syria. His voyage to Egypt, however, was ill-timed, for he arrived in the midst of summer, when, for the most part, the heat is excessive, the sands heated like the ashes of an oven, and the whole vegetation of the country exceedingly parched and withered. In approaching the low and level coast, no part of which could be seen from any considerable distance at sea, the mariners, he observes, conjectured how far they were from land by the depth of the water, the number of fathoms usually answering to the same number of leagues. The portion of the shore lying between Tineh, the ancient Pelusium, and Damietta, was so exceedingly low and full of lakes and morasses, that, in his opinion, it answered exactly to the etymology of its names; Tineh, from tin (Heb. טִין), clay or mud, and Pelusium (Gr. πηλούσιον), from pelus πηλός TN), a word of the same signification! With etymological conjectures such as these our curious traveller amused himself on drawing near the shores of Egypt. At length, however, he arrived at Alexandria, where, regarding every thing modern as so many vain dreams unworthy the attention of a learned traveller, he discovered nothing striking or curious but the shattered walls, the cisterns, and other splendid vestiges of antiquity.

From Alexandria he sailed up the Nile to Cairo, and found travelling upon this “moving road,” as Pascal beautifully terms a navigable river, an extremely agreeable diversion. At every winding of the stream, says he, such a variety of villages, gardens, and plantations present themselves to our view, that from Rosetta to Cairo, and from thence all the way down by the other branch, to Damietta, we see nothing but crowds of people, or continued scenes of plenty and abundance. The many turnings of the river make the distance from Cairo to each of those cities near two hundred miles, though 22in a direct road it will scarce amount to half that number.

Grand Cairo, notwithstanding the magnificence of its name, he found much inferior in extent to several European capitals, though as the inhabitants lived in a close and crowded manner, it was exceedingly populous. Its principal curiosities, in his estimation, were contained within the castle situated on Mount Mocattem, and consisted of a spacious hall, adorned with a double row of vast Thebaic columns, and a wall about two hundred and sixty feet in depth, with a winding staircase descending to the bottom, hewn out in the solid rock; both of which works are attributed by the Mohammedans to the patriarch Joseph. At the village of Ghizah, directly opposite Cairo, on the Libyan or western bank of the Nile, he supposed himself to have discovered the site of ancient Memphis, which Dr. Pococke, Bruce, and others place at Metraheny, several miles farther southward. From the discussion of this point, in which, whether right or wrong, our author displays a profusion of learning and very considerable ingenuity, he proceeds, through a series of equally learned dissertations, to the origin and destination of the pyramids. The magnitude, structure, and aspect of these prodigious edifices, which have withstood the united attacks of barbarism and the elements through a period of unknown duration, have frequently been described with picturesque and nervous eloquence, though it is probable that the impression which the actual contemplation of them produces upon the imagination is not susceptible of being represented by language. Satirical or calculating writers have stood at the foot of these ancient temples, for such, I think, they should be considered, and laughed at the ambition or folly, as they term it, which prompted their founders to rear them, because their names and purposes are now become an enigma. Yet it is probable, that from the day on 23which they were erected until the present, few persons have beheld them towering above the plain of the desert, reflecting back the burning sun of noon, or throwing their morning or evening shadows over the sand, without being smitten with a sense of the sublime, and experiencing in their hearts a secret pride at the boldness and elevation of their founders’ conception. And this feeling will be heightened into something of a religious character, if, rejecting, the vulgar notion of their being nothing but royal tombs, we suppose, what might, I think, be all but demonstrated, that they were originally temples dedicated to the passive generative power of nature, the Bhavani of the Hindoos, the Athor-Isis of the Egyptians, and the Aphrodite and Venus of the Greeks and Romans. To Dr. Shaw, however, this theory did not present itself. He was contented with the old idea, suggested by the etymology of the word, that they might, perhaps, have been fire-temples; but he observes that the mouth of the pyramids, as well as the end of the mystic chest in the interior, points to the north, the original Kiblah, or “praying-point,” of the whole human race. Other sacred edifices of Egypt, as Herodotus observes, had their doors on the northern side; the table of shew-bread was placed in the same situation in the tabernacle; and in Hindostan the piety or the superstition of the people points in the same direction.

Of the animals of Egypt which, from the frequent mention made of them in classical literature, are regarded as curiosities, the most remarkable, as the hippopotamus, the crocodile, and the ibis, are now exceedingly rare. Indeed, though the crocodile is sometimes found above the cataracts, it is totally unknown to those who live lower down the river, and the hippopotamus and the ibis, the latter of which was once so plentiful, may be regarded as extinct in Egypt. To make some amends for these losses, there is a great abundance of storks, which, 24as they are every winter supposed to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, are, according to Lady Montague, regarded as so many hajjîs by the Turks. When about to migrate from the country, it is observed that they constantly assemble together from the circumjacent regions in a vast plain, where, in the opinion of the inhabitants, they daily hold a divan, or council, for about a fortnight before their departure; after which they rise at once upon the wing, marshal themselves into close compact bodies of prodigious dimensions, and then, putting themselves in motion, float away like dusky clouds of many miles in length upon the wind. The aspic, one of which opened the voluptuous Cleopatra a way to the court of Proserpine, is still very numerous in the sandy and mountainous districts on both sides of the Nile. This reptile, now called the cerastes, is capable of existing for an incredible length of time without food; at least if we can rely upon the veracity of Gabrieli, an Italian gentleman, who showed our traveller a couple of these vipers, which he had kept, he said, five years in a large crystal vessel, without any visible sustenance. “They were usually coiled up,” says the doctor, “in some fine sand, which was placed in the bottom of the vessel; and when I saw them they had just cast their skins, and were as brisk and lively as if newly taken. The horns of this viper are white and shining, in shape like to half a grain of barley, though scarce of that bigness.” The warral, a gentle and docile species of lizard, which appeared to be inspired with violent emotions of delight by the sounds of music, he beheld keeping exact time and motion with the dervishes in their rotatory dances, running over their heads and arms, turning when they turned, and stopping when they stopped. These timid practitioners, however, who thus charm or tame this small and apparently innoxious creature, are mere children compared with those daring adepts of Hindostan who, by the 25force of spells or skill, compel the cobra di capello, the most deadly and terrible of reptiles, to rear himself in spiry volumes, and dance, or rather wriggle, like a Nautch girl, for the amusement of the crowd. But the Egyptian charmers did something better with serpents and other reptiles than teaching them to dance; they converted them into articles of food; and Dr. Shaw was assured that in Cairo and its neighbourhood there were not less than forty thousand persons who subsisted entirely upon serpents and lizards. Locusts are a delicacy in Barbary; crickets, fried in sesamum oil, in Siam; and a dish of human brains is an Apician morsel in New-Zealand. Nay, we are told that certain Roman epicures, who were very far from regarding themselves as cannibals, were in the habit of drowning slaves in their fish-ponds, that by feeding upon their bodies the fish might acquire a superior flavour and richness. The Abyssinians, who cut beefsteaks from a living cow, belong to this family of gourmands; and those rebel janizaries of Tunis who cut their bey into kabobs, and ate him for a relish, as Dr. Shaw relates, may be said to have pushed this strange, irregular appetite nearly as far as it can be carried. However, the serpent-eaters of Cairo, besides the gratification of their preposterous fancy, have a religious motive, as the being addicted to this curious diet entitles them, among other religious privileges, to the honour of attending more immediately upon the hanging of black silk which is annually sent to the temple of Mecca.

In reiterated endeavours to discern through the mists of three thousand years the ancient condition of Egypt, physical and moral, our traveller consumed the time between July and September, in which month he departed from Cairo on his visit to Mount Sinai and the Red Sea. All travellers who have journeyed through this wilderness speak with terror of the dreary desolation and barrenness of the scene. Vegetation is 26here dead. Even the dews and showers of heaven fall in vain. They drench the sands without fertilizing them, and, sinking down into the earth, disappear, leaving no trace behind. On the skirts of the desert, and upon a few widely-scattered points, two or three hardy plants, stunted by the drought, scorched during the day by the intense heat of the sun, and shrivelled up with piercing cold by night, look like a few miserable stragglers found in a country depopulated by war and famine. Upon quitting the valley of the Nile, which is nowhere very broad, the caravan with which Shaw travelled proceeded directly east through the desert towards Suez, the atmosphere being perfectly clear and serene; a fortunate circumstance, as the heavens were every night their only covering, a carpet spread on the sand their bed, and a bundle of clothes their pillow. In this situation they were nightly wet to the skin by the copious dew, though, such is the salubrity of the climate, their health was not in the least impaired by it. When they had arrived at their halting-place, and were about to lie down to sleep, the camels were caused to kneel down in a circle about their resting-place, with their faces pointing outwards, and their load and saddle piled up behind them, and being naturally so wakeful as to be roused from sleep by the least noise, they served their masters instead of a guard.

As in so wild and steril a country the purchasing of provisions as they might be wanted on the way was of course out of the question, they were obliged to furnish themselves in Egypt with a stock sufficient for their consumption during the whole journey. In most countries nature supplies man wherewith to quench his thirst, without his experiencing the necessity of exercising his foresight or taxing his ingenuity, by lavishly scattering about her refreshing springs over the earth, or by suspending, as in the forests of Brazil, diminutive vegetable reservoirs 27in the thicket, where he may always calculate upon finding the requisite quantity of cool pure water. But in Arabia this rule does not hold. Our traveller, therefore, upon commencing his journey, took care to provide himself with a sufficient number of goat-skins, which were replenished every four or five days, or oftener, if wells were met with. Wine, likewise, and brandy, together with wheatflour, rice, biscuit, honey, oil, vinegar, olives, lentils, potted flesh, and such other articles of food as would keep sweet and wholesome during two months, were laid in; as well as barley, with a few beans intermixed, which, with balls made of the flour of the one or both of them, and a little water, constituted the whole sustenance of the camels. Their kitchen furniture consisted of a copper pot and wooden bowl, in the former of which they cooked, and from the latter ate their food, or kneaded therein their unleavened cakes. When the caravan halted for the purpose of cooking their breakfast or dinner, the dung left by the camels of preceding travellers was carefully gathered up, there being no wood; and this, when it had been a few days exposed to the sun, took fire quickly, and burned like charcoal. Their food being prepared, whether it was potted flesh boiled with rice, a lentil-soup, or unleavened cakes, served up with oil or honey, one of the Arabs belonging to the party, not, as the Scripture says, “to eat his morsel alone,” placing himself upon the highest spot of ground in the neighbourhood, called out thrice, with a loud voice to all his brethren, “the Sons of the Faithful,” to come and partake of it; though none of them, says the traveller, were in view or perhaps within a hundred miles of them. The custom, however, is maintained as a mark of benevolence, and, when an opportunity occurs, of their hospitality.

Upon arriving at the fountain of Elim, two leagues to the west of Suez, they found it brackish, and 28though there were several large troughs for the convenience of watering cattle, it was not considered wholesome, and the people of the neighbourhood preferred the waters of the Ain el Mousa, or “Fountain of Moses,” two leagues east of the city, which are lukewarm and sulphureous, and spout up like an artificial fountain from the earth,—a circumstance which Dr. Shaw thinks is no other way to be accounted for than by deducing their origin from the “great abyss!” The distance between Cairo and Suez is about ninety Roman miles, which the Israelites, according to Josephus, though the Scriptures are silent on the subject, traversed in three days, which, considering that they were encumbered with aged persons and children, Dr. Shaw thinks exceedingly improbable. The time employed in his own traject he does not mention; but observes that upon every little eminence on the road, as well as in the mountains of Libya near Egypt, great quantities of echini, as well as of bivalve and turbinated shells, were to be found, most of which corresponded exactly with their respective families still preserved in the Red Sea. The old walls of Suez, as well as the ruins of the village of Ain el Mousa, are full of fossil shells, which, as Xenophon remarks in the Anabasis, was the case with the walls of certain castles on the confines of Curdistan.

Having turned the point of the Red Sea at Suez, they proceeded towards the south, having the sea on their right, and the broken plain of the desert on the left. In the tongue of land improperly called the “Peninsula of Mount Sinai,” lying between the Sea of Suez and the Gulf of Akaba, over which they were now moving, the danger, while the whole caravan kept together, was not great, as opportunities of plunder being unfrequent, robbers had not sufficient motives for establishing themselves there. The chances of danger being thus diminished, our traveller became imboldened to overstep the limits 29of prudence, and yielding to his passion for collecting plants and other curiosities, lagged behind, or wandered from the caravan. Scarcely, however, had he tasted the sweets of feeling himself alone in the boundless wilderness, a pleasure more poignant and tumultuous than can be conceived by those who have never experienced it, than he beheld three robbers start up, as it were, from the sand, and rush upon him. Resistance was out of the question. The ruffians immediately seized him, and tearing off his clothes, mean and ragged as they were, two of them began to fight for the possession of them. Meanwhile he stood by, naked, a spectator of the fray, apprehensive that their natural ferocity being aggravated by strife and contention, they might terminate their quarrel by plunging their daggers in his heart. Providence, however, had otherwise determined. The third robber, taking compassion upon his forlorn and helpless condition, allowed him to escape; and after wandering about among the naked rocks and burning sands for some time, he fortunately overtook the caravan.

For several days the sky, as I have already observed, was serene, and the weather beautiful; but on their arriving at Wady Gharendel, a small stream which flows into the Red Sea, a few leagues south of Suez, they observed that the tops of the mountains, which now flanked their road on both sides, were at intervals capped with clouds, which sometimes remained stationary during the whole day. This disposition of the atmosphere was soon after succeeded by a violent tempest. A canopy of dark clouds extended itself over the earth—the lightning flashed incessantly—the thunder rolled along the sky—and the rain descended throughout the night with all the weight and fury of a tropical storm. Such tempests, however, are exceedingly rare in that part of Arabia, though they are not, as Burckhardt observes, at all uncommon in the Hejaz; nor, according 30to Niebuhr, is Yemen much less liable to them. But in the neighbourhood of Mount Sinai there is usually one uniform course of weather throughout the year, the winds blowing briskly during the day, and decreasing with the decrease of light. In the level parts of the desert, where the plain was as unbroken as a calm sea, our traveller observed that curious phenomenon called the mirage, or mimic lake, every object within the circumference of which appeared to be magnified in an extraordinary manner, so that a shrub might be taken for a tree, and a flock of birds for a caravan of camels. This seeming collection of waters always advanced about a quarter of a mile before the observers, while the intermediate space was one continued glow, occasioned by the quivering undulating motion of that quick succession of vapours and exhalations which were extracted from the earth by the powerful influence of the sun. The few real springs of water which occurred on the road were all of them either brackish or sulphureous; yet the water they afford is so extremely wholesome, and so provocative of appetite, that few persons are ever afflicted with sickness in traversing these wild inhospitable scenes.

Among the curiosities which are scattered by the liberal hand of nature even over these deserts may be enumerated certain beautiful flints and pebbles, which are superior to Florentine marble, and, in many instances, equal to the Mokha stone, in the variety of their figures and representations. Locusts, hornets, and vipers were numerous; and the lizards seem to have considerably amused the loitering members of the caravan by their active movements and spotted skins. Of birds the only ones seen by Shaw were the percnopterus and the dove, as the graceful and beautiful antelope was the only animal; but the ostrich, which he seems to consider neither a bird nor a beast, is the grand ranger, says he, and ubiquitarian of the deserts, from the Atlantic 31Ocean to the very utmost skirts of Arabia, and perhaps far beyond it to the east. Of the white hares, like those found in the Alps and other cold regions, which some travellers have observed in this peninsula, Dr. Shaw saw no specimen; neither did he meet with any badgers, though, from the frequent mention made of their skins in Exodus, this animal must formerly have abounded here. Nothing, however, seems to have kindled up a poetical fervour in the mind of our traveller like the ostrich, and the magnificent description of its nature and peculiarities which occurs in the book of Job. “When these birds,” he observes, “are surprised by coming suddenly upon them, while they are feeding in some valley, or behind some rocky or sandy eminence in the desert, they will not stay to be curiously viewed and examined. They afford an opportunity only of admiring at a distance the extraordinary agility and the stateliness likewise of their motions, the richness of their plumage, and the great propriety there was of ascribing to them ‘an expanded, quivering wing.’ Nothing certainly can be more beautiful and entertaining than such a sight! the wings, by their repeated though unwearied vibrations, equally serving them for sails and oars; while their feet, no less assisting in conveying them out of sight, are no less insensible of fatigue.”

It was at Gharendel that he supposed the Israelites to have met with those “bitter waters,” or “waters of Marah,” mentioned in Exodus; and he observes that the little rill which is still found in that place has a brackish taste, unless diluted by the dews and rains. Proceeding thirty leagues southward from this place, without meeting with any thing remarkable, they arrived at Elim, upon the northern skirts of the desert of Sin, where, as the Scriptures relate, the Israelites found twelve wells of water and seventy palm-trees. Of the wells our traveller could discern nine only remaining, the 32other three having been filled up by the sand; but the seventy palm-trees had multiplied to upwards of two thousand, and under their shade was the “Hummum, or Bath of Moses,” which the inhabitants of the neighbouring port of Tor held in great veneration. Here they enjoyed the first view of Mount Sinai, rearing its rugged summit above the plain, and overlooking the whole surrounding country. The traject of the desert of Sin occupied nine hours, and they were nearly twelve hours more in threading the winding and difficult ways which divide that desert from the plain of Sinai. At length, however, they reached the convent of St. Catherine, supposed to be built over the place where Moses saw the angel of the Lord in the burning bush, when he was guarding the flocks of Jethro. This convent, or rather fortress, is nearly three hundred feet square, and upwards of forty in height, constructed partly with stone, partly with earth and mortar. The more immediate place of the Shekinah is marked by a little chapel, which the monks, who are of the order of St. Basil, regard with so remarkable a degree of veneration, that, in imitation of Moses, they take their shoes from off their feet whenever they enter it. This, with many other chapels dedicated to various saints, is included within what is called the “Church of the Transfiguration,” a spacious and beautiful structure, covered with lead, and supported by a double row of marble columns.

The door of this convent is opened only when the archbishop, who commonly resides at Cairo, comes to be installed; and therefore our travellers, like all other pilgrims, were drawn up by a windlass to a window, nearly thirty feet from the ground, where they were admitted by some of the lay brothers. From a notion which prevails but too generally among mankind, that holiness consists in thrusting aside, as it were, the gifts which the hand of Providence 33holds out to us, the poor men who immure themselves in this wild prison condemn their bodies to extraordinary privations and hardships, not only abstaining, like Brahmins, from animal food, but likewise from the less sinful indulgences of butter, milk, and eggs. With an inconsistency, however, from which even the Pythagoreans of Hindostan are not altogether free, shellfish, crabs, and lobsters are not included within the pale of their superstitious humanity; and of these they accordingly partake as often as they can obtain a supply from their sister convent at Tor, or from Menah el Dizahab. Their ordinary food consists of bread, or biscuit, olives, dates, figs, parched pulse, salads, oil, vinegar, to which, on stated days, half a pint of date brandy is added.

From this convent to the top of Mount Sinai, a perpendicular height, according to our traveller, of nearly seven thousand two hundred feet, there was formerly a stone staircase, built by the Empress Helena; but in many places the effects of her pious munificence have disappeared, and the ascent of the mountain is now considered by the monks sufficiently difficult to be imposed as a severe penance upon their pilgrims and votaries. Dr. Shaw did not, when he had reached it, find the summit very spacious, nor does he seem to have greatly enjoyed the extensive view which it commands over scenes rendered profoundly interesting and memorable by the wanderings of the children of Israel. On descending into the desert of Rephidim, on the western side of the mountain, he was shown the rock of Meribah, from which Moses caused water to gush forth by the stroke of his wand. It was about six yards square, lying tottering, as it were, and loose near the middle of the valley, and seemed to have been formerly a part or cliff of Mount Sinai, which hangs in a variety of precipices all over this plain. The waters had now ceased to flow, but the channel 34they had once occupied remained, incrustated, to borrow the doctor’s expression, like the inside of a tea-kettle that has been long used, and covered with several mossy productions, whose life and verdure were preserved by the dew.

Having terminated his researches in these desert scenes, which seem to have thrown new light upon numerous points of sacred geography, our traveller returned to Cairo, descended the Nile, and proceeding by sea to Syria, arrived in that country about the commencement of December, 1721. Here he seems, for he has left no exact account of his movements, to have pursued nearly the same route with Maundrell, whose description he regarded as so accurate in general, that he merely noticed such places and things as had either been omitted or imperfectly represented by that traveller. Though it was the middle of winter when he passed through Syria and Phœnicia, the aspect of the country was verdant and cheerful, particularly the woods, which chiefly consisted of the gall-bearing oak, at the roots of which the turf was gemmed with anemones, ranunculuses, colchicums, and the dudaim or mandrakes. The air here, as in Barbary, is temperate, and the climate healthy; and, in like manner, westerly winds bring rain, while the east winds, blowing over immeasurable tracts of land, are generally dry though hazy and tempestuous.

The excursions of our traveller in this country appear to have been few and timid, and he remarks, apparently as an apology for this circumstance, that it was necessary to be upon all occasions attended by a numerous escort; for that numerous bands of Arabs, from fifty to five hundred in number, scoured the plains in every direction in search of booty. But even the presence of an escort was not always a safeguard; for the caravan with which Dr. Shaw travelled to Jerusalem, consisting of at least six thousand pilgrims, protected by three or four hundred 35spahis and four bands of Turkish infantry, with the mutsellim, or general, at their head, was attacked by one of the marauding parties, and treated with the greatest insult and barbarity. Scarcely was there a pilgrim out of so great a number who was not robbed of part of his clothes or of his money; and those who had not much of either to lose were beaten unmercifully with their pikes or javelins. Our traveller himself was not allowed to remain a mere spectator of the scene, for when the banditti had taken possession of the visible wealth of the party, correctly judging that there still remained a considerable portion which had been adroitly concealed, he was forcibly carried off among the hostages, which they seized upon to ensure a ransom, to Jeremiel or Anashoth. In this desperate position he remained all night, exposed to barbarities and insults, and it is exceedingly probable that his captivity would have been of much longer duration, had not the Aga of Jerusalem, with a numerous body of troops, next morning attacked his captors and set him at liberty.

Having visited the several holy places in and about Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jericho, and the Jordan, he returned, in April, 1722, towards the seacoast; and in journeying by night through the valleys of Mount Ephraim, was attended for about an hour by an ignis fatuus, which assumed a variety of extraordinary appearances. Sometimes, says the traveller, it was globular, or else pointed, like the flame of a candle; afterward it would spread itself, and involve their whole company in its pale inoffensive light; then at once contract and suddenly disappear. But in less than a minute it would begin again to exert itself as before, running along from one place to another with great swiftness, like a train of gunpowder set on fire; or else it would spread and expand itself over two or three acres of the adjacent mountains, discovering every shrub and tree which 36grew upon them. The atmosphere from the beginning of the evening had been remarkably thick and hazy, and the dew, as they felt upon their bridles, was unusually clammy and unctuous. This curious meteor our traveller supposes to be of the same nature with those luminous bodies which skip about the masts and yards of ships at sea, and known among sailors by the name of corpo santo, as they were by that of Castor and Pollux among the ancients.

While the ship in which he had embarked was lying under Mount Carmel, about the middle of April, he beheld three extraordinary flights of storks, proceeding from Egypt towards the north-east, each of which took up more than three hours in passing, while it was at the same time upwards of half a mile in breadth![1] During cloudy weather, and when the winds happen, as they frequently do, to blow from different quarters at the same time, waterspouts are often seen upon the coast of Syria, particularly in the neighbourhood of Capes Latikea, Grego, and Carmel. Those which Dr. Shaw had an opportunity of observing seemed, he says, to be so many cylinders of water falling down from the clouds, though by the reflection, as he imagined, of the descending columns, as from the actual dropping of the water contained in them, they sometimes appeared, especially at a distance, to be sucked up from the sea. Before we return with our traveller to Barbary, it may be worth the while to notice a remark which he made upon the economy of silk-worms in Syria: there being some danger that, owing to the heat of the climate in the plains, the 37eggs should be hatched before nature has prepared their proper food, the inhabitants regularly send them, as soon as they are laid, to Conobine, or some other place on Mount Libanus, where their hatching is delayed by the cold until the mulberry buds are ready for them in the spring. In Europe, on the contrary, the mulberry leaves put forth before the eggs of the silk-worm feel the influence of the sun; and at Nice, where many silk-worms are bred, it is the custom, as Dr. Smollet informs us, in order to hasten the process of hatching, to enclose the eggs in small linen bags, which are worn by the women in their bosoms until the worms begin to appear.

1.  Catesby, in his account of Carolina, gives a no less extraordinary description of the flights of pigeons:—“In Virginia I have seen the pigeons of passage fly in such continued trains, three days successively, that there was not the least interval in losing sight of them, but that some where or other in the air they were to be seen continuing their flight south. When they roost (which they do on one another’s backs), they often break down the limbs of oaks by their weight, and leave their dung some inches thick under the trees they roost upon.”—P. 23.

It should have been remarked, that previously to his visit to Syria he had sailed to the island of Cyprus, where he seems to have visited Limesol and the principal places on the coast; but of this part of his travels no detailed account remains. Setting sail from Acra, he traversed the Ægean, coasted along Peloponnesus, and passing between Malta and Sicily, without touching at either, arrived safe at Bona, in the kingdom of Algiers.

Thenceforward his excursions were confined to the coast of Barbary, and as these appear to have been undertaken at various intervals by way of relaxation and amusement, to vary a course of life in itself remarkably monotonous, he did not judge them worthy of being particularly described. He observes, however, in general, that in all the maritime towns of Africa and the Levant where there were British factories he was received with distinguished hospitality, enjoying, not only the use of the houses of the English residents, but likewise of their horses, janizaries, and servants. In the interior of Barbary, where there were no Europeans, the style of hospitality was different. Here there was a house set apart for the reception of strangers, in which they were lodged and entertained for one night at the public expense, having the attendance and protection 38of an officer appointed for the purpose. Occasionally, when neither towns nor villages appeared, they lodged more romantically in a cavern, beneath the shelf of a rock, under the arches of ancient cisterns, or in a grove of trees; and at other times threw themselves upon the bare sand, and made the sky their mantle. When they happened to fall in with an Arab encampment, or douar, as it is termed in Barbary, they were almost invariably entertained with hospitality, the master of the tent in which they lodged killing a kid or a goat, a lamb or a sheep, according to the number of his guests, and causing the half of it to be immediately seethed by his wife, while the remainder was cut into kabobs, or small pieces, and roasted for the travellers to take away with them next day. On these occasions, if his hosts were particularly obliging, and entertained him with “savoury” viands, our traveller would generally, he says, present the master of the tent with a knife, a couple of flints, or a small quantity of English gunpowder, and the lallah, or lady, with “a skein of thread, a large needle, or a pair of scissors.” An ordinary silk handkerchief of two shillings value, he adds, was a present for a princess.

During his residence at Algiers, but in what year I have been unable to discover, he seems to have married the widow of Mr. Edward Holden, formerly consul of that place, who outlived him, and erected a monument to his memory. In 1723, the year after his return from Syria, a violent earthquake was felt at Algiers, which threw down a number of houses, and stopped the course of several fountains; but in the year following a still more violent shock was felt, which seems to have shaken the whole coast, while the air was clear and temperate, and the quick-silver standing at the greatest height. At such times the barometer, he observes, was not affected with any sudden alterations, nor was there any remarkable change in the air, which was neither more calm 39nor windy, hazy, nor serene, than at other times. During the same year, while sailing in an Algerine cruiser of fifty guns towards Cape Bona, he felt an earthquake at sea, which produced so prodigious a concussion in the ship, that at each shock a weight of twenty or thirty tons appeared to have fallen from a vast height upon the ballast. At this time they were five leagues to the south of the Seven Capes, and could not reach ground with a line of two hundred fathoms.

In the year 1727 he visited the kingdom of Tunis, which was not, he observes, divided, like Algiers, into provinces, governed each by a provincial bey, but was wholly under the immediate inspection of the bey, who annually made the circuit of his dominions with a flying camp, and collected the tribute. The seacoast, the Zeugitania of the ancients, was more thickly inhabited, and exhibited more contentment, prosperity, and other marks of good government than any portion of the neighbouring kingdom. Upon arriving at Biserta, Utica, and the ruins of Carthage, Dr. Shaw throws open the floodgates of his learning, in endeavouring to determine the extent of the encroachments made by the mud of the Bagrada upon the sea, the site of the little city which Cato rendered illustrious by his death, and the circumference and topography of Dido’s capital. Bochart, with a still greater luxuriance of quotation, had, by comparing the testimony of the ancients, determined its circumference to have been nearly forty-five miles; but according to Dr. Shaw, the peninsula upon which it stood does not much exceed thirty miles in circumference, and the city, he thinks, could never lay claim to above half that extent. However, as at the beginning of the Punic war the number of its inhabitants is said to have amounted to seven hundred thousand, while it was pronounced by Suidas the largest and most powerful city upon earth, I cannot believe it to have been no more 40than fifteen miles in circumference, an extent not at all answerable to the idea which the ancients have left us of its greatness. It seems probable, therefore, that our traveller’s survey was hastily and imperfectly performed.

Quitting these renowned ruins, he proceeded towards Tunis, coasting along the lake, formerly a deep and extensive port, which stretches out before the capital, and communicates by a narrow channel with the sea. The water in this large basin nowhere exceeds seven feet in depth, while the bottom for nearly a mile round the whole sweep of the shore is generally dry and noisome, the common sewers of Tunis discharging themselves into this great receptacle. At a distance, however, the prospect of the lake is not without beauty, its surface being frequently enlivened by large flocks of the flamingo, or phœnicopterus, the bird to which the Hindoo legislator compares a beautiful young woman. It is likewise celebrated for the number and size of its mullets, which are reckoned the sweetest in Barbary, and the roes of which, when pressed, dried, and salted, are called botargo, and considered a great delicacy.

The city of Tunis, situated upon an acclivity on the western shore of the lake, and commanding a fine view of the ruins of Carthage, and of the circumambient sea, as Livy expresses it, as far as the island Ægimurus, the modern Zembra, being surrounded by lakes and marshes, would be exceedingly insalubrious were not the effects of the miasmata in a great measure counteracted by the vast quantities of mastic, myrtle, rosemary, and other gummy and aromatic plants which grow in the neighbourhood, and being used as firewood to warm their baths and ovens, communicate a sensible fragrance to the air. Tunis, however, is absolutely destitute of water, having, as Leo Africanus observes, neither rivulet, fountain, nor well; and the inhabitants are 41consequently reduced to rely upon what they can catch in cisterns when it rains, or upon what is brought into the city from a brackish well in the vicinity in leathern bags, and sold about the streets as a precious article of traffic. The Tunisians, our traveller observes, are the most civilized people of Barbary, agreeable in their intercourse with strangers, and coveting rather than shunning, like other Mohammedans, all occasions of coming into contact with Christians. The population of the city at this period was said to exceed three hundred thousand; no doubt an extravagant exaggeration, as the circumference of the place did not much exceed three miles.

From this city our traveller continued his journey towards the east, and passing by Rhodes, the ancient Ades, Solyman, and Masourah, arrived at the sanctuary of Sidi Daoud, situated among the ruins of the ancient Nishna. Here he was shown the tomb of the saint, which was found upon examination to be nothing but a Roman prætorium, the pavement of which was adorned with the most elegant mosaics in the world; the general design being as bold and free as that of a picture, while the various figures, which consisted of horses, birds, fishes, and trees, were executed with the most delicate symmetry, and in a variety of brilliant colours so judiciously intermingled and contrasted as to produce an admirable effect. He next fixes at Lowhareah, the site of the ancient Aquilaria, where, during the civil wars, the troops of Cairo were landed, and cut to pieces by Sabura. The remaining ruins were insignificant; but the immense quarries from whence, according to Strabo, the materials for the building of Carthage, Utica, and other neighbouring cities were obtained, still remain open, and are supposed to have furnished Virgil with the original hint of his “Nympharum Domus,” &c., in the first book of the Æneid, though Addison rather supposes that the Bay 42of Naples is entitled to this honour. Be this as it may, from the sea to the village of Lowhareah, a distance of about half a mile, the interjacent mountain, from the level of the sea to the height of twenty or thirty feet, according to the disposition of the strata, is hollowed out, while enormous pillars are left standing at regular distances to support the superincumbent mass, through which small shafts or apertures were bored at intervals for the admission of fresh air. However, that the reader may perceive the justness of the doctor’s illustration, I will continue the description in his own words, and then subjoin the passage of Virgil referred to: “Moreover, as this mountain is shaded all over with trees, as the arches here described (the openings to the quarry) lie open to the sea, having a large cliff on each side, with the island Ægimurus placed over-against them; as there are likewise some fountains perpetually draining from the rocks, and seats very convenient for the weary labourer to rest upon: from such a concurrence of circumstances, so exactly corresponding to the cave which Virgil places somewhere in this gulf, we have little room to doubt of the following description being literally true, notwithstanding some commentators may have thought it fictitious, or applicable to another place.”

Est in secessu longo locus. Insula portum
Efficit objectu laterum, quibus omnis ab alto
Frangitur, inque sinus scindit sese unda reductos.
Hinc atque hinc vastæ rupes, geminique minantur
In Cœlum scopuli: quorum sub vertice latè
Æquora tuta silent. Tum sylvis scœna coruscis
Desuper, horrentique atrum nemus imminet umbra.
Fronte sub adversa scopulis pendentibus antrum:
Intus aquæ dulces; vivoque sedilia saxo;
Nympharum domus. Hic fessas non vincula naves
Ulla tenent: unco non adligat anchora morsa.

From Cape Bon, the Promontorium Mercurii of the ancients, which projects into the sea a little to the north of Aquilaria, the inhabitants assured our 43traveller that they could, in clear weather, discern the mountains of Sicily, more than sixty miles distant. Following the bend of the shore, and passing by the sites or ruins of several ancient places, he proceeded through a rugged road, delightfully shaded with olive trees, to Hamamet, or the “City of Wild Pigeons,” so called from the prodigious number of those birds which breed in the neighbouring cliffs. At Seloome, a small hemispherical hill, he entered the ancient province of Bizacium, once renowned for its fertility, probably erroneously, as the soil is dry, sandy, and of no great depth, though admirably adapted to the olive tree, which flourishes in great perfection all along the coast. The interior is not at all more fertile. Our traveller’s whole employment during this journey was determining the sites of ancient cities, and illustrating other points of geography; but he observed nothing very striking or picturesque until he reached the shores of the Lesser Syrtis, all along which there runs a succession of small flat islands, banks of sand, and oozy shallows, into which the inhabitants wade out for a mile or two from the shore, fixing up numerous hurdles of reeds in various windings and directions as they go, and thus taking immense quantities of fish. Owing to the violent east wind which blew during his whole journey along this coast, he was prevented from observing the flux and reflux of the tide here, from which some authors have derived its name—(“à σύρω TN, traho, quod in accessu et recessu arenam et cœnum ad se trahit et congerit.”—Eustathius)—though he was informed that at the island of Jerby, the eastern boundary of the Syrtis, the sea rises upwards of six feet above its usual height, a circumstance which has likewise been observed in the Gulf of Venice.

This was the boundary of his travels along the coast, from which he now turned towards the interior, and arrived upon the shores of the Lake of 44Marko, the Palus Tritonis of the ancients. This lake is about sixty miles in length, and in some places about eighteen in breadth; but it is not one unbroken sheet of water, being interspersed with numerous islands, one of which, though uninhabitable, is large, and covered with date trees. The inhabitants, who have a tradition for every thing, say that the Egyptians, in one of their expeditions into this country, encamped some time upon this island, and scattering about the stones of the dates which they had eaten, thus sowed the palm groves, which at present abound there; and hence, perhaps, the lake itself acquired the name of the “Plains of Pharaoh.” To direct the marches of the caravans across this shallow lake, a number of trunks of palm-trees are fixed up at certain distances, without which travelling would be extremely difficult and dangerous, as the opposite shores are nearly as level as the sea, and even the date trees which grow upon them are too low to be discovered at more than sixteen miles distance. At Tozer, on the western bank, a great traffic in dates is carried on with the merchants of the interior, who bring slaves from the banks of the Niger to be exchanged for fruit.

Proceeding to the west from the Lake of Marko, our traveller next traversed a barren and dreary waste, the haunt of robbers and murderers; and as he passed along he saw upon the ground the blood of a Turkish gentleman, who, he afterward learned, had been murdered two days before. Immediately after he had left this ominous spot, five of the assassins, mounted upon black horses, and closely muffled in their burnooses, or loose cloaks, suddenly made their appearance; but observing that his companions were numerous and well armed, they met them peaceably, and gave them the salaam. Continuing his journey westward, without meeting with any further adventures, he returned to Algiers.

Dr. Shaw seems, after this expedition into Tunis, 45to have remained quiet for several years, occasionally making excursions into the interior, and proceeding westward, in 1730, as far as the river Mulloviah. Having already travelled over the whole of these provinces, from the sea to the desert, when following the track of Leo Africanus, it will be unnecessary to pursue the footsteps of Dr. Shaw. He remarked, however, during his excursions among the ridges of Mount Atlas, an extraordinary race of mountaineers, with light complexions and yellow hair, which seems to have escaped the researches of Leo and all other travellers. These people he with great probability supposes to be descended from the Vandals, who, in the time of Procopius, were said to be dispersed among the native tribes, though it is more probable that they took possession of these fastnesses, of which the rude inhabitants were never able to dispossess them. In the city of Kosantina he observed a second Tarpeian rock, from which, since the foundation of the city, such criminals as might be condemned to capital punishment have been precipitated into the river Ampsaga, which dashes along at its base.

In his inquiries into the natural history of these countries, our traveller bestowed particular attention upon the palm and the lotus-tree, the latter of which, though greatly celebrated in ancient authors, is still comparatively little known. From the descriptions of Herodotus, Theophrastus, and Pliny, he infers the identity of the lotus of the ancients with the seedra of the Arabs, which is a shrub of common occurrence in the Jereed, and other parts of Barbary; and has, he observes, the leaves, prickles, flower, and fruit of the ziziphus or jubeb; except that in the lotus the fruit is round, smaller, and more luscious; while the branches, like those of the paliurus, are neither so crooked nor so much jointed. The lotus fruit, which greatly resembles gingerbread in taste, is still in great repute, and is sold in all the 46markets of the southern provinces of Barbary. Among the beasts of burden in use at Algiers is the kumrah, an animal produced between the ass and the cow, and having the single hoof of the former, with the tail and head of the latter, though without horns.

The prodigious clouds of locusts which sometimes infest the southern shores of the Mediterranean, and the tremendous devastations which they commit, have been described by many travellers; but by no one, I think, has a more vigorous picture of their movements and appearance been given than by Dr. Shaw in the following passage:—“Those,” says he, “which I saw in 1724 and 1725 were much bigger than our common grasshoppers, and had brown spotted wings, with legs and bodies of a bright yellow. Their first appearance was towards the latter end of March, the wind having been for some time from the south. In the middle of April their numbers were so vastly increased, that in the heat of the day they formed themselves into large and numerous swarms, flew in the air like a succession of clouds; and, as the prophet Joel expresses it, they darkened the sun. When the wind blew briskly, so that these swarms were crowded by others, or thrown one upon another, we had a lively idea of that comparison of the Psalmist, of being tossed up and down as the locust. In the month of May, when the ovaries of those insects were ripe and turgid, each of these swarms began gradually to disappear, and retired into the Metijiah and other adjacent plains, where they deposited their eggs. These were no sooner hatched in June than each of the broods collected itself into a compact body, of a furlong or more in square; and, marching afterward directly forwards towards the sea, they let nothing escape them, eating up every thing that was green and juicy; not only the lesser kinds of vegetables, but the vine likewise, the fig-tree, the pomegranate, the palm, and the apple-tree; even all the 47trees of the field; in doing which they kept their ranks like men of war, climbing over, as they advanced, every tree or wall that was in their way; nay, they entered into our very houses and bed-chambers, like so many thieves. The inhabitants, to stop their progress, made a variety of pits and trenches all over their fields and gardens, which they filled with water; or else they heaped up therein heath, stubble, and such-like combustible matter, which were severally set on fire at the approach of the locusts. But this was all to no purpose; for the trenches were quickly filled up, and the fires extinguished by infinite swarms succeeding one another; while the front was regardless of danger; and the rear pressed on so close that a retreat was altogether impossible. A day or two after one of these broods was in motion, others were already hatched to march and glean after them, gnawing off the very bark and the young branches of such trees as had before escaped with the loss only of their fruit and foliage. So justly have they been compared by the prophet Joel to a great army; who further observes, that ‘the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness.’

“Having lived near a month in this manner, like a sword with ten thousand edges, to which they have been compared, upon the ruin and destruction of every vegetable substance that came in their way, they arrived at their full growth, and threw off their nympha state by casting their outward skin. To prepare themselves for this change, they clung by their hinder feet to some bush, twig, or corner of a stone; and immediately, by using an undulating motion, their heads would first break out, and then the rest of their bodies. The whole transformation was performed in seven or eight minutes; after which they lay for some time in a torpid and seemingly in a languishing condition; but as soon as the sun and the air had hardened their wings, by drying up the 48moisture that remained upon them after casting their sloughs, they reassumed their former voracity, with an addition both of strength and agility. Yet they continued not long in this state before they were entirely dispersed, as their parents were before, after they had laid their eggs; and as the direction of the marches and flights of them both was always to the northward, and not having strength, as they sometimes had, to reach the opposite shores of Italy, France, or Spain, it is probable they perished in the sea: a grave which, according to these people, they have in common with other winged creatures. The locust, I conjecture, was the noisome beast, or the pernicious destructive animal, as the original words may be interpreted, which, with the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, made the four sore judgments that were threatened against Jerusalem. The Jews were allowed to eat them; and, indeed, when sprinkled with salt and dried, they are not unlike in taste to our fresh-water crayfish.”

Among the fish on the coast of Barbary the most curious is the penna marina, or sea-feather, which the fishermen sometimes find entangled in the meshes of their nets; and which, during the night, is so remarkably glowing and luminous as to enable the fishermen to discover by their light the size and quantity of the other fish which may happen to be enclosed within the same net.

In his remarks upon the moral condition of the inhabitants of Tunis and Algiers, he informs us that the sciences which were formerly so assiduously cultivated by the Moors are now neglected or despised: but they have still, as of old, a passion for poetry and music, and many a wandering dervish, like the Αοιδοί TN, or chapsists of antiquity, excites the admiration and generosity of the Moorish Arabs, by his enthusiastic improvisatores, accompanied by the rude notes of the Arabelbah, or bladder and string. Wild nations, whose feelings and passions are allowed 49a freer play than ours, are far more susceptible than we are of the delights which nervous poetry and simple melody are calculated to produce; and the Moors, whose tunes our traveller describes as merely “lively and pleasant,” are so deeply affected by music, that, in the warmth of their imagination, they lend their own sensations to inanimate objects, affirming seriously that the flowers of mullein and mothwort will droop upon hearing the mizmoune played.

Provisions, in the time of Dr. Shaw, were exceedingly cheap, a large piece of bread, a bundle of turnips, or a small basket of fruit, being to be purchased for less than a quarter of a farthing. A fowl might be bought for a penny or three halfpence; a sheep for three shillings and sixpence; and a cow and a calf for a guinea. The usual price of a bushel of the best wheat was fifteen pence. Bruce, whose fate it has been to have his testimony upon several important points called in question by ignorant conceited persons, has been ridiculed for asserting that the flesh of lions is commonly eaten by a tribe of African Arabs. Our traveller himself, who had been laughed at for making the assertion in conversation, introduced it timidly into the appendix of his first edition; but in the second it was restored to its place in the narrative, where it is said that “the flesh of the lion is in great esteem, having no small affinity with veal, both in colour, taste, and flavour.”

The majority of persons appear to believe, with Shakspeare, that the Moors are a black, ill-favoured people; but, on the contrary, the Moorish women would be considered beautiful even in England, and the children have the finest complexions in the world. The men, from constant exposure to the sun, are generally swarthy, but never black; and the fine olive tinge they thus acquire only renders their complexions the more agreeable to the eye, as Heber observes of the Hindoos. In these countries, as in 50Southern Asia, women are nubile at a very early age, being very frequently mothers at eleven, and grandmothers at twenty-two. The circumstance which renders the seclusion of women necessary in such countries is, that the age of puberty precedes the age of discretion; for the passions reaching their maturity long before the reason, they stand in need of being directed by the reason of others until their own is ripened, and when it is they have lost the habit of consulting it. The ancient custom of hiring old women, who, as the prophet Amos expresses it, “are skilful in lamentation,” to perform at funerals, still prevails in Barbary; and so powerful is the effect of this scenical representation of sorrow, that when they are ἀλαλάζοντας πολλά, or “wailing greatly,” expressing their mimic grief by sound, gestures, and contortions of countenance, they seldom fail to work up the bystanders to an ecstasy of sorrow, so that even the English, who know it to be artificial, are deeply touched by it.

The superstitious practices of the Mohammedans in general, and particularly of those inhabiting Northern Africa, are strange and numerous, many of them being apparently offshoots from pagan practices, bequeathed to their ancestors by the Grecian or Roman colonists who subdued and inhabited these coasts. They suspend upon the necks of their children, as the Romans did their bulla, the figure of an open hand, generally the right, which they likewise paint upon their ships and houses, to avert the effects of the evil eye. At the same time the number five is unlucky, and “five in your eyes,” meaning the five fingers, is their proverb for cursing and defiance. Adults wear small scrolls, as the Jews did their phylacteries, containing verses from the Koran, as a charm against fascination, witchcraft, sickness, and misfortune. In one particular they appear to differ from the superstitious in Europe, who generally imagine that faith in the force of the spell is necessary 51to its efficacy; for their horses and cattle, which can be supposed to have but little faith in such matters, have similar scrolls suspended round their necks, no doubt with equal benefit. Their belief in jenoune, or genii, a class of beings between angels and devils, and which, like the fairies of our ancestors, are supposed to frequent shades and fountains, is deep-rooted and universal. These equivocal beings assume, they imagine, the form of toads, worms, lizards, and other small animals, which, being offensive to man, and lying frequently in his way, are extremely liable to be injured or destroyed. Therefore, when any person falls sick, fancying he may have harmed one of the jenoune lurking in some obscene shape, he immediately consults with one of those cunning-women who, like the veneficæ of antiquity, are versed in all expiatory ceremonies of this nature, and at the direction of the sorceress proceeds on a Wednesday with frankincense and other perfumes to some neighbouring spring, where a cock or a hen, a ram or a ewe, according to the sex or rank of the patient, is sacrificed to these spirits.

Dr. Shaw returned to England in the year 1733. In the course of the next year he took his degree of doctor of divinity, and was shortly afterward elected fellow of the Royal Society. Having employed five years in the composition and correction of his travels, he at length, in 1731, brought out the first edition, which was attacked by Dr. Pococke in his Description of the East. The numerous coins, busts, and other antiquities which he had collected in his travels he bestowed upon the university. Upon the death of Dr. Felton in 1740, he was nominated by his college principal of St. Edmund Hall, which he raised from a ruinous state by his munificence. He was at the same time presented to the vicarage of Bramley, in Hampshire, and likewise enjoyed during the remainder of his life the honour of being regius professor of Greek at Oxford. He died in 1751, in 52the sixtieth year of his age, and was buried at Bramley, where a monument was erected to his memory by his widow. The Shawia in botany received its name in honour of Dr. Shaw.


Born 1722.—Died 1752.

Hasselquist was born on the 3d of January, 1722, at Isernvall, in Eastern Gothland, in Sweden. His father, Andrew Hasselquist, who was the clergyman of the place, died in great poverty while our traveller was yet a youth; and to add still further to his misfortune, his mother likewise was shortly afterward so extremely debilitated both in mind and body as to be compelled to take refuge in the infirmary of Vastona. Hasselquist would therefore in all probability have been condemned to a life of obscurity and poverty had not M. Pontin, his maternal uncle, undertaken the care of his education, and sent him with his own children to the college of Linköping. But all the friends of Hasselquist seemed destined to be short-lived. Not long after his entrance at college the loss of this kind benefactor reduced him to the necessity of teaching for a livelihood until he should be of the proper age to enter into the university.

In 1741 he entered a student at the university of Upsal; but poverty, which when not overwhelming acts as a spur to genius, was still his faithful companion, and compelled him for a subsistence to exercise his talents in the way of all others best calculated to give them amplitude and vigour. He became a tutor. At the same time, however, he enjoyed the advantage of attending the lectures of the various professors; and the knowledge thus acquired 53was immediately digested, examined, and enlarged, to be transmitted in other lectures to his own humble pupils.

Physic and natural history, for which, according to Linnæus, he had an innate inclination, were his favourite studies. He had likewise, it is said, a taste and some talents for poetry. An enthusiastic devotion to the sciences, which, as the world goes, is often allowed to be, like virtue, its own reward, is sometimes advantageous, however, when it happens to be exhibited in the proper quarter. This was experienced by our traveller. His ardent passion for knowledge, which neither poverty nor a feeble constitution could subdue, at length, after a five years’ struggle, attracted the attention of the university authorities, who in 1746 obtained him a pension from the king. And in the course of next year he proved, by his “Dissertation on the Virtues of Plants,” that the progress he had made in the sciences amply justified the favour which had been shown him.

It was in the same year that he first conceived the idea of travelling in the East. Linnæus, in one of his botanical lectures, having enumerated the countries, the natural history of which was known, as well as those which were placed in the contrary predicament, happened to make mention of Palestine among the latter; for at that period it was as much a “terra incognita” to science as the most remote districts of India. He expressed his astonishment that theologians and commentators, whose business it is to understand the Scriptures, should have so long neglected the natural history of the Holy Land, by which so much light might be thrown upon them,—the more particularly as many divines had made the botany of other countries their study. These remarks were not lost upon Hasselquist. He immediately formed the design of repairing the neglect of former ages, and had no sooner taken 54this resolution than he communicated his intentions to Linnæus. The latter, who seems to have regarded him with something approaching to paternal affection, experienced considerable astonishment at his design, and made use of many arguments to turn him from the prosecution of it; dwelt upon the length of the way, the difficulties, the dangers, the expenses, and, worst of all, his delicate state of health and consumptive habit. But who was ever deterred by arguments from the prosecution of a favourite scheme? Hasselquist’s mind had already tried the strength of all these reasons, and found that, like the bands of flax round the limbs of Samson, they had no force when opposed to the efforts of the will. His health, he maintained, could be improved only by travelling and change of climate,—dangers he appears, like a true traveller, to have classed among imaginary obstacles; and as to the expense, why, rather than relinquish the idea he would travel on foot. In short, says Linnæus, it was clear that he was absolutely determined on travelling.

Hasselquist was not ignorant, however, that whether on foot or on horseback, moving from place to place is no easy matter without money. Not being one of that erratic race “who had no stomach but to fight,” he reflected that beefsteaks and plum-pudding, or some solid equivalents, would be no less necessary in Palestine than in Sweden; and therefore made an essay of his genius for overcoming difficulties by encountering those which beset his first step. It would seem that in Sweden there are many persons of distinction in whom the indolence sometimes superinduced by the possession of wealth extinguishes a natural passion for travelling, who, previous to entering upon that path which leads from this world to the next, lay aside a small sum which they find too heavy to take with them, for the benefit of those adventurous souls who have but slight acquaintance 55with those pleasures which take a man by the sleeve when he is about to put his foot in the stirrup, and smile away his resolution. For some of these whimsical legacies Hasselquist made application; but as they were not particularly burdensome to the persons in whose hands they had been placed, he applied in vain. Among his brethren of the faculty he was more successful; and in addition to the funds with which they furnished him, he obtained from the professors of civil law and theology certain small pensions which the king had placed at their disposal. And although extremely moderate, considering the object which he had in view, these resources seem to have appeared sufficient in the eyes of our traveller.

This first difficulty removed, he began to prepare himself for the proper execution of the task he had undertaken, by the study of the Arabic and other oriental languages; and that he might not interrupt his academical studies, continued to be present at the public lectures, underwent the usual examinations, and maintained the requisite theses; so that, though absent, he might yet receive the honours to which his merit entitled him. Having in the spring of 1749 acquired the degree of licentiate, he proceeded to Stockholm, where he delivered a course of lectures in botany, which procured him the patronage of all the lovers of that science. The Levant Company, moreover, in consideration of his extraordinary merit, offered him a free passage to Smyrna on board of one of their ships.

His project having succeeded thus far almost beyond his hopes, he embarked on the 7th of August, 1749, at Stockholm, and sailed down the Baltic, landing at various points on the coast of Sweden for the purpose of examining the plants and other natural productions of the country. The voyage down the Baltic was attended with storms; but the pleasure imparted by the extraordinary features of the scenery, 56the sandy, columnar mountains of Gothland, the dazzling peaks of Iceland, and the gloomy beech forests of Malmo caused him to attend but little to the inconvenience they occasioned. In traversing the German Ocean and the English Channel, they approached so near our shores that the chalky cliffs and hills which run along the coast were visible; and on entering the Strait of Gibraltar, they discovered on the one hand the mountains of Africa, bare of vegetation, and looking like prodigious heaps of limestone, or moving sand; and on the other those of Spain, with cloud-capped summits, and lighted up at night by numerous watchfires and limekilns. The coasts of Sicily, of the Morea, of Candia were seen in passing, and on the 15th of September they came to an anchor in the harbour of Milo.

Though Hasselquist was by no means destitute of a relish for the beauties of nature, he was not precisely travelling in search of the picturesque. His affections were fixed upon those “children of the spring,” as flowers are termed by an old poet, which in the country where he now was long survive their parent; and was exceedingly delighted, on landing, to observe that numerous plants were still in flower, though others had already been deprived of their beauty by autumn. Among the former were the autumnal dandelion, the anemone coronaria, both white and blue, and the oleander, with a species of rhamnus with small white flowers.

The harbour of Milo is almost wholly surrounded by high mountains, upon one of which stand an ancient castle and village in a position singularly picturesque. On arriving at the town, over a road formed of flint and limestone, he was greatly struck by the air of poverty and misery which everywhere appeared; the houses differed in nothing from prisons, except that their inmates could go in and out when they pleased; and all around were ruins of splendid edifices, which added to their misery, by reminding 57them of the very different condition of their ancestors. However, poor as they were, they continued to bring up immense numbers of children, with which the whole town swarmed like a beehive. The costume of the women was extraordinary. More cynical even than the Spartan virgins, whose scanty tunic the reader may admire in Mr. Hope’s Costume of the Ancients, the women of Milo went entirely naked to the waist, from whence depended a short petticoat which was very far from reaching the knee. The crown of the head was covered with small pieces of linen, but the hair hung dishevelled to the girdle.

From Milo they sailed for Scio, which Hasselquist regarded as the most beautiful spot in the world; and, after narrowly escaping shipwreck in the gulf, reached Smyrna on the 27th of September. Here he was received and entertained with the utmost kindness and hospitality by M. Rydelius, consul of Sweden, to whom he was nearly related, and who during his stay exerted whatever influence he possessed in furtherance of his designs. M. Peyssonel, likewise, the French consul, showed him very particular attentions, and imparted to him much curious information respecting many of the natural productions of the East.

Among Hasselquist’s favourite researches was an inquiry into the state of the medical science and profession in the countries he visited. In ancient times, he had read that the professors of the healing art had been regarded as the possessors of celestial knowledge; temples had been erected and medals struck in gratitude for the benefits they had conferred on mankind; but at the period of his visit to Smyrna things had greatly changed for the worse. Some few sparks of their ancient genius still burst forth occasionally among the Greeks; but in general they had to struggle up through mountains of prejudice and ignorance; and, indeed, were it not that the love 58of gain rather than of science occasionally led a few adventurers into the civilized countries of Europe, in which, however, each age despises the science of the one that preceded it, scarcely a trace of medical knowledge would subsist in the Levant. One of the results of his inquiry was, that of all countries islands are the most fertile in illustrious physicians. Cos was the birthplace of Hippocrates, and England of Mead and Sydenham. Scio, too, was fertile in able physicians. He does not, however, pretend to assign any reason for the fact.

The Franks of Smyrna began their carnival with the year, during which a long series of costly balls and suppers were given. Among the musicians employed on these occasions it would be to little purpose, our traveller remarks, to seek for an Orpheus or a Linus; but the favourite dance of the Greek women, which surely could not be the Romaika, or “dull roundabout,” of the tiresomeness of which Lord Byron complains, greatly delighted our traveller. Fifteen young women arranged themselves in a half-moon, and, skilfully keeping time with the sounds of the lute and violin, performed a number of graceful movements, following their leader, who directed their steps by the waving of a scarf which she held in her hand, through various intricate figures, admirably imitating the mazes of a labyrinth. The girls accompanied their movements with songs, which Hasselquist, though a snake and beetle collector, seems to have enjoyed exceedingly. Of the dress of the dancers, he merely observes that it was in the ancient mode,—that is, if we may judge from vases and bas-reliefs, a single tunic covering only one of the breasts, and open at the sides from the girdle downwards.

With the month of February commenced the spring; and Hasselquist, who was really actuated by passion for the objects of his studies, willingly quitted the city and its amusements to ramble abroad 59among the fields and woods. Here the orange, the pomegranate, the fig-tree, the olive, the palm, and the cypress intermingled their foliage; and it would, perhaps, be necessary to have imbibed something of the tastes of a naturalist to conceive the pleasure with which our traveller, to whom most of them were new, beheld them put forth their blossoms, or otherwise manifest their being under the influence of spring. One of the greatest ornaments of the gardens in the environs of Smyrna, which are enclosed by hedges of willows planted along the brink of a ditch, is a species of ivy, which, when it finds a proper support, bends round into arches, or hangs from tree to tree in festoons, in so rich and beautiful a manner, that Hasselquist, who seems to have had a high notion of royalty, thought it ought to have adorned the garden of a king. Nature, however, is no respecter of persons. Kings or no kings, Turks, Jews, and gentiles are all one to her. In fact, if we may judge of her political opinions by facts, Nature abhors the foppery and rhodomontade of courts, since, when she has any magnificent or sublime spectacle to exhibit to mankind, she retires to scenes where palaces would be exceedingly out of place, and piles her eternal snows, or pours down her cataracts, or puts her terrible sand-columns in motion in barrenness and solitude.

The spring once begun, every day disclosed some new beauty to the naturalist. Wherever he turned his eyes, thickets of almond trees covered with snow-white blossoms, or fields over which anemones and tulips were sprinkled thick as daisies or buttercups in an English meadow, met the view. The anemone, in particular, was everywhere abundant, in all its varieties of purple, deep-red, and scarlet, with a ring of white round the base of its leaves. One of Hasselquist’s favourite walks of this season was the vast Turkish cemetery in the neighbourhood of Smyrna. Here, amid cypresses and a profusion 60of balsamic and aromatic trees and shrubs, he philosophized on the generation and decay of plants, ignorant, poor fellow, that within the small sweep of the horizon which bounded his view his own mortal remains would soon be deposited, and that the seeds of the flowers before him would shortly germinate upon his grave.

Having sufficiently examined the environs of Smyrna, Hasselquist set out on the 11th of March for Manisa, the ancient Magnesia, on a botanizing excursion. The face of the country in this part of Anatolia was more wild and savage than could be conceived by those who had never visited the East. Mountains and valleys resembling the surface of a stormy sea suddenly converted into solid ground, covered with mosses and wild apple-trees, traversed by deep ravines, by chasms, by mountain torrents, and beautified in various places by the pale flower of the oriental saffron; such were the scenes which the roots and acclivities of the ancient Sipylus presented to the view of our traveller. On arriving at Manisa he was well received by the governor, an extremely young man, who had sixteen women in his harem. Indeed, a physician is generally treated with consideration by the Turks; and our youthful governor, who happened just then to stand in need of his services, conducted himself with distinguished politeness towards the hakim, or doctor. In return, Hasselquist merely requested permission to botanize at his leisure in the environs of the city, a favour which was very readily granted him.

In a letter to Linnæus, within a few days after his return to Smyrna, he observes: “I have been botanizing on the Mount Sipylus of the ancients, which is one of the highest mountains in Asia, and covered all the year round with snow. I have likewise collected several insects, which no person ever disturbed before; among which I was surprised to observe many which are described in the ‘Fauna 61Suesica.’ I send you a small fly which I found yesterday in a fig. It was enclosed in the germ of a female fig, which it had entirely devoured. I am ignorant whether this be the insect that impregnates the fruit; but shall endeavour, before my departure, to acquire all the information in my power respecting the fig-tree insects. I have a chameleon and several turtle-doves in my apartment, and I have for some time been employed in observing their manners. It would give me great pleasure if I could send you a few of those doves to adorn your gardens at Upsal; and as it is not difficult to preserve them, I shall endeavour to fulfil my desire. I have collected an abundance of the cornucopiæ,[2] that rare plant which you so strongly recommended me to search for in the environs of Smyrna. I have completed the description of it, and shall send you a few specimens. When its seeds are ripened, I shall not fail to send you a quantity of them for the garden of the Academy.”

2.  A singular species of grass.

Hasselquist sailed from Smyrna about the end of April, and on the 13th of May arrived at Alexandria. His first care, of course, was to visit the gardens of the city. The Egyptian Mussulmans, it is well known, imagine that the horse is too noble an animal to be bestrode by any but true believers; and therefore, those honest Mohammedans who cannot afford to indulge that sublime contempt for all those who differ from them in opinion, which is one of the principal luxuries of their betters, pay great attention to the rearing and management of asses, the only coursers which Franks can safely make use of in Egypt. In consequence, the asses of the Delta surpass all other asses in beauty; and many of them, according to the testimony of our traveller, who, however, seems to have been somewhat partial to the race, are even valued at a higher price than 62horses. It was necessary to make these preliminary remarks upon asses before we could venture to exhibit our physician parading the streets of Alexandria on such a charger, exposed to the smiles of those Nilotic nymphs whose notes of rejoicing he afterward in revenge compared to the croaking of the frogs in the Rosetta canal.

From Alexandria he ascended along the canal to Rosetta. The fields, then under water, had been sown about a week previously with rice, but it was already three inches high; the frogs, which lay in myriads at the bottom of the canal, croaked most hideously; the mosquitoes stung; the buffaloes, offended at his red garments, attempted to gore him. However, by the aid of patience and a janizary, he at length reached Rosetta, from whence he proceeded up the Nile to Cairo. Here, at the house of Mr. Burton, the English consul, he saw a tamarind-tree, the leaves of which closed up in the evening at sunset, and expanded again with the dawn. Among the curious practices of Egypt he noticed, in this city, one of the most extraordinary: that is, that the women sometimes hatch eggs by keeping them perpetually under their armpits, until the desired effect is produced.

Though there are nations whose incivility is proof against the most courteous behaviour, a traveller may almost always conjecture from the character of his own manners the sort of reception he shall meet with in whatever country he may visit. Hasselquist’s manners were gentle and inoffensive, and accordingly he found even the Turks polite. Shortly after his arrival at Cairo he was taken by the English consul to witness a grand feast given by a Turkish gentleman on the occasion of his son’s circumcision. It had already lasted thirty days, during all which time he had kept open house, and accompanied his repasts by fireworks, illuminations, concerts, and dances. The fireworks, though inferior 63to those sometimes set off in Europe, were extremely fine; and the illumination was brilliant and ingenious. However, the most curious part of the spectacle, in the opinion of Hasselquist, were the spectators themselves, who, seated in a ring on the ground, looked with invincible gravity at the various efforts which were made to amuse them. The Christian guests, immediately on their arrival, were presented with coffee and carpets, and they sat down and imitated the silent manner of the other guests. Hasselquist was assured that the expense of this feast of thirty days would not amount to less than eight thousand ducats; but, in return, the master of the house received presents of immense value on the occasion, not less, it was reported, than thirty camel-loads.

A few days after this circumcision-feast our hakim enjoyed an opportunity of observing one of the inconsistencies of Mohammedan manners. A company of almé, or dancing girls, came to perform before the window of the consul’s house, and, in a country where other women never go out without a veil, exhibited themselves in a state bordering upon that of nature. From the age of Herodotus down to the present day, the Egyptians have always possessed the reputation of being among the most lascivious nations upon earth, and their patronising the performance of these dancing girls, who exhibit themselves with an effrontery which our opera dancers have not hitherto ventured to imitate, is a proof of it. These almé, whose ability is estimated by the greater or less facility with which they inflame the passions of the spectators, are generally country girls, and sometimes married women. They are of a dark complexion. Their dress consists of a single tunic, round the edges of which are suspended a number of small bells and hollow pieces of silver, which, tinkling as they proceed through their voluptuous movements, serve instead of music.

64Dr. Southey, a man of universal reading, laments that we have been less curious respecting the modes by which the human body is rendered proof against the poison of venomous serpents, than in learning from savages the modes of preparing their destructive drugs. Hasselquist, who was altogether of the same opinion, assiduously endeavoured, during his residence in Egypt, to extract from the Psylli the secret of their profession, a secret which has been religiously preserved during two thousand years; but, as he could offer these serpent-charmers no equivalent for the danger they would have incurred by imparting it, for they must inevitably have provoked the enmity of their brethren, his efforts were necessarily unsuccessful. It is customary with persons who affect superior wisdom to make short work with all affairs of this kind, by putting on an air of absolute incredulity, by which they would intimate that they have fathomed the secrets of nature, and are perfectly competent to prescribe the limits beyond which her operations cannot pass. These sages, on the subject of the Psylli, at once cut the Gordian knot by asserting that before they take any liberties with venomous serpents, they carefully extract the tooth to which the poison bag is attached, and thus, with all their boasted skill, perform nothing more marvellous than those who handle live eels. This, however, is not the fact. Hasselquist examined the serpents upon which they had exerted the force of their charms, and found that the poison-tooth had not been extracted.

The most favourable time for observing the performances of these singular people is in the month of July, when the violent heat of summer hatches myriads of serpents, scorpions, lizards, and every abominable reptile among the sands of Egypt, and sends them forth rejoicing in the vigour of their youth and the potency of their virgin poisons. About the beginning of this month a female serpent-charmer, 65understanding his desire to possess specimens of some of the most deadly of the subjects, went forth into the fields, accompanied by an Arab, and took up specimens of four different species, that is, of the common viper, the cerastes of Alpinus, the jaculus, and a kind of sea-serpent, which she brought to our traveller. The French consul, and all the French in Cairo who happened to be present on her arrival, were struck with terror; and crowds of people immediately collected to behold this daring magician, for as such she was regarded, handle with careless impunity reptiles which no other person present would have touched for the wealth of the universe. In thrusting them into a bottle she held them in her hand as she would have held her stay-lace (if she had had one); and when they crept out again, not admiring their close lodgings, and apparently irritated at the attempt to imprison them, she still seized them with the same coolness, and thrust them in as before.

That these Psylli, for they are doubtless the same race with those who exhibited the force of their spells over the serpent tribes in ancient Rome, possess some important secret there seems to be no reasonable ground for doubting, and it seems equally probable that it might be extorted from them by the force of that golden spell which commands all others; but all that Hasselquist was able to learn was, that the serpent-charmers carefully avoided all other venomous reptiles, such as scorpions, lizards, &c., while those whose profession it was to deal with the latter kept aloof with equal solicitude from the contact of serpents; that, previously to their going out in quest of their prey, they never failed to devour a quantity of serpents’ flesh, both boiled and roasted; and that, in addition to all this, they had a number of superstitious practices, among which the most efficacious was the being spitten upon by their sheikh; though Hasselquist seriously opines that 66this last circumstance could be of no manner of utility! Perhaps, however, the whole secret lies in the using of serpents, or whatever other reptiles they profess to charm, for food; for by this practice they communicate to their perspiration, and, in fact, to their whole body, a snakish odour, which reconciles the reptiles to their touch, and causes them to regard their charmers and destroyers as genuine members of their body politic.

Hasselquist could not, of course, omit while at Cairo to visit the pyramids. The country about Gizeh, to which he proceeded by water, was so fertile and so admirably cultivated, that it was an object of perpetual admiration; and in winter the whole of this part of Egypt appears, when contemplated from an eminence, to be nothing but one vast sea of verdure, extending in every direction farther than the eye can reach. On arriving in the neighbourhood of the pyramids, he was hospitably entertained by an Arab sheikh, who was encamped there with his tribe. Two kids were slain, and reduced to an admirable pilau; and with a rough board for a table, a rush mat for a table-cloth, and their fingers for spoons, the whole party made a frugal but wholesome supper. It is necessary, says our traveller, that in such cases we should accommodate ourselves to the ways of the people, which if we do, there is no nation upon earth among whom we shall find so much friendship, frankness, and benevolence as the Arabs.

Having passed the night with these hospitable Bedouins, he pushed on to the pyramids over a plain covered with villages, and was soon standing in wonder and admiration at the base of the principal of these gigantic temples of Venus. When the effervescence of his astonishment had somewhat subsided, he entered with his Arab guides into the interior, which, no less than the external appearance, he found greatly to exceed the most exaggerated idea 67he had formed of their prodigious grandeur from descriptions or designs. After groping about for an hour and a half by torchlight through those mysterious chambers sacred to the generative power of nature, of which beauty has always been one of the principal symbols, from the sting which its appearance infixes in the human soul, he issued forth filled with enthusiasm, under the influence of which he attempted to climb up to the apex of the temple. The sun, however, had rendered the granite steps burning hot, so that when he had ascended about half-way he began to imagine he was treading on fire, and relinquished his design. On another occasion, during the inundation, when he made a second attempt, a violent wind arose, and swept with so much fury round the pyramids, that Hasselquist began to fear it might convert him into a bird, and whirl him off to the Red Sea or Nubia, and finally gave up his undertaking. The fact is, his bodily strength failed him in both cases.

He had been assured at Cairo and elsewhere that in the burning sands surrounding the pyramids no living thing, whether animal or vegetable, was to be found. This account he did not altogether credit, believing that Providence had condemned no spot on earth to utter sterility; and on narrowly examining the sands, he found among them one plant, the chondrilla juncea, a species of small lizard, and the formica-leo, or lion-ant, which had formed considerable establishments in the neighbourhood of the pyramids. These laborious little insects were running by thousands over the sands, each having in his claws a small bit of flint, a grain of sand, or a tiny morsel of wood, to be used in the construction of their dwellings. Several of these Hasselquist discovered. They were built in round holes in the loose soil, in a globular form, about twice the size of a man’s fist, and were entered by a cylindrical opening at the top not larger than the hollow of a goose-quill. 68To prevent surprise, numerous small openings led to subterraneous apartments below, through which, when their upper chamber was demolished, they always retreated with safety. It was no small compliment to the genius of these diminutive architects that their works could attract attention in the vicinity of the most sublime among the artificial wonders of the world, and appear, as they did to Hasselquist, still more wonderful than those prodigious creations of man.

Restrained in the indulgence of his curiosity by the extreme scantiness of his finances, poor Hasselquist was for the most part compelled to confine himself to the environs of Cairo. Had his means permitted him to execute the designs he had formed, few travellers would have surpassed him in curious or useful researches; though neither his tastes nor physical powers inclined him to undertake those daring personal adventures which in many travellers are almost the only things deserving of notice. His entering at the risk of his life into a mosque at Old Cairo proves, however, that he was courageous even to foolhardiness when he had an object to gain. But this achievement rather disgusted him with enterprises of that kind; for when he had put his head in jeopardy to gratify his curiosity, he found absolutely nothing to reward his hardihood.

Having visited the mummy-pits, and studied with great care the natural history of Cairo and its environs, he descended the Nile to Damietta. The soil of this part of Egypt, even when the inundation fails, is rendered extremely fertile by the heavy dews, for which it is indebted to its vicinity to the sea, and by the rain which falls at intervals during the whole winter and spring. It was about the middle of March when he arrived in this city, and already the male-palm had begun to put forth its blossoms. The female tree flowered a few days later. One of the latter, a magnificent tree, equal in 69height to a Norway pine, grew in a garden directly opposite his window. On the evening of the 20th of March it had not yet put forth its blossoms; but when he rose next morning before the sun, he found it had flowered during the night, and saw the gardener climbing up to its summit with a handful of the male flowers in his hand, which he scattered over those of the female tree. This was done while the dew was yet falling; and our enthusiastic naturalist regarded the sight as one of the most delightful in nature.

He set sail from Damietta on the 1st of April, and in four days arrived at Jaffa, in the Holy Land. Here he was entertained at a convent of Catholic monks, the principal of whom, a Spaniard by nation, was greatly scandalized at learning that motives foreign to devotion had directed his steps to Palestine. Next day, however, he escaped from their impertinent inquiries, and set out for Jerusalem. The country from Jaffa to Rama consists of a succession of small hills alternating with narrow valleys and wide plains, some cultivated, others barren. The soil was a light reddish sand, and so filled with moles that there was scarcely a yard of ground in which there was not a molehill.

On arriving at Jerusalem he visited all the holy places usually shown to strangers, and then set out with the other pilgrims for Jericho and the Dead Sea. Descending along the banks of the Jordan, the waters of which he found very inferior to those of the Nile, he arrived on the barren shores of the Asphaltic Lake, consisting of a gray sandy clay, so extremely soft that their horses often sunk in it up to their knees. The whole plain was covered with salt like the soil of Egypt, and various kinds of plants and flowers were found growing on it. The apples of Sodom, those

——Dead Sea fruits that tempt the eye,
But turn to ashes on the lips,—

70were found in abundance near Jericho. This apple is the fruit of the solanum melongena of Linnæus, and is sometimes actually filled with dust or ashes. But this happens when the fruit has been attacked by the tenthredo insect, which, absorbing all the moisture of the pulp, converts the harder particles into dust, while the skin retains its form and colours.

Having returned with the pilgrims to Jerusalem, he proceeded to visit the other sacred places celebrated in the New Testament,—Bethlehem, Nazareth, Mount Tabor; on which last spot, he observes, he drank some excellent goat’s milk. From thence he proceeded to the Lake of Tiberias, where to his great surprise he found many of the fishes of the Nile. At Japhia, or Jaffa, a village near Nazareth, he found great quantities of the plant which he supposed to be the mandrake, or dudaim of the Scriptures. This plant was not then in flower, nor could he procure an entire root for want of a mattock. It grows in great plenty throughout Galilee, but is not found in Judea. The Arabs denominate it “devil’s meat.”

From thence he descended to the seacoast, visited the ruins of Tyre, and proceeded by night to Sidon. Here he found various objects highly interesting to a naturalist in the immense gardens of this city, from whence prodigious quantities of fruit are annually exported. The mulberry-tree is found in great abundance in this part of the country, which has led the inhabitants to pay great attention to the rearing of silk-worms, which here, as at Nice, are hatched in little bags which the women wear in their bosoms by day, and at night place under their pillows. In botanizing among the neighbouring hills he was invited by a shepherd to share his dinner. It consisted of half-ripe ears of wheat roasted over the fire, a sort of food mentioned in the Scriptures, and warm milk. The practice of eating unripe corn in this manner likewise prevails in Egypt, where Turkey 71wheat and millet are substituted for the proper wheat.

On the 23d of May, 1751, he sailed from Sidon in a small French ship bound for Cyprus, and on the 28th cast anchor in the harbour of Larnaco. Though he visited this island with no intention of travelling in it, being once there he could not forbear making a few excursions into the interior, of which the first was to the mountain of Santa Croce, the loftiest in the country. In the rusty-coloured limestone rock which forms the basis of this mountain are mines of lead, copper, and rock-crystal; which last, of which some fine specimens are found near the ancient Paphos, was at first mistaken for a diamond-mine by the Turks. A few days after his return from Santa Croce he visited Famagosta, once, when in possession of the Venetians, a splendid city; but now a heap of miserable ruins.

From Cyprus he sailed to Rhodes and Scio, and thence to Smyrna, carrying along with him an incredible quantity of curiosities in the three kingdoms of nature, which he had collected in Egypt and the Levant. His sole desire now was to return by the first occasion which should present itself to Sweden; but his strength had been so much impaired by the fatigue of travelling and the heats of Palestine, that he was constrained to defer his departure from Smyrna. His disorder, however, which was a confirmed consumption, proceeded rapidly; and although, as is usual with persons labouring under that disease, he continued to preserve hope to the last, his struggles were soon over. His death happened on the 9th of February, 1752, in a small country-house in the neighbourhood of Smyrna.

His friends in Sweden, by whom he was much beloved, were greatly afflicted at the news of his death; and to add to their sorrow, they learned at the same time, that having during his residence in the East contracted a debt of one hundred and fifty pounds, 72his collections and papers had been seized by his creditors, who refused to give them up until the debt should be paid; and that thus his name and reputation seemed likely to perish with his body. Neither Linnæus nor any other of Hasselquist’s friends in Sweden were able to raise this small sum; when the queen, being informed of the circumstance, generously advanced the money from her own private purse; and therefore it is to the munificence of this lady that we owe one of the most curious books of travels of its kind that have ever appeared. In about a year after this the collections and papers arrived at the palace of Drottningholm; and Linnæus, who was no novice in these matters, declares that he was exceedingly surprised at the number and variety of the curiosities, among which were the rarer plants of Anatolia, Egypt, Palestine, and Cyprus; stones and earths from the most remarkable places in Egypt and Palestine; the rarer fishes of the Nile; the serpents of Egypt, together with its more curious insects, drugs, mummies, Arabic manuscripts, &c.

The editing of Hasselquist’s manuscripts was confided to Linnæus himself, and unquestionably it could not have been intrusted to better hands. The work, in fact, remains, and will remain, a lasting monument of the superior talents of the traveller, and of the taste, munificence, and affection of his friends.


Born 1690.—Died 1762.

This lady, whose claims to be ranked among distinguished travellers none, I think, will be disposed to contest, was born in 1690 at Thoresby, in Nottinghamshire. Her maiden name was Mary Pierre-pont, 73and she was the eldest daughter of Evelyn, Duke of Kingston, and Lady Mary Fielding, daughter of William Earl of Denbigh. Having had the misfortune to lose her mother while yet only four years old, she was thrown at once among the other sex, and thus acquired from her earliest years those masculine tastes and habits which distinguished her during life, and infused into her writings that coarse, unfeminine energy, that cynical contempt of decorum, and bearded license, if I may so express myself, which constitute her literary characteristics, and render her compositions different from those of every other woman. It was not the mere study of Latin, which the virtuous and judicious Fenelon considered highly beneficial to women, and which at all events may be regarded as a circumstance perfectly indifferent, that produced this undesirable effect; but an improper or careless choice of authors, operating upon a temperament peculiarly inflammable and inclining to voluptuousness. She acquired, we are told, the elements of the Greek, Latin, and French languages under the same preceptors as Viscount Newark, her brother; but preceptors who might, perhaps, be safely intrusted with the direction of a boy’s mind are not always adequate to the task of guiding that of a young woman through the perilous mazes of ancient literature. In fact, among her favourite classical authors Ovid seems to have been the chief at a very early period of her life; for among her poems there is one written in imitation of this author at twelve years of age, containing passages which it has not been thought decent to publish. At a later period her studies were directed by Bishop Burnet, who would seem to have recommended to her the Manual of the ungracious and austere Epictetus, a work which, although she laboured through a translation of it, now included among her works, could have possessed but few charms for her ardent, erratic fancy.

74During this early part of her career she lived wholly in retirement at Thoresby or at Acton, near London, where she acquired what by a license of speech may be termed the friendship of Mrs. Anne Wortley, the mother of her future husband. With this lady she maintained an epistolary correspondence, from the published portions of which we discover that both the young lady and the matron were exceedingly addicted to flattery, and that at nineteen the former had already begun to entertain those unfavourable notions of her own sex which in a woman are so justly regarded as ominous of evil. “I have never,” says she, “had any great esteem for the generality of the fair sex; and my only consolation for being of that gender has been the assurance it gave me of never being married to any one among them.”

Her friendship with Mrs. Wortley paved the way to an acquaintance with that lady’s son, which, after much negotiation and many quarrels, the causes of which are rather alluded to than explained in the published correspondence, ended in a private marriage, which took place August 12, 1712. Lady Mary now resided chiefly at Wharncliffe Lodge, near Sheffield, where her son Edward was born, while her husband was detained by his parliamentary duties and political connexions in London. It would appear from various circumstances that Mr. Wortley Montague was a quiet, unambitious man, endowed with very moderate abilities; but his philosophic indifference or timid mode of wooing honours by no means answered the views of his wife, who was haunted in an incredible manner by the desire of celebrity, and who, possessing a caustic wit, a vivacious style, and splendid personal attractions, was conscious, that if once fairly launched upon the tide of the great world she could not fail of effecting her purpose. In the letters which emanated from her solitude we discover, amid a world of affected indifference, her extreme passion for exciting admiration. 75Now literary projects engross her thoughts; and now she aims, by goading her husband up “the steep of fame,” to open herself a wide field for the exhibition of her Circean powers.

In 1714 Mr. Montague was appointed one of the lords of the treasury; upon which Lady Mary quitted her retirement and appeared at court, where her beauty, her wit, and the ingenuous levity of her manners (a commendable quality in those days) commanded universal admiration. Her genius now moved in its proper sphere. Surrounded, flattered, caressed by the most distinguished characters of the age, she tasted of all those gratifications which the peculiarities of her temperament required; and being in the very flower of her age, looked forward with well-founded hopes to numerous years of the same kind of enjoyments. It was at this period that her intimacy with Pope, who was just two years older than herself, commenced; and as her latest biographer with a pardonable partiality observes, both he and Addison “contemplated her uncommon genius at that time without envy!” From which one might infer that it was literary jealousy, and not the rage of a neglected lover, that afterward rendered Pope the inveterate enemy of Lady Mary.

However this may be, upon Mr. Montague’s being appointed ambassador to the Porte in 1716, our traveller, smitten with the desire of tasting the pleasures of other lands, resolved to desert all her admirers, and visit with her husband the shores of the Hellespont. They commenced their journey in August; and having crossed the channel, proceeded by Helvoetsluys and the Brill to Rotterdam, where she greatly admired the thronged streets, neat pavements, and extreme cleanliness of the place, which at present would scarcely strike a traveller arriving from London as any thing extraordinary. In travelling from Holland, the whole country appeared like a garden, while the roads were well paved, shaded 76on both sides with rows of trees, and bordered with canals, through which great numbers of boats were perpetually passing and repassing. The eye, moreover, was every minute alighting upon some villa; while numerous towns and villages, all remarkable for their neatness, dotted the plains, and enlivened the mind of the traveller by exciting ideas of plenty and prosperity.

At Cologne, whither she had proceeded by way of the Hague and Nimeguen, she was greatly amused at the Jesuits’ church by the free raillery of a young Jesuit, who, not knowing, or pretending not to know, her rank, allowed himself considerable liberties in his conversation. Our traveller herself fell in love with St. Ursula’s pearl necklaces; and, as the saint was of silver, her profane wishes would fain have converted her into dressing-plate. These were the only relics of all that were shown her for which she had any veneration; but she very shortly afterward learned, that, at least as far as the pearls and other precious stones were concerned, the holy fathers had been very much of her opinion; for, judging that false jewels would satisfy a saint as well as true ones, they sold the real pearls, &c., and supplied their places with imitations. Our lady-traveller, though exceedingly aristocratical in her notions, and possessed of but small respect for mere untitled human beings, was compelled by her natural good sense to remark, what other observers have frequently repeated since her time, the extreme superiority of the free towns of Germany over those under the government of absolute princes. “I cannot help fancying one,” she says, “under the figure of a clean Dutch citizen’s wife, and the other like a poor town lady of pleasure, painted and ribanded out in her headdress, with tarnished silver-laced shoes, a ragged under-petticoat; a miserable mixture of vice and poverty.”

At Ratisbon the principal objects of curiosity 77were the envoys from various states, who constituted the whole nobility of the place; and having no taste for ordinary amusements, contrived to divert themselves and their wives by keeping up eternal contests respecting precedents and points of etiquette. Next to these the thing most worthy of notice, from its extreme impiety, was a group of the Trinity, in which the Father was represented as a decrepit old man, with a beard descending to his knees, with the Son upon the cross in his arms, while the Holy Ghost, in the form of a dove, hovered over his head.

From Ratisbon she descended the Danube to Vienna, delighted, as the vessel shot with incredible velocity down the stream, by the amazing variety and rapid changes in the scenery, where rich cultivated plains, vineyards, and populous cities alternated rapidly with landscapes of savage magnificence; woods, mountains, precipices, and rocky pinnacles, with castellated ruins perched upon their summits. In Vienna she was disappointed. Its grandeur by no means came up to the ideas which she had formed of it from the descriptions of others. Palaces crowded together in narrow lanes; splendour on one hand, dirt and poverty on the other, and vice everywhere: such, in few words, is the sum of her account of the Austrian capital. The Faubourg, however, was truly magnificent, consisting almost wholly of stately palaces.

Here Pope’s first letter written during her residence abroad reached her. It is marked by every effort which wit could imagine, being gay and amusing; but betrays the fact, which, indeed, he did not wish to conceal, that he was seriously in love, and deeply afflicted at her absence. Conscious, however, of the criminality of his passion, he labours to clothe it with an air of philosophical sentimentality, feigning, but awkwardly and ineffectually, to be merely enamoured of her soul. This circumstance 78compelled him to shadow forth his meaning somewhat obscurely and quaintly for a lover, and deprived him of the advantage of conveying his feelings from his own heart to hers through those glowing trains of words which kindle the souls of the absent almost as effectually as the corporeal presence of the persons beloved. The reply of Lady Mary is conceived with consummate skill: pretending to be in doubt whether she ought to understand him to have been in jest or earnest, she nevertheless confesses, that in her present mood of mind she is more inclined towards the latter interpretation; and then, feeling that her footsteps were straying

per ignes
Suppositos cineri doloso,

she starts suddenly out of the dangerous track, and plunges into the description of an opera and a German comedy. Here she is perfectly at her ease; and the coarseness of the subject, which she affects to condemn, so evidently delights her, that she describes in the broadest terms an action the most outrageously gross, perhaps, that was ever endured on the stage.

It has often been remarked, that the interest of a book of travels arises not so much from the newness and strangeness of the objects described, as from the peculiar light which is reflected upon them from the mind of the traveller. This fact is strikingly exemplified in the case of Lady Mary, who, though journeying through places often visited, throws so much of energy and vivacity, and frequently of novelty, into her concise yet minute sketches, that we never pause to inquire whether the objects delineated now come before us for the first time or not. Besides, her sex and the advantages she enjoyed brought many peculiarities both of costume and manners within the range of her observation, of 79which ordinary travellers can know nothing, except from hearsay, or from points of view too distant to admit of accurate observation. Upon her being presented at court she was struck—as who would not?—by the extravagant appearance of the ladies, who stalked about with fabrics of gauze and ribands a yard high upon their heads, and whalebone petticoats, which with pleasant exaggeration she describes as covering whole acres of ground. The reigning empress perfectly enraptured her with her beauty; and her admiration supplies her with so much eloquence, that a complete picture is wrought out. In other respects the court of Vienna was very much like other contemporary courts—that is, overflowing with every variety of moral turpitude, except that the Viennais had not the hypocrisy to pretend to be virtuous.

From this city our traveller made an excursion into Bohemia, the most desert part of Germany, where the characteristics of the villages were filth and poverty, scarcely furnishing clean straw and pure water, and where the inns were so wretched that she preferred travelling all night in the month of November to the idea of encountering the many unsavoury smells which they abounded with. In this country, however, she made but a short stay, but proceeded across the Erz Gebirge mountains into Saxony. This part of the journey was performed by night. The moonlight was sufficiently brilliant to discover the nature of the frightful precipices over which the road lay, and which in many places was so narrow that she could not discover an inch of space between the wheel and the precipice, while the waters of the Elbe rolled along among the rocks at an immeasurable depth below. Mr. Wortley, who possessed none of the restless sensibility or curiosity of his wife, and preferred a comfortable doze to the pleasure of gazing at moonlit crags throwing their giant shadows over fathomless 80abysses, or of discussing the chances of their being hurled into some of these gulfs, composed himself to sleep, and left our traveller to her reflections. For some time she resisted all temptation to disturb him; but observing that the postillions had begun to follow his example, while the horses were proceeding at full gallop, she thought it high time to make the whole party sensible of their danger, and by calling out to the drivers, awakened her husband. He was now alarmed at their critical situation, and assured her that he had five times crossed the Alps by different routes, without having ever seen so dangerous a road; but perhaps he had not been awakened by his companions.

Escaping from the terrors of these mountain scenes, she was extremely disposed to be pleased with even roads and the security of cities, and in this mood of mind found Dresden, which is really an agreeable city, wonderfully pleasing. She here picked up a story which, as it is exceedingly illustrative of kingly notions of love, may be worth repeating. The King of Poland (Elector of Saxony) having discovered that the Count de Cozelle had a very beautiful wife, and understanding the taste of his countrywomen, paid the lady a visit, “bringing in one hand a bag of a hundred thousand crowns, and in the other a horse-shoe, which he snapped asunder before her face, leaving her to draw the consequences of such remarkable proofs of strength and liberality.” I know not, adds our fair traveller, which charmed her most, but she consented to leave her husband, and give herself up to him entirely.

From Dresden she proceeded to Leipzig, to Brunswick, to Hanover,—where the ladies, wearing artificial faces, were handsome to the hour of their death,—and thence back again to Vienna. Here she observes that no women were at that period permitted to act upon the stage, though certainly the regulation did not emanate from motives of delicacy. To 81show their sympathy for physical as well as moral deformity, the emperor and empress had two dwarfs as ugly as devils, especially the female, but loaded with diamonds, and privileged to stand at her majesty’s elbow at all public places. All the other princes of Germany exhibited similar proofs of a taste for the ugly, which was so far improved by the King of Denmark that he made his dwarf his prime minister. “I can assign no reason,” says Lady Montague, “for their fondness for these pieces of deformity, but the opinion all the absolute princes have that it is below them to converse with the rest of mankind; and not to be quite alone, they are forced to seek their companions among the refuse of human nature, these creatures being the only part of their court privileged to talk freely with them.”

Though it was now the depth of winter, Mr. Wortley, who apparently was thoroughly tired of the stupid gayeties of Vienna, determined to escape from them, notwithstanding that all the fashionable world, Prince Eugene among the rest, endeavoured to divert him from his purpose by drawing the most frightful picture of Hungary, the country through which their road lay. The life led by Prince Eugene at the modern Sybaris seems to have inspired our traveller with a generous regret, the only one perhaps she ever felt for a stranger, and gave rise in her mind to that sort of mortification which reflections upon the imperfections of human nature are calculated to give birth to.

The ambassador commenced his journey on the 15th of January, 1717; and the snow lying deep upon the ground, their carriages were fixed upon traneaus, which moved over the slippery surface with astonishing rapidity. In two days they arrived at Raab, where the governor and the Bishop of Temeswar, an old man of a noble family, with a flowing white beard hanging down to his girdle, waited upon them with polite attentions and invitations, which their 82desire to continue their journey compelled them to reject. The plains lying between this city and Buda, level as the sea, and of amazing natural fertility, but now through the ravages of war deserted and uncultivated, presented nothing but one unbroken sheet of snow to the eye; nor, excepting its curious hovels, half above and half below the surface of the earth, forming the summer and winter apartments of the inhabitants, did Buda afford any thing worthy of observation. The scene which stretched itself out before them upon leaving Buda was rude, woody, and solitary, but abounding in game of various kinds, which appeared to be the undisturbed lords of the soil. The peasants of Hungary at that period were scanty and poor, dressed in a coat, cap, and boots of sheepskin, and subsisting entirely upon the wild animals afforded by their plains and woods.

On the 26th they crossed the frozen Danube, pushed on through woods infested by wolves, and arrived in the evening at Essek. Three days more brought them to Peterwaradin, whence, having remained there a few days to refresh themselves after their long journey, they departed for Belgrade. On their way to this city they passed over the fields of Carlowitz, the scene of Prince Eugene’s last great victory over the Turks, and beheld scattered around them on all sides the broken fragments of those instruments with which heroes open themselves a path to glory: sculls and carcasses of men, mingled and trodden together with those of the horse and the camel, the noble, patient brutes which are made to participate in their madness.

During their pretty long stay at Belgrade, Lady Mary, whose free and easy disposition admirably adapted her for a traveller, contracted an acquaintance with Achmet Bey, a Turkish effendi, or literary man, whom she understood to be an accomplished Arabic and Persian scholar, and who, delighted with the novelty of the thing, undertook to initiate our 83female effendi in the mysteries of oriental poetry, judiciously selecting such pieces as treated of love. In conversation with this gentleman she learned with surprise that the Persian Tales, which at that time were in Europe supposed to be forgeries, and consequently of no authority or value, except as novels, were genuine oriental compositions, like the Arabian Nights, and therefore to be regarded as admirable illustrations of manners.

Leaving Belgrade and the agreeable effendi, they proceeded through the woody wilds of Servia, where the scanty peasantry were ground to the earth by oppression, to Nissa, the ancient capital; and passing thence into Bulgaria, our fair traveller was amused at Sophia with one of those little incidents which, from her naïve mode of describing them, constitute the principal charm of her travels. This was a visit to the baths. Arriving about ten o’clock in the morning, she found the place already crowded with women, and having cast a glance or two at the form and structure of the edifice, which consisted of fine apartments covered with domes, floored with marble, and adorned with a low divan of the same materials, she proceeded into the principal bathing-room, where there were about two hundred ladies, in the state of nature, seated upon cushions or rich carpets, with their slaves standing behind them, equally unencumbered with dress. The behaviour of both mistresses and maids, however, was characterized by equal modesty. But their beauty and the exquisite symmetry of their forms, which, in the opinion of Lady Mary, at least equalled the most perfect creations of Guido or Titian, defied the powers of language, and compelled the astonished observer, in default of accurate expressions, to have recourse to poetical comparisons, and descriptions of the effects produced upon the mind. It is well known that Homer, despairing of presenting his hearers or readers with a complete 84picture of Helen’s beauty, has recourse to the same artifice, representing the old statesman exclaiming, as she approaches them veiled upon the ramparts,

Oὐ νέμεσις Τρῶας καὶ ἐϋκνήμιδας Ἀχαιοὺς
Tοιῇδ᾽ ἀμφὶ γυναικὶ πολὺν χρόνον ἄλγεα πάσχειν·
Aἰνῶς ἀθανάτῃσι θεῇς εἰς ὦπα ἔοικεν. TN

When, to cut the matter short, he tells us at once that she resembled the immortal goddesses in beauty; and our traveller, with equal felicity, observes, that they were as finely proportioned as any goddess, and that most of their skins were “shiningly white, only adorned with their beautiful hair divided into many tresses, hanging on their shoulders, braided either with pearl or riband, perfectly representing the figures of the Graces.” She was here thoroughly convinced, she observes, of the correctness of an old theory of hers, “that if it were the fashion to go naked, the face would be hardly observed”—for, continues she, “I perceived that the ladies of the most delicate skins and finest shapes had the greatest share of my admiration, though their faces were sometimes less beautiful than those of their companions.” The whole scene was highly picturesque. Some of the ladies were engaged in conversation, some were working, some drinking coffee or sherbet, and others, more languid and indolent, were reclining negligently on their cushions, “while their slaves, generally pretty girls of seventeen or eighteen, were employed in braiding their hair in several pretty fancies.”

This spectacle our traveller quitted for the purpose of examining the ruins of Justinian’s church; but after the bath these appeared so remarkably insipid, that, pronouncing them to be a heap of stones, which may be predicated of most ruins, she returned to her apartments, and prepared with regret to accompany her husband over the Balkan into Roumelia. The road throughout a great proportion 85of this route lay through woods so completely infested by banditti, that no persons but such as could command the attendance of a numerous escort dared venture themselves among them; and, in fact, the janizaries who accompanied ambassadors and all public functionaries exercised towards the peasantry a degree of oppression so intolerable, that, had the whole population resorted to the profession of robbery for a livelihood, it would have by no means been a matter of wonder. On the ambassador’s arrival at a village, his attendant janizaries seized upon all the sheep and poultry within their reach—“lambs just fallen, and geese and turkeys big with egg”—and massacred them all without distinction, while the wretched owners stood aloof, not daring to complain for fear of being beaten. When the pashas travelled through those districts where perhaps the meat and poultry were lean and tough, as in all probability the peasantry treated them, as often as possible, to the grandsires of their flocks and barn doors, the great men, in addition to the provision they devoured, exacted what was expressly denominated “teeth-money,” as a small compensation for their having worn out their teeth in the service of the public. But though Mr. Wortley and Lady Mary seem to have been ambitious of imitating these three-tailed personages in many respects, they would appear throughout their journey to have eaten the poor people’s fowls and mutton gratis.

On arriving at Adrianople, where the sultan was at that time residing with his court, Lady Mary suddenly found herself in a new world, but extremely suited to her taste. Her principal companion was the French ambassadress, an agreeable woman, but extravagantly fond of parade, with whom she went about seeing such sights as the place afforded, which, every object in the city, except her husband, being new, were sufficiently numerous. The sultan, 86whom she saw for the first time going in solemn procession to the mosque, was a fine, handsome man of about forty, with full black eyes, and an expression of severity in his countenance. This prince, Achmet III., has been said, upon I know not what authority, to have afterward become enamoured of our fair traveller. The report, in all probability, was unfounded; but the reasons which have induced a contemporary biographer[3] to come to this conclusion are particularly various: independently of Turkish prejudices, which, according to his notion of things, would prevent an emperor from conceiving any such idea, it was not at all probable, he imagines, that a person possessing a Fatima with such “celestial charms” (as Lady Mary describes), and so many other angelic creatures, should have thought for a moment of an “English lady.” What prejudices the sagacious author alludes to, it is difficult to discover; it would not be those of religion, as the imperial harem, it is well known, is constantly replenished with Circassians and Georgians, Christians and Mohammedans, indiscriminately. This point, therefore, must remain doubtful. With respect to Fatima, whatever may have been her charms, she could have been no bar to the sultan’s admiration of Lady Mary, being the wife, not of the sultan, but of the kihaya. The other “angelical creatures” whose influence he rates so highly may very possibly have restrained the affections of their master from wandering beyond the walls of the seraglio; nevertheless, stranger things have happened than that a prince in the flower of his age, neglecting the legitimate objects of his attachment, should allow a greater scope to his desires than either religion or the common rules of decorum would warrant. The best reason for rejecting this piece of scandal is, not that Lady Mary was an 87“English woman,” and therefore, as M. Duparc would insinuate, too ugly to rival the slaves of the sultan, but that there is no good authority for admitting it.

3.  M. Duparc, in the “Biographie Universelle.”

Leaving this point undetermined, however, for want of evidence, let us proceed to the costume of the “angelical creatures” of whom we have been speaking. But Lady Montague must here take the pen into her own hand; for, in describing the mysteries of the toilet, she possesses a felicitous, luxuriant eloquence, which it would be vain in any thing out of petticoats to endeavour to rival. “The first part of my dress (she had adopted the Turkish habit) is a pair of drawers, very full, that reach to my shoes, and conceal the legs more modestly than your petticoats. They are of a thin rose-coloured damask, brocaded with silver flowers. My shoes are of white kid leather, embroidered with gold. Over this hangs my smock, of a fine white silk gauze, edged with embroidery. This smock has wide sleeves, hanging half-way down the arm, and is closed at the neck with a diamond button; but the shape and colour of the bosom are very well to be distinguished through it. The antery is a waistcoat, made close to the shape, of white and gold damask, with very long sleeves falling back, and fringed with deep gold fringe, and should have diamond or pearl buttons. My caftan, of the same stuff with my drawers, is a robe exactly fitted to my shape, and reaching to my feet, with very long, straight falling sleeves. Over this is my girdle, of about four fingers broad, which all that can afford it have entirely of diamonds or other precious stones; those who will not be at that expense have it of exquisite embroidery or satin; but it must be fastened before with a clasp of diamonds. The curdee is a loose robe they throw off or put on according to the weather, being of a rich brocade (mine is green and gold), either lined with ermine 88or sables; the sleeves reach very little below the shoulders. The headdress is composed of a cap, called talpack, which is in winter of fine velvet, embroidered with pearl or diamonds, and in summer of a light shining silver stuff. This is fixed on one side of the head, hanging a little way down, with a gold tassel, and bound on, either with a circle of diamonds (as I have seen several), or a rich embroidered handkerchief. On the other side of the head the hair is laid flat; and here the ladies are at liberty to show their fancies, some putting flowers, others a plume of herons’ feathers, and, in short, what they please; but the most general fashion is a large bouquet of jewels, made like natural flowers; that is, the buds of pearl, the roses of different-coloured rubies, the jessamines of diamonds, the jonquils of topazes, &c., so well set and enamelled, ’tis hard to imagine any thing of that kind so beautiful. The hair hangs at its full length behind, divided into tresses braided with pearl or riband, which is always in great quantity. I never saw in my life so many fine heads of hair. In one lady’s I have counted a hundred and ten of the tresses, all natural.”

Our traveller, whose faith in the virtue of her sex was exceedingly slender, informs us, however, that these beautiful creatures were vehemently addicted to intrigue, which they were enabled to carry on much more securely than our Christian ladies, from their fashion of perpetually going abroad in masquerade, that is, thickly veiled, so that no man could know his own wife in the street. This, with the Jews’ shops, which were so many places of rendezvous, enabled the fair sinners almost invariably to avoid detection; and when discovered, a sack and a horse-pond, when the Bosphorus was not within a convenient distance, terminated the affair in a few minutes. Still the risk was comparatively small, and “you may easily imagine,” says Lady 89Mary—who seems to have thought that women are never virtuous except when kept within the pale of duty by the fear of imminent danger—“you may easily imagine the number of faithful wives very small in a country where they have nothing to fear from a lover’s indiscretion!” Had we met with so profligate an article of faith in the creed of a male traveller, we should have inferred that he had spent the greater part of his life in gambling-houses and their appendages; but since it is a lady—an ambassadress—an illustrious scion of a noble stock, who thus libels the posterity of Eve, we place our finger upon our lips, and keep our inferences to ourselves.

Pope, in a letter to her at Adrianople, accompanying the third volume of his translation of the Iliad, pretends, as a graceful piece of flattery, to imagine that because she had resided some few weeks on the banks of the Hebrus among Asiatic barbarians, and barbarized descendants of the Greeks, she could doubtless throw peculiar light upon various passages of Homer; and the lady, interpreting the joke seriously, replies, that there was not one instrument of music among the Greek or Roman statues which was not to be found in the hands of the Roumeliotes; that young shepherd lads still diverted themselves with making garlands for their favourite lambs; and that, in reality, she found “several little passages” in Homer explained, which she “did not before entirely comprehend the beauty of.”

During her stay at Adrianople she discovered something better, however, than Turkish illustrations of Homer, for it was here that she first observed the practice of inoculation for the small-pox, which she had the hardihood to try upon her own children, and was the first to introduce it into England. Among the Turks, who, in all probability, were not its inventors, it was termed ingrafting, and 90the whole economy of the thing, according to the invariable policy of barbarians, was intrusted to the management of old women. Upon the return of the embassy to England, a Mr. Maitland, the ambassador’s physician, endeavoured, under the patronage of Lady Montague, who ardently desired its extension, to introduce the practice in London; and in 1721, the public attention having been strongly directed to the subject, and the curiosity of professional men awakened, an experiment, sanctioned by the College of Physicians, and authorized by government, was made upon five condemned criminals. With four of these the trial perfectly succeeded, and the fifth, a woman, upon whom no effect was produced, afterward confessed that she had had the small-pox while an infant. The merit of this action of Lady Montague can scarcely be overrated, as, by exciting curiosity and inquiry, it seems unquestionably to have led the way to the discovery of vaccination, that great preservative of life and beauty, and produced at the time immense positive good.[4]

4.  A writer in the Annual Register for 1762, thus calculates the amount of the benefit conferred on the British public by Lady Montague:—“If one person in seven die of the small-pox in the natural way, and one in three hundred and twelve by inoculation, as proved at the small-pox hospital, then, as 1,000,000 divided by seven, gives 142,857½, 1,000,000 divided by 312, gives 3,205 46-312. The lives saved in 1,000,000 by inoculation must be 139,652 11-31. In Lord Petre’s family, 18 individuals died of the small-pox in 27 years. The present generation, who have enjoyed all the advantages of inoculation, are adequate judges of the extremely fatal prevalence of the original disease, and of their consequently great obligations to Lady Mary Wortley Montague.”—Sir Richard Steele, in the Plain Dealer, prefers the introduction of this practice to all “those wide endowments and deep foundations of public charity which have made most noise in the world.”

To return, however, to Adrianople: among the most remarkable things which our fair traveller beheld during her residence in the East was Fatima, the wife of the kihaya, or vizier’s lieutenant, a woman “so gloriously beautiful,” to borrow the expression of her panegyrist, that all lovely things appeared to 91dwindle into insignificance in her presence. The passage in which this lady is described, though in a certain point of view it may be liable to objection, is in every other respect the finest portion of Lady Mary’s travels; exhibiting a remarkable power of affording the imagination of the reader glimpses of corporeal beauties which language is never sufficiently rich and vivid to paint exactly, and betraying at the same time so enthusiastic and unreserved an admiration of another woman’s superior perfections, that we with difficulty recognise in these hurried, ingenuous overflowings of natural eloquence, the female Diogenes of 1740. The whole palace of the kihaya appeared at the moment a fairy creation. Two black eunuchs, meeting the traveller at the door, led her into the harem, between two rows of beautiful female slaves, with their profuse and finely-plaited hair hanging almost to their feet, and dressed in fine light damasks, brocaded with silver. She next passed through a magnificent pavilion, adorned with gilded sashes, now all thrown up to admit the air, and opening into a garden, where there grew a number of large trees, with jessamine and honey-suckles twisted round their trunks, and emitting an exquisite perfume. A fountain of scented water was falling at the lower end of the apartment into three or four basins of white marble, at the same time diffusing an agreeable odour and a refreshing coolness through the air. Over the ceiling the pencil had scattered flowers in gilded baskets. But all these things were forgotten on beholding Fatima. When Lady Mary entered she was sitting on a sofa raised three steps above the floor, and leaning on cushions of white embroidered satin. Two young girls, “lovely as angels,” sat at her feet clothed in the richest costume of the East, and sparkling with jewels. They were her daughters. The mother, however, was so transcendently beautiful, that, in the opinion of Lady Mary, neither these girls, nor 92any thing that ever was called lovely, either in England or Germany, were capable of exciting the least admiration near her. There is truth in the old saying, that beauty possesses a power which irresistibly subdues the soul. No one ever looked for the first time upon a beautiful form without experiencing a certain awe, or consciousness of being in the presence of a superior nature, which the pagans imagined people felt when some deity overawed them with its Shekinah. That an acquaintance with the intellectual or moral imperfections which too frequently attend on beauty very quickly dissipates this impression, we all know: but at the outset most persons feel like our traveller, who says, “I was so struck with admiration, that I could not for some time speak to her, being wholly taken up in gazing. That surprising harmony of features! that charming result of the whole! that exact proportion of body! that lovely bloom of complexion unsullied by art! the unutterable enchantment of her smile!—But her eyes!—large and black, with the soft languishment of the blue! every turn of her face discovering some new grace.”

Into the details of her dress, in the description of which Lady Mary employs warm colouring, it is not necessary to enter. Fatima, on her part, very quickly divined the taste and temperament of her guest, and after a little conversation, carried on through the medium of a Greek lady who accompanied the traveller, she made a sign to four of her beautiful slaves to entertain the stranger with music and dancing. Those who have read descriptions of the fandango of the Spanish ladies, the chironomia of antiquity, or the performances of the Hindoo dancing girls, or voluptuous almé of Egypt, will perhaps be able to form a just conception of the dance with which the ladies of the harem amuse themselves and their female visiters. “This dance,” says Lady Montague, “was very different from what 93I had seen before. The tunes so soft!—the motions so languishing!—accompanied with pauses and dying eyes! half falling back, and then recovering themselves in so artful a manner.”

Before her departure from Adrianople, she went to visit the mosque of Sultan Selim I., and being in a Turkish dress was admitted without difficulty; though she supposes, no doubt rightly, that the doorkeepers understood well enough whom they had allowed to enter. The walls were inlaid with Japan china in the form of flowers, the marble pavement was covered with rich Persian carpets, and the whole body of the edifice free from those pews, forms, and chairs which encumber our churches, both Protestant and Catholic, and give the latter, during week-days, the appearance of a lumber-room. About two thousand lamps were suspended in various parts of the building, which, when lighted at night, must show off to great advantage the solemn splendour of the architecture.

The road to Constantinople carried them through the richest meadows, which, as it was then the month of May, were clothed with exceeding beauty, and so thickly sprinkled with flowers and aromatic herbs, that the wheels of the carriages, crushing them as they drove along, literally perfumed the air. At Kutchuk Tchekmedje, where they lodged in what had formerly been a monastery of dervishes, Lady Montague requested the owner, a country schoolmaster, to show her his own apartments, and was surprised, says she, to see him point to a tall cypress-tree in the garden, on the top of which was a place for a bed for himself, and a little lower one for his wife and two children, who slept there every night. I was so much diverted with the fancy, I resolved to examine his nest nearer; but, after going up fifty steps, I found I had still fifty to go up, and then I must climb from branch to branch with some hazard of my neck; I thought it, therefore, the best way 94to come down again. Navigators in the South Sea have found whole nations who, like this romantic Ottomite, lived perched upon trees, like eagles, descending only when in lack of prey or recreation.

The first objects which struck her on arriving at Constantinople were the cemeteries, which upon the whole seemed to occupy more ground than the city itself. These, however, with their tombs and chapels, have been so frequently described by modern travellers, that it is unnecessary to dwell upon them, curious as they are; though we may remark, in passing, that their fancy of sculpturing a rose on the monuments of unmarried women is a delicate allusion to the purity of the dead. In the month of June they were driven by the heat of the weather to the village of Belgrade, fourteen miles from Constantinople, on the shores of the Black Sea, one of the usual retreats of the European embassies. Here our fair traveller found an earthly representation of the Elysian Fields:

Devenere locos lætos, et amœna vireta
Fortunatorum nemorum, sedesque beatas.
Largior hic campos, æther et lumine vestit

Their house, the site of which, nothing more remaining, is still visited by European travellers, stood in the middle of a grove chiefly of fruit-trees. The walks, carpeted with short soft grass, were shady and cool; and on all sides a perpetual verdure was maintained by numerous fountains of pure, beautiful water. From the house and various other points views were obtained of the Black Sea, with its picturesque verdant shores, while the fresh breezes which blew continually from that quarter sufficiently tempered the heat of summer. The charms of such scenes inspire gayety even in the oppressed. For here the Greeks, forgetting for a moment the yoke of the Ottomite, assembled in great numbers of both 95sexes every evening, to laugh and sing, and “dance away their time.”

From an absurd request which had been made to her by Lady Rich to purchase her a Greek slave, Lady Montague, having observed that the “Greeks were subjects, not slaves!” takes occasion to describe to her friend the various kinds of female slaves which were to be found in Turkey. And though brief, her account is not particularly incorrect. But she eagerly seizes upon this opportunity to disparage the relations of all former travellers, treating them collectively as a herd of low people, who had never enjoyed the advantage of conversing with barbarians of quality. She was therefore ignorant that Busbequius, Pietro della Valle, Chardin, and others had lived upon most familiar terms with Turks of the highest consideration in the empire; and that, excepting in what relates to the harem, from which their sex excluded them, they might have afforded her ladyship very important instruction upon several particulars of Turkish manners. Upon cosmetics her authority, of course, is paramount. Neither Della Valle nor Chardin ever daubed their faces with balm of Mecca, and consequently could not pretend to speak of its virtues with the same confidence as Lady Mary, who, as she confesses with indignation, was rendered, by the indiscreet application of it, a perfect monster for three days. Having been presented with a small quantity of the best sort, “I with great joy,” says she, “applied it to my face, expecting some wonderful effect to my advantage. The next morning the change indeed was wonderful; my face was swelled to a very extraordinary size, and all over as red as my Lady H——’s. It remained in this lamentable state three days, during which, you may be sure, I passed my time very ill. I believed it would never be otherwise; and to add to my mortification, Mr. Wortley reproached my indiscretion without ceasing. However, my face is since in statu 96quo; nay, I am told by the ladies here that it is much mended by the operation, which I confess I cannot perceive in my looking-glass.”

On the 6th of June, 1718, she left Constantinople with regret. And at this I do not wonder, for there was in her character a coarse sensual bent, closely approximating to the oriental cast of mind, which in a wild unpoliced capital, where, according to her own account, women live in a state of perpetual masquerade, might still more easily be yielded to even than in London. Of study and the sciences she had by this time grown tired. She regretted that her youth had been spent in the acquisition of knowledge. The Turks, who consumed their lives “in music, gardens, wine, and delicate eating,” appeared upon the whole much wiser than the English, who tormented their brains with some scheme of politics, I use her own words, or in studying some science to which they could never attain. “Considering what short-lived weak animals men are,” she adds, “is there any study so beneficial as the study of present pleasure?” And lest any one should mistake her after all, she subjoins, “but I allow you to laugh at me for my sensual declaration in saying that I had rather be a rich effendi with all his ignorance, than Sir Isaac Newton with all his knowledge.” No doubt; and Lais, Cleopatra, or Ninon would have said the same thing.

Sailing down the Dardanelles, they cast anchor between the castles of Sestos and Abydos, where,

————In the month of cold December,
Leander, daring boy, was wont,—
What maid will not the tale remember?—
To cross thy stream, broad Hellespont!

Here she enjoyed a full view of Mount Ida,

Where Juno once caressed her amorous Jove,
And the world’s master lay subdued by love.

97The quotation is Lady Montague’s. Descending a league farther down the Hellespont, she landed at the promontory of Sigeum, and climbed up to visit the barrow beneath which the heroic bones of Achilles repose. Experiencing no enthusiasm at the sight of these Homeric scenes, she was unquestionably right in not affecting what she did not feel; but who, save herself, could have viewed the plains of Troy, the Simois, and the Scamander without having any other ideas awakened in the mind than such as the adventure of Æschines’s companion and the lewd tale of Lafontaine had implanted there? However, to do her justice, though she gives her favourite ideas the precedence, she afterward observes, “there is some pleasure in seeing the valley where I imagined the famous duel of Menelaus and Paris had been fought, and where the greatest city in the world was situated.” Here, though she is mistaken about the magnitude of the city, there is some sign of the only feeling which ever ought to lead a traveller out of his way to behold such a scene; and she goes on to say, “I spent several hours here in as agreeable cogitations as ever Don Quixote had on Mount Montesinos;” in which cogitations let us be charitable enough to suppose that “the tale of Troy divine” was not forgotten.

From the Hellespont they sailed between the islands of the Archipelago, and passing by Sicily and Malta, where they landed, were driven by a storm into Porta Farina, on the coast of Africa, near Tunis, where they remained at the house of the British consul for some days. Being so near the ruins of Carthage, her curiosity to behold so remarkable a spot was not to be resisted; and accordingly she proceeded to the scene, through groves of date, olive, and fig-trees; but the most extraordinary objects she met with were the women of the country, who were so frightfully ugly that her delicate imagination immediately suggested to her the 98probability of some intermarriages having formerly taken place between their ancestors and the baboons of the country.

From Tunis they in a few days set sail for Genoa; whence after a little repose they proceeded across the Alps, and through France, to England, where they arrived on the 20th of October, 1718.

Shortly after her return she was induced by the solicitations of Pope, whom two years of reflection had not cured, to take up her residence at Twickenham. But the poet must very soon have discovered that, in comparison with the “rich effendis” and “three-tailed” pashas of the East, his poor little, ailing person, in spite of his grotto and his muse, had dwindled to nothing in the estimation of Lady Mary. Lord Hervey, who, though he wrote verses, had not been “blasted with poetic fire,” was considered, for reasons not given, more worthy of her ladyship’s friendship. However, these changes were not immediately apparent, and other affairs, which came still more home to her bosom than friendship, in the interim occupied her attention; among the rest the idea of realizing immense sums by embarking in the South Sea scheme. She likewise allowed the poet, whom the original had captivated so long, to employ the pencil of Sir Godfrey Kneller in copying her mature charms to adorn his hermitage. She was drawn in the meretricious taste of the times: and the physiognomy of the portrait answers exactly in expression to the idea which we form of Lady Mary from her writings; that is, it exhibits a mixture of intellectuality and voluptuousness, of calm, confident, commanding complacency, bordering a little on defiance or scorn. Pope received the finished picture with the delight of a lover, and immediately expressed his conception of it in the following lines:—

The playful smiles around the dimpled mouth,
That happy air of majesty and truth,
99So would I draw (but oh! ’tis vain to try,
My narrow genius does the power deny),
The equal lustre of the heavenly mind,
Where every grace with every virtue’s joined,
Learning not vain, and wisdom not severe,
With greatness easy, and with wit sincere,
With just description show the soul divine,
And the whole princess in my work should shine.

The verses are insipid enough, like most compliments; but they express an opinion which circumstances very shortly afterward compelled him to change, when the princess became transformed into a modern “Sappho” and, thrown with Lord Fanny, Sporus, Atossa, and many others, into a group, was “damned” by satire to “everlasting fame.”

Lady Montague’s life, many years after her return from the East, was spent like that of most other ladies of fashion, who mingle a taste for literature and politics with gallantry. Her letters to her sister, who now, through the attainder and exile of her husband, Erskine Earl of Mar, resided abroad, abound with evidences that the pleasures which she had heretofore regarded as the summum bonum soon palled the appetite; and that as the effervescence of animal spirits which, during her youth, had given a keen relish to life subsided, a metamorphosis, the reverse of that of the butterfly, took place, changing the gay fluttering summer insect into a grub. A cynical contempt of all things human succeeded. Into the grounds of her separation from her husband I shall not inquire. Ill health was at the time the cause assigned. The triumph of the political party to which she was opposed has since been absurdly put forward to account for it: but she had, no doubt, other reasons, much more powerful, for cutting herself off, during a period of twenty-two years, from all personal intercourse with her family.

Be this however as it may, in the month of July, 1739, she departed from England, and bade an eternal adieu to Mr. Montague and the greater number 100of her old friends. Her first place of residence on the Continent was Venice, from whence she made an excursion to Rome and Naples, and, returning to Brescia, took up her abode in one of the palaces of that city. She likewise visited the south of France and Switzerland. The summer months she usually spent at Louverre, on the lake of Isis, in the territories of Venice, where gardening, silk-worms, and books appear to have afforded her considerable amusement. In 1758 she removed to Venice, and, her husband dying in 1761, she was prevailed upon by her daughter, the Countess of Bute, to return to England. However, she survived Mr. Montague but a single year; for, whether the sudden transition to a northern climate was too violent a shock for her frame, or that a gradual decay had been going on, and was now naturally approaching its termination, she breathed her last on the 21st of August, 1762, in the seventy-third year of her age.

Her letters have been compared with those of Madame de Sevigné, but they do not at all resemble them. The latter have a calm, quiet interest, a sweetness, an ingenuous tenderness, a natural simplicity, which powerfully recommend them to us in those moments when we ourselves are calm or melancholy. Lady Montague’s have infinitely more nerve and vigour, excite a far deeper interest, but of an equivocal and painful cast, and while, in a certain sense, they amuse and gratify, inspire aversion for their writer. On the other hand, Madame de Sevigné is a person whom one would like to have known. She is garrulous, she frequently repeats herself; but it is maternal love which causes the error. In one word, we admire the talents of Lady Montague, but we love the character of Madame de Sevigné.



Born 1704—Died 1765.

This distinguished traveller was born at Southampton, in the year 1704. The scope of his education, which, besides those classical acquirements that usually constitute the learning of a gentleman, embraced an extensive knowledge of the principal oriental languages, admirably fitted him for travelling with advantage in the East. But previously to undertaking that longer and more important journey upon the history of which he was to rest all his hopes of fame, he resolved to visit some of the more remarkable countries of Europe; and accordingly, on the 30th of August, 1733, he departed from London, and proceeded by the usual route to Paris. The curiosities of this accessible country, France, of which we often remain in utter ignorance, because they are near, and may be easily visited, appeared highly worthy of attention to Pococke. He attentively examined the palaces and gardens of Versailles, St. Germain, and Fontainebleau; the remains of antiquity at Avignon, Nismes, and Arles; and the architectural and picturesque beauties of Montpellier, Toulon, and Marseilles.

From France he proceeded into Italy, by the way of Piedmont; and having traversed the territories of Genoa, Tuscany, the territories of the church, of Venice, and of Milan, he returned through Piedmont, Savoy, and France, and arrived in London on the 1st of July, 1734.

This tour only serving to increase his passion for travelling, he, on the 20th of May, 1736, set out from 102London on his long-projected journey into the East. He now directed his course through Flanders, Brabant, and Holland, into Germany, which he traversed in all directions, from the shores of the Baltic to Hungary and Illyria. He then passed into Italy, and proceeding to Leghorn, embarked at that port, on the 7th of September, 1737, for Alexandria in Egypt, where he arrived on the 29th of the same month.

It is a remark which I have frequently made during the composition of these Lives, that when an original-minded traveller directs his course through a well known but interesting country, we follow his track and peruse his observations with perhaps still greater pleasure than we should feel had he journeyed through an entirely new region. In the former case we in some measure consider ourselves competent to decide upon the accuracy of his descriptions and the justness of his views; while in the latter, delivered up wholly to his guidance, and having no other testimony to corroborate or oppose to his, we experience an involuntary timidity, and hesitate to believe, lest our confidence should lead us into error. Besides, in no country can the man of genius fail to find matter for original remark. No man can forestall him, because such a person discovers things literally invisible to others; though, when once pointed out, they immediately cease to be so. His acquirements, the peculiar frame of his mind, in one word, his individuality, is to him as an additional sense, which no other person does or can possess; and this circumstance, which is not one of the least fortunate in the intellectual economy, delivers us from all solicitude respecting that lack of materials for original composition about which grovelling and barren speculators have in all ages clamoured; while the consciousness of mental poverty has generated in their imaginations an apprehension that every one who approached them had a 103design upon their little pedler’s pack of ideas, and driven them into anxious and unhappy solitude, that, like so many spiders, they might preserve their flimsy originality from the rough collision of more robust minds.

The feeling which leads learned and scientific men one after another to Egypt is the same with that which, after long years of absence, induces us to visit the place of our birth. Philosophy, according to popular tradition, had its birthplace on the banks of the Nile—though those of the Ganges appear to possess a better claim to the honour; and it is to examine the material traces of early footsteps, urged by some obscure secret persuasion that momentous revelations respecting the history of man might be made, could we, if I may hazard the expression, re-animate the sacred language of the Egyptians, who, as Shelley phrases it,

Hung their mute thoughts on the mute walls around,

that traveller after traveller paces around the mysterious obelisks, columns, and sarcophagi of Karnac and Edfu. Countries which have never, so far as we know, been inhabited by any but savage tribes, however magnificent may be their scenery, however fertile their soil, can never, in the estimation of the philosophical traveller, possess equal attractions with India, Persia, Egypt, or Greece: they resemble so many theatrical scenes without actors; and after amusing the eye or the imagination for a brief space of time, excite a mortal ennui which nothing can ward off. The world itself would be a dull panorama without man. It is only as the scene of his actions, passions, sufferings, glory, or shame, that its various regions possess any lasting interest for us. Where great men have lived or died, there are poetry, romance,—every thing that can excite the feelings or elevate the mind. “Gray Marathon,” 104Thermopylæ, Troy, Mantinea, Agincourt, Waterloo, are more sublime names than Mont Blanc or the Himalaya. On the former we are lifted up by the remembrance of human energy; the latter present themselves to us as prodigious masses of brute matter, sublime undoubtedly, but linked by no glorious associations with the triumphs or the fall of great or brave men.

The above remarks appeared necessary to explain why we are never weary of accompanying travellers through Egypt, Palestine, and the other celebrated lands which border the Mediterranean: I now proceed with the adventures and researches of Pococke. On arriving at Alexandria, a city which, when taken by the Arabs, contained four thousand palaces, as many baths, four hundred public places or squares, and forty thousand Jews who paid tribute, he immediately exerted himself to gratify his curiosity, and this so imprudently, that he led several soldiers into a breach of duty, in showing him the ruins of the ancient Pharos without permission, for which they were afterward punished. Several travellers have pretended that the coffin of Alexander the Great is still preserved in a Mohammedan mosque in this city, and we find Bruce, thirty years after Pococke, making very diligent inquiry among the inhabitants respecting it. It is certain that the remains of the Macedonian king were deposited in a golden coffin in the royal tombs of Alexandria; but in the age of Augustus his bones had already been transferred from their gorgeous lodgings to humbler ones of glass, in which they were brought forth from their narrow house for the inspection of the tyrant, who threw flowers and placed a golden crown upon the coffin. However, when we reflect that even in so peaceful a city as Caen, the remains of William the Conqueror could not be preserved a few hundred years from popular insult, it seems extremely improbable that those of Alexander should have been 105suffered to escape for two thousand years in a place which has experienced so many and such dreadful vicissitudes.

From Alexandria he proceeded to Rosetta, in company with the English consul; and on approaching within a few miles of the city, was surprised to find a tent pitched, and an excellent collation laid out for them in the desert, for which they were indebted to the politeness of the French merchants, several of whom came out more than a league to meet them. Horses, likewise, were sent for their use by the Turkish governor of the city, whose opinions respecting the natural fitness of asses to be the coursers of Franks seem to have been quite heterodox. To add to the compliment, servants were sent whose business it was to run along by the side of the equestrian travellers; and in this unusual style they entered Rosetta.

It was now the latter end of October, and Egypt, which goes annually through as many changes as a butterfly, was already beginning to put on its winter dress, in which alone, according to the opinion of connoisseurs, it should be contemplated by the admirers of the beautiful. Its landscapes, it is well known, are very peculiar. There are no glaciers, toppling crags, or mountain torrents; but there are gardens filled with palm, orange, and almond trees; fields of young rice more green than the emerald; villages perched on little eminences, and flanked by date groves; diminutive lakes with reeds on greensward enamelled with flowers around their margin; and to crown all, one of the mightiest rivers in the world rolling along its broad waters through scenes of sunshine and plenty, and through ruins of such prodigious magnificence, that they seem rather to be the remains of a former world than the works of that race of pigmy stature which now inhabits it. A large portion of the rich fields in the vicinity of Rosetta belongs to Mecca; and the inhabitants have 106a tradition that a member of the prophet’s family resided on a neighbouring spot, where a mosque was afterward erected, to which, should the Holy City ever be wrested from the faithful, all devout persons would go on pilgrimage.

Locke, in combating the doctrine of innate ideas, and in order to show that modesty, as well as all the other virtues, is an acquired habit, cites from Baumgarten a description of the nudity and immoral practices of the Mohammedan saints of Egypt, which in that country were not merely tolerated, but vehemently approved of. Two of these naked saints Pococke himself saw in the city of Rosetta. The one, he observes, was a good-humoured old man; the other a youth of eighteen; and as the latter walked along the streets the people kissed his hands. He was moreover informed that on Fridays, when the women are accustomed to visit the cemeteries, these holy men usually sat at the entrance, when the visiters not only kissed their hands, but carried their religious veneration so far as to practise the same ceremony with which the ancients adored their Phallic divinity, and the modern Hindoos pay their reverence to the Lingam. Something of this kind our traveller says he witnessed at Cairo, but that the sight was too common to command the least attention.

Having seen the principal curiosities of this city, and visited the Greek patriarch, who entertained him with a pipe, a spoonful of sweet syrup, and coffee, he set out on the 4th of November for Cairo, sailing in a large kanja up the Nile. Besides the constantly shifting scenes presented by the shores of the river, which were of themselves sufficient to render the voyage a pleasant one, the passengers were amused by Arab story-tellers, and representations of rude farces, in which the sailors themselves were the performers. The lakes of natron, a little of which dissolved in vinegar is, according to Hasselquist, a 107sovereign remedy for the toothache, Pococke did not visit; but he was informed by some of the passengers that their environs abounded with wild boars. On the 11th of November they arrived at Cairo. This city, during his stay in Egypt, may be regarded as his home, from which his excursions radiated in various directions. Though the principal object of Pococke’s travels, perhaps, was the examination of antiquities, and the illustration of ancient geography, he very wisely extended his researches to the modern condition of the country, and the manners of its actual inhabitants. He visited the convents of dervishes and monks, the cells of hermits, the cemeteries of Turks, Jews, and Christians, and observed with care the character and costume of every class of the population, from the sovereign bey to the houseless courtesan, who, like Tamar in the Bible, sat by the wayside to inveigle passengers. His remarks upon ancient Memphis,—the site of which, as I have already observed in the life of Shaw, he fixed at Metraheny,—and on the pyramids, are still, notwithstanding all that has been since written, highly worthy of attention. He was not, like Hasselquist, deterred from ascending to their summit by the heat of the stones or by tempestuous winds; he measured their dimensions; descended into the well; and speculated on their use and origin.

Shortly after his visit to the pyramids, he set out on an excursion to the district of Faioum, and the Birket el Keroun, or Lake Mœris, with the governor of the province, who happened to be just then returning home from Cairo. His companion was a middle-aged Mussulman, of a lively, cheerful temper, who made no scruple of associating with a Frank, or even of eating with him, and drinking liqueurs, which are not prohibited in the Koran, not having been invented when it was written. It could not, however, be said that they fared too luxuriously on 108the way; their meals, like those of Forster and his Ghilān Seid, consisted for the most part of bread, cheese, and onions. After this frugal supper, they reposed at night in a grove of palm-trees.

Having traversed a succession of small desert plains, sprinkled with Egyptian flints, they entered a valley bounded on both sides by hills, composed entirely of oyster-shells, which rest on a bed of reddish clay. Of these shells the uppermost remain in their original state, while those which lie deeper, or are scattered over the plain, are petrified. On arriving at Tamish, the most northern village of the district, the kasheff, or governor, was met by several Arabs, who, observing him to be accompanied by a stranger, immediately began to exhibit their skill in horsemanship, and in the management of the lance. Here the quality of their fare improved. The onions were replaced by pilaus, roast lamb, fowl, soup, and sherbets; and in the morning they had for breakfast bread and butter, poached eggs, honey, cheese, and olives. Faioum, in fact, should be the land of good living. It is the Arsinoitic Nome of the ancients, which, in Strabo’s opinion, was the finest spot in all Egypt; and although it no longer, perhaps, deserves this character, it still produces corn, wine, olives, vegetables,—in one word, whatever they choose to sow or plant will thrive. The olive, which requires cultivation in the gardens of Alexandria, grows spontaneously in this district. The grapes, too, are of a superior quality, and so sweet that a thick syrup made from them serves the Mohammedans instead of sugar. But Pococke soon found that even wine was not an unknown blessing in the Arsinoitic Nome; for, at a supper to which he invited the traveller, the honest kasheff got a little tipsy, threw off his gravity, and behaved as frivolously, says Pococke, as a European.

It was in this canton, according to the ancients, 109that the Labyrinth of the Twelve Kings was situated, and Pococke, perhaps erroneously, imagined himself to have examined its ruins, from which he proceeded to the shores of Lake Mœris. This lake, the Egyptian priests informed Herodotus, was the creation of art; but observing its extraordinary dimensions, it being no less than fifty miles in length by about ten in breadth, our traveller supposes that the art consisted in the inventing of the tale, and causing it to be believed, which in boldness and ingenuity fell very little short of the actually scooping out of that prodigious basin. But credulity often goes by the side of skepticism. Having rejected as a fable the artificial origin of the lake, Pococke supposes himself to have discovered in an extravagant tradition now current among the Arabs, the basis of the ancient mythus of the Elysian Fields, and the Infernal Ferryman. The common people, he observes, make frequent mention of Charon, and describe him as a king who might have loaded two hundred camels with the keys of his treasury! From this he infers that the fable of Charon took its rise on this spot, and that the person known under this name was the officer intrusted with the keys of the Labyrinth and its three thousand apartments, who, when the corpse of any prince or chief came thither to be interred, made inquiries concerning the actions of his life, and, according as they were good or bad, granted or refused the honours of the tomb. But as the Lake Acherusia, or Acheron, was in the neighbourhood of Memphis, according to Diodorus, he supposes that the same ceremonies were practised at both places, though originating here. Guigniant, a contemporary French writer, supposes that the ruins discovered by Pococke were not those of the Labyrinth, which, in fact, have only recently been found and described by his countrymen Bertre and Jomard.

The original destination of the Labyrinth has not 110yet been satisfactorily explained: some learned men suppose it to have been a kind of senate-house, where the representatives of the various nomes assembled for political deliberation; others regard it as a real Pantheon, consecrated to the worship of all the gods of Egypt; while a third class insist that, to whatever other uses it may have been applied, its principal object was to afford an asylum to the mummies of the kings who erected it.

Non nostrum tantas componere lites.

However this may be, it seems extremely probable that the idea of the Elysian Fields did actually originate in Egypt, and migrate thence into Greece. Those delicious habitations of the dead, as Creuzer observes after Diodorus, which are spoken of by the Greeks, really existed on the banks of a lake called Acheron, situated in the environs of Memphis, and surrounded by beautiful meadows and cool lakes, and forests of lotus and reeds. These were the waters which were yet to be traversed by the dead who had passed the river, and who were journeying to their sepulchral grottoes in the kingdom of Osiris or Pluto, the Ὅρμος ἀγαθῶν, “haven of the good, the pious, the virtuous,” to which none were admitted whose lives were incapable of sustaining the strictest scrutiny. The heaven of the Egyptians, contrary to what might have been expected, was a place of more complete happiness and enjoyment than that of the Greeks. The very word Elysium, according to Jablonski, signified glory and splendour; but before they could arrive at this region of joy, all human souls were condemned to pass through a circle of transmigrations, greater or less, according to their deeds.

To return, however, to Pococke: From Faioum he returned by Dashone and Saccara to Cairo, from whence he set sail on the 6th of December for 111Upper Egypt. Having visited various important ruins by the way, he arrived on the 9th of January, 1738, at Dendera, where he found the ruins of the ancient edifices filled with ashes, and the remains of more modern buildings. In fact, the Arabs had perched their miserable little cabins upon the very summit of the temple of Athor-Aphrodite, or the Egyptian Venus, in order to enjoy a cooler air in summer.

From hence he continued to ascend the stream, visited the ruins of Thebes, Elephantina, Philæ, and the Cataracts; whence he returned to Cairo, where he arrived on the 27th of February. It was now his intention to visit Mount Sinai, but finding upon inquiry that the monks of that mountain were then at open war with the neighbouring Arabs, he deferred the excursion, and proceeded down the eastern branch of the Nile to Damietta, where he embarked for the Holy Land.

Pococke arrived at Jaffa on the 14th of March, where, having delivered up his money, according to custom, to the monks, lest he should be robbed by the Arabs, he immediately departed by way of Rama for Jerusalem. The country, at this time, was in a state of great confusion. Feuds of the most desperate kind existed among the numerous Arab clans encamped in this part of Palestine; and from whatever tribe the traveller might take a guide, he necessarily exposed himself during the journey to the hostility of every other horde. However, since the danger was inevitable, and, perhaps, after his tame and secure movements in Egypt, somewhat necessary to give a greater poignancy to his pleasures, he put himself under the guidance of a respectable Arab horseman, followed by a servant on foot, and departed on his way. The Arab, who shared the risk, went a little out of the direct road to the place where his tribe was encamped; and not being subject to that jealousy which induces the Turk to keep 112his wife from the sight of strangers, he introduced the traveller into his harem, and allowed him to sit down by the fire with his wife and some other women.

It being now evening, the women, having regaled him with bread and coffee, showed him a carpet, on which they desired him to take a little rest. He expected they were to set out in an hour or two in order to reach Jerusalem before day; but lay down, and, falling asleep, remained in that comfortable position until long after sunrise next morning. The Arab now went out and left him in the harem, when the women, who are all the world over generous and hospitable, exerted themselves to entertain and regale him with fresh cakes, butter, and coffee. The mistress of the tent never quitted him for a moment, and while he remained here he was in safety, for the precincts of the harem are sacred in the East. At length the Arab himself returned, and promising him that they should depart in the evening, threw a striped mantle over his shoulders, and went out to walk with him in the fields. Contrary to his expectations, the Arab actually set out with him as soon as it was dark, and carefully avoiding all villages, camps, and inhabited places, in every one of which he anticipated danger, he arrived safely with him at Jerusalem two hours before day.

During his stay in this holy city Pococke visited and examined every remarkable spot within its precincts and environs, and his researches threw considerable light on numerous points of sacred topography. He likewise made an excursion to Jericho and Jordan, and on his return from this journey descended along the banks of the brook Kidron to the Dead Sea. From the number of decayed trees and shrubs which he saw in the water, he conjectured that this lake had recently overflowed its ancient shores, and encroached upon the land. The country in these districts was formerly liable to volcanic 113eruptions; abounds in warm springs of a powerful odour, and in wells of bitumen, which ooze out of the rocks, and is carried into the sea by the river. It having been asserted by Pliny and others that animals and other heavy bodies floated involuntarily in the water of this sea, Pococke undressed, and made the experiment; and, strange to say, so powerful was the effect of prejudice upon his mind, that he fancied he could not sink in it, and says that when he attempted to dive his legs remained in the air, and having once got the upper hand of his head, gave him considerable trouble to reduce them to their natural subordinate position. However, though he was persuaded, he says, that the result would have been still more striking, his faith in Pliny was not sufficiently powerful to induce him to make the experiment in deep water; which was fortunate, for as, apparently, he could not swim, his travels, had he done so, would have terminated there. On coming out of the sea he found his face covered with a crust of salt, which, he observed, was likewise the case with the pebbles on the shore. The pillar of salt into which Lot’s wife was changed was a little farther south, and therefore he did not see it; but he was assured by the Jews, who seem to have tasted it, that the salt of this pillar is very unwholesome. On this point, however, Pococke merely remarks that he will leave it to the reader to think as he pleases upon the subject.

Having visited all the most remarkable places in this part of Palestine, he returned to Jaffa, where he embarked on the 22d of May on board of a large boat bound for Acra. At this period the sea along the whole coast of Syria was infested by Maltese pirates. By an agreement entered into with the monks of Palestine, these corsairs engaged not to meddle with any of these boats within eighty leagues of the Holy Land; but, in spite of this arrangement, they frequently boarded them, seizing and carrying 114off into slavery every Mohammedan passenger, and pillaging both Turks and Christians with remarkable impartiality. The vessel in which Pococke was embarked escaped the clutches of these vagabonds, and arrived safe at Acra. From this part he made an excursion into the northern parts of Palestine and Galilee; visited Mount Carmel, Cæsarea, Nazareth, Mount Tabor, Cana, and the Lake of Tiberias; extended his researches to Mount Hermon and the sources of the Jordan; and then, returning to the coast, departed for Tyre, Sidon, and Mount Lebanon.

The mountains in this part of Syria are inhabited by the Maronites and Druzes, people whose manners and customs I shall have occasion to describe in the life of Volney. Pococke’s stay among them was short, and his occasions of observing them few, but the result of his limited experience was favourable; for he pronounces the Maronites more simple and less addicted to intrigue than the other Christians of the East, and for courage and probity prefers the Druzes, who are neither Christians nor Mohammedans, before every other oriental people. Nevertheless it is conjectured that the latter are the descendants of the Christian armies who were engaged in the crusades. They themselves profess, according to our traveller, to be descended from the English; at other times they claim a French origin; and the probability is that they know not who were their ancestors. Like the Yezeedees of Mesopotamia, they are sometimes compelled to dissemble their incredulity and frequent the mosques; but Pococke learned that in their secret books they blasphemed both Christ and Mohammed. This hypocrisy is not altogether consistent with their character either for courage or probity. They had among them a sort of monks called akel, who abstained from wine, and refused to sit at their prince’s table lest they should participate in the guilt of his extortions. These men 115Pococke regards rather as philosophers, however, than as monks. Their religion, if they had any, consisted in the worship of nature; and from their veneration for the calf, the lingam, and the yoni, the figures of which they were said to preserve in a small silver box, I should conjecture that both they and their religion are an offshoot from the great Brahminical trunk; and the same thing may with equal probability be said of the Yezeedees, the Ismaelaah, and the Nessariah, whose doctrines had found their way into the west, and caused the founding of altars to the yoni in Cyprus long before the birth of history.

Our traveller continued his researches among the rude tribes who inhabit the fastnesses of Lebanon, visited the cedars, Baalbec (where he found the body of a murdered man in the temple), Damascus, Horus, and Aleppo; and having made an excursion across the Euphrates to Orfah, returned by way of Antioch and Scanderoon to Tripoli, where he embarked on the 24th of October for Cyprus.

On approaching Limesol from the sea, its environs, consisting entirely of vineyards, and gardens planted with mulberry-trees, and interspersed with villas, present a charming landscape to the eye. The wines for which the island is celebrated are all made here. In Cyprus what principally interests the traveller are the footsteps of antiquity; he seeks for little else. The temples and worship of Venus, hallowed, if not spiritualized, by poetry, have diffused a glow over the soil which neither time nor barbarism, potent as is their influence, has been able to dissipate. The heart thrills and the pulse quickens at the very names of Paphos and Amathus. A thousand pens have celebrated their beauty: Love has waved his wings over them. Pococke seems, however, notwithstanding his passion for beholding celebrated places, to have visited these scenes with as much coolness as he would a turnip-field.

116Non equidem invideo: miror magis.

He remarks, indeed, that it was from this city that Venus acquired the epithet of Amathusia; that a temple was here erected in honour of her and Adonis; and that the ruins of the city walls are fifteen feet thick. But is this all? Wherefore are we not presented with a picture of the landscape around the spot? Is it soft, is it beautiful, like the goddess who was worshipped there?

Tacitus informs us that the temple which stood here was erected by Amathus, son of King Aërias; and Servius and Macrobius observe that the statue of the goddess was double-natured and bearded, though clothed in female garments. The sexes changed dresses on entering the fane; and during the mysteries instituted by Cinyras, salt, money, and the symbol of the productive power of nature were presented to the initiated.

Proceeding eastward along the shore from Amathus, the traveller visited Larnica, the ruins of Cittium, the birthplace of the philosopher Zeno; Famagosta, the ruins of Salamis; and turning the eastern point of the island, returned by Nicosia, Soli, and Arsinoe to Paphos. With the traditions of this place one of the most remarkable fables of antiquity is connected; for it was here that Venus, born among the foam of the sea, was wafted on shore by the zephyrs,—“deamque ipsam, conceptam mari, huc appulsam,” says Tacitus. However, modern mythologists have maintained that it was not the Grecian but the Assyrian goddess, that is, the celestial Venus, who was worshipped at Paphos. No effigies of the goddess adorned this fane; but a cone or white pyramid, that mystic emblem to which I have had frequent occasion to allude, was the object of adoration. This emblematical manner of representing the gods was common in remote antiquity, and Venus herself was thus symbolically depicted on the coin of the Chalcidians.

117Pococke observes that the ladies of Cyprus still keep up in every sense the worship of their ancient goddess, and even go at Whitsuntide in procession along the seashore in commemoration of the time of her birth. They wear no veils, and their dress, in his opinion, is exactly such as priestesses of the Idalian goddess should be distinguished by.

Having satisfied his curiosity respecting Cyprus, he returned to Egypt for the purpose of visiting Mount Sinai, and tracing the track of the Israelites through the wilderness; and when he had accomplished this design, which he did with little difficulty or danger, he proceeded to Alexandria, and embarked for Crete. Every person is aware of the prodigious celebrity which this island enjoyed among the ancients. It was the great stepping-stone which facilitated the passage of civilization from Asia into Greece. Here Jupiter was cradled, and Minos, the prototype of Lycurgus, legislated for a barbarous people whom he endeavoured by extraordinary, and sometimes by terrible and criminal regulations, to accustom and be fit to bear the yoke of government.

Pococke disembarked at Sphakia; and in crossing the island to Canea, the ancient Cydonia, traversed an extraordinary pass called Ebros Farange, where the road is flanked on both sides by lofty rocks which spring up perpendicularly, and are crowned at their summit by a profusion of shrubs and trees, such as the cypress, the fig-tree, and the evergreen oak. This pass is nearly six miles in length, and so difficult of ascent that towards the inland extremity travellers are compelled to dismount from their beasts and climb the acclivity on foot. A chain of mountains which runs almost parallel with the shores occupies the centre of this part of the island. They were known to the ancients under the name of the “White Mountains.” On the summit of the northern branch there is a small circular valley, in which the winter rains form a number of diminutive lakes, 118which add exceedingly to the charms of the scene, and where, according to the inhabitants, there grows a species of auriferous plant that communicates a golden colour to the teeth of the sheep which feed upon it. Among the smaller chains, which branch off from the main ridge of mountains towards the north, there are several valleys of remarkable beauty.

After having remained a short time at Canea, Pococke set out to make the tour of the island. His researches, though conducted with haste, throw much light on the ancient geography of the land of Minos; but of all the places which he visited none possess so powerful an interest as Mount Ida, where, as he observes, it is exceedingly probable that Jupiter passed his early youth in hunting and martial exercises. In the centre, or somewhat to the south of a vast cluster of mountains, rises the extremely lofty peak of Ida, composed of successive strata of gray marble, and rendered peculiarly difficult of ascent by detached blocks of stone scattered over its sides. Though considerably less elevated than Mount Lebanon or the Alps, the snow lies all the year round unmelted in several cavities near the summit, upon the very apex of which a church has been erected. Here, in clear weather, the traveller enjoys one of the most magnificent panoramic views in the world. Nearly the whole island lies within the range of the eye; and looking across the sea towards the north, he discovers in the distant horizon several islands of the Archipelago rising beautifully out of the waves.

From Candia he proceeded to Scio, Ipsara, Metelin, Tenedos, Lemnos, Samos, and Patmos, and then passed over to the continent to Smyrna. Here those traces of antiquity which formed the principal objects of his inquiries surrounded him on all sides. Not an excursion could be made without encountering the ruins or the site of some city renowned in poetry or history. Every river, every stream had some glorious association attached to it, from the Meles, 119on which Homer is sometimes supposed to have been born, to the Cayster and Mæander, celebrated in his poems. Pococke, it should be remarked, with all his admiration for antiquity, had not suffered much of the spirit of Greek poetry to penetrate into his soul; though he might as a man of the world avoid alluding to trite and hackneyed fables, this will not in all cases account for his omitting all mention of remarkable mythi. When encamped, for example, at night round a large fire on the summit of Mount Latmus in Caria, fearing an irruption of jackals and wild boars, he seems to have thrown himself to sleep upon his huge block of granite without once recalling to mind that it was on that wild spot Endymion was visited nightly by the moon. He observes, however, that the shepherds who have succeeded Endymion on this mountain have begun to cultivate a portion of its summit, and to enclose their fields with large trunks of trees disposed as pallisades.

Following up the course of the Mæander he entered the Greater Phrygia, proceeded thence to Galatia, and, turning to the north, took the road through the ancient Paphlagonia and Bithynia towards Constantinople. Here he entered into numerous inquiries respecting the religion and manners of the Turks; and then, descending the Dardanelles, embarked at Lemnos for Mount Athos in Macedonia. This mountain, it is well known, has for ages served as a retreat to numerous monks and hermits, who retire thither from the world to conceal their chagrin at being shut out by more fortunate or more persevering individuals from the participation of its more refined pleasures. There were at this period about forty hermitages situated in a semicircular sweep of the mountain. Some of the gloomy tenants of these cells were poor persons, who subsisted by their own labour, or on the bread and cheese bestowed upon them by the convents in the neighbourhood; and their amusement consisted in carving images or 120making wooden spoons. Pococke found them employed in drying figs, walnuts, and grapes, and learned that they made a little wine and brandy for their own use, which, I hope, occasionally enabled them to forget their cares. To complete their misery, no women were ever permitted to enter their territories.

Leaving this haunt of hypochondriacal drones, he proceeded along the shores of the Gulf of Contessa, and took the road to Salonica. The road along the northern shores of the Thermaic Gulf was beset with too many dangers to be attempted, and he therefore embarked for Caritza in Thessaly, and, arriving next day, took up his quarters for the night at the foot of Mount Ossa. Next morning he proceeded to the banks of the Peneus, which constitute the Vale of Tempé, celebrated by ancient poets as the most beautiful spot in Greece; but either the valley had lost its charms, or our traveller all taste for the picturesque, for he passes it over with still greater coolness than the poetical scenes of Cyprus. However, his mind was at this time so full of the battle of Pharsalia, Cæsar, and Pompey, that it would have been wonderful indeed if he had paused a moment to admire the pastoral scenes of Tempé. Having then reached the blood-stained spot where the greater tyrant triumphed over the lesser, and paved the way for the glorious Ides of March, our traveller examined with attention the various positions said to have been occupied by the contending armies. From thence he descended towards the Maliac Bay through Phthiotis, the native country of Achilles, which was situated in the Thessalian Thebes, the inhabitants of which, according to Strabo, obtained the name of ants on account of their industrious habits.

On his arrival at Zeitoun, which appears to occupy the site of the ancient Lamia, he took lodgings in a caravansary, where, in order to enjoy a cooler air, and escape the vermin which usually abound in such places, he spread out his carpet in an open gallery, 121and fell asleep. He had not been long in the enjoyment of repose, however, before he was awakened by a fearful noise; when, starting up, he saw by the light of the moon that a large portion of the building had been overthrown, and beheld the terrified horses bursting out of the stables and flying away with the utmost rapidity. Amazed and confounded, he was at first unable to comprehend what had happened; but his servant informed him it was an earthquake, which doubly increased his consternation. They now began to think of effecting their escape, but the building had been so shattered, and such immense heaps of ruins choked up the passages, that although they were apprehensive a second shock might follow and bury them beneath the tottering walls, they were some time in making their way into the street. Here they found that a poor Turk, who had thrown himself down before the door to sleep, had been buried under the ruins; but by prompt assistance he was dug out uninjured. Though there was a beautiful moonlight, so thick a cloud of dust arose from the houses which had fallen down, or were still falling all around, that it was impossible to discern any object at the distance of ten paces; and from amid this dense canopy, which hung suspended over the whole city, shrieks, groans, and sobs, wild lamentations for the dead, the moans of the crushed and wounded, yells of agony, and exclamations of terror were heard on all sides. Humanity, however, in the midst of this awful scene was busy at the work of salvation. Men, goaded on by the sting of affection, rushed desperately in between the threatening ruins in search of the objects of their love,—their wives, their parents, their children,—and returned, some joyously with their living friends in their arms, others with livid and ghastly looks bearing the corpses of those in whom all their earthly happiness had centred. The earth still continued agitated, rocking and heaving like the sea. Pococke caused 122his baggage to be transported to a spot which was at a distance from all buildings, where in the course of two hours he counted nearly twenty shocks, some of which were exceedingly terrible. The whole scene was tremendous. A multitude of human beings standing in darkness, fearful that the earth would open beneath their feet and ingulf them; not daring to fly, lest they should tumble into chasms already formed around them; incapable of aiding each other; a prey to every terrible idea, to every horrible foreboding. But at length the earth became still, and while the inhabitants were preparing to bury their dead, our traveller obtained horses and fled away from the city.

Crossing the ancient Sperchius, the stream to which Achilles had vowed his golden hair, and proceeding along the shore of the Maliac Gulf, he soon discovered in the distance the famous pass of Thermopylæ,—a spot which men will tread with a holy pride and triumph so long as a sympathy for heroic valour and patriotism shall remain upon earth. Such are the places to which men should go in pilgrimage,—places sanctified by the dust of the glorious and the great, whose names are rendered eternal by Providence, that even in the basest and most degenerate times mankind might never be reduced to a disbelief of virtue.

From Thermopylæ Pococke proceeded through the country of the Opuntian Locrians to the Euripus, into which Aristotle is absurdly reported by vulgar tradition to have thrown himself, from a despair of discovering the cause of its manifold tides. The ancients relate that the tide here ebbs and flows seven times in the day; but our traveller learned that the motions of the Euripus are irregular, sometimes ebbing and flowing as often as fourteen times in the day, and at others not more than twice. He next directed his course to the shores of the Copaic Lake, the eels of which Aristophanes seems to have so passionately 123longed for during the Peloponnesian war, visited Thebes, and then crossed Mount Pentelicus into Attica. The ruins of Athens were then far less imperfect than they are at present, and he examined them with the eye of a learned antiquary; but extensive as was his learning, he does not seem to have possessed that sort of reading which would have enabled him thoroughly to enjoy a tour through Greece. It is for those who have entered deeply into the private history, literature, and philosophy of the Greeks that Attica has real charms. He should be able to determine or imagine the exact spot where Socrates sat under the plane-tree with Phædrus in order to discuss the merits of Lysias’s style; he should be interested in discovering where the house of Callias stood, to which the impatient Hippocrates would have led Socrates before day, that he might lose no time in being introduced to Protagoras; he should walk up and down the banks of the Ilyssus, that he might be sure of having visited the spot where Sophocles nestled all night among the reeds to enjoy the song of the nightingale: this is the sort of traveller who should visit Greece. Otherwise, with Strabo, Pausanias, and Vitruvius in hand, he may determine the sites of cities and measure the height of columns to a hair; our feelings go not along with him, and his researches become tiresome in proportion as they are circumstantial and exact.

From Athens Pococke proceeded westward, crossed the ancient territories of Megara, visited Corinth, and continuing his journey along the southern shores of the Gulf of Lepanto, arrived at Patras, where he embarked for Sicily. He then crossed over into Italy, and hurried on through Germany, Switzerland, and France, to England, and arrived in London on the 30th of August, 1741, exactly eight years from the day of his first departure for the Continent.

Being now happily arrived in port, with a prodigious 124quantity of materials, Pococke, anxious to enjoy the reputation to which he aspired, immediately commenced the compilation of his travels, the first volume of which appeared in 1743, under the title of “A Description of the East,” &c. Two years afterward the second volume, divided into two parts, was published; and shortly afterward he added to his travels a large collection of Greek and Latin inscriptions, which are said by M. St. Martin to be so exceedingly incorrect as to be almost unintelligible. As Pococke can very well dispense with the credit arising from “this kind of researches,” I have not thought it necessary to examine whether the reproach of the Frenchman be well founded or not; but I cannot help congratulating that writer upon the felicitous manner in which he commences his account of our traveller, “the obscure and insignificant particulars of whose life,” he tells us, “are scarcely worth relating;” which is certainly a peculiarly ingenious application of those rules of rhetoric that teach us how to vivify and adorn a barren subject. The readers of the “Biographie Universelle” may perhaps suspect, however, that M. St. Martin was deterred from seeking for the “obscure and insignificant particulars” of Pococke’s life, by the vast bulk of his volumes, through which they lie scattered at wide intervals; but few who have perused those volumes, replete with interest and information, will allow that their author deserved no more than one little page in an unwieldy collection, where so many obscure scribblers, whose very names are forgotten by the public, are commemorated at such disproportionate length.

Pococke, whose reputation was quickly diffused throughout Europe, having taken orders, was promoted, in 1756, to the archdeaconry of Ossory, in Ireland; and in 1765 was made bishop of Elphin. This honour he was not destined long to enjoy, however, for in the month of September, of the same 125year, he died of apoplexy, in the 61st year of his age. Besides his travels, he was the author of several memoirs in the Philosophical Transactions, and in the Archæologia; and there still remain a number of his smaller pieces in manuscript at the British Museum. No popular or well-conceived edition of his works has hitherto been published, though few travellers are deserving of more credit, or were more competent to describe the countries through which they journeyed.


Born 1690.—Died about 1780.

Bell seems to have been born about the year 1690, at Antermony, in Scotland. He was possessed, even from his earliest years, by a strong passion for travel; but his passion, together with a large portion of shrewdness and sagacity, constituting the better part of his inheritance, he judiciously applied himself to the study of medicine and surgery, a knowledge of which, in all semi-barbarous countries, is frequently of more avail to the traveller even than wealth. It does not appear whether Bell was directed in the choice of his scene by preference or by chance. However, as all Europe was at that period filled with admiration of the projects of Peter the First, whose reputation for munificence drew crowds of adventurers by a species of magnetic attraction towards the north, it is probable that a desire of personal aggrandizement united with a thirst of knowledge in urging our traveller in the direction of Petersburg. But be this as it may, having obtained from several respectable persons recommendatory letters to Dr. Areskine, chief physician 126and privy counsellor to the czar Peter the First, he embarked at London in July, 1714, for St. Petersburg. On his arrival he was received in a very friendly manner by Dr. Areskine, to whom he communicated his intentions of availing himself of the first opportunity which should offer of visiting some portions of Asia. The desired occasion soon presented itself. The czar, preparing at this period to send an embassy into Persia, appointed Aremy Petrovich Valensky, a captain of the guards, to conduct the mission; and this gentleman applying to Dr. Areskine to recommend him a medical attendant, Bell was immediately brought forward by his countryman, and received, on his favourable testimony, into the ambassador’s suite. Through the same interest, he was likewise at once formally introduced into the service of the czar.

Bell set out from Petersburg on the 15th of July, 1715, accompanied by a part of the ambassador’s suite, and for some time directing his course along the western bank of the Neva, encamped in the evening on a small stream which falls into that river, and passed the night in a wagon. Next day they embarked on the Volchovu, the banks of which were covered with villages and fruitful cornfields, interspersed with woods, and continued their journey by water until they approached Novogorod, where they quitted their “moving road,” as Pascal terms a river, and proceeded on horseback. At Iver, Bell beheld the mighty stream of the Volga, the navigation of which from this town to the Caspian Sea is interrupted by no cataract, and whose waters abound with an extraordinary variety of the finest fish in the world.

From this place they proceeded towards the ancient capital of the empire, through a plain but agreeable country, covered with rich harvests, which infallibly produce a pleasing effect upon the mind, and dotted with small tufted groves, the verdure of 127which contrasted admirably with the yellow grain waving at their feet. On reaching the village from which the first view of Moscow was obtained, Bell observes, that “at this distance few cities in the world make a finer appearance, for it stands on a rising ground, and contains many stately churches and monasteries, whose steeples and cupolas are generally covered either with copper gilt or tin plates, which shine like gold and silver in the sun.”

The Kremlin, to which Bishop Heber was fond of comparing some of the old Mohammedan edifices of Hindostan, appears to have excited no very particular admiration in Bell, who merely observes that it was compounded of a number of buildings added to one another at different times, and that some of the apartments were remarkably spacious. Here they embarked on the Moskwa, and dropping slowly down the stream, entered the Volga a little below Nishna. The river at this place is of very great breadth, and, the wind blowing from the north, they were driven along with prodigious velocity. Signs of the approach of winter now began to appear, for it was the latter end of October; the Volga was suddenly filled with floating ice, which, united with its powerful current, and the force of the wind, rendered their position exceedingly dangerous. They, however, continued their voyage, and arrived on the 3d of November at Zabackzar, a considerable town on the right bank of the river, a little above Kazan.

In this part of Russia, according to Bell, the best and largest falcons in the world are caught, which being highly valued for their strength and beauty, particularly by the Turks and Persians, are sold to those nations at extravagant prices. They are not, as might have been expected, taken from the nest; but after they are full grown, when their natural instincts have been developed by exercise, and their physical powers have acquired, by struggling with storms and tempests, their utmost maturity and 128vigour. They are then taught to fly at swans, geese, herons, hares, and even antelopes; and our traveller saw one of them take a wild duck out of the water when nothing but her bill, which she had put up for air, could be perceived. Many of these falcons are as white as doves. Bell afterward saw in Kûdistan the beautiful species of hawk called cherkh, which the Persians and Arabs train for antelope hunting. This is done by stuffing the skin of one of these animals, and placing the food of the hawk between its horns, which afterward, when the bird comes to be employed in the chase, induces it to pounce upon the head of the antelope, and either strike it to the ground, or retard its movements until the greyhounds come up. Sir John Malcolm, who witnessed this singular sport at Abusheher, observes that “the huntsmen proceed to a large plain, or rather desert, near the seaside; they have hawks and greyhounds, the former carried in the usual manner on the hand of the huntsman, the latter led in a leash by a horseman, generally the same who carries the hawk. When the antelope is seen they endeavour to get as near as possible; but the animal, the moment it observes them, goes off at a rate that seems swifter than the wind; the horses are instantly at full speed, having slipped the dogs. If it is a single deer they at the same time fly the hawks; but if a herd, they wait till the dogs have fixed upon a particular antelope. The hawks, skimming along near the ground, soon reach the deer, at whose head they pounce in succession, and sometimes with a violence that knocks it over.”

The Persian style of hare hunting, which few travellers have noticed, is scarcely less interesting, and is thus described by Sir John Malcolm. “When at Shirez the elchee (ambassador) had received a present of a very fine shâh-bâz, or royal falcon. Before going out I had been amused at seeing Nuttee Beg, our head falconer, a man of great experience 129in his department, put upon this bird a pair of leathers, which he fitted to its thighs with as much care as if he had been the tailor of a fashionable horseman. I inquired the reason of so unusual a proceeding. ‘You will learn that,’ said the consequential master of the hawks, ‘when you see our sport;’ and I was convinced, at the period he predicted, of the old fellow’s knowledge of his business. The first hare seized by the falcon was very strong, and the ground rough. While the bird kept the claws of one foot fastened in the back of its prey, the other was dragged along the ground, till it had an opportunity to lay hold of a tuft of grass, by which it was enabled to stop the course of the hare, whose efforts to escape, I do think, would have torn the hawk asunder, if it had not been provided with the leathern defences which have been mentioned. The next time the falcon was flown gave us proof of that extraordinary courage which its whole appearance, and particularly its eye, denoted. It had stopped and quite disabled the second hare by the first pounce, when two greyhounds, which had been slipped by mistake, came up, and endeavoured to seize it. They were, however, repulsed by the falcon, whose boldness and celerity in attacking the dogs, and securing its prey, excited our admiration and astonishment.” Bell was informed of a circumstance, while travelling in Kûrdistan, which raises still higher our admiration of the falcon’s courage; for it is trained by the Tartars to fly at foxes and even wolves.

But to return to the Volga: On arriving on the 5th of November at Kazan, they found that the winter had set in, that the Volga was filled with floating ice, and that, therefore, since the nations inhabiting both banks of the river were hostile to Russia, or extremely barbarous in their manners, it would be necessary to defer the prosecution of their journey until the following spring. This afforded Bell ample 130leisure for the conducting of his researches into the manners, character, and religion of the neighbouring tribes. Here he found two Swedish generals, Hamilton and Rosen, taken prisoners at the battle of Pultowa, and exiled by the barbarous policy of the czar to these remote regions; but, excepting that they were exiles, they had no great reason to complain of their treatment, for they were allowed to share in whatever amusements and pleasures the place afforded, and were by no means subjected to a rigorous confinement.

It was not until the beginning of June that they were enabled to continue their voyage. They then began once more to descend the stream, which they did with great velocity; and making a short stay at Samara and Astrakhan, proceeded on their voyage, entered the Caspian, and on the 30th of August arrived at Niezabad, where, there being neither harbour nor creek, they hauled up their flat-bottomed vessels on the beach. Here an accident occurred to one of Bell’s companions, which strikingly illustrates the facility with which the imagination, when strongly excited, overthrows the other faculties of the mind. The ship in which the secretary of the embassy was embarked did not arrive until several hours after the others had been drawn on shore, by which time the wind had begun to blow with great violence, while the sea broke tremendously upon the beach. Not being able, under such circumstances, to reach the land, they at first cast anchor in the open road; but the gale increasing, even this position was considered dangerous, so that they quickly slipped their cable and put out to sea. The secretary and the other gentlemen on board, however, not greatly admiring their situation, and willing, from their extreme impatience to be once more on terra firma, to run even a considerable risk in endeavouring to effect their purpose, ordered the master of the ship, a Dutchman in the service of the 131czar, to run her ashore at all hazards, engaging themselves to be accountable for the consequences. But when the ship had approached within a certain distance of the land, the sea ran so high that no boat could be hoisted out. The secretary’s fear of the sea increasing with the obstacles to his landing, he at length prevailed upon a sailor, at the peril of his life, to carry him ashore on his back, which, in spite of all difficulties, the man actually performed; “but his clothes being drenched with salt water, and the road lying through deep sands, he was soon fatigued, and therefore retired nearer to the woods, in hopes of finding a more smooth and easy path. He discovered what he sought; but instead of leading him to the ships, it carried him away from the shore and the right course, into thick encumbered wood; and in these circumstances night overtook him, utterly ignorant of the dismal and dangerous wild into which he had wandered. Thus destitute of all assistance, he climbed a tree to save himself from the wild beasts with which these woods abound; and in this situation continued all the night, and till noon next day; for the people in his own ship never doubted of his having safely reached our tents; while we, on the contrary, had not the least suspicion of his having come on shore. At last, however, about noon, his servant came, inquiring for his master, who, he told us, left the ship the night before. This account filled us all with anxiety and apprehension; as we certainly concluded he would be torn to pieces by the wild beasts, or murdered by the savages who inhabit this coast. Immediate order was given for all our people to repair to the woods in search of him. He was at last found wandering from path to path, without knowing one direction from another. When he came to the tents he looked ghastly and wild, and related many strange stories of what he had heard in the night. All possible 132care was taken to alleviate his distress. During his sleep, which was very discomposed, he often started, groaned, and spoke; and even after he awaked, he persisted in affirming that there were numbers of people round the tree in the night, talking different languages. The imagination, no doubt, will naturally have a strong effect on any man in such uncommon circumstances; for, though the secretary was a man of penetration and sound judgment, in vain did we endeavour to undeceive him, by representing that it was nothing but the jackals which made the noise he had heard.” In fact, he never recovered his former sagacity and soundness of mind: and the accident may even be supposed to have hastened his death, which took place not long afterward.

From Niezabad they proceeded to Shamakia, where the inhabitants, to whom the Muscovites were novelties at that time, crowded the tops of their houses to behold them. The time of their stay was spent in the way usual with ambassadors; that is, in attempts of politeness, affecting state, and in disputes with the Khan of Shamakia. At length, however, all these were ended, and they departed. The suite of the ambassador was numerous; for in the East a man’s dignity is estimated by the camel-loads of people at his heels: one hundred and sixty camels, nearly two hundred horses and mules, which, if common sense were constituted judge of the matter, would be thought amply sufficient to bear the czar’s compliments and a letter to the shah.

On entering Kûrdistan, Bell, from whose mind the “rugged Russian bears,” jackals, and other nuisances, had not chased away all classical reminiscences, seems to have experienced some pleasure at the idea of traversing, though in a contrary direction, the same track which was pursued by Xenophon and the Ten Thousand in their retreat 133from Babylonia.[5] The Kûrds, the ancient Karduchi, were still, he says, reckoned a brave people; and, in fact, would be extremely disposed, if any thing were to be gained by it, to harass any body of men, whether small or great, who passed through their country. On the day before they arrived at Tabriz they crossed a ridge of mountains, from which, as he was informed by an Armenian, the snowy peaks of Ararat, or Agri Dag, might be seen in clear weather.

5.  This must be understood cum grano. The Greeks never approached quite so near the Caspian as Bell’s route. See the Anabasis.

From Tabriz they set out in the heart of winter, the country being covered with deep snow, and the roads, in consequence, almost impassable. The bright reflection of the sunbeams from the snow produced an extraordinary effect upon the Russians. Their faces swelled, and many of them were afflicted with ophthalmia. But the Persians themselves are liable to the latter inconvenience, and, in order to guard against it, wear a network fillet of black horsehair over the eyes; which Bell found, upon trial, to be an effectual preventive. This contrivance, I imagine, might be made use of with equal success in traversing the sands of Egypt or Arabia.

As they proceeded southward they quickly escaped from the regions of snow, and on reaching Sarva, a small town a little to the north of Koom, found the pomegranate-trees already in blossom on the 22d of February. The Persians, at least that part of them who make any claim to civilization, are a pleasant people to travel among. For if, in classic lands,

Not a mountain reared its head unsung,

no mountain, no, nor valley neither, rears or lowers its head without having some particular legend attached to it. Near Koom you are shown a hill from which no one who has been mad enough to 134reach the top ever descended; and are told a lamentable story of a young page sent up with a lighted torch in his hand by Shah Abbas, who, of course, never returned, but may yet perhaps come down with his torch unconsumed, upon the re-advent of the Twelfth Imam. At Kashan your imagination is excited by being placed in apartments, the floors of which are almost paved with scorpions, the sting of every one of which is more deadly than the sword of Rûstam, or the lance of Afrasiab. But these reptiles, like the spear of Achilles, undo, as it were, with one hand what they perform with the other; for when they have darted their poison into the frame, they yield, on being caught and fried, though not alive, I hope, an oil which the Persians reckon an infallible antidote to their venom. The only advantage which seems to be derived from this energetic little reptile is, that it enriches the Persian language with a new variety of that rhetorical figure of speech called commination, or cursing; for when any person is desirous of concentrating his wrath in a single imprecation, instead of having recourse to that convenient but vulgar demon who takes our enemies off our hands in Europe, he arms his wishes with the sting of a Kashan scorpion, and flings that at the head of his adversaries.

The embassy arrived at Ispahan on the 14th of March; and the shah’s court immediately put itself in training for a grand theatrical exhibition, in order to impress the barbarians with a favourable idea of the greatness of the Asylum of the Universe. While the stage decorations were preparing, our traveller, who entertained a reasonable respect for royal pomp and magnificence, employed himself in observing the city and its environs; and when the important day came, accompanied the ambassador into the presence of the shah. Every thing passed off in the usual style. Exhibitions of elephants 135caparisoned with gold and silver stuffs; lions led in massive chains of gold; twenty horses superbly caparisoned, having all their saddles and bridles ornamented with gold and silver, and set with sapphires, emeralds, and other precious stones, while the stakes by which they were fastened, and the mallets with which those stakes were driven into the earth, were of solid gold: such were the sights beheld within the precincts of the palace. On the outside, however, poverty, ignorance, and starvation exhibited their gaunt, phantom visages among the crowd, scaring the eyeballs of those who were not too much dazzled by the gorgeous apparatus of tyranny, to discover the real nature of the materials out of which they were forged.

When the ambassador was presented to the shah, he made a speech to him in Russian; the “Asylum of the Universe” replied in Persian; and since neither of them understood one word of what was said to him by the other, their speeches must have been exceedingly interesting. However, a third person, “doctus utriusque linguæ,” clothed the shah’s ideas in Russian for the benefit of the ambassador, while he presented the thoughts of the latter, or at least something like them, to the shah, in the mellifluous language of Persia. All this while music, which the traveller did not find inharmonious, was played in the audience-chamber, and the mufti was reading aloud various portions of the Koran. Whether this was intended to show how indifferent, respecting all secular concerns, the holy men of Persia were, or to throw an air of religion over the transaction, or, finally, to exorcise all such devils as might be supposed to accompany such a rabble of Franks, Bell did not inquire; which, I think, was a great oversight. An entertainment, which all parties thought more agreeable than the speeches, followed next. The shah himself, according to ancient usage, was served before his guests; but the ambassador 136had the honour of being next attended to. Every article of the feast was served up in large gold or china dishes, but, according to the custom of the East, fingers were substituted for knives and forks, and these, as among the ancient Greeks, were wiped with large thin cakes of bread, instead of napkins.

The dinner to which they were shortly after invited by the keeper of the great seal was more magnificent than that given them by the shah. “Soon after we entered,” says Bell, “there were served up a great variety of sweetmeats, and all kinds of fruit that the climate afforded. Coffee and sherbet were carried about by turns. We were placed cross-legged on the carpets, except the ambassador, who had a seat. During this part of the feast we were entertained with vocal and instrumental music, dancing boys, tumblers, puppets, and jugglers. All the performers executed their parts with great dexterity. Two of them counterfeited a quarrel, one beat off the other’s turban with his foot, out of which dropped about fifteen or twenty large serpents, which ran or crawled about the room. One of them came towards me with great speed, which soon obliged me to quit my place. On seeing us alarmed, they told us the creatures were altogether inoffensive, as their teeth had been all drawn out. The fellow went about the room, and gathered them again into his turban, like so many eels. The victuals were now served in a neat and elegant manner. Every thing was well dressed in the Persian fashion. Our host was very cheerful, and contributed every thing in his power to please his guests. He excused himself handsomely enough for not having wine, as it was not then used at court.”

Two days after this the ambassador received intimation, that the business of the embassy being concluded, he might depart when he pleased; but the Russ, who seems to have relished the pilaus of 137Ispahan, would have been better pleased to have remained where he was the whole year. However, it being clear that the disciples of Ali by no means participated in his feelings, he unwillingly prepared to encounter once more his native fogs and snows. They left Ispahan on the 1st of September, and proceeded through Kasbin and Ghilān towards Shamakia. At Kasbin many of the ambassador’s suite, and Bell among the number, were attacked by a pestilential fever, which appears to have been the plague; but they all, excepting one person, recovered. They, however, lost twenty-two of their number before they finally quitted the Persian dominions.

It being the depth of winter when the ambassador arrived at Shamakia, he resolved to remain there until the following summer, time, in his opinion, being of little value. Accordingly it was not until the 26th of June that they embarked on the Caspian. Their journey homewards was long and tedious; but they at length reached Petersburg on the 30th of December, 1718; having consumed nearly three years and a half in going to and returning from Ispahan.

Bell observes that Peter, who was in the capital when they arrived, was said to be well satisfied with the conduct of his ambassador, whose principal business was to cultivate and cement amity and a good understanding between the two crowns of Russia and Persia. The city, notwithstanding the Swedish war, which had lasted nearly twenty years, had been greatly improved and adorned during his short absence; and its appearance had been so greatly changed, that he could scarcely imagine himself, he says, in the same place. Other changes had likewise taken place in that short interval. His friend Dr. Areskine was, he found, no more, having died about six weeks previous to his arrival. However, he was kindly received by his other friends, 138as well Russian as English; and he mentions it as a circumstance worthy of remark, that he met among the former with many persons of much worth and honour.

Captain Valensky, the Persian ambassador, having contracted a friendship for him during their journey, continued to regard him with the same feelings after their return; and when, on hearing that the czar was about to despatch an embassy to China, Bell expressed an ardent desire to accompany it, recommended him in such a manner to the ambassador, Captain Ismailoff, as not only procured his reception into the suite of the mission, but the friendship of that worthy man for the remainder of his life.

Our traveller set out from Petersburg on his way to China on the 14th of July, 1719, and proceeded through Moscow to Kazan, where he awaited the setting in of winter, the journey through Siberia being to be performed in sledges. The poor Swedish generals who had been taken prisoners at Pultowa were still here, regretting, naturally enough, but unavailingly, their long detention from their native land. On the 24th of November, the snow having fallen sufficiently to smooth the roads, Bell and a portion of the ambassador’s suite departed from Kazan. Their road lay through a fertile country, producing abundance of cattle, corn, and honey, and covered, in many places, by vast woods of tall oaks, fir, and birch. The beehives used here were of a remarkable form. The inhabitants, says Bell, take the trunk of a lime-tree, aspen, or any soft wood, of about five or six feet long; having scooped it hollow, they make a large aperture in one side, about a foot in length and four inches broad; they then fix cross rods within the trunk for the bees to build upon, and having done this, close up the place carefully with a board, leaving small notches for the bees to go in and out. These hives are planted in proper places at the side of a wood, and tied to a tree 139with strong withes, to prevent their being destroyed by the bears, who are great devourers of honey. Bell learned, moreover, that the peasantry in these parts had a method of extracting the honey without destroying the bees; but the persons who gave him the information described the process so indistinctly that he could not understand it.

Their road now lay for many days through dark woods, interspersed at wide intervals with villages and cornfields. The cold daily became more and more intense; thick fogs hung upon the ground; the frost penetrated everywhere. The fingers and toes of those most exposed were frozen, and could only be restored to animation by being rubbed with snow. At length, on the 9th of December, they arrived at Solekampsky, famous for its great salt-works, which, if necessary, could not only have furnished all Russia, but several other countries also, with salt. Vast strata of salt-rocks seem here to extend on all sides at a certain distance from the surface. Pits are sunk to these rocks, and are quickly filled with water, which, being drawn off and boiled in large caldrons, the salt is deposited at the bottom. The vein of salt-rock sometimes runs under the river Kama, in which case it is reached by sinking wooden towers in the stream, as they do when building the piers of a bridge, and piercing through these to the necessary depth. The salt water then springs up, fills the wooden tower, and is pumped off as before. Prodigious strata of this kind of rock traversing the bed of the ocean, may, perhaps, be the cause of the saltness of its waters.

There are extensive mines of excellent iron-ore in the same neighbourhood; where is likewise found the asbestos fossil, from which the incombustible linen is manufactured. The value of this laniferous stone is said to have been discovered by a sportsman, who, happening one day to be in want of wadding in the woods, and observing the threadlike 140fibres of this fossil, plucked some of them off for that use; and finding that the gunpowder had no effect upon them, communicated the fact to others, which led to those inquiries and experiments by which its extraordinary properties were discovered.

From Solekampsky they proceeded to the Oural Mountains, which divide Russia from Siberia. These are covered in all directions by vast forests, excepting in a few valleys where they have been felled by man, where our traveller found the landscape beautiful even in the depth of winter. On descending their eastern slope into the plains, a milder prospect, woods, villages, cornfields, and meadows, met the eye; but winter still reigned over all, binding up the streams, whirling his snow-drifts over the plain, or clothing the forests with frost and icicles. The fogs, however, had disappeared; and as far as the eye could reach, all was snow below and sunshine above. On the 16th of December the gilded crosses and cupolas of Tobolsk were discovered, rising in the distance above the snowy plain; and in the evening of the same day they found themselves agreeably lodged within its walls.

Here, as well as in most of the towns through which they had passed, they found a number of Swedish officers of distinction; among the rest Dittmar, secretary to Charles XII.; and Bell observes that they were permitted to enjoy a considerable share of liberty. They could walk about where they pleased, hunt in the woods, and even make long journeys to visit their countrymen at distant places. He, in fact, so indulgent to tyranny had his residence in Russia rendered him, thought “his majesty” was showing them an especial favour by cantoning them in those parts where they could live well at a small expense, and enjoy all the liberty which persons in their circumstances could expect.

Whatever may be our opinion of the conduct of Peter, whom the childish folly of some writers has 141denominated the Great, it must be confessed, that as far as his own interests were concerned, the exiling of these officers into Siberia was a judicious step, as it tended powerfully to civilize, that is, to render more taxable, the wild and ignorant inhabitants of that vast country. Several of the Swedish exiles were persons who had received a superior education. Not being able quickly to conform to the gross tastes of those who surrounded them, they therefore laboured by every means in their power to diffuse a relish for their own more liberal preferences; and as they very fortunately reckoned painting and music,—arts which, addressing themselves partly to the senses, possess a certain charm even for savages,—among their accomplishments, they succeeded by their pictures and concerts in subduing the ferocity of their masters. Still further to extend their influence, they sometimes amused themselves with teaching a select portion of the youth of both sexes the French and German languages; and as ingenuous youth has all the world over a reverence for those who introduce it into the paths of knowledge, the purpose of the Swedes was amply accomplished, and they enjoyed the affection of powerful and honourable friends.

To a sportsman the neighbourhood of Tobolsk affords endless amusement. Here are found every species of game compatible with the nature of the climate: the urhan, the heathcock, the partridge, which in winter turns white as a dove, woodcocks, snipes, and a prodigious variety of water-fowl. Vast flights of snowbirds, which are about the size of a lark, come to Siberia in autumn, and disappear in spring. In colour many of these birds are as white as snow, while others are speckled or brown. Bears, wolves, lynxes, several kinds of foxes, squirrels, ermines, sables, and martens, abound in the woods. The ermines generally burrow in the open field, where they are caught in traps baited with a morsel 142of flesh. These animals are caught only in winter, when their fur is white and most valuable. They turn brown in summer. The hares, likewise, and the foxes of these northern regions, imitate the changes of mother earth; and in winter are clad in furs resembling in colour the snows over which they run.

During his stay at Tobolsk, Bell made numerous inquiries respecting the religion and manners of the Tartars inhabiting the region lying between the Caspian and Mongolia; and learned, among other particulars, that in an ancient palace, the construction of which some attributed to Timour, others to Genghis Khan, there were preserved numerous scrolls of glazed paper, fairly written in many instances in gilt characters. Some of these scrolls were said to be black, though the far greater number were white. They were written in the Kalmuck language. While our traveller was busy in these inquiries, a soldier suddenly presented himself before him in the street with a bundle of these scrolls in his hand; which, as the man offered them for a small sum, he purchased, and brought home to England. They were here distributed among our traveller’s learned friends; and as Sir Hans Sloane was reckoned among the number, they will eventually find their way, I presume, to the British Museum. But whether or not any of them have as yet been translated, I have not been able to discover. Two similar scrolls, sent by Peter I. to Paris, were immediately turned into French by the savans of that capital, to whom no language comes amiss, from that of the ancient Egyptians and Parsees to that of modern sparrows, and were said to be merely a commission to a lama, or priest, and a form of prayer. Whether this interpretation may be depended on, says Bell, I shall not determine.

On the 9th of January, 1720, they set out from Tobolsk. Their road now led them through numerous 143Tartar villages, where the houses were constructed with wood and moss, with thin pieces of ice fixed in holes in the walls instead of windows. The whole country, as far as the eye could reach, consisted of level marshy grounds, sprinkled with lakes, and overgrown with tall woods of aspen, alder, willows, and other aquatic trees, among which our traveller remarked a species of large birch, with a bark as smooth and white as paper.

Pursuing their journey with the utmost rapidity, they arrived on the 4th of February at Tomsk, where Bell, as usual, immediately set on foot the most active inquiries respecting the neighbouring regions and their inhabitants. From the citadel of Tomsk, which is situated on an eminence, a chain of hills is discovered towards the south, beyond which, our traveller was informed, in a vast plain, many tombs and burying-places were found. His information throws much interesting light on a passage of Herodotus. This great historian relates, in his fourth book, that when the ancient Scythians interred their king, they were accustomed to strangle upon his body his favourite concubines, his cupbearer, his cook, and other favourite personages; and we learn from other authors, that together with the bones of these, cups, vases, and other vessels of gold were deposited with the royal corpse in the tomb. Rites not greatly dissimilar took place in the heroic ages among the Greeks; for we find men and horses sacrificed upon the funeral pile of Patroclus in the Iliad, and Achilles placing the white bones of his friend in a χρυσέη φιάλη, or golden vase, to be afterward deposited with his own in the same mound.

The tombs discovered in the great plains south of Tomsk in all probability were those of ancient Scythian chiefs and kings; but if so, the spot must have been regarded as the common cemetery of the race, to which the bodies of all persons above a certain rank were to be borne, for the number of barrows 144formed there was immense. Numerous individuals annually resorted hither from Tomsk and other places to search for treasure among these ancient graves, and they constantly found among the ashes of the dead large quantities of gold, silver, brass, and occasionally precious stones; hilts of swords, armour, saddle-ornaments, bits, and horse-trappings, together with the bones of horses and elephants, were sometimes met with. From which Bell infers, that when any general or person of distinction was interred, it was customary to bury all his arms, his favourite horse, and servant with him in the same grave; and this practice prevails to this day, he adds, among the Kalmucks and other Tartars. He was shown several pieces of armour and other curiosities which were dug out of these tombs, particularly a small equestrian statue of brass or bronze of no mean design or workmanship; together with figures of deer cast in pure gold, which were divided in the middle, and pierced by small holes, as if intended to be used as ornaments to a quiver, or to the furniture of a horse.

In the woods of this part of Siberia there is a species of wild ass, strikingly resembling the African zebra, having their hair waved white and brown, like that of a tiger. Bell saw several of their skins. Numerous wild horses of a fine chestnut colour were likewise found, but could not, he says, be tamed, even if taken when foals. The Kalmucks, however, continued to make some use of them: for, not being able to ride, they killed and ate them, and used their skins as couches to sleep upon.

Proceeding eastward from Tomsk they arrived in about a fortnight on the banks of the river Tongusta, where the country on both sides being covered with impenetrable woods, it was necessary to make their way along the frozen stream, while the biting winds continued to whirl and drift about the snow in their path. Occasionally single houses or small villages 145were found upon the banks. One day, during their progress along this river, they met a prodigious flock of hares, all as white as the snow on which they walked, slowly descending the stream; and Bell was informed that these animals are frequently seen travelling south in much greater numbers.

They were now in the country of the Tongusy, a people who have no fixed dwellings, but roam at pleasure through the woods, erecting where they make any stay a few spars, inclining to each other above, and covering them with pieces of birchen bark sewed together, with a small hole at the top. The men, however, are brave, and the women virtuous. They practise tattooing. Their religion consists in the worship of the sun and moon. Their dress is of fur. Their arms, the bow and arrow, the lance, and a species of hatchet. In winter they travel over the frozen snow with shoes, the soles of which are of wood, and about five feet in length, and five or six inches broad, inclining to a point before and square behind. The feet are slipped into a thong fastened in the middle; and with these they can move over the deepest snow without sinking. But as these are suited only to the plains, they have a different kind for ascending the hills, with the skins of seals glued to the boards, having the hair inclining backwards, which prevents the sliding of the shoes. With these they climb hills with the greatest facility, and having reached the summit, dart down the opposite slope with astonishing rapidity.

Such are the great sable hunters of Siberia, who feed indifferently on the bear, the fox, and the wolf. The sables, says Bell, are not caught in the same manner as other animals. The fur is so tender, that the least mark of an arrow, or ruffling of the hair, spoils the sale of the skin. In hunting them they only use a little dog and a net. When a hunter discovers the track of a sable upon the snow, he follows 146it sometimes for several days unintermittingly, until the poor animal, quite tired, takes refuge in some tall tree, for it can climb like a cat. The hunter then spreads his net round the tree, and kindles a fire, when the sable, unable to endure the smoke, immediately descends, and is caught in the net. These hunters, when hard pressed by hunger, have recourse to a practice analogous to that of many South Sea islanders under similar circumstances: taking two thin pieces of board, they place one on the pit of the stomach, the other on the back, and gradually drawing together the extremities, allay in some degree the cravings of appetite. The winters here are long, and the cold so intense that the earth never thaws, even in summer, beyond two feet and a half below the surface. When they dig to the depth of three feet for the purpose of burying their dead, they find the earth frozen; and in these graves the bodies remain unconsumed, and will do so, says the traveller, to the day of judgment.

On the 17th of March, the weather, as they began to approach the Baikal lake, changed so suddenly from winter to spring that they almost imagined themselves dropped imperceptibly into another climate. They therefore abandoned their sledges, which, as the snow was gone, were now become useless, and proceeded on horseback. Next day they arrived at Irkutsk on the river Angara. Here they remained until the 15th of May, waiting for the melting of the ice on the lake; and amusing themselves in the meanwhile with hunting, and observing the country and its inhabitants.

When the season was thought to be sufficiently far advanced, they proceeded up the banks of the river, until they discovered the lake bursting out between two high rocks, and tumbling down over enormous stones which lie quite across the channel of the river, which is here a mile in breadth. The sublimity of the scene, which is magnificent beyond 147description, is heightened exceedingly by the dashing and roaring of the waters, which impress the beholder with ideas of the irresistible power and grandeur of nature, the privilege to contemplate which elevates and ennobles him in his own estimation. And this, in reality, is the principal source of the pleasure we derive from the view of stupendous mountains, the tempestuous ocean, cataracts, volcanoes, or conflagrations.

They now embarked on the Baikal, which, as Gibbon facetiously observes, disdains the modest appellation of a lake, and on receding from the land enjoyed a full prospect of its western shores, rising abruptly into rocky pinnacles capped with snow, and towering far above every thing around them. These stretched away immeasurably towards the north, until they were lost in the distance. On the south the view was bounded by hills of gentler elevation, whose tops, for the most part, were covered with wood. Their passage was tedious, for on approaching the mouth of the Selinga they found the whole shore skirted by long reefs of floating icebergs, between which they forced their way with considerable difficulty. However, they at length entered the Selinga, and ascending partly in their boats and partly on horseback along its banks, arrived safely at Selinguisky on the 29th of May.

At this town, which, like the ancient Chalcedony on the Bosphorus, may be termed the “City of the Blind,” being built upon an inconvenient spot in the neighbourhood of an excellent one, they were to remain until the court of Pekin, which had been informed of their approach, should send an officer to conduct them over the frontiers. In the mean time every person amused himself according to his taste. Our honest and intelligent traveller, as he is very properly denominated by Gibbon, whose chief pleasure consisted in observing the manners of mankind, had here an ample field before him, in a variety of 148characters affording the most striking moral contrasts, from the Hindoo Yoghee, who bought live fishes on the banks of a stream in order to enjoy the pleasure of setting them swimming again, to the fierce, tough-nerved Mongol, who could view death, whether inflicted on man or beast, without exhibiting the least horror or emotion. With one of the chiefs of this warlike nation, who, by temperance and exercise, had contrived to reach his eightieth year with much of the vigour and energy of youth about him, they had a splendid hunting-match, which, as conducted by the Tartars, may justly, as our great historian remarks, be considered as the image and the school of war.

The Chinese, who are as dilatory in their movements as the ancient Spartans, allowed them ample time to amuse themselves, for it was not until the 24th of August that their conductor arrived. On the 8th of September they departed, and arriving in a few days on the banks of the Saratzyn, the small rivulet which divides the Russian empire from Chinese Mongolia,

But these between a silver streamlet glides,
And scarce a name distinguisheth the brook,
Though rival kingdoms press its verdant sides,

they crossed over, and found themselves in the “Celestial Empire!” Previously, however, a little incident occurred perfectly characteristic of the Chinese. Their conductor, observing some women walking in the fields, and fearing, apparently, that their petticoats would set all Pekin on fire, inquired with alarm to whom they belonged, and whither they were travelling. “To China,” replied the ambassador. At this the worshipper of Fo’s terrors were increased: he replied that they had women enough in Pekin already, and that, as there never had been a European woman in China, he would not, without a special order from the emperor, be 149answerable for introducing the first; but that, if his excellency desired it, he would despatch a courier to learn the emperor’s pleasure. As this would have retarded their movements another six weeks, the ambassador, who had not the wit to disguise the ladies in men’s apparel, sent them back to Selinguisky, and continued his journey without them.

They now entered upon that vast table-land which was found by the Jesuits to be three thousand geometrical paces above the level of the sea, from which the mountains forming its southern boundary serve but as steps by which the traveller may descend to the low plains of China. The small undulations or eminences which break the uniformity of these vast steppes are covered with the rhubarb plant, which grows there spontaneously, and is propagated more rapidly by the aid of the marmot, which, burrowing in prodigious numbers at its roots, loosens the mould, and prepares it for the reception of the seeds. The roots are dug up for exportation by the Mongols, who carelessly bore holes through them, and hang them about their tents or on the horns of their sheep to dry.

After passing the Tula, no river again occurred north of the Great Wall. The mode of travelling here resembles, in some degree, that which prevails in the deserts of Arabia and Africa, except that the walls are more frequent, and the danger from marauders little or none. Their food, after the first few days, consisted of mutton only; but as this was of an excellent quality, the circumstance was not considered as a great hardship. In the course of their journey they traversed a large plain, thickly strewed with transparent red and yellow pebbles, which glittered beautifully in the sun, and were said to be cornelians and yellow sapphires, being hard, and taking a fine polish. The few Mongols whom they found wandering with their flocks and herds over the waste, appeared more contented and happy 150than the possessors of the most fertile soil; and this being the primitive, the freest, and perhaps the most natural condition of man, the circumstance ought not to excite our astonishment. The mere act of locomotion is pleasant to man, and in pastoral tribes, accustomed to wandering from their infancy, it becomes a passion, the gratification of which is happiness.

“On the 2d of November, about noon,” says Bell, “we could perceive the famous wall, running along the tops of the mountains, towards the north-east. One of our people cried out ‘land!’ as if we had been all this while at sea. It was now, as nearly as I can compute, about forty English miles from us, and appeared white at this distance.” The nearer they approached the mountains, the more were they astonished at the grandeur of this wall, which, as Voltaire very justly observes, makes no inconsiderable figure even upon the map of the world. “The appearance of it,” says our traveller, “running from one high rock to another, with square towers at certain intervals, even at this distance, is most magnificent.” In two days they arrived at the foot of this mighty barrier, and entered through a great gate into China. Here a thousand men were perpetually on guard, by the officers commanding whom they were received with much politeness, and invited to tea.

“The long, or endless wall, as it is commonly called,” says our traveller, who has given the best account I have yet met with of this prodigious undertaking, “encompasses all the north and west parts of China. It was built about six hundred years ago by one of the emperors, to prevent the frequent incursions of the Mongols, and other western Tartars, who made a practice of assembling numerous troops of horse, and invading the country in different places. The Chinese frontiers were too extensive to be guarded against such bold and numerous 151enemies, who, after plundering and destroying a wealthy country, returned to their own loaded with spoils.

“The Chinese, finding all precautions ineffectual to put a stop to the inroads of such barbarians, at last resolved to build this famous wall. It begins in the province of Leotong, at the bottom of the bay of Nankin, and proceeds across rivers and over the tops of the highest mountains without interruption, keeping nearly along the circular ridge of barren rocks that surround the country to the north and west; and after running southward about twelve hundred English miles, ends in impassable mountains and sandy deserts.

“The foundation consists of large blocks of square stones laid in mortar; but the rest of the wall is built of brick. The whole is so strong and well built as to need almost no repair, and in such a dry climate may remain in this condition for many ages. Its height and breadth are not equal in every place; nor, indeed, is it necessary they should. When carried over steep rocks, where no horse can pass, it is about fifteen or twenty feet high, and broad in proportion; but when running through a valley, or crossing a river, there you see a strong wall, about thirty feet high, with square towers at the distance of a bowshot from one another, and embrasures at equal distances. The top of the wall is flat, and paved with broad freestones; and where it rises over a rock, or any eminence, you ascend by a fine easy stone stair. The bridges over rivers and torrents are exceedingly neat, being both well contrived and executed. They have two stories of arches, one above another, to afford sufficient passage for the waters on sudden rains and floods.”[6]

6.  Authors are not at all agreed respecting the period at which this wall was erected. Gibbon, relying apparently on the testimony of Duhalde (Description de la China, tom. ii. p. 45) and Deguignes (Hist. des Huns, tom. ii. p. 59), gives the third century before the Christian era as the date of its construction, and assigns it a length of fifteen hundred miles.—(History, vol. iv. p. 361.) Du Pauw, an ingenious but conceited and coxcombical writer, makes no objection to the antiquity of the work, but reduces its length to about four hundred and fifty miles; and this without citing any authority, or even stating his reasons, except that he does not choose to consider the western branch, which, he tells us, is built of earth, worthy the name of a wall.—(Recherch. Phil. sur les Egypt. et Chin. tom. ii. p. 77-79.) For my own part, I am inclined to agree with those writers who think it an entirely modern work, erected since the thirteenth century; for the silence of Marco Polo appears to me absolutely decisive. Du Pauw’s supposition that he could have entered China from Mongolia, that is, passed through the wall, and lived eighteen years in the country, which he traversed in every direction, without once hearing of its existence, is too absurd even for refutation. That he abstained from describing it, lest he should excite a suspicion of the truth of his narrative, though somewhat more probable perhaps, does not upon the whole seem credible. If it existed in his time, I can account for his silence, or rather for the absence of all mention of it in his travels, as they at present exist, only by supposing that the passage in which this extraordinary work was alluded to, was, like many other passages, omitted from ignorant incredulity by transcribers, and so lost. Thus, too, we may account for no mention of tea being found in his travels.

152Bell was, moreover, informed by the Chinese that this wall was completed within the space of five years, every sixth man in the empire having been compelled to work at it or find a substitute. But if the date of its erection is altogether uncertain, we may very well be permitted to indulge our skepticism respecting such circumstances as tend to increase the marvellousness of the undertaking. It is far more probable that it is the work of ages, and that numerous and long interruptions occurred in the prosecution of the design. With respect to its utility, I likewise dissent altogether from the opinion of our traveller, who, in comparing it with the pyramids, styles the latter “a work of vanity.” Had Bell believed, as I do, that the pyramids were temples, he would, however, have been the last man in the world to have thus characterized them; but with respect to the long wall, it may be proved to have been not only useless, but pernicious, since the imaginary security it afforded encouraged those unwarlike habits to which the Chinese are naturally addicted; and thus, when the Tartars overleaped this contemptible 153obstacle to valour, and challenged them to defend their empire by arms, they discovered that soldiers are the only wall which a wise people should oppose to its enemies, all other defences being found upon trial to be utterly vain. No country, no, not even Hindostan itself, has been more frequently conquered than China; nor has any region of the earth been more frequently desolated and drenched with blood by civil wars and rebellions; and if ever circumstances should render it necessary for us to extend our conquests in Asia beyond the Burrampooter on the north-east, it would be seen with what ease the Hindoo Sipahees, who subdued Tippoo Sultan, the Rohillas, Rajpoots, Patans, and Burmese, would rout and subdue the feeble and inefficient troops of China.

But to proceed with our traveller. All the way to Pekin they observed terrible marks of the destructive power of earthquakes in these countries; many of the towns having been half-destroyed by one which had happened the preceding year,[7] when great numbers of people were buried beneath the ruins. The country appeared to be well cultivated, and the towns and villages numerous, but not in any remarkable degree. They reached Pekin on the 18th of November.

7.  Du Pauw shows by his use of this passage how little his accuracy is to be depended on. Bell says, “above one-half being thereby laid in ruins;” which our sophist thus translates into French:—“Il ne reste point une habitation sur pied!” and then audaciously refers to his authority, which he styles “Antermony Journal.”

Bell had now reached the goal of his wishes, and upon the whole was not disappointed. Long accustomed to the sight of savages immersed in ignorance and barbarism, he found the Chinese, by comparison, highly civilized. They drank tea, cultivated fine fruits, manufactured excellent silks, paper, and porcelain, and accumulated considerable wealth; but, before they were taught by the Jesuits, scarcely understood sufficient astronomy to enable them to calculate 154an eclipse, were ignorant of the art of founding cannon, of building chimneys, of making clocks and watches; and, what was infinitely worse than all this, they were under so little moral restraint that men incapable of maintaining a family married several wives with the execrable design of exposing or murdering their offspring. The existence of foundling hospitals in civilized countries proves that there everywhere exist individuals to whom the offshoots of their own being are objects of no solicitude; ancient nations, too, sometimes exposed weak or deformed children; but no people, as far as I have been able to discover, ever arrived at that pitch of depravity which distinguishes the Chinese, “among whom,” says Sir George Staunton, “habit seems to have familiarized a notion that life only becomes truly precious, and inattention to it criminal, after it has continued long enough to be endowed with a mind and sentiment; but that mere dawning existence may be suffered to be lost without scruple, though it cannot without reluctance.”

In the fine arts the Chinese have made but little progress, having no knowledge of sculpture, and very little of painting. Their literature, it is very clear, contains none of those splendid creations of genius which we might expect to find among a people partly civilized during so many ages, and which actually exist in the languages of Persia and Hindostan. Their popular religion is the grossest and most corrupt form of Buddhism; and even this, as well as their philosophy and arts, such as they are, they originally borrowed from Hindostan, which seems in antiquity to have been the great workshop where all the fantastic systems, religious and philosophical, which were current among the heathen were fabricated.

Captain Ismailoff seems, like Lord Amherst, to have felt a peculiar antipathy to the practice of bowing nine times before the Chinese emperor; but at 155length, after many struggles with their prejudices, consented to conform to ancient usage. The first audience was granted him at one of the emperor’s country palaces, where, when he arrived, though the morning was cold and frosty, he found all the ministers of state and officers belonging to the court seated cross-legged upon their fur cushions in the open air,—an exhibition probably intended to serve as a reproof to the insolent barbarian who could object to bow nine times before a prince at whose door the greatest men in the Celestial Empire were contented to sit cross-legged in the frost! Nothing of that magnificence which Marco Polo found at the court of Kublai Khan was discoverable in that of Kamhi, where, on the contrary, the only circumstances truly remarkable were the extreme plainness of every thing and the affability and calm good sense of the aged monarch, who, in insisting on the observance of ancient forms and ceremonies, was actuated, it was clear, by no motives of paltry vanity.

Though Gibbon, with all his disposition to skepticism, allowed to Pekin a population of two millions, it would appear from Bell’s account, who says he rode round it at an easy trot in four hours, to be inferior to London in size; and no one who is acquainted with the form of Chinese houses, which are never more than one story high, and who reflects upon the extent of the imperial gardens, together with all the other gardens included within the walls, will doubt for a moment that it is vastly less populous. Upon the accounts of the Chinese themselves no reliance whatever can be placed. They are greater proficients in lying than the ancient Cretans; and on the subject of population have deluded European travellers with fables so monstrous, that there is nothing in Gulliver more repugnant to common sense. To maintain the one-half of the population to which their empire makes pretensions would demand a progress in civilization and the arts of life 156of which hitherto they have not even dreamed; but a paper population costs nothing. Three hundred and thirty-three millions are as easily written as one hundred and nineteen millions. But if we reflect for a moment on the vast deserts, the barren mountains, the impenetrable woods which the Jesuits, when scattered and terrified into their senses by persecution, found in almost every part of this richly-cultivated country, and were enabled to conceal themselves in for months, we shall perhaps be disposed to conclude, that in proportion to its extent China is less populous than Hindostan, which yet does not, in all probability, contain one-fourth of the population it might be made to support if properly cultivated.

The object of the mission, which indeed seems to have been of little importance, having been accomplished, the ambassador prepared to depart. The aged emperor, however, who appears to have possessed a thoroughly benevolent and polished mind, was desirous of presenting them before they took their leave with the splendid spectacle of a Mongol hunt, of such a one at least as could be represented in a park of two or three days’ journey in extent. On the 21st of February, therefore, the day appointed for the hunt, horses were brought them at one o’clock in the morning, the Chinese resolving that no time should be lost. They reached the royal park about daybreak, where, in a summer-house erected in the forest, they found the emperor, who had risen long before their arrival. Here they breakfasted. Before the south front of the summer-house there was a large canal, with several fish-ponds filled with clear water, which greatly beautified the scene; and all around, at convenient distances, stood a thousand tents in which the courtiers had slept.

“The signal was then given,” says Bell, “that the emperor was coming; upon which all the great men drew up in lines, from the bottom of the stairs to 157the road leading to the forest, all on foot, dressed in their hunting-habits, the same with those used by the officers and cavalry of the army when in the field, and armed with bows and arrows. We had a proper place assigned us, and made our bows to his majesty, who returned a gracious smile, with signs to follow him. He was seated cross-legged in an open machine carried by four men with long poles rested on their shoulders. Before him lay a fowling-piece, a bow, and a sheaf of arrows. This has been his hunting equipage for some years, since he left off riding.... As soon as the emperor had passed, the company mounted and followed him at some distance till we came into the open forest, where all formed into a semicircle, in the centre of which was the emperor, having on his left-hand (the place of honour in China) about eight or ten of his sons and grandsons, and the ambassador on his right, about fifty paces distant. Close by him were the master of the chase with some greyhounds and the grand falconer with his hawks. I could not but admire the beauty of these fine birds. Many of them were as white as doves, having one or two black feathers in their wings or tails. They are brought from Siberia, or places to the north of the river Amoor.

“Our wings being extended, there were many hares started, which the company endeavoured to drive towards the emperor, who killed many of them with arrows as they passed; those he missed he made a sign to some of the princes to pursue, who also killed several of them with arrows; but no other person was permitted to draw a bow or stir from the line.

“From the open field we continued our route westward to a place among thickets and tall reeds, where we sprung a number of pheasants, partridges, and quails. His majesty then laid aside his bow and arrows, and carried a hawk on his hand, which he 158flew as occasion offered. The hawks generally raked in the pheasants while flying; but if they took to the reeds or bushes they soon caught them.

“After proceeding about two or three miles farther into the forest we came to a tall wood, where we found several sorts of deer. The young men went in and beat the woods, while the rest of the company remained without. We saw much game pass us, but nobody drew a bow until the emperor had killed a stag, which he did very dexterously with a broad-headed arrow; after which the princes had leave to kill several bucks, among which was one of that species that bears the musk, called kaberda in Siberia.

“We had now been six hours on horseback, and I reckon had travelled about fifteen English miles, but no end of the forest yet appeared. We turned short from this wood southward, till coming to some marshes overgrown with tall reeds we roused a great many wild boars; but as it was not the season for killing them they all escaped. The hunting of these fierce animals is reckoned the most dangerous of all kinds of sport except the chase of lions and tigers. Every one endeavoured to avoid them, and several of them ran furiously through the thickest troops of horse. The emperor was so cautious as to have a company of men armed with lances to guard his machine.

“We continued the sport till about four o’clock, when we came to a high artificial mount of a square figure, raised in the middle of a plain, on the top of which were pitched about ten or twelve tents for the imperial family. This mount had several winding paths leading to the top, planted on each side with rows of trees in imitation of nature. To the south was a large basin of water with a boat upon it, from whence, I suppose, the earth has been taken that formed this mount. At some distance from the mount tents were erected for the people of distinction 159and officers of the court. About two hundred yards from it we were lodged in some clean huts covered with reeds.”—[No mark that Kamhi held the czar’s ambassador in very high estimation.]—“The emperor, from his situation, had a view of all the tents and a great way farther into the forest. The whole scene made a very pretty appearance.”

When they had dined and been interrogated respecting the degree of admiration with which they had beheld the feats of the emperor and his sons, which was of course superlative, the ambassador was informed that he was to be entertained with a tiger-hunt, or rather “baiting,” as our traveller terms it; three animals of that species having been kept for some time in a cage for that purpose. “The hill where the emperor’s tent stood was surrounded with several ranks of guards armed with long spears. A guard also was placed before the ambassador’s and the rest of the tents, to secure the whole encampment from the fury of these fierce animals. The first was let out by a person mounted on a fleet horse, who opened the door of the coop by means of a rope tied to it. The tiger immediately left his cage, and seemed much pleased to find himself at liberty. The horseman rode off at full speed, while the tiger (poor fellow!) was rolling himself upon the grass. At last he rose, growled, and walked about. The emperor fired twice at him with bullets, but the distance being considerable missed him, though the pieces were well pointed. Upon which his majesty sent to the ambassador to try his piece upon him; which being charged with a single ball, he walked towards the animal, accompanied by ten men armed with spears, in case of accidents, till, being at a convenient distance, he took his aim and killed him on the spot.”

The second and third tigers were despatched in a short time; and the sportsmen, pluming themselves upon their magnificent achievements, sat down in great good-humour to supper, as men always do 160when they have performed any glorious action. The skin of the tiger slain by the ambassador was sent him by the emperor, who observed, that by the laws of hunting he had a right to it. The sport of the next day differed very little from the preceding. They continued, however, advancing through the forest without discovering any end to it, and passed the night in a temple near another imperial summer-house. The extent of this immense park, which was all enclosed by a high wall, may enable us to form some idea of the quantity of useless land in China; for besides the number of similar enclosures belonging to the imperial family, we may be sure that, as far as possible, all the rich and great imitate the example of the sovereign.

The ambassador now received his audience of leave, and, after making several visits of ceremony, and receiving the curious but not valuable presents intended for the czar, departed from Pekin. Their route from the capital to the Great Wall, and thence across the deserts of Mongolia to Selinguisky, though not precisely the same as that by which they had come, afforded but few new objects, and was rendered interesting by no striking incidents. The Baikal Lake being still frozen when they reached it, they traversed it on light sledges upon the ice. They then embarked upon the Angara, and descended by water to Yeniseisk. Proceeding thence by land, they soon arrived upon the banks of the river Ket, where they again took to their boats; and sailing down this melancholy stream, bordered on both sides by the most gloomy forests, immerged into the mighty stream of the Obe. They now sailed down this river to its confluence with the Irtish, another noble stream, against the current of which they made their way with much difficulty to Tobolsk. Here they quitted their boats, and continued their journey on sledges. Winter was rapidly invading the country. Snow, cold winds, frost, and short days conspired 161to render their movements irksome; but they still pushed on rapidly, and on the 5th of January, 1722, arrived at Moscow, where they found the czar and all his court, who had recently removed thither from Petersburg.

Peter, surrounded by his courtiers, the general officers, and the nobility and gentry from all parts of the empire, was making great preparations for the celebration of the festivals appointed to be solemnized in commemoration of the peace concluded at Aland in 1721, between Russia and Sweden, after a war of more than twenty years, when our traveller arrived; and as he appears greatly to have admired the policy of Peter on most occasions, he was particularly gratified at the present exhibition. He observes that Peter, even in his amusements and times of diversion, made use of all possible means of inspiring his people with a love of what was useful; and as the Russians had a peculiar aversion to shipping, his principal aim in the shows exhibited at Moscow was to dispel that prejudice, by impressing upon their minds that it was owing to his naval power that the peace had been obtained.

“The triumphant entry,” says Bell, “was made from a village about seven miles from Moscow, called Seswedsky. The first of the cavalcade was a galley finely carved and gilt, in which the rowers plied their oars as on the water. The galley was commanded by the high-admiral of Russia. Then came a frigate of sixteen small brass guns, with three masts, completely rigged, manned with twelve or fourteen youths habited like Dutch skippers, in black velvet, who trimmed the sails, and performed all the manœuvres of a ship at sea. Then came most richly-decorated barges, wherein sat the empress and the ladies of the court. There were also pilot-boats heaving the lead, and above thirty other vessels, pinnaces, wherries, &c., each filled with masqueraders in the dresses of different nations. It was in the 162month of February, at which time all the ground was covered with snow, and all the rivers frozen. All these machines were placed on sledges, and were drawn by horses through all the principal streets of Moscow. The ship required above forty horses to draw it. In order to its passing under the gates the topmasts were struck, and, when passed, set up again; besides which, the gateway was dug as low as was necessary for admitting it to pass.”

As soon as these festivals were concluded, Peter, who had been invited into Persia with an army by the shah, who required his aid against the rebellious Afghans, prepared to march southward; and Bell, who was thought to understand something of Persian manners, having spent some time in the country, was engaged by the czar’s chief physician to accompany the expedition. Accordingly, the troops having been embarked on the Moskwa, they descended by water to the Caspian Sea, and made for the shores of Daghestan, where they landed and encamped. They then proceeded along the seashore to Derbend, where the fleet containing the provisions, stores, &c. for the army was wrecked upon the beach. This gave Peter a plausible excuse for returning home without affording the shah the desired aid. Indeed, the whole expedition appears to have been a mere piece of treachery got up for the purpose of obtaining possession of Derbend; for “the emperor determined,” says Bell, “to leave things in the state they were in, and to return again to Astrakhan by the same way we came, leaving a garrison at Derbend sufficient to secure the advantage he had gained.”

We now lose sight of our traveller for fifteen years, the whole of which, however, he spent in Russia. In 1737 the war with Turkey, which had begun in 1734, began to grow disagreeable to the Russian court, the Ottomites, in spite of their barbarism, being more obstinate in the field than their polished enemies of the north had anticipated. Under these circumstances, 163it was thought advisable to negotiate a peace; but as the Turks made no proposals, and as in time of war no subject of Russia, or Germany, the ally of Russia, was admitted into the dominions of the sultan, Bell, who appears to have been greatly respected both for his character and abilities, was prevailed upon, “at the earnest desires of Count Osterman, the chancellor of Russia, and of Mr. Rondeau, his Britannic majesty’s minister at the court of Russia,” to undertake the journey. He departed from Petersburg on the 6th of December, 1737, and arrived at Constantinople on the 29th of the next month. With respect to his commission, he merely observes that he punctually conformed to the terms of his instructions. His negotiations did not detain him long. He left Constantinople on the 8th of April, and on the 17th of May arrived at Petersburg. Here he concludes his account of himself and his travels. In the decline of his life he returned to Scotland, where he resided at Antermony, his native place; and it was there that, surrounded apparently by affluence, and enjoying the most ample leisure, he wrote his excellent and interesting account of his travels, the first edition of which appeared in 1762. His death took place in 1780.


Born 1751.—Died 1780.

This traveller, who for enterprise and courage has seldom been surpassed, was born in the year 1751, at Groton, a small village on the river Thames, in Connecticut, in the United States. He had, at a very early age, the misfortune to be deprived of his father; and although his mother, a woman of remarkable 164piety and benevolence, discharged with exemplary affection her duties towards him and her other children, notwithstanding a second marriage, this circumstance cut him off from all those advantages which the moral education received in a well-regulated family under the paternal roof confers. Owing in a great measure to the political condition of the country, but principally, perhaps, to the restlessness of his own character, his youthful studies were irregular and ill-directed. He frequently changed his inclinations in the choice of a profession. At one time the law, at another the career of a missionary among the Indians, captivated his fancy. When both these schemes of life had been, one after the other, abandoned, his imagination appears to have dwelt with complacency for a moment on the peaceful studies and noiseless, though important, avocations of a country clergyman.

The completion of the slender education which he received was effected at Dartmouth College, an institution established by the Rev. Dr. Wheelock, in the back woods, with the benevolent design of scattering the seeds of religion and civilization among the Indian nations. Here Ledyard, whose mind was as impatient of the salutary restraints of discipline as that of any savage upon earth, exhibited unequivocal tokens of those locomotive propensities which afterward goaded him into rather than directed him in his romantic but almost aimless wanderings over the greater part of the habitable world. For ordinary studies he had evidently no aptitude. He read, indeed, but it was such reading as beguiled away the time, and nourished the fantastic vagaries of his imagination, without much enlarging his mind, or knitting his character into firmness or consistency. In many respects he scarcely yielded to the knight of La Mancha. What does the reader think he carried with him to college, whither he was proceeding for the purpose of fitting himself for spreading the 165light of Christianity, and with it the blessings of social life, among the Indians? Histories of former missions, from the failure or success of which he might derive light for his own guidance; or books which, by unfolding the genuine character of savages, might instruct him in the art of captivating their affections and moulding their passions into manageable forms? Nothing of the kind. But instead of these, he drove across the woods to college in a sulkey, containing a choice collection of plays, with calico curtains, and various other materials for scenic representations!

When he had been some time at Dartmouth, toiling at studies which were wholly incompatible with his tastes, he suddenly disappeared, and no one could conjecture whither he had betaken himself. He was absent upwards of a quarter of a year; and it afterward appeared that during all this time he was wandering among the savages, reconnoitring, as his American biographer conjectures, the strong places of ignorance and prejudice against which, as a missionary, his future attacks were to be directed. It is more probable, however, that the excursion was undertaken merely to escape from the discipline of the college, than which nothing, it is clear, could be more irksome to him. After roaming as far as the borders of Canada, picking up as he went along a knowledge of the character and language of the savages, which was of essential service to him in his subsequent wanderings, he returned to Dartmouth, and resumed his studies.

Nevertheless, a secret predilection, which operated like destiny, already began to shape his course towards its proper goal. An appetite for violent excitement gradually discovered itself in his character. Action of some kind or other became necessary. To satisfy this longing he climbed mountains in winter, and slept in the snow; but this sobering couch, which we are told brought St. Anthony to 166reason, failed to produce so favourable an effect upon Ledyard. He descended the mountain apparently pleased to have discovered that slight hardships, at least, would not kill him, and fully resolved, as soon as opportunity should present itself, to put the force of his constitution to still further trial. Accident not furnishing him with an occasion for exhibiting his prowess in this way, he took the matter into his own hands.

Robinson Crusoe was evidently Ledyard’s beau idéal of a hero. To the young mind which makes companions of its own dream, solitude is sweet, as it favours their growth, and throws a gorgeous mantle over their deformities. Our young traveller seems to have early conceived the design of achieving a reputation, and in the mean while, until he should have made the first step, and acquired the right to exact some degree of consideration among mankind, the dim forest, or the lonely river, was a more agreeable associate in his mind than any of those two-legged animals with which a residence at college daily brought him into contact. He therefore at once resolved to put an end to so mawkish a way of life. Selecting from the majestic forest which clothed the margin of the Connecticut River a tree large enough to form a canoe, he contrived, with the aid of some of his fellow-students, to fell and convey it to the stream, which runs near the college. Here it was hollowed out, and fashioned in the requisite shape, and when completed measured fifty feet in length by three in breadth. His young college companions enabled him to lay in the necessary store of provisions. He had a bear-skin for a covering; a Greek Testament and Ovid to amuse him on the way; and thus equipped, he pushed off into the current, bade adieu to his youthful friends, turned his back upon Dartmouth, and floated leisurely down the stream. Hartford, the place of his destination, was one hundred and forty miles distant. The 167country, during much of the way, was a wilderness, and the river, of the navigation of which he was totally ignorant, exhibited in many places dangerous falls and rapids. However, youth and ignorance are generally bold. He was, besides, too well pleased at escaping from the irksomeness of regular study, and, indeed, too much enamoured of danger itself to have been terrified, even had he fully understood the character of the river.

The canoe being carried along with sufficient rapidity by the force of the current, he had but little occasion for using his paddles, and filled up the intervals of reflection with reading. He was thus employed when the canoe approached Bellows Falls. The noise of the waters rushing with impetuous velocity through their narrow channel between the rocks, roused him to a sense of his danger, fortunately, in time to enable him by the strenuous use of his paddles to reach the shore. His canoe was dragged round the fall by the kindness of the good people of the neighbourhood, who were amazed at the boldness and novelty of his enterprise, and again safely launched upon the waters below. No further account is given of this singular voyage. He arrived safely at Hartford about daybreak one fine morning in spring, and astonished his friends by the strangeness of his appearance, and the no less strange relation of his adventures.

Whether or not any efforts were made on this occasion to induce Ledyard to resume his missionary studies is not known; but if there were it was without success. His inclinations, as I have already observed, had now taken another direction. He was desirous of becoming a regular clergyman, and exerted himself, unfit as he was, to obtain a preacher’s license. Inferior claims have sometimes been urged with effect; but Ledyard’s were rejected; and in that reckless state of mind produced by disappointment and disgust, which none but those who 168have been buffeted by adverse fortune can properly conceive, he threw himself into the first gap which he saw open, and determined to combat with the ills of life in the humble condition of a common sailor. In this capacity he sailed for Gibraltar, in the ship of a Captain Deshon, who had been a friend of his father. Though this gentleman, we are told, regarded him more in the light of a companion than as one of his crew, Ledyard seems to have conceived no very favourable idea of a seafaring life from his voyage across the Atlantic, and on his landing at Gibraltar, determined to avoid a repetition of the experiment by enlisting in the army. By the solicitations of Captain Deshon, however, who at the same time strongly remonstrated with him on the impropriety of his conduct, he was released, and returned with his liberator to New-London. This voyage put to flight his romantic ideas respecting the life of a mariner; and he once more saw himself dependent on his friends, without profession or prospect.

From the conversation of some of the older members of his family, he had learned that in England he possessed many wealthy relations; and the idea now occurred to him, that could he but make himself known to these, he should be received with open arms, and lifted up at once to a respectable position in society. With him to resolve and to act were the same thing. He immediately proceeded to New-York, where, finding a vessel bound for England, he obtained a birth, probably on condition of his working as a sailor. On landing at Plymouth, he found himself penniless, and without a friend, in a strange country; but his courage, sustained by the golden hopes with which he amused his imagination, was proof against misfortune. His calamities, he flattered himself, were soon to have an end. He was now within a few days’ journey of his wealthy relations; and provided he kept, as the vulgar say, 169body and soul together, what did it signify how he passed the brief interval which separated him from his island of Barataria? Accordingly, relying upon that principle in our nature by which compassion is kindled, and the hand stretched forth to relieve, as often as real honest distress presents itself, he set out for London. On the way his good genius brought him acquainted with an Irishman, whose pockets were as guiltless of coin as his own; and as it is a comfort not to be “alone unhappy” in this “wide and universal theatre,” these two moneyless friends were a great consolation to each other. In fact, it is often among the poor and unfortunate that fellowship is most sweet. The sight of another’s sufferings excites our magnanimity. We scorn to sink under what we see by another man’s experience can be borne, perhaps, without repining. And thus two poor devils without a penny may be of use to each other, by reciprocally affording an example of fortitude and patience. Ledyard and his Hibernian companion begged by turns, and in this way reached London, where they separated, each to cherish his poverty in a different nook.

Hunger, which has a kind of predilection for great cities, seems to sharpen the sight as well as the wits of men; for, amid the vast throng of equipages which jostle and almost hide each other in the streets of London, Ledyard’s eye caught the family name upon a carriage; and he learned from the coachman the profession and address of the owner, who was a rich merchant. El Dorado was before him. He hastened to the house, and although the master himself was absent, he found the son, who, at all events, listened to his story. When he had heard him out, however, he very coolly informed our sanguine traveller that he wholly disbelieved his representations, never having heard of any relations in America; but that from the East Indies, he added, they expected a member of the family, whom Ledyard 170greatly resembled; and that if in reality he was the person, he would be received with open arms.

This reception, so different from that which he had anticipated, yet so extremely natural under the circumstances of the case, was more than Ledyard’s philosophy, which had not yet been sufficiently disciplined by poverty, could digest; and he quitted the house of his cautious relative with avowed disgust. How he now continued to subsist is not known. It appears, however, that in spite of his distress he succeeded in making the acquaintance of several respectable individuals, to whom he related his story, and who, taking an interest in his fate, exerted themselves to effect a reconciliation between him and his wealthy friends, but without success; for distrust on the one part, and haughtiness on the other, intervened, and shipwrecked their good intentions.

While our traveller’s affairs were in this precarious or rather desperate state, an account of the preparations which were making for Captain Cook’s third voyage round the world reached him in his obscurity. Ambition, which for some time seems to have been almost stifled in his mind by his distresses, now again awoke. He longed to form a part of the glorious enterprise, and to behold, at least, if he could not share in the achievements of the illustrious navigator. As a preliminary step he enlisted in the marine service; and having procured an interview with Captain Cook, his energy and enthusiasm so strongly recommended him, that the great discoverer immediately took him into his service, and promoted him to be a corporal of marines.

The expedition sailed from England on the 12th of July, 1776. It consisted of two ships, the Resolution, commanded by Captain Cook, and the Discovery, by Captain Clerke. After touching at Teneriffe, and the Cape of Good Hope, where they laid 171in a large stock of provisions, and live animals, designed to be left at the various islands on which they did not exist, they sailed towards the southern extremity of New-Holland. In twenty-five days they arrived at Kerguelen’s Island, then recently discovered. It was barren, and totally without inhabitants. There was, however, a scanty supply of grass, and a species of wild cabbage, which they cut for their cattle. Fresh water was found in abundance; for it rained profusely, so that torrents came tumbling down from the hills, and enabled them to replenish their empty casks. Seals and sea-dogs covered the shore; and vast flocks of birds hovered around. Never having experienced in their lonely island the danger of approaching man, they did not fly from their visiters, but suffered themselves, and more particularly the penguin, to be knocked down with clubs. Here they celebrated Christmas, and then proceeded to Van Dieman’s Land.

Within less than two months after leaving the Cape of Good Hope they cast anchor in Adventure Bay, in this island, which was then supposed to form a part of New-Holland. At first no inhabitants appeared, though, in sailing along the coast, they had observed columns of smoke ascending between the trees; but in a few days the natives, men, women, and children, came down to the beach, exhibiting in their persons the extreme of human wretchedness. They were black, with negro features, and woolly hair, besmeared with red ochre and grease, and went completely naked. Bread and fish, which were given them, they threw away; but of the flesh of birds they appeared fond. Their only weapon was a rude stick about three feet long, and sharpened at one end. They had no canoes, no houses, and appeared to be, to a great degree, destitute of curiosity.

Having laid in a sufficient stock of wood and water, the expedition proceeded to New-Zealand, 172where they remained a whole month, employed in laying in provisions, and in making observations on the character of the country and its inhabitants. They found the New-Zealanders a race differing in many respects from the natives of all the surrounding islands. Cannibalism of the most revolting kind flourished here in all its glory. The first thought of a man on beholding the face of a fellow-creature, like Fontenelle’s on seeing a flock of sheep in a meadow, was what nice eating he would make; and if they abstained from devouring their neighbours as well as their enemies, it was merely from fear of reprisals. Yet, united with propensities which, if found to be ineradicable, would justify their extermination, these people are said to possess a vehement affection for their friends, constancy in their attachments, and a strong disposition to love. It is very possible that both their good and bad qualities may have been misrepresented. The views and feelings of savages are not easily comprehended, and it is seldom that those who enjoy opportunities of observing them possess the genius to divine, from a few flitting and often constrained manifestations of them, the secret temper of the soul.

During their stay at this island one of the mariners formed an attachment for a young female cannibal; and, in order to wind himself the more effectually into her affections, he secretly caused himself to be tattooed, resolving, when the ships should sail, to make his escape, and relapse into the savage state with his mistress. I say relapse, because from that state we rose, and, whenever we can slip through the artificial scaffolding upon which we have been placed by philosophy and civil government, to that state we inevitably return. These two lovers, though deprived of the aids which language affords in the communication of thought and sentiments, contrived thoroughly to understand each other. When the time for the departure of the ships arrived, 173the sailor, tattooed, and dressed like a savage, was suffered to escape among the crowds of natives who were hurrying on shore; but when the roll was called to ascertain whether all hands were on board, his absence was discovered. A guard of marines, despatched in search of him by the command of Cook, dragged him from the arms of his savage mistress, who exhibited every token of anguish and inconsolable grief, and leaving her in loneliness and bitter disappointment on the beach, hurried the culprit on board to take his trial for desertion. In consideration of the motive, however, the commander humanely remitted the punishment of the offence; but it is extremely probable that his vigilance defrauded a party of New-Zealanders of a feast, for as soon as the ships should have been out of sight, these honest people would no doubt have consigned the sailor to their subterranean ovens.

Though desirous of making direct for Tahiti, or Otaheite, contrary winds and boisterous weather forced them out of their course, and as they now began to be in want of grass and water for the cattle, as well as fresh provisions for the men, it was judged advisable to sail away for the Friendly Islands. Many new islands were discovered during this voyage, upon one of which, named Watteeoo, they landed. Here, to his great astonishment, Omai, the native of Tahiti whom Cook had taken with him to England, found three of his countrymen, who, having been overtaken by a storm at sea, had been driven in their canoe to this island, a distance of more than fifteen hundred miles. During the thirteen days that they had been hurried before the gale, without water or provisions, most of their companions had perished of hunger, or, stung to phrensy by their sufferings, had jumped into the sea. The survivors were now settled at Watteeoo, and refused his invitation to revisit their native country, the sight of which could only renew their grief for the loss 174of their dearest friends. This fact suffices to explain how islands extremely distant from the great hives of mankind have been peopled, and exhibit in their population resemblances to races from which they would appear to be separated by insurmountable barriers.

From hence they sailed to Tongataboo, an island exceedingly fertile and covered with forests, where they remained twenty-six days collecting provisions. The natives, who, having ingrafted the vices of civilized nations upon their own, have since exhibited themselves under a different aspect, now appeared to be a simple and inoffensive race. Much of their leisure, of which they appeared to have but too-great plenty, was occupied in curious religious ceremonies, which, as among many civilized nations, were regarded something in the light of amusements. Their king, Poulaho, conducted himself with marked suavity and respect towards his strange guests. Few civilized individuals, indeed, coming suddenly into contact with a new race of men, could have shown more ease and self-possession than this savage chief. However, he declined Cook’s invitation to go on board the day after their arrival; but entertained Ledyard, whose duty it was to remain on shore that night, in a kind and hospitable manner.

“It was just dusk,” says our traveller, “when they parted, and as I had been present during a part of this first interview, and was detained on shore, I was glad he did not go off, and asked him to my tent; but Poulaho chose rather to have me go with him to his house, where we went and sat down together without the entrance. We had been here but a few minutes before one of the natives advanced through the grove to the skirts of the green, and there halted. Poulaho observed him, and told me he wanted him; upon which I beckoned to the Indian, and he came to us. When he approached Poulaho, he squatted down upon his hams, and put his forehead to the sole of Poulaho’s foot, and then received some directions 175from him, and went away; and returned again very soon with some baked yams and fish rolled up in fresh plantain-leaves, and a large cocoanut-shell full of clean fresh water, and a smaller one of salt water. These he set down, and went and fetched a mess of the same kind, and set it down by me. Poulaho then desired I would eat; but preferring salt which I had in the tent to the sea-water which they used, I called one of the guard, and had some of that brought me to eat with my fish, which was really most delightfully dressed, and of which I ate very heartily.

“Their animal and vegetable food is dressed in the same manner here as at the southern and northern tropical islands throughout these seas, being all baked among hot stones laid in a hole, and covered over, first with leaves, and then with mould. Poulaho was fed by the chief who waited upon him, both with victuals and drink. After he had finished, the remains were carried away by the chief in waiting, who returned soon after with two large separate rolls of cloth and two little low wooden stools. The cloth was for a covering while asleep, and the stools to raise and rest the head on, as we do on a pillow. These were left within the house, or rather under the roof, one side being open. The floor within was composed of dry grass, leaves, and flowers, over which were spread large well-wrought mats. On this Poulaho and I removed and sat down, while the chief unrolled and spread out the cloth, after which he retired; and in a few minutes there appeared a fine young girl about seventeen years of age, who, approaching Poulaho, stooped and kissed his great toe, and then retired, and sat down in an opposite part of the house. It was now about nine o’clock, and a bright moonshine; the sky was serene, and the wind hushed. Suddenly I heard a number of their flutes, beginning nearly at the same time, burst from every quarter of the surrounding grove; and whether this was meant as an exhilarating serenade, or a 176soothing soporific to the great Poulaho, I cannot tell. Immediately on hearing the music he took me by the hand, intimating that he was going to sleep, and, showing me the other cloth, which was spread nearly beside him, and the pillow, invited me to use it.”

The manners of the people whom Ledyard had now an opportunity of contemplating indicated a character nearly the reverse of that of the New-Zealanders. In what circumstances those extraordinary differences originated it is foreign to the present purpose to inquire. To account for them, as some writers have done, by the influence of climate, is wilfully to sport with facts and experience. Within the same degrees of latitude, pursuing our researches round the globe, we have black men and white; cannibals, and races remarkable for humanity; men so gross in their intellects that they retain nothing of man but the shape, and others with a character and genius so admirably adapted to receive the impressions of laws and civilization, that they turn every natural or accidental advantage of their position to the greatest account, and run on in the career of improvement with gigantic strides. This was not Ledyard’s theory. He seemed everywhere to discover proofs of the vast influence of climate in rendering men what they are, morally as well as physically; though he could not be ignorant that while the climate of Greece and Italy remains what it was in old times, the physiognomy of the inhabitants has undergone an entire change, while their moral condition is, if possible, deteriorated still more than their features. The mind of man seems, in fact, after having borne an extraordinary crop of virtues, knowledge, and heroic deeds, to require, like the earth, to lie fallow for a season. It cannot be made to yield fruit beyond a certain point, upon which, when it has once touched, no power under heaven can prevent its relapsing into barrenness.

177The population scattered over the innumerable islands of the Pacific have been in a remarkably peculiar position from the time in which they were discovered up to the present moment. Civilization has, in a manner, been forced upon them. Their idols have been thrown down; the bloody or absurd rites of their religion have, in many instances, been exchanged for the blessings and the light of Christianity; and although silly or affected persons may lament for the disappearance of what they term a “picturesque superstition,” every real friend of humanity will rejoice at seeing a church occupying the site of a morai; and men, who once delighted to feed upon the limbs of an enemy, employing themselves in deriving subsistence from their own industry and ingenuity.

The people of Tongataboo, at the period of Ledyard’s visit, though neither cruel nor ferocious, were partial to athletic exercises, and not averse to war. It seems to have yielded them great satisfaction to be allowed to display in the presence of their visiters their vigour and dexterity, which were by no means despicable. Their performances, which chiefly consisted of wrestling and boxing, always took place upon the greensward, in the open air; and in order to prevent what was only meant for amusement from degenerating into angry contests, a certain number of elderly men presided over and regulated the exercises; and when either of the combatants appeared to be fairly worsted, they mildly signified the fact, and this was considered a sufficient compliment to the victor. Like the boxers of antiquity, they wore upon the hand a kind of glove composed of cords or thongs, designed to prevent their grappling each other, and at the same time to preserve them from dislocations of the joints, particularly of that of the thumb. Sometimes, however, they engaged each other with clubs, in which cases the performances were highly dangerous. Our traveller witnessed one 178of these contests, which, as the persons engaged were renowned for their superior skill, was protracted considerably, though they are in general of brief duration. At length, however, the affair was decided by a fortuitous blow on the head. The vanquished champion was carried off the ground by his friends, while the conqueror was greeted with enthusiastic shouts of praise from the spectators; and “when these shouts ended, the young women round the circle rose, and sang, and danced a short kind of interlude in celebration of the hero.”

With the brilliant exhibition of fireworks, which, in return for their hospitality and politeness, Cook got up for their amusement, both Poulaho and his people were greatly astonished and delighted. The animals, likewise, which were new to them, excited their wonder. Goats and sheep they regarded as a species of birds; but in the horse, the cow, the cat, and the rabbit they could perceive no analogy with the dog or the hog, the only animals with which they had till then been conversant.

The ideas of these people respecting property were either very vague, or very different from those of their visiters. Whatever they saw pleasing to the eye in the possession of the white men, without considering whether or not it was intended for them, they immediately appropriated to themselves; probably from the belief that these munificent strangers, who bestowed upon them so many wonderful things, were a kind of good genii, who, in their own case, stood in no need of such articles. Cook did not understand this simplicity. He attached the idea of a thief to every person who touched what did not belong to him, and punished these ignorant savages with the same rigid justice, if we may so apply the term, which he would have shown towards a hardened offender at the Old Bailey. In one instance even the justice of his conduct may be questioned. One of the chiefs stole some peacocks from the ships, 179and Cook arrested, not the offender, but the king, whom he kept in custody until the culprit came forward engaging to restore the birds. This was an absurd exercise of power, which could not fail considerably to abate the respect of the natives for the civilized portion of mankind.

From Tongataboo the expedition sailed to Tahiti, where they arrived on the 14th of August. Here Ledyard employed his leisure, which appears to have been considerable, in studying the character and manners of the inhabitants; and upon these points his opinions generally agree with the received notions respecting those people. In sailing northward from this group they discovered the Sandwich Islands, where they remained ten days; and then, steering still towards the north, arrived without accident in Nootka Sound, where they cast anchor in nearly five hundred fathoms of water. Ledyard was now on his native continent, and, though more than three thousand miles from the place of his birth, experienced on landing something like a feeling of home. The inhabitants he found to be of the same race with those on the shores of the Atlantic. In stature they are above the middle size, athletic in their make, and of a copper colour. Their long black hair they wear tied up in a roll on the top of the head, and, by way of ornament, smear it over with oil and paint, in which they stick a quantity of the down of birds. They paint their faces red, blue, and white, but refused to reveal the nature of their cosmetics, or the country whence they obtained them. Their clothing principally consists of skins, besides which, however, they have two other kinds of garments, of which one is manufactured from the inner bark of trees, and resembles our coarser cloths; the other made chiefly from the hair of white dogs, and wrought over with designs representing their mode of catching the whale, which our traveller considered the most ingenious piece of workmanship he anywhere 180saw executed by a savage. All their garments, like those of the Hindoos, are worn like mantles, and are invariably fringed, or ornamented in some fashion or another at the edges. This species of border ornament, denominated wampum on the opposite side of the continent, was found, not only all along this coast, but also on the eastern shores of Asia. On the feet they wear no covering; and if they occasionally cover their heads, it is with a species of basket resembling that which is sometimes worn by the Chinese and Tartars. In character they were cunning, bold, ferocious, and, like the inhabitants of the Sandwich Islands, addicted to cannibalism.

From thence they sailed along the coast of America to Behring’s Straits, in passing through which they observed that both continents were visible at the same time. The expedition having in vain traversed the polar seas in search of a north-west passage, returned towards the south. Before issuing through the belt of the Aleeootskian Islands into the Pacific, Captain Cook remained some days at Onalaska, where Ledyard was engaged in an adventure highly characteristic of his intrepid and chivalrous disposition. Even on their first landing, many peculiarities in the appearance and costume, no less than in the moveable possessions of the people, strongly excited their curiosity; for it was at once perceived that there existed two races of men upon the island, of which one might be supposed to be aboriginal, while the other might be presumed to be adscititious; an offshoot, in all probability, from the great Asiatic stock. They were in possession of tobacco, and in many instances wore blue linen shirts and drawers. The circumstance, however, which excited most surprise was the appearance of a young chief, bearing with him a cake of rye-meal newly baked, and containing a piece of salmon seasoned with pepper and salt, as a present to Captain Cook. He informed 181them, by signs, that there were white strangers in the country, who had come, like them, over the great waters in a large ship.

This information excited in Cook a desire to explore the island. It was difficult, however, to determine in what manner the object was to be effected. An armed body would proceed slowly, and might, perhaps, be cut off,—an irreparable loss to the expedition. The risk of a single individual would be imminent, but his movements would be more rapid; and if he should fall, the loss to the public would not be great. Yet, as the commander did not think himself justified in ordering any person to undertake so perilous an enterprise, a volunteer was sought for; and Ledyard presented himself. The great navigator was highly pleased with this example of intrepidity, for the brave always sympathize with the brave; and after giving the traveller instructions how to proceed, “he wished me well,” says Ledyard, “and desired I would not be longer absent than a week, if possible; at the expiration of which he should expect me to return. If I did not return by that time, he should wait another week for me, and no longer.”

The young chief who brought Cook the rye-cake and the salmon, with two persons who attended him, were to serve as guides on the occasion. Being furnished with a small quantity of bread and some brandy in bottles, intended for presents to the Indians, our traveller departed with his Indian guides, and during the first day advanced about fifteen miles into the interior. About nightfall they arrived at a small village consisting of about thirty huts, some of which were large and spacious, though not very lofty. These huts were composed of a slight frame erected over a square hole sunk about four feet into the ground. Below the frame was covered with turf, which served as a wall, and above it was thatched with grass. Though the whole village, men, women, 182and children, crowded to see him, it was not with the intense curiosity which their behaviour would have exhibited had they never before beheld a white man. Here they passed the night.

Their course had hitherto lain towards the north, but they next morning turned round towards the south-west. About three hours before night they reached the edge of a large bay, where the chief entered into a canoe, with all their baggage, and intimating to Ledyard that he was to follow his other companions, left him abruptly, and paddled across the bay. Although rendered somewhat uneasy at this movement, he proceeded along the shore with his guides, and in about two hours observed a canoe making towards them across the bay. Upon this they ran down to the water’s edge, and, by shouting and waving bushes to and fro in the air, attracted the attention of the savages in the canoe. “It was beginning to be dark,” says he, “when the canoe came to us. It was a skin canoe, after the Esquimaux plan, with two holes to accommodate two sitters. The Indians that came in the canoe talked a little with my two guides, and then came to me, and desired I would get into the canoe. This I did not very readily agree to, however, as there was no place for me but to be thrust into the space between the holes, extended at length upon my back, and wholly excluded from seeing the way I went, or the power of extricating myself upon an emergency. But as there was no alternative, I submitted thus to be stowed away in bulk, and went head foremost very swift through the water about an hour, when I felt the canoe strike a beach, and afterward lifted up and carried some distance, and then set down again; after which I was drawn out by the shoulders by three or four men; for it was now so dark that I could not tell who they were, though I was conscious I heard a language that was new. I was conducted by two of these persons, who appeared to be strangers, 183about forty rods, when I saw lights and a number of huts like those I left in the morning. As we approached one of them, a door opened and discovered a lamp, by which, to my great joy, I discovered that the two men who held me by each arm were Europeans, fair and comely, and concluded from their appearance they were Russians, which I soon after found to be true.”

By these Russians, who had established themselves in Onalaska for the purpose of collecting furs for the markets of Moscow and Petersburg, Ledyard was received and entertained in a most hospitable manner; and when he returned to the ships was accompanied by three of the principal persons among them, and several inferior attendants. “The satisfaction this discovery gave Cook,” says he, “and the honour that redounded to me, may be easily imagined; and the several conjectures respecting the appearance of a foreign intercourse were rectified and confirmed.”

From Onalaska the expedition sailed southward for the Sandwich Islands, and in two months arrived at Hawaii. On entering a commodious bay discovered on the southern coast of the island, they observed on each hand a town of considerable size, from which crowds of people, to whom the appearance offered by the ships was totally new, crowded down to the beach to receive the strangers. Their number was prodigious. No less than three thousand canoes, containing at least fifteen thousand men, women, and children, were crowded in the bay; and, besides these, numbers sustained themselves on floats, or swam about in the water. “The beach, the surrounding rocks, the tops of houses, the branches of trees, and the adjacent hills were all covered; and the shouts of joy and admiration proceeding from the sonorous voices of the men, confused with the shriller exclamations of the women, dancing and clapping their hands, the oversetting of 184canoes, cries of the children, goods afloat, and hogs that were brought to market squeaking, formed one of the most curious prospects that can be imagined.” Yet, amid all this vast multitude, no signs of hostility, no disposition to insult or annoy the strangers appeared. Both parties were very far at that moment from anticipating that tragical event which shortly afterward died their shores with blood, and rendered the name of Hawaii memorable in the history of discovery.

However, for the first few days extraordinary harmony prevailed. Visits were made and returned; fireworks were exhibited by the English; wrestling, boxing, and various other kinds of athletic exercises by the savages. During this continuance of good-humour Ledyard obtained permission to make a tour in the interior of the island, for the purpose of examining the nature of the country, and of ascending, if possible, the peak of Mouna Roa, which, though situated in an island not exceeding ninety miles in diameter, is regarded as one of the loftiest in the world. He was accompanied by the botanist and gunner of the Resolution, and by a number of natives, some as guides, others to carry the baggage. Admonished by the snows which glittered in dazzling pinnacles on the summit of Mouna Roa, they provided themselves with additional clothing to guard against the effects of a sudden transition from the heat of a tropical sun to intense cold. Their road during the first part of the journey lay through enclosed plantations of sweet potatoes, with a soil of lava, tilled in some places with difficulty. Here and there, in moist situations, were small patches of sugar-cane; and these, as they proceeded, were followed by open plantations of bread-fruit trees. The land now began to ascend abruptly, and was thickly covered with wild fern. About sunset they arrived on the skirts of the woods, which stretched round the mountain like a belt, at the uniform distance of 185four or five miles from the shore. Here they found an uninhabited hut, in which they passed the night.

Next morning, on entering the forests, they found there had been heavy rain during the night, though none of it had reached them at the distance of about two hundred yards. They traversed the woods by a compass, keeping in a direct line for the peak; and, finding a beaten track nearly in their course, were enabled on the second day to advance about fifteen miles. At night they rested under the shelter of a fallen tree, and early next morning recommenced their journey. It was soon discovered, however, that the difficulties they had hitherto encountered were ease itself compared with those against which they were now to contend. To persons unaccustomed as they were to walk, a journey of so great a length would, under any circumstances, have been a grievous task. But they were impeded in their movements by heavy burdens; their path was steep, broken, and rugged; and the farther they proceeded the more dense and impenetrable did the thickets become. At length, it became evident that the enterprise must be abandoned; and with those unpleasant feelings which accompany baffled ambition, they returned by the way they had gone to the ships.

In less than a fortnight after their arrival at Hawaii, the discoverers, by their impolitic, or rather insolent behaviour, had contrived to irritate the savage natives almost to desperation. They saw themselves and, what perhaps was more galling, their gods treated with silent contempt or open scorn; while their wives and daughters were contaminated by the brutal lusts of the sailors. How far these circumstances were within the control of Captain Cook, or, in other words, to what degree of blame he is liable for what took place, it is not our present business to inquire. But assuredly, unless we choose wholly to reject the testimony of Ledyard, our great navigator 186seems, during the last few days of his life, to have been urged by a kind of fatality into the commission of actions highly despotic and unjustifiable in themselves, and, under the circumstances in which they were performed, little short of insane. The mere idea of converting the fence and idols of the morai—objects sacred to them, however contemptible in our eyes—into firewood, argues a reprehensible disregard of the feelings of the natives. His offer of two hatchets to the priest in payment reminds one of Captain Clapperton’s promise of a couple of guns, a few flasks of powder, and some rockets to Sultan Bello, as the price of his putting down the slave trade. But when the priest refused the proffered payment, not so much on account of its preposterous inadequacy,—of which, however, savage as he was, he must have been fully sensible,—because in his eyes no price was an equivalent for articles to destroy which would be sacrilege, to proceed with a strong hand in the work of destruction, profaning the spot which contained the ashes of their ancestors, and throwing down and bearing away the images of their gods;—this was an outrage which the tamest and most enslaved race would have found it difficult to endure.

However, force was triumphant; but from that moment the souls of the natives were on fire, and revenge was determined on. A relation of the various incidents and small events by which the tragic action moved onwards to its completion would be incompatible with my present design. Captain Cook, accompanied by an armed force, in which Ledyard was included, went on shore for the purpose of making the king a prisoner, and of keeping him in confinement on board, until certain articles stolen by his subjects should be restored. The savages, with a boldness worthy of admiration, opposed his designs, and compelled him to retreat towards his boats. Here, as the marines were endeavouring to embark, 187a contest took place; stones were thrown by the natives; the English flew to their firearms; and a chief, rushing on with an iron dagger in his hand, stabbed Cook through the body. His guards, likewise, were all cut off excepting two, who escaped by swimming. The cannon of the Resolution were now fired at the crowd, and this produced an almost instantaneous retreat; though the savages, mindful even in the midst of danger of the gratification of their appetite, took care to carry along with them the bodies of their fallen enemies, in order, by feasting upon them at their leisure, to derive some trifling comfort from their disaster.

The business now was to retire as quickly as possible from the island, which they did; and having again entered Behring’s Strait, and sailed about for some time among the ices of the Polar Sea, they returned by way of China and the Cape of Good Hope to England, after an absence of four years and three months.

In 1782 Ledyard sailed on board an English man-of-war for America, not with a design to serve against his country, but determined on seizing the first occasion of escape which should offer itself. An opportunity soon occurred. On arriving at Long Island, then in the possession of the English, he obtained permission of seven days’ absence from the ship, for the purpose of seeing his mother, who then kept a boarding-house at Southold, occupied chiefly by British officers. “He rode up to the door, alighted, went in, and asked if he could be accommodated in her house as a lodger. She replied that he could, and showed him a room into which his baggage was conveyed. After having adjusted his dress he came out, and took a seat by the fire, in company with several other officers, without making himself known to his mother, or entering into conversation with any person. She frequently passed and repassed through the room, and her eye was observed to be 188attracted towards him with more than usual attention. He still remained silent. At last, after looking at him steadily for some minutes, she deliberately put on her spectacles, approached nearer to him, begging his pardon for her rudeness, and telling him that he so much resembled a son of hers who had been absent eight years, that she could not resist her inclination to view him more closely. The scene that followed may be imagined, but not described; for Ledyard had a tender heart, and affection for his mother was among its deepest and most constant emotions.”

He now visited his old friends and many of the places which youthful recollections rendered dear to him. He was everywhere well received, and employed the leisure which he now enjoyed for several months in writing an account of his voyage round the world with Captain Cook. But when this was done, many motives, among which want of money was not the least, urged him to enter upon some new plan of life. His favourite project at this time, and indeed throughout the remainder of his life, was a voyage of commerce and discovery to the north-western coast of America; and during the remainder of his stay in his native country he made numerous efforts to obtain wealthy co-operators in his design. Being constantly disappointed, however, he once more turned his thoughts towards Europe, where the spirit of speculation was bolder and more liberal, and proceeded to France. Here his projects were eagerly patronised, and as easily abandoned; and during a long stay both at L’Orient and Paris he subsisted by shifts and expedients, associating by turns with every variety of character, from Jefferson down to Paul Jones.

How he existed at all, unless upon the bounty of his friends, is altogether inexplicable. He was now reduced to the character of a mere adventurer, and his life during this period affords no incidents worthy 189of being described. An Englishman, who had given him fifteen guineas at St. Germain, shortly afterward invited him to London, and procured him a passage in a ship bound for the Pacific Ocean, with a promise from the captain that he would set him on shore upon any point of the north-west coast which he might choose. He now once more appeared to be verging towards the accomplishment of his dearest wishes. He embarked; the vessel sailed down the Thames, and put out to sea; but before they were out of sight of land the ship was brought back by an order from the government, and the voyage was finally abandoned.

Ledyard’s enthusiasm, however, in the prosecution of his designs, though it is probable that few could perceive the advantages to be derived from their accomplishment, procured him many friends in London; and it is said that a subscription was set on foot by Sir Joseph Banks, Dr. Hunter, Sir James Hall, and Colonel Smith. From the result of this measure we must inevitably infer one of two things,—either that the liberality of those gentlemen was exceedingly scanty, or that their opinion of Ledyard’s prudence was very low. From several circumstances which afterward took place the latter is the more probable inference. Be this as it may, we find him, on his arrival at Hamburgh, with no more than ten guineas in his pocket; and these, with reckless and unpardonable absurdity, he bestowed upon a Major Langhorn, an eccentric vagabond, who, after accepting his money and reducing him to beggary, coolly refused to bear him company on his journey to Petersburg, alleging as his excuse that he could travel in the way he did with no man upon earth. What his mode of travelling was I have no means of ascertaining; but from his conduct in this transaction it may be inferred, without any great stretch of uncharitableness, that Ledyard was fortunate in getting rid of such a companion at the expense of all he was 190worth in the world. The man who is insensible of a generous action could be no desirable companion in any circumstances of life; but to be linked with such an individual in traversing a foreign land would have been a curse which few who have not experienced a similar calamity can conceive.

Having at the same time bade adieu to his money and the graceless major, he began to experience the effects of his folly; for had he not, by singular good fortune, found a merchant who consented to accept a bill on a friend in London, and pay him the amount, his travels must have terminated where he was. This supply, however, enabled him to pursue his route.

On arriving at Stockholm, Ledyard found that the Gulf of Bothnia was neither sufficiently frozen to enable him to cross it upon the ice, nor yet free enough from ice to be navigable. Under these circumstances he formed the daring resolution of travelling round the gulf, a distance of twelve hundred miles, “over trackless snows, in regions thinly peopled, where the nights are long, and the cold intense,—and all this to gain no more than fifty miles.” Accordingly, he set out for Tornea, in the depth of winter, on foot, with little money in his pocket, and no friends to whom he could apply when his small stock should be exhausted. Of this part of his travels no account remains. Other travellers who have visited Tornea in winter, under the most favourable circumstances, describe in tremendous colours the horrors of the place. “The place,” says Maupertuis, “on our arrival on the 30th of December, had really a most frightful aspect. Its little houses were buried to the tops in snow, which, if there had been any daylight, must have effectually shut it out. But the snow continually falling, or ready to fall, for the most part hid the sun the few moments that he might have showed himself at midday. In the month of January the cold was increased to the 191extremity, that Reaumur’s mercurial thermometers, which in Paris, in the great frost of 1709, it was thought strange to see fall to fourteen degrees below the freezing point, were now down to thirty-seven. The spirit of wine in the others was frozen. If we opened the door of a warm room, the external air instantly converted all the air in it into snow, whirling it round in white vortices. If we went abroad, we felt as if the air were tearing our breasts to pieces.”

Such was the country through which Ledyard made his way to Petersburg, which he reached on the 20th of March, that is, within seven weeks from his leaving Stockholm, making the distance travelled over about two hundred miles per week upon an average. Here he was well received by Professor Pallas and other scientific men; and through the interest of Count Segur, the French ambassador, obtained the empress’s permission to traverse her vast dominions. As he was compelled to wait several months, however, for this indispensable document, and was destitute on his arrival at Petersburg of money, and almost of clothes, he drew a bill of twenty guineas on Sir Joseph Banks, which he was fortunate enough to get some one to discount. This enabled him to await the leisure of Catharine, who was too deeply plunged in her schemes of debauchery and ambition to afford a thought on a poor houseless wanderer like Ledyard. But at length the passport was granted; and a Dr. Brown happening at that moment to be proceeding with a quantity of stores to Yakutsk for the use of Mr. Billings, who was then employed by the empress in exploring the remoter parts of Siberia and Kamtschatka, our traveller obtained permission to accompany him.

They left Petersburg on the 1st of June, and in six days arrived at Moscow. Here they hired a kibitka, and proceeded at the same rapid rate towards Kazan, on the Volga, where they remained a week; 192and then set off on the full gallop for Tobolsk. It should be remarked, that Ledyard’s object in this journey was not to see the country, but to reach the north-west coast of America, where he hoped to make some useful discoveries, as quickly as possible; otherwise it would have been far wiser to have “made his legs his compasses,” at the risk of consuming years in the journey. In the vast plain which stretches from Moscow to the Ural Mountains there was, it is true, very little of the picturesque, and not much of the moral, to captivate the eye or interest the mind of a traveller; but there is no country the careful examination of which may not be made to yield both amusement and instruction. Ledyard, however, was not answerable for the rapidity of his movements; he accounted himself but too happy in being allowed to share Dr. Brown’s kibitka; and had it been in the empress’s power to have darted him across Siberia upon an iceberg, or astride upon a cloud, he would not have objected to the conveyance.

From Tobolsk they proceeded to Bernaoul, the capital of the province of Kolyvan, where Dr. Brown’s journey terminated. At this place Ledyard remained a whole week, and was entertained in a very hospitable manner by the treasurer of the mines. He observes, that the immense plain he had traversed in reaching this city was in many places dotted with large mounds of earth, which very much resembled those supposed monumental piles found among various tribes of North America, and the barrows or heroic tombs of ancient Europe. In the people the Tartar features began to appear before they reached Kazan. But there existed great variety in the population; the same village containing every variety of mankind, from those with fair skin, light hair, and white eyes, to those of olive complexion, and jet-black eyes and hair. Poverty, as may be supposed, was no stranger in these villages; for they had not, 193like the Chremylus of Aristophanes, discovered the secret of restoring sight to Plutus; but this did not discourage the fair moieties of the peasants from painting their faces, like a discontented English beauty, both with red and white. As these damsels are not niggardly of their kisses, it would be useless for them to adopt the custom which prevailed among the ancient Greek ladies, of painting the lips; but this, it would seem, is the sole consideration which opposes the introduction of the custom. “The Tartar, however situated,” says Ledyard, “is a voluptuary; and it is an original and striking trait in their character, from the grand seignior to him who pitches his tent on the wild frontiers of Russia and China, that they are more addicted to real sensual pleasure than any other people.” This is a judicious remark, and corroborates the testimony of the ancient historian, who tells us that the Scythian ladies were accustomed to put out the eyes of their male slaves, that they might be ignorant of the name and quality of the mistresses to whose wantonness they were made subservient.

From Barnaoul he proceeded with an imperial courier to Tomsk, discovering as he rode along marks of the tremendous winds which sometimes devastate Siberia. The trees of the forest were uprooted, and whole fields of grain were beaten into the earth. Hurrying onward in the same rapid manner, he crossed the Yeïusei at Krasnojarsk, and entered a rough mountainous country covered with thick forests, which continued all the way to Irkutsk, where he arrived in ten days after leaving Tomsk.

During his stay in this town he made an excursion, in company with a German colonel, to the Lake Baikal, which, in the Kalmuck language, signifies the “North Sea.” Arriving on the shores of the lake, they found a galliot, which in summer plies as a packet across the “North Sea.” In this galliot they went out with line and lead to take soundings; 194but having only fifty fathoms of line, which at one hundred feet from the shore was wholly taken up, they quickly abandoned their soundings, and returned through the rain in the galliot’s boat to Irkutsk.

On the 26th of August he quitted Irkutsk, and proceeded towards the point where he was to embark on the river Lena for Yakutsk. The country in this part was well cultivated, and therefore cheerful; but the forest trees had already begun to drop their foliage, and put on the garb of autumn. Having proceeded one hundred and fifty miles in his kibitka, he embarked with Lieutenant Laxman, a Swede, in a boat on the Lena, and commenced a voyage of fourteen hundred miles. Their boat was carried along at the rate of eighty or a hundred miles per day, “the river gradually increasing in size, and the mountain scenery putting on an infinite variety of forms, alternately sublime and picturesque, bold and fantastic, with craggy rocks and jutting headlands, bearing on their brows the verdure of pines, larches, and other evergreens, and alpine shrubs.” All the way to Yakutsk the river was studded with islands, which, recurring at short intervals, added to the romantic effect of the scenery; but the weather was growing cold, and heavy fogs hung over the river until a late hour in the morning. The mountains flanking the river were said to abound with wolves and bears; and there was an abundance of wild fowl, of which our travellers shot as many as they pleased. Salmon-trout was plentiful in the river; and the inhabitants fished with seines, and also with spears, like the natives of Tahiti, by torchlight.

On the 18th of September he arrived at Yakutsk, where he immediately waited on the commandant with his letters of recommendation, and explained his desire of proceeding with all possible celerity to Okotsk, before winter should shut in and cut off his progress. The commandant, however, had received secret orders to detain him; and under pretence that 195the season was already too far advanced, informed him that he must pass the winter at Yakutsk. Though nothing could exceed the rage and vexation of Ledyard at this unexpected disappointment, he was sensible that it was necessary to submit; the determination of the despots around him being as irresistible as destiny. He therefore bent his attention to the consideration of the objects within his reach; and in these compulsory studies awaited the return of spring.

Of the Russians in general Ledyard’s experience led him to think unfavourably; but “I have observed,” says he, “among all nations, that the women ornament themselves more than the men; that, wherever found, they are the same kind, civil, obliging, humane, tender beings; that they are ever inclined to be gay and cheerful, timorous and modest. They do not hesitate, like man, to perform a hospitable or generous action; not haughty, nor arrogant, nor supercilious, but full of courtesy, and fond of society; industrious, economical, ingenious; more liable in general to err than man, but in general also more virtuous, and performing more good actions than he. I never addressed myself in the language of decency and friendship to a woman, whether civilized or savage, without receiving a decent and friendly answer. With man it has often been otherwise. In wandering over the barren plains of inhospitable Denmark, through honest Sweden, frozen Lapland, rude and churlish Finland, unprincipled Russia, and the wide-spread regions of the wandering Tartar, if hungry, dry, cold, wet, or sick, woman has ever been friendly to me, and uniformly so; and to add to this virtue, so worthy of the appellation of benevolence, these actions have been performed in so free and so kind a manner, that if I was dry I drank the sweet draught, and if hungry ate the coarse morsel, with a double relish.” These remarks, to the correctness of which every man worthy of 196the name will bear testimony, do honour to the heart no less than to the ability of our traveller; for many who have been no less indebted, perhaps, than he to the inexhaustible benevolence of women have repaid the obligation with satire against the whole sex.

During the winter, Captain Billings, who had formerly been assistant-astronomer in Cook’s expedition, but was now in the Russian service, arrived at Yakutsk. He was surprised to meet Ledyard in the heart of Siberia; but having a disinclination to connect himself with any person not favoured by fortune, evinced no disposition to be of the least service to him. It has even been suspected, and not altogether without probability, that Billings had some share in bringing about the unfortunate catastrophe which terminated Ledyard’s travels in Siberia. However, previous to this event, he invited his old shipmate to accompany him to Irkutsk, whither they proceeded up the frozen Lena upon sledges. Here, soon after their arrival, Ledyard was arrested as a French spy, placed in a kibitka with two hussars, and hurried back with incredible speed to the frontiers of Poland, where he was dismissed, with the strictest injunctions never again to enter the dominions of Russia. It would now be idle to inquire into the motives which urged the old profligate she-despot into the commission of this act of flagrant injustice. She had no doubt been told (Dr. Clarke suspects by Billings) that his success might be some way or another detrimental to the interests of her commerce; and, without consideration or inquiry, perhaps in some furious fit of rage or drunkenness, she issued the order for his recall, which was executed with no less barbarity than it was issued.

How the poor victim found his way from Poland to London Heaven only knows. His sufferings, he says, were too great to be disclosed. However, he had scarcely reached London before a proposal was 197made to him to travel for the African Association, which, wretched as he was, he was but too happy to accept. The object of his mission, like that of many other brave and adventurous men who have perished in the same track, was to explore the centre of Africa from Sennaar westward, “in the latitude and supposed direction of the Niger.” For this purpose he proceeded to Egypt; but having ascended the Nile to Cairo, and made every necessary preparation for travelling with a caravan to Sennaar, he was suddenly attacked by a bilious disorder, and was poisoned by the vitriolic acid which he took as a remedy, in the month of November, 1788.

Mr. Beaufoy, secretary to the African Association, who had several opportunities of conversing with Ledyard while he was in London preparing for his travels in Africa, has drawn the following character of him, which, to those who consider the scantiness of his means and the boldness of his designs, will not appear exaggerated:—“To those who have never seen Mr. Ledyard, it may not, perhaps,” says he, “be uninteresting to know, that his person, though scarcely exceeding the middle size, was remarkably expressive of activity and strength; and that his manners, though unpolished, were neither uncivil nor unpleasing. Little attentive to difference of rank, he seemed to consider all men as his equals, and as such he respected them. His genius, though uncultivated and irregular, was original and comprehensive. Ardent in his wishes, yet calm in his deliberations; daring in his purposes, but guarded in his measures; impatient of control, yet capable of strong endurance; adventurous beyond the conception of ordinary men, yet wary, and considerate, and attentive to all precautions;—he appeared to be formed by nature for achievements of hardihood and peril.”



Born about 1750.—Died 1791.

It is greatly to be regretted that of the life of this able and adventurous traveller little is known, excepting that portion which was spent in acquiring his reputation. He seems to have been born about the year 1750. At the usual age he entered into the civil service of the East India Company, and was appointed to fill the office of writer at the Madras presidency. Here he gradually rose in the usual manner to offices of trust and emolument until the year 1782, when he obtained permission to visit his friends in England. Instead of adopting the usual mode of returning by sea, he formed the hazardous design of proceeding through the upper provinces of India, Afghanistân, and Persia, into the Russian empire, and thence by sea to England.

Fully aware of the difficulties and dangers of the route, he made every necessary preparation which could be effected in India, obtained bills upon merchants in various cities on his road, and, still further to ensure his safety, determined to adopt the Mohammedan character as soon as he should quit the British territories. With these views he proceeded to Calcutta in the spring of 1782, and, having remained some time at that city, set out on the 23d of May on his journey up the country. His mind was naturally full of those recent and memorable events which established the British power in India; and he visited with peculiar interest several of those fields where our countrymen had won their bloody laurels, and shattered to pieces the mighty fabric of the Mogul empire.

199Having visited Burhampore, Moorshedabad, and other places celebrated in the history of India, he on the 25th of June embarked in a boat on the main branch of the Ganges. The river in this place was four miles broad, and, being agitated by a strong wind, which threw the water into short breaking waves, resembled an arm of the sea. The same evening he arrived at Rajmahal. This place, which had lately been the principal city and favourite residence of a powerful and opulent chief, was now reduced to the condition of an insignificant town, which, but for its historical importance, and the mounds of ruins interspersed among the modern buildings, would have possessed but few claims to the attention of the traveller. Forster, who, though by no means of a gloomy disposition, was rather given to moralizing upon the wrecks of ancient grandeur,—a habit which in a country like Hindostan may be easily indulged,—sauntered out in the twilight among the ruined buildings upon the banks of the river, where he found an old man employed in digging. With this remnant of the past age, who happened to be more intelligent and communicative than ordinary, he entered into conversation, and from him learned many particulars of the history of Rajmahal. This spot, he observed, which he was then cultivating, was the site of the Nobet Ghah, or music-hall, of the old palace; and that within his recollection a capacious garden had extended in front of his little enclosure, which the Ganges had now swept away.

From Rajmahal he proceeded to Monghee, and from thence to Patna, where he arrived on the 5th of July. This city, which, according to the opinion of several modern geographers, occupies the site of the ancient Palibothra, is still a spacious and populous place, enriched by its opium and saltpetre manufactories. Being here, he could not resist the desire to visit the spot on which a number of English prisoners were massacred in 1763, by order of Cassim 200Ali, then retreating before our army. The sanguinary command was executed by Sumroo, a German. A monument, but without any inscription, has been erected on the place.

On the 26th of July he arrived at Benares, a city which, for its wealth, costly buildings, and the number of its inhabitants, was considered the first then remaining in the possession of the Hindoos. Hither the professors of the confused and intricate, but frequently sublime, theology of Brahma had retired from all parts of Hindostan as the most holy spot on earth. Being conversant with the language necessary for the conducting of such researches, Forster devoted the time spent at Benares in endeavouring to penetrate, as far as a stranger was permitted, into the mysteries of Brahminism. This subject, after all the researches which have been made by Europeans, is still enveloped in much obscurity. It is not known whether, commencing in the grossest polytheism, the sages of Hindostan gradually elevated their minds to the knowledge of one supreme and invisible God, or, commencing with this simple and sublime truth, degenerated into polytheism and idolatry. The latter is the prevalent theory. It is thought more rational to imagine, that while in every other department of knowledge mankind proceeded from the less to the greater, and by constant exercise improved their mind, the only instrument which man possesses for measuring the universe, their progress in theology, if I may so express myself, has in general been retrograde, at least in Hindostan. Forster was of this opinion. “There is reason,” he says, “to believe, that in the more early periods of time, before the priests of the Hindoos had found it expedient, for the firmer establishment of their sway over the minds of the people, to raise a huge superstructure of emblematical worship, the temples erected to the Supreme Being were plain and void of personification. The remains of one of 201these are now to be seen on the summit of a hill near the city of Kashmere, which, according to tradition, had been dedicated to the Creator of the world. In this the prayers of those who entered were addressed to the Deity, without supplicating the intercession of any intermediate agent, nor had any image or symbol of the Divine Power a place.” He was likewise informed that at Chillambram, about twenty miles southward of Cuddalore, there was another Hindoo religious edifice, plain, and without any interior figure, which was devoted to the worship of the “Invisible God,” and was never approached but with tokens of profound awe and reverence.

The foundation upon which this theory, which is totally at variance with the history of human nature, has been erected, it is not difficult to discover. In the most remote and barbarous ages of the world, as in all other times, some few men of superior intellect and genius arose, to whom profound meditation and an ardent desire of truth revealed the unity of the Divine nature. These men, perhaps, uniting eloquence with the enthusiasm of virtue, became the nucleus of a small sect of pure worshippers, erected temples to the true God, and laboured to transmit the light of truth to posterity. But these could never have been more in those times than feeble points of light in the thick moral darkness which brooded over the globe; and although their temples and the tradition of their creed may in some instances have been preserved, it would be an abuse of common sense to infer from their enlightenment a general diffusion of knowledge in their times, in opposition to innumerable monuments attesting their extreme ignorance and debasement.

It is not my intention, however, to follow Mr. Forster in his inquiries, which are curious and liberal, into the mythology and philosophy of the Hindoos. The subject has been discussed by others, 202whose advantages and acquirements I am very far from possessing; and although I am not on all occasions satisfied with the explanations of Sir William Jones or Mr. Colebrook, I should, even with the aid of our ingenious traveller, despair of carrying light into the works which they have left in obscurity.

Having spent three months in conversing with the Brahmins, and endeavouring to see his way through the obscure mazes of their religious system, Forster set out on the 3d of November on an excursion to Bijjighur, a place rendered famous, he observes, in the Bengal annals, from a large amount of plunder acquired there by the English. His first day’s journey brought him to Luttufghur, about eighteen miles south of Benares. The fort, situated in the centre of a circular range of hills, and approached on all sides through a dense and lofty forest, was now deserted, and the passages leading to it were nearly choked up with trees. The circulation of the air being greatly impeded by the hills and woods, the atmosphere had acquired a malignant quality, which, exerting its influence on all animal bodies, produced what in India is termed the hill-fever. In all places of this kind, as, for example, at the southern foot of the Gurwal and Kemaoon mountains, the water partakes of the baneful quality of the air, by which in part it seems to be impregnated with its pestiferous properties, which may, however, be aggravated by the continual falling of branches and leaves into the rivulets and reservoirs.

In this desolate and deserted spot, where the elements array themselves in properties so hostile to life, our traveller found a Mohammedan fakeer, who had taken up his lonely residence at the gate of the fort. He was meager, wan, and nearly consumed by the effects of fever and ague; but when he was advised to leave so melancholy a situation, and go to some other place where he might recover his health, he replied, that he preferred an existence where he 203was, though under a load of misery, to the chance of starving in districts where he should be wholly unknown.

The view from the fort of Bijjighur, where he arrived next day, is highly diversified and magnificent; but when you throw the eye on the deep and rugged precipice beneath, the prospect is infinitely grand, though not divested of that horror which naturally affects the mind when contemplating objects from so abrupt a height. The rising and setting sun here exhibits a magnificent scene, and excites a train of ideas strongly impressed with a grateful admiration of the First Cause of nature. The view of the setting sun takes in the river Saone, which is seen winding its stream, brightened by the rays of the western light, through a long tract of diversified country. A fort also appears on the side of a distant hill, which is only brought out in the evening prospect.

Returning from thence to Benares, he assumed for his greater safety the name of a Georgian, and on the 12th of December set out for Allahabad. On this road, and indeed on almost every other in India, the traveller seldom fails meeting with a public lodging or a reservoir of water, where he may perform his ablutions and quench his thirst. In every respectable village there is a caravansary, of which the stationary tenants are frequently women, some of whom are very pretty. These approach the traveller on his entrance, and in alluring language describe the various excellences of their several lodgings; and when the choice is made, which, says Forster, is often perplexing, so many are the inducements thrown out on all sides, a bed is laid out for his repose, a smoking-pipe is brought, and the utensils are cleansed for preparing his repast.

From Allahabad he went on to Lucknow, the capital of the kingdom of Oude, a large but irregular and filthy city, which contains little worthy the notice 204of a traveller. Here he remained some time, however, and then proceeded through the Delhi province to Rampoor, near the foot of the Kemaoon hills. On setting out from this town he enjoyed a complete view of the Himalaya mountains, covered with eternal snows, and forming the boundary between Hindostan and Tibet.

On arriving at Najebabad, a town built by Najeb ud Dowlah to facilitate the commerce of Kashmere, he found that the only caravansary in the place was occupied, and thought himself fortunate in being admitted into a cook’s shop, where kabobs and beefsteaks were dressed in savoury taste for the public. A better place for observing the manners of the people he could scarcely have chosen. It was what a coffee-house is in London, the resort of all the newsmongers, idlers, politicians, and disbanded soldiers of the district. Here, while he was eating his dinner, he saw a boy enter, who inquired whether there were any travellers going to Kashmere or Jummoo, as the kafilah would depart next day. Upon inquiry, he found that this kafilah consisted of about one hundred mules laden with raw silk, cotton cloths, and ordinary calicoes for the Jummoo markets. By a banker, to whom he had been furnished with a letter, he was introduced to the merchants of the kafilah, who readily received him into their company. He now dropped the character of a Georgian, and represented himself as a Turkish merchant going into Kashmere to purchase shawls. To accompany him in this journey he hired a Kashmerian servant, “a fellow of infinite jest,” whose memory was stored with a thousand stories, every one of which he embellished in the telling of it. He was otherwise an active and excellent servant.

With this kafilah he left Najebabad on the 14th of February, 1783, and on the 15th arrived at Lolldong, where the province of Delhi is separated from that of Serinagur, or Gurwal, by a small rivulet. On 205the north of this rivulet the kafilah now encamped, and each of its members was soon busily engaged in preparing for their journey through the forest, which it was computed would occupy three days. The extreme heat of the weather rendering a tent or some substitute for one absolutely necessary, Forster purchased a large black kummul or blanket, which, being slantingly extended over a slight bamboo frame, composed of a ridge-pole upheld by two supporters, and fastened below by small pins, formed a commodious and portable lodging. His baggage, consisting of a thin mattress, a quilt, a canvass portmanteau containing a few changes of linen, which served for a pillow, together with the kummul, was stowed behind him upon his horse. The Kashmerian followed on foot.

Leaving Lolldong on the 22d, they began to ascend the mountains. Next day, as they continued their march through the forest, Forster, overcome by fatigue, sat down under a tree to enjoy his pipe; but while he was thus engaged, having apparently sunk into that dreaming state which smoking sometimes induces, the kafilah moved on and disappeared. The ground being thickly covered with leaves, no trace of a road was discernible; and when he mounted to proceed, his horse, either terrified by the effluvia of wild beasts lurking among the trees, or perceiving the embarrassment of their situation, could with difficulty be made to proceed in any direction. However, he was at length forcibly put in motion; but after traversing the forest in various directions, without perceiving either road or habitation, or the vestige of any creature, except great quantities of elephants’ dung, he discovered a narrow path leading through a wilderness to a small valley, whose inhabitants kindly conducted him to the halting-place of the kafilah.

In two days they arrived on the banks of the Ganges, twelve miles above Hardwar. It was here 206about two hundred yards broad, from ten to fifteen feet deep, and rolled along rapidly through gloomy forests or barren flats. The woods in these parts abounded with wild peacocks. On the 6th of March he crossed the Jumma, which here equalled the Ganges in breadth; both, however, were at their lowest ebb. The scenery all the way from Lolldong to the Ganges is woody, mountainous, and picturesque; and the principal game are wild elephants, which are hunted merely for their tusks. Before them, to the north, was the vast snowy range of the Himalaya, among the inaccessible pinnacles of which the Hindoo has placed the heaven of India. Among the roots of this Indian Olympus, which stretch out their rough huge masses far into the plains below, affording safe haunts for tigers and banditti, the kafilah toiled along, continually ascending, towards Kashmere.

On the 20th of March they arrived at Bellaspoor, on the frontiers of the Punjâb, or country of the five rivers. Here they remained three days, when, growing weary of attending the slow motions of the caravan, our traveller, with his servant and another Kashmerian, pushed forward, crossed the Sutlej, and on the 25th arrived at the camp of the Rannee of Bellaspoor, then engaged in war with the chief of Kangrah. The encampment of these rude soldiers was a curious spectacle. Eight thousand foot and three hundred horse, armed with matchlocks, swords, spears, and clubs, were huddled together in extreme confusion on two sides of a hill, under small sheds composed of the boughs of trees. Four ordinary tents, the only ones in the camp, afforded shelter to the general and the principal officers.

Forster now learned that his progress towards the enemy’s army, unless accompanied by an escort, would be attended with much danger; and he accordingly applied for the necessary protection to the commander-in-chief, whom he found sitting under 207a banyan-tree, surrounded by a number of naked officers, and reviewing some new levies who had just come in from the woods. These wild recruits, hitherto accustomed to a life of licentious freedom, appeared to be so many members of the fawn and satyr family, so fierce were their looks, so rude their costume. On explaining his desires to the general, he obtained a promise to be allowed to accompany the first messenger who should be despatched to the Kangrah camp.

However, our traveller was shortly afterward delivered from the necessity of depending on the protection of this uncouth mountaineer by the arrival of a drove of asses laden with iron, which was pursuing the route to Kashmere. To this party he now joined himself, and, bidding adieu to the rannee’s army, he proceeded towards that of the Kangrah chief, which, after plundering the ironmongers of a considerable sum, and putting the whole body in great terror, affected to treat them with civility. In this army there was a large detachment of Sikh horsemen, and it was them that Forster, who well understood their licentious manners and habits of plundering, principally dreaded. At this moment, therefore, he would willingly have sacrificed the moiety of his property to ensure the remainder. But there was no retreating; they were already in sight; so, assuming to the best of his ability an air of confidence and ease, he boldly advanced into the midst of these formidable marauders. “Imagining our approach,” says he, “to be that of the enemy, the Sikhs were preparing for the fight, to which they loudly exclaimed, in the tone of religious ejaculation, that their prophet had summoned them. In token of respect I had dismounted, and was leading my horse, when a Sikh, a smart fellow, mounted on an active mare, touched me in passing. The high-mettled animal, whether in contempt of me or my horse, perhaps of both, attacked us fiercely from the 208rear, and in the assault, which was violent, the Sikh fell to the ground. The action having commenced on the top of a hill, he rolled with great rapidity to the bottom of it, and in his way down left behind him his matchlock, sword, and turban. So complete a derangement I feared would have irritated the whole Sikh body; but on evincing the show of much sorrow for the disaster, and having assiduously assisted in investing the fallen horseman with his scattered appurtenances, I received general thanks.”

It was about the middle of April when Forster arrived at Jummoo, where, being supposed to be a merchant from whom some advantage might be derived, he was received by a Kashmerian with truly oriental expressions of welcome. Upon a banker in this city he had a bill for a considerable amount; but on examining it he found, that having been frequently soaked by the rain, and by his having fallen into a river on the way, the folds adhered together as if they had been pasted. However, the banker contrived, by steeping it in water, to decipher its import, and at once paid the money; though its shattered condition might have afforded him a sufficient pretext for delay. Being thus furnished with cash, our traveller began to think of enjoying the pleasures of Jummoo.

The trade and consequent wealth of this city arose from the insecurity of the road through Lahore, occasioned by the invasion of the Sikhs, which caused merchants to prefer this tedious and difficult but secure route. All articles of merchandise constituting the trade between Kashmere and Jummoo are transported by men, principally Kashmerians, who carry their extremely heavy burdens, two of which are considered a load for a strong mule, upon their back, as a soldier does his knapsack. When he desires to rest, the porter places under his pack a kind of short crutch, which he uses in walking. “The shawls, when exported from Kashmere, are packed 209in an oblong bale containing a certain weight or quantity, which in the language of the country is termed a biddery, the outward covering of which is a buffalo or ox’s hide, strongly sewed with leather thongs. As these packages are supposed to amount, with little variation, to a value long since ascertained, they are seldom opened until conveyed to the destined market.”

On the 17th of April he set out on foot from Jummoo, accompanied by a Kashmerian servant. The roads were steep and rocky; and not having been much accustomed to travelling on foot, he soon found that it would be necessary to proceed more slowly. His feet, in fact, like Bruce’s in the desert of Nubia, were so severely bruised and excoriated, that he walked with extreme pain and difficulty; though, somewhat to assuage his sufferings, he had carefully wrapped them round with bandages steeped in oil. However, the cool bracing air of the mountains, united with a feeling of security, and the certainty of finding commodious lodgings and a good supper at night, prevented his spirits from sinking; and still further to invigorate his resolution, fancy ever and anon placed before his mind the rich smiling landscapes and sparkling streams of Kashmere.

After a tedious and harassing journey of ten days, they reached on the 26th the summit of a lofty mountain, from whence he enjoyed the first glimpse of Kashmere. He now travelled in the suite of a Mohammedan rhan, with whom he had fallen in on the road; and this gentleman being a native of the country, and held everywhere in the highest esteem, he enjoyed the rare privilege of passing the custom-house untaxed and unmolested. He therefore entered with an unsoured temper into the paradise of Hindostan, where the face of nature exhibited all those features whose tendency it is to call up in the mind images of cheerfulness and pleasure. “The road from Vere Nang,” says Forster, “leads through 210a country exhibiting that store of luxuriant imagery which is produced by a happy disposition of hill, dale, wood, and water; and that these rare excellences of nature might be displayed in their full glory, it was the season of spring, when the trees, the apple, the pear, the peach, the apricot, the cherry, and mulberry, bore a variegated load of blossom. The clusters also of the red and white rose, with an infinite class of flowering shrubs, presented a view so gayly decked, that no extraordinary warmth of imagination was required to fancy that I stood at least on a province of fairy land.”

It is in such regions as these, and not in our northern climates, that the month of May is a season of beauty. The plains, dotted with numerous villages, and intersected by small rivers, were already waving with a rich harvest; while every copse and woody knoll gave shelter to innumerable singing-birds, whose notes made the whole atmosphere appear alive with music. Having reached Pamper, our traveller embarked in a boat on the Jylum, and proceeded by water to the city of Serinagur, which, with its houses covered with parterres of beautiful flowers, possesses at a distance a splendid and imposing aspect, answering in some degree to the idea which the historians of the flourishing days of India have given of it. But on entering the streets the illusion is quickly dissipated. Slaves are invariably filthy in their habits, and the people of Kashmere are now the slaves of the Afghans.

One of the principal beauties of this magnificent valley is its lake, a sheet of water five or six miles in circumference, interspersed with numerous small islands, and surrounded in its whole extent by shores singularly picturesque and romantic. We have already given, in the life of Bernier, some account of Serinagur and its environs; but it may be interesting to add here the picture of the Shalimar, which our traveller drew upon the spot nearly one hundred 211and fifty years after, when the power of the Moguls had passed away, and their palaces become the haunts of tenants more destructive than the owls and serpents of Babylon. “In the centre of the plain,” says he, “as it approaches the lake, one of the Delhi emperors constructed a spacious garden called the Shalimar, which is abundantly stored with fruit-trees and flowering shrubs. Some of the rivulets which intersect the plain are led into a canal at the back of the garden, and, flowing through its centre, or occasionally thrown into a variety of water-works, compose the chief beauty of the Shalimar. To decorate this spot the Mogul princes of India have displayed equal magnificence and taste, especially Jehangheer, who, with the enchanting Moormahal, made Kashmere his usual residence during the summer months, and largely contributed to improve its natural advantages. On arches thrown over the canal are erected, at equal distances, four or five suites of apartments, each consisting of a saloon, with four rooms at the angles, where the followers of the court attend, and the servants prepare sherbets, coffee, and the hookah. The frame of the doors of the principal saloon is composed of pieces of stone of a black colour, streaked with yellow lines, and of a closer grain and higher polish than porphyry. They were taken, it is said, from a Hindoo temple by one of the Mogul princes, and are esteemed of great value. The canal of the Shalimar is constructed of masonry as far as the lower pavilion, from whence the stream is conveyed through a bed of earth, in the centre of an avenue of spreading trees, to the lake, which, with other streams of less note, it supplies and refreshes.”

The environs of the city are adorned with private gardens. Here, and throughout the whole valley, the oriental plane-tree is carefully cultivated, and arrives at greater perfection than in any other country. It commonly attains the size of an oak, and, 212with its straight taper stem, silver bark, and pale-green leaf resembling an expanded hand, is, when in full foliage, a splendid and beautiful tree, and affords a grateful and refreshing shade. But the chief glory of Kashmere is its rose, of all the vegetable world the most exquisite production, unrivalled for its brilliancy and delicacy of odour, and yielding an essential oil, or attar, in comparison with which all other perfumes are as dross. The season when the rose first opens into blossom is celebrated as a festival by the inhabitants of the valley, who, repairing in crowds to the surrounding gardens, give loose to their passions, and riot in every species of licentious rejoicing.

But the wealth and fame of Kashmere have been chiefly derived from the manufacture of shawls, unrivalled for their fineness and beauty. The wool, or rather down, from which they are fabricated is not the growth of the country, but brought from districts of the high table-land of Tibet, a month’s journey to the north-east, where alone the shawl-goat will properly thrive. Various attempts have been made by the emperors of Hindostan and the kings of Persia to introduce this species of goat into their dominions; but the wool has always been found to be of an inferior quality. The French have lately imitated the examples of the Mogul and Persian sovereigns, and they may no doubt succeed in procuring a coarse kind of wool from which very useful shawls may be manufactured; but it may without much rashness be predicted, that in the attempt to rival the shawls of Kashmere they will inevitably fail, since no part of France is sufficiently analogous to the lofty plains of Tibet to afford the shawl-goat an exactly similar position with respect to climate, water, and food. Of all imitations that of the Persians, from the wool of Kerman, is said to approach most nearly to the shawl of Kashmere.

The wool, when imported, is of a dark-gray colour, 213and is bleached in Kashmere by means of a certain preparation of rice-flour. The whitest down, which is said to be brought from Rodank, is reckoned the best, and sells in the valley from ten to twenty rupees the turruk, about twelve pounds. No exact estimate of the number of shawls manufactured in the year can be made. There are said to be about sixteen thousand looms, each occupying three men, employed; and supposing, with a contemporary author, that five shawls on an average are made annually to each loom, the total number would amount to eighty thousand. The shop of the weavers consists of a kind of framework, at which the workmen sit on a wooden bench. Two persons are employed on the plainest shawls, and the number is sometimes doubled. The shuttle made use of is long, narrow, and heavy. When the pattern of the shawl is variegated, the flowers of figures are worked with wooden needles, there being a separate one for every different-coloured thread; and in such cases the operation is exceedingly slow.

“The oostand, or head-workman,” says Hamilton, “superintends, while his journeymen are employed near him, under his directions. If they have any new pattern in hand, or one with which they are not familiar, he describes to them the figure, colour, and threads that are to be used, while he keeps before him the pattern on which they happen to be employed drawn on paper. During the operation the rough side of the shawl is uppermost on the frame, notwithstanding which the head-workman never mistakes the regularity of the most finished patterns. A shop may be occupied with one shawl above a year, provided it be a remarkably fine one, while other shops make six or eight in the course of that time. Of the best and most noted sorts not so much as a quarter of an inch is completed in one day by three persons, which is the usual number employed. Shawls containing much work are made in separate 214pieces at different shops; and it may be observed, that it very rarely happens, when the pieces are completed, that they correspond in size.”

Forster was much disappointed in the women of Kashmere. They were handsome brunettes, but by no means endowed with that extreme beauty or elegance of form which has been attributed to them by other travellers. It is probable, however, that since the period of the Afghan invasion, which introduced into the country a rabble of adventurers from Kabul and the neighbouring regions, the race may have been deteriorated by a mixture with these ill-favoured foreigners; and that poverty, compelling them to have recourse to inferior food, and inducing habits of filth and a general squalidness, may have considerably aided in producing this result. In fertility they have by no means degenerated. Their families are numerous, whether poor or rich,—a circumstance which our traveller, who participated in Montesquieu’s opinion respecting the fecundity of all ichthyophagi, partly attributes to the great abundance of fish in their lakes and rivers.

During his stay in this country he was much alarmed at the suspicions of a Georgian, who, on observing the form of his head, which he averred was too flat at the top to be that of a Mohammedan, declared him at once to be a Christian. Forster, understanding that this man possessed an estate at Benares, in order to check his indiscretion or impertinence, disclosed to him his true story, informing him at the same time, however, that should any evil arise from his treachery or want of discretion, his estate would be confiscated, and the person of his commercial partner residing in the British territories exposed to punishment.

This circumstance, together with an increasing disgust at the character of the people, induced Forster to hasten as much as possible his departure from Kashmere. But this was a measure not easily 215effected. No person could leave the province without a passport from the governor, who, when this document was applied for, observed, that the Turks were good soldiers, and that as he just then happened to be in want of men, he would employ the traveller in his army. Forster now began to perceive that his Turkish character, which had hitherto procured him respect, was likely to advance him to a post of honour which he had very little ambition to occupy. One agent after another was employed to obtain the passport from the governor, a ferocious and sanguinary Afghan, who, like Charles IX. of France, shot men for his amusement; and at length, by dint of unremitted perseverance and a trifling bribe, the selfsame Georgian who had conjectured his religion from the form of his scull, with a sagacity which would have done honour to Dr. Gall himself, contrived to deliver him from the honour intended him by Azad Khan, and obtain the tyrant’s permission for his leaving the country.

Fearful lest the khan should alter his determination, and transform him, whether he would or not, into a trooper, he took into his service a Persian boy, hired a horse of a native of Peshawer, who was returning to that city, and on the 11th of June set out from Kashmere. His evil genius, in the form of vanity, had suggested to him the propriety of adorning his person with a gaudy red coat, in the pocket of which he deposited his passport. This showy garment, which no doubt excited the envy of many an Afghan beau, on the second day of his journey was snatched by a thief from his bed just as he was awaking, who, in spite of every obstacle, succeeded in bearing off his plunder. Not having passed the frontiers, he began to apprehend that a return to the capital might be necessary; but found, upon trial, that his Indian gold was considered every whit as good as Azad Khan’s written permission.

The scenery through which his road now lay was 216of a magnificent description, mountainous, rocky, savage, gloomy; forests below, snowy pinnacles above, with here and there a torrent bursting and dashing through rocky chasms with the noise of thunder. The path, impassable to horses, which were sent by another route, wound round the projections of the mountains, and sometimes consisted of a floor of planks laid over beams which were driven into the cliff. The rivers were crossed in baskets slung upon ropes, or on sheep’s or dogs’ skins inflated, and placed under the breast, while the traveller impelled himself forward by the motion of his feet. In other places a sort of bridge was formed in the following manner:—A stout rope, fastened to wooden posts on either shore sustained a number of carved pieces of wood resembling oxen-yokes, with forks placed vertically. The sides of these yokes being embraced by smaller ropes afforded a hold to the passengers.

On the 10th of July they crossed the Indus, about twenty miles above the town of Attock. “The stream,” says Forster, “though not agitated by wind, was rapid, with a rough undulating motion, and about three-quarters of a mile or a mile in breadth where it was not interrupted by islands, and having, as nearly as I could judge, a west-and-by-south course. The water was much discoloured by a fine black sand, which, when put into a vessel, quickly subsided. It was so cold from, I apprehend, a large mixture of snow then thawed by the summer heats, that in drinking it my teeth suffered a violent pain. In our boat were embarked seventy persons, with much merchandise and some horses. This unwieldy lading, the high swell of the current, and the confusion of the frightened passengers made the passage dangerous and very tedious.”

Next day, having crossed the Attock or Kabul river, they arrived at Akora, where Forster entered a spacious cool mosque to escape the intense heat 217of the sun, spread his bed, and laid himself down quite at his ease. Here he remained until the time of evening prayer, when he was summoned by the moollah, or priest, to prepare himself for the ceremony. Persons who adopt a fictitious character commonly overact their part, and thus frequently render themselves liable to suspicion; but Forster’s error lay on the other side, which was perhaps the safer; for, although it drew upon him the charge of negligence, it by no means disposed his associates to regard him as an infidel, their own practice too generally corresponding with his own. In the present case, upon his excusing himself from performing the accustomed prayer on account of the debilitated state of his body, the moollah replied, with extreme contempt, that it was the more necessary to pray, in order to obtain better health. The honest Mohammedan, however, like the priests of Æsculapius in Aristophanes, used, it seems, to make the tour of the mosque at midnight, and compel his miserly brethren to perform an act of charity in their sleep, by disposing of a part of their substance for the benefit of the establishment. From our traveller the contribution attempted to be levied was his turban; but happening unluckily to be awake, he caught the holy marauder by the arm, and demanded who was there. The poor man, utterly disconcerted at this unseasonable wakefulness, replied, in a faltering voice, that he was the moollah of the mosque,—the same man, apparently, who had so rudely reprehended the stranger for his neglect of prayer.

On the morrow a body of Afghan cavalry encamped in the environs of Akora. This event spread no less terror and consternation through the country than if a hostile army had suddenly made an incursion into it; for the licentious soldiery, devouring and destroying like a swarm of locusts wherever they appeared, conducted themselves with insufferable insolence towards the inhabitants. It must be observed, 218however, in mitigation of the enormity of their transactions, that they are in a measure compelled to subsist themselves and their horses in this manner; for their ignorant and unreflecting sovereign, in need of their service, but unwilling to reward them, suffers them in peaceful times to be reduced to such distress, that they are frequently constrained to sell their horses, arms, and even apparel, to purchase a morsel of bread.

In three days from this they arrived at Peshawer, a large, populous, and opulent city, founded by the great Akbar. Of all the places visited by our traveller in Northern India, none appeared to suffer so intense a heat as this city; but by skirting round the northern limits of the Punjâb he avoided Lahore, where he would probably have found an atmosphere equally heated with that of Peshawer. Other cities, he observes, may be afflicted with a too-great warmth; hot winds blowing over tracts of sand may drive their inhabitants under the shelter of a wetted screen; but here the air, during the middle of summer, becomes almost inflammable. Yet, notwithstanding this burning atmosphere, the inhabitants enjoy exceedingly good health, and are but little liable to epidemical disorders. This fact may easily be accounted for. The air of Peshawer, like that of the deserts of Arabia, in which the finest Damascus blades may be exposed all night without contracting the slightest rust, is extremely dry; and it would appear that heat, however intense, is not, when free from humidity, at all subversive of health. Another circumstance greatly tended to increase the salubrity of this city; provisions were excellent and abundant, especially the mutton, the flesh of the large-tailed sheep, said to have been first discovered in South America.

There being no caravansary at Peshawer, Forster took up his residence in an old mosque, where he continued several days, melting in perpetual perspiration. 219While at Kashmere he had converted a part of his property into a bill of five hundred rupees on Kabul, which, in order to secure it from rain and other accidents, he enclosed in a canvass belt which he wore as a girdle. On examining the condition of this bill some days after his arrival in this city, he found that the writing had been so entirely obliterated by perspiration that no one could read, or even conjecture its subject, as from beginning to end it was literally black. The discovery much disquieted his mind, as he began to be apprehensive he might be reduced to want money on his journey. But his temperament was sanguine; and in order to afford melancholy as slender an opening as possible, he flew into society and laughed away his cares.

Still, the apprehension of a diminution in his finances rendered him anxious to proceed; and meeting with a man with whom he had travelled during the early part of his journey, it was agreed they should move on together, unite their means, and protect each other. On inquiring into the state of his companion’s finances, it appeared that he possessed in cash one rupee, on which himself, a boy, and a horse were to be subsisted until his arrival at Kabul, a journey of twelve or fourteen days. As it seemed clear that when this extraordinary fund should be expended the Mohammedan would apply to Forster, the latter, aware of the inconvenience and danger to which a disclosure of the real amount of his property might expose him, pretended to be but little richer, and producing three rupees, the whole was considered common stock; and his companion, with a face brightened by faith and zeal, exhorted him to be of good cheer, for that true believers were never deserted in the hour of need.

In company with this cheerful Islamite he departed from Peshawer, and, uniting themselves to a kafilah proceeding in the same direction, they pushed forward towards the west. During the second day’s march 220he discovered that rashness is not always a mark of valour; for, advancing before the kafilah with about thirty horsemen, who all appeared by their whiskers to be men of desperate courage, they were met and plundered by a small body of Afghans, who seemed no way disturbed when the larger body of the kafilah appeared in sight, but slowly retreated with their booty.

During this part of the journey it was for many reasons judged expedient by the leaders of the kafilah to travel by night. But if they by this means diminished the danger of falling a prey to the plundering Afghans, they found in return that they had other perils to encounter; for, boisterous weather having come on, and the rain descending in torrents, every hollow of the mountains became the bed of a torrent, which, rushing down impetuously through its steep channel, rolled along stones of a vast size with a noise which, in the stillness of night, resembled thunder. The sky, meanwhile, was overcast with black clouds; and the roaring of the torrents heard on all sides created in the mind of the traveller a certain horror mingled with awe, and disposed him involuntarily to consider this grand scene of nature with sentiments of profound reverence.

On approaching one of these mountain streams, which had been greatly swelled by the recent rains, the commander of the kafilah escort, who was accompanied by one of his favourite women, placed her on a powerful horse, and, that she might not be incommoded by the crowd, attempted to convey her over first; but she had no sooner entered the water than she was carried off among the black whirling eddies of the current, and drowned. The Mohammedan, thus suddenly deprived of his mistress, at once forgot all thoughts of resignation to the decrees of fate, and, throwing himself upon the ground in the bitterness of his affliction, lamented his loss like a giaour. This melancholy event occasioned the 221immediate halt of the whole kafilah, the tragical fate of the lady having impressed their minds with a salutary terror. Next morning, on searching along the margin of the torrent, the body was found covered with mud, and was interred upon the spot with such ceremonies as time and place permitted. The kafilah then crossed the stream, and continued its march.

The road now lay through a black and desolate track, scooped into hollows by torrents, or yawning with natural chasms. It next entered a wide plain well watered and interspersed with walled villages, in the midst of which stands Kabul, the capital of the Afghan empire, where they arrived safely on the evening of the 2d of August. Here Forster took up his abode with a Georgian named Bagdasir, to whom he had brought a letter of introduction from his countryman in Kashmere. To this man, as to the person most likely to render him aid in such an affair, he showed his bill for five hundred rupees; but when it was found that not one single letter in it was legible, the man shook his head, as well he might, and predicted that no one would be found to discount it. However, after application had in vain been made in every other quarter, Bagdasir himself purchased the bill for half its real amount, which, its extraordinary condition being considered, was fully as much as it was worth.

Not many days after his arrival at Kabul our traveller was seized by a malignant fever, which for several days menaced him with a much longer journey than the one he had undertaken. Hot and cold fits succeeded each other with singular violence; he was tormented by insatiable thirst, and, as he endeavoured to quench this by the constant drinking of cold water, a most profuse perspiration was maintained, which probably saved his life. His whole body was covered with spots of a very bright colour, shaded between purple and crimson, which he should 222have beheld, he says, with pleasure, supposing that such an eruption would diminish the force of the disease, but that some of his neighbours regarded them as signs of the plague. This created a general alarm, and they were about to exclude him from their quarter, when he confidently asserted that the fever of the plague always produced its crisis in three days, whereas his had now continued seven; which, together with the conduct of Bagdasir, who never deserted him, somewhat assuaged their terrors, and induced them to suffer his presence. His disorder continued three weeks, and at length, when it disappeared, left him so weak that he could with difficulty crawl about the streets.

The religious toleration which prevailed at Kabul, where Turk, Jew, and Christian lived equally unmolested, induced him in an evil hour to throw off his Mohammedan disguise and profess himself a Christian; not considering, that however tolerant the Afghans of this capital might be, the remainder of his road, until he should reach the Caspian, lay among bigots of the most desperate stamp, who regarded the professors of all heterodox religions with abhorrence, and reckoned it a merit to revile and persecute them.

Having remained a full month at Kabul, he hired one side of a camel, on which a pannier was suspended for his accommodation, and on the 1st of September joined a party proceeding to Kandahar. The mode of travelling which he had now adopted is peculiar to that part of the world, and deserves to be particularly described. The camel appropriated to the service of passengers, he observes, carries two persons, who are lodged in a kind of pannier laid loosely on the back of the animal. The pannier, in Persian kidjahwah, is a wooden frame, with the sides and bottom of netted cords, of about three feet long and two broad. The depth likewise is generally about two feet. The provisions of the passengers 223are conveyed in the kidjahwah, and, the journey being commonly performed in the night, this swinging nest becomes his only place of rest; for on the kafilah’s arrival at its station he must immediately exert himself in procuring provisions, water, and fuel, as well as in keeping an eye over his property.

Forster soon found reason to regret his ill-timed abjuration of the prophet. The camel upon which he was stowed like a bale of merchandise was the worst conditioned of the whole drove; and to comfort him during his ride, a shrill-tongued old woman and a crying child took up their quarters in the opposite pannier, and contrived, the one by shrieking, the other by scolding, effectually to chase away his dreams. An old Afghan lady, with a very handsome daughter and two grandchildren, occupied the panniers of another camel. The rest were loaded with merchandise. This old dame soon began a contest with Dowran, the conductor of the kafilah, respecting the mode in which the movements of the caravan should be regulated; and after some desperate skirmishes, in which the force of her lungs and the piercing shrillness of her voice stood her in good stead, victory declared on her side, and the party fell under petticoat government.

Being now a declared infidel, and regarded by every person as an unclean beast, whom it would be pollution to touch, and worse than adultery to oblige by any kind offices, our traveller enjoyed many of the preliminaries of martyrdom, was hourly abused, laughed at, mocked, and derided; and still further to enhance the contempt which every person already entertained for him, Dowran maliciously insinuated that he was not even a Christian, but a Jew. When the party arrived at their halting-place no one could be tempted to assist him, not even for money; imagining, I presume, that the gold which had lurked beneath his “Jewish gaberdine,” like that derived by Vespasian from a tax on urinaries, which his son 224Titus jocosely smelled in order to discover its scent, must be accompanied by an unsavoury odour, which might cleave to a true believer, and exclude him after death from the arms of the houries. He was therefore daily compelled to go himself in search of water and dried camels’ dung to boil his tea-kettle, and, what was much worse, to endure the smoke which it emitted when first lighted, which entered his eyes, and made him think that some Mohammedan devil had transformed himself into smoke for the purpose of tormenting him.

In the midst of this gehannum, which gave him the more pain from its being of his own creating, he received some consolation from the protection of the Afghan lady, whose good-will he had won by fondling the children and giving them sugar. Thus fortified, he began by degrees to laugh at Dowran’s beard; and if he did not return him the compliment of being of the race of Abraham, it was more from want of reflection than from apprehension of danger.

On the 26th of September they arrived at Ghizni, the residence of the munificent and magnanimous Mahmood, the patron of Firdoosi, and one of the splendid princes whose actions adorn the annals of the East. But “the cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples” of Ghizni had long been trodden under foot by time; and, save some scattered masses of misshapen ruins, not a trace was to be seen of its former grandeur. The tomb of Mahmood, however, still remains in the neighbourhood of the city; and to this resting-place of genius numerous pilgrims resort from distant lands to say their prayers. The surrounding country is interspersed with low hills, and, excepting in some few cultivated spots, produces little else than a prickly aromatic weed, which, with balls of unsifted barley-paste, constitutes the common food of the camel.

The kafilah arrived on the 5th of October at Kandahar, 225a flourishing and populous city, where he remained three days, and then departed for Herat. His camel companion now was a noisy, disputatious theologian, who not only regaled him on the road with menaces and arguments, but deterred a poor half-starved Arab tailor, whose services Forster had engaged, from eating the bread of an infidel, though he saw clearly the poor man had no other to eat.

In this agreeable position he continued until the 2d of November, when they arrived at Herat, where he determined once more to invest himself, if possible, with the cloak of Mohammedanism. At the caravansary, where he had been deposited by the kafilah, with an ample tradition of his faith and practice, so desirable a disguise was impracticable; but he no sooner quitted the purlieus of his lodgings than he became a grave hypocritical Mussulman, and partook of the enjoyment of all his privileges. Nor did he entertain any great fear of detection, it being easy, in so motley a population as that of Herat, to maintain successfully the most extraordinary disguise. He daily frequented the eating-houses, where all the talk of the day was circulated, and chiefly fabricated, in conjunction with the barbers’ shops, which in Herat have a neat appearance. In the centre of it stands a small stone pillar, on the top of which is placed a cup of water in readiness for operation, while the sides of the shop are decorated with looking-glasses, razors, and beard-combs. In one great source of amusement Herat was at this time deficient,—there were no dancing girls. However, notwithstanding this remarkable desideratum, our traveller, who was an accommodating person, and contentedly put up with the blessings within his reach, contrived to pass his time agreeably enough when absent from the caravansary.

Learning at length that a kafilah was about to proceed to Tursheez, a town of Khorasan, lying in the direction of Mazenderan, he entered into an agreement 226with the director for a conveyance, but with a confidential stipulation that he was to be received in a Mohammedan character, as an Arab. The kafilah departed from Herat on the 22d of November; and as it had been agreed that he was to form one of the family of the leader, he joined the party at the appointed place, and took his station on a camel, with a bag of rice on the opposite pannier. The advantages of his new character were soon visible. Having represented himself as a pilgrim going to the shrine of Meshed, he was treated with the greatest possible consideration by every passenger in the kafilah, all of whom courted his society, as if holiness, like the plague, were infectious. Our hajjî now rejoiced and stroked his beard, to the ample dimensions of which he owed a large portion of the veneration which was shown him; and as he moved along, caressed and admired by all who beheld him, he must have felt no small gratitude towards Mohammed for the sanctity which his religion had thrown round the person of a pilgrim. This extraordinary degree of respect exciting the kafilah conductor, who considered that at this rate he might possibly dwindle into nobody, even in the eyes of his own camels and mules, he whispered about that Forster in reality was no hajjî, nay, not so much as a member of the church at all. His information, however, was received with utter incredulity, and attributed to his envious disposition; so that no evil arose to the Meshed pilgrim.

It was now December, and the north wind, sweeping with irresistible violence over the plains of Khorasan from the frozen mountains of Tartary, brought along with it a deluge of snow, which in a few hours clothed the whole country in white. On arriving at the village of Ashkara, the snow fell in such great quantities that the roads were blocked up, while the winds, hurling it along in tremendous drifts, seemed to threaten the village itself with destruction. The 227whole party was admitted, after many earnest entreaties, into a small dark room in the fort, where they were furnished with an abundance of fuel; but when they began to make inquiries respecting provisions, they found with dismay that not a single article of food was on any terms to be procured. Yet, says the traveller, such cordial pleasures are inherent in society, that though pent up in a dark hovel, which afforded but a flimsy shelter against the mounds of snow furiously hurled against it, our good-humour with each other and an ample supply of firing produced cheerfulness and content. A Persian of more than ordinary education, and who possessed a taste for poetry, amused them with reading Jami’s story of Yousuf and Zuleikha, which, for its scenes of wondrously pathetic adventure, and the luxuriant genius of the poet, is admirably calculated to soften the rigour of a winter’s day.

At this village they remained four days, during which, though the fact is not stated, they must have found something more substantial to subsist on than Jami’s poetry; when, the storm having abated, they pushed forward in the direction of Tursheez. On arriving at this town, he found that every apartment in the caravansary was already occupied; but a small piece of money bestowed upon the gatekeeper introduced him to a small chamber, in which, by submitting to receive a partner in housekeeping, he might reside comfortably enough during his stay. Our traveller, on his part, regarded the companion with still greater satisfaction than the chamber, and it soon appeared that the feeling was mutual; for the stranger, accosting him with evident tokens of joy, observed, that the solitary life he had hitherto passed at Tursheez was exceedingly tiresome, and that he now anticipated a cordial relief by his company. It was immediately agreed that a joint board should be kept; that the stranger, being yet weak from a recent sickness, should conduct the culinary operations, 228while Forster was to furnish water; a laborious task, there being none that was good at a nearer distance than a mile. This man, a gloomy, mysterious person, soon departed for Herat; and the traveller, together with a new companion, contrived likewise to find a better apartment. This second associate was a moollah, whose profession it was to vend certain spells, which were powerfully efficacious in conferring every species of worldly happiness, and in excluding all evils. But

Nolint: atqui licet esse beatis.

The Persians of these parts had no taste for happiness; so that this modern Thermander was, when Forster met him, so thoroughly disgusted with his attempts at banishing all misery from among his countrymen, that he was willing, he said, to shut up his book should any other prospect of a maintenance be held out to him. When our traveller offered him a participation of his fare, he therefore joyfully quitted his profession as a wholesale dealer in happiness, and consented to superintend the labours of the kitchen, in which, by long practice, he had attained a remarkable proficiency. “The excellent services of my companion,” says Forster, “now left me at liberty to walk about the town, collect information, and frequent the public baths. In the evening we were always at home; when the moollah, at the conclusion of our meal, either read the story of Yousuf and Zuleikha, which he did but lamely, or, opening his book of spells, he would expound the virtues of his nostrums, which embraced so wide a compass that few diseases of mind or body could resist their force. They extended from recalling to the paths of virtue the steps of a frail wife, and silencing the tongue of a scolding one, to curing chilblains and destroying worms.”

While Forster and the moollah were enjoying this peaceful and pleasant life, a large body of pilgrims 229from the shrine of Meshed suddenly inundated every apartment of the caravansary; and as this motley group of vagabonds were proceeding towards Mazenderan, directly in his route, he was tempted to join them and continue his journey, leaving his poor companion to subsist once more upon the virtue of his spells.

Accordingly, with this holy kafilah he departed from Tursheez on the 28th of December; and being, as the reader will have perceived, of an exceedingly sociable disposition, he very quickly found a substitute for the moollah in the person of a seid, or descendant of Mohammed, who has doubtless more descendants than any other man ever had. This green-turbaned personage was a native of Ghilān, and, take him for all in all, his conduct did more honour to his great ancestor than any other member of his family commemorated by European travellers. With this honest man Forster very quickly entered into partnership; but the seid being old and infirm, the laborious portion of their operations necessarily fell on the traveller. One little incident among many will serve to show the terms upon which they lived together. The kafilah having halted in a desert on the 3d of January, 1784, at a small stream, “the Ghilān seid and I,” says Forster, “had filled our bottle for mutual use; and the bread, cheese, and onions which supplied our evening meal giving me a violent thirst, I made frequent applications to our water stock. The seid, seeing that I had taken more than a just portion, required that the residue should be reserved for his ceremonial ablutions. While the seid retired to pray I went in search of fuel, and, returning first to our quarter, I hastily drank off the remaining water, and again betook myself to wood-cutting, that I might not be discovered near the empty vessel by my associate, who had naturally an irascible temper. When I supposed he had returned from his prayer, I brought in a large load of wood, 230which I threw on the ground with an air of great fatigue, and of having done a meritorious service ‘Ay,’ says he, ‘while I, like a true believer, have been performing my duty to God, and you toiling to procure us firing for this cold night, some hardened kaufir, who I wish may never drink again in this world, has plundered the pittance of water which was set apart for my ablutions.’ He then made strict search among our neighbours for the perpetrator of this robbery, as he termed it; but receiving no satisfactory information, he deliberately delivered him or them to the charge of every devil in the infernal catalogue, and went grumbling to sleep.”

In this way they proceeded until, having escaped from the deserts of Khorasan, they entered the mountainous, woody, and more thickly-peopled province of Mazenderan, the inhabitants of which Forster found more civilized and humane than the Khorasans. On the night of the 24th of January, while pushing on through the forests, most of the passengers beheld a star with an illuminated tail, which, from its form and quick motion, our traveller supposed to be a comet. In several of the woods through which their road now lay, no vestige of a habitation or signs of culture appeared, excepting a few narrow slips of land at the bases of the hills. But as they proceeded the valleys soon “opened, and exhibited a pleasing picture of plenty and rural quiet. The village all open and neatly built, the verdant hills and dales, encircled by streams of delicious water, presented a scene that gave the mind ineffable delight. The air, though in winter, was mild, and had the temperature of an English climate in the month of April.” Frazer, the able author of the Kuzzilbash, has given in his travels a no less favourable idea of the rich scenery of Mazenderan.

In a few days he arrived at Mushed Sir, on the Caspian Sea, where he was hospitably received and entertained by the Russian merchants established 231there. At this city he embarked for Baku, where he shaved his beard, forswore Mohammed, and again embarked in a Russian frigate for Astrakhan, where he arrived on the evening of the 28th of April. From this place, where he remained some time in order to recruit his strength, he proceeded through Moscow to Petersburg, which he reached on the 25th of May. Here his stay was but short, for he had now become impatient to visit England; and therefore, embarking about the middle of June in a trading vessel, he arrived in England in the latter end of July, 1784.

Forster seems to have occupied himself immediately on his arrival in throwing into form a portion of the literary materials which he had collected during one of the most hazardous and adventurous journeys that ever were performed; for in 1786 he published in London his “Sketches of the Mythology and Manners of the Hindoos,” which was received with extraordinary favour by the public. How long he remained in England after the publication of this work I have not been able to discover; but we find him in 1790 at Calcutta, where he published the first volume of his “Journey from Bengal to England,” and prepared the second volume for the press. However, before the completion of his work, the political troubles which at that period shook the whole empire of Hindostan involved him in their vortex. He was despatched by the governor-general, whose personal friendship he would appear to have enjoyed, on an embassy to Nagpoor, in Gundwarra, the capital of the Bhoonsla Mahratta dynasty, where he died about eight months after his arrival, in the month of February, in 1791. His papers were conveyed to England. Here, six years after his death, a complete edition of his travels appeared, in two volumes quarto; but the person who undertook the task of editor, with a degree of negligence which cannot be sufficiently admired, not only omitted to give the public any account of the author, but, which is more 232unpardonable, did not even condescend to inform them when, how, and from whom the manuscript was obtained. However, the extraordinary merit of the work, and the lively, laughing style in which it is written, quickly recommended it sufficiently to the literary world. The celebrated Meiners, professor of philosophy in the university of Göttingen, translated it into German; and Langlès, the well-known orientalist, published in 1802 a French translation, with copious notes, a chronological notice on the khans of the Krimea, and a map of Kashmere.

In English there has not, I believe, appeared any new edition,—none, at least, which has acquired any reputation; though there are extremely few books of travels which better deserve to be known, or which, if properly edited, are calculated to become more extensively popular. Forster was a man of very superior abilities; and his acquirements—whatever M. Langlès, a person ill calculated to judge, may have imagined—were various and extensive. He possessed an intimate knowledge of the Persian, and the popular language of Hindostan; and appears to have made a considerable progress even in Sanscrit. Neither was he slightly conversant with modern literature; and although it may be conjectured from various parts of his work that the history of ancient philosophy and literature had occupied less of his attention, he may yet be regarded as one of the most accomplished and judicious of modern travellers. This being the case, it is difficult to explain why he should now be less read than many other travellers, whose works are extremely inferior in value, and incomparably less amusing.



Born 1730.—Died 1794.

James Bruce, one of the most illustrious travellers whom any age or country has produced, was born on the 14th of December, 1730, at Kinnaird, in the county of Stirling, in Scotland. His mother, who died of consumption when he was only three years old, seemed to have bequeathed to him the same fatal disorder; for during childhood his health was bad, and his constitution, which afterward acquired an iron firmness, appeared to be particularly feeble. His father, who had married a second wife, by whom he had a large family, sent James at the age of eight years to London, where he remained under the care of his uncle, counsellor Hamilton, until 1742, when he was placed at Harrow school. Here he remained four years, during which he made considerable progress in his classical studies; and while he commanded the enthusiastic approbation of his teachers (one of whom observed, that for his years he had never seen his fellow), he laid the foundations of many valuable friendships which endured through life.

On leaving school at the early age of sixteen, Bruce, who at that time could of course understand nothing of his own character, imagined himself admirably adapted for the study of divinity and the tranquil life of a clergyman; but his inclination not receiving the approbation of his father, he necessarily abandoned it, and prepared, in obedience to paternal authority, to study for the Scottish bar. He returned to Scotland in 1747, and, having spent the 234autumn of that year in destroying wild fowl and other game, for which noble and rational species of recreation he always, we are told, retained a peculiar predilection, he resumed his studies, which, as they now led him through the dusty mazes of ancient and modern law, seem to have possessed much fewer charms for our future traveller than shooting grouse upon the mountains. Two years, however, were uselessly consumed in this study. At the termination of this period it was discovered that it was not as a lawyer that Bruce was destined to excel; and therefore, abandoning all thoughts of a career for which he had himself never entertained the least partiality, he returned in a considerably impaired state of health to his favourite field sports in Stirlingshire.

Here he lived about four years, undetermined what course of life he should pursue; but at length, having resolved to repair as a free trader to Hindostan, he proceeded to London in 1753 for the purpose of soliciting permission from the directors. An event now occurred, however, which promised to determine for ever the current of his hopes and pursuits. Conceiving an attachment for the daughter of an eminent wine-merchant, who, on dying, had bequeathed considerable wealth and a thriving business to his widow and child, Bruce relinquished his scheme of pushing his fortunes in the East, married, and became himself a wine-merchant. But Providence had otherwise disposed of his days. In a few months after his marriage, consumption, that genuine pestilence of our moist climates, deprived him of his amiable wife at Paris, whither he had proceeded on his way to the south of France. For some time after this event he continued in the wine trade, the interests of which requiring that he should visit Spain and Portugal, he applied himself during two years to the study of the languages of those countries, of which he is said to have possessed a very competent knowledge.

235This preliminary step having been made, he may be said to have commenced his travels with a voyage to the Peninsula. Landing on the northern coast of Spain, he traversed Gallicia, spent four months in Portugal, and then, re-entering Spain, made the tour of a large portion of Andalusia and New Castile, and then proceeded to Madrid. His enthusiasm and romantic character, which had probably a new accession of ardour from the wild scenes still redolent of ancient chivalry which he had just visited, recommended him strongly to the Spanish minister, who used many arguments to induce him to enter the service of his Catholic majesty. This by no means, however, coincided with Bruce’s views. That restlessness which the man who has once conceived the idea of travelling ever after feels, unfitted him in reality for all quiet employment. He felt himself goaded on by the desire of fame; to be in motion seemed to be on the way to acquire it. He therefore proceeded across the Pyrenees into France, and thence, through Germany and Holland, to England, where he arrived in July, 1758.

He had learned at Rotterdam the death of his father, by which he succeeded to the family estate at Kinnaird. He likewise continued during another three years to derive profit from his business as a wine-merchant; but at the termination of that period the partnership was dissolved. All this while, however, his leisure had been devoted to the acquisition of the Arabic and other eastern languages, among the rest the Ethiopic, which probably first directed his attention to Abyssinia. In the mean while, an idea which he had conceived while at Ferrol in Gallicia was the means of bringing him into communication with the English ministry; this was, that in case of a rupture with Spain, Ferrol would be the most desirable point on the Spanish coast for a descent. Should the scheme be adopted, he was ready to volunteer his services in aiding in its execution. 236The plans appeared feasible to Lord Chatham, with whom Bruce had the honour of conversing on the subject. But this great man going out of office before any thing definitive had been concluded on, Bruce began to imagine that the plan had been abandoned; but was for some time longer amused with hopes by the ministers, until the affair was finally dropped at the earnest solicitation of the Portuguese ambassador.

He now retired in apparent disgust to his estate in Scotland; but shortly afterward, Lord Halifax, who seems to have penetrated into Bruce’s character, recalled him to London, and proposed to him, as an object of ambition, the examination of the architectural curiosities of Northern Africa, and the discovery of the sources of the Nile. This latter achievement, however, was spoken of in an equivocal manner, and as if, while he mentioned it, his lordship had entertained doubts of Bruce’s capacity for successfully conducting so difficult and dangerous an enterprise. Such a mode of proceeding was well calculated, and was probably meant, to pique the vanity of Bruce, and urge him, without seeming to do so, into the undertaking of what with great reason appeared to be an herculean labour. But whatever may have been Lord Halifax’s intentions, which is now a matter of no importance, the hint thus casually or designedly thrown out was not lost. Bruce’s imagination was at once kindled by the prospect of achieving what, as far as he then knew, no man had up to that moment been able to perform; and secretly conceiving that he had been marked out by Providence for the fulfilment of this design, he eagerly seized upon the idea, and treasured it in his heart.

Fortune, moreover, appeared favourable to his views. The consulship of Algiers, the possession of which would greatly facilitate his proceedings in the early part of the scheme proposed, becoming vacant 237at an opportune moment, he was induced to accept of it; and, having been appointed, he immediately furnished himself with astronomical instruments and all other necessaries, and set out through France and Italy for the point of destination.

During a short stay in Italy, spent in the assiduous study of antiquities, he engaged Luigi Balugani, a young Bolognese architect, to accompany him as an assistant on his travels; and, having received his final instructions from England, he embarked at Leghorn, and arrived at Algiers in the spring of 1763.

The leisure which Bruce now enjoyed, interrupted occasionally by business or altercations with the dey, was devoted to the earnest study of the Arabic, in which his progress was so rapid, that in the course of a year he considered himself fully competent to dispense with the aid of an interpreter. In the Ethiopic want of books alone prevented his making equal progress; for with him the acquiring of a language was a task of no great difficulty. He was now, having thus qualified himself for penetrating into the interior with advantage, peculiarly desirous of commencing his travels; for to continue longer at Algiers would, he rightly considered, be uselessly to sacrifice his time; and he repeatedly requested from Lord Halifax permission to resign his consulship. For a considerable time, however, his desires were not complied with. The critical position of the British in that regency required a firm, intelligent consul; and until a dispute which had just then arisen with the dey respecting passports should be settled, it was not judged expedient to recall Bruce, whose intrepidity, which was thus tacitly acknowledged, admirably adapted him to negotiate with barbarians. The dispute arose out of the following circumstances:—On the taking of Minorca by the French, a number of blank Mediterranean passports fell into their hands. These, in the hope of embroiling the English and Algiers, they filled up and sold 238to the Spaniards and other nations inimical to the Barbary powers. The effect desired was actually produced. Ships were taken bearing these forged passports; and although, upon examination, the fraud was immediately detected by the British consul, Bruce’s predecessor, it was not easy to calm the violent suspicions which had thus been excited in the mind of the dey, that the English were selling their protection to his enemies. In fact, the conduct of the governor of Mahon and Gibraltar, who, as a temporary expedient, granted what were termed passavants to ships entering the Mediterranean, strongly corroborated this suspicion; for these ill-contrived, irregular passports appeared to be purposely framed for embarrassing or deluding the pirates. Bruce endeavoured, with all imaginable firmness and coolness, to explain to the dey that the first inconvenience originated in accident, and that the second was merely a temporary expedient; but it is probable that had not the regular admiralty passports arrived at the critical moment, he might have lost his life in this ignoble quarrel.

This disagreeable affair being terminated, he with double earnestness renewed his preparations for departure. Aware that a knowledge of medicine and surgery, independently of all considerations of his own health, might be of incalculable advantage to him among the barbarous nations whose countries he designed to traverse, he had, during the whole of his residence at Algiers, devoted a portion of his time to the study of this science, under the direction of Mr. Ball, the consular surgeon; and this knowledge he afterward increased by the aid of Dr. Russel at Aleppo.

The chaplain of the factory being absent, to avoid the necessity of taking the duties of burying, marrying, and baptizing upon himself, he took into his house as his private chaplain an aged Greek priest, whose name was Father Christopher, who not only 239performed the necessary clerical duties, but likewise read Greek with our traveller, and enabled him, by constant practice, to converse in the modern idiom. The friendship of this man, which he acquired by kindness and affability, was afterward of the most essential service to him, and contributed more, perhaps, than any other circumstance to preserve his life and forward his views in Abyssinia.

At length, in the month of August, 1765, Bruce departed from Algiers, furnished by the dey with ample permission to visit every part of his own dominions, and recommendatory letters to the beys of Tunis and Tripoli. He first sailed to Port Mahon, and then, returning to the African shore, landed at Bona. He then coasted along close to the shore, passed the little island of Tabarca, famous for its coral fishery, and observed upon the mainland prodigious forests of beautiful oak. Biserta, Utica, Carthage were successively visited; and of the ruins of the last, he remarks, that a large portion are overflowed by the sea, which may account, in some measure, for the discrepancy between the ancient and modern accounts of the dimensions of the peninsula on which it stood.

At Tunis he delivered his letters, and obtained the bey’s permission to make whatever researches he pleased in any part of his territories. He accordingly proceeded with an escort into the interior, visited many of the ruins described or mentioned by Dr. Shaw, feasted upon lion’s flesh, which he found exceedingly tough and strongly scented with musk, among the Welled Sidi Booganim, and then entered the Algerine province of Kosantina. Here, he observes, he was greatly astonished to find among the mountains a tribe of Kabyles, with blue eyes, fair complexions, and red hair. But he ought not to have been astonished; for Dr. Shaw had met with and described the same people, and supposed, as Bruce does, that they were descendants of the Vandals who anciently possessed this part of Africa.

240Having visited and made drawings of numerous ruins, the greater number of which had previously been described more or less accurately by Dr. Shaw, he returned to Tunis, and, after another short excursion in the same direction, proceeded eastward by Feriana, Gaffon, and the Lake of Marks, to the shores of the Lesser Syrtis. Here he passed over to the island of Gerba, the Lotophagitis Insula of the ancients, where, he observes, Dr. Shaw was mistaken or misinformed in imagining that its coasts abounded with the seedra, or lotus-tree. He must have spoken of the doctor’s account from memory; for it is of the coasts of the continent, not of the island, that Dr. Shaw speaks in the passage alluded to.

In travelling along the shore towards Tripoli Bruce overtook the Muggrabine caravan, which was proceeding from the shores of the Atlantic to Mecca,[8] and his armed escort, though but fifteen in number, coming up with them in the gray of the morning, put the whole body, consisting of at least three thousand men, in great bodily terror, until the real character of the strangers was known. The English consul at Tripoli received and entertained our traveller with distinguished kindness and hospitality. From hence he despatched an English servant with his books, drawings, and supernumerary instruments to Smyrna, and then crossed the Gulf of Sidra, or Greater Syrtis, to Bengazi, the ancient Berenice.

8.  Bruce says, “From the Western Ocean to the western banks of the Red Sea, in the kingdom of Sennaar.” His recent biographer omits the “kingdom of Sennaar,” but still places Mecca on the “western banks of the Red Sea.” For “western,” however, we must read “eastern” in both cases.

Here a tremendous famine, which had prevailed for upwards of a year, was rapidly cutting off the inhabitants, many of whom had, it was reported, endeavoured to sustain life by feeding upon the bodies of their departed neighbours, ten or twelve of whom were every night found dead in the streets. Horror-stricken 241at the bare idea of such “Thyestœan feasts,” he very quickly quitted the town, and proceeded to examine the ruins of the Pentapolis and the petrifactions of Rao Sam, concerning which so many extraordinary falsehoods had been propagated in Europe. From thence he returned to Dolmetta (Ptolemata), where he embarked in a small junk for the island of Lampedosa, near Crete. The vessel was crowded with people flying from the famine. They set sail in the beginning of September, with fine weather and a favourable wind; but a storm coming on, and it being discovered that there were not provisions for one day on board, Bruce hoped to persuade the captain, an ignorant landsman, to put into Bengazi, and would no doubt have succeeded; but as they were making for the cape which protects the entrance into that harbour, the vessel struck upon a sunken rock, upon which it seemed to be fixed. They were at no great distance from the shore, and as the wind had suddenly ceased, though the swell of the sea continued, Bruce, with a portion of his servants and a number of the passengers, lowered the largest boat, and, jumping into it, pushed off for the shore. “The rest, more wise,” he observes, “remained on board.”

They had not rowed twice the length of the boat from the vessel before a wave nearly filled the boat, at which its crew, conscious of their helplessness, uttered a howl of despair. “I saw,” says Bruce, “the fate of all was to be decided by the very next wave that was rolling in; and apprehensive that some woman, child, or helpless man would lay hold of me, and entangle my arms or legs, and weigh me down, I cried to my servants, both in Arabic and English, ‘We are all lost; if you can swim, follow me.’ I then let myself down in the face of the wave. Whether that or the next filled the boat I know not, as I went to leeward, to make my distance as great as possible. I was a good, strong, practised swimmer, 242in the flower of life, full of health, trained to exercise and fatigue of every kind. All this, however, which might have availed much in deep water, was not sufficient when I came to the surf. I received a violent blow upon my breast from the eddy wave and reflux, which seemed as given by a large branch of a tree, thick cord, or some elastic weapon. It threw me upon my back, made me swallow a considerable quantity of water, and had then almost suffocated me.

“I avoided the next wave, by dipping my head and letting it pass over; but found myself breathless, and exceedingly weary and exhausted. The land, however, was before me, and close at hand. A large wave floated me up. I had the prospect of escape still nearer, and endeavoured to prevent myself from going back into the surf. My heart was strong, but strength was apparently failing, by being involuntarily twisted about, and struck on the face and breast by the violence of the ebbing wave. It now seemed as if nothing remained but to give up the struggle and resign to my destiny. Before I did this I sunk to sound if I could touch the ground, and found that I reached the sand with my feet, though the water was still rather deeper than my mouth. The success of this experiment infused into me the strength of ten men, and I strove manfully, taking advantage of floating only with the influx of the wave, and preserving my strength for the struggle against the ebb, which, by sinking and touching the ground, I now made more easy. At last, finding my hands and knees upon the sands, I fixed my nails into it, and obstinately resisted being carried back at all, crawling a few feet when the sea had retired. I had perfectly lost my recollection and understanding, and, after creeping so far as to be out of the reach of the sea, I suppose I fainted, for from that time I was totally insensible of any thing that passed around me.”

243In giving the history of this remarkable escape of Bruce, I have made use of his own words, as no others could bring the event so vividly before the mind of the reader. He seems, in fact, to rival in this passage the energetic simplicity and minute painting of Defoe. The Arabs of the neighbourhood, who, like the inhabitants of Cornwall, regard a shipwreck as a piece of extraordinary good fortune, soon came down to the shore in search of plunder; and observing Bruce lying upon the beach, supposed him to be drowned, and proceeded at once to strip his body. A blow accidentally given him on the back of the neck restored him to his senses; but the wreckers, who from his costume concluded him to be a Turk, nevertheless proceeded, with many blows, kicks, and curses, to rifle him of his few garments, for he had divested himself of all but a waistcoat, sash, and drawers in the ship, and then left him, to perform the same tender offices for others.

He now crawled away as well as his weakness would permit, and sat down, to conceal himself as much as possible among the white sandy hillocks which rose upon the coast. Fear of a severer chastisement prevented him from approaching the tents, for the women of the tribe were there, and he was entirely naked. The terror and confusion of the moment had caused him to forget that he could speak to them in their own language, which would certainly have saved him from being plundered. When he had remained some time among the hillocks several Arabs came up to him, whom he addressed with the salaam alaikum! or “Peace be with you!” which is a species of shibboleth in all Mohammedan countries. The question was now put to him whether he was not a Turk, and, if so, what he had to do there. He replied, in a low, despairing tone, that he was no Turk, but a poor Christian physician, a dervish, who went about the world seeking to do good for God’s sake, and was then flying from 244famine, and going to Greece to get bread. Other questions followed, and the Arabs being at length satisfied that he was not one of their mortal enemies, a ragged garment was thrown over him, and he was conducted to the sheikh’s tent. Here he was hospitably received, and, together with his servants, who had all escaped, entertained with a plentiful supper. Medical consultations then followed; and he remained with the sheikh two days, during which every exertion was made on the part of the Arabs to recover his astronomical instruments, but in vain. Every thing which had been taken from them was then restored, and they proceeded on camels furnished by the Arabs to Bengazi.

At this port he embarked on board of a small French sloop, the master of which had formerly received some small favours from Bruce at Algiers, which he now gratefully remembered, and sailed for Canea, in Crete; from whence he proceeded to Rhodes, where he found his books, to Casttrosso, on the coast of Caramania, and thence to Cyprus and Sidon. His excursions in Syria were numerous, and extended as far as Palmyra; but I omit to detail them, as of minor importance, and hasten to follow him into Egypt and Abyssinia.

On Saturday, the 15th of June, 1768, he set sail from Sidon, and touching by the way at Cyprus, his imagination, which was on fire with the ardour of enterprise, beheld on the high white clouds which floated northward above the opposite current of the Etesian winds messengers, as it were, from the mountains of Abyssinia, come to hail him to their summits. Early in the morning of the fifth day he had a distant prospect of Alexandria rising from the sea; and, upon landing, one of the first objects of his search was the tomb of Alexander, which Marmol pretended to have seen in 1546; but although his inquiries were numerous, they were perfectly fruitless.

245From this city he proceeded by land to Rosetta, and thence up the Nile to Cairo. Here he was hospitably received by the house of Julian and Bertran, to whom he had been recommended; and he likewise received from the principal bey and his officers, men of infamous and odious characters, very extraordinary marks of consideration, his cases of instruments being allowed to pass unexamined and free of duty through the custom-house, while presents were given instead of being exacted from him by the bey. These polite attentions he owed to the opinion created by the sight of his astronomical apparatus that he was a great astrologer,—a character universally esteemed in the East, and held in peculiar reverence by the secretary of the bey then in office, from his having himself some pretensions to its honours.

This man, whose name was Risk, in whom credulity and wickedness kept an equal pace, desired to discover, through Bruce’s intimate knowledge of the language of the stars, the issue of the war then pending between the Ottoman empire and Russia, together with the general fortunes and ultimate destiny of the bey. Our traveller had no predilection for the art of fortune-telling, particularly among a people where the bastinado or impaling-stake might be the consequence of a mistaken prediction; but the eulogies which his kind host bestowed upon the laudable credulity of the people, and perhaps the vanity of pretending to superior science, overcame his reluctance, and he consented to reveal to the anxious inquirer the fate of empires. In the mean while he was directed to fix his residence at the convent of St. George, about three miles from Cairo. Here he was visited by his old friend Father Christopher, with whom he had studied modern Greek at Algiers, and who informed him that he was now established at Cairo, where he had risen to the second dignity in his church. Understanding Bruce’s intention of proceeding to Abyssinia, he observed that there were 246a great number of Greeks in that country, many of whom were high in office. To all of these he undertook to procure letters to be addressed by the patriarch, whose commands they regarded with no less veneration than holy writ, enjoining them as a penance, upon which a kind of jubilee was to follow, says Bruce, “that laying aside their pride and vanity, great sins with which he knew them much infected, and, instead of pretending to put themselves on a footing with me when I should arrive at the court of Abyssinia, they should concur heart and hand in serving me; and that before it could be supposed they had received instructions from me, they should make a declaration before the king that they were not in condition equal to me; that I was a free citizen of a powerful nation, and servant of a great king; that they were born slaves of the Turk, and at best ranked but as would my servants; and that, in fact, one of their countrymen was in that station then with me.”[9]

9.  In the biography of Bruce recently published there are a few mistakes in the account of this transaction, which, simple as it may appear, was precisely that upon which Bruce’s whole success in Abyssinia depended. Major Head says, that Father Christopher was the patriarch, that he accosted Bruce upon his arrival at the convent, and that it was he who addressed the letters to Abyssinia. Bruce, on the contrary, says that he was Archimandrites; and that it was “at his solicitation that Risk had desired the patriarch to furnish” him with an apartment in the convent of St. George. Nor was he at the convent to accost Bruce on his arrival. “The next day after my arrival,” says the traveller, “I was surprised by the visit of my old friend Father Christopher.” He goes on to say, that between them they digested the plan of the letters, and that Father Christopher undertook to manage the affair,—that is, to procure the patriarch to write and forward the letters.—Bruce’s Travels, vol. 1. p. 34, 35, 4to. Edin. 1790.

Our traveller was soon called upon to perform in the character of an astrologer. It was late in the evening when he one night received a summons to appear before the bey, whom he found to be a much younger man than he had expected. He was sitting upon a large sofa covered with crimson cloth of gold; his turban, his girdle, and the head of his dagger all 247thickly covered with fine brilliants; and there was one in his turban serving to support a sprig of diamonds, which was among the largest Bruce ever saw. Abruptly entering upon the object of their meeting, he demanded of the astrologer whether he had ever calculated the consequences of the war then raging between the Turks and Russians? “The Turks,” replied Bruce, “will be beaten by sea and land wherever they present themselves.” The bey continued, “And will Constantinople be burned or taken?”—“Neither,” said the traveller; “but peace will be made after much bloodshed, with little advantage to either party.” At hearing this the bey clapped his hands together, and, having sworn an oath in Turkish, turned to Risk, who stood before him, and said, “That will be sad indeed! but truth is truth, and God is merciful.”

This wonderful prophecy procured our traveller a promise of protection from the bey, to whom a few nights afterward he was again sent for near midnight. At the door he met the janizary aga, who, when on horseback, had absolute power of life and death, without appeal, all over Cairo; and, not knowing him, brushed by without ceremony. The aga, however, stopped him just at the threshold, and inquired of one of the bey’s people who he was. Upon their replying “It is the hakim Inglese” (English physician), he politely asked Bruce in Turkish “if he would go and see him, for he was not well;” to which the latter replied in Arabic, “that he would visit him whenever he pleased, but could not then stay, as he had just received a message that the bey was waiting.”—“No, no; go, for God’s sake go,” said the aga; “any time will do for me!”

Upon entering the bey’s apartment, he found him alone, sitting, leaning forward, with a wax taper in one hand, and in the other a small slip of paper, which he was reading, and held close to his eyes, as if the light were dim or his sight weak. He did not, 248or affected not, to observe Bruce until he was close to him, and started when he uttered the “salām.” He appeared at first to have forgotten why he had sent for the physician, but presently explained the nature of his indisposition; upon which, among other questions, Bruce inquired whether he had not been guilty of some excess before dinner. The bey now turned round to Risk, who had by this time entered, and exclaimed, “Afrite! Afrite!”—(He is a devil! he is a devil!) Bruce now prescribed warm water, or a weak infusion of green tea, as an emetic, and added, that having taken a little strong coffee, or a glass of spirits, he should go to bed. At this the bey exclaimed, “Spirits! do you know I am a Mussulman?”[10]—“But I,” replied the traveller, “am none. I tell you what is good for your body, and have nothing to do with your religion or your soul.” The bey was amused at his bluntness, and said, “He speaks like a man!” The traveller then retired.

10.  Major Head, in his account of this laughable consultation, by omitting all mention of the spirits, makes it appear that the bey meant to insinuate that vomiting, or drinking green tea, was contrary to the Mohammedan religion. But, although the Koran commands its followers to abstain from wine, under which denomination rigid Islamites include all kinds of spirits, it is by no means so unreasonable as to prohibit vomiting, or the drinking of warm water, or weak green tea.

Our traveller now prepared to depart; and having obtained the necessary letters and despatches both from the patriarch and the bey, commenced his movements with a visit to the Pyramids. He then embarked in a kanja, and proceeded up the river, having on the right-hand a fine view of the pyramids of Gizeh and Saccara, with a prodigious number of others built of white clay, which appeared to stretch away in an interminable line into the desert. On reaching Metraheny, which Dr. Pococke had fixed upon as the site of Memphis, Bruce discovered what he thought sufficient grounds for concurring in opinion with that traveller in opposition to Dr. Shaw, who contends in favour of the claims of Gizeh. The 249Serapium, the Temple of Vulcan, the Circus, and the Temple of Venus, the ruins of which should be found on the site of Memphis, are nowhere discoverable either at Metraheny or Gizeh, and are not improbably supposed by Bruce to be buried for ever beneath the loose sands of the desert. A man’s heart fails him, he says, in looking to the south and south-west of Metraheny. He is lost in the immense expanse of desert which he sees full of pyramids before him. Struck with terror from the unusual scene of vastness opened all at once upon leaving the palm-trees, he becomes dispirited from the effect of sultry climates, shrinks from attempting any discovery in the moving sands of the Saccara, and embraces in safety and in quiet the reports of others, who, he thinks, may have been more inquisitive and more adventurous than himself.

Continuing to stem the current of the Nile, admiring as they moved along the extraordinary scenery which its banks presented, they arrived at the village of Nizelet ul Arab, where the first plantations of sugar-cane which Bruce had met with in Egypt occurred. A narrow strip of green wheat bordered the stream during the greater part of its course, while immediately behind a range of white mountains appeared, square and flat like tables on the summit, and seeming rather to be laid upon the earth than to spring out of and form a part of it. The villages on the shore were poor, but intermingled with large verdant groves of palm-trees, contrasting singularly with the arid and barren aspect of the rocky ridges behind them; and presenting many features of novelty, they were not without their interest.

On arriving at Achmim he landed his quadrant and instruments for the purpose of observing an eclipse of the moon; but the heavens soon after her rising became so obscured by clouds and mist, that not a star of any size was to be seen. Malaria here produced 250extraordinary effects upon the inhabitants, or rather on the female portion of them; for while the men were vigorous and active, from their constant motion and change of air, the women, who remained more at home, were of a corpse-like colour, and looked more aged at sixteen than many Englishwomen at sixty. They were nubile, however, at ten years old; and Bruce saw several who had not yet attained the age of eleven who were about to become mothers.

In the afternoon of December 24th they arrived in the vicinity of Dendera, which they visited next morning, and found it in the midst of a thick grove of palm-trees. Having examined its gigantic temples, sculptures, and hieroglyphics, he returned to his station on the river. It was in this neighbourhood that he first saw the crocodiles. They were lying in hundreds, like large flocks of cattle, upon every island, yet inspired little or no terror in the inhabitants, who suffered their beasts of every kind to stand in the water for hours; while the women and girls who came to fetch water in jars waded up to their knees in the stream.

They arrived, January 7, 1769, at El Gourni, which in Bruce’s opinion formed a part of ancient Thebes. The stupendous character of the ruins, the temples, the palaces, the sepulchres, the sarcophagi, the antique paintings,—every thing appeared equally to deserve attention; but his time was short, and he employed it in copying a curious fresco executed in brilliant colours on the wall of a tomb. He would have remained longer, but his guides, pretending apprehension of danger from the robbers of the neighbouring mountain, refused to continue their aid, and, dashing their torches against the walls, retreated, leaving him and his people in the dark. He then visited Saxor and Karnac, where he observed two beautiful obelisks and two vast rows of mutilated sphinxes, which, with similar lines of dog-headed 251figures, probably formed the avenue of some magnificent structure.

From thence they proceeded to Sheikh Ammor, the encampment of the Ababdé Arabs. Bruce had met with Ibrahim, the sheikh’s son, at Furshoot; and now, upon his arrival, this young man came forth with twelve armed followers to meet him, and, conducting him into a tent, presented him to his father, Sheikh Nimmer, or the “Tiger Chief.” The old man was ill, and Bruce’s medical knowledge now enabled him, by allaying the sufferings of the sheikh, to acquire a powerful and a grateful friend. Observing the hospitable and friendly manner of Nimmer, our traveller said, “Now tell me, sheikh, and tell me truly upon the faith of an Arab,—would your people, if they met me in the desert, do me any wrong?”

The old man upon this rose from his carpet and sat upright, and a more ghastly and more horrid figure, says Bruce, I never saw. “No,” he replied; “cursed be those of my people or others that ever shall lift up their hands against you, either in the deserts or the tell (the uncultivated land). As long as you are in this country, or between this and Kosseir, my son shall serve you with heart and hand. One night of pain from which your medicines have relieved me would not be repaid were I to follow you on foot to Misr” (Cairo).

They then discussed together the means of facilitating Bruce’s entrance into Abyssinia, and, after much consideration, it was agreed that the most practicable route was by way of Kosseir and Jidda. The principal persons of the tribe then bound themselves by an oath not to molest or injure the traveller; but, on the contrary, in case he should ever require it, to protect him at the hazard of their lives. They would have extended their liberality still further, intending to present him with seven sheep, but these, as he was going among Turks who were 252obliged to maintain him, he requested they would keep for him until his return. They then parted.

At Assuan, which he next day reached, he was very politely entertained by the Turkish aga, who had received instructions from the bey to behave respectfully towards the stranger. From thence he proceeded, on beasts furnished by the aga, to the cataracts. On leaving the town they passed over a small sandy plain, where there were numerous tombs with Arabic inscriptions in the Kufic character; and after riding about five miles farther, arrived at the cataracts. The fall of the waters is here so inconsiderable that vessels are able to pass up and down; but the bed of the river, which may perhaps be about half a mile in breadth, is divided into numerous small channels by enormous blocks of granite, from thirty to forty feet in height. Against these the river, running over a sloping bottom, through a channel of insufficient breadth, dashes with extreme noise and violence, and is thrown back in foam and a thousand whirling eddies, which, eternally mingling with each other, produce a disturbed and chaotic appearance which fills the mind with confusion.

On the 26th of January, after much altercation with his host, he embarked in his kanja, and began to descend the river. Having reached Badjoura, he employed himself until the departure of the caravan, with which he was to cross the desert to Kosseir, in examining the observations he had made, and in preparing his journal for publication; in order that, should he perish, the labours he had already achieved might not be lost. This done, he forwarded them to his friends at Cairo till he should return, or news should arrive that he was otherwise disposed of.

On the 16th of February the caravan set out from Ghena (the Cæne Emporium of antiquity), and proceeded over plains of inconceivable sterility towards the Red Sea. “The sun,” says Bruce, “was burning hot, and, upon rubbing two sticks together, in 253half a minute they both took fire and flamed; a mark how near the country was reduced to a general conflagration!”

It was whispered about in the caravan that the Atouni Arabs were lying in wait for them somewhere on the road; and on their arrival at the wells of El Egheita, therefore, they halted to wait for the coming up of the caravans of Cus, Esneh, and Ebanout, in order to oppose as formidable a number as possible to the enemy. While they were at this place, Abd el Gin, or the “Slave of the Genii,” an Arab whom Bruce had received into his kanja on the Nile, and treated with much kindness, came up to him, and requested that he would take charge of his money, which amounted to nineteen sequins and a half. “What, Mohammed!” said Bruce, “are you never safe among your countrymen, neither by sea nor land?”—“Oh, no,” replied Mohammed; “the difference when we were on board the boat was, we had three thieves only; but when assembled here, we shall have above three thousand. But I have a piece of advice to give you.”—“And my ears, Mohammed,” said the traveller, “are always open to advice, especially in strange countries.”—“These people,” continued Mohammed, “are all afraid of the Atouni Arabs, and, when attacked, they will run away and leave you in the hands of these Atouni, who will carry off your baggage. Therefore, as you have nothing to do with their corn, do not kill any of the Atouni if they come, for that will be a bad affair, but go aside, and let me manage. I will answer with my life, that though all the caravan should be stripped stark naked, and you loaded with gold, not one article belonging to you shall be touched.” And upon putting numerous questions to the man, Bruce was so well satisfied with his replies that he determined to conform in every respect to his advice.

While the minds of all present were busied in calculating the extent of their dangers, and the probabilities 254of escape, twenty Turks from Caramania, mounted on camels, and well armed, arrived at the camp, and learning that the principal tent belonged to an Englishman, entered it without ceremony. They informed our traveller they were hajjis, going on pilgrimage to Mecca, and had been robbed upon the Nile by those swimming banditti, who, like the Decoits of the Ganges, are indescribably dexterous in entering vessels by night, and plundering in silence. By the people of the country they had, in fact, been ill-treated, they said, ever since their landing at Alexandria; but that having now found an Englishman, whom they regarded as their countryman, since the English, according to their historical hypothesis, came originally from Caz Dangli in Asia Minor, they hoped, by uniting themselves with him, to be able to protect themselves against their enemies. This preference was flattering, and “I cannot conceal,” says Bruce, “the secret pleasure I had in finding the character so firmly established among nations so distant, enemies to our religion, and strangers to our government. Turks from Mount Taurus, and Arabs from the desert of Libya, thought themselves unsafe among their own countrymen, but trusted their lives and their little fortunes implicitly to the direction and word of an Englishman whom they had never before seen!”

On the 19th they continued their journey over the desert between mountains of granite, porphyry, marble, and jasper, and pitched their tents at Mesag el Terfowy, in the neighbourhood of the Arab encampment. This, under most circumstances, is a position of considerable danger; for, as there are generally thieves in all caravans, as well as in all camps, marauders from one side or the other commonly endeavour to exercise their profession in the night, and embroil their companions. Such was the case on the present occasion. The thieves from the Arab camp crept unseen into Bruce’s tent, where 255they were detected, endeavouring to steal a portmanteau. One of them escaped; but the other, less nimble, or less fortunate, was taken, and beaten so severely, that he shortly afterward died. At this moment Bruce was absent; but on his return, a messenger from Sidi Hassan, chief of the caravan, summoned him to appear before him. It being late, our traveller refused. Other messengers followed—the camp was kept in unintermitted anxiety all night—and after much altercation and gasconading on both sides, fear of the Atouni Arabs at length induced them to calm their passions and consult their interest.

Proceeding in their course, however, without encountering an enemy of any kind, they arrived on the morning of the 21st in sight of the Red Sea, and in little more than an hour after entered Kosseir. Here he established himself in a house, and amused himself with observing the manners of the motley crowds assembled in the town. Next morning, being in a fishing-dress on the beach, seeking for shells, a servant came running in great haste to inform him that the Ababdé Arabs, to the number of four hundred, had arrived, and that having met with Mohammed Abd el Gin, whom they discovered to be an Atouni, had hurried him away with intent to cut his throat, there being blood between his tribe and theirs.

Together with this news the servant had brought a horse, and Bruce, without a moment’s reflection, sprang upon his back, and driving through the town in the direction which had been pointed out, quickly arrived at the Ababdé encampment. Upon his drawing near a number of them surrounded him on horseback, and began to speak together in their own language. The traveller now began to think he had advanced a step too far. They had lances in their hands, one thrust of which would have stretched him upon the earth; and by their looks he did not 256think they were greatly averse to using them. However, there was no retreating, so he inquired whether they were Ababdé, from Sheikh Ammor, and if so, how was the Nimmer, and where was Ibrahim. Upon their acknowledging that they were Ababdé, he gave them the salaam; but, without returning it, one of them demanded who he was. “Tell me first,” replied Bruce, “who is this you have before you?”—“He is an Arab, our enemy,” said they, “guilty of our blood.”—“He is my servant,” replied the traveller; “a Howadat, whose tribe lives in peace at the gates of Cairo!—but where is Ibrahim, your sheikh’s son?”—“Ibrahim is at our head, he commands us here; but who are you?”—“Come with me, and show me Ibrahim, and you shall see!” replied Bruce.

They had already thrown a rope about the neck of their prisoner, who, though nearly strangled, conjured Bruce not to leave him; but the latter, observing a spear thrust up through the cloth of one of the tents, the mark of sovereignty, hastened towards it, and saw Ibrahim and one of his brothers at the door. He had scarcely descended, and taken hold of the pillar of the tent, exclaiming Fiar duc, “I am under your protection,” when they both recognised him, and said, “What, are you Yagoube, our physician and friend?”—“Let me ask you,” replied Bruce, “if you are the Ababdé of Sheikh Ammor, who cursed yourselves and your children if ever you lifted a hand against me or mine, in the desert or in the ploughed field? If you have repented of that oath, or sworn falsely on purpose to deceive me, here I am come to you in the desert.”—“What is the matter?” said Ibrahim; “we are the Ababdé of Sheikh Ammor—there are no other—and we still say, ‘Cursed be he, whether our father or children, who lifts his hand against you, in the desert or in the ploughed field!’”—“Then,” replied Bruce, “you are all accursed, for a number 257of your people are going to murder my servant.”—“Whew,” said Ibrahim, with a kind of whistle, “that is downright nonsense. Who are those of my people who have authority to murder and take prisoners while I am here! Here, one of you, get upon Yagoube’s horse, and bring that man to me.” Then turning to Bruce, he desired him to go into the tent and sit down; “for God renounce me and mine,” said he, “if it is as you say, and one of them hath touched the hair of his head, if ever he drinks of the Nile again!”

Upon inquiry it was discovered that Sidi Hassan,[11] the captain of the caravan, had been the cause of this attempt at murder; having, in revenge for Ab del Gin’s discovering the robber in Bruce’s tent, denounced him to the Ababdé as an Atouni spy.

11.  Upon parting with Ibrahim, Bruce, enraged at the baseness and treachery of Sidi Hassan, entreated the young chief to revenge his wrongs upon this man, which was solemnly promised. Upon coolly considering the action, when he came to write his travels, he says, “I cannot help here accusing myself of what, doubtless, may be well reputed a very great sin.” Major Head, relating this transaction, quotes the following addition to the above sentence: “the more so, that I cannot say I have yet heartily repented of it.” This would have argued extreme cold-heartedness, to say the least of it; but the words are not found in the original quarto edition, whatever they may be in others of comparatively no authority.

While waiting for a ship bound for Tor, he undertook a short voyage to the Mountains of Emeralds, or Jibbel Zumrud, where he found the ancient pits, and many fragments of a green crystalline mineral substance, veiny, clouded, but not so hard as rock-crystal. This he supposed was the smaragdus of the Romans, and the siberget and bilur of the Ethiopians, but by no means identical with the genuine emerald, which is equal in hardness to the ruby. Returning to Kosseir, he forthwith commenced his survey of the Red Sea. Having visited the northern portion of the gulf, he arrived, almost overcome with fatigue, and suffering much from ague, at Jidda, where there were a great number of Englishmen, 258from whom he very naturally expected a hospitable reception.

It must be acknowledged, however, that on this occasion, as on many others, Bruce’s conduct bordered strongly upon the absurd. His dress and whole appearance were those of a common Turkish sailor, which as long as he remained on board might be very prudent; but when he came to present himself before his countrymen, from whom he expected the treatment due to a gentleman, it would have been decorous either to have improved his costume, or have given two or three words of explanation. He did neither, but desired the servant of the Emir el Bahr, or “harbour-master,” who had run over the names of all the English captains then in port, to conduct him to a relation of his own, who, when they arrived, was accidentally leaning over the rail of the staircase leading up to his own apartment. Bruce saluted him by his name, but without announcing his own; and the captain, no less hasty than himself, fell into a violent rage, called him “villain, thief, cheat,” and “renegado rascal,” declaring that if he attempted to proceed a step farther, he would throw him over the stairs. The traveller went away without reply, followed by the curses and abuse of his polite relative.

“Never fear,” said the servant, shrugging up his shoulders, “I will carry you to the best of them all.” He was now conducted to the apartment of Captain Thornhill, but having entered the room, “I was not,” says Bruce, “desirous of advancing much farther, for fear of the salutation of being thrown down stairs again. He looked very steadily, but not sternly, at me; and desired the servant to go away and shut the door. ‘Sir,’ says he, ‘are you an Englishman? You surely are sick, you should be in your bed: have you been long sick?’ I said, ‘Long, sir,’ and bowed. ‘Are you wanting a passage to India?’ I again bowed. ‘Well,’ says he, 259‘you look to be a man in distress; if you have a secret I shall respect it till you please to tell it me, but if you want a passage to India, apply to no one but Thornhill of the Bengal Merchant. Perhaps you are afraid of somebody, if so, ask for Mr. Greig, my lieutenant, he will carry you on board my ship directly, where you will be safe.’ ‘Sir,’ said I, ‘I hope you will find me an honest man: I have no enemy that I know, either in Jidda or elsewhere, nor do I owe any man any thing.’ ‘I am sure,’ says he, ‘I am doing wrong in keeping a poor man standing who ought to be in his bed. Here! Philip, Philip!’ Philip appeared. ‘Boy,’ says he, in Portuguese, which, as I imagine, he supposed I did not understand, ‘here is a poor Englishman that should be either in his bed or his grave; carry him to the cook, tell him to give him as much broth and mutton as he can eat. The fellow seems to have been starved—but I would rather have the feeding of ten to India, than the burying of one at Jidda.’”

Bruce kept up the farce some time longer; despatched the mutton and the broth; and then threw himself at full length upon the mat in the courtyard, and fell asleep. The arrival of the Vizier of Jidda, who, in the traveller’s absence, had opened his trunks, and been terrified at the sight of the grand seignior’s firman, now disclosed Bruce’s rank and consequence to the English factory, and his acting the poor man was laughed at and excused.

His countrymen, when his objects and purposes were explained, did whatever was in their power for the furtherance of his views. Letters to the governor of Masuah, the King of Abyssinia, Ras Michael, and the King of Sennaar, were procured from Metical Aga and other influential persons, and a person who required a few weeks to prepare for the journey was appointed to accompany him. The time which must elapse before this man could be ready, 260Bruce employed in completing his survey of the Red Sea.

Having been joined at Loheia by Mohammed Gibberti, the person commissioned by the authorities of Jidda to accompany him to Masuah, he sailed from that part of Yemen on the 3d of September, 1769, and on the 19th cast anchor in the harbour of Masuah. This is a small island, lying directly opposite the town of Arkeeko, on the Abyssinian shore; and at the time of Bruce’s visit was under the authority of a governor holding his title by firman from the Ottoman Porte, under condition of paying an annual tribute. The Turkish power having greatly decayed in the Red Sea, this governor, or naybe, had gradually assumed the independent authority of a sovereign; though, in order to command a sufficient supply of provisions from Abyssinia, he had agreed to share with the sovereign of that country the customs of the port. Observing, however, the disorderly state of the government, he had lately withheld from the Abyssinian monarch his portion of the revenue, which had so far irritated Ras Michael, then at the head of the government, that he had caused it to be signified to the naybe “that, in the next campaign, he would lay waste Arkeeko and Masuah, until they should be as desert as the wilds of Samhar!”

While affairs were in this position, the naybe received intelligence that an English prince was about to arrive at Masuah on his way to Abyssinia; and it was forthwith debated by him and his counsellors in full divan, whether he should be hospitably received or murdered immediately upon his arrival. Through the influence of Achmet, the nephew and heir-apparent of the governor, pacific measures were resolved upon.

Being desirous of enjoying one night’s repose to prepare him for the toilsome contentions which he foresaw would arise, Bruce did not land until the 261next day; but Mohammed Gibberti went immediately on shore, and contrived to despatch letters to the court of Abyssinia, announcing Bruce’s arrival, and requesting that some one might be sent to protect him from the well-known rapacity and cruelty of the governor. He then waited upon this petty despot and his nephew, and artfully endeavoured to inspire them with very exalted notions of our traveller’s rank and consequence. The way being thus skilfully paved, Bruce himself landed next morning. He was received in a friendly manner by Achmet, who, when they had seated themselves, after the usual salutation, commanded coffee to be brought in, as a sign to the traveller that his life was not in danger. He then observed, with a somewhat serious air, “We have expected you here some time, but thought you had changed your mind, and were gone to India.”—“Since sailing from Jidda,” replied Bruce, “I have been in Arabia Felix, the Gulf of Mokha, and crossed last from Loheia.”—“Are you not afraid,” said he, “so thinly attended, to venture upon these long and dangerous voyages?”—“The countries where I have been,” Bruce replied, “are either subject to the Emperor of Constantinople, whose firman I have now the honour to present you, or to the Regency of Cairo, and Port of Janizaries—here are their letters—or to the Sheriff of Mecca. To you, sir, I present the sheriff’s letters; and, besides these, one from Metical Aga, your friend, who depending on your character, assured me this alone would be sufficient to preserve me from ill-usage, so long as I did no wrong. As for the danger of the road from banditti and lawless persons, my servants are indeed few, but they are veteran soldiers, tried and exercised from their infancy in arms, and I value not the superior numbers of cowardly and disorderly persons.”

To this Achmet made no reply, but returning him the letters, said, “You will give these to the naybe 262to-morrow. I will keep Metical’s letter, as it is to me, and will read it at home.” He put it accordingly in his bosom; and on Bruce’s rising to take his leave, he was wet to the skin by a deluge of orange-flower water, poured upon him from silver bottles by his attendants. He was now conducted to a very decent house, which had been assigned him, whither his baggage was all sent unopened.

Late in the evening he was surprised by a visit from Achmet, who came alone, unarmed, and half-naked. Bruce expressed his acknowledgments for the civility which had been shown him in sending his baggage unopened; but Achmet, more solicitous to do good than listen to compliments, at once turned the discourse into another channel; and, after several questions respecting his rank and motives for travelling, advised him by no means to enter Abyssinia, and let fall some few hints respecting the character of the people of Masuah. To express his gratitude, and secure a continuance of his good offices, Bruce begged his acceptance of a pair of pistols.

“Let the pistols remain with you,” says Achmet, “till I send you a man to whom you may say any thing; and he shall go between you and me, for there is in this place a number of devils, not men. But, Ullah kerim! (God is merciful.) The person that brings you dry dates in an Indian handkerchief, and an earthen bottle to drink your water out of, give him the pistols. You may send by him to me any thing you choose. In the mean time sleep sound, and fear no evil; but never be persuaded to trust yourself to the Kafro of Habesh at Masuah.”

Next morning the governor returned from Arkeeko, attended by three or four servants miserably mounted, and about forty naked savages on foot, armed with short lances and crooked knives. Before him was beaten a drum, formed of an earthen jar, such as they send butter in to Arabia, covered 263over at the mouth with a skin, like a jar of pickles. Bruce’s reception by this ferocious despot was inauspicious. On his presenting to him the firman of the grand seignior, upon seeing which the greatest pacha in the Turkish empire would have risen, kissed it, and lifted it to his forehead; he pushed it back contemptuously, and said, “Do you read it all to me, word for word.” Bruce replied that it was written in the Turkish language, of which he comprehended not a word. “Nor I neither,” said the naybe, “and I believe I never shall.”

The traveller then gave him his letters of recommendation, which he laid down unopened beside him, and said, “You should have brought a moollah along with you. Do you think I shall read all these letters? Why, it would take me a month!” And while he spoke he glared upon his guest with his mouth open, so extremely like an idiot, that it was with the utmost difficulty Bruce kept his gravity. However, he replied, “Just as you please—you know best.”

After a short conversation in Arabic, which the naybe at first affected not to understand, our traveller brought forward his present, which the naybe understood without the assistance of a moollah, and shortly afterward took his leave.

The inhabitants of Masuah were at this time dying so rapidly of the small-pox, that there was some reason to fear the living would not suffice to bury the dead. The whole island was filled with shrieks and lamentations both day and night; and they at last began to throw the bodies into the sea, which deprived Bruce and his servants of the support they had derived from fish, of which some of the species caught there were excellent.

On the 15th of October, the naybe, having despatched the vessel in which Bruce had arrived, began to put out his true colours, and, under various pretences, demanded an enormous present. Bruce, 264of course, refused compliance. He then sent for him to his house, and after venting his fury in a storm of abuse, concluded by saying, in a peremptory tone, that unless our traveller were ready in a few days to pay him three ounces of gold, he would confine him in a dungeon, without light, air, or food, until his bones should come through his skin for want. To aggravate the affair, an uncle of his, then present, added, that whatever the naybe might determine respecting his own demands, he could in nowise abate a jot from those of the janizaries; which, however, in consideration of the letter he had brought from the port of the janizaries at Cairo, were moderate—only forty ounces of gold.

To all this Bruce replied firmly, “Since you have broken your faith with the grand seignior, the government of Cairo, the pasha at Jidda, and Metical Aga, you will no doubt do as you please with me; but you may expect to see the English man-of-war the Lion before Arkeeko some morning by daybreak.”

“I should be glad,” said the naybe, “to see that man at Arkeeko or Masuah who would carry as much writing from you to Jidda as would lie upon my thumb-nail. I would strip his shirt off first, and then his skin, and hang him up before your door to teach you more wisdom.”

“But my wisdom,” replied Bruce, “has taught me to prevent all this. My letter has already gone to Jidda; and if in twenty days from this another letter from me does not follow it, you will see what will arrive. In the mean time, I here announce to you that I have letters from Metical Aga and the Sheriff of Mecca, to Michael Suhul, governor of Tigrè, and the King of Abyssinia. I therefore would wish that you would leave off these unmanly altercations, which serve no sort of purpose, and let me continue my journey.”

The naybe now muttered in a low voice to himself, 265“What, Michael too! then go your journey, and think of the ill that’s before you!” Upon which the traveller left him.

Other altercations, still more violent, ensued, and attempts were made by the creatures of the naybe to break into his house and murder him in the night; but these were constantly defeated by the courage and fidelity of his servants. Achmet, too, the nephew of the naybe, exerted whatever influence he possessed in behalf of the traveller; who, in return, was, under Providence, the means of preserving his life; for Achmet at this time falling ill of an intermittent fever, Bruce assiduously attended and prescribed for him, and in the course of a few days had the satisfaction of pronouncing him out of danger.

On the morning of the 6th of November, while at breakfast, Bruce received the agreeable intelligence that three servants had arrived from Tigrè; one from Jamai, the Greek, the other two from Ras Michael, both wearing the royal livery. Ras Michael’s letters to the naybe were short. He said the king’s health was bad, and that he wondered the physician sent to him by Metical Aga from Arabia had not been instantly forwarded to him at Gondar, as he had heard of his having been some time at Masuah. He therefore commanded the naybe to despatch the physician without loss of time, and to furnish him with all necessaries.

To these peremptory orders the naybe felt himself compelled to yield obedience; and accordingly Bruce was at length suffered to depart. In order, however, to make one attempt more at murdering the stranger, for which the old man appeared to have acquired a kind of passion, he furnished him with a guide and several attendants, who, it was suspected by the nephew, had received secret orders to cut him off upon the road. To counteract the designs of this worthy old relative, Achmet removed these attendants, and replaced them by servants of 266his own; and prevailing upon Bruce to proceed by a different route from that recommended by the naybe, for which purpose he supplied him with another guide, he took his leave, saying, “He that is your enemy is mine. You shall hear from me by Mohammed Gibberti.”

Bruce now proceeded over a plain partly covered with groves of acacia-trees, in full flower, towards the mountains, upon the ascent to which he met with considerable numbers of the wild mountain shepherds, descending with their families and flocks to the seashore, drawn thither by the fresh grass which springs up in October and November all along the coast. Their path, from the time they had reached the acclivity, lay over a broken, stony road, along the bed of a mountain torrent; but having reached a small green hill at some distance from the stream, they pitched their tent; and, it being near evening, prepared to pass the night there. The weather, which had hitherto been fine, now seemed to threaten rain. The loftier mountains, and a great portion of the lower ones, were quite hidden by thick clouds; the lightning was very frequent, broad, and deeply tinged with blue; and long peals of thunder were heard at a distance. “The river,” says Bruce, “scarcely ran at our passing it. All on a sudden, however, we heard a noise on the mountains above, louder than the loudest thunder. Our guides upon this flew to the baggage, and removed it to the top of the green hill; which was no sooner done than we saw the river coming down in a stream about the height of a man, and breadth of the whole bed it used to occupy. The water was thickly tinged with red earth, and ran in the form of a deep river, and swelled a little above its banks, but did not reach our station on the hill.”

During this day’s march he first saw the dung of elephants, full of thick pieces of undigested branches; and observed in the tracks through which they had 267passed several trees thrown down or broken in the middle, while the ground was strewed with half-eaten branches. The wild tribes who inhabited these mountains were a small, active, copper-coloured race, who lived in caves, or cages covered with an ox’s hide, and large enough to hold two persons. Though possessed of numerous herds of cattle, they abstained, like the Brahmins, from animal food, and subsisted entirely upon milk.

For some time after leaving this station their road lay through groves of acacia-trees, the prickly branches of which striking against their faces and hands quickly covered them with blood. They then proceeded through grassy valleys, and over mountains, bleak, bare, and desolate, until they arrived at a place called Tubbo, a picturesque and agreeable station, where they pitched their tent, and remained several hours. The mountains were here very steep, and broken abruptly into cliffs and precipices. The trees were thick, in full leaf, and planted so closely together that they seemed to have been intended for arbours, and afforded abundance of dark cool shade. Their boughs were filled with immense numbers of birds, variegated with an infinity of colours, but destitute of song; others, of a more homely and more European appearance, diverted the travellers with a variety of wild notes, in a style of music still distinct and peculiar to Africa; as different, says Bruce, in the composition from that of our linnet and goldfinch as our English language is from that of Abyssinia. Yet, from frequent and attentive observation, he found that the skylark at Masuah sang the same notes as in England.

The whole country between this and Mount Taranta abounded in game, and more particularly in partridges and antelopes, the latter of which, without exhibiting any signs of fear, moved out of the way to let them pass; or stood still and gazed at them. When they arrived at the foot of the mountain, 268the difficulties which presented themselves were appalling. The road, if it deserved the name, was of incredible steepness, and intersected almost at every step by large hollows and gullies formed by the torrents, and by vast fragments of rock, which, loosened from the cliffs above by the rains, had rolled down into the chasm through which their path lay. To carry Bruce’s telescopes, timekeeper, and quadrant through such a path as this was by the majority of the party declared to be impossible; and the bearers of the quadrant now proposed to drag it along in a way which would have quickly shattered it to pieces. To prevent so undesirable a catastrophe Bruce himself, assisted by a Moor named Yasine, who, being on his way to Abyssinia, had attached himself to our traveller’s party, undertook the task, and after extraordinary exertions, during which their clothes were torn to pieces, and their hands and knees cut in a shocking manner, they succeeded in placing the instrument in safety, far above the stony parts of the mountain. By this means their companions were shamed into exertion, and every one now striving to surpass the rest, all the instruments and other baggage were quickly got up the steep.

Having accomplished their laborious task, they found themselves too much fatigued to attempt the pitching of their tents; though, had it been otherwise, the scantiness of the soil, which was too shallow to hold a tent-pin, would have prevented them; they therefore betook themselves to the caves which they discovered in the rocks, and there passed the night. Next morning they proceeded to encounter the remaining half of the mountain, which, though steeper, was upon the whole less difficult than the part they had already passed; and in two days came in sight of Dixan, a city built on the summit of a hill, perfectly in the form of a sugar-loaf, surrounded on all sides by a deep valley like a trench, and approached 269by a road which winds spirally up the hill till it ends among the houses.

The inhabitants of this place enjoyed throughout the country the reputation of superior wickedness, and appeared fully to deserve it; for, whether Christians or Moors, the only traffic in which they were engaged was in children. These were stolen in Abyssinia, frequently by the priests; and being brought to Dixan, were there delivered over to the Moors, who conveyed them to Masuah, from whence they were transported to Arabia or India. Bernier found this trade in active operation in his time; and it has probably subsisted from the earliest ages, since Abyssinian girls have always been in request among the Arabs, while the boys are more valued farther eastward, where they are generally converted into eunuchs.

From Dixan they set forward November 25, and encamped at night under a tree. They had now been joined by about twenty loaded asses and two loaded bulls driven by Moors, who, in consideration of the protection they expected from our traveller, bound themselves by an oath to obey him punctually during the journey, and in case of attack to stand by him to the last. Next morning they proceeded over a plain covered with wheat and Indian corn, and on looking back towards Taranta, beheld its summit capped with black clouds, which emitted vivid streams of lightning, and frequent peals of thunder. Towards noon they encamped at the foot of a mountain, on the top of which was a village, the residence of an Abyssinian nobleman, called the Baharnagash, who, with a very ragged retinue, visited Bruce in his tent. Among the horses of his attendants there was a black one which Bruce desired to possess. When the chief had returned to his village he therefore despatched two persons to him to commence negotiations. The bargain, however, was soon concluded, and the money, about 12l., paid in merchandise; 270but by the time he had reached the encampment, the black horse had been converted into a brown one, which, if he wanted an eye, had the recommendation of great age and experience. This ancient charger was returned, and, after considerable shuffling and equivocation, the genuine black horse, sixteen and a half-hands high, and of the Dongola breed, was obtained. The noble animal, which had been half-starved by the Baharnagash, was named Mirza, and intrusted to the care of an Arab from the neighbourhood of Medina, a man well versed in all equestrian affairs. “Indeed,” observes Bruce, “I might say I acquired that day a companion that contributed always to my pleasure, and more than once to my safety; and was no slender means of acquiring me the first attention of the king.”

Their road now lying through a country into which the Shangalla, whom Bruce terms the ancient Cushites, were in the habit of making incursions, the whole party carefully examined the state of their firearms, and cleaned and charged them anew. In this day’s journey they passed through a wood of acacia-trees in flower, with which was intermingled another species of tree with large white flowers, yielding a scent like that of the honeysuckle; and afterward another wood, so overgrown with wild oats that, like the jungle grass of Bengal, it covered the men and their horses. This plain was perhaps the most fertile in Abyssinia, but, owing to the inveterate feuds of the villages, had long been suffered to lie waste, or, if a small portion were cultivated, the labours of sowing-time and harvest were performed by the peasantry in arms, who rarely completed their task without bloodshed.

Having crossed this plain, they entered a close country covered with brushwood, wild oats, and high grass, rough with rocks, and traversed by narrow difficult passes. At one of these, called the pass of Kella, they were detained three days by the farmers 271of the customs, who demanded more than they thought proper to pay. During this delay a kind of fair or bazaar was opened in the caravan, to which hundreds of young women from the neighbouring villages repaired, to purchase beads and other articles of African finery; and so eager were they to get possession of these toys, that they could be restrained from stealing them only by being beaten unmercifully with whips and sticks. Of chastity these Abyssinian beauties had no conception, and abandoned themselves to the desires of strangers without so much as requiring a reward.

The next day, after leaving Kella, they discovered in the distance the mountains of Adowa, which in no respect resemble those of Europe, or of any other country. “Their sides were all perpendicular, high, like steeples or obelisks, and broken into a thousand different forms.” On the 6th of December they arrived at Adowa, having travelled for three hours over a very pleasant road, between hedgerows of jessamine, honeysuckle, and many other kinds of flowering shrubs. This town, which was made the capital of Tigrè by Ras Michael, consisted of about three hundred houses, but each house being surrounded by a fence or screen of trees and shrubs, like the small picturesque homesteads which skirt the Ghauts on the coast of Malabar, the extent of ground covered was very considerable, and from a distance the whole place had the appearance of a beautiful grove. Within, however, were crime and wretchedness. The palace of the governor, which was now occupied by his deputy, stood upon the top of the hill, and resembled a huge prison. Upwards of three hundred persons were there confined in irons, some of whom had been imprisoned more than twenty years, solely, in most instances, for the purpose of extorting money from them; but when they had complied with their captor’s demands, their deliverance by no means followed. Most of them 272were kept in cages like wild beasts, and treated with equal inhumanity.

Here he was received in the most hospitable manner by Janni, the Greek officer of the customs, to whom he had been recommended by the patriarch of Cairo. In this town there was a valuable manufacture of coarse cotton cloth, which circulated instead of silver money throughout Abyssinia. The houses were built with rough stone, cemented with mud instead of mortar—which was used only at Gondar,—and had high conical roofs, thatched with a reedy sort of grass, rather thicker than wheat straw.

From this place he proceeded on the 10th of January, 1770, to visit the ruins of the Jesuits’ convent at Fremona, two miles to the north-east of the town. It resembled a vast fortress, being at least a mile in circumference, and surrounded by a wall, the remains of which were twenty-five feet high, with towers in the flanks and angles, and pierced on all sides with holes for muskets.

Leaving Adowa on the 17th, they arrived next morning at the ruins of Axum, which, extensive as they were, consisted entirely of public buildings. Huge granite obelisks, rudely carved, strewed the ground, having been overthrown by earthquakes or by barbarians, one only remaining erect. Colossal statues of the latrator anubis, or dog-star, were discovered among the ruins, evidently of Egyptian workmanship; together with magnificent flights of granite steps, and numerous pedestals whereon the figures of sphinxes were formerly placed. Axum was watered by a small stream, which flowed all the year, and was received into a magnificent basin of one hundred and fifty feet square, whence it was artificially conveyed into the neighbouring gardens.

Continuing their journey through a beautiful country, diversified with hill and dale, and covered so thickly with flowering shrubs that the odours exhaling from their blossoms strongly perfumed the 273air, they overtook three men driving a cow, and Bruce had an opportunity of witnessing an operation which, on the publication of his travels, was almost universally treated as a fiction. On arriving on the banks of a river, where it was supposed they were to encamp, the three men, who from their lances and shields appeared to be soldiers, tripped up the cow; and as soon as she had fallen, one of them got across her neck, holding down her head by the horns, another twisted the halter about her fore-feet, while the third, who held a knife in his hand, instead of striking at the animal’s throat, to Bruce’s very great surprise got astride upon her belly, and gave her a very deep wound in the upper part of her buttock. He now of course expected that the cow was to be killed, but, upon inquiring whether they would sell a portion of her, was informed that the beast was not wholly theirs, and that therefore they could not sell her. “This,” says the traveller, “awakened my curiosity. I let my people go forward and staid myself, till I saw, with the utmost astonishment, two pieces, thicker and longer than our ordinary beefsteaks, cut out of the higher part of the buttock of the beast. How it was done I cannot positively say; because, judging the cow was to be killed from the moment I saw the knife drawn, I was not anxious to view that catastrophe, which was by no means an object of curiosity: whatever way it was done, it surely was adroitly, and the two pieces were spread on the outside of their shields.”

After this, the skin which covered the wounded part was drawn together, and fastened by small skewers or pins. A cataplasm of clay was then placed over all, and the poor beast, having been forced to rise, was driven on as before. This mode of cutting beefsteaks from a living animal is no doubt extraordinary, but I can see nothing in it that should render it incredible, particularly to persons who make no difficulty in believing that men eat each 274other, or fasten their own bodies on swings, by hooks driven into the muscles of their backs, and thus suspended, whirl round in indescribable agony for the amusement of the bystanders. Yet this is indubitably done every day in Hindostan. The scorn with which Bruce met the incredulity of his critics was natural and just. But the skepticism of the public has now ceased. In fact, to avow it would be to plead guilty of a degree of ignorance of which few persons in the present day would care to be suspected.

Proceeding on his journey, Bruce learned at Siré that Ras Michael had defeated the rebel Fasil, who had long made head against the royal troops, with the loss of ten thousand men; and this intelligence struck terror into the numerous disaffected persons who were found throughout the country.

On the 26th they crossed the Tacazzè, one of the pleasantest rivers in the world, shaded with fine lofty trees, its banks covered with bushes, inferior in fragrance to no garden in the universe; its waters limpid, excellent, and full of fish, while the coverts on its banks abound with game. It was about two hundred yards broad, and about three feet deep; and in the middle of the ford they met a deserter from Ras Michael’s army, with his firelock on his shoulder, driving before him two miserable girls about ten years old, stark naked, and almost famished to death, the part of the booty which had fallen to his share after the battle. From this wretch, however, they could gain no intelligence.

The country through which they now passed was covered with ruined villages, “the marks,” says Bruce, “of Michael’s cruelty or justice, for perhaps the inhabitants had deserved the chastisement they had met with.” The scenery on all sides was now highly picturesque and beautiful. At Addergey, where they encamped near the small river Mai-Lumi, or the “River of Limes,” in a small plain, 275they were surrounded by a thick wood in form of an amphitheatre, behind which arose a sweep of bare, rugged, and barren mountains. Midway in the cliff was a miserable village, which seemed rather to hang than to stand there, scarcely a yard of level ground being between it and the edge of the precipice. The wood was full of lemons and wild citrons, from which circumstance it derived its name. Before them, towards the west, the plain terminated in a tremendous precipice.

After a series of disputes with the chief of this village, a malignant, avaricious barbarian, who seems to have designed to cut them off, they proceeded towards Mount Lamalmon, one of the highest points of Abyssinia. On the way they discovered on their right the mountains of Waldubba, inhabited by monks and great men in disgrace. The monks are held in great veneration, being by many supposed to enjoy the gift of prophecy and the power of working miracles. To strengthen their virtue, and encourage them in their austere way of life, they are frequently visited by certain young women, who may be called nuns, and who live upon a very familiar footing with these prophets and workers of miracles. Nay, many of these, says Bruce, thinking that the living in community with this holy fraternity has not in it perfection enough to satisfy their devotion, retire, one of each sex, a hermit and a nun, sequestering themselves for months, to eat herbs together in private upon the top of the mountains.

On the 7th of February they began to ascend the mountains which skirt the base of Lamalmon; and on the next day commenced the climbing of that mountain itself. Their path was scarcely two feet wide in any part, and wound in a most tortuous direction up the mountain, perpetually on the brink of a precipice. Torrents of water, which in the rainy season roll huge stones and fragments of rock down the steep, had broken up the path in many 276places, and opened to the travellers a view of the tremendous abyss below, which few persons could look upon without giddiness. Here they were compelled to unload their baggage, and by slow degrees crawl up the hill, carrying it a little at a time on their shoulders round those chasms which intersected the road. The acclivity became steeper, the paths narrower, and the breaches more frequent as they ascended. Scarcely were their mules, though unloaded, able to scramble up, and fell perpetually. To enhance their difficulty and danger, large droves of cattle were descending, which, as they came crowding down the mountain, threatened to push their whole party into the gulf. However, after vast toil they at length succeeded in reaching the small plain near the summit, where both man and beast halted simultaneously, perfectly exhausted with fatigue.

The air on Lamalmon was pleasant and temperate, and their appetite, spirits, and cheerfulness, which the sultry poisonous atmosphere of the Red Sea coasts had put to flight, returned. Next morning they ascended the remainder of the mountain, which was less steep and difficult than the preceding portion, and found that the top, which seemed pointed from below, spread into a large plain, part in pasture, but more bearing grain. It is full of springs, and seems, says Bruce, “to be the great reservoir from whence arise most of the rivers that water this part of Abyssinia. A multitude of streams issue from the very summit in all directions; the springs boil out from the earth in large quantities, capable of turning a mill. They plough, sow, and reap here at all seasons; and the husbandman must blame his own indolence, and not the soil, if he has not three harvests. We saw in one place people busy cutting down wheat; immediately next to it others at the plough, and the adjoining field had green corn in the ear. A little farther it was not an inch above the ground.”

277On the 15th of February he arrived at Gondar, when, to his extreme vexation, he found that not only the king and Ras Michael, but almost every other person for whom he had letters, was absent with the army. Petros, the brother of Janni, his Greek friend at Adowa, to whom he had been in an especial manner recommended, had at the news of his coming been terrified by the priests, and fled to Ras Michael for instructions. A friend, however, of one of the Moors, whom Janni had interested in his favour, received him kindly, and conducted him to a house in the Moorish town, where he might, he said, remain safe from the molestations of the priests, until he should receive the protection of the government.

Late in the evening while our traveller was sitting quietly in his apartment reading the book of the prophet Enoch, Ayto Aylo, the queen’s chamberlain, who probably had never before been in the Moorish town, came, accompanied by a number of armed attendants, to visit him. This man, a zealous protector of strangers, and who was desirous, as he said, to end his days in pious seclusion either at Jerusalem or Rome, after a long contest of civilities and a protracted conversation, informed Bruce that the queen-mother, who had heard of his abilities as a physician, was desirous he should undertake the treatment of a young prince then lying ill of the small-pox at the palace of Koscam. On proceeding thither next morning, however, he learned that the patient had been placed under the care of a saint from Waldubba, who had undertaken to cure him by writing certain mystical characters upon a tin-plate with common ink, and then, having washed them off with a medicinal preparation, giving them to the sick man to drink. Upon Bruce’s second visit to the palace he was presented to the queen-mother, who, after some rambling conversation respecting Jerusalem, the Holy Sepulchre, Mount Calvary, &c., 278demanded of him bluntly whether he were not a Frank, by which they mean a Catholic. The traveller, in reply, swore to her by all the truths in the Bible, which she had then on a table before her, that his religion was more different from that of the Roman Catholics than her own. The old lady appeared to be convinced by his asseverations, and he shortly afterward took his leave. That same evening the prince, as well as his daughter, who had likewise been seized by the contagion, died of the small-pox in spite of the saints of Waldubba; and Bruce had to congratulate himself that these honest jugglers had taken the weight of the odium from his shoulders upon their own, for the patients would very probably have died whether they had been under the care of the monks or of the physician.

However, this natural event was the death-blow to the reputation of the saints. Bruce was required to repair immediately to the palace, and the various members of the royal family, as well as of the family of the Ras, who now fell sick, were placed with unbounded confidence under his care. Policy, as well as humanity, rendered his attentions to his numerous patients incessant; and very fortunately for him only one out of the whole number died. Ozoro Esther, the young and beautiful wife of Ras Michael, both of whose children, the one by a former and the other by her present husband, survived, was unbounded in her gratitude to the man whom she regarded as their preserver; and her friendship, which never knew diminution, may be regarded as one of the most valuable acquisitions our traveller ever made in Abyssinia. As a reward for his services he received a neat and convenient house in the immediate vicinity of the palace.

On the 8th or 9th of March Bruce met Ras Michael at Azazo. The old man was dressed in a coarse dirty cloth, wrapped about him like a blanket, while another like a tablecloth was folded about his 279head. He was lean, old, and apparently much fatigued. When he had alighted from the mule on which he had been riding, a Greek priest went forward and announced Bruce, who then came up and kissed his hand. “How do you do?” said the Ras; “I hope you are well.” He then pointed to a place where the traveller was to sit down, while a thousand complaints, a thousand orders, came before him from a thousand mouths. The king now passed, and shortly after the traveller and his companions returned to Koscam, very little pleased with the reception they had met with.

Next day the army marched into the town in triumph, the Ras being at the head of the troops of Tigrè. He was bare-headed. Over his shoulder hung a cloak of black velvet ornamented with silver fringe. A boy with a silver wand about five feet and a half in length walked close to his stirrup on his right-hand; and behind him in a body marched all those soldiers who had slain and spoiled an enemy in battle, bearing upon their lances and firelocks small shreds of scarlet cloth, one for every enemy slain.

Behind these came the governors of Amhara and Begunder, wearing, as well as the other governors of provinces, one of the strangest headdresses in the world: a broad fillet bound upon the forehead and tied behind, in the middle of which was a horn, or conical piece of silver, about four inches long and richly gilt. Then followed the king, wearing upon his forehead a fillet of white muslin about four inches broad, which, like that of the provincial governors, was tied behind in a large double knot, and hung down about two feet over his back. Immediately around him were the great officers of state, with such of the young nobility as were without command. The household troops followed. And after these came the military executioners, with a man bearing upon a pole the stuffed skin of a man who 280had been flayed alive a short time before. This was suspended as a tasteful ornament upon a tree directly opposite the palace, for the solace and amusement of his majesty.

For some days after this triumphal entry, Bruce, though he daily visited his patients at the palace, was utterly neglected, not only by the Ras, but by Ozoro Esther herself, and every person in Gondar, except the Moors, who were never weary of expressing their gratitude for his successful attention to their children. On the 14th, however, he was once more brought into the presence of Ras Michael, at Koscam. Upon entering he saw the old man sitting upon a sofa, with his white hair dressed in many short curls. His face was lean, his eyes quick and vivid. Bruce thought he greatly resembled Buffon in face and person. His great capacity was clearly discernible in his countenance. Every look conveyed a sentiment, and he seemed to have no occasion for other language, and indeed spoke little. He shook the traveller by the hand, and, after a few moments’ pause, occasioned by the entrance of a messenger from the king, said, gravely, “Yagoube, I think that is your name, hear what I say to you, and mark what I recommend to you. You are a man, I am told, who make it your business to wander in the fields in search after trees and grass in solitary places, and to sit up all night alone looking at the stars of the heavens. Other countries are not like this, though this was never so bad as it is now. These wretches here are enemies to strangers. If they saw you alone in your own parlour, their first thought would be how to murder you; though they knew they were to get nothing by it, they would murder you for mere mischief. Therefore,” says the Ras, “after a long conversation with your friend Aylo, whose advice I hear you happily take, as indeed we all do, I have thought that situation best which leaves you at liberty to follow your own designs, 281at the same time that it puts your person in safety; that you will not be troubled with monks about their religious matters, or in danger from those rascals that might seek to murder you for money.”

He then informed him that the king had appointed him Baalomaal, and commander of the Korcob horse; and desired him to go and kiss the ground before him on his appointment. Bruce now expressed his acknowledgments, and brought forward his present, which the Ras scarcely looked at; but shortly after observing him standing alone, commanded the door to be shut, and then said to him, in a low voice, “Have you any thing private to say?”—“I see you are busy, sir,” said Bruce, “but I will speak to Ozoro Esther.” His anxious countenance brightened up in a moment. “That is true,” said he; “Yagoube, it will require a long day to settle that account with you. Will the boy live?”—“The life of man is in the hand of God,” replied Bruce; “but I should hope the worst is over.” Upon which he said to one of his servants, “Carry Yagoube to Ozoro Esther.”

After an interview with this lady, towards whom he conducted himself with a degree of familiarity which in any other country would have been fatal to him, he presented himself before the king, who, after various childish questions, and detaining him until a very late hour, dismissed him for the night. He then proceeded, with several other officers of the palace, to the house of a nobleman, where they had that evening been invited to supper. Here a quarrel took place between Bruce and a nephew of Ras Michael, originating in the gasconading character of both parties, the Abyssinian conducting himself like a vain barbarian, and Bruce like a man no less vain, but possessing the advantage of superior knowledge. The only person who appears to any advantage in this affair is Ras Michael, who, quelling his natural feelings, and magnanimously taking upon himself the protection of the weaker party, acted in a manner 282truly noble, and, whatever may have been his crimes, stood on this occasion superior to all around him.

This storm having blown over, Bruce assiduously attended to the duties of his office, and by the exercise of considerable prudence, raised himself gradually in the estimation of the court. He had boasted, in his quarrel with the Ras’s nephew, that through his superior skill in the use of firearms, he could do more execution with a candle’s end than his antagonist with an iron ball; and one day, long after that event, he was suddenly asked by the king whether he was not drunk when he made this gasconade. He replied that he was perfectly sober; and offered to perform the experiment at once in presence of the monarch. This, in fact, he did; and having shot through three shields and a sycamore table with a piece of candle, his reputation as a magician,—for, with the exception of the king and the Ras, they all seem to have accounted for the fact by supernatural reasons,—was more firmly established than ever.

About this time he lost his companion Balugani, who had been attacked in Arabia Felix by a dysentery, which put a period to his life at Gondar. Of this young man Bruce has said but little in his travels; but he regretted his death, which threw him for a time into a state of depression and despondency. From this, however, he was roused by the general festivity and rejoicing which took place in Gondar upon the marriage of Ozoro Esther’s sister with the governor of Bergunder. The traveller dined daily, by particular invitation, with the Ras. Feasting, in Abyssinia, includes the gratification of every sensual appetite. All ideas of decency are set aside; the ladies drink to excess; and the orgies which succeed surpass in wantonness and lack of shame whatever has been related of the cynics of antiquity.

283Among the patients whom Bruce had attended on his first arrival at Gondar was Ayto Confu, the son of Ozoro Esther by a former husband. The gratitude of this young man for the kind attention of his physician, which had been manifested on numerous occasions, at length procured Bruce to be nominated governor of Ras el Feel, a small unwholesome district on the confines of Sennaar. To this government our traveller never designed to attend in person; but it enabled him to oblige his old friend Yasine, the Moor, whom he appointed to govern the district as his deputy.

Into the details of the civil dissensions which at this period convulsed this barbarous country it is altogether unnecessary to enter. Revolts, conspiracies, rebellions, succeeded each other in the natural course of things, and Bruce’s position compelled him to take a more or less active part in them all. In the spring of 1770, Fasil, the rival of Ras Michael, being once more in motion, the royal army left Gondar, to proceed in search of the rebels, and on entering the enemy’s territory exercised all kinds of barbarities and excesses.

From the king’s army he proceeded in May to visit the cataract of Alata on the Nile. The river, where he first came up with it, was found to run in a deep narrow channel, between two rocks, with great roaring and impetuous velocity. Its banks were shaded by beautiful trees and bushes; and there was no danger from crocodiles, as that animal does not ascend the stream so high. “The cataract itself,” says Bruce, “was the most magnificent sight that I ever beheld. The height has been rather exaggerated. The missionaries say the fall is about sixteen ells, or fifty feet. The measuring is, indeed, very difficult; but by the position of long sticks, and poles of different lengths, at different heights of the rocks, from the water’s edge, I may venture to say it is nearer forty feet than any other measure. The 284river had been considerably increased by rains, and fell in one sheet of water, without any interval, above half an English mile in breadth, with a force and noise that was truly terrible, and which stunned and made me for a time perfectly dizzy. A thick fume or haze covered the fall all round, and hung over the course of the stream both above and below, marking its track, though the water was not seen. The river, though swelled with rain, preserved its natural clearness, and fell, as far as I could discern, into a deep pool or basin in the solid rock, which was full, and in twenty different eddies to the very foot of the precipice, the stream, when it fell, seeming part of it to run back with great fury upon the rock, as well as forward in the line of its course, raising a wave, or violent ebullition, by chafing against each other.”

After contending that the assertion of Jerome Lobo, that he had sat under the curve made by the projectile force of the water rushing over the precipice, could not be true, he adds,—“It was a most magnificent sight, that ages, added to the greatest length of human life, would not efface or eradicate from my memory.” “It seemed to me as if one element had broke loose from, and become superior to, all laws of subordination; that the fountains of the great deep were extraordinarily opened, and the destruction of a world was again begun by the agency of water.”

His curiosity on this point having now been satisfied, he returned to the army, which shortly after, at Limjour, fought a desperate battle with the rebels, in which the latter were defeated. After this, Fasil, their commander, upon making his submission, was received into favour, and appointed governor of Damot and Maitsha. During these transactions, many of the servants of Fasil visited the royal camp, and Bruce, reflecting that the sources of the Nile lay in their master’s government, endeavoured 285to conciliate their good wishes by his attentions and presents. He likewise in their hearing spoke highly of Fasil, and on their departure gave them, not only a present for their master, but also for themselves. These men, moreover, requested him to prescribe something for a cancer on the lip, with which Welleta Yasous, Fasil’s principal general, was afflicted.

In return for this service, which they rated very high, saying in the presence of the king that Fasil would be more pleased with the cure of this man than with the magnificent appointments which the king’s goodness had bestowed upon him, Bruce only demanded that the village of Geesh, and the source of the Nile, should be given him; and that Fasil, as soon as it might be in his power, should be bound by the king to conduct him to the sources without fee or reward. This request was granted; and Fasil’s servants swore, in the name of their master, that the village and the fountains should belong to Yagoube and his posterity for ever.

On the 28th of October, 1770, Bruce and his party set out from Gondar to explore the sources of the Nile. Having passed by the lake of Tzana, he came up at Bamba with Fasil’s army, which was now once more in motion. Here he had an interview with this rebel chieftain, who was as insolent to strangers as he was undutiful to his sovereign. However, after much blustering and many exhibitions of vanity, in which Bruce, who was never at a loss on such occasions, was fully his equal, he seemed to relapse into what was probably his natural disposition, and promised to afford his guest the most ample protection. He then introduced him to seven chiefs of the Gallas, ferocious savages, who appeared in the eyes of Bruce to be so many thieves; and having informed him that he might pass in the utmost safety through their country, and that, in fact, he would very soon be related to them 286all, as it was their custom, when visited by any stranger of distinction, to give him the privilege of sleeping with their sisters and daughters. Upon this he put a question to the savages in the Galla language, probably asking them whether it were not so; and they all answered, says Bruce, by the wildest howl I ever heard, and struck themselves upon the breast, apparently assenting.

Fasil, who was fond of hearing the sound of his own voice, now made another long speech, and then turned to the Galla, who now got upon their feet; and the whole party standing round in a circle, and raising the palms of their hands, Fasil and the seven chiefs repeated a prayer about a minute long, the latter apparently with great devotion. “Now,” says Fasil, “go in peace; you are a Galla. This is a curse upon them and their children, their corn, grass, and cattle, if ever they lift their hands against you or yours, or do not defend you to the utmost, if attacked by others, or endeavour to defeat any design they may hear is intended against you.” He then took the traveller to the door of the tent, where there stood a handsome gray horse bridled and saddled, and said, “Take this horse; but do not mount it yourself. Drive it before you, saddled and bridled as it is; no man of Maitsha will touch you when he sees that horse.”

A guide was now given him by Fasil, and he took his leave. The horse was driven before him, and he proceeded towards the mysterious fountains of the Nile, surrounded on all sides by a people ignorant, brutal, and treacherous, and bearing a stronger resemblance in character than any other race of men to the profligate Mingrelians described by Chardin.

On the 3d of November he came in sight of a triple ridge of mountains, disposed one range behind another, nearly in form of three concentric circles, which he supposed to be the Mountains of the Moon, the “Montes Lunæ” of the ancients, near which the 287Nile was said to rise; and on the 4th, about three quarters after one o’clock, “we arrived,” says Bruce, “on the top of a mountain, whence we had a distinct view of all the remaining territory of Saccala, the mountain Geesh, and church of St. Michael Geesh, about a mile and a half distant from St. Michael Saccala, where we then were. We saw immediately below us the Nile itself strangely diminished in size, and now only a brook that had scarce water enough to turn a mill. I could not satiate myself with the sight, revolving in my mind all those classical prophecies that had given the Nile up to perpetual obscurity and concealment. The lines of the poet came immediately into my mind, and I enjoyed here, for the first time, the triumph which already, by the protection of Providence and my own intrepidity, I had gained over all that were powerful and all that were learned since the remotest antiquity.

Arcanum natura caput non prodidit ulli,
Nec licuit populis parvum te, Nile, videre;
Amovitque sinus, et gentes maluit ortus
Mirari, quam nôsse tuos.’”[12]

12.  Lucan, Phars. x. 295.

His guide, who, having formerly committed a murder in the village of Geesh, was afraid to enter it, made a number of lame excuses for not accompanying him to the fountains, and at length confessed the truth. His apprehensions, however, were not proof against his vanity and avarice. He had long been desirous of possessing a rich sash which Bruce wore about his waist, and was bribed by this article of finery to approach somewhat nearer to the scene of his past villany. After leading the traveller round to the south of the church, beyond the grove of trees which surrounded it, “This,” says he, “is the hill which, when you were on the 288other side of it, was between you and the fountains of the Nile. There is no other. Look at that hillock of green sod in the middle of that watery spot; it is in that the two fountains of the Nile are to be found. Geesh is on the face of the rock where yon green trees are. If you go the length of the fountain, pull off your shoes as you did the other day; for these people are pagans, and believe in nothing that you believe, but only in this river, to which they pray every day, as if it were God; but this, perhaps, you may do likewise.”

“Half-undressed as I was,” says Bruce, “by the loss of my sash, and throwing off my shoes, I ran down the hill towards the little island of green sods, which was about two hundred yards distant. The whole side of the hill was thick grown over with flowers, the large bulbous roots of which appearing above the surface of the ground, and their skins coming off on treading upon them, occasioned two very severe falls before I reached the brink of the marsh. I after this came to the island of green turf, which was in form of an altar, apparently the work of art, and I stood in rapture over the principal fountain which rises in the middle of it.

“It is easier to guess than to describe the situation of my mind at that moment, standing in that spot which had baffled the genius, industry, and inquiry of both ancients and moderns for the course of near three thousand years. Kings had attempted this discovery at the head of armies, and each expedition was distinguished from the last only by the difference of the numbers which had perished, and agreed alone in the disappointment which had uniformly and without exception followed them all.... Though a mere private Briton, I triumphed here in my own mind over kings and their armies; and every comparison was leading nearer and nearer to presumption, when the place itself where I stood, the object of my vainglory, suggested what depressed 289my short-lived triumph. I was but a few minutes arrived at the sources of the Nile, through numberless dangers and sufferings, the least of which would have overwhelmed me but for the continual goodness and protection of Providence; I was, however, but then half through my journey, and all those dangers which I had already passed awaited me again on my return. I found a despondency gaining ground fast upon me, and blasting the crown of laurels I had too rashly woven for myself.”

This was extremely natural. He had proposed to himself an object in itself rather curious than useful, and in all probability had in his imagination invested these fountains themselves with a magnificent or mysterious character which the realities were found not to possess, and that depression of spirit which is occasioned by disappointment ensued. Besides, he could scarcely seriously disbelieve the fact that Paez had visited the spot before him; and, therefore, that however great his pleasure might be, as “a private Briton,” triumphing in his own mind over kings and their armies, he was not really the first European who had approached these fountains; that is, was not the discoverer of them. The talking of kings at the head of armies having made the discovery of the sources of the Nile their object, and failed, is a mere rhetorical figure of speech. When Ptolemy Euergetes was at Auxum, what was there to hinder his proceeding to Geesh? Bruce’s mode of describing his own achievements is pompous and vain; but he had purchased the right to be a little vain at so dear a rate that we readily forgive him.

Having by numerous observations discovered that the fountains of the Nile are situated in latitude 10° 59´ 25´´ N., and in longitude 36° 55´ 30´´ E., Bruce, after a stay of six days, prepared to return to Gondar. While he remained at Geesh, he contrived with his usual address to acquire the confidence of the inhabitants, with whom he lived in great familiarity 290and harmony. These people, as his guide had informed him, really worship the Nile. Annually, on the first appearance of the dog-star, or eleven days afterward according to others, the servant, or priest, of the river assembles the heads of the clans around the principal fountain and altar. Having sacrificed a black heifer which has never borne a calf, they plunge the head of the beast into the fountain, and then draw it out, and wrap it up in the hide, previously sprinkled on both sides with the water of the river, so as that it may never more be seen by mortal. The body of the heifer is then divided into two parts, carefully cleansed, and placed upon the hillock, where it is washed with water brought in the hollow of the hand, for no dish must be used by the elders or principal persons of the tribes. The flesh is then cut into pieces, one for each clan, and eaten raw. They then quench their thirst with the sacred waters of the Nile, and burn the bones to ashes on the spot where they have been sitting. When this part of the ceremony is over, the head is carried into a cavern, which, they assert, extends under the fountains, and there certain mysterious rites, the nature of which has never been revealed, are performed. What becomes of the head is unknown. The Abyssinians, in hatred of their pagan subjects, assert that the powers of hell unite with the river worshippers in devouring it; but, however they may dispose of it, they certainly pray to the spirit residing in the river, whom they address as the Everlasting God, Light of the World, Eye of the World, God of Peace, the Saviour, and Father of the Universe.

Relics of serpent-worship, which has in all ages extensively prevailed in the East, were likewise observed among the Agows, who use them, as the Romans did their sacred chickens, for purposes of divination.

On the 10th of November Bruce took his leave of the fountains of the Nile, and returned to Gondar. 291Here, as the civil war still raged with unexampled fury, he was during a whole year witness of all those atrocities which ferocious barbarians exercise towards each other when excited by ambition or revenge. At the termination of this period, however, notwithstanding that old law of Abyssinia forbidding strangers to quit the country, which had a thousand times been broken, he obtained the king’s permission to depart, though not before he had taken a solemn oath, which he never intended to fulfil, that, after having visited his home and friends, he would return.

Leaving Gondar on the 26th of December, 1771, with a numerous suite of attendants, he proceeded through the northern provinces of Abyssinia, the country of the Shangalla, and crossing the rivers Rabad, Dender, and Nile, arrived on the 29th of April, 1772, at Sennaar, the capital of Nubia. The next morning after his arrival he was summoned into the presence of the king, whom he found in a small apartment in his vast clay-built palace, dressed very meanly, and reposing on a mattress covered with a Persian carpet. He was a “fellow of no mark or likelihood,” with a “very plebeian countenance;” but he received the stranger civilly, asked him numerous questions, and furnished him with a very comfortable dinner of camel’s flesh. The crowds in the streets, however, were exceedingly insolent; and while they affronted and hooted at him as he passed, he called to mind with horror that, but a few years before, this same mob had murdered a French ambassador with all his attendants.

At this city he was detained by various circumstances until the 8th of September, and during this period was enabled to make numerous inquiries into the history of the country, civil and natural, together with the manners, customs, religions, and character of its inhabitants. But when the day of departure arrived, he proceeded with indescribable pleasure 292on his journey, having the Nile on his right-hand, and the Bahr-el-Abiad, or White River, which he never approached, on the left. On the 21st he again crossed the Nile, and after travelling along its banks for several days, took a long leave of its stream, and plunged into the vast desert of Nubia. The soil here consisted of fixed gravel, of a very disagreeable whitish colour, mixed with small pieces of white marble and pebbles like alabaster, and wholly bare of trees. As they proceeded, indeed, a few patches of coarse grass, with small groves of acacia, met and refreshed the eye. On the 14th of November they halted in a small hollow, called Waadi-el-Halboub, and “were here at once surprised and terrified,” says Bruce, “by a sight surely one of the most magnificent in the world. In that vast expanse of desert, from west and to north-west of us we saw a number of prodigious pillars of sand, at different distances, at times moving with great celerity, at others stalking on with a majestic slowness. At intervals we thought they were coming in a very few minutes to overwhelm us, and small quantities of sand did actually more than once reach us. Again they would retreat, so as to be almost out of sight, their tops reaching to the very clouds. There the tops often separated from the bodies; and these, once disjoined, dispersed in the air, and did not appear more. Sometimes they were broken near the middle, as if struck with a large cannon-shot. About noon they began to advance with considerable swiftness upon us, the wind being very strong at north. Eleven of them ranged alongside of us about the distance of three miles. The greatest diameter of the largest appeared to me at that distance as if it would measure ten feet. They retired from us with a wind at S.E., leaving an impression upon my mind to which I can give no name, though surely one ingredient in it was fear, with a considerable deal of wonder and astonishment. It was in 293vain to think of flying: the swiftest horse or fastest sailing ship could be of no use to carry us out of this danger, and the full persuasion of this riveted me as if to the spot where I stood.”

The appearance of these phantoms of the plain, as Bruce terms them, sent their guide to his prayers, and together with the danger which they were now in of perishing of thirst, produced in the whole party nothing but murmuring, discontent, and insubordination. Next day the moving sand-pillars again appeared. The sublimity of the scene,—a boundless desert, level as the sea, condemned to eternal desolation, without sounds or signs of life, animal or vegetable; the arid soil, drained of every particle of moisture, reduced by perpetual attrition to almost impalpable atoms, and raised aloft by whirlwinds into prodigious columns, which, as if instinct with life, glided along with preternatural rapidity,—all this, I say, no language, however magnificent, or exalted by metaphor and poetical fervour, could ever present in its proper terrors to the mind. These pillars on their second appearance were more numerous, but of inferior dimensions to those seen at Waadi Halboub. They had probably been careering over the waste in the darkness and silence of night; as, immediately after sunrise, they were observed, like a thick wood, reaching to the clouds, and almost darkening the sun, whose slanting rays, shining through them as they moved along, like enormous shadows, before the wind, gave them the appearance of pillars of fire. Our traveller’s attendants now became desperate: the Greeks shrieked out that the day of judgment was come; Ismael, a Turk, said it was hell; and the Africans exclaimed that the world was on fire. Bruce now demanded of their guide whether he had ever before witnessed such a sight. “Frequently,” replied the man, “but I have never seen a worse.” He added, however, that from the redness of the air, he dreaded the approach of 294something much more terrible than these fiery columns,—the simoom, which almost invariably ensued upon such a disposition of the atmosphere. This information greatly increased the apprehensions of the traveller; but he entreated the man to conceal his suspicions from their companions.

In the forenoon of the next day, being in sight of the rock of Chiggre, where they expected to refresh themselves with plenty of excellent water, and were therefore in high spirits, the guide cried out with a loud voice, “Fall upon your faces, for here is the simoom!” Bruce looked, he says, towards the south-east, and saw “a haze come in colour like the purple part of the rainbow, but not so compressed or thick. It did not occupy twenty yards in breadth, and was about twelve feet high from the ground. It was a kind of blush upon the air, and it moved very rapidly; for I scarce could turn to fall upon the ground with my head to the northward, when I felt the heat of its current plainly upon my face. We all lay flat on the ground, as if dead, till Idris (the guide) told us it was blown over. The meteor, or purple haze, which I saw, was indeed passed, but the light air that still blew, was of a heat to threaten suffocation. For my part, I found distinctly in my breast that I had imbibed a part of it; nor was I free of an asthmatic sensation till I had been some months in Italy, at the baths of Poretta, near two years afterward.”

The effect of this state of the atmosphere upon his companions was sudden and extraordinary. They were all seized with an unusual despondency, ceased to speak to each other, or if they spoke it was in whispers; from which Bruce conjectured, perhaps without reason, that some plot was forming against him. He therefore called them together, reprimanded them for their fears, exhorted them to take courage, reminded them, that whatever might be their sufferings, his own were not less than theirs; 295desired them to look at his swollen face, his neck blistered by the sun, his feet torn and bleeding, and to observe his voice nearly lost by the simoom. With respect to the scantiness of water, of which they had complained, he was so well persuaded that they had nothing to apprehend on this score, that he would allow each man an additional gourd-full from their present stock. In fact, if they lifted up their eyes, they would perceive in the distance, the bare, black, and sharp point of the rock Chiggre, where there was an abundance of water. The only point, therefore, was to hasten on in good spirits to this spot, where all their fears of perishing from thirst in the desert would immediately vanish. This speech restored the courage of the whole party, and they continued their march with something like energy. That same evening they reached Chiggre.

On the 17th of November they left the wells, and resumed their march through the desert. Having journeyed on during the greater part of the day, amused rather than terrified by the moving sand-columns, with which they were now become familiar, they halted late in the afternoon in a vast plain, “bounded on all sides by low sandy hills, which seemed to have been transported thither lately. These hillocks were from seven to thirteen feet high, drawn into perfect cones, with very sharp points, and well-proportioned bases. The sand was of an inconceivable fineness, having been the sport of hot winds for thousands of years.” These cones, in fact, were nothing more or less than the relics of a group of sandy pillars, which had been perhaps on the previous day in motion; and had they then advanced so far, might have overwhelmed them in their fall. Marks of the whirling motion of the pillars were distinctly seen in every heap.

In the course of the next day they passed by the spot where, but a few years before, one of the largest caravans that ever came out of Egypt, 296amounting to some thousands of camels, and conducted by the Ababdé and Bishareen Arabs, had been overwhelmed by a sand-storm; and the heaps which probably had collected over their bodies had somewhat raised the level of the desert in that place. Here numbers of gray granite rocks were scattered over the plain. A little beyond this they came to a wood of dwarf acacia-trees, which furnished a little browsing to their camels.

In the night of the 19th, while they were encamped at a well, an attempt was made by a single robber to steal one of their camels. From this circumstance, which informed them they were come into the neighbourhood of man, they began to fear that they had approached the camp of some of those wandering Arabs who extract a scanty subsistence out of these torrid plains, and dwell all their lives amid simooms and pillars of moving sand, which form the terror of all other men. In the morning, however, no Arabs appeared; all was still; but, in diligently scrutinizing the appearance of the sand, they discovered the track of a man, by following which they soon came in sight of two ragged, old, dirty tents, pitched with grass cords. Two of Bruce’s attendants found, on entering the smaller tent, a naked woman; and our traveller himself, and Ismael the Turk, saw, on entering the larger one, “a man and a woman, both perfectly naked; frightful emaciated figures, not like the inhabitants of this world. The man was partly sitting on his hams; a child, seeming of the age to suck, was on a rag at the corner, and the woman looked as if she wished to hide herself.” Upon these miserable wretches they all immediately rushed like wild beasts, threatening to murder them; and, in fact, brought them all bound to their encampment, with the intention, at least on the part of all but Bruce, to put them to death. However, after terrifying them greatly, and learning from them some particulars respecting the movements 297of the tribe to which they belonged, it was resolved that the man should accompany them in chains, as a guide; and the women, after their camels had been lamed, left where they were until the return of their husband. If the man led them into danger he was to be put to death without mercy; if he served them faithfully Bruce engaged to clothe both him and his women, to present him with a camel, and a load of dora for them all.

On the 22d one of the African attendants was seized with a kind of phrensy, and, their anxiety for their own preservation having extinguished their humanity, was left to perish among the burning sands. Their camels were now dropping off one by one; their bread grew scanty; and the water they found in the wells was so brackish that it scarcely served to quench their thirst. Languor and inactivity seized upon them all; all the weighty baggage and curiosities, such as shells, fossils, minerals, the counter-canes of the quadrant, telescopes, &c., were abandoned, and inevitable death appeared to stare them in the face.

Their Bishareen prisoner, however, seemed not to be affected in the least, either by fatigue or the hot winds, and by his ingenuity in contriving a bandage for Bruce’s feet probably saved the traveller’s life. Here and there upon the sands, the bodies of men who had been murdered, and of camels which had perished for want, met their eyes; and suggested the thought that their own carcasses might shortly increase the number. Two of their camels, which kneeled down and refused to rise, they killed, preserving their flesh for food, and taking the water out of their stomachs, as a precious addition to their stock. One of the party had lost an eye, and others, more fortunate, perhaps, dropped down dead by the brink of the well where they had been quenching their thirst. Still they pushed forward, and at length Bruce announced to his followers that they 298were approaching Assuan. “A cry of joy,” says he, “followed this annunciation. Christians, Moors, and Turks, all burst into floods of tears, kissing and embracing one another, and thanking God for his mercy in this deliverance; and unanimously, in token of their gratitude and acknowledgments of my constant attention to them in the whole of this long journey, saluting me with the name of Abou Ferege (Father Foresight), the only reward it was in their power to give.”

About nine o’clock next morning they beheld the palm-trees of Assuan, and shortly afterward arrived in a small grove in the environs of the city. The waters of the Nile being now before them, no consideration of prudence, no fears of the consequences which might possibly ensue, could check Bruce’s companions from running at once to the stream to drink. The traveller himself sat down among the trees, and fell asleep, overcome by heat and fatigue. However, when his arrival was made known to the Aga of Assuan, he was received and entertained with distinguished hospitality, and furnished with dromedaries to go in search of the baggage which he had been compelled to abandon in the desert. He then paid and discharged his guide; and to the Bishareen, who had faithfully served him from the day in which he took him prisoner, and was now become particularly attached to his person, he gave the privilege of choosing the best of his camels; and having, as he had promised, clothed him completely, and presented him with dresses for his wives, and a camel-load of dora, dismissed him. The Arab, whom almost unexampled misery had reduced to a robber, was so far overcome by his generous treatment, that he expressed his desires, with tears in his eyes, to enter Bruce’s service, and follow him over the world, having first returned into the desert, and provided for the subsistence of his family. This, 299however, could not be, and they parted, the Arab to his desert, and Bruce to his home.

From Syene, or Assuan, Bruce descended the Nile to Cairo, whence, after a short stay, he proceeded to Alexandria, and took ship for Marseilles. He remained some time on the Continent, where he was universally received in the most flattering manner, before he returned to his native land, which he did not reach until the middle of the summer of 1774, after an absence of twelve years. In 1776 he married a second time: by this wife he had two children, a son and a daughter; but he was not fortunate in his marriages, for in 1785 he again became a widower.

Various causes, among which the principal one appears to have been disgust at observing that his statements were in many instances thought unworthy of belief, retarded the composition and publication of his travels. At length, however, in 1790, seventeen years after his return to Europe, the result of his labours and adventures was laid before the world, and prejudice and ignorance united their efforts to diminish, at least, if they could not destroy, his chance of fame, the only reward which he coveted for all the hardships and dangers which he had encountered.

On the 27th of April, 1794, as he was conducting an aged lady from his drawing-room to her carriage, down the great staircase of his house at Kinnaird, his foot slipped, and falling with great force down several of the steps, he pitched upon his head, and was killed. He was buried in the churchyard of Larbert, in a tomb which he had erected for his wife.

I have carefully avoided interrupting the course of the narrative by entering into any discussions respecting those points on which Bruce’s veracity has been called in question. His detractors, without any exception of which I am aware, consist of men whose authority, in matters of this nature is no 300longer respected, or who never, except from their numbers, possessed any. No man of competent understanding and knowledge of mankind can read Bruce’s Travels without a thorough conviction that the writer was a person of the strictest honour and veracity, who, though as in the case of Paez, he might be hurried by wounded pride and indignation into the commission of injustice, was wholly incapable of deliberate falsehood. That the name of Dr. Johnson is found among those of Bruce’s enemies, is to be regretted on Dr. Johnson’s own account. But the circumstance can excite no surprise in any one who recollects that the doctor likewise distinguished himself among the calumniators of Milton—a name which has long since ranked among the first which history records, and is the representative, as it were, of every thing that is most sacred in genius, and most unsullied in virtue. The other cavillers at Bruce demand no ceremony. Their absurd rancour has been stimulated by a secret conviction of their own inferiority in talent and enterprise; and, despairing of raising themselves to his level, they have endeavoured to bring him down to their own. Swift explains in two lines the whole philosophy of this proceeding:—

I have no title to aspire:
Yet, if you sink, I seem the higher!

It will be remembered that Marco Polo met with very nearly the same fate with Bruce, being not only disbelieved during his lifetime, but having to endure, even on his death-bed, the monstrous incredulity of his nearest relations, who, pressing around him, conjured him for the love of Christ, and the salvation of his soul, to retract the fictions which they imagined he had advanced in his writings. With the noble intrepidity which Bruce, I doubt not, would have shown under similar circumstances, he refused to abate a jot of his assertions, which, he 301solemnly averred, fell far short of the truth. The persecution of Marco Polo, however, arose wholly from the ignorance of his contemporaries; but Bruce had a foible, abundantly visible in his writings, from which the great Italian traveller was altogether exempt—I mean an arrogant and intolerable vanity. Even the most charitable of readers must frequently, in perusing Bruce’s writings, be angered, if not disgusted, at its perpetual recurrence in the coarsest and most undisguised forms; but when we reflect, that notwithstanding this foible, or partly, perhaps, in consequence of it, he was one of the most enterprising, adventurous, and indefatigable of travellers, we readily consent to overlook this defect in consideration of the many excellences which accompany it. As a writer he is slovenly and immethodical, and destitute to a remarkable degree of the graces of style; but, on the other hand, he is always so much in earnest, and so natural, in spite of all that has been said to the contrary, that it would argue nothing short of actual stupidity to doubt of the truth of what he relates.


Born 1712.—Died 1786.

Jonas Hanway, equally celebrated as a traveller and a philanthropist, was born on the 12th of August, 1712, at Portsmouth, in Hampshire. His father dying while he was yet a child, he was removed with the other members of the family to London, where he received an education suited to the course of life he was intended to pursue, and at the age of seventeen was placed as an apprentice in a mercantile house at Lisbon. Here Hanway conceived a 302passion for a lady then renowned for her beauty and accomplishments; but being unsuccessful in his love, he for ever renounced all idea of marriage, though he continued to the latest hour of his life an ardent advocate and admirer of womankind. Shortly after the expiration of his apprenticeship he returned to London.

Nothing remarkable occurred in the life of Hanway until the year 1743, when he entered as a partner into the house of Mr. Dingley, a merchant at Petersburg, for which city he embarked in the month of June of the same year. His character for integrity and perseverance was soon established in Russia. In the September of 1743, a few months after his arrival, he was appointed agent of the Russia Company in Persia, and intrusted with the management of the whole Caspian trade. He very quickly set out on his mission. His suite consisted of an interpreter, a clerk, a Russian servant, a Tartar boy, and a guard; and he was intrusted with twenty carriage-loads of English cloth. With this train he proceeded through Moscow to the banks of the Volga, where he embarked in a vessel for Astrakhan, from whence, after a short stay, he sailed down to Yerkie. Here he procured a passage to Persia, and traversing the whole length of the Caspian from north to south, arrived on the 3d of December at Lanjaron, in Persia. Here he was well received by Mr. Elton, a captain in the service of Nadir Shah, and formerly agent of the Russia merchants. With this gentleman he remained seven days, and then continued his voyage. As they steered towards the east the sky grew brighter, and the air, which had hitherto been raw and cold, became gradually warmer. The lofty peak of Mount Demawund, thirty leagues inland, was visible during four days. They reached Astrabad on the 18th of December, and their vessel, which resembled those of the Russian pirates, who usually committed great depredations on that 303coast, caused so much terror in the inhabitants, that they for some time refused to hold any communication with them.

While they were lying on the shore awaiting the reply of the governor of Astrabad to Hanway’s application for protection, they beheld the forests on the neighbouring mountains on fire, and the wind blowing with violence prodigiously increased the force of the flames, which, blazing aloft in the darkness of the night, exhibited a magnificent but terrific appearance. Permission being obtained, our traveller proceeded to Astrabad, where he immediately waited on the governor, Nazir Aga, who, in the oriental style of compliment, assured him that the city of Astrabad was his to do what he pleased with it. Hanway, however, though unused to Persian politeness, was satisfied at a much cheaper rate, and merely requested the Aga’s protection as far as Meshed, which was readily granted. He now despatched the greater portion of his merchandise on camels towards Meshed, and was patiently waiting for the escort promised by the Aga, when news was brought to the city that the people of the neighbouring districts had broken out into rebellion, and being commanded by a powerful leader, who had taken a body of Turcomans into his pay, designed to sack the city, for the purpose of seizing on the royal treasury then deposited there, as well as on the European merchandise.

Hanway was now in a position of extreme danger. The inhabitants, who considered his presence in the city with so much wealth as one of the principal incitements to the present insurrection, were by no means disposed to incur any peril on his account, and cursed him openly. On the other hand, the rebels looked upon his property as a desirable prey; and as men when in the act of sacking a city are in an ill mood for hearing remonstrance, it was probable that, should the least opposition be shown, 304they would silence it by striking off his head. He was therefore advised to make his escape, disguised in a Persian dress. But he wisely repelled the idea, knowing well that if there was danger within the city, there was far more danger without. The governor, however, whose case was exceedingly different, had already fled, disguised as a peasant; and the terrible moment was most anxiously expected when the assault should be given and the place carried by storm. On the approach of night Hanway made the necessary preparations for receiving the invaders, whom it would have been impossible to resist, and retired to his chamber, where, having performed his devotions, he delivered himself up to sleep. A smart but irregular fire of musketry awakened him at four o’clock in the morning. This was followed by a short silence; and a few minutes after, shouts, wild merriment, and the loud beating of drums announced the triumph of the insurgents, and the fall of the city.

It was not long before two of the rebel chiefs at the head of a party of men arrived at the house of our traveller, demanding his merchandise, and informing him that the forty bales which he had despatched towards Meshed were already in their hands. They engaged, however, as soon as their government should be established, to pay for whatever they now seized upon, and only required, they said, a short credit. Hanway, like the ancient sophist, was thoroughly persuaded that there was no disputing with a man who commanded forty legions, and therefore, without vain opposition, suffered them to appropriate to themselves whatever they thought proper, excepting one hundred and sixty gold crowns, which he succeeded in concealing about his person. The Persians appeared exceedingly well satisfied when they had, as they supposed, gained possession of all his property; for they are well-bred thieves, who rob, as it were, with a kind of honorable regret and 305a humane sympathy for the sufferers; but their soldier-like allies, the Turcomans, looked upon the matter as merely begun, and casting a longing eye upon our traveller and his companions, as if they felt a strong inclination to eat them, observed to Zadoc, the rebel governor, “You give us the merchandise of the Russians—will you not give us the Russians also? They will do well to tend our sheep!”

Notwithstanding the disturbed state of public affairs, the breed of honest men had not become wholly extinct. Many inhabitants of Astrabad regretted to behold the distress of the stranger, and being desirous of placing him beyond the reach of the capricious insults of the rebels, not only gave him information, but aided, as far as possible, in enabling him to escape. While this design secretly occupied his mind, he obtained from one of the new chiefs a bill for the amount of his goods, and, upon further application, an engagement to provide ten armed men to escort him to Ghilān, in the vicinity of which Nadir Shah was said to be encamped with his army. The necessary precautionary measures being taken, he departed from Astrabad under convoy of hajjî, his brother, and two sons, with about twenty armed villagers. This holy man appeared to have discovered, during his pilgrimage to Mecca, the full value of earthly as well as of heavenly possessions, and thought that, while waiting for the latter, the being master of the former would be no inconvenience. He therefore exerted all his wits, which had no doubt been much sharpened by travelling, in the concoction of schemes for compelling Hanway to do an act of sublime charity, by reducing himself to destitution for the benefit of a pilgrim. Having it in his power to accelerate or impede, as he pleased, the movements of our traveller, he in a great measure succeeded; after which they continued their journey. The roads through northern 306Persia are at no time very safe, more particularly for an infidel: but now that the shah’s tyranny had goaded the wretched peasants into rebellion, the danger was infinitely augmented. Accordingly, the hajjî, who understood the character of his countrymen, conducted their little kafilah through pathless woods, over deep ravines and mountains, sedulously avoiding all frequented roads, and causing them to encamp at night in the open fields. During this journey they passed by the ruins of the palace of Ferhabad, once famous as the residence of the Persian kings.

Hanway’s conductors, understanding that Nadir’s general was levying forces at Balfroosh, the capital of Mazenderan, now expressed their determination to proceed no further; but observed that, as he was near the coast, he might perform the remaining distance by sea. “Accordingly, they conducted him and his attendants to a fisherman’s hut on the seacoast: the poor man had only an open boat, like a canoe, very leaky, and barely large enough to admit six persons; besides, it could be navigated only with oars or paddles near the shore, where the surf then ran very high; and the sandbanks, forming breakers, made the sea still more dangerous. He therefore again implored the carriers to furnish horses according to their engagement, but they treated his request with contempt. He threatened to use force; whereupon two of them, being armed with matchlocks, lighted their matches; two others had bows and arrows, and all of them, being six in number, had sabres. Hanway collected his company, among whom were four muskets, a blunderbuss, and a pair of pistols; but as he could not depend on more than two of his servants, after a short parley he submitted to run the risk of being drowned, rather than engage in a fray, where no other advantage could be gained than a precarious use of horses, through a country utterly unknown to him; and, if 307he should fall, the cause in which he embarked must fall with him.”

Embarking, therefore, in the fisherman’s canoe, they coasted along the shore to Teschidezar, where they landed. Hanway here applied for protection to the principal of the shah’s officers, who sent him a horse richly caparisoned for his own use, and four mules for his servants, with which he pushed on with all possible speed to Balfroosh. On his arrival at this city he was somewhat comforted by the assurance of the Persian merchants, that the shah would certainly make good his loss. But to reach the shah was the difficulty. No beasts, or any other mode of conveyance, could be obtained. The general, unable to oppose the rebels, was preparing for flight; and fortune appeared once more disposed to expose him to the danger of becoming a Turcoman shepherd. At length, however, the governor of the city munificently provided him with a horse, which, though “galled and spavined,” was still alive, and capable of conveying him several miles before he died. Upon this animal, therefore, miserable as he was, our traveller mounted; and, taking leave of all his attendants, with whom he left the rebels’ passport and what money he could spare, set out on his desperate journey alone. His departure was well timed, for the Turcomans were entering the city at the eastern gate, while he was escaping through the western one. “After some time,” says Pugh, “he fell in with a party who conducted the baggage of the admiral, and himself soon followed; but it was not possible for him to keep pace with them. The poor tartar boy, attached to him with more sincerity than his other servants, had followed him on foot; and when he fainted, Mr. Hanway took him up behind him; but before they had rode six miles, the horse’s hind quarters gave way, and they were both obliged to dismount.”

His situation was now deplorable. Knowing very 308little of the language, and without a guide, it was with extreme difficulty that he once more explored his way to the coast. His miserable appearance, for his clothes were worn out and in tatters, was his only protection. This excited the pity of the inhabitants; and when he arrived at any great river, he was, on pleading poverty, ferried over gratis; for he did not venture to show the money which he had concealed about his person at Astrabad. He at length overtook the troops of the person whom he calls the admiral, who was flying, like himself, before the Turcomans, and among whose followers he found his own clerk and servant. During this rapid flight he ate nothing for nearly forty hours excepting a few parched peas which he found by chance in his pocket. In the night the admiral decamped, intending to abandon Hanway to his fate; but the latter, rendered doubly energetic by despair, and highly incensed at his baseness, immediately followed at his heels. The night was dark and tempestuous; but, by pushing vigorously forward, he once more overtook the fugitive; and having by extraordinary exertions kept pace with him for some time, finding himself quite spent, and urged by despair, he seized the bridle of the horse on which the admiral was mounted, and in a loud, determined tone pronounced the word shah. The idea of Nadir brought thus suddenly to his mind seemed to have awakened the Persian from a dream. He halted, and, commanding his vizier to take up the traveller behind him, while another of the company had compassion on the poor Tartar boy, they again renewed their flight, which was continued without intermission from seven o’clock in the evening until next day, in the midst of continual tempest and rain.

Rapidly as they fled, however, rumour still kept up with them, and peopled all the woods and fastnesses around with Turcomans. A detachment of these ferocious soldiers were said to be posted in a 309wood in advance of the party; the admiral gave orders to fire upon them; and when Hanway came up to the spot he found five Afghan recruits, who had come so far on their way to join the shah’s army, weltering in their blood. They now, without at all relaxing in their movements, descended to the shore of the Caspian, which, broken and ploughed up alternately by mountain torrents and by the sea, was traversed with the utmost difficulty; while the surge at intervals dashed the horsemen from their steeds, and endangered their lives. At length, after a journey of twenty-three days, during which he had not enjoyed one hour of security or unbroken sleep, he arrived at Lanjaron, where he was most hospitably received and entertained by Captain Elton.

Here he remained several days, until, having slightly recovered his strength and refreshed his weary spirits, he departed for Reshed, where, in an interview with the governor, he learned that Nadir was shortly expected to be on the borders of Turkey. He therefore hired horses, provided his attendants with clothes, tents, firearms, and sabres, and set out in search of the shah. On the 2d of March he arrived, almost blind with the reflection of the snow, at Casbin, where he remained nine days, until the influence of spring, exceedingly rapid in those countries, began to dissolve the snow. He then joined a party of soldiers who were proceeding to the camp of the shah, who was reported to be marching upon Hamadan; and all the way as he went along he observed in the extreme distress of the inhabitants the terrible effects of Nadir’s tyranny. An air of silence and desolation prevailed over the whole country; for the people, taking them to be robbers or soldiers, which was the same thing, fled to the mountains, and left them to provide how they could for themselves.

On arriving at the shah’s camp, Hanway pitched his tent near the royal standard; and here, after 310having escaped so many perils by land and sea, he narrowly escaped perishing by a common accident. One of his muskets went off, and, discharging its contents in the roof of the tent over his head, set the canvass on fire. Without loss of time he presented his petition to the shah, praying to be reimbursed the value of the goods forcibly seized by the rebels at Astrabad; and while waiting for Nadir’s reply, enjoyed an ample opportunity, which he usefully turned to account, of observing the aspect and character of this motley, extraordinary scene. He saw the despot hemmed round by a circle of evils of his own creating, which was every moment narrowing, and threatening that terrible catastrophe which shortly afterward consummated the tyrant’s fate. Every heart was bursting with indignation, and curses were struggling to every tongue for vent, against the common enemy. And could he have looked into the heart of this imperial miscreant, he would there have beheld the vulture of which that of Typhœus was but the type and shadow, feeding upon apprehensions and horrors the most fearful and odious of all earthly things.

Externally, however, the monster appeared to be the beau idéal of imperial splendour. A harem of sixty women, selected for their resplendent beauty; palaces of barbaric grandeur; horses covered with trappings set with pearls, rubies, emeralds, and diamonds of prodigious size; and an army of two hundred thousand men, to maintain which his country had been ruined, and India despoiled, according to the most moderate computation, of one hundred and seventy millions sterling. Such was his condition. Not long after his arrival Hanway obtained a decree of the shah “that the particulars of his loss should be delivered to Behbud Khan, the shah’s general, now at Astrabad, who was to return such parts of the goods as could be recovered, and make up the deficiency out of the sequestered estates of the rebels.”

311Having obtained this decree, with which, as it took him back to Astrabad, he was not altogether satisfied, Hanway quitted the camp of Nadir on the 27th of March. The spring in those southern regions being already advanced, the bright pure blue of the sky, “the falls of water from the rocks, the stupendous mountains, far higher than any he had seen in Europe, rising gradually one above another, some with their summits covered with snow, and others concealing their heads in the clouds, formed a delightful scene. The vines were full of foliage, the orange groves perfumed the air with their fragrance, and the gardens were in full blossom.” The beauty of the landscape, however, was almost entirely the work of nature; for the husbandman, not knowing who might reap the fruits of his industry, had ceased to cultivate the earth, or cultivated it with a sparing and unwilling hand. The curse of despotism, the bane of genius and energy, submission to which is the severest evil humanity can suffer, was deeply felt throughout the land, where, however, symptoms of a most salutary and just revenge, the sacred duty of the oppressed, were beginning to manifest themselves in a very striking manner.

Hanway reached Lanjaron on the 5th of April, where, being exceedingly fatigued both in body and mind, he remained with Captain Elton until the 1st of May. He then set forward with six well-armed companions for Astrabad. Their way, during the first part of their journey, lay through a forest, where they lost their path and were benighted on the very evening of their departure; but at length, guided by a light which they discovered among the trees, they found their way to a house which was barricaded with trees. The owner of this lonely mansion, with an inhospitable terror which was fully justified by the circumstances of the times, refused them admittance; upon which, like true Persians, they broke 312into his house, and, binding a rope about one of his arms, compelled him to serve them for a guide until they had regained their path, when our traveller took care to reward him for his trouble. Shortly after this two of his muleteers deserted; and in the evening, while their beasts were at pasture, a wolf of very extraordinary size, of which there were great numbers in the mountains of Mazenderan, made his appearance, but was driven off by the guard, though not before he had killed a cow. Pallas observes that the wolf is exceedingly timid in summer; but an instance of its courage during the warm months, not unlike the above, occurred to that traveller in Siberia; and the wolves of Burgundy and the Vosges have the reputation, I believe, of being sufficiently ferocious throughout the year. Next morning they overtook a small detachment of soldiers, whose commanding officer, observing that they were pursuing the same route, politely offered his service as a convoy; which being readily accepted, they pursued their journey together.

In this way they proceeded for some time; but the officer being at length compelled to take a different direction, granted Hanway at parting a guard of ten men, who, however, very soon deserted him. Nevertheless he succeeded, after much fatigue and difficulty, in reaching Astrabad, whence the rebels had recently been dislodged. The fate of the insurgent chief excited his compassion. Upon the news of the defeat of his party he had been seized by the demoniacal slaves who now gained the ascendant, who, having cut holes in his flesh, in which they set lighted candles, thus paraded him naked through the market-place, until he dropped down dead through loss of blood. Our traveller, immediately upon his arrival, presented to Behbud Khan, the new governor, the decree which he had obtained of the shah, and received a promise that it should be fulfilled to the letter. This man appeared to have been designed 313by nature for executing the designs of such a master as Nadir. Seated in his tent, half-surrounded by soldiers, “judging and executing in a very summary way the rebels who were brought before him, one or two at a time. After a short repast, a prisoner was brought who had two large logs of wood riveted to the small of his legs, and a heavy triangular collar of wood about his neck; one of the angles being longer than the others served as a handcuff to his left wrist, so that if he attempted to rest his arm it must press on his neck. After being questioned for sometime about the caravan of European cloths, of which it appeared he knew very little, the general ordered him to be beaten with sticks, which was immediately performed by the executioners with the utmost severity, as if it was intended to kill him; and the scene was closed with an order to cut out his eyes. Sadoc Aga was then produced. In the hour of his short-lived prosperity, while he was a general of the rebel troops, he had treated Hanway with an unbecoming insolence. But how changed was his appearance! When Mr. Hanway saw him last he was a youth of uncommon vivacity, richly dressed, and full of mirth; but now his garb was mean, his voice sunk, and his eyes cut out of their sockets. He expressed his inability to make any restitution of the property, ‘for he had been deprived of every thing.’ This answer the general returned by an order to strike him on the mouth, which was done with such violence that the blood gushed out.”

This scene was very ill calculated to entertain such a man as Hanway, and might, perhaps, have touched even the breast of Shylock with compassion. He therefore retired in silence, leaving the bloody-minded representative of the shah to glut his ferocious appetite for slaughter at his leisure. Meanwhile, the payment for the lost merchandise being made very slowly, Hanway once more appealed to the justice of the governor, who now confessed that 314a part of the money had been appropriated to the shah’s own use, and, in default of other means, offered in part of payment a number of female prisoners, who might, he said, be sold for slaves. This Hanway refused; and having obtained the greater portion of his demand, he repaired to the seashore, and once more embarked on the Caspian. Proceeding along the southern shore, he disembarked at Lanjaron, and continued his journey by land to Reshed, where, immediately after his arrival, he was attacked by a dangerous disorder, which detained him in that city during nearly two months; after which he invested his money in raw silk, and, setting sail on the 13th of September, arrived safely at Yerkie on the mouth of the Volga. Here, as the Russian authorities feigned to believe that the plague was raging in Northern Persia, he was compelled to perform quarantine during six weeks; at the expiration of which he proceeded by land along the western bank of the Volga to Zarytzin, and thence to Moscow, where he arrived on the 22d of December. Here he received letters from England, informing him that by the death of a relation he had succeeded to a sum of money far exceeding any advantages he could expect to derive from the conducting of the Caspian trade. “Providence was thus indulgent to me,” says he, “as if it meant to reward me for the sincerity of my endeavours.”

Hanway reached Petersburg on the 1st of January, 1745. Here he remained nearly five years engaged in commerce; but at length, the love of gain yielding to the love of home, he quitted the Russian capital; visited the dry dock constructed by Peter I. at Cronstadt; and, passing rapidly through Prussia, Germany, and Holland, embarked in a yacht at Helvoetsluys, and landed at Harwich, after an absence of nearly eight years.

On the arrival of our traveller in London, he went to reside in the Strand, at the house of his sister, 315Mrs. Townsend. Here, having now entirely abandoned all mercantile pursuits, he lived as a private gentleman, employed in compiling the history of his travels, and in constant acts of benevolence. The application to sedentary employment, which was so little in unison with the former tenor of his life, and which the exercise of his charity was not sufficient to diversify, very quickly injured his health; so that he was compelled for relaxation to travel once more, though his excursion was confined to France and the Netherlands. About this period the question respecting the expediency of naturalizing the Jews was agitated in most of the countries of Europe; and Hanway, on most other occasions just and philanthropic, yielded in this instance to the force of narrow and inhuman prejudices; and argued in a pamphlet, now very properly condemned to oblivion, in favour of the absurd laws by which this portion of our fellow-creatures have been in so many countries excluded from the enjoyment of the rights of man. His other works were devoted to better purposes; he promoted, as far as was in his power, the paving of the streets of London; he laboured to convince the English people of the futility of the fears they seemed to entertain of a French invasion, than which nothing could be more absurd or impracticable; he founded the Marine Society, intended to encourage the breed of seamen; he endeavoured benevolently, but ridiculously, to discourage the habit of tea-drinking; he laboured to improve the Foundling Hospital institution; was the principal means of founding the Magdalen Hospital, or asylum for repentant public women; advocated the cause of the orphan poor; and, by reasoning and ridicule, exposed the practice of vails giving, as it was termed, by which a man who was invited to the table of the great was made to pay threefold for his dinner. According to Mr. Pugh, he was incited to the exposure of this abuse by Sir Timothy Waldo. “Sir 316Timothy,” says he, “had dined with the duke (of Newcastle), and, on his leaving the house, was contributing to the support and insolence of a train of servants who lined the hall, and at last put a crown into the hands of the cook, who returned it, saying, ‘Sir, I do not take silver.’—‘Don’t you, indeed?’ said the worthy knight, putting it in his pocket, ‘then I do not give gold.’” Among the ludicrous circumstances mentioned in Mr. Hanway’s letter is one which happened to himself. He was paying the servants of a respectable friend for a dinner which their master had invited him to, one by one, as they appeared. “Sir, your great-coat;” a shilling; “Your hat;” a shilling; “Stick;” a shilling; “Umbrella;” a shilling; “Sir, your gloves.”—“Why, friend, you may keep the gloves: they are not worth a shilling.”

In 1762 he was appointed one of the commissioners for victualling the navy; upon which, finding that an increase of expenditure was authorized by the augmentation of his income, he took a house in Red Lion Square, the principal rooms of which, says his biographer, he furnished and decorated with paintings and emblematical devices in a style peculiar to himself. “I found,” said he, “that my countrymen and women were not au fait in the art of conversation; I have therefore presented them with objects the most attractive that I could imagine, and such as cannot easily be imagined without exciting amusing and instructive discourse; and when that fails there are the cards.” Prince Eugene, who, I suppose, found his companions in much the same predicament, was used to have music during dinner, and, upon being questioned respecting his reasons, replied, “It saves you the trouble of talking.”

Among numerous other benevolent schemes of our worthy traveller was one which had for its object the bettering the condition of young chimney-sweepers, who, besides the distresses which are open to general observation, such as the contortion of their limbs 317and the stunting of their growth, are liable to a disease peculiar to their occupation, known by the name of the “chimney-sweepers’ cancer.” The extent of the benefit conferred on these wretched beings—the very Pariahs of English society—by the exertions of Hanway cannot be exactly estimated; but they certainly were considerable, and serve to show that genuine benevolence can condescend to commiserate the miserable in whatever position they may be placed. During his labours in behalf of these little “fathers of soot,” as an Arab would term them, he addressed a little urchin who had just been sweeping his own chimney:—“Suppose, now, I give you a shilling?”—“God Almighty bless your honour, and thank you!”—“And what if I give you a fine tie-wig to wear on May-day, which is just at hand?”—“Ah! bless your honour; my master won’t let me go out on May-day.”—“No! why not?”—“He says it’s low life!” The idea of a young chimney-sweeper, black as if just issued from Pandemonium, in “a fine tie-wig,” could never have suggested itself to any but a man of original genius.

Pugh, the honest and intelligent author of Hanway’s life, tells us an anecdote connected with our traveller’s history, which I will relate in his words:—“To one of his books written for the use of the poor he prefixed a description of the frontispiece, in which he says to the gentle reader, ‘Here you see the grass grow and the sheep feed.’ The reviewers fastened on this unfortunate sentence. ‘We remember,’ said they (I quote from memory after a lapse of several years), ‘a miller, who quitted his trade to take a public-house, and sent for a painter to paint him the sign of the mill. “I must have the miller looking out of the window.”—“It shall be done,” said the painter. “But I was never seen to be idle; you must make him pop his head in if any one looks at him.” This also the artist promised, and brought home the sign. “’Tis all well; but where’s the 318miller?”—“Sir, he popped his head in when you looked.” Even so,’ said the reviewers, ‘when we look on the benevolent author’s frontispiece, the grass ceases to grow, and the sheep leave off feeding.’”

Hanway died on the 5th of September, 1786. His last moments were those of a Christian and a philosopher, calm and tranquil, indicating the firmest reliance on the mercy and goodness of God, and a consciousness of a life honestly and usefully spent. It might not be difficult to collect from the history of his life materials for forming a correct notion of his character; but in addition to the information to be derived from this source, Pugh enjoyed the advantage of having lived with him in the same house on terms of considerable familiarity. For this reason, I prefer the adopting of the character which he has drawn, and which appears to be sufficiently impartial, to the maintaining of an appearance of originality, by conveying the same idea in different words:—“Mr. Hanway in his person was of the middle size, of a thin spare habit, but well shaped; his limbs were fashioned with the nicest symmetry. In the latter years of his life he stooped very much, and, when he walked, found it conduce to his ease to let his head incline towards one side; but when he went first to Russia, at the age of thirty, his face was full and comely, and his person altogether such as obtained for him the appellation of the ‘handsome Englishman.’ His features were small, but without the insignificance which commonly attends small features. His countenance was interesting, sensible, and calculated to inspire reverence. His blue eyes had never been brilliant, but they expressed the utmost humanity and benevolence; and when he spoke, the animation of his countenance and the tone of his voice were such as seemed to carry conviction with them even to the mind of a stranger. When he endeavoured to sooth distress, or point out to any wretch who had strayed the comforts of a virtuous 319life, he was peculiarly impressive; and every thing that he said had an air of consideration and sincerity. In his transactions with the world he was always open, candid, and sincere; whatever he said might be depended on with implicit confidence. He adhered to the strict truth, even in the manner of his relation, and no brilliancy of thought could induce him to vary from the fact. But although so frank in his own proceedings, he had seen too much of life to be easily deceived by others; and he did not often place a confidence that was betrayed. He did not, however, think the world so degenerate as is commonly imagined; ‘and if I did,’ he used to say, ‘I would not let it appear; for nothing can tend so effectually to make a man wicked, or to keep him so, as a marked suspicion.’ He knew well how much the happiness of mankind is dependent on honest industry, and received a pleasure but faintly described in words when any of the objects of his charity, cleanly apparelled, and with cheerful and contented countenances, came to pay their respects to him. He treated them as his acquaintance, entered into their concerns with a paternal affection, and let them know that on any real emergency they might apply with confidence to him. It was this rather than the largeness of his gifts that endeared him so much to the common people. He never walked out but he was followed by the good wishes, silent or expressed, of some to whom he had afforded relief. To meet the eye of the person he had served was to him the highest luxury; and no man enjoyed it oftener. His own misfortunes, I believe, never caused him to shed tears; and if the miseries of others had that effect, which was very rare indeed, he was particularly careful to conceal it. Yet the sight of a regiment of soldiers under exercise, of the charity-children in their annual assembly at Saint Paul’s, the Marine Society’s boys marching to join their ships, or in procession, were objects which he could not resist.”



Born 1716—Died 1795.

This great traveller, as Andiffret and Viguier observe, was one of those men, who, in the course of the eighteenth century, reflected the greatest honour upon Spain. He was born at Seville on the 12th of January, 1716. His family, already distinguished in the navy, began to prepare him from his earliest years for following the same career. His education was conducted with extraordinary care. In 1733 he entered the service, and his progress very quickly exceeded the most sanguine hopes which the first manifestations of his character had given birth to. The first commission with which he was intrusted was the scientific expedition concerted between the ministers of France and Spain, for the purpose of measuring a degree of the meridian near the equator, while another expedition was despatched to measure other degrees under the polar circle, in order to form a judgment of the different parts of the earth’s circumference, by their equality or inequality, and from thence to determine its magnitude and figure.

The province of Quito, in Peru, appearing to offer the most favourable equatorial position for performing this enterprise, which seemed likely to be long and laborious, the ministers of Louis XV. made application to Philip V. of Spain, for permission to send a certain number of French academicians into Peru, in order to make there the necessary observations. Philip referred the matter to the Council of the Indies, and, on their favourable report, the license 321was granted, with all the necessary recommendations and assurances of the royal protection to the travellers. He moreover appointed two officers of his navy, says Ulloa, well skilled in mathematics, to join in the observations which were to be made, in order to give them a greater dignity, and a more extensive advantage; and that the Spaniards might owe only to themselves the fruits and improvements expected from them.

The two officers appointed for this service by Philip were Don George Juan, and Don Antonio de Ulloa. Previous to their departure, these two gentlemen were promoted to the rank of lieutenant in the royal navy. Having received their instructions, they set sail in separate ships from Cadiz Bay, May 26th, 1735, and on the 9th of July arrived in the bay of Carthagena. Here they found on landing that the French academicians had not yet reached the port, and as they had been instructed to await their arrival at this city, they determined to employ the interval in making nautical and astronomical observations. They were allowed ample leisure by the delay of the French travellers, who did hot join them until the 15th of November, when they all proceeded together, by the way of Porto Bello, Panama, and Guayaquil, to their ultimate destination.

The party set sail on the 24th of November, and reached Porto Bello on the 29th. From thence they proceeded in small vessels up the river Chagre, the current of which was so rapid, that their oars became useless, and they were compelled to push the vessels along with poles. This river was formerly named Lagartos, from the great number of caymans or alligators which were found in it. Its banks, rendered impassable by woods and thickets, exhibited a series of the richest and most magnificent landscapes:—the groves which shade the plains, and extend their branches to the river, the various dimensions of the trees which cover the eminences; the 322texture of their leaves; the figure of their fruits, and the various colours they exhibit, form a delightful scene, which is greatly heightened by the infinite variety of creatures with which it is diversified. The different species of monkeys, skipping from tree to tree, hanging from the branches; and in other places, six, eight, or more of them linked together in order to pass a river, and the dams with their young on their shoulders, throwing themselves into odd postures, making a thousand grimaces; will perhaps appear fictitious to those who have not actually seen it. But if the birds are considered, our reason for admiration will be considerably augmented.

At Panama, on the Pacific, where they arrived on the 29th of December, their stay was considerably prolonged by various preparations indispensable for the prosecution of their journey. This interval was usefully employed by Ulloa: he made numerous astronomical observations, took a plan of the city and the adjacent coast, and observed with minuteness and accuracy the surrounding country and its inhabitants. Their arrangements being completed, they embarked on the Pacific, and sailed for Guayaquil, which they reached on the 25th of March. Here they were received with distinguished politeness by the corregidor, who immediately apprized the corregidor of Guaranda of their arrival, that he might order carriages to the port of Caracol for conveying them to the mountains.

All things being thus prepared, they departed from Guayaquil, and embarked on the river on the 3d of May, 1736. The extreme velocity and strength of the current, and several unfortunate accidents, so greatly retarded their progress, that they did not reach Caracol before the 11th. “The tortures we received on the river, from the mosquitoes,” says Ulloa, “were beyond imagination. We had provided ourselves with quetres and mosquito-cloths; but to very little purpose: the whole day we were 323in continual motion to keep them off; but at night our torments were excessive. Our gloves were indeed some defence to our hands, but our faces were entirely exposed; nor were our clothes a sufficient defence for the rest of our bodies, for their stings penetrating through the cloth, caused a very painful and fiery itching. The most dismal night we spent on this passage, was when we came to an anchor near a large and handsome house, but uninhabited; for we had no sooner seated ourselves in it, than we were attacked on all sides with innumerable swarms of mosquitoes, so that we were so far from having any rest there, that it was impossible for a person susceptible of feeling to be one moment quiet. Those who had covered themselves with their mosquito-cloths, after taking care that none of these malignant insects were contained in them, found themselves in a moment so attacked on all sides that they were obliged soon to return to the place they had quitted. Those who were in the house, hoping that they should find some relief in the open fields, ventured out, though in danger of suffering in a more terrible manner from the serpents; but were soon convinced of their mistake, it being impossible to determine which was the more desirable place, within the mosquito-cloth, without it, or in the open fields. In short no expedient was of any use against their numbers. The smoke of the trees we burnt to disperse these infernal insects, besides almost choking us, seemed rather to augment than diminish their numbers. At daybreak we could not without concern look at each other.”

At Caracol they quitted the river, and continued their journey on the backs of mules, through thick forests, along the course of the river Ojibar. When, as frequently happened, they found no habitation near their halting-place, the inconvenience was soon remedied by the remarkable dexterity of their Indians, who running into the woods, quickly returned 324with branches of trees and vijahna leaves, with which, in less than an hour, they erected several huts large enough to contain the whole party, and so well contrived that the rain, which fell in torrents, could not penetrate them. They now began to ascend the distant roots of the mountains, and felt an increasing coldness in the air. At a place called Mamarumi, or the “Mother of Stone,” they beheld an indescribably beautiful cascade.

“The rock,” says Ulloa, “from which the water precipitates itself is nearly perpendicular, and fifty toises in height, and on both sides bordered with lofty and spreading trees. The clearness of the water dazzles the sight, which is however charmed with its lustre as it falls from the precipice; after which it continues its course in a bed along a small descent, and is crossed by the road.”

The roads by degrees assumed an Alpine character; in some places the declivity was so great, that the mules could scarcely keep their footing, while in others the acclivity was equally difficult. Occasionally the road grew so narrow that there was scarcely room for the mules to pass, while it lay at other times along the edge of tremendous precipices, where, had they made one false step, they must have inevitably toppled over and perished. The extraordinary dexterity of the mules in descending the fearful slopes of these mountains is one of the most surprising things related of the sagacity of animals. The mules themselves are sensible of the caution requisite in these descents; for coming at the top of an eminence they stop, and having placed their fore-feet close together, as in a posture of stopping themselves, they put their hind-feet together, but a little forwards, as if going to lie down. In this attitude, having taken a survey of the road, they slide down with the swiftness of a meteor. All the rider has to do is to keep himself fast on the saddle without checking the beast; for the least motion is sufficient 325to disorder the equilibrium of the mule; in which case they both unavoidably perish. The address of these creatures is here truly wonderful; for in this rapid motion, when they seem to have lost all government of themselves, they follow exactly the different windings of the road, as if they had before accurately reconnoitred, and previously settled in their minds the route they were to follow, and taken every precaution for their safety among so many irregularities. There would indeed otherwise be no possibility of travelling over such places, where the safety of the rider depends on the experience and address of his beast.

But the longest habit of travelling these roads cannot entirely free them from a kind of dread or horror, which appears when they arrive at the top of a steep declivity; for they stop without being checked by the rider; and, if he inadvertently endeavours to spur them on, they continue immoveable, nor will they stir from the place till they have put themselves in the above-mentioned posture. Now it is that they seem to be actuated by reason; for they not only attentively view the road, but tremble and snort at the danger which, if the rider be not accustomed to these emotions, cannot fail of filling him with terrible ideas.

On the 18th they crossed the summit of the mountain, and descended into the province of Chimbo, where they were met by the corregidor, the provincial alcalde, and the principal persons of the town; and on their nearer approach a number of Dominican monks, with a large portion of the inhabitants, came out with a troop of Indian dancing and singing boys to welcome them. Here they remained three days to refresh themselves after their fatiguing passage across the mountains; and then, continuing their journey, entered the desert of Chimborazo, keeping the mountain of the same name on the left, and travelling, over different eminences and heights, 326most of which were of sand, the snow for a great, distance forming, as it were, the sides of the mountain. During their journey across this desert they suffered greatly from the cold, the severity of which was much increased by the violence of the wind. They lodged at night in caverns in the rock; and on emerging from the more dreary part of the waste, passed the ruins of a palace of the ancient incas of Peru.

On their arrival at Quito, they were received with splendid hospitality by Don Dioneso de Alzedo y Herrera, who provided them with apartments in the palace of the Andencia, while the clergy and the principal inhabitants vied with each other in their attention and civilities. Among the many remarkable natural curiosities observed by our traveller during his journey is a species of cane, from thirty-five to fifty feet in height, and about six inches in diameter. “From the time of their first appearance till they attain their full perfection, when they are cut down or begin to dry, most of the tubes contain a quantity of water; but with this remarkable difference, that at full moon they are entirely or very nearly full, and with the decrease of the moon the water ebbs, till at the conjunction little or none is found. I have myself cut them at all seasons, so that I here advance nothing but what I know to be true from experience. I have also observed that the water during the decrease appears turbid; but about the time of the full moon it is as clear as crystal.”

The travellers had spent one whole year in reaching Quito, and the first few days after their arrival were necessarily devoted to rest and an exchange of civilities with the inhabitants. They then commenced their operations with measuring a piece of ground, which was to be the base of the whole work, and in this the remainder of the year 1736 was consumed. The plain of Yaruqui, selected for this purpose, is situated one thousand four hundred and 327ninety-four feet lower than Quito, and is four leagues to the north-east of that city. “The quality, disposition, and lower situation, all contribute to render it less cold than Quito. Eastward it is defended by the lofty cordillera of Guamani and Pambamarca, and westward by that of Pichincha. The soil is entirely sand; so that besides the heat naturally resulting from the direct rays of the sun, it is increased by the rays being reverberated by the two cordilleras: hence it is also exposed to violent tempests of thunder, lightning, and rain. But being quite open towards the north and south, such dreadful whirlwinds form here that the whole interval is filled with columns of sand, carried up by the rapidity and gyrations of violent eddy winds, which sometimes produce fatal consequences; one melancholy instance happened while we were there—an Indian, being caught in one of these blasts, died on the spot. It is not indeed at all strange that the quantity of sand in one of these columns should totally stop all respiration in any living creature who has the misfortune of being involved in it.”

The daily labour of the whole party was measuring the length of this plain in a horizontal direction, while the inequalities of the ground were at the same time corrected by means of a level. They commenced their task early in the morning, and, unless when interrupted by bad weather, or the too intense heat of the sun at noon, continued actively employed until the evening. The plain of Cazambe had first been made choice of; but after a short trial, during which M. Couplet, one of the French academicians, died suddenly, this position was abandoned. It was now determined, therefore, to continue the series of triangles to the south of Quito, and the whole company dividing itself into two parties, the one to which Don George Juan was attached proceeded to the mountain of Pambamarca, while Ulloa, La Condamine, and Bouguer climbed up to the highest summit 328of Pichincha. “Our first scheme,” says Ulloa, “for shelter and lodging in these uncomfortable regions, was to pitch a field-tent for each company; but on Pichincha this could not be done, from the narrowness of the summit, and we were obliged to be contented with a hut, so small that we could hardly all creep into it. Nor will this appear strange if the reader considers the bad disposition and smallness of the place, it being one of the loftiest crags of a rocky mountain, one hundred toises above the highest part of the desert of Pichincha. Such was the situation of our mansion, which, like all the other adjacent parts, soon became covered with ice and snow. The ascent up this stupendous rock, from the base, or the place where the mules could come to our habitation, was so craggy as only to be climbed on foot, and to perform it cost us four hours’ continual labour and pain, from the violent efforts of the body, and the subtilty of the air—the latter being such as to render respiration difficult. It was my misfortune, when I climbed something above half-way, to be so overcome that I fell down, and remained a long time without sense or motion, and, I was told, with all the appearances of death in my face. Nor was I able to proceed after coming to myself, but was obliged to return to the foot of the rock, where our servants and instruments remained. The next day I renewed the attempt of climbing the rock, though probably I should have had no better success than before, had not some Indians assisted me in the most steep and difficult places.”

The picture which Ulloa has given of their extraordinary manner of living would lose so much of its interest by being transferred into any other language than his own, that I cannot resist the temptation to continue the narrative in his words: “We generally kept within one hut,” says he; “indeed, we were obliged to do this, both on account of the intenseness of the cold, the violence of the wind, and our being 329continually involved in so thick a fog that an object at six or eight paces was hardly discernible. When the fog cleared up, the clouds, by their gravity, moved nearer to the surface of the earth, and on all sides surrounded the mountain to a vast distance; representing the sea, with our rock like an island in the centre of it. When this happened, we heard the horrid noises of the tempests, which then discharged themselves on Quito and the neighbouring country. We saw the lightning issue from the clouds, and heard the thunders roll far beneath us; and while the lower parts were involved in tempests of thunder and rain, we enjoyed a delightful serenity; the wind was abated, the sky clear, and the enlivening rays of the sun moderated the severity of the cold. But our circumstances were very different when the clouds arose; their thickness rendered respiration difficult; the snow and hail fell continually; and the wind returned with all its violence; so that it was impossible entirely to overcome the fears of being, together with our hut, blown down the precipice on whose edge it was built, or of being buried under it by the daily accumulation of ice and snow.

“The wind was often so violent in these regions, that its velocity dazzled the sight, while our fears were increased by the dreadful concussions of the precipice, and by the fall of enormous fragments of rocks. These crashes were the more alarming, as no other noises are heard in these deserts; and during the night our rest, which we so greatly wanted, was frequently disturbed by such sudden sounds. When the weather was any thing fair with us, and the clouds gathered about some of the other mountains which had a connexion with our observations, so that we could not make all the use we desired of this interval of good weather, we left our huts to exercise ourselves, in order to keep us warm. Sometimes we descended to some small distance; and at other times amused ourselves with rolling large fragments 330of rocks down the precipices, and these many times required the joint strength of us all, though we oftentimes saw the same performed by the mere force of the wind. But we always took care in our excursions not to go so far but that, on the least appearance of the clouds gathering about our cottage, which often happened very suddenly, we could regain our shelter. The door of our hut was fastened with thongs of leather, and on the inside not the smallest crevice was left unstopped; besides which it was very compactly covered with straw. But notwithstanding all our care, the wind penetrated through. The days were often little better than the nights, and all the light we enjoyed was that of a lamp or two, which we kept burning that we might distinguish one another, and improve our time as much as possible in reading. Though our hut was small and crowded with inhabitants, besides the heat of the lamps, yet the intenseness of the cold was such, that every one of us was obliged to have a chafing-dish of coals. These precautions would have rendered the rigour of the climate supportable, had not the imminent danger of perishing by being blown down the precipices roused us, every time it snowed, to encounter the severity of the outward air, and sally out with shovels to free the roof of the hut from the masses of snow that were gathering on it. Nor would it, without this precaution, have been able to support the weight. We were not indeed without servants and Indians, but they were so benumbed with cold, that it was with great difficulty we could get them out of a small tent, where they kept a continual fire; so that all we could obtain from them was to take their turns in this labour,—and even then they went very unwillingly about it, and consequently performed it slowly.

“It may easily be conceived what we suffered from the asperity of such a climate. Our feet were swelled, and so tender that we could not even bear 331the heat, and walking was attended with great pain. Our hands were covered with chilblains, our lips swelled and chopped, so that every motion, speaking and the like, drew blood; consequently we were obliged to observe a strict taciturnity, and were but little disposed to laugh—an extension of the lips producing fissures, very painful for two or three days together.

“Our common food in this inhospitable region was a little boiled rice, with some flesh or fowl, which we procured from Quito; and instead of fluid water, our pot was filled with ice; we had the same resource with regard to what we drank; and while we were eating every one was obliged to keep his plate over a chafing-dish of coals, to prevent his provisions from freezing. The same was done with regard to the water. At first we imagined that drinking strong liquors would diffuse a heat through the body, and consequently render it less sensible of the painful sharpness of the cold; but, to our surprise, we found no manner of strength in them, nor were they any greater preservative against the cold than common water. For this reason, together with the apprehension that they might prove detrimental to our health, besides the danger of contracting an ill habit, we discontinued their use; having recourse to them but very seldom, and then sparingly. We frequently gave a small quantity to our Indians, together with part of the provisions which were continually sent us from Quito, besides a daily salary four times as much as they usually earn.

“But notwithstanding all these encouragements, we found it impossible to keep the Indians together. On their first feeling the rigours of the climate, their thoughts were immediately turned on deserting us. The first instance we had of this kind was so unexpected, that had not one of a better disposition than the rest staid with us, and acquainted us with their design, it might have proved of very bad consequence. 332The affair was this:—There being upon the top of the rock no room for pitching a tent for them, they used every evening to retire to a cave at the foot of the mountain, where, besides a natural diminution of the cold, they could keep a continual fire, and consequently enjoyed more comfortable quarters than their masters. Before they withdrew at night they fastened on the outside the door of our hut, which was so low that it was impossible to go in or out without stooping; and as every night the hail and snow which had fallen formed a wall against the door, it was the business of one or two to come up early and remove this obstruction, that when we pleased we might open the door. For though our negro servants were lodged in a little tent, their hands and feet were so covered with chilblains that they would rather have suffered themselves to be killed than move. The Indians, therefore, came constantly up to despatch this work between nine and ten in the morning; but we had not been there above four or five days when we were not a little alarmed to see ten, eleven, and twelve o’clock come without any news of our labourers; when we were relieved by the honest servant mentioned above, who had withstood the seduction of his countrymen, and informed us of the desertion of the four others. After great difficulty he opened a way for us to come out, when we all fell to clearing our habitation from the masses of snow. We then sent the Indian to the corregidor of Quito with advice of our condition, who, with equal despatch, sent others, threatening to chastise them severely if they were wanting in their duty.”

The fear of punishment, however, was insufficient to reconcile the Indians to the rigours of a mountain life, and it was found necessary to have recourse to milder regulations. On this wild rock they continued twenty-three days, without being able to complete their observations; for when one of the points 333on which the signals which formed the triangles for measuring the degrees of the meridian enjoyed fine weather, the others were generally hid in clouds. But at length, in the month of December, the observations on Pichincha were completed, and they proceeded to other points, where the same fatigues and privations were encountered. Only the hut was now exchanged for a field-tent, which, although in some respects more troublesome, was less inconvenient than their Pichincha hut. Nevertheless, as the tents were necessarily placed in exposed situations to serve as signals, they were frequently overthrown by the violence of the wind, which rose in those wild paramos to a pitch altogether indescribable.

Such was their manner of life from the beginning of August, 1737, to the end of July, 1739, during which space of time one of the parties occupied thirty-five deserts, and the other thirty-two. But by degrees their bodies became inured to the hardships which they endured. Habit began to reconcile them to the fearful scenery in which they existed, and every little unaccustomed comfort which accident threw in their way was magnified by their imaginations into splendid luxuries. “The diminutive cabins of the Indians,” observes Ulloa, “and the small cattle-stalls, scattered at intervals on the skirts of the mountains, where we used to lodge in our passage from one desert to another, were to us spacious palaces; mean villages appeared like magnificent cities; and the conversation of a priest and two or three of his companions charmed us like the banquet of Xenophon.”

About the end of September, 1740, while they were still busily engaged in making astronomical observations at one of the extremities of the arch of the meridian, which had been measured, Ulloa and Don George Juan were suddenly called to Lima by an order of the viceroy. War had just been declared 334between England and Spain, and the expedition under Lord Anson menaced the seacoasts of the Spanish possessions in South America. Ulloa and Juan were therefore commissioned to put the principal points in the neighbourhood of Lima in a state of defence; after which they obtained permission to return to Quito, to resume their scientific observations. But scarcely had they traversed the mountains, and arrived at the scene of their labours, when they were recalled to the coast, the sack of Payta by the English fleet having spread a universal panic through the country. This visit of Ulloa to Guayaquil was brief; but he had no sooner returned to Quito than he was once more ordered to repair, with George Juan, who had been detained in Guayaquil, to Lima. Here they were honoured with the command of two frigates, with orders to cruise along the coasts of Chili and the island of Juan Fernandez. The arrival of certain Spanish reinforcements at Lima at length rendered it practicable for them to return to their scientific occupations at Quito, from whence all the French academicians had departed, except Godin, in conjunction with whom they observed the comet of 1744.

They were now become impatient to revisit Europe, with the results of their labours, and embarked at Callao, on board of two French ships, which were about to sail by the way of Cape Horn, for Brest. The two ships were separated by tempests. The one in which Ulloa was embarked shortly after this fell in with two other French ships, in company with which it was attacked by two English privateers, when it with difficulty escaped, leaving its companions, with three millions of piastres, in their hands. To avoid a similar fate, they now directed their course towards the coast of North America. But on reaching the port of Louisburg, at Cape Breton, while the crew were congratulating themselves on their escape from so many dangers, they 335were compelled, without firing a gun, to strike to the English, who had just rendered themselves masters of that city.

Ulloa was received with distinguished humanity and politeness by Commodore Warren, the commander of the English fleet, who invited him to his table, and on his departure for England recommended him to the kind treatment of the captain of the ship in which he was to sail, with special directions that his papers should be carefully preserved. The voyage to England was long and tedious. They arrived at Portsmouth December 29, 1744. From the ship our traveller was conducted to Fareham, a pleasant village, he observes, at the extremity of Portsmouth harbour, which was appointed to be the place of his captivity, as well as of all those who had been included in the capitulation of Louisburg. Ulloa dwells with particular pleasure on the courtesy and generosity of Captain Butt, of the Sunderland (the ship in which he was conveyed to England), to all the prisoners of any rank; “whom,” says Ulloa, “he not only admitted to his table during the voyage, but prevailed on all the other officers to imitate his good example, and who seemed to vie in civilities towards us, and humanity towards the inferior sort, sparing nothing to alleviate our misfortunes. And let this remain a monument of my gratitude to such a generous set of gentlemen.”

He then proceeds to relate, that the troubled state of the country, occasioned by the wicked and insane expedition of the Pretender, together with the bad conduct of some prisoners, who, contrary to the rules of honour, abused the indulgence shown them, and violated their parole, caused the prisoners to be deprived of several privileges, and to be confined with greater strictness. He observes, however, that for his own part he was treated by the commissioners, both for French and Spanish prisoners, with such extraordinary humanity, and received so many 336favours, accompanied with such politeness and cordiality, that he became entirely easy under his misfortunes, the reflections on which grew every day less and less painful. “The commissary of the Spanish prisoners,” says Ulloa, “was Mr. William Rickman, under whose care, consequently, I should have been, without the circumstance of having been taken in a French ship. Yet, my being a Spaniard recommended me to his kindness, which, I with gratitude own, he carried to a very great height; and I had a large share of those acts of goodness by which he had deserved the universal acknowledgment of the Spanish nation. For, from the beginning of the war, and the taking of the Princessa, he exerted all possible care for the comfort of the prisoners: and the chief officers he even lodged at his own seat, and many others at an adjacent farm-house, called Perbrook, about a quarter of a league from Tichfield, on the London road, and about three miles from Fareham. He made public and private solicitations in their behalf: he treated all with affability, and used the greatest despatch in their several affairs; he raised charitable contributions, which were chiefly laid out in apparel for those of the lower class; and the officers he in the most genteel manner furnished with money, that they might live in tolerable decency.”

Both Mr. Brookes, commissary for the French prisoners, to which Ulloa, as taken in a French ship, belonged, and Mr. Rickman, offered to unite their interests in procuring him his papers to be returned. For this purpose a petition was addressed to the Duke of Bedford, first commissioner of the Admiralty; and “the answer,” says Ulloa, “was entirely becoming the generosity of the nation among which the chance of war had brought me.” The Duke of Bedford, and the other lords of the Admiralty, “unanimously, and with pleasure, granted the contents of my memorial; nobly adding, that they were not at 337war with the arts and sciences, or their professors; that the English nation cultivated them; and that it was the glory of its ministers and great men to protect and encourage them.”

Upon making application Ulloa readily obtained permission to repair to London, where, “on my first attendance,” says he, “at the office for prisoners of war, an order was shown me from my Lord Harrington, secretary of state, for bringing me to his house. This nobleman, having been ambassador for some years in Spain, among his other eminent qualifications had a great affection for the Spaniards, which he was pleased to extend to me in a most obliging reception, and assurances that nothing should be wanting in him to procure me my papers, or do me any other good offices.”

Martin Folkes, president of the Royal Society of London, now likewise interested himself in his behalf, and his papers were in consequence restored to him. By his kindness Ulloa was introduced to many distinguished literary men and other persons of rank and consideration, as well as elected a member of the Royal Society. “Actions like these,” says our traveller, “convinced me of the sincerity of the English, their candour, their benevolence, and disinterested complaisance. I observed the tempers, inclinations, particular customs, government, constitution, and policy of this praiseworthy nation, which in its economical conduct and social virtues may be a pattern to those who boast of superior talents to all the rest of mankind.”

Shortly after this Ulloa embarked for Lisbon, and arrived at Madrid in 1746, in the beginning of the reign of Ferdinand VI., eleven years and two months after his embarkation at Cadiz. He was received in the most flattering manner at court, and appointed captain of a frigate and commander of the order of St. Jago. The arrangement and composition of his travels occupied his whole attention during the two 338following years; and in 1748 his great work on South America, by which he will be advantageously known to posterity, was published by the order and at the expense of the government. When this was accomplished, he travelled by order of the king over a considerable portion of Europe, collecting during his journey knowledge useful both to the state and to the nation. As a reward for his services, he was appointed superintendent of the mercury mine at Guancavelica in Peru; but this did not altogether answer his expectations. In the reign of Charles III. he was promoted to the rank of commodore of a squadron, and was intrusted with the command of the fleet of the Indies. In 1762 Ulloa was commissioned to take possession of Louisiana, which had been recently ceded to Spain, and was at the same time appointed governor; but met with so much resistance on the part of the colonists, who disliked the change, that he was compelled to re-embark. The remainder of his life was spent in honourable offices and in literary and scientific labours, by which he acquired a high degree of well-merited reputation. He died in the Isle of Leon, on the 3d of July, 1795, in the eightieth year of his age.