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

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

Author: James Augustus St. John

Release date: January 10, 2022 [eBook #67135]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: J. & J. Harper, 1832

Credits: Turgut Dincer, sf2001, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)


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Harper’s Stereotype Edition.



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








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Born 1771.—Died 1806.
Born at Fowlshiels, near Selkirk—Receives a respectable education—Bound apprentice to a surgeon—Finishes his education at Edinburgh—Removes to London—Becomes known to Sir Joseph Banks—Appointed surgeon to the Worcester, East Indiaman—Engaged by the African Association to ascertain the course of the Niger—Sails from England—Arrives at Jillifica—Unknown species of fish—Alligators—Hippopotami—Pisania—Dr. Laidley—Studies the Mandingo language—Attacked by fever and delirium—Horrors of the rainy season in Africa—Wild beasts—Departs from Pisania—Surrounded by a body of the natives—Visits the King of Woolli—Obtains a guide—Elephant-hunters—Presents his coat to the chief of Fatteconda—Major Houghton—Limited territories of the African kings—Suggestion by which Africa may be effectually explored—Folly of despatching a solitary traveller—A night journey—Solitary forest—Dangers from wild beasts—Hospitable Mohammedan—Festival in honour of his arrival—Negro dances—Joag—Robbed of half his merchandise—Humanity of a female slave—Kasson—Robbed a second time—Affectionate meeting between the blacksmith and his relations—Maternal affection—Curiosity excited by the presence of a white man—Kooniakary—Audience with the king—Advised to retrace his footsteps—Romantic scenery—Cheapness of provisions—Superstition of his Mohammedan guide—Terrifies two negro horsemen—Is mistaken for a demon—Kaarta—Buglehorns formed of elephants’ teeth—Receives permission to depart—Jarra—Visits Ali the King of Ludamar—Despatches his journal to the Gambia—Is robbed—Barbarous treatment of Park by Ali and his Moorish countrymen—Placed in a hut with a wild boar—Is chosen royal barber—Pillaged of the remainder of his property—Superstitious curiosity—Is threatened with death or mutilation—Tortured for Moorish amusement—Robbed of his slave-boy—Affecting scene—Attempts to escape—Departs in the night—Stopped and robbed of his cloak—Nearly perishes from hunger and thirst—Storm in the desert—Multitude of frogs—Compelled to wander through the woods—Subsists on wild berries—Enters the kingdom of Bambarra—Mistaken for a Moor—Destitute condition—Comes within sight of the Niger—Joy at effecting the object of his mission—Sego—Refused entrance into the city—Humanity of a woman—Receives a present from the king of Bambarra—Sansanding—Hospitable reception—Is requested to write a saphie, or charm—Camelopard—Encounters a lion—Moodiboo—Loses his horse—Reaches Silla—Exhausted with fatigue and sickness—Unable to proceed—Resolves to return—Song—Denied entrance into the village—In danger of being devoured by lions—Stripped and robbed by a band of peasants—Overwhelmed with grief and terror—Derives consolation from religious reflections—Sibidooloo—Regains his horse and other property—Unites himself to a slave caravan—Obtains a common prayer-book—Arrives at Pisania—Returns to England—Singular interview with his brother-in-law—Received with distinguished honour by the African Association—Publishes his travels—Returns to Scotland—Marries—Practises as a surgeon at Peebles—Becomes disgusted with an obscure life—Appointed chief conductor of a second expedition into the interior of Africa, under the sanction of the British government—Sails from Portsmouth—Arrives at Pisanio—Sets out with the party for the interior—Dreadfully stung by a swarm of bees—The journey nearly put an end to by this event—Rainy season—The whole party sick—Gold-pits—Soldiers become delirious—Numbers die, or are left behind—Attacked by wild beasts—Cut off by the natives—Guide attacked and wounded by a crocodile—Remarkable presence of mind—Robbed by two African princes—Encounters three lions—Arrives on the banks of the Niger—Opens a bazaar—Death of Mr. Scott—Mission reduced to a very small number—Death of Mr. Anderson—Embarks on the Niger—Conclusion of his journal—Isaaco’s account of his death—Captain Clapperton’s corroboration—Character—Sir Walter Scott 13


Born 1741.—Died 1811.
Born at Berlin—Educated as a surgeon—Studies natural history—Visits Holland—England—Publishes his first great work—Accepts an appointment in the Academy of St. Petersburg—Catherine II.—Engages in the Russian enterprise for observing the transit of Venus—Sets out from St. Petersburg—Gadflies—River Jemlia—Pearl muscles—Arrives at Moscow—Marine sponges used for painting the cheeks—Rhubarb—Vlodimir—Cherry-orchards—Tartar princes—Goitres—Extreme filthiness of the Russians—Severe cold—Mules between the goat and sheep—Sulphurous springs—Environs of Sumara—Travels on sledges—Skeletons of elephants—Tizran—Excessive heat—Village unroofed by a hurricane—River Volga—Ancient tombs—Gigantic bones—Kalmuc camp—Archery—Botanical excursions—Marsh flies—Kirghees—Orenburg—Golden eagles—Falconry—Value of a trained hawk—Salt-mines—Chinese caravan—Jasper mountains—Jasper tombs—Ruins of Sarai—Embarks upon the Caspian Sea—Arranges his Journal—Floods—Hurricanes—Bottomless pit—Furious wild dogs—Beehives—Method of protecting the hives from the bears—Volcano—Burning forest—Cotton produced from the poplar-tree—Loses himself in a forest—Curious method of passing a river—Asbestos mountain—The mind abhors an uninterrupted calm—Insipid method of travelling—Method of preparing Russia leather in Siberia—Cheliabinsk—Departs for Eastern Siberia—Extensive conflagration—Steppe of Ischimi—Aquatic game—White herons—Arrives at Omsk—Refused permission to inspect the Siberian maps there—Banks of the Irtish—Continual storms—Method of preserving furs from the moth—Encounters an enormous wolf—Ancient mines—Attacked by dysentery—Prodigious tomb—Enormous lump of solid gold—Visits the Altaïc mountains—Sublime scenery—Black sparrows—Crosses Lake Baikal in a sledge—Rugged and sublime scenery—Tremendous storm—Hunting the sea-dog—Mongolia—Borders of China—His health declines—Blue crow—Locusts—Tartar hordes—Intense cold—Prepares for his return to Petersburg—Execrable manner of peopling Siberia—Perilous adventure—Wild horses—Ancient shores of the Caspian—Repairs to Moscow—Arrives at Petersburg—Premature old age—Publishes his travels, &c.—M. Cuvier—Theory of the earth—Traverses the southern provinces of Russia—Dies at Berlin—Character 65


Born 1733.—Died 1815.
Born in the province of Friesland—Studies music—Intends practising as a land-surveyor—Celebrated Reiske—Engaged to accompany a scientific expedition into Arabia—Goes to Copenhagen—Appointed lieutenant of engineers—Liberality of the Danish Minister—Proceeds to Marseilles—White rainbow—Transit of Venus—Malta—Serpents—Maltese knights—Efforts to convert Niebuhr to Catholicism—Great Church of St. John—Prodigious wealth—Hospital—Sails to Smyrna—Tenedos—Attacked by dysentery—Proceeds to Constantinople—Assumes the oriental costume—Sails for Egypt—Rhodes—Turkish eating-house—Wine-drinkers—Female slaves—Amusing story—Plague—Egypt—Pompey’s pillar—Turkish merchant and the telescope—Laughable anecdote—Mr. Forskaal stripped of his breeches—Rosetta—Arrives at Cairo—The river Nile—Pirates—Bruce the traveller—Curious anecdote of robbers—The Virgin on horseback—Churches strewed with crutches—Arrives at Damietta—Boats loaded with beehives—Europeans detested at Damietta—Encountered by a young sheïkh—Visits the Pyramids—Observations on them—Sets out for Suez—Advantages of travelling on dromedaries—Trade of Suez—Rose of Jericho—Mountain of Inscriptions—Arab women—Is refused admission into the monastery of St. Catherine—Deserted by his guides—Ascends a portion of Mount Sinai—Voyage from Suez to Jidda—Black eunuch—Elim—Is protected by some Janizaries—Emerald mountains—Forskaal taken for a physician—Laughable story—Ship in danger of being set on fire—Indiscreet curiosity—Jidda—Custom-house extortions—Forbidden to approach the Mecca gate—Curious method of catching wild ducks—Sails for Loheia—Yemen—Bedouins—Politeness of the emir—Hospitable treatment—Curiosity of the Arabs—Dr. Cramer requested to prescribe for the emir’s horse—Amusing anecdote of two young Arabs—Great coffee emporium of Beit el-Fakih—Description of the coffee plantations—Danger of travelling by day—Niebuhr is mistaken for an Arab—Is supposed to be searching for gold—Balm of Mecca—Is seized with illness—Mokha—Ludicrous anecdote—Death of Von Haven—Of Forskaal—Difficulty of obtaining a place of burial—Polite reception at Sana—Obtains an audience of the imam—Sails for India—Arrives at Bombay—Death of Baurenfeind—Forwards his manuscripts to Copenhagen—Sails for the Persian gulf—Phosphoric fires—Troop of dolphins—History of Nadir Shah—Sir W. Jones—Visits Shiraz—Superstition respecting manner of killing a fowl—Visits a Turkoman camp—Anecdote—Arrives at Shiraz—Hospitable reception by an Englishman—Palace—Persepolis—Arab sheïkh—Dialogue with the moollah of a mosque respecting marriage—Ruins of Babylon—Proceeds with a Jewish caravan—Turkish firman—Devil worshippers—Cowardice of his companions—Adventure with an Arab sheïkh—Dr. Patrick Russel—Oriental Christians—Visits Palestine—Mount Taurus—Baber Khan—Returns to Europe—Arrives at Copenhagen—Publishes his various works—Marries—Quits the capital—Appointed secretary of the district at Meldorf—Anecdotes and character of Niebuhr by his son—Illiberality towards Bruce—Account of Niebuhr’s latter days—Illness—Death 99


Born 1752.—Died 1817.
Incompleteness of the biography of celebrated men—Born at Paris of an illustrious family—His passion for the fine arts—Taste for literature—Falls in love—Marries—Adopts the profession of arms—Obtains the rank of colonel—Sails for Greece—His enthusiasm for antiquity—Visits the Grecian Isles—Occupies himself in drawing—Grotto of Antiparos—Opinions respecting its construction—Proceeds to Lemnos, Rhodes, &c.—Ruins of Telmissus—River Mæander, Ephesus, Smyrna, and Troy—Homer—Trojan territories—Rivers Simois and Scamander—Remarkable spots in the neighbourhood of Troy—Tombs of Ilus and Patroclus—Camp of the Greeks—Returns to France—Arranges the materials of his travels—Flattering reception—Patriotism—Modern Greeks—Elected member of the French Academy—Celebrated discourse on the death of D’Alembert—Delille’s poem entitled “Imagination”—Extract applied to Choiseul-Gouffier—Appointed ambassador to the Ottoman Porte—Acquires the confidence of Halil Pasha, and of Prince Mauro Cordato—Attempts to introduce civilization among the Turks—Turkish ship-of-war—Obtains the release of the Russian ambassador—Prevents the imprisonment of the Austrian internuncio—Protects the Russian and Austrian prisoners—Revisits the Troad—Despatches artists to Syria and Egypt—Appointed ambassador to the court of London—Anecdote of the Count de Cobentzel—Emperor Paul of Russia—Returns to France—Rose harvest of Adrianople—Personal existence of Homer—Is seized with an apoplectic fit—Dies 154


Born 1784.—Died 1817.
Descended from an eminent family at Basle—Born at Lausanne—Aversion to republican principles—Detestation of the French—Enters as a student at Leipzig—Removes to Göttingen—Arrives in London—African Association—His offers are accepted—Studies Arabic—Allows his beard to grow—Assumes the oriental dress—Accustoms himself to endure hardships—Sails from Cowes—Arrives at Malta—Dr. Sectzen—Assumes the character of an Indian Mohammedan merchant—Reaches the coast of Syria—Departs for Aleppo—Laughable anecdote—Aga’s dislike to beer and potatoes—Suspected of being a Frank in disguise—Is pulled by the beard and otherwise insulted—Arrives at Aleppo—Puts off his Mohammedan dress—Is seized with fever from the bites of vermin—Attempts a translation of Robinson Crusoe into Arabic—Sets out in company with an Arab sheïkh for Palmyra—Robbed on the road—Damascus—Arab hospitality—Beautiful scenery—Baalbec and Libanus—Cedars—The Druses—Haurān the patrimony of Abraham—Vestiges of ancient cities—Places himself under the protection of an Arab sheïkh—Enters the desert—Is stripped to the skin, and left exposed to the rays of the sun—Arab lady attempts to steal his shirt—Returns to Damascus—Dead Sea—Joins a caravan—Philadelphia—Treachery of the Sheïkh of Kerek—Valley of Ghor—Ruins of Petra—Arrives at Cairo—Journey into Nubia—Mameluke chiefs—Deadly feud—Hospitality of the Nubians—Romantic scenery—Curious mode of extorting presents—Admirable custom of placing water-jars by the road-side—Drunken savages—Palm wine—Contempt for Mohammed Ali—Descends the Nile—Colossal statues—Anecdote of an Arab—Assouan—Cheapness of provisions—March of a caravan through the desert—Is treated with great contempt by his companions—Bruce—Burckhardt’s insolent skepticism respecting that eminent traveller—Extraordinary sufferings—Wady el Nabeh—Scarcity of water—Nubian desert—Lakes of mirage—Is near perishing from thirst—Camels despatched to the Nile—Insolence and extortion—Extraordinary method of discovering a stolen lamb—Arrives at Damar—Adventure with a Faky—Numerous crocodiles—Romantic scenery—Tremendous effects of a desert storm—Taka—Enormous lions—Effects of the sultan’s firman on his persecutors—Returns to Jidda—Attacked by fever—Delicious fruit—Sells his slave—Sets out for the interior of the Hejah—Arrives at Mecca—Picturesque scenery—Ras el Kora—Tayef—Observations on Burckhardt’s beard—Suspected of being an English spy—Affects to be hurt by the pasha’s suspicions—Animated description of the Hadj, or pilgrimage to Mecca—Sets out for Medina—Is attacked by an intermittent fever—Melancholy condition—Consoles himself by reading Milton—Tomb of Mohammed—Sets out for Yembo—Plague—Pursues his journey to Cairo—Composes his journal—Excursion to Mount Sinai—Furnishes Belzoni with money for removing the head of Memnon—Is attacked with dysentery—Dies at Cairo—Character 168


Born 1757.—Died 1820.
Born at Craon in Anjou—His name first changed by his father, and afterward by himself—Studies the sciences with ardour—Is bequeathed a small sum of money—Determines to spend it in travelling—Proceeds to Marseilles—Embarks for Egypt—Alexandria—Cairo—Studies the Arabic—Defends Herodotus—Proceeds to Syria—Describes Mount Lebanon—Resides in an Arabian convent—Studies the Arabic—Visits the tribe of Bedouins—Is invited to reside among them—Describes the Druzes—Returns to France—Publishes his travels—Acquires a great reputation—Is compared with Herodotus—Is presented with a gold medal by the Empress Catherine—Publishes his considerations on the war between the Turks and Russians—Meditates the improvement of agriculture—Is elected a member of the Constituent Assembly—Connexion with Cabanis and Mirabeau—Anecdote—Returns Catherine her medal, and is abused by Grimm—Visits Corsica—Publishes the “Law of Nature”—Character of that work—Is imprisoned as a royalist—Travels in America—Well received by Washington—Dr. Priestley—Returns to France—Refuses to share the honours of Napoleon—Marries—Dies 219


Born 1769.—Died 1822.
Born in Sussex—Is an idle student—Saves the life of his brother—Studies at Cambridge—Loses his father—Proceeds slowly with his studies—Fond of miscellaneous reading—Quits the university—Becomes a private tutor—Makes the tour of England—Publishes an account of it—Travels with Lord Berwick—Passes the Alps—Italy—Naples—Eruption of Mount Vesuvius—Is in danger of perishing among the lava—Engages to travel in Egypt—Returns to England—Is disappointed—Publishes a periodical work—Is again a private tutor—Engages to travel with Mr. Cripps—Departs from England—Sweden—Norway—Lapland—Gulf of Finland—St. Petersburg—Picture of the Russians and their emperor—Moscow—The Crimea—Professor Pallas—Constantinople—The Plain of Troy—Aboukir—Palestine—Egypt—The Pyramids—Antiquities taken from the French—Isles of Greece—Athens—Mount Parnassus—Returns to England—Created LL.D.—Takes orders—Marries—Sells his MSS. and coins—Enjoys pluralities—Sells the copyright of his travels—Lectures on mineralogy—Appointed professor—Studies with enthusiasm—Falls ill—Is carried to London—Dies 238


Born 1753.—Died 1824.
Peculiar excellence of Le Vaillant’s style—Born in Dutch Guyana—Early pursuits—Is brought to Europe—Studies—Conceives the idea of travelling—Repairs to Holland—Embarks for the Cape of Good Hope—Arrive—Dutch hospitality—Cape Town—Hurricane—Character of the colonists—Admiration of the English, and detestation of the French—Saldanha Bay—Mutton Island—Gazelle and panther-hunting—Harpooning a whale—The Dane’s grave—Prodigious clouds of birds—Blowing-up of a ship-of-war—Loss of Le Vaillant’s papers, collections, and travelling-chest—Melancholy—Meets with a friend—Recommences his collections—Prepares for a journey into the interior—His wagons, merchandise, and arms—Choice of travelling companions—Hottentot followers—Departs from Cape Town—Sweets of liberty—Magnificent scenery—Vast herds of antelopes—Curious species of tortoise—Augments his followers—Arrives on the Dove’s River—Pleasant mode of spending his time—African story-teller—Abundance of game—Seashore—Beautiful district—Fairy-land—Spenser—Gardens of Adonis—Shoots a touraco—Pursues it through the woods—Falls into an elephant-snare—Danger and alarm—Escapes—Torrents of Africa—Verdant palace—Proceeds to the Black River—Accident—Is attacked by illness—Oppressed by melancholy—Recovers—Discovers the footmarks of elephants—Sets out in chase of them—Shoots an elephant—Pursues the herd—Is in imminent danger—Escapes—Exquisite flavour of an elephant’s foot—Falls in with a tribe of wild Hottentots—Manners and opinions—Approaches the country of the Kaffers—Terrors of his followers—Despatches messengers into Kaffer-land—Fury of an African storm—Wild beasts—Meets with a new tribe of Hottentots—Exchange of presents—Enamoured of a Hottentot girl—Return of his messengers, accompanied by Kaffers—Dutch spies in the camp—Alarm of the Kaffers—Their departure—Prepares to enter Kaffraria—His people refuse to proceed—Selects a small number of the bravest of his Hottentots for the expedition—Quits his camp—Enters Kaffraria—Solitude and desertion of the country—Returns—Contemplates his return to the Cape—Enormous herds of antelopes—Sublime scenery of the Sneuw Bergen—The Bushmen—Great scarcity of water—Reaches the Cape—Reposes—Unhappy opinion—Projects a second journey—Preparations—Departure—Nests of the white ant—Dreadful scarcity of water—Discovers a well in the desert—Elephant’s River—African harpies—Is near perishing in the Elephant’s River—Abandons his chariots in the desert—Forerunners of a tempest—Cloud-worshippers—A storm—Quenches his burning thirst—Visits a Hottentot horde—Hospitality—Is overtaken by a Dutchman, who intoxicates his followers—Terrible accident—Horrors of the savage life—Proceeds on his journey—Beholds a giraffe, and kills one—Presence of women in the camp—Arrives on the frontiers of the Hoozwana country—New terrors of his followers—Solitude of the desert—Discovers a horde of Hoozwanas—Obtains their friendship—Character of these wild people—They reconduct him to his camp on the Gariep—Accident—Oxen stolen by the Bushmen—Follows them to their kraal—Battle—Recovers his cattle, and returns to the camp—Befriends a miserable white family—Is on the point of death—Recovers—Returns to the Cape—And then to Europe—Publishes his travels—Dies 262


Born at Padua—Is designed for the monastic life—Studies at Rome—Hydraulics—Invasion of Italy by the French—Alters his plan of life—Departs from Rome—Arrives in England—Marries—Remains nine years in Great Britain—Travels through the south of Europe—Malta—Arrives in Egypt—Enters into the service of the pasha—Constructs an hydraulic machine—View from the Pyramids—Is near being murdered by a soldier—Rebellion of the janizaries—Quits the service of the pasha—Undertakes the removal of the Memnon’s head—Ascends the Nile—Arrives at Thebes—Magnificence of the ruins—Establishes himself in the Memnonium—Removes the head to the Nile—Visits the Necropolis at Gournon—Loses himself in the sepulchres—Horrors of the tombs—Proceeds to Assouan—His boat attacked on the Nile—Reaches Deir—Temple of Ipsambul—Ignorance of the Nubians—Use of money—Returns to Thebes—Embarks the head of Memnon—Antiquarians—Is shot at in the ruins of Thebes—Descends the Nile to Rosetta—Mr. Briggs—Returns to Cairo, and thence again to Thebes—Mummy-pits—Decay of the mummies—Proceeds to Ipsambul—Opens the temple—Sepulchres of the kings—Alabaster sarcophagus—Visits the emerald mines on the Red Sea—Returns to Cairo—Visits the Oasis of Jupiter Ammon—Returns to England—Publishes his travels—Proceeds again to Africa—Dies 327


Born 1754.—Died 1825.
Born at Burgundy—Becomes a king’s page—Secretary to the Neapolitan Embassy—His character and physiognomy—Studies the art of design—Adopts the principles of the revolution—Embarks with Napoleon for Egypt—Arrives at Alexandria—Impressions on entering a new city—Rosetta—Pursued by the Arabs—Desaix—Visits the Pyramids—Population of Cairo—Revolt against the French—Danger of Denon—Massacre of four savans—Dissects the mummy of Ibis—Serpent-charmers—Departs for Upper Egypt—Murad Bey—Battle with the Mamelukes—Horrible anecdote—Anecdote of a youthful robber—A shower of rain—Ruins of Oxyrinchus—Gloomy opinions—Ruins of Hermopolis—Dangerous mode of travelling—Ruins of Denderah—Anger of General Desaix—Anecdote of a French officer—Comes in sight of the ruins of Thebes—The whole army halt and clap their hands—Statues of Ossymandyas—Island of Phile—Khamsyn wind—Journey to Cosseir—Returns to the Nile—Sails for France—Is made superintendent of museums by Napoleon—Directs the casting of the triumphal column in the Place Vendôme—Dies 345


Born 1783.—Died 1826.
Born at Malpas, in the county of Chester—Early piety—Studies at Oxford—Poem of “Palestine”—Recites his work in public—Becomes a volunteer—Loses his father—Travels in Northern Europe—Sweden—Norway—Russia—Ladies of Moscow—Traverses the Ukraine—Romantic view at Nakitchivan—Tcherkask—Inhabitants of the banks of the Kuban—Traverses the Crimea—Returns to England—Obtains the living of Hodnet—Purity and romance of his opinions—Marries—Excellence as a parish priest—Contributes to the Quarterly Review—Publishes his poems—Observance of Sunday—Delivers the Bampton Lectures—Loses his only child—Illness—Appointed Bishop of Calcutta—Friendship of the honourable Watkins Williams Wynn—Is exceedingly esteemed and regretted—Sails with his family for India—Pious conduct on board—Arrives in the Ganges—Colour of the Hindoos—Reaches Calcutta—Laborious situation—Departs from Calcutta on his visitation to the Upper Provinces—Scenery of Bengal—Arrives at Dacca—Visits the Nawâb—Loses his chaplain—Continues his voyage up the Ganges—Sultan Sujah’s palace—Rosefields of Ghazeepoor—Attar of roses—Reaches Benares—Lucknow—First view of the Himalaya—Contrasted with view of Mont Blanc—Approaches the Himalaya—Almorah—Returns towards the south—Delhi—Is presented to the emperor—Agra—The Taj-mahal—Sir David Ochterlony—Traverses Rajpootana—Bombay—Mr. Elphinstone—Ceylon—Calcutta—Madras—Death 356

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Born 1771.—Died 1806.

This enterprising and distinguished traveller was born on the 10th of September, 1771, at Fowlshiels, a farm occupied by his father on the banks of the Yarrow, near Selkirk. In common with the greater number of the sons of Scottish yeomen, Mungo Park, notwithstanding that the number of his brothers and sisters amounted to no less than thirteen, received a respectable education, and at the age of fifteen was bound apprentice to a surgeon at Selkirk. At the close of this apprenticeship, in 1789, Park continued his medical studies at the university of Edinburgh, where, though nothing remarkable is recorded of him, he seems to have applied with great assiduity to his professional studies. His summer vacations, during one of which he made a tour to the Highlands, were devoted to botany.

Having completed his education, Park removed to London in search of professional employment. Here, through the kindness of Mr. Dickson, his brother-in-law, he had the good fortune to become known to Sir Joseph Banks, to whom so many other distinguished travellers have been indebted; and through whose recommendation he was appointed surgeon to the Worcester East Indiaman. In this capacity he made a voyage to Bencoolen, in Sumatra, the only fruits of which was a paper containing descriptions of eight new fishes from Sumatra, published in the third volume of the Linnæan Transactions.

Shortly after his return from this voyage, Park, learning that the African Association, of which his friend Sir Joseph Banks was a very active and zealous member, were desirous of engaging a person to replace Major Houghton, who, it was feared, had fallen a sacrifice to the climate, or perished in some contest with the natives, eagerly offered his services, which after due deliberation were accepted. The association, he observes, conducted itself with great liberality towards him. He forthwith prepared himself for the voyage, and on the 22d of May, 1795, sailed from Portsmouth in the brig Endeavour. His instructions, he says, were very plain and concise. He was directed, on his arrival in Africa, “to pass on to the river Niger, either by the way of Bambouk or by such other route as should be found most convenient; that I should ascertain the course, and, if possible, the rise and termination of the river. That I should use my utmost exertions to visit the principal towns or cities in its neighbourhood, particularly Timbuctoo and Houssa; and that I should afterward be at liberty to return to Europe, either by the way of the Gambia, or by such other route as under all the then existing circumstances of my situation and prospects should appear to me to be most advisable.”

On the 21st of June, after an agreeable voyage of thirty days, he arrived at Jillifica, a town on the northern bank of the Gambia, in the kingdom of Barra. From this place after a stay of two days he proceeded up the Gambia, in the waters of which [Pg 13] were found prodigious numbers of fish of unknown species, together with alligators and hippopotami, whose teeth furnish excellent ivory. Park, having quitted the Endeavour at Jonkakonda, proceeded thence by land; and reaching Pisania, a small British factory in the King of Yam’s dominions, on the 5th of July took up his residence at the house of Dr. Laidley, until he should be able to prosecute his journey into the interior.

Our traveller’s first care now was to render himself master of the Mandingo language, which in this part of Africa is in general use; and to collect from every source within his power information respecting the countries he was about to visit. In the language his progress depended on his own application; but he soon found that little or no reliance could be placed on the accounts of the interior furnished him by the natives, who on the most material points were frequently in direct contradiction with each other. His anxiety to examine and judge for himself was therefore increased. However, besides that the rainy season, which had now commenced, rendered travelling impracticable, another equally insuperable bar to the speedy prosecution of his journey quickly presented itself. In observing on the 31st of July an eclipse of the moon, he imprudently exposed himself to the night dew, and next day he found himself attacked by fever and delirium, which were the commencement of an illness that with a very trifling intermission confined him during two months within doors. “The care and attention of Dr. Laidley contributed greatly,” says Park, “to alleviate my sufferings; his company and conversation beguiled the tedious hours during that gloomy season when the rain falls in torrents; when suffocating heats oppress by day, and when the night is spent by the terrified traveller in listening to the croaking of frogs (of which the numbers are beyond imagination), the shrill cry of the jackal, and the [Pg 14] deep howling of the hyena; a dismal concert, interrupted only by the roar of such tremendous thunder as no person can form a conception of but those who have heard it.”

Having been disappointed in his expectations of proceeding with a slave caravan towards Bambarra, Park departed from Pisania on the 2d of December, 1795. He had been provided with a negro servant, named Johnson, who had been many years in Great Britain, and understood both the English and Mandingo languages; and with a negro boy, named Demba, the property of Dr. Laidley, who, as the highest inducement of good behaviour, promised him his freedom on his return. Besides these Park was accompanied by four other persons, who, though independent of his control, were made to understand that their safe return to the countries on the Gambia would depend on our traveller’s preservation. His equipment was by no means magnificent: a horse for himself, two asses for his servants, provisions for two days, a small assortment of beads, amber, and tobacco, a few changes of linen and other apparel, an umbrella, a pocket sextant, a magnetic compass, a thermometer, two fowling-pieces, two pair of pistols, and some other small articles. His friends at Pisania accompanied him during the first two days, and then, dismissing him on his way, took their leave, secretly persuaded they should never see him more.

He had scarcely lost sight of his European friends, and ridden off musing and somewhat melancholy into the wood, when a body of black people presented themselves in a clamorous manner before him, demanding custom-dues, in default of which they threatened to carry him before their king. To escape from this honour, which might have proved a costly one, Park presented them with a little tobacco, upon which they were of course contented, and he was allowed to proceed. On reaching Medina, [Pg 15] the capital of Woolli, he judged it prudent, or perhaps absolutely necessary, to present himself at the king’s levee, when the venerable benevolent old chief not only granted him permission to traverse his dominions, but assured him he would offer up prayers for his safety, partly to secure which he furnished him with a trusty guide.

Having safely reached the frontiers of the Woolli dominions, Park dismissed his guide; and being about to enter a country interspersed with deserts, in which water is frequently not to be procured, he hired three negroes, experienced elephant-hunters, who were at once to serve as guides and water-bearers. While he was preparing to depart, however, one of these negroes, who had all received a part of their pay in advance, made his escape; and lest the remaining two should be disposed to follow his example, he immediately gave orders to fill their calabashes, or gourds, with water, and struck off into the wilderness, just as the sun was appearing above the horizon. Through this desert they proceeded until they reached Tallika, the frontier town of Bondou towards Woolli, where Park engaged a kind of custom-house officer to accompany him for a trifling present to Fatteconda, the residence of the king. In his company our traveller accordingly performed the journey to that city. On his arrival at Fatteconda he was received by the black chief with much apparent kindness, though Major Houghton, he had heard, in his passage through the country, had been both insulted and plundered by this same man. However, he soon discovered that the manifestations of a hospitable disposition observable in the king’s manner was not deceptive. It is true he was so completely captivated by our traveller’s best blue coat and gilt buttons, that he could not resist the temptation to beg it; but he endeavoured in some measure to remunerate him for the loss by a present of five drachms of gold, and by altogether abstaining [Pg 16] from examining his baggage, or exacting any other present than what was voluntarily bestowed.

The territories of these petty African chiefs, whom we complaisantly denominate kings, are exceedingly limited in extent. Your road conducts you to-day through one kingdom, to-morrow through another, and the next day through a third; which, of all those circumstances that obstruct the movements of the traveller in Africa, is, perhaps, the most vexatious and the most difficult to overcome; as the rapacity of the first chiefs who lie in his way deprives him of the power of satisfying the equal rapacity of the remainder. This consideration alone would suffice to convince me that if ever Africa is to be properly explored, it must be by an armed force sufficiently powerful to carry terror through the country, and not by a solitary traveller, who, whatever may be his perseverance or courage, must either fall in the attempt, or return with notions hastily formed, picked up at random, or borrowed from the ignorant credulous natives. The perpetual state of captivity in which Park moved is a strong proof of this. He was never, unless when far removed from human society by woods or deserts, completely master of his own actions, or sufficiently respected to render it possible for him to contemplate the superior classes, even of these savages, from a proper level. To judge with impartiality, a man must neither be under the influence of fear nor of contempt, of anger nor of gratitude. He must feel himself perfectly on a level with those about him.

To proceed, however, with Park:—“In the afternoon,” says he, “my fellow-travellers informed me, that as this was the boundary between Bondou and Kajaaga, and dangerous for travellers, it would be necessary to continue our journey by night, until we should reach a more hospitable part of the country. I agreed to the proposal, and hired two people for guides through the woods, and as soon as the people [Pg 17] of the village were gone to sleep (the moon shining bright) we set out. The stillness of the air, the howling of the wild beasts, and the deep solitude of the forest made the scene solemn and impressive. Not a word was uttered by any of us but in a whisper; all were attentive, and every one anxious to show his sagacity by pointing out to me the wolves and hyenas as they glided like shadows from one thicket to another. Towards morning we arrived at a village called Kimmoo, when our guides awakened one of their acquaintance, and we stopped to give our asses some corn, and roast a few ground-nuts for ourselves. At daylight we resumed our journey, and in the afternoon arrived at Joag in the kingdom of Kajaaga.”

On arriving at Joag, the frontier town of the kingdom of Kajaaga, our traveller (who had taken up his residence at the house of the dooty, or chief man of the town, a rigid but hospitable Mohammedan) was favoured with an opportunity of observing the genuine character of the negro. “The same evening,” says he, “Madiboo, the bushreen who had accompanied me from Pisania, went to pay a visit to his father and mother, who dwelt at a neighbouring town called Dramanet. He was joined by my other attendant the blacksmith; and as soon as it was dark, I was invited to see the sports of the inhabitants, it being their custom on the arrival of strangers to welcome them by diversions of different kinds. I found a great crowd surrounding a party who were dancing by the light of some large fires to the music of four drums, which were beat with great exactness and uniformity. The dances, however, consisted more in wanton gestures than in muscular exertion or graceful attitudes. The ladies vied with each other in displaying the most voluptuous movements imaginable.”

At Joag, while preparing to advance on his journey, he was suddenly honoured with a visit from the [Pg 18] king’s son, accompanied by a troop of horse, who, pretending that by entering his father’s dominions he had forfeited the whole of his property, insisted upon examining his merchandise, of which he seized upon the moiety. Of the remnant that remained, particularly a little amber and a few beads, which he had succeeded in concealing, he was now so fearful of producing any portion, even for the purchase of food, lest he should once more awaken the cupidity of the authorities, that both he and his attendants determined on combating hunger for the day, “and wait some opportunity of purchasing or begging provisions.” In this extremity, while he was sitting down chewing straws, a female slave, who observed him in passing by, was moved with compassion, and presented him with a quantity of ground-nuts, which was a very seasonable supply. Scarcely had the old woman left him, before he received information that the nephew of the King of Kasson, who had been sent by his uncle on an embassy to the King of Kajaaga, and was now returning to his own country, was about to pay him a visit. He came accordingly, and upon Park’s representing to him his situation and distresses, kindly offered to be his guide and protector as far as Kasson. With him, therefore, our traveller now continued his route to the banks of the Senegal, upon crossing which, his royal guide, who, like other guides, required a present for his services, informed him they were in his uncle’s dominions, and in complete safety.

Safe or not safe, however, Park soon found that the stranger and the traveller were nowhere beyond the reach of extortion. Half of the little property which had escaped the fangs of the Kajaaga people, was here taken from him. He was then permitted to depart. Among the honest negroes with whom he had set out from Pisania, on the Gambia, there was a blacksmith from the interior, who, having amassed some little money upon the coast, was now [Pg 19] returning to spend the remainder of his days in his native land. Shortly after quitting Teesee, the last place where our traveller had submitted to legal robbery, he and his companions came within sight of the blacksmith’s village. The news of his return had, it seems, preceded him. His brother, accompanied by a singing-man, came forth to welcome the wanderer home, and brought along with him a horse, that the blacksmith “might enter his native town in a dignified manner.” Park and his companions were desired to put a good charge of powder into their guns. The singing-man led the way; the two brothers followed; and the cavalcade was quickly joined by a considerable number of the inhabitants, who, by extravagant gestures and songs of triumph, testified their joy at the return of their townsman. “When we arrived at the blacksmith’s place of residence, we dismounted, and fired our muskets. The meeting between him and his relations was very tender; for these rude children of nature, freed from restraint, display their emotions in the strongest and most expressive manner.—Amid these transports, the blacksmith’s aged mother was led forth, leaning upon a staff. Every one made way for her; and she stretched out her hand to bid her son welcome. Being totally blind, she stroked his hands, and arms, and face with great care, and seemed highly delighted that her latter days were blessed by his return, and that her ears once more heard the music of his voice. From this interview, I was convinced, that whatever difference there is between the Negro and European in the conformation of the nose, and the colour of their skin, there is none in the genuine sympathies and characteristic feelings of our common nature.

“During the tumult of these congratulations, I had seated myself apart, by the side of one of the huts, being unwilling to interrupt the flow of filial and parental tenderness; and the attention of the company [Pg 20] was so entirely taken up with the blacksmith, that I believe none of his friends had observed me. When all the people present had seated themselves, the blacksmith was desired by his father to give some account of his adventures; and silence being commanded he began; and after repeatedly thanking God for the success that had attended him, related every material occurrence that had happened to him from his leaving Kasson to his arrival at the Gambia; his employment and success in those parts; and the dangers he had escaped in returning to his native country. In the latter part of his narration, he had frequent occasion to mention me; and after many strong expressions concerning my kindness to him, he pointed to the place where I sat, and exclaimed, Affille ibi siring (see him sitting there). In a moment all eyes were turned upon me. I appeared like a being dropped from the clouds, every one was surprised that they had not observed me before; and a few women and children expressed great uneasiness at being so near a man of such an uncommon appearance. By degrees, however, their apprehensions subsided, and when the blacksmith assured them I was perfectly inoffensive, some of them ventured so far as to examine the texture of my clothes; but many of them were still very suspicious, and when by accident I happened to move myself, or look at the young children, their mothers would scamper off with them with the greatest precipitation. In a few hours, however, they all became reconciled to me.”

With these honest people Park remained during the whole of that day and the next, and then, accompanied by the worthy blacksmith, who declared he would not quit him during his stay in that part of the country, set forward towards Kooniakary. On his arrival at this city he obtained an audience of the king, a fine old man, who, for his conduct both in peace and war, was greatly beloved by his [Pg 21] subjects. His behaviour towards the stranger was not inconsistent with this character. He informed him with apparent regret, that the direct route to Bambarra was about to be closed by war, but, after vainly advising his guest to retrace his footsteps, added, that there yet remained some hopes of peace, respecting the validity of which he should be able to pronounce an opinion in the course of four or five days. In the mean while he invited Park to remain in the neighbourhood.

On the 1st of February, 1796, the king’s messenger returned from the contiguous kingdom of Kaarta, bringing intelligence that the Bambarra army had not yet entered the country, and that it was possible the traveller might be enabled to traverse it before the invasion should take place. Accordingly, being provided with two guides by the king, Park took leave of his friend the blacksmith, and set forward on his dangerous journey. The country, at all times thickly peopled, now swarmed with fugitives, whom the fear of the Bambarrans had terrified from their homes. The scenery in many places was romantically wild. “On coming within sight of the mountains of Foolado, we travelled,” says Park, “with great difficulty down a stony and abrupt precipice, and continued our way in the bed of a dried river-course, where the trees meeting over our heads, made the place dark and cool. In a little time we reached the bottom of this romantic glen; and about ten o’clock emerged from between two rocky hills, and found ourselves on the level and sandy plains of Kaarta. At noon we arrived at a korree, or watering-place, where, for a few strings of beads, I purchased as much milk and corn-meal as we could eat; and indeed provisions are here so cheap, and the shepherds live in such affluence, that they seldom ask any return for what refreshment a traveller receives from them.”

From this place, having prevailed upon his landlord, [Pg 22] a Mohammedan negro, to accompany him as a guide to Kemmoo, our traveller set forward on the 11th of February. He observes, “We had no sooner got into a dark and lonely part of the first wood, than he made a sign for us to stop; and taking hold of a hollow piece of bamboo that hung as an amulet round his neck, whistled very loud three times. I confess I was somewhat startled, thinking it was a signal for some of his companions to come and attack us; but he assured me it was done merely with a view to ascertain what success we were likely to meet with on our present journey. He then dismounted, laid his spear across the road, and having said a number of short prayers, concluded with three loud whistles; after which he listened for some time, as if in expectation of an answer, and receiving none, told us we might proceed without fear, for there was no danger.”

Adventures now appeared to crowd upon our traveller. The country through which their road lay being thickly sprinkled with wild fruit-trees, they amused themselves as they rode slowly along with picking and eating the fruit. “In this pursuit,” says Park, “I had wandered a little from my people, and being uncertain whether they were before or behind me, I hastened to a rising ground to look about me. As I was proceeding towards this eminence, two negro horsemen, armed with muskets, came galloping from among the bushes. On seeing them I made a full stop; the horsemen did the same; and all three of us seemed equally surprised and confounded at this interview. As I approached them their fears increased, and one of them, after casting on me a look of horror, rode off at full speed; the other, in a panic of fear, put his hand over his eyes, and continued muttering prayers until his horse, seemingly without his rider’s knowledge, conveyed him slowly after his companion. About a mile to the westward they fell in with my attendants, to whom they [Pg 23] related a frightful story; it seems their fears had dressed me in the flowing robes of a tremendous spirit; and one of them affirmed, that when I made my appearance, a cold blast of wind came pouring down upon him from the sky, like so much cold water.”

Shortly after this they arrived at the capital of Kaarta, where he was an object of such extraordinary curiosity to the populace, the majority of whom had never before seen a white man, that they burst forcibly into his hut, crowd after crowd. Those who had beheld the monster giving way to those who had not, until, as he observes, the hut was filled and emptied thirteen different times. Here he found that the war with Bambarra had actually commenced; that all communication between the countries had consequently ceased; and that, if it was his determination to persevere, it would be necessary to take a circuitous route through the Moorish kingdom of Ludamar. The people of Kaarta were Mohammedans; but there is a variety in church discipline even among these inflexible fanatics; for, instead of the fine sonorous voice of the muezzin, by which the faithful are elsewhere summoned to their devotions, the hour of prayer was here announced by the beating of drums, and blowing through large elephant’s teeth, hollowed out in such a manner as to resemble buglehorns. The sound of these horns our traveller thought melodious, and approaching nearer to the human voice than any other artificial sound. Being very desirous to depart from the seat of war, Park presented his horse-pistols and holsters to the king; and on pressing to be dismissed, received in return an escort of eight horsemen to conduct him to Jarra. Three of the king’s sons, with two hundred horsemen, kindly undertook to accompany him a little way on his journey.

On his arrival at Jarra, in the kingdom of Ludamar, he despatched a messenger to Ali, who was then [Pg 24] encamped near Benowm, soliciting permission to pass unmolested through his territories; and having waited fourteen days for his reply, a slave at length arrived from the chief, affirming that he had been instructed to conduct the traveller in safety as far as Goomba. His negro, Johnson, here refused to follow him any further, and signified his intention of pushing back without delay to Gambia; upon which Park, fearful of the success of his enterprise, intrusted him with a copy of his journal, reserving another for himself, directing him to deliver the papers to the English on the coast. A portion of his baggage and apparel he committed to the care of a slave-merchant at Jarra, who was known to Dr. Laidley. He then departed with his slave-boy, accompanied by the chief’s messenger. On the road our traveller was robbed once more by the Moors, who added insult to violence; and when he was nearly perishing for thirst, beat away his faithful slave from the wells, without permitting him to draw water.

However, after much fatigue and extraordinary privations, they arrived in Ali’s camp at Benowm, where Park was immediately surrounded by crowds of fanatical Moors, attracted partly by curiosity, partly from a desire to vent their fierce zeal against a Christian. “My arrival,” says he, “was no sooner observed than the people, who drew water at the wells, threw down their buckets; those in the tents mounted their horses, and men, women, and children came running or galloping towards me. I soon found myself surrounded by such a crowd, that I could scarcely move; one pulled my clothes, another took off my hat; a third stopped me to examine my waistcoat buttons, and a fourth called out ‘La illah el allah Mahamet rasowl allahi,’ and signified, in a threatening manner, that I must repeat those words. We reached at length the king’s tent, where we found a great number of people, men, women, and children, [Pg 25] assembled. Ali was sitting on a black leathern cushion, clipping a few hairs from his upper lip—a female attendant holding up a looking-glass before him. He appeared to be an old man of the Arab cast, with a long white beard, and he had a sullen and indignant aspect. He surveyed me with attention, and inquired of the Moors if I could speak Arabic; being answered in the negative, he appeared much surprised, and continued silent. The surrounding attendants, and particularly the ladies, were abundantly more inquisitive; they asked a thousand questions, inspected every part of my apparel, searched my pockets, and obliged me to unbutton my waistcoat and display the whiteness of my skin; they even counted my toes and fingers, as if they doubted whether I was in truth a human being.”

Ali now, with the base idea of insulting an unprotected stranger, ordered a wild boar to be brought in, which he signified his desire that Park should kill and eat. This, well knowing their religious prejudices, he of course refused to do; upon which the boys who led in the boar were commanded to let it loose upon him, the Moors supposing that there exists an inveterate feud between pigs and Christians, and that it would immediately run upon and gore him. The boar, however, was more magnanimous. Scorning to attack a defenceless foreigner, he no sooner found himself at liberty than, brandishing his tusks at the natives, he rushed at them indiscriminately, and then, to complete the consternation, took shelter under the very couch upon which the tyrant was sitting. This bold proceeding of the unclean beast dissolved the assembly, and the traveller was led away to the tent of a slave, in front of which, not being permitted to enter, he received a little food. Here he likewise passed the night lying upon the sand, surrounded by the curious multitude. Next day, a hut, constructed with corn-stalks, [Pg 26] was given him; but the abovementioned boar, which had been recaptured, was tied to a stake in the corner of it, as his fittest companion.

By degrees, however, the Moors began to conceive that the Christian might in one way or another be rendered useful, but could think of no better employment for him than that of a barber. In this capacity he made his first attempt, in the royal presence, on the head of the young prince of Ludamar. This dignified office he had no great desire to monopolize, and his unskilfulness in performing the operation, for he almost at the outset made an incision in the young prince’s head, quickly reduced him once more to the rank of a common mortal. Ali seemed by no means desirous, however, of dispensing altogether with his services, wishing perhaps to preserve him from the same motives which induce us to preserve a wild beast; and therefore, to render his escape the more impracticable, took possession of the whole of his baggage, including his gold, amber, watch, and one of his pocket compasses; the other he had fortunately buried in the sand composing the floor of his hut. The gold and amber were highly gratifying to Moorish avarice, but the pocket compass soon became an object of superstitious curiosity. “Ali was very desirous to be informed, why that small piece of iron, the needle, always pointed to the Great Desert, and I found myself somewhat puzzled to answer the question. To have pleaded my ignorance, would have created a suspicion that I wished to conceal the real truth from him; I therefore told him that my mother resided far beyond the sands of Sahara, and that while she was alive, the piece of iron would always point that way, and serve as a guide to conduct me to her; and that if she was dead, it would point to her grave. Ali now looked at the compass with redoubled amazement; turned it round and round repeatedly, but observing that it always pointed the same way, he [Pg 27] took it up with great caution, and returned it to me, manifesting that he thought there was something of magic in it, and that he was afraid of keeping so dangerous an instrument in his possession.”

It now began to be debated between Ali and his advisers what should be done with their prisoner. Their decisions were very dissimilar. Some were of opinion that he should be put to death; others that he should merely lose his right hand; while a third party thought that his eyes ought to be put out. Ali himself, however, determined that matters should remain as they were until his queen Fatima, then in the north, had seen him. Meanwhile all these reports were related to our traveller, and tended not a little to distress and agitate his mind. His demand to be permitted to depart was formally refused. The accumulated horrors of his situation, united with the want of food and sleep, at length brought on a fever, by which his life was endangered. But his persecution from the Moors did not therefore cease. They plucked his cloak from him; they overwhelmed him with insults; they tortured him like some ferocious animal, for their amusement; and when, to escape from this detestable thraldom, he crawled away to a short distance from the camp, he was forced back by menaces and violence.

At length, after more than a month’s detention at Benowm, he was commanded to follow Ali to the northern encampment of Bubaker, on the skirts of the Great Desert, and on the way endured the extremity of hunger, thirst, and fatigue. Upon arriving at Bubaker, he was shown as a strange animal to Fatima; who, though far from being exempt from the Moorish prejudices against a Christian, or in any remarkable degree disposed to humanity, still treated him with somewhat greater lenity than the rest of the Moors; and, upon the departure of her husband for Jarra, not only obtained him permission to join the party, but prevailed upon the tyrant to restore [Pg 28] him his horse, saddle, and bridle, together with a part of his apparel. His faithful black boy Demba, however, was taken from him, notwithstanding his animated remonstrances to Ali, who, upon his pressing the point rather warmly, only replied, that if he did not instantly mount his horse and depart, he should share the fate of his slave. “There is something in the frown of a tyrant,” says Park, “which rouses the most secret emotions of the heart; I could not suppress my feelings; and for once entertained an indignant wish to rid the world of such a monster. Poor Demba was not less affected than myself; he had formed a strong attachment towards me, and had a cheerfulness of disposition which often beguiled the tedious hours of captivity; he was likewise a proficient in the Bambarra tongue, and promised, on that account, to be of great use to me in future. But it was in vain to expect any thing favourable to humanity from a people who are strangers to its dictates. So having shaken hands with this unfortunate boy, and blended my tears with his, assuring him, however, I would do the best to redeem him, I saw him led off by three of Ali’s slaves towards the camp at Bubaker.”

Upon his arrival at Jarra, where he was shortly afterward transferred by Ali to tyrants of a lower grade, his condition, far from being improved, was only rendered the more intolerable. The city itself, moreover, was in a state of the utmost confusion. Malcontents from Kaarta having taken refuge here, had recently made an incursion into their native country, carried off a large quantity of plunder, and thus drawn the vengeance of their king against the city. All those who had reason to dread his resentment were now, therefore, preparing to fly into Bambarra; and Park, whose route lay in the same direction, became exceedingly desirous of effecting his escape from the Moors, that he might seize upon this fortunate occasion of fulfilling the object of his [Pg 29] mission. “Their departure,” says he, speaking of the black fugitives, “was very affecting: the women and children crying, the men sullen and dejected, and all of them looking back with regret on their native town; and on the wells and rocks beyond which their ambition had never tempted them to stray, and where they had laid all their plans of future happiness; all of which they were now forced to abandon, and to seek shelter among strangers.”

Hoping to escape in this confused throng, he mounted his horse; and taking a bag of corn before him, rode slowly off along with the townspeople. On their arrival at Queira, a village at no great distance from the city, Park began to flatter himself that he had really eluded the vigilance of his persecutors; but before the agreeable idea had got a firm footing in his mind, he saw Ali’s chief slave, accompanied by four Moors, arrive, and take up their lodgings with the dooty. Johnson, our traveller’s interpreter, suspecting the design of this visit, sent two boys to overhear their conversation, by which means he learned that it was their intention to carry Park back to Bubaker. Upon this he at once came to the desperate resolution to effect his deliverance that very night from his pursuers, or to perish in the attempt. Johnson, who applauded this determination, but wanted the courage to imitate it, was nevertheless exceedingly well disposed to aid in effecting his master’s escape. He therefore undertook to keep watch upon the movements of the enemy, while Park was preparing for flight. About midnight he got all his apparel in readiness, which consisted of two shirts, two pair of trousers, two pocket-handkerchiefs, an upper and under waistcoat, a hat, a pair of half-boots, and a cloak. Besides these things he had not in his possession a single bead, or any other article, with which to purchase food for himself, or provender for his horse:—“About daybreak, Johnson, who had been listening [Pg 30] to the Moors all night, came,” says he, “and whispered to me that they were all asleep. The awful crisis was now arrived when I was again either to taste the blessings of freedom, or languish out my days in captivity. A cold sweat moistened my forehead as I thought of the dreadful alternative, and reflected that one way or the other, my fate must be decided in the course of the ensuing day. But to deliberate was to lose the only chance of escaping. So taking up my bundle, I stepped gently over the negroes who were sleeping in the open air; and, having mounted my horse, I bade Johnson farewell, desiring him to take particular care of the papers I had intrusted him with, and inform my friends in Gambia that he had left me in good health on my way to Bambarra. I proceeded with great caution, surveying each bush, and frequently listening and looking behind me for the Moorish horsemen, until I was about a mile from the town, when I was surprised to find myself in the neighbourhood of a korree, belonging to the Moors. The shepherds followed me for about a mile, hooting and throwing stones after me; and when I was out of their reach, and had begun to indulge the pleasing hope of escaping, I was again greatly alarmed to hear somebody halloo behind me; and looking back I saw three Moors on horseback, coming after me at full speed, whooping and brandishing their double-barrel guns: I knew it was in vain to think of escaping, and therefore turned back and met them; when two of them caught hold of my bridle, one on each side, and the third, presenting his musket, told me I must go back to Ali.”

It soon appeared, however, that these gentlemen were merely private robbers, who were fearful that their master had not sufficiently pillaged the stranger; for, after examining his bundle, and plundering him of his cloak, they bade him begone, and follow them no further. Too happy to be rid of the villains at [Pg 31] any rate, he immediately struck into the woods, and continued his journey. His joy at thus escaping from the Moors was quickly damped by the consideration that he must very soon be in want of both food and water, neither of which could he procure without approaching villages or wells, where he would almost inevitably encounter his old enemies. He therefore pushed on with all the vigour of which he was possessed, in the hope of reaching some town or village of the kingdom of Bambarra. But he already began to experience the tortures of thirst. His mouth was parched and inflamed; a sudden dimness, accompanied by symptoms of fainting, would frequently come over his eyes; and as his horse also was exceedingly fatigued, he began to apprehend that he should perish of thirst. Some shrubs, the leaves of which he chewed to relieve the burning pain in his mouth and throat, were all found to be bitter and of no service. “A little before sunset, having reached the top of a gentle rising,” says Park, “I climbed a high tree, from the topmost branches of which I cast a melancholy look over the barren wilderness, but without discovering the most distant trace of a human dwelling. The same dismal uniformity of shrubs and sand everywhere presented itself, and the horizon was level and uninterrupted as that of the sea.

“Descending from the tree, I found my horse devouring the stubble and brushwood with great avidity; and as I was now too faint to attempt walking, and my horse too much fatigued to carry me, I thought it but an act of humanity, and perhaps the last I should ever have it in my power to perform, to take off his bridle and let him shift for himself; in doing which, I was affected with sickness and giddiness; and, falling upon the sand, felt as if the hour of death was fast approaching. Here then (thought I), after a short but ineffectual struggle, terminate all my hopes of being useful in my day [Pg 32] and generation—here must the short span of my life come to an end. I cast, as I believed, a last look on the surrounding scene, and while I reflected on the awful change that was about to take place, this world and its enjoyments seemed to vanish from my recollection. Nature, however, at length resumed its functions; and on recovering my senses I found myself stretched upon the sand, with the bridle still in my hand, and the sun just sinking behind the trees. I now summoned all my resolution, and determined to make another effort to prolong my existence: and, as the evening was somewhat cool, I resolved to travel as far as my limbs would carry me, in hopes of reaching (my only resource) a watering-place. With this view I put the bridle upon my horse, and driving him before me, went slowly along for about an hour, when I perceived some lightning from the north-east—a most delightful sight, for it promised rain. The darkness and lightning increased very rapidly; and in less than an hour I heard the wind roaring behind the bushes. I had already opened my mouth to receive the refreshing drops which I expected: but I was instantly covered with a cloud of sand, driven with such force by the wind as to give a very disagreeable sensation to my face and arms; and I was obliged to mount my horse and stop under a bush to prevent being suffocated. The sand continued to fly for near an hour in amazing quantities, after which I again set forward, and travelled with difficulty until ten o’clock. About this time I was agreeably surprised by some very vivid flashes of lightning, followed by a few heavy drops of rain. In a little time the sand ceased to fly, and I alighted and spread out all my clean clothes to collect the rain, which at length I saw would certainly fall. For more than an hour it rained plentifully, and I quenched my thirst by wringing and sucking my clothes.

“There being no moon, it was remarkably dark; so [Pg 33] that I was obliged to lead my horse, and direct my way by the compass, which the lightning enabled me to observe. In this manner I travelled with tolerable expedition until past midnight; when the lightning became more distant, and I was under the necessity of groping along, to the no small danger of my hands and eyes. About two o’clock my horse started at something; and, looking round, I was not a little surprised to see a light at a short distance among the trees, and supposing it to be a town, I groped along the sand in hopes of finding corn-stalks, cotton, or other appearances of cultivation, but found none. As I approached, I perceived a number of other lights in different places, and began to suspect that I had fallen upon a party of Moors. However, in my present situation, I was resolved to see who they were, if I could do it with safety. I accordingly led my horse cautiously towards the light, and heard by the lowing of the cattle, and the clamorous tongues of the herdsmen, that it was a watering-place, and most likely belonged to the Moors. Delightful as the sound of the human voice was to me, I resolved once more to strike into the woods, and rather run the risk of perishing with hunger, than trust myself again in their hands; but being still thirsty, and dreading the approach of the burning day, I thought it prudent to search for the wells, which I expected to find at no great distance. In this pursuit I inadvertently approached so near one of the tents as to to be perceived by a woman, who immediately screamed out. The people came running to her assistance from some of the neighbouring tents, and passed so very near me that I thought I was discovered, and hastened again into the woods.

“About a mile from this place I heard a loud and confused noise, somewhere to the right of my course, and in a short time was happy to find it was the croaking of frogs, which was heavenly music to my ears. I followed the sound, and at daybreak [Pg 34] arrived at some shallow muddy pools, so full of frogs that it was difficult to discern the water. The noise they made frightened my horse, and I was obliged to keep them quiet by beating the water with a branch until he had drunk. Having here quenched my thirst, I ascended a tree, and the morning being clear, I soon perceived the smoke of the watering-place which I had passed in the night, and observed another pillar of smoke, east-southeast, distant 12 or 14 miles.”

Towards this column of smoke, which, as he was informed, arose from a Foulah village, he now directed his course; but on arriving at the place, was inhospitably driven from every door, except that of an old woman, who kindly received him into her dwelling, and furnished him with food for himself and with provender for his horse. Even here, however, the influence of Ali pursued him like his evil genius. The people who had collected round him while he was eating, began, as he clearly discovered from their expressions, to form the design of carrying him back once more to Benowm or Bubaker. He therefore hastened his departure, and having wandered among the woods all day, passed the night under a tree. In this way he continued his journey, sometimes meeting with hospitality, but more frequently avoiding the dwellings of man, and subsisting upon the wild produce of the woods, and the water of a few pools, to which the croaking of the frogs directed him.

At length he entered the kingdom of Bambarra, where he found the people more hospitable in proportion as they were more opulent than their neighbours. Cultivation was here carried on in a spirited manner and on an extensive scale, and “hunger,” as the natives expressed it, “was never known.” The country itself was beautiful, intersected on all sides by rivulets, which, after a rain-storm, were swelled into rapid streams. Park’s horse was now [Pg 35] so attenuated by fatigue that it appeared like a mere skeleton, which the traveller, fearing to mount, drove before him, as if to scare away the crows. The Bambarrans, whose hospitable disposition was accompanied by but little delicacy, were infinitely amused at this droll spectacle. Taking him for a Moor, they supposed from his appearance that he must be one of those religious mendicants who, having performed the pilgrimage to the holy cities, thenceforward consider themselves fully entitled to subsist upon the labours of their industrious coreligionists. “‘He has been at Mecca,’ said one; ‘you may see that by his clothes.’ Another asked if my horse was sick; a third wished to purchase it, &c. So that I believe the very slaves were ashamed to be seen in my company.”

However, in spite of all this laughter and ridicule, he proceeded on his way, and at length had the satisfaction to be informed that on the morrow he should see the Niger, denominated Joliba, or the “Great Water,” by the natives. Next morning, the 21st of July, after passing through several large villages, he saw the smoke ascend over Sego, the capital of Bambarra, and felt elate with joy at the thought of drawing near so important an object of his mission. “As we approached the town,” says Park, “I was fortunate enough to overtake the fugitive Kaartans, to whose kindness I had been so much indebted in my journey through Bambarra. They readily agreed to introduce me to the king, and we rode together through some marshy ground, where, as I anxiously looked around for the river, one of them called out Geo affilli (see the water); and, looking forward, I saw with infinite pleasure the great object of my mission,—the long sought for, majestic Niger, glittering to the morning sun, as broad as the Thames at Westminster, and flowing slowly to the eastward. I hastened to the brink, and, having drunk of the water, lifted up my fervent thanks in prayer to the [Pg 36] Great Ruler of all things for having thus far crowned my endeavours with success.”

Sego, the capital of Bambarra, consisted of four distinct towns, two on the northern, and two on the southern bank of the Niger. The king at this period resided on the southern bank, while Park had arrived on the opposite side. The communication between the different quarters of the city was kept up by means of large canoes, which were constantly passing and repassing; notwithstanding which, so great was the pressure of passengers, that Park was compelled to wait upwards of two hours before he could obtain even a chance of being ferried over. Meanwhile, the prospect before him was novel and striking in the highest degree. “The view of this extensive city,” he observes, “the numerous canoes on the river, the crowded population, and the cultivated state of the surrounding country formed altogether a prospect of civilization and magnificence which I little expected to find in the bosom of Africa.”

While he was thus waiting for a passage, the news was conveyed to Mansong that a white man was on the banks of the river coming to see him. The king, who seems to have been alarmed at this intelligence, immediately despatched a messenger, who was directed to inform the stranger that he would not be admitted into the royal presence until the purport of his mission were made known; and that, in the mean while, he was prohibited from passing the river. He was likewise told that the king desired him to seek lodgings in one of the villages in the vicinity of the capital. As there was no alternative, he at once set out for the village, where, to his great mortification, he found that no person would admit him into his house. “I was regarded with astonishment and fear,” he observes, “and was obliged to sit all day without victuals in the shade of a tree; and the night threatened to be very uncomfortable, for the wind rose, and there was great appearance [Pg 37] of a heavy rain; and the wild beasts were so very numerous in the neighbourhood, that I should have been under the necessity of climbing up a tree, and resting among the branches. About sunset, however, as I was preparing to pass the night in this manner, and had turned my horse loose that he might graze at liberty, a woman returning from the labours of the field stopped to observe me, and, perceiving that I was weary and dejected, inquired into my situation, which I briefly explained to her; whereupon, with looks of great compassion, she took up my saddle and bridle, and told me to follow her. Having conducted me into her hut, she lighted up a lamp, spread a mat upon the floor, and told me I might remain there for the night. Finding that I was very hungry, she said she would procure me something to eat; she accordingly went out, and returned in a short time with a very fine fish, which, having caused to be half-broiled upon some embers, she gave me for supper. The rites of hospitality being thus performed towards a stranger in distress, my worthy benefactress, pointing to the mat, and telling me I might sleep there without apprehension, called to the female part of her family, who had stood gazing on me all the while in fixed astonishment, to resume their task of spinning cotton, in which they continued to employ themselves great part of the night. They lightened their labour by songs, one of which was composed extempore, for I was myself the subject of it; it was sung by one of the young women, the rest joining in a sort of chorus. The air was sweet and plaintive, and the words literally translated were these:—‘The winds roared, and the rains fell; the poor white man, faint and weary, came and sat under our tree; he has no mother to bring him milk, no wife to grind his corn.’ Chorus:—‘Let us pity the white man, no mother has he,’ &c. Trifling as this recital may appear to the reader, to a person in my situation the circumstance [Pg 38] was affecting in the highest degree. I was oppressed by such unexpected kindness that sleep fled my eyes. In the morning I presented my compassionate landlady with two of the four brass buttons which remained on my waistcoat, the only recompense I could make her.”

Although Mansong refused to admit our traveller into his presence, and seemed at first to neglect him, it soon appeared that this conduct did not arise from any churlish or inhospitable feelings; for while he persisted in his refusal to see him, and signified his pleasure that he should forthwith depart from the city, he sent him a present of five thousand cowries and a guide to Sansanding. Park immediately obeyed the royal command, and learned from the conversation of his guide on the way, that the king’s motives for thus dismissing him without an audience were at once prudent and liberal, since he feared that by the least show of favour he should excite the jealousy and envy of the Moorish inhabitants, from whose inveterate malice he might be unable to protect him.

With this guide he proceeded to Sansanding, where he was hospitably received by the dooty, and would, as the king’s stranger, have enjoyed much quiet and consideration, had he not had the misfortune to meet with some of his old enemies the Moors, who insisted on conducting him to the mosque, and converting him into a Mohammedan at once. However, the dooty, by exerting his authority, freed him from these fanatics, and ordered a sheep to be killed, and part of it dressed for his supper. “About midnight, when the Moors had left me,” says Park, “he paid me a visit, and with much earnestness desired me to write him a saphie. ‘If a Moor’s saphie is good,’ said this hospitable old man, ‘a white man’s must needs be better.’ I readily furnished him with one possessed of all the virtues I could concentrate, for it contained the Lord’s Prayer. The pen with which [Pg 39] it was written was made of a reed, a little charcoal and gum-water made very tolerable ink, and a thin board answered the purpose of paper.”

From Sansanding he departed early in the morning, before the Moors were stirring. The road now lay through the woods, and the guide, who understood the dangers of the way, moved forward with the greatest circumspection, frequently stopping and looking under the bushes. Upon observing this, Park inquired the reason, and was told that lions were very plentiful in that part of the country, and very often attacked travellers in the woods. While they were conversing on this subject Park discovered a camelopard at a little distance, the fore-legs of which, from a hasty glance, appeared much longer than the hinder. “Shortly after this,” says he, “as we were crossing a large open plain where there were a few scattered bushes, my guide, who was a little way before me, wheeled his horse round in a moment, calling out something in the Foulah language which I did not understand. I inquired in Mandingo what he meant. ‘Wara billi billi’ (a very large lion)! said he, and made signs for me to ride away. But my horse was too much fatigued; so we rode slowly past the bush from which the animal had given us the alarm. Not seeing any thing myself, however, I thought my guide had been mistaken, when the Foulah suddenly put his hand to his mouth, exclaiming, ‘Soubah an alluhi’ (God preserve us)! and to my great surprise I then perceived a large red lion at a short distance from the bush, with his head couched between his fore-paws. I expected he would instantly spring upon me, and instinctively pulled my feet from my stirrups to throw myself on the ground, that my horse might become the victim rather than myself. But it is probable the lion was not hungry; for he quietly suffered us to pass, though we were fairly within his reach.”

About sunset they arrived at Moodiboo, “a delightful [Pg 40] village on the banks of the Niger, commanding a view of the river for many miles, both to the east and west. The small green islands, the peaceful retreat of some industrious Foulahs, whose cattle were here secure from the attacks of wild beasts, and the majestic breadth of the river, which is here much larger than at Sego, render the situation one of the most enchanting in the world.” Park was now so worn out with fatigue and suffering, that his landlord, fearing he might die in his house, hurried him away, though he was scarcely able to walk, and his horse still less able to carry him. In fact, they had not proceeded far before the poor beast fell down, and could no more be made to rise; so that, taking off his saddle and bridle, our traveller with extreme reluctance abandoned him to his fate, and began to toil along on foot after his guide. In this way they reached Kea, a small fishing-village on the Niger, where Park embarked in a fisherman’s canoe which was going down the stream, while the guide returned to Sego.

In this canoe our traveller reached Moorzan, whence he was conveyed across the river to Silla, a large town on the opposite shore. It was with great difficulty that he here obtained admission into the strangers’ room of the dooty’s house, a damp, uncomfortable place, where he had a severe paroxysm of fever during the night. Here his resolution and energy, of which no traveller ever possessed a larger share, began at length to fail. No hope of success remained. He therefore, with extreme sorrow and anguish of mind, determined on returning whence he had come; but let me lay before the reader his own simple and manly account of the matter, which cannot fail to impress even the most insensible with veneration for a degree of courage and intrepidity amounting to heroism. “Worn down by sickness, exhausted by hunger and fatigue, half-naked, and without any article of value by which I might procure [Pg 41] provisions, clothes, or lodging, I began,” says Park, “to reflect seriously on my situation. I was now convinced by painful experience that the obstacles to my further progress were insurmountable. The tropical rains had already set in with all their violence; the rice-grounds and swamps were already overflowed; and in a few days more travelling of every kind except by water would be completely obstructed. The cowries which remained of the King of Bambarra’s present were not sufficient to hire a canoe for any great distance; and I had but little hopes of subsisting by charity in a country where the Moors have such influence. But, above all, I perceived I was advancing more and more within the power of those merciless fanatics; and from my reception both at Sego and Sansanding, I was apprehensive that, in attempting to reach even Jeuné (unless under the protection of some man of consequence among them, which I had no means of obtaining), I should sacrifice my life to no purpose; for my discoveries would perish with me. The prospect either way was gloomy. In returning to the Gambia, a journey on foot of many hundred miles presented itself to my contemplation, through regions and countries unknown. Nevertheless, this seemed to be the only alternative; for I saw inevitable destruction in attempting to proceed to the eastward. With this conviction on my mind, I hope my readers will acknowledge I did right in going no farther. I had made every exertion to execute my mission in its fullest extent which prudence could justify. Had there been the most distant prospect of a successful termination, neither the unavoidable hardships of the journey nor the dangers of a second captivity should have forced me to desist. This, however, necessity compelled me to do.”

When he had come to this resolution, he thought it incumbent upon him before he left Silla to collect whatever information might be within his reach respecting [Pg 42] the further course of the Niger, and the situation and extent of the various kingdoms in its vicinity. Subsequent travellers have solved the problem, the honour of explaining which was denied to Park. We now know that this great river, after having flowed to a considerable distance eastward of Timbuctoo, makes a bend or elbow like the Burrampooter, and, after pursuing a south-westerly course, falls into the Atlantic Ocean on the coast of Benin.

On the 30th of July our traveller commenced his return westward, by the same route through which he had reached Silla. In a few days he recovered his horse, which had in some measure regained its strength, though it was still too weak to be ridden. The rainy season having now set in, the whole of the plain country was quickly inundated; so that our traveller was often in danger of losing his way while traversing savannahs many miles in extent, knee-deep in water. In several places he waded breast-deep across the swamps. The huts of the villages in which he passed the night, being undermined or softened by the rain, often fell in; and the noise of their fall sometimes kept him awake, expecting that his own might be the next. His situation was now even worse than during his progress eastward. A report had been widely circulated that he was a spy, in consequence of which he was in some places civilly refused admittance into the towns, in others repulsed from the gates with violence; so that he now appeared inevitably doomed to perish of hunger. However, when the fatal hour seemed at hand, some charitable being always appeared with a poor but seasonable supply, such, perhaps, as a little raw corn, which prolonged his life, and supplied him with strength to achieve his memorable journey. “On the evening of the 15th of August I arrived,” says Park, “at a small village called Song, the surly inhabitants of which would not receive [Pg 43] me, nor so much as permit me to enter the gate; but as lions were very numerous in this neighbourhood, and I had frequently in the course of the day seen the impression of their feet upon the road, I resolved to stay in the vicinity of the village. Having collected some grass for my horse, I accordingly laid down under a tree by the gate. About ten o’clock I heard the hollow roar of a lion at no great distance, and attempted to open the gate; but the people from within told me that no person must attempt to enter the gate without the dooty’s permission. I begged them to inform the dooty that a lion was approaching the village, and I hoped he would allow me to come within the gate. I waited for an answer to this message with great anxiety; for the lion kept prowling round the village, and once advanced so very near me that I heard him rustling among the grass, and climbed the tree for safety. About midnight the dooty with some of his people opened the gate, and desired me to come in. They were convinced, they said, I was not a Moor; for no Moor ever waited any time at the gate of a village without cursing the inhabitants.”

The history of this journey now becomes nothing more than a repetition of similar sufferings. Hunger, fatigue, and depression of spirits attack the traveller by turns. Nothing, however, subdues his courage. Obstacle after obstacle yields to his persevering intrepidity, and he pushes forward with invincible ardour towards the coast. In one place, at the request of a native who had grown opulent by industrious application to commerce, he wrote charms for a good supper; and, finding the contrivance productive, continued the practice next day for small presents of various kinds. On other occasions, where superstition did not come to his aid, humanity interposed, and snatched him from starvation. At Bammakoo he was hospitably treated, even by a Moor, who, having travelled to Rio Grande, had conversed [Pg 44] with Christians, and conceived a favourable idea of their character. The rains had now increased the Niger to a vast size, and rendered impassable almost every road; but, as our traveller’s finances had long been exhausted, he found himself compelled to proceed, the charity of the natives not extending so far as to the maintaining of a stranger for several months. The ordinary roads being obstructed by the rains, the only practicable route, wild, dreary, and desolate, lay over steril rocky mountains, over which, it was feared, a horse could not pass.

Finding that a singing-man was about to proceed by this road to Sibidooloo, Park placed himself under his guidance, and quitted Bammakoo. He had not proceeded far, however, before his companion, finding that he had taken the wrong path, escaped among the rocks, and left him to find his way how he might. He soon arrived at a village, where he was entertained with hospitality, and where he passed the night. Next day, as he was quietly pursuing his course, a troop of peasants presented themselves, whom he at first took for elephant-hunters, but who very shortly proved themselves to be banditti. Pretending to arrest him in the name of the King of the Foulahs, they commanded him to follow them, until, having reached a dark lonely part of a wood, one of them exclaimed in the Mandingo language, “This place will do!” and immediately snatched his hat from his head. “Though I was by no means free from apprehension,” says Park, “yet I was resolved to show as few signs of fear as possible; and therefore told them, that unless my hat was returned to me I should proceed no farther. But before I had time to receive an answer another drew a knife, and, seizing upon a metal button which remained upon my waistcoat, cut it off, and put it into his pocket. Their intentions were now obvious; and I thought that the easier they were permitted to rob me of every thing the less I had to fear. I therefore [Pg 45] allowed them to search my pockets without resistance, and examine every part of my apparel, which they did with the most scrupulous exactness. But, observing that I had one waistcoat under another, they insisted that I should cast them both off; and at last, to make sure work, stripped me quite naked. Even my half-boots, though the sole of one of them was tied on to my foot with a broken bridle-rein, were minutely inspected. While they were examining the plunder, I begged them with great earnestness to return my pocket-compass; but when I pointed it out to them, as it was lying on the ground, one of the banditti, thinking I was about to take it up, cocked his musket, and swore he would lay me dead upon the spot if I presumed to put my hand upon it. After this, some of them went away with my horse, and the remainder stood considering whether they should leave me quite naked, or allow me something to shelter me from the sun. Humanity at last prevailed; they returned me the worst of the two shirts and a pair of trousers; and, as they went away, one of them threw back my hat, in the crown of which I kept my memorandums; and this was probably the reason why they did not wish to keep it.”

This was the most terrible misfortune that had hitherto befallen him, and at first, his mind appeared to sink under the united influence of grief and terror. For a while he sat in sullen dejection, half-persuaded that he had no alternative but to lie down and perish. Presently, however, thoughts of religion, and a reliance upon Providence, succeeding this extreme dejection, his mind gradually regained its fervent tone:—

“I was, indeed, a stranger,” he thought, “in a strange land; yet I was still under the protecting eye of that Providence, who has condescended to call himself the stranger’s friend. At this moment, painful as my reflections were, the extraordinary [Pg 46] beauty of a small moss in fructification irresistibly caught my eye. I mention this to show from what trifling circumstances the mind will sometimes derive consolation; for though the whole plant was not larger than the top of one of my fingers, I could not contemplate the delicate conformation of its roots, leaves, and capsula without admiration. Can that Being (thought I) who planted, watered, and brought to perfection, in this obscure part of the world, a thing which appears of so small importance, look with unconcern upon the situation and sufferings of creatures formed after his own image? Surely not! Reflections like these would not allow me to despair; I started up, and, disregarding both danger and fatigue, travelled forwards, assured that relief was at hand; and I was not disappointed.”

On arriving at Sibidooloo, Park related to the mansa, or chief of the town, the misfortune which had befallen him. This humane and excellent man, having heard him patiently to an end, took the pipe from his mouth, and tossing up the sleeve of his coat with an indignant air, “Sit down,” said he, “you shall have every thing restored to you; I have sworn it.” He then took the necessary measures for the recovery of the traveller’s property, and invited him to partake of his hospitable fare until this should have been effected. After spending a few days at this place, without hearing any news of his horse or other property, our traveller removed to a distant village, where he remained until the whole was discovered and restored to him, with the exception of his pocket compass, which had been broken to pieces. Having nothing else to bestow upon his hospitable landlords, he gave his horse to one, and his saddle and bridle to the other: and then taking his leave, proceeded on foot to Kamalia. At this town, romantically situated at the foot of a lofty mountain, he found a slave-merchant, who, intending to descend to the coast with a small caravan in the beginning [Pg 47] of the dry season, offered our traveller an asylum until he should set out. Conceiving that it would be impossible to proceed during the rains, Park accepted his kind proposal, and promised in return to give him the price of a slave upon their arrival on the coast. Here a fever, which had for some time menaced him, manifested itself with great violence, and continued to torment him during the whole season of the rains. His landlord, meanwhile, exerted himself to keep up his hopes, and having by some means or another obtained possession of an English Common Prayer Book, he communicated the use of it to Park, who was thus enabled to beguile the gloomy hours of his solitude and sickness. At length the rains became less frequent, and the fever abated, so that he could move out to enjoy the fresh air in the fields.

On the 19th of April, Karfa, the slave-merchant, having collected his slaves, and completed all necessary preparations, set out towards the coast, taking our traveller, to whom his behaviour had always been marked by the greatest kindness, along with him. Their road led them across a vast wilderness, where the sufferings of every member of the caravan, and more particularly of the slaves, were most exquisite; but affliction was far from having taught them commiseration, for a fine young female slave, fainting from fatigue, had no sooner signified her inability to go on, than the universal cry of the caravan was, “cut her throat, cut her throat.” By the interposition of Karfa her life was spared, but she was abandoned on the road, where she was no doubt soon devoured by wild beasts. At length, after a long, toilsome journey, Karfa succeeded in fulfilling his promise, and conducted our traveller safe to Pisania, where the good old man was overwhelmed with the gratitude of his guest. Park now took his passage in an American vessel, and on arriving in the West Indies, quitted this ship for a packet bound [Pg 48] for Falmouth, where he arrived on the 22d of December, 1797, after an absence of two years and seven months.

Immediately on his landing he hastened to London, where he arrived before daylight on the morning of Christmas-day. It being too early an hour to call on his brother-in-law, Mr. Dickson, he strolled about for some time in the neighbouring streets. At length, finding one of the entrances into the gardens of the British Museum accidentally open, he went in and walked about there for some time. It happened that Mr. Dickson, who had the care of those gardens, went there early that morning on some trifling business. What must have been his emotions on beholding, at that extraordinary time and place, the vision, as it must at first have appeared, of his long lost friend, the object of so many anxious reflections, and whom he had long numbered with the dead.

He was now received with distinguished honour by the African Association, and the various literary men whom he met with in London. In the mean time his travels, which the Association permitted him to publish on his own account, were announced; and both during his stay in London, and the visit which he paid to his friends in Scotland, all his leisure hours were devoted to the compiling and arranging of the materials for the work. It appeared in the spring of 1799, and immediately acquired that degree of popularity which it has ever since maintained. In the composition of his travels, however, he was assisted by Bryan Edwards, author of a “History of the West Indies,” an advocate of the slave-trade, in deference to whom Park is said to have suppressed his own opinions, which had a contrary tendency. The apology offered for this mean compliance is, that Bryan Edwards, being secretary to the African Association, had it in his power greatly to influence the future fortunes of our traveller. I [Pg 49] should prefer supposing that his arguments produced a temporary conviction upon Park’s mind, unless some more convincing proof than has yet been brought forward could be adduced to substantiate the accusation of so remarkable a deficiency of moral courage in a man in whom, on all other occasions, courage seemed to be the prevailing virtue.

However this may be, Park again returned to Scotland soon after the publication of his travels, where, on the 2d of August, 1799, he married one of the daughters of Mr. Anderson, of Selkirk, with whom he had served his apprenticeship. He now seemed to have forgotten his ambitious feelings, and for more than two years resided on the farm at Fowlshiels, with his mother and one of his brothers. He then removed to the town of Peebles, where he resumed the practice of his profession, and seems, in a short time, to have acquired a good share of the business of the place. But it will easily be imagined that the quiet obscure life of a country surgeon could possess no charms for an ardent ambitious mind like Park’s. He longed to be performing upon some more stirring scene. In this dreary solitude, therefore, where the indulgence of day-dreams would appear to have been his principal amusement, scheme after scheme seems to have presented itself to his mind, each giving way in its turn to another equally impracticable. At length he received, through the medium of Sir Joseph Banks, intelligence that the African Association were once more about to send a mission into the interior of Africa, for the purpose of penetrating to and navigating the Niger; and that, in case government should enter into the plan, he himself would certainly be recommended as the person proper to be employed for carrying it into execution.

Dilatoriness is too frequently the characteristic of the proceedings of great public bodies. The first idea of this new mission was conceived in 1801, but [Pg 50] it was not until the beginning of 1805 that the expedition was ultimately determined on, when Park received from Lord Camden his appointment as its chief conductor. “For the better enabling you to execute this service,” says his lordship, “his majesty has granted you the brevet commission of captain in Africa, and has also granted a similar commission of lieutenant to Mr. Alexander Anderson, whom you have recommended as a proper person to accompany you. Mr. Scott has also been selected to attend you as draughtsman. You are hereby empowered to enlist with you for this expedition any number you think proper of the garrison at Goree, not exceeding forty-five, which the commandant of that island will be ordered to place under your command, giving them such bounties or encouragement as may be necessary to induce them cheerfully to join with you in the expedition.”

Five thousand pounds were at the same time placed at Park’s disposal, and further directions given him respecting the course and line of conduct he was expected to pursue. With these instructions Park and his companions proceeded to Portsmouth, where they were joined by four or five artificers, appointed for the service from the dock-yards. They sailed on the 30th of January, and on the 28th of April arrived at Pisania. Here they made preparations for entering the interior. The party consisted of forty men, two lieutenants, a draughtsman, a guide, and Park himself. Their provisions and merchandise were carried by asses, and they had horses for themselves. Thus appointed, they left Pisania on the 4th of May. It was very quickly discovered, however, that their asses were unequal to the task imposed upon them; some lay down, others kicked off their burdens, and it became necessary to increase the number of these vicious animals.

At Bady, a town in the interior frontier of Woolli, they were led into a quarrel with the farauba, or [Pg 51] chief of the town, respecting the amount of duties to be paid by their caravan, in which, though the conduct of the African was rude and peremptory, the travellers were clearly in the wrong. A few days after this affair the caravan had an adventure with a new species of enemy. On the 24th of May they reached a place which they denominated Bee’s Creek, where they halted with the intention of encamping there. “We had no sooner unloaded the asses at the creek,” says Park, “than some of Isaaco’s people, being in search of honey, unfortunately disturbed a large swarm of bees near where the coffle had halted. The bees came out in immense numbers, and attacked men and beasts at the same time. Luckily, most of the asses were loose, and galloped up the valley; but the horses and people were very much stung, and obliged to scamper in all directions. The fire which had been kindled for cooking, having been deserted, spread and set fire to the bamboos; and our baggage had like to have been burnt. In fact, for half an hour the bees seemed to have put an end to our journey.

“In the evening, when the bees became less troublesome, and we could venture to collect our cattle, we found that many of them were very much stung and swelled about the head. Three asses were missing; one died in the evening and one next morning, and we were compelled to leave one at Sibikillin; in all six: besides which, our guide lost his horse, and many of the people were very much stung about the face and hands.”

About the middle of June the rains began to set in, accompanied by violent tornadoes. The earth was quickly covered with water. The soldiers were affected with vomiting, or with an irresistible inclination to sleep. Our traveller himself was affected in a similar manner during the storm, and, notwithstanding that he used every exertion to keep away heaviness, at length fell asleep on the damp ground. [Pg 52] The soldiers did the same thing. In the morning twelve of them were sick. In this vicinity he saw many pits, from which gold was obtained in large quantities by washing. As the caravan proceeded, many of the soldiers growing delirious, or too weak to continue the march, were left behind to the care of the natives; while others died on the road, or were drowned in the rivers. Some, still more unfortunate if possible, were lost in the woods, where they were no doubt devoured by wild beasts. Meanwhile the natives, who imagined that the caravan contained prodigious wealth, hung upon their march, plundered them at every turn, and as often as they appeared too weak to resist, endeavoured to extort presents from them.

The condition of the men now became desperate. Day after day some poor wretch was abandoned to his fate, some in one way, some in another. I give one example which may serve for the whole. “Three miles east of the village of Koombandi,” says Park, “William Alston, one of the seamen whom I received from his majesty’s ship Squirrel, became so faint that he fell from his ass, and allowed the ass to run away. Set him on my horse, but found he could not sit without holding him. Replaced him on the ass, but he still tumbled off. Put him again on the horse, and made one man hold him upright while I led the horse; but, as he made no exertion to hold himself erect, it was impossible to keep him on the horse, and after repeated tumbles he begged to be left in the woods till morning. I left a loaded pistol with him, and put some cartridges into the crown of his hat.”

In crossing the Wondu the caravan was nearly deprived of its guide in the following manner: “Our guide, Isaaco, was very active in pushing the asses into the water, and shoving along the canoe; but as he was afraid that we could not have them all carried over in the course of the day, he attempted [Pg 53] to drive six of the asses across the river farther down, where the water was shallower. When he had reached the middle of the river, a crocodile rose close to him, and instantly seizing him by the left thigh, pulled him under water. With wonderful presence of mind he felt the head of the animal, and thrust his finger into its eye, on which it quitted its hold, and Isaaco attempted to reach the farther shore, calling loudly for a knife. But the crocodile returned and seized him by the other thigh, and again pulled him under water; he had recourse to the same expedient, and thrust his fingers into its eyes with such violence that it again quitted him; when it arose, flounced about on the surface of the water as if stupid, and then swam down the middle of the river. Isaaco proceeded to the other side, bleeding very much.”

This event retarded for several days the march of the caravan. Besides, Park himself was attacked with fever, and their provisions, moreover, were now reduced to so low an ebb, that upon examination it was found that no more than rice for two days remained in their possession. This deficiency was, therefore, to be immediately supplied. Two persons were sent away with an ass to a distant village for rice, and in the mean time our traveller devoted his attentions to the wounds of the guide. The sailor who had been abandoned in the woods here rejoined the caravan quite naked, having been robbed of his clothes by the natives. The audacity of these thieves was extraordinary. In ascending an eminence two miles from Maniakono, Park himself was robbed in a very characteristic manner:—“As I was holding my musket carelessly in my hand, and looking round,” says he, “two of Numma’s sons came up to me; one of them requested me to give him some snuff; at this instant the other (called Woosaba), coming up behind me, snatched the musket from my hand, and ran off with it. I instantly sprung [Pg 54] from the saddle and followed him with my sword, calling to Mr. Anderson to ride back, and tell some of the people to look after my horse. Mr. Anderson got within musket-shot of him; but, seeing it was Numma’s son, had some doubts about shooting him, and called to me if he should fire. Luckily I did not hear him, or I might possibly have recovered my musket at the risk of a long palaver, and perhaps the loss of half our baggage. The thief accordingly made his escape among the rocks; and when I returned to my horse, I found the other of the royal descendants had stolen my coat.”

Their condition was now exceedingly distressing. Not only the soldiers and sailors, but Scott and Anderson began to lag behind, being attacked by fever, the first effect of which in those countries is to deprive the sufferer of his energies. Having remained for some time by the wayside with his dying friend, he placed him, when his strength appeared for a moment to return, upon his horse, and pushed forward towards their proposed halting-place, leading the horse by the bridle. “We had not proceeded above a mile,” says Park, “before we heard on our left a noise very much like the barking of a large mastiff, but ending in a hiss like the fuff[1] of a cat. I thought it must be some large monkey; and was observing to Mr. Anderson, ‘What a bouncing fellow that must be,’ when we heard another bark nearer to us, and presently a third still nearer, accompanied with a growl. I now suspected some wild beast meant to attack us, but could not conjecture of what species it was likely to be. We had not proceeded a hundred yards farther, when, coming to an opening in the bushes, I was not a little surprised to see three lions coming towards us. They were not so red as the lion I had formerly seen in Bambarra, but of a dusky colour, like that of an ass. They were very [Pg 55] large, and came bounding over the long grass, not one after another, but all abreast of each other. I was afraid, if I allowed them to come too near us, and my piece should miss fire, that we should all be devoured by them. I therefore let go the bridle, and walked forwards to meet them. As soon as they were within a long shot of me, I fired at the centre one. I do not think I hit him; but they all stopped, looked at each other, and then bounded away a few paces, when one of them stopped and looked back at me. I was too busy in loading my piece to observe their motions as they went away, and was very happy to see the last of them march slowly off among the bushes. We had not proceeded above half a mile farther when we heard another bark and growl close to us among the bushes. This was, doubtless, one of the lions before seen; and I was afraid they would follow us till dark, when they would have too many opportunities of springing on us unawares. We however heard no more of them.”

[1] Fuff is an expressive Scotch word, applicable in its original sense to the explosive noise which a cat makes in flying at a dog.

At length, from the brow of a hill, Park had once more the satisfaction of beholding the Niger, rolling its immense stream along the plain. But he was in no mood of mind to triumph at the sight. The majority of his companions had fallen on the way; of thirty-four soldiers and four carpenters who left the Gambia, only six soldiers and one carpenter reached the Niger. With this miserable remnant of his original force he descended the hill, and pitched his tents near the town of Bambakoo. Here some of the party embarked in canoes on the Niger, while others proceeded by land to the neighbourhood of Sego, which they reached on the 19th of September. Mansong was still king of Bambarra; and being highly gratified with their presents, not only gave them permission to build a boat on the Niger at whatever town they pleased, but engaged to protect, as far as his power extended, the trade of the whites [Pg 56] in the interior. Park selected Sansanding as the place most eligible for building the boat, and removed thither as quickly as possible. Here immediately on his arrival he opened a shop, exhibiting a choice assortment of European goods, which sold so well among the natives that his success excited the envy of the Jinnic people, the Moors, and the other merchants of the place, who offered Mansong merchandise to a much greater value than the presents made him by Park, if he would either kill the strangers or drive them out of the country. Mansong, however, rejected the offer. “From the 8th to the 16th nothing of consequence occurred; I found my shop every day more and more crowded with customers; and such was my run of business, that I was sometimes forced to employ three tellers at once to count my cash. I turned one market-day twenty-five thousand seven hundred and fifty-six pieces of money (cowries).”

Park now received intelligence of the death of Mr. Scott, who had been left behind near Bambakoo. Mansong very soon convinced the traveller that he understood the art of receiving presents much better than that of returning them; for upon being requested to furnish a canoe in which the mission, now reduced to a very small number, might embark on the Niger, he sent one after another several half-rotten barks; two of which Park, seeing no hope of getting better, was at length compelled to accept, and with these he constructed what he termed a schooner. Shortly after this he lost his friend Anderson, upon whose death “I felt myself,” says he, “as if left a second time lonely and friendless amid the wilds of Africa.” Dreary and perilous as was his position, however, he still determined to persevere. His companions were now reduced to four, Lieutenant Martyn and three soldiers, one of whom was deranged in his mind; yet with this wretched remnant of a detachment which, it must be confessed, [Pg 57] had been thus thinned, or rather annihilated, by his own ill management and want of foresight, he purposed following the course of the Niger to its termination, whether that should prove to be in some great lake or inland sea, or, as he rather believed, in the Atlantic Ocean. And this voyage, says one of his biographers, one of the most formidable ever attempted, was to be undertaken in a crazy and ill-appointed vessel, manned by a few negroes and a few Europeans!

On the 16th of November, having completed all the necessary preparations for his voyage, our traveller put the finishing hand to his journal; and in the interval between that and his embarkation, which seems to have taken place on the 19th, wrote several letters to England. These letters, together with the journal, were then delivered to his guide Isaaco, by whom they were conveyed to the Gambia, from whence they were transmitted to England; after which nothing certain or authentic can be said to have been heard either of Park or the expedition. In 1806, however, vague accounts of the death of Park and his companions were brought to the British settlements on the coast by the native traders from the interior; but several years elapsed without any further intelligence being obtained. At length, in 1810, Colonel Maxwell, governor of Senegal, despatched Park’s guide, Isaaco, into the interior, for the purpose of ascertaining the truth or falsehood of the reports which prevailed, and, should they prove correct, of collecting information respecting the place and manner of the catastrophe.

After an absence of one year and eight months Isaaco returned to Senegal, and delivered to the governor a journal of his proceedings, including a narrative which he had received from Amadi Fatouma, the guide who accompanied Park from Sansanding down the Niger. The particulars of Isaaco’s adventures it is altogether unnecessary to describe. [Pg 58] He found Amadi Fatouma at Madina, a village distant a few hours from Sansanding. On seeing Isaaco, and hearing the name of Park, he began to weep; and his first words were, “They are all dead.” The recollection of the melancholy transaction appeared to affect him in an extraordinary manner, and it was with the utmost reluctance that he at length consented to recall to memory an event which he seemed peculiarly desirous of delivering over to oblivion. However, upon the pressing entreaties of Isaaco, he narrated circumstantially what had taken place. Upon leaving Sansanding, there were, he said, nine persons in the canoe; Park, Martyn, three other white men, three slaves, and himself as their guide and interpreter. They had proceeded but a very little way down the river before they were pursued and attacked by the Africans in canoes, particularly in passing Timbuctoo, where a great number of the natives were killed. Shortly after passing Goronmo, they lost one white man by sickness. They were now, therefore, reduced to eight; but as each person had always fifteen muskets loaded and ready for action, they were still formidable to their enemies.

As Park had laid in a considerable quantity of provisions previous to his leaving Sansanding, he was enabled to proceed for several days without stopping at any place, which is the only circumstance that can account for his passing in safety through the country of so many hostile nations. At length, however, their wants compelled them to have some communication with the shore. “We came,” says Amadi Fatouma, “near a small island, and saw some of the natives; I was sent on shore to buy some milk. When I got among them, I saw two canoes go on board to sell fresh provisions, such as fowls, rice, &c. One of the natives wanted to kill me, and at last he took hold of me, and said I was his prisoner. Mr. Park, seeing what was passing [Pg 59] on shore, suspected the truth. He stopped the two canoes and people; telling the latter, that if they should kill me, or keep me prisoner on shore, he would kill them all, and carry their canoes away with him. Those on shore, suspecting Mr. Park’s intentions, sent me off in another canoe on board; they were then released: after which we bought some provisions from them, and made them some presents. A short time after our departure twenty canoes came after us from the same place; on coming near, they hailed, and said, ‘Amadi Fatouma, how can you pass through our country without giving us any thing?’ I mentioned what they had said to Mr. Park, and he gave them a few grains of amber and some trinkets, and they went back peaceably. On coming to a narrow part of the river, we saw on the shore a great many men sitting down; coming nearer to them they stood up; we presented our muskets to them, which made them run off into the interior. A little farther on we came to a very difficult passage. The rocks had barred the river, but three passages were still open between them. On coming near one of them, we discovered the same people again, standing on the top of a large rock; which caused great uneasiness to us, especially to me, and I seriously promised never to pass there again without making considerable charitable donations to the poor. We returned, and went to a pass of less danger, where we passed unmolested.

“We came-to before Carmassee, and gave the chief one piece of baft. We went on, and anchored before Gourman. Mr. Park sent me on shore with forty thousand cowries to buy provisions. I went and bought rice, onions, fowls, milk, &c., and departed late in the evening. The chief of the village sent a canoe after us, to let us know of a large army encamped on the top of a very high mountain, waiting for us; and that we had better return, or be on our guard. We immediately came to an anchor, [Pg 60] and spent there the rest of the day and all the night. We started in the morning; on passing the abovementioned mountain we saw the army, composed of Moors with horses and camels, but without any firearms. As they said nothing to us we passed on quietly, and entered the country of Haoussa, and came to an anchor. Mr. Park said to me, ‘Now, Amadi, you are at the end of your journey: I engaged you to conduct me here; you are going to leave me; but before you go you must give me the names of the necessaries of life, &c., in the language of the countries through which I am going to pass;’ to which I agreed, and we spent two days together about it without landing. During our voyage I was the only one who had landed. We departed, and arrived at Yaour. I was sent on shore the next morning with a musket and a sabre to carry to the chief of the village; also with three pieces of white baft for distribution. I went and gave the chief his present: I also gave one to Alhagi, one to Alhagibiron, and the other to a person whose name I forget; all Marabons. The chief gave us a bullock, a sheep, three jars of honey, and four men’s loads of rice. Mr. Park gave me seven thousand cowries, and ordered me to buy provisions, which I did; he told me to go to the chief, and give him five silver rings, some powder and flints, and tell him that these presents were given to the king by the white men, who were taking leave of him before they went away. After the chief had received these things, he inquired if the white men intended to come back. Mr. Park, being informed of this inquiry, replied that he could not return any more.[2] Mr. Park had paid me for my voyage before we left Sansanding: I said to him, ‘I agreed to carry you into the kingdom of Haoussa; we are now in Haoussa. I have fulfilled [Pg 61] my engagement with you; I am therefore going to leave you here and return.’”

[2] These words occasioned his death; for the certainty of Mr. Park not returning induced the chief to withhold the presents from the king.

On the next day Park departed, leaving the guide at the village of Yaour, where he was put in irons by order of the king, from a supposition that he had aided the white men in defrauding him of the customary presents, which the chief of Yaour had in fact received, but retained for himself. “The next morning, early,” continues the guide, “the king sent an army to a village called Boussa, near the river-side. There is before this village a rock across the whole breadth of the river. One part of the rock is very high; there is a large opening in that rock in the form of a door, which is the only passage for the water to pass through; the tide current is here very strong. This army went and took possession of the top of this opening. Mr. Park came there after the army had posted itself; he nevertheless attempted to pass. The people began to attack him, throwing lances, pikes, arrows, and stones. Mr. Park defended himself for a long time; two of his slaves at the stern of the canoe were killed; they threw every thing they had in the canoe into the river, and kept firing; but being overpowered by numbers, and fatigued, and unable to keep up the canoe against the current, and no probability of escaping, Mr. Park took hold of one of the white men and jumped into the water; Martyn did the same, and they were drowned in the stream in attempting to escape. The only slave remaining in the boat, seeing the natives persist in throwing weapons at the canoe without ceasing, stood up and said to them, ‘Stop throwing now, you see nothing in the canoe, and nobody but myself; therefore cease. Take me and the canoe, but don’t kill me.’ They took possession of the canoe and the man, and carried them to the king.

“I was kept in irons three months; the king released me, and gave me a slave (woman). I immediately [Pg 62] went to the slave taken in the canoe, who told me in what manner Mr. Park and all of them had died, and what I have related above. I asked him if he was sure nothing had been found in the canoe after its capture; he said nothing remained in the canoe but himself and a sword-belt. I asked him where the sword-belt was; he said the king took it, and had made a girth for his horse with it.”

Such is the narrative of Amadi Fatouma; and the information since obtained in the country by Captain Clapperton corroborates almost every important circumstance which it describes. It appears, however, that certain books (whether printed or manuscript does not appear) were found in Park’s canoe, some of which were still in the possession of the chief of Yaour when Clapperton made his inquiries; but the wily African, who no doubt expected a valuable present for these relics, refused to deliver them to our traveller’s messenger, and Clapperton himself, for some reason or another not stated, neglected to visit this chief in person. It should be remarked, that the Africans who were questioned by Clapperton seemed all exceedingly desirous of exculpating their countrymen, perhaps their own friends and relations, from the charge of having murdered Park and his companions: according to one narrator, the canoe was caught between two rocks, where the river, being obstructed in its course, rushed through its narrow channel with prodigious rapidity. Here the travellers, in attempting to disembark, were drowned in the sight of an immense multitude who had assembled to see them pass, and were too timid to attack or assist them. On another occasion, however, the same person confessed that his countrymen did indeed discharge their arrows at the travellers, but not until they had been fired upon from the canoe. But the sheriff of Bokhary, whose letter was found among the MSS. of Clapperton, asserts that the inhabitants of Boussa went out [Pg 63] against the white men in great numbers, and attacked them during three successive days; after which Park and Martyn, who from this account would appear to have been the only European survivors, threw their papers and baggage into the water, and leaping in after them were drowned in the stream. It would answer no useful purpose to push these inquiries any further at present, as we in reality possess no sufficient materials for coming to any definite conclusion. There can be no doubt that Mungo Park perished on the Niger, near Boussa, or that the Africans were the cause, mediate or immediate, of his death. His character will be best understood by a careful examination of his life; but it may be useful to remark, in conclusion, that, although his natural prudence seems partly to have forsaken him during his second journey, few men have possessed in a higher degree the virtues of a traveller—intrepidity, enthusiasm, perseverance, veracity, prudence; his manners, likewise, though somewhat too stiff and reserved, must upon the whole have been agreeable, since he was able both in civilized and savage countries to gain and preserve many friends; among whom by far the most distinguished was Sir Walter Scott, with whom, during the interval between his two journeys, he lived on terms of the greatest intimacy.


Born 1741.—Died 1811.

This traveller, whose works are comparatively little known in England, was born at Berlin, September 22, 1741. His father, who was an able surgeon, entertained the design of educating him for [Pg 64] his own profession; and at the same time caused him to learn several languages. At a very early age he was able, therefore, to write the Latin, the English, the French, and the German. His retentive memory rendered these acquirements so easy, that his great success in this department of knowledge scarcely at all interfered with his progress in others; so that he is said to have likewise maintained among his schoolfellows the pre-eminence in all their various studies. He was, in fact, by no means satisfied with what was taught him by his different masters, but employed his leisure hours in the study of natural history; and at the age of fifteen he had already imagined ingenious divisions of several classes of animals.

Having attended at Berlin the courses of Gleditsch, Mekhel, and Roloff, and those of Vogel and Rœderer at Göttingen, he proceeded to Leyden, to finish his studies under Albinus, Gaubins, and Musschenbroeck. The rarest productions of nature had been for two centuries accumulating in Holland by the commerce of the whole world; and it was therefore impossible that the ardent passion of Pallas for natural history should not be still further excited by living in the midst of them. But perhaps we attribute too much influence to the force of circumstances. The soul, with all its tastes and passions, is far more independent of external things than is generally supposed. Concomitance is not causation. The energy of the mind derives sustenance, as it were, from circumstances; but the effect of this nourishment is determined by its own original character, just as it is determined by the innate qualities of the scorpion, or the bee, whether the vegetable juices which they extract from the plants of the field shall be converted into poison or into nectar. However this may be, Pallas afterward visited England, where a commerce more extensive than had ever been carried on by any other nation, [Pg 65] ancient or modern, must likewise have collected immense treasures in natural history, which afforded him a fortunate occasion for improving his knowledge. The sight of these scientific riches seems, in reality, to have determined him to waive all claim to professional emolument or honours, for the purpose of devoting himself entirely to natural history; and he obtained his father’s permission to settle at the Hague, with a view of continuing his studies.

Here, in 1776, he published his “Elenchus Zoophytorum,” the first of his “great works,” to adopt the expression of M. Eyriès, which, for an author of twenty-five, was a remarkable performance. The “Miscellanea Zoologica,” which was published the same year, still further augmented his reputation. This work (I still borrow the language of the French geographer) threw a new light upon the least known classes of the animal kingdom, those which had hitherto been confounded together under the name of worms. These two publications carried far and wide the name of their author, and several governments sought to monopolize his talents. He would probably have given the preference to that of his own country, had he received from it the least encouragement; but, as too often happens, says M. Cuvier, it was at home that he was least respected. He therefore resolved to desert his country, and accepted a place in the Academy of St. Petersburg, which was offered him by Catherine II. Pallas’s private circumstances are nowhere, so far as I have been able to discover, properly explained. I know not, therefore, whether extreme poverty or vulgar cupidity determined him to take this step; but I cannot, without pain, contemplate men of abilities running about the world in search of wealth, ready to snatch at it from any hand, and no less ready, however base may be the donor, to repay the dishonourable obligation by despicable flattery and adulation. For this reason, in spite of the profound veneration [Pg 66] with which I regard every thing like genius, which appears to be a spark of the Divine nature fallen from heaven, I cannot help considering Pallas as a learned and ingenious slave, cringing at the foot of power, and willing to perform all things at its bidding.

Catherine, it is well known, was desirous that some of her own barbarians should observe in Siberia the transit of Venus over the sun’s disk in 1769, and not, as in 1763, leave the honour to foreigners. She therefore selected a number of astronomers from the Academy of St. Petersburg, and joined with them several naturalists, whose business it was to examine the nature of the productions and soil in this remote province of the empire. They were, in fact, instructed to make the most exact researches on the nature of the soil; on that of the waters; on the means of cultivating the deserts; on the actual state of agriculture; the diseases which chiefly prevailed among men and beasts; the means of curing or preventing them; the manner of rearing bees, silkworms, and cattle; minerals, and mineral waters; the arts, trades, and other industrious processes of each province; the plants, animals, the interior and the form of mountains; and, in short, on all the objects of natural history. The geography of the country, the manners of its inhabitants, and the traditions and monuments of antiquity were likewise included.

Such was the enterprise to engage in which Pallas was invited into Russia. In the midst of the numerous preparations required for so long and arduous a journey, he found leisure to compose several new works (for he possessed, and was vain of, a great facility in writing), which, in the opinion of naturalists, were full of interesting views; among others he presented to the academy his famous memoir on the bones of large quadrupeds discovered in Siberia, in which he proves that the remains of elephants, [Pg 67] rhinoceroses, buffaloes, and many other kinds of animals now peculiar to the south, were found in those northern regions.

The expedition was composed of seven astronomers and geometricians, five naturalists, and several pupils, who were to direct their course in various directions over the immense country which they were about to explore. Pallas left Petersburg on the 21st of June, 1768. The great road to Moscow, which traverses a part of Ingria, affords nothing interesting either to the traveller or the naturalist. Having passed Tosna, they entered a forest of pines and birch-trees, where, owing to the marshy nature of the soil, every spot which had been cleared of wood swarmed with gadflies. He passed through, but made no stay at Novogorod, and then pushed on to Bronitzkoi. The river which passes through this town abounds in salmon-trout, which descend from the lake of Ilman, visible from the neighbouring hill. The road here affords a view of several ancient tombs, which our traveller did not pause to examine.

At a short distance beyond Saisovo, he crossed the Jemlin, in which pearl-muscles are found; and, hurrying along impatiently, arrived at Moscow on the 4th of July. This city, which had so often been visited and described by others, possessed so few attractions for him that he would willingly have quitted it immediately; but his vehicles, shattered by the badness of the roads, paved in some instances with trees, and cracked by the heat of the sun, required reparation; other causes of delay occurred, and he was therefore detained here many days. To amuse himself a little, and blunt the point of his impatience, he made several short excursions in the environs, where he was greatly struck at finding on all sides numerous petrifactions of marine substances. The river Moskwa produces an abundance of marine sponges, with which the Russian women [Pg 68] rub their cheeks, instead of paint. Attempts were even then making to raise the genuine rhubarb in the environs of Moscow.

From this city he set out for Vlodimir. But little care was then taken in Russia to provide travellers with good horses, since even the members of this expedition were sometimes scarcely able to proceed on account of the badness of their beasts. Vlodimir, formerly an extensive city, according to the traditions of the country, is picturesquely situated upon several small hills, and surrounded by cherry-orchards, the produce of which is the chief means of subsistence possessed by the inhabitants. At Kassinof Pallas found the descendants of several Tartar princes, who were now engaged in the fur trade, and possessed of considerable riches. They were of the Mohammedan religion, and were at that time rebuilding a fallen mosque, by permission of the government.

At a small village on the banks of the Oka he saw a great number of goitres, whose deformity he supposed to arise from the quality of the water. On the banks of the Piana he found, in a small scattered village, several descendants of the Mordwans, who, having been converted to Christianity, had lost almost all traces of their ancient manners. These, according to Pallas, were at that time the filthiest people in the Russian empire, which was a bold thing to say; but they were good husbandmen, and their women, though ugly, were exceedingly laborious, which our traveller, no doubt, regarded as a superior quality to beauty.

About the middle of September the cold was already considerable, rain and snow were frequent, and the severe frosts commenced. Having passed the Soura, they entered into an immense forest, where he observed wild cabbages on the banks of the river. Here they saw the beehives of the Mordwans, which were left all the winter in the forests [Pg 69] with a very slender covering; and, among their flocks, several mules produced between the goat and the sheep. The peasants of these woody districts were principally employed in making tar. On the 22d of September they reached Simbirsk, on the Volga, where they were detained within doors for some days by a tremendous storm. They then issued forth upon their various pursuits; and, among other places, Pallas visited the sulphurous springs which are found near the Sargout. One of those springs was formerly of considerable extent, and furnished large quantities of sulphur, but it had then disappeared. The other formed a little marsh on the left bank of the stream. Even in the depth of winter, the water of the spring never froze, and at all times a thin sulphury vapour hung like a light cloud over its surface.

The season being now too far advanced to allow them to proceed on their journey, they determined to pass the winter at Simbirsk, from whence they departed on the following March towards Siberia. In fact, they were weary of their residence at Simbirsk long before the winter was over; and Pallas, having been given a charming picture of the environs of Samara, removed thither with his companions on sledges. Near this town, in the bed of a small stream which falls into the Sviaga, were found numerous remains of the skeletons of elephants, among which were several tusks very slightly injured by time, from the ivory of which various beautiful articles were wrought. Here our traveller continued during the whole month of April, in which time he examined whatever was remarkable in the environs; and then, on the 2d of May, proceeded towards the south, to Sizran on the Volga.

The heat at this place during almost the whole of May was nearly insupportable; the clouds gathered together, and, extending themselves in a thick canopy over the sky, appeared to promise rain, while [Pg 70] the thermometer continued rising from 105 to 110 degrees in the shade; so that, in a place situated in the same latitude as Caernarvon in North Wales, a heat equal to that of Calcutta in July was experienced in the spring. So high a temperature of the atmosphere was probably unusual, as it alarmed the peasantry for their crops; and processions, offering up solemn prayers for rain, were beheld throughout the country.

Proceeding thence towards Perevoloka, our traveller beheld on the way a village which on the evening before his arrival had been nearly unroofed by a hurricane. The vast chalky plains on the banks of the Volga had now been almost entirely stripped of vegetation by the sun, and the heat in those places which were bare of trees was tremendous. At the foot of a small range of hills which traverse these stepps Pallas conjectured that the vine would succeed admirably. On drawing near the Volga they found numerous lofty hills, some of which were exceedingly well wooded, while barrenness dwelt upon the others; and the narrow defiles which divided them were filled with tarantula-holes, and the burrows of the marmot, which was seen sitting at the mouth of its retreat uttering piercing cries.

On a solitary spot at a short distance from the Volga Pallas visited a large tomb, which he found had formerly been opened by avaricious treasure-seekers; but their excavations, like the tomb itself, were now covered with a thick underwood, and were therefore of ancient date. The excursions of our traveller in various directions from Samara, which was his head-quarters, were numerous, and his discoveries in natural history would seem to have been no less so; but he passed from place to place with the utmost safety and despatch, as we travel from London to Bath; and therefore, however valuable may have been his scientific labours, the events of one day too nearly resembled those of the preceding not to cause the utmost monotony in his history.

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Near Bouzoulouk, on the river Samara, were found numerous ancient tombs resembling those of the Grecian heroes on the shores of the Hellespont. Copper or golden-headed arrows were sometimes found on opening these burrows; and on one occasion the treasure-seekers were rewarded by the discovery of a chain of gold round the neck of a skeleton. The bones of the dead indicated a gigantic stature. On arriving at one of the principal fortresses on the line of the Jaik, Pallas visited the Bashkir and Kalmuc camps, where he was amused with a concert in the old national style. The songs of the Kalmucs, like those of more refined nations, were chiefly of love. Their instruments, though rude, were not unpleasing. They likewise exhibited their strength in the wrestling-ring, and their dexterity in the use of the bow. The Bashkirs also displayed their skill in archery, and danced several Tartar dances. Here Pallas observed the largest marsh-flies he had ever seen,—six inches in length by three and a half in breadth. In travelling along the Jaik it was found necessary to move under the protection of an escort of Cossacks, as the Kirghees, a hostile nation, were encamped in groups along the banks of the river. On the 1st of July, 1769, he arrived at Orenburg.

In this city our traveller enjoyed an opportunity of observing the manners of the Kirghees. These people purchased annually from the Russians a number of golden eagles, used by their hunters in the chase of the wolf, the fox, and the gazelle, and would sometimes give a horse in exchange for one of these birds, while others were hardly valued at a sheep, or even a small piece of money. During his stay at Orenburg he visited the great salt-mines of Hetzkain, and learned the laborious and ingenious methods by which the fossil salt is extracted from the bowels of the earth. The mines are chiefly worked in summer, and the salt, being left to accumulate [Pg 72] until the winter months, is then transported to distant places by the peasantry. In these solitary regions he saw a caravan of thirty camels returning from China, having crossed the vast deserts of Central Asia, where both men and animals had nearly perished for want, in consequence of the excessive heat of the summer. From thence he proceeded to the Jasper Mountains, where many stones were found beautifully variegated; some representing, when split, the figures of trees upon their surfaces, while others were dotted with spots of different colours. On the summits of these mountains he beheld numerous Kirgheesian tombs constructed with prodigious blocks of jasper, with more than imperial magnificence.

From Orenburg he descended along the course of the Jaik, through a mountainous country, intersected by numerous ravines, and of a wild, desolate aspect. Near Kalmikova, on the eastern shore of the Jaik, he saw a Kirghees camp. When the party drew near, about the close of the day, the Kirghees seemed terrified at their approach; but were soon reassured upon observing their pacific disposition. They then crowded round them with joyful faces, and, bringing forth their koumiss, or prepared mare’s milk, enabled several of Pallas’s attendants to steep their senses in forgetfulness. Still, our honest travellers, conscious, perhaps, that the Kirghees had some injuries to revenge against the Russians, were fearful of passing the night in the camp, and therefore hastened to return before dark to the city. Thence he continued proceeding in a southern direction to the ruins of Sarai, of which the ditch and the rampart are nearly all that now remain. It sunk gradually with the decay of the Tartar power, until the inhabitants at length emigrated to Chiva, and allowed it to fall entirely. The road from thence to Gourief, on the Caspian, lies over a dry marsh, where nothing but a few red wild-flowers meet the [Pg 73] eye. Here Pallas embarked in a boat with a Mons. Euler, in order to visit a small island in the Caspian, the waters of which were of a grayish green, though the sailors assured them that the colour farther out at sea was a greenish black. It was said, that during summer phosphoric fires were occasionally beheld upon its waves.

Having examined the embouchure of the Jaik, and the neighbouring coast of the Caspian Sea, Pallas returned northward, and set up his quarters for the winter of 1769 at Oufa, situated on the river Belaia. Here he employed the time not spent in travelling in working up his journal. The winter unfortunately happened to be peculiarly bad; and this, united with the melancholy situation of the city, and the bad air which prevails there, prevented him from deriving all the advantages which might have been expected from so long a residence. To increase the dulness and insipidity of his stay, he was kept almost a prisoner in the city until the month of May by continual inundations. In all other respects, likewise, the winter was unfavourable. It commenced with September, and continued increasing in rigour until the end of November, when they were visited by terrible tempests, in which several travellers perished on the downs of Orenburg. These continued during the whole of December. January was less severe, and February mild. The winter ended in March, the thaw commenced with April, and then the country was overflowed.

Pallas had passed so unpleasant a winter at Oufa, that he saw the time of departure approach with the greatest satisfaction; and, as soon as the overflowing of the rivers had ceased, despatched a soldier before him across the Ural Mountains into the province of Isetsk, with orders to cause the roads and bridges to be repaired. He himself followed on the 16th of May. The weather, notwithstanding the advanced season of the year, was overcast and [Pg 74] stormy, with a north-west wind; it hailed, snowed, and rained at intervals; but this did not continue long. In the course of the day he passed by a vast chasm, formed by the sliding of strata from their basis, and by the inhabitants denominated “the bottomless pit.” Here the people had three years before cast the carcasses of all those animals which had died of the murrain, which brought thither a prodigious number of famished and furious wild dogs, and thus rendered the road so dangerous that it was found necessary to send out an armed detachment against them.

The road now entered an immense forest, in which the Russians, in imitation of the Bashkirs, kept great numbers of beehives, which were hollowed out in the trunks of large trees, about five or six fathoms from the ground. This is intended as one of the means of protecting the hives against the bears; for which purpose they likewise carefully cut off all the lower branches of the tree, and smooth every knot. However, as the bear is too able a climber to be thus discouraged, they, in addition to these common precautions, fix a kind of circle of sharp knives or scythes round the tree, a little below the hive, which either prevents the animal from ascending, or impales him when he would return. But there are some old bears too experienced to be thus caught, who strike out the spikes with their paws. Against these other means are resorted to. In the first place, they fix a kind of catapult aloft on the tree, with a cord suspended, which, when the animal touches, an arrow is darted down with great vehemence, which transfixes him in the breast. Another method is, to suspend a plank horizontally on some of the long branches by cords, in such a manner that it can be drawn at will before the mouth of the hive, to which it is fastened by a knot of pliable bark. Upon this plank the bear seats himself in order to work at the hive. He then commences by [Pg 75] loosening the knot, upon which the plank becomes what boys call a “see-saw;” and the bear is either precipitated in a moment to the ground, where he is impaled upon sharp stakes fixed there for the purpose, or, if he does not fall, he is compelled to leap, or wait trembling on the plank until the owner of the hive arrives and shoots him at his ease.

Having traversed the country of the Moursalarki Bashkirs, our traveller visited a small volcano, around which every thing was in full flower and further advanced than elsewhere, on account of the internal heat. This volcano was not of ancient date. Many persons then living remembered the storm during which a thunderbolt fell upon a great pine-tree, which, taking fire and burning rapidly to the very roots, kindled the mountain, which had thenceforward continued on fire. The neighbouring forests were wholly consumed by the conflagration. At this time the fire seemed to have retired into the centre of the mountain, where it raged with prodigious violence, occasionally bursting forth through the wide fissures of the superincumbent crust, which it was gradually calcining to powder. The view of the volcano during a stormy night was sublime. Broad openings or cracks, commencing at the summit of the cone, spread themselves like the veins of a leaf down the side, branching forth in many directions, as from a trunk; and these, contrasted with the dark mass of the mountain, and emitting light-red flames through all their extent, appeared like so many perpetual streams of lightning in a thunder-cloud.

In traversing a forest in this district after a terrible hurricane, Pallas found the ground strewed with small branches of poplar, the extremities of which furnish a finer and more silky cotton than that of Egypt or Bengal. Whether the Russian government has ever attended to the suggestion of this naturalist, in substituting this cotton for the ordinary species, I have not been able to learn. The route [Pg 76] through the forests and mountains which border the Aural in this direction was by no means very pleasing. Pallas loved smooth roads, good inns, and good dinners. He was therefore particularly annoyed when, in making towards a mountain said to abound in aluminous slate, he found his guide at fault in the woods, where, after wandering about for some time, they were overtaken by a tempest. The sky suddenly grew dark, and their way lying among rugged rocks of enormous magnitude, the passage between which was frequently blocked up by trees which the hurricane had overthrown, their horses refused to proceed. Besides, the darkness was now so great that they could not see before them, and it was therefore necessary to pass the night where they were. To make their lodgings as comfortable as they could, they selected the tops of the highest rocks, which were somewhat drier than the rest of the forest. Had they possessed a tinder-box, it would have been easy to kindle a fire, by which they might have dried and warmed themselves; but our traveller, like Sir Abel Handy in “Speed the Plough,” whose inventions were never completed by the hour of need, had left his tinder-box behind him. He endeavoured to remedy this evil by rubbing together two small pieces of wood; but the rain had damped the seeds of fire which they contained, and he rubbed in vain. Relinquishing at length all attempts to inveigle Vulcan into their company, they erected a small tent with the branches of trees and their cloaks, and throwing themselves, wet as they were, upon the felt of their saddles, in this manner quietly passed the night, though the rain fell in torrents on all sides. Next morning, after drinking a little water, which served them for breakfast, they pushed on through the woods; but as the rain still continued, they were for a considerable time unable, with all their exertions, to restore warmth to their limbs. In the afternoon, however, they discovered [Pg 77] an iron-foundry, where they dried their garments, and then set forward on their return to their quarters. This was destined to be a day of adventures for Pallas. The river Aï, which they had crossed without difficulty the day before, was now swelled to a furious torrent by the rains; so that a ferry-boat was indispensable. A horde of Chouvashes, who inhabited the banks of the stream, undertook to construct a boat; but when it was launched, and the traveller embarked in it, the mariners discovered that the cords by which it was to be pulled along were so awkwardly arranged that they were every moment in danger of being capsized and hurled into the water. Fortunately, the rapidity of the current was so great, that they darted along like an arrow, clinging to their carriage, which they had had the prudence to fasten with strong cords to the boat; and in a moment they were on the opposite shore, where the sharp angles of their raft, for it was little better, struck in the earth, and prevented all possibility of a refluence into the river. They then dragged their vehicle on shore, and continued their journey.

Proceeding eastward from this place, they arrived on the 20th of June at the Asbestos Mountain, which traverses a marshy region covered with moss. The asbestos is found on the summit of the loftiest hill in the whole chain, in a kind of coarse slate. It is brittle, like decayed wood, while in the stone, but upon being exposed to the air becomes soft and pliable as flax, and is easily spun and woven into cloth. Pallas himself, who carefully examined its nature and qualities, as well as the mine, if it may be so termed, from which it is drawn, saw it manufactured into paper. From this place he proceeded to the iron-forges of Sisertskoï, in the neighbourhood of which gold is found in a matrix of quartz and ochre; and, indeed, all the country immediately north of this point abounds in an auriferous ochre, from which [Pg 78] much pure metal might be extracted. He then visited various other forges, mines, and quarries, and arrived at Ekaterinburg on the 23d of June.

Our traveller’s life, like the peaceful periods of history complained of by Plutarch, was too uniform to furnish many interesting events to his biographer. He travelled, he examined many things, he wrote; but dangers, difficulties, and all the fierce play of the passions, which render the life of a bold adventurer who relies on his own resources a series of romantic achievements, have no existence in his travels’ history, and both the reader’s patience and mine are, therefore, somewhat irritated. This, no doubt, may appear unphilosophical to many. It may be said, that when we behold the picture of a life, whether individual or national, which flowed along in a calm tide, unruffled by misfortune or vicissitude, our feelings should be lulled into the same tranquil motion, and be productive of a happiness similar to that, the representation of which we contemplate. I have faith in the wisdom of nature, which has ordered things otherwise. The mind, when in a healthy and vigorous state, abhors an uninterrupted calm; and storms, hurricanes, and thunders are not more conducive to the general good of the physical world than vicissitudes, transitions, dangers, escapes, which are the storms and sunshine of life, are conducive to happiness in the individual who undergoes them, and to sympathy and pleasure in those who contemplate his career. For this reason, persons who travel with authority never inspire us with the same respect as those whose movements are spontaneous and independent; nor can such travellers ever penetrate like the latter into the core of manners and national character, since most of those who approach them put on, in deference to their very authority, an artificial, deceptive appearance. In the same manner, a nation which should begin and end in peace would have no history; none, at least, which [Pg 79] could interest any one beyond its borders. Human virtues are plants which never strike a deep root unless shaken by misfortune. Virtue consists in the directing of our intellectual and physical energies to a praiseworthy end; but if our energies be naturally feeble, or dwindle and wither away through lack of exercise, our virtue, by a necessary consequence, must become dwarfish and insignificant, and utterly incapable of exciting enthusiastic sympathy in those who behold its meek and timid bearing.

These reflections have been extorted from me by the insipid mode of travelling adopted by Pallas. Nothing can be further from my intention than to recommend or require foolhardiness in a traveller; but it seems not irrational to expect, that when a man undertakes the task of examining a remote country, he should be willing to incur some risk and fatigue in the execution of his plan. Of fatigue Pallas, perhaps, endured his share; but he seems to have shrunk rather too timidly from coming in contact with barbarous nations; and I therefore greatly distrust the completeness of his moral pictures. On the other hand, his descriptions of plants, minerals, and the processes of Russian industry are exceedingly minute, and enjoy, I believe, among scientific men the reputation of being exact; but these, unfortunately, the very nature of biography compels me to reject, or introduce into the narrative but sparingly. Among the curious things observed in the western districts of Siberia was the method of preparing Russia leather, which, though tanned in the ordinary manner, acquired the fine scent which renders it so valuable from the oil extracted from the bark of the birch-tree. In traversing the forests which surround the marble quarries on the banks of the Toura, with Vogoul guides, they were overtaken by the night. Excepting the small spot on which they halted, all around was a marshy swamp encumbered with wood, and affording neither road [Pg 80] nor pathway. They therefore considered themselves fortunate in having found a dry resting-place; and the Vogouls, to whom such accidents were familiar, immediately occupied themselves in kindling a fire at once, in order to procure warmth and keep off the bears. Next morning his guides undertook to conduct him, by a short path across the forest, to the banks of the Liala, and accordingly struck off boldly into the wilderness. The sombre pine-trees, intermingling their branches above, rendered the way exceedingly obscure; a bog or a fallen tree every moment intercepted their route; the branches of prickly shrubs tore their hands and faces; and not a step could be taken without carefully observing whether it might not precipitate them into some impassable morass. Not a plant met the eye but the mœringia and the linnea, two plants which our traveller, in general a patient forbearing man, often saluted with Tristram Shandy’s whole chapter of curses, as they were in those northern regions the never-failing forerunners of a swamp or an impervious pine-forest. After much toil they reached an open space, from which the trees had been cleared away by a conflagration, which Pallas attributed to lightning, and his guides to the frolics of the devil, who, they imagined, during some long winter night had kindled a whole forest to light up his gambols. Shortly afterward, his guides, who had probably bestowed too many of their thoughts upon the devil, entirely lost their way, and, after floundering about in bogs and woods for several hours, were compelled to confess their utter ignorance of the way; upon which, at the command of our traveller, they turned back, and regained the point from which he had started. The Vogouls, with whom he performed this unsuccessful journey, are a people of primitive and peculiar manners, living in separate families scattered through the woods, with each its domain and enclosure of several miles, containing elks and [Pg 81] other large game. Though surrounded by marshes, they are said to enjoy excellent health. Their lives, however, are not of long duration. Short in stature, and effeminate in form, they in some measure resemble the Kalmucs, but their complexion is fairer. Their women are handsome, and of exceedingly amorous temperament. They profess Christianity, but merely for peace’ sake; for in secret they continue the worship of idols, which are daily invoked with prayer and sacrifice.

About the end of August Pallas arrived at Cheliabinsk, where he was for a considerable time confined to his chamber by an affection of the eyes. Here, therefore, he resolved to remain during the winter; but, in order that no time might be lost, he despatched a number of his attendants in various directions, with orders to collect information. Growing tired of this town about the middle of December, however, he set out for Tobolsk, where he remained but a few days, and then returned by Ekaterinburg to Cheliabinsk, where he continued during the remainder of the winter.

Pallas remained at Cheliabinsk until the 16th of April, 1771, when, having commissioned a number of the young men who accompanied the expedition to examine the more northern portions of Siberia, he departed towards the east. The day before he set out, the long grass on the extensive downs to the north of the city were set on fire; the flames swept rapidly along the plains, and the wind blowing towards the town, there was some danger that this irresistible conflagration, which already embraced the whole extent of the horizon, might reach the place, and consume it to ashes. A timely shower of rain, however, put an end to their apprehensions.

In proceeding towards the Tobol, our traveller was alarmed by a report that the Kirghees were making an incursion into the interjacent territory, and prudently turned out of his way to avoid an encounter [Pg 82] with these rude barbarians. At Kaminskaia several of his companions fell sick, some with fever, some with scorbutic rheumatism, while others became a prey to melancholy. His movements, for these reasons, were slow. The weather, meanwhile, was exceedingly severe; the snow falling heavily, accompanied by cold wind. The last days of April were marked by a terrible hurricane, and May was commenced with hard frost; notwithstanding which, neither the young flowers nor the buds suffered any particular injury. On the 2d of May one of his attendants died of scurvy, which had afflicted him for five months, and was accompanied by symptoms no less violent than those which attend the same disorder at sea. This event, which would have cost some men a tear, seems to have given no particular uneasiness to Pallas, who, leaving some of his people to inter the dead, coolly continued his journey.

On reaching the stepp of Ischimi, he found an immense plain watered by extensive lakes, and abounding in aquatic game, among which the most remarkable was a large species of white heron. To study the manners of this bird he remained here a few days. But his mode of procuring game was somewhat different from that of Le Vaillant, who pursued the birds into the woods, observed them in their native haunts, and shot them himself. Pallas despatched a number of subaltern naturalists, who shot the game for him, and furnished him with an account of their manners; and this was what he termed studying natural history.

On arriving at Omsk, he applied to the temporary governor of the town for permission to examine the collection of maps of Siberia, as divided into provinces and districts, which had been made by the late Governor Springer; but the new functionary, “dressed in a little brief authority,” had the ambition to play the politician and statesman, and, notwithstanding that he knew Pallas to be travelling for the [Pg 83] government upon a public mission, refused him the favour he demanded without an express order from court. Nay, when he desired to depart, this new great man, with the prudence of an owl, denied him a proper passport, though without this it would be difficult for him to obtain horses on the way. Pallas, however, with the caution of a courtier, rather than with the honest indignation of a man of letters, instead of stigmatizing this gross misconduct as it deserved, merely observes, that he attributed it to the military spirit naturally inimical to the sciences.

Our traveller at length departed from Omsk, and commenced his examination of the productions found on the banks of the Irtish, where, on digging in the sandy downs, the bones of elephants and of many large fishes were discovered. Though it was now drawing near the end of May, he experienced continual storms, sometimes accompanied by black clouds, at others by a clear sky. From the inhabitants, however, he learned that tempests succeed each other almost unceasingly in those regions, where a week of fine weather is seldom or never known. He here learned from the fur-merchants a secret which deserves to be generally known: in order to preserve their furs from the worms, they tied up in each bale several calamus roots, which, they asserted, were an unfailing defence of their merchandise. A few shreds of Russia leather, which preserves books and papers from the moth even in Hindostan, would no doubt have answered the same purpose.

On the 11th of June, while travelling through a country thickly intersected with salt-lakes and birch forests, and peopled by myriads of wild bees, he encountered an enormous wolf, which was chasing a duck upon the heath. This animal, he says, is generally remarkable for its timidity in summer; but on the present occasion seemed disposed, like one of La Fontaine’s wolves; to enter into a debate with the strangers; for, instead of flying, he coolly stood [Pg 84] still to look at them, without being in the least disturbed by their shouting. At length, however, despairing of entering into any thing like rational conversation with persons who seemed resolved to monopolize all the privilege of good company for themselves, he turned round upon his heel, and with a disdainful and careless bound, continued his journey.

At the foot of the small mountains which branch northward of the Altaïc chain, Pallas discovered a prodigious number of excavations and pits, made at some remote period by a people now unknown, who understood the art of smelting metals, but who have left no trace of their existence save these mines, and the ornaments of copper and gold which are found in their tombs. Here, at the small town of Shoulba, our traveller was attacked with dysentery; but it was necessary to push forward, though his weakness was such that he could scarcely step into his carriage. While in this state he passed by, but could not visit, a tomb of prodigious magnitude, situated on the summit of a lofty mountain, which, according to tradition, had formerly been opened by a band of one hundred and fifty armed peasantry, who had been rewarded for their labour by the discovery of fifty pounds weight of solid gold. A few days afterward his dysentery became so violent that he was compelled to discontinue his journey, and confine himself, during several weeks, to his bed.

As soon as his health was a little improved, he set out with M. Sokoloff, in order to visit the Altaïc mountains. The whole of the neighbouring districts are diversified with hill and dale, and watered by numerous streams, which come down from the mountains, foaming and thundering over their rocky beds. On some of these eminences were found extensive copses of raspberry-bushes, around which Pallas observed the fresh tracks of bears, which are very fond of this fruit, and not unfrequently carry off women and children who resort thither to gather it. Apparently [Pg 85] this is done merely as a frolic, or by way of terrifying interlopers from meddling with their property; for our traveller gravely observes that they do them no manner of injury.

At length they discovered the summits of the Altaï, covered with snow, and towering far above everything around them. Pallas had no eye for the picturesque. What in the eyes of another man would have been sublime was to him merely fearful and horrible; but he was struck with these cones, and pyramids, and precipices, and prodigious pinnacles of rock, which, when he beheld them, appeared to support a black roof of clouds, which stretched over the whole hemisphere, and menaced the country with a second deluge. No marine petrifactions, or any sign of their ever having been submerged in the ocean, were here discoverable; but it is probable that more careful researches would have been productive of a different result.

From the Altaïc mountains Pallas directed his course towards the north, crossed the Obi, traversed the governments of Kolyran, visited Tomsk, and on the 10th of October arrived at Krasnoiarsk, a city situated on the Yeniseï, in the 66th degree of north latitude. Here he set up his quarters for the winter. The autumn, he observes, is generally mild in the southern parts of Siberia; but with the winter storms and hurricanes come on, and sometimes blow during a whole month without intermission. The cold is intense. Nevertheless, about the middle of February the sun begins to exert considerable power, and sensibly diminishes the snow on the mountains.

On the 7th of March, 1772, Pallas departed from Krasnoiarsk for the eastern part of Siberia, accompanied by a painter, and three naturalists. Their route, as far as the Angora, lay through a country partly covered with forests, where there falls, during winter, large quantities of snow. From time to time they observed the encampments of the idolatrous [Pg 86] tribes who inhabit those regions, and roam about like wild animals in the woods. They reached Irkutsk on the 14th, and having remained a week in that capital, continued their journey along the shores of Lake Baikal. The weather had now grown warm, and they saw the last flocks of alpine larks and black sparrows, flying round the city, and then departing for the north; these were followed by a species of striped crow, which had passed the winter in the warm regions of Mongolia, or China, and was now pursuing the same route towards the arctic circle.

As our traveller was desirous of crossing Lake Baikal on sledges, he hurried his departure from Irkutsk, lest the warm weather should melt the ice, and obstruct his passage. The scenery on the shores of this immense lake is exceedingly rugged and sublime. Rocks of vast elevation form the shores of the Angara, by which you descend from Irkutsk to the sea; and on arriving at the mouth of the river you discover, as through an arcade, the vast basin of the Baikal, and the lofty mountains which confine its waters on the east. They directed their course in a straight line from a small post on the bank of the frozen stream, towards the borders of the lake, pursuing their way in sledges on the ice. When they had proceeded about half-way, they were overtaken by a tremendous storm from the north-west, which entirely cooled the atmosphere. The wind swept along the ice with such prodigious violence, that the sledge-drivers, who ran along by the side of the vehicles, were sometimes blown away to the distance of many fathoms from the road, and were compelled to stick their knives in the ice, to prevent their being carried away, and hurled into some chasm. To avoid the risk of such accidents, the party halted until the tempest was over.

At Zimovia on the Baikal, they found several persons setting out to hunt the sea-dog on the lake. This kind of chase takes place principally in April. [Pg 87] The sea-dogs, assembling on those parts of the shore where rapid streams or warm springs keep up an opening in the ice, then ascend from the water, in order to lie down upon the ice, and sleep in the sun. The hunters fix up in their little sledges a small white flag, which the dogs take for ice, and accordingly are not frightened until they draw near and fire upon them.

Pallas now descended in his sledge upon the Baikal, and commenced this singular portion of his journey. The ice had this winter been as smooth as a mirror, on the whole surface of the lake; but when they had advanced to a certain distance from the shore, they found a fissure of several feet in breadth, which intercepted their passage, and forced them to make a circuit of considerable length. However, this obstacle having been surmounted, they encountered no other, and quickly found themselves on the opposite shore. The road now assumed a different character, running over rugged mountains, or sandy flats, where the snow was entirely melted, until, cutting the Selinga, as it were, into two parts, it led them into a milder climate, where the spring, with all its gay accompaniments, was already far advanced. They arrived, much fatigued, at Selinginsk, on the 25th of March.

From Selinginsk he proceeded through Mongolia towards the borders of China, moving among an idolatrous people, the partisans of the Lamaic hierarchy, until, arriving at Kiakter, he touched the extreme limits of the empire, where his journey in that direction was to terminate. Here Pallas made many inquiries respecting the commerce, opinions, and manners of the Chinese; and having satisfied his curiosity, returned to Selinginsk. From this point he now directed his course northward, towards the great tributary streams which fall into the Selinga. His excursions in this direction, which were carried into execution without enthusiasm or curiosity, merely [Pg 88] as a task imposed on him by authority, are still more destitute of incidents, if possible, than the former portion of his travels. He examined the iron-mines, the grain and fur trade, and the objects of natural history furnished by the district.

Pallas now turned his face towards the east, traversed the desert regions which lie between the Selinga and the Onon, the principal branch of the Amoor, and having pushed his researches to within a very short distance of the Chinese frontier, returned by a different route to Selinginsk, leaving to M. Sokolof and others the honour of exploring the frontiers of Mongolia, along the banks of the Argoon and Amoor. His health, indeed, now began to suffer from constant fatigue, and he was therefore fully justified in relinquishing this portion of his task; but I cannot easily pardon him for pretending to have been actuated by the desire of botanizing on the banks of the Selinga, since, if botanizing was his object, it was to be presumed that the wild shores of the Amoor would have afforded a still more ample and extraordinary field for his researches. During his stay at Selinginsk, he observed, among other curious animals and birds, the blue crow, which was easily taken, as its young were hitherto unfledged; and a species of small white hare, which was found in great numbers in the little islands in the Selinga. Besides these there was the leaping hare, which, mingling at night among the sheep, frightened them by its bounding motions. The Mongols, who are fond of its flesh when roasted, imagine that it sucks the ewes; as the vulgar in England report of the hedgehog and the cow.

Previous to his finally quitting the country, he made another excursion to the frontiers of China, principally, it would seem, for the purpose of studying the botany of those districts, when the flowers were clothed in all the beauty of summer. The road to Kiakta traverses a large sandy plain, and afterward [Pg 89] a succession of rocky mountains, entirely destitute of wood. In this latter district our traveller observed a species of locust, by whose flight the natives could foretel with certainty whether the weather would be fair or otherwise. They mounted aloft on the wing previous to rainy weather, and the noise of their motions resembled that of castanets. After remaining some short time in the vicinity of Kiakta, he once more returned to Selinginsk, and began to make the necessary preparations for retracing their footsteps to Krasnoiarsk, where they again intended to pass the winter. Accordingly, on the 3d of July, Pallas and a part of his companions departed from Selinginsk, and proceeded towards the Baikal.

Upon reaching the eastern shore of the lake, they saw a thick cold mist, which appeared to fill the whole extent of its vast basin, and hung close upon the surface of the water. This fog exactly resembled those fogs which are sometimes collected in the hollows of the mountains, or on the shores of the sea. It was kept in continual motion, and tossed hither and thither, like the waves of the ocean, by the wind. This mist was accompanied by strong westerly winds, which prevented our traveller from proceeding on his way; and he amused himself during his detention in studying the fishes of the lake, together with the birds and animals which frequent its shores.

On the 10th of July, he embarked, and set sail with boisterous and contrary winds. The passage of the lake was long, but, arriving at length at Zimovia, Pallas proceeded with all possible expedition to Krasnoiarsk, by way of Irkutsk. He arrived on the 1st of August at the point of destination, where, to his great satisfaction, he found that a magnificent collection of the flowers which adorn the banks of the Yeniseï had been made during the spring and summer, by one of his pupils, whom he had left behind for that purpose. From Krasnoiarsk, our [Pg 90] traveller made another long excursion, visited several Tartar hordes, various mines, mountains, and tombs, and returned about the middle of September, the approach of winter being already visible in those high latitudes. By December, the cold had reached an intensity which had never been felt even in Siberia. The air was still, and at the same time condensed, as it were; so that, although the sky was exceedingly clear, the sun appeared as if beheld through a cloud. In the morning of the 6th of December, Pallas found the mercury of his thermometer frozen, “a thing,” says he, “which had never before happened during the whole eight years in which I had made use of this instrument. I then conveyed it from the gallery where it was kept into an apartment moderately warmed with a stove. Here the column of mercury, which had been condensed in the tube, immediately sunk into the bulb, while that in the bulb resumed its activity in the course of half a minute. I repeated this experiment several times with the same result, so that sometimes there remained but a very few particles in the tube, sometimes not above one. In order to follow the progress of the experiment, I gently warmed the bulb with my fingers, after it had been exposed to the air, and watching the mounting of the mercury, distinctly observed that the condensed and frozen columns offered considerable resistance before they gave way. At the same time I exposed about a quarter of a pound of mercury to the air, in a saucer. This mercury had been previously well washed in vinegar, and cleansed from impurities. The saucer was placed in a gallery on the north side of my house. In an hour the edges of the surface were frozen, and a few minutes afterward, the whole superficies was condensed into a soft mass, exactly resembling pewter. As the interior, however, still continued fluid, a small portion of the surface presented numerous wrinkles branching out [Pg 91] from each other, but the greater part was sufficiently smooth. The same thing took place with a still larger quantity which I placed in the open air. This mass of frozen mercury was as pliable as lead but if bent suddenly, would break more easily than pewter; and when flattened into sheets, appeared somewhat knotty. I tried to beat it out with the hammer, but being quite cold, the mercury fell from it in drops. The same thing took place when you touched this mass with the finger, the top of which was instantly benumbed with cold by the simple contact. I then placed it in a moderately warm room, and it melted like wax placed over the fire. The drops separated from the surface, which melted gradually. The intensity of the cold diminished towards the evening.”

In the month of January, 1773, Pallas began to make preparations for returning to Petersburg, and departing on the 22d, pushed on with the utmost rapidity to Tomsk. During this journey, he discovered the execrable principles upon which it was attempted to people Siberia. The refuse of the people, the lame, the sick, the infirm, and the old, had been collected together, and sent thither to die. Men had been torn, for this purpose, from their wives and families. Women, for some reason or another, had not been allowed to emigrate from the west in sufficient numbers, and vice and misery flourished in their absence. Man, deprived of the society of women, necessarily degenerates into a ferocious beast, contemning all laws, and every regulation of morality. “It is not good that man should be alone.” Whenever new colonies are established, women should be numerous. It is they who are the grand instruments of civilization.—The cavern, the desert hut, when inhabited by a woman, already contains the germs of humanity, of hospitality, of improvement; but without her [Pg 92] is a den, a haunt of ungovernable passions,—a refuge from the storm, but not a home.

In crossing a bridge over the Dooroosh, in the country of the Votiaks, our traveller was placed in a more perilous condition than he had experienced during any former period of his travels. His horses had already reached the shore, when the bridge, which must have been a very frail structure, gave way under his carriage, and he must infallibly have been precipitated into the stream, had not the spirited horses dashed on at the moment, and dragged up the carriage from amid the falling ruins.

The country between the Jaik and the Volga was at that period a vast desert, which abounded with wild horses. Pallas, however, was of opinion that these animals had once been tame, but, during the emigrations and nomadic movements of the Kalmucs and Kirghees, had escaped into the wilderness, where they had multiplied exceedingly. To fly from the heat and the hornets, these horses wandered far into the north during the summer months, and there, besides a refuge from their persecutors, found better pasturage, and an abundance of water. The surface of this great Mesopotamia was sprinkled at intervals with ruins of Tartar edifices, which swarmed in an extraordinary manner with serpents.

On the 25th of June our traveller arrived at the Moravian colony of Sarepta, which in eight years had increased, by immigration, from five persons to two thousand five hundred; and was at this period in a highly flourishing state. He here entered into some curious researches respecting the ancient shores of the Caspian, whose waters, in his opinion, once covered the greater portion of the Kalmuc country, just as those of the Black Sea did all the low lands upon its banks, before the deluge of Deucalion, when they first burst the huge natural mound which separated them from the Mediterranean.

Pallas passed the autumn at Zarizyn, where he [Pg 93] observed the Kalmucs moving westward in hordes towards the country lying between the Volga and the Don. From this place he made an excursion through the stepps which lie up the stream of the Volga; on his return from which he chiefly employed himself in botanical researches, until the spring of 1774. He then undertook another journey along the banks of the Aktooba, through a country infested with bands of vagabond Kirghees, and other wandering nations, and returned to his head-quarters on the 25th of May.

It was now six years since the expedition had set out from Petersburg, and all its members began to desire repose. Each person, therefore, hastened to return by the shortest road to the capital. Pallas was directed to repair to Moscow, and punctually obeyed his orders, without making the slightest deviation to the right-hand or to the left. He arrived at this ancient city on the 3d of July, 1774. “Here,” says he, “I found the orders of the court, by which I was commanded to hasten without the least delay to Petersburg; and, notwithstanding that I felt exceedingly desirous of making a short stay at Moscow, for the purpose of improving my knowledge, by conversing with the learned M. Müller, one of the most excellent men in Russia, as well as one of the most celebrated of its historians, it was necessary to yield and obey.” Such is the condition of those who travel by command. He arrived at Petersburg on the 30th of July, exhausted by fatigue, and with a head sprinkled with premature gray hairs; for he was then no more than thirty-three years old.

The companions of Pallas had suffered still more severely; scarcely one of them lived long enough to draw up an account of his travels; and it was therefore left to him to render this piece of justice to their memory. For himself, the splendid objects which he had beheld had made too profound an impression [Pg 94] on his mind to allow of his being satisfied with the accounts of them which he had hastily traced in his journal. He therefore determined upon the publication of several separate works, which should contain the natural history of the most celebrated quadrupeds of Siberia; and these he actually laid before the public, together with descriptions of a great number of birds, reptiles, and fishes. In addition to all these, he even projected a natural history of all the animals and plants in the Russian empire; in which design, though it was never completed, he made a very considerable progress. The empress herself, worthless and profligate as she was, was possessed by the ambition of being regarded as the patron of the sciences, and in order to facilitate the execution of our traveller’s project, communicated to him the herbariums of several other botanists, who had studied the flora of the empire. To secure the completion of the undertaking, Catherine moreover engaged to furnish the expense of the engraving and printing of the work; but the end was not answerable to this magnificent beginning; projects of more vulgar ambition, or vile and despicable amours, too fully occupied the imperial mind to allow so unimportant a thing as the science of botany to command a thought, and Pallas was constrained to rely upon his own resources for making known his botanical discoveries to the world. The same fate attended his works on the natural history of the animals and insects of the empire.

M. Cuvier, whose capacity to appreciate the labours of a scientific man can scarcely be called in question, observes, that it is seldom that very laborious men possess sufficient tranquillity of mind to conceive those root-ideas which produce a revolution in the sciences; but Pallas formed an exception to this rule. He nearly succeeded in changing the whole aspect of the science of zoology; and most certainly [Pg 95] did operate a complete change in that of the theory of the earth. An attentive consideration of the two great chains of mountains of Siberia enabled him to discover this general rule, which has been everywhere found to hold good, that there exist three primitive orders of mountains, the granitic in the centre, the schistous next in succession, and the calcareous on the outside. It may be said that this great discovery, distinctly announced in a memoir read before the academy in 1777, gave birth to the modern science of geology: from this point the Saussures, the Delues, and the Werners proceeded to the discovery of the real structure of the earth, which is so exceedingly at variance with the fantastic ideas of preceding writers.

In addition to his scientific labours, Pallas was engaged by Catherine in drawing up comparative vocabularies of the languages spoken by all the various nations in the Russian empire; but was restrained, in the execution of this plan, to follow exactly in the track pointed out by his mistress. He was likewise chosen member of the committee employed, in 1777, in compiling a new topography of the empire; and had the honour of instructing Alexander, the late despot of Russia, and his brother Constantine, in natural history. But, notwithstanding all these marks of distinction, and many others of equal importance, our traveller experienced the truth, that happiness is incompatible with dependence of every kind. His travelling habits, too, rendered a sedentary life irksome to him; but what still further disgusted him with Petersburg, was the crowd of fashionable but absurd people who thronged his house, imagining, perhaps, they were doing him an honour by consuming his time. To escape from this species of persecution, he took advantage of the invasion of the Crimea, to visit new countries; and during the years 1793 and 1794, traversed the southern provinces of the empire at his own expense. [Pg 96] He even skirted the frontiers of Circassia, but, with his usual prudence, avoided the dangers which would have attended a journey into that country. He then proceeded into the Crimea, through which Potemkin was leading the empress as a spectacle of contempt and scorn to all mankind; and was so captivated by a passing glance at its splendid scenery, that, on his return to Petersburg, he solicited and obtained permission to retire thither.

Solitude, however, which appeared so desirable at a distance, Pallas soon found to be an intolerable curse; the climate, also, fell infinitely short of his expectations, was inconstant and humid, and liable to be altered by every passing wind. It united, in fact, the inconveniences of the north and of the south; yet our traveller endured these evils for fifteen years; but at length, feeling the approaches of old age, he determined at once to escape from the climate of the Crimea and from Russian despotism, and selling his estates at an exceedingly low rate, returned to his native city, after an absence of forty-two years. His health, however, had been so completely undermined by the diseases he had contracted during his travels, and, more than all, by his long residence in the Crimea, that he might be said merely to have looked upon his native place, and on the face of those friends or admirers which his knowledge and fame had gathered around him, before death removed him from the enjoyment of all these things. This event took place on the 8th of September, 1811. Pallas appears to have been an able, learned, and upright man, deeply intent on promoting the interests of science, but indifferent about those great political rights without the enjoyment of which even the sciences themselves are of no more dignity or value than the tricks of a juggler.

[Pg 97]


Born 1733.—Died 1815.

This traveller was born on the 17th of March, 1733, in the province of Friesland, in the kingdom of Hanover. It would be to mislead the reader to represent him, as some of his biographers have done, as the son of a peasant, in the sense in which that term is applied in England. His father and his ancestors, for several generations, had been small landed proprietors; he himself received an education, and inherited a property, which, however small, served as an incentive to ambition; and though, like many others, he found the entrance of the road to fame rugged and hard to tread, it must not be dissembled that his prudence and perseverance were singularly aided by good fortune.

Having lost his mother before he was six weeks old, the care of his infancy was intrusted to a step-mother; and he was still a lad when his father likewise died. The guardians upon whom the superintendence of his youth at first devolved, entertaining, apparently, but little respect for intellectual pursuits, interrupted his studies; and his maternal uncle, who succeeded them in this important trust, would seem to have wanted the means, if he possessed the will, to direct the course of a young man. Niebuhr was therefore left very much to his own guidance, which, to a man of vigorous intellect, I am far from regarding as a misfortune. The beginnings of life, however, like the beginnings of day, are generally accompanied by mists which obscure the view, and render it absolutely impossible to determine with precision the character of the various paths which [Pg 98] present themselves before us; and thus it was that our traveller, who, knowing not that Providence was about to conduct him to a brilliant destiny in the East, at one time studied music, with the intention of becoming an organist, and was afterward led, through accidental circumstances, to apply himself to geometry, for the purpose of practising as a land-surveyor.

With this design he repaired, in his twenty-third year, to Bremen, where he discovered a person from whom he might have derived the necessary instruction; but finding that this individual’s domestic economy was under the superintendence of two youthful sisters, whose behaviour towards himself Niebuhr seems to have regarded as forward and indecorous, he immediately quitted this city and proceeded to Hamburgh. It will easily be conceived that the studies of a young man who voluntarily cultivated his intellect as the only means by which he could arrive at distinction, were pursued with ardent enthusiasm. Niebuhr, in fact, considered labour and toil as the only guides to genuine glory, and was content to tolerate on the way the rude fierceness of their manners.

When he had studied the mathematics, during two years, under Büsch, he removed to Göttingen, where he continued another year. At this period the Danish ministry, at the suggestion of Michaelis, had projected a scientific expedition into Arabia, which was at first designed, at least by its originator, merely to throw some light upon certain passages of the Old Testament, but which afterward embraced a much wider field. Michaelis, to whom the choice of the individuals who were to form this mission had been intrusted, betrayed the narrowness or malignity of his mind, by neglecting the celebrated Reiske, who was then well known to be struggling with starvation, in order to thrust forward Von Haven, a pupil of his own, who, but for this partial [Pg 99] choice, would probably have lived and died in obscurity. Niebuhr himself was recommended to Michaelis by Kästner, whose pupil he had for some time been. The proposal was abruptly made, and as suddenly accepted. “Have you a mind,” said Kästner, “to go into Arabia?”—“Why not?” replied Niebuhr, “if anybody will pay my expenses.”—“The King of Denmark,” said Kästner, “will pay your expenses.” He then entered into the history of the Danish ministry’s project, and Niebuhr, whose genuine ambition was most ardent, and who, though in manners modest and unassuming, could not but entertain a favourable opinion of his own capacity, at once engaged to form a member of the mission. It was agreed, on the part of his Danish majesty, that he should be allowed a year and a half for preparation, with a salary sufficient for his maintenance.

Niebuhr had now a definite object. The East, with all its barbaric pomp and historical glory, which in preceding and succeeding days have kindled enthusiasm in so many bosoms, appeared to court his examination; and, like a lover who appreciates at their highest value the accomplishments of his mistress, and is bent on rendering himself worthy of her, he thenceforward studied, with vehement earnestness, all those branches of knowledge which he regarded as necessary to a traveller in the East; and Latin, Arabic, the mathematics, drawing, practical mechanics, together with the history of the countries he was about to visit, amply occupied his hours. An additional half-year being granted him, it was not until the Michaelmas of 1760 that he quitted Göttingen for Copenhagen.

Here he was received in the most flattering manner by Count Bernstorf, the Danish minister, by whom he was appointed lieutenant of engineers. The rank of captain he modestly refused. Niebuhr was never possessed by an immoderate desire for [Pg 100] wealth, and a trait of unpresuming disinterestedness which escaped him during his preparatory studies is at once illustrative of this fact, and of another equally important,—that wealth no less than fame is frequently best won by carefully abstaining from grasping at it too eagerly. The salary granted him by the King of Denmark was probably small, but our traveller, with that repugnance to solicit which is characteristic of superior minds, not only contrived to reduce his wants within the limits of his means, but by rigid economy enabled himself, moreover, to purchase at his own expense whatever instruments he needed. The knowledge of this fact coming to the ears of the minister, he not only reimbursed the young traveller the sum he had expended, but, as a mark of the high satisfaction he derived from so striking an evidence of honest independence, committed to his charge the travelling-chest of the mission.

Niebuhr’s companions were four in number: Von Haven, the linguist, a person of mean capacity; Forskaal, the naturalist, distinguished for his numerous and profound acquirements; Cramer, a physician, devoid even of professional knowledge; and Baurenfeind, an artist, not destitute of talent, but ignorant, full of prejudices, and addicted to the vulgar habit of drinking. Von Haven, to whom a long sea-voyage was disagreeable, obtained permission to proceed to Marseilles by land; and the ship in which the other members of the expedition embarked was directed to take him on board at that port. They left the Sound on the 7th of January, 1761, but were three times driven back by contrary winds; so that it was not until the 10th of March that they were enabled fairly to put to sea, and continue their voyage.

Niebuhr describes, among the singular things observed during this voyage, a white rainbow, which only differed from the common rainbow in being [Pg 101] destitute of colours. This, I believe, is a phenomenon not often witnessed; but on the 21st of May, 1830, which succeeded a day and night of tremendous thunder, lightning, and rain, I remember to have myself seen a similar rainbow in Normandy. It was much thicker, but greatly inferior in span, and less sharply defined at the edges than the ordinary bow; and, as the morning mist upon which it was painted grew thinner, the arch decreased in span, until it at length vanished entirely.

Our traveller amused himself while on board in observing the manners of the crew, which he considered manly though unpolished. He likewise exercised himself daily in nautical and astronomical observations; and by his affability and the extent of his knowledge, acquired and preserved the respect of both officers and men. They discovered Cape St. Vincent on the 21st of April, and a few days afterward entered the Mediterranean, where their course was considerably retarded by calms and contrary winds. Meanwhile the weather was beautiful, and their eyes were refreshed with the most lovely prospects, now on the African shores, and now on those of Europe. On the 14th of May they cast anchor in the port of Marseilles, which was at that time crowded by Swedish, Danish, Dutch, Spanish, and French ships, the greater number of which were prevented from putting to sea by fear of the English fleets, which scoured the Mediterranean, diffusing consternation and terror on all sides.

From the agreeable society of Marseilles, rendered doubly charming in their estimation by their previous privation, they were soon compelled to snatch themselves away. On the 6th of June Niebuhr observed at sea the transit of Venus, and on the 14th reached Malta. This little island enjoys, like Ireland, the privilege of being free from serpents, which it is supposed to owe to the interference of St. Paul; though Niebuhr imagines that the dry and rocky [Pg 102] nature of the soil is sufficient, without a miracle, to account for the circumstance. The knights observing, perhaps, a peculiar absence of bigotry in our traveller, imagined that this indicated a leaning towards Catholicism, and appear to have been desirous of tempting him by magnificent promises to desert the creed of his forefathers. Though his stay in Malta was very short, Niebuhr was careful to observe whatever curiosities the island afforded: the great church of St. John, enriched, it is said, by sharing the plunder of the knights, with innumerable ornaments, and a prodigious candelabrum of gold; the hospital, where the sick, whatever might be their medical treatment, were served with vessels of silver; the immense corn-magazines, hewn out in the rock; the salt-mines; and the catacombs. For some reason, however, which is not stated, he did not see the Phenician inscription, which was still preserved in the island.

In sailing from Malta to Smyrna he was attacked with dysentery, and began to fear that his travels were to terminate there; but the disorder was less serious than he imagined, and having reached Tenedos, he embarked in a Turkish boat, and proceeded up the Dardanelles to Constantinople. Here, though slowly, he recovered his health, and having remained quiet two months, and provided oriental dresses, not choosing to expose himself in the paltry costume of Europe to the laughter of the populace, he set sail with his companions for Egypt.

On the way they landed at Rhodes, where, for the first time they visited a Turkish eating-house. The dinner, though dear, was good, but was served up in common earthen platters, in the open street. They next visited a Jew, who kept wine for the accommodation of Europeans; and had in his house two young women, whom he called his daughters, who were probably designed for the same purpose. Their reception here cost them still dearer than their [Pg 103] Turkish dinner; and as Jews, wine, and the drinkers of wine are held in contempt by all sincere and respectable Mohammedans, this must be considered a highly injudicious step in Niebuhr. The ship in which they sailed had on board a number of female slaves, the principal of whom were lodged in a large chamber directly over their cabin, from which we may infer that the Turks do not, like the Burmese, consider it a disgrace to have women walking over their heads. As there were tolerably wide cracks in the ceiling, our travellers frequently enjoyed the pleasure of viewing these ladies, who, though a little terrified at first, soon became accustomed to their faces, and notwithstanding that neither party at all understood the language of the other, many little presents of fruit and other trifles were given and returned. The mode in which this affair was conducted was ingenious. As soon as the Mohammedans collected together for prayer, the girls gently tapped at their windows, and Niebuhr and Forskaal, looking out of the cabin, beheld the handkerchiefs of the fair held out for fruit. When filled, they were drawn up, and the presents they chose to make in return were then lowered down in the same way. During the voyage, six or eight persons having died suddenly, it was suspected that they had the plague on board; but Niebuhr imagined that other causes might have hastened the end of those who died; at all events, none of the members of the expedition were infected, though their physician had often visited the sick.

The land of Egypt at length appeared on the 26th of September, and on the same day, late in the evening, they cast anchor in the port of Alexandria. Norden, a scientific, but an uninteresting traveller, having recently constructed a plan of the city, Niebuhr judged that he might spare himself the pains of repeating the process, more especially as the Arabs, hovering in troops in the vicinity, rendered [Pg 104] him apprehensive that he might be robbed. However, as the eminence on which Pompey’s pillar stands overlooks a large portion of the city, he amused himself with taking several angles from thence, intending to follow this up by taking others from some other positions. While he was thus engaged, one of the Turkish merchants, who happened to be present, observing his telescope pointed towards the city, had the curiosity to look through it, and was not a little alarmed at perceiving a tower upside down. “This,” says he, “gave occasion to a rumour, that I was come to Alexandria to turn the whole city topsyturvy. The report reached the governor’s house. My janizary refused to accompany me when I took out my instrument; and as I then supposed that a European could not venture to appear in an eastern city without a janizary, I relinquished the idea of making any further geometrical measurements there.”—“On another occasion,” he continues, “when I was making an astronomical observation on the southern point of the Delta, a very civil and sensible peasant, from the village of Daraúe, happened to be present. As I wished to show him something he had never seen before, I pointed the telescope of the quadrant towards his village, on which he was extremely terrified at seeing all the houses upside down. He asked my servant what could be the cause of this. The man replied, that the government, being extremely dissatisfied with the inhabitants of that village, had sent me to overthrow it entirely. The poor peasant was greatly afflicted, and entreated me to wait long enough for him to take his wife, his children, and his cow to some place of safety. My servant assured him he had two hours good. He immediately ran home, and as soon as the sun had passed the meridian, I took my quadrant on board again.”

Niebuhr found a number of Mohammedans at [Pg 105] Alexandria who understood French, Swedish, and Danish as completely as if they had been born in the countries where those languages are spoken. As most European travellers proceed up the Nile from this city to Cairo, the members of the expedition were desirous of performing the journey by land, but were restrained by fear of the Arabs; and M. Forskaal, who afterward ventured upon this hardy enterprise, was actually stripped to the skin, and with great difficulty obtained back his breeches. Niebuhr now hired a small ship, and embarked on the 31st of October, but was detained in the Gulf of Aboukir by contrary winds. Impatient of delay, his companions proceeded thence to Rosetta by land, with a company of Turks; but our traveller continued his voyage, and reached the city very shortly after them. Though the inhabitants of Rosetta enjoyed the reputation of being peculiarly polite towards strangers, Niebuhr was too impatient to behold the capital of modern Egypt to linger long in any provincial city; he therefore hastened to ascend the Nile, and enjoyed the romantic prospect of fertility, villages peeping through groves of date-trees, and here and there vast wrecks of ancient cities, which all travellers in that extraordinary country have admired. They arrived at Cairo on the 10th of November.

The Nile, like the Ganges, has long been renowned for the daring race of pirates who infest it. Bruce, and many other travellers, have celebrated their ingenuity; but the following anecdote, related by Niebuhr, exhibits their exquisite skill in a still more favourable point of view: A pasha, recently arrived in Egypt, happening to be encamped on the banks of the river, his servants, aware of the dexterity of their countrymen, kept so strict a watch during the night, that they detected one of the pirates, and brought him before the pasha, who threatened to put him to death on the spot. The [Pg 106] prisoner, however, entreated permission to show the pasha one of the extraordinary tricks of his art, in the hope of thereby inducing him to spare his life. The permission was granted. The man then took up the pasha’s garments, and whatever else he found in the tent, and having tied them up into a packet, as the Egyptians do when they are about to swim across a river, made several turns before the company to amuse them. He then insensibly approached the Nile, and darting into the water like lightning, had already reached the opposite shore, with the pasha’s garments upon his head, before the Turks could get ready their muskets to fire at him.

Niebuhr was exceedingly desirous, soon after his arrival at Cairo, of descending the eastern branch of the Nile to Damietta; but the sky during the whole winter and spring was so overcast with clouds, and the rain fell so frequently, that it was impossible to take astronomical observations. On the 1st of May, however, the weather having cleared up, he left Cairo. The wind blowing from the north, their progress was slow, and he had therefore considerable leisure for observation. The Coptic churches amused him much. In one of these he saw pictures representing Christ, the Virgin, and several saints, on horseback; intended, perhaps, to insinuate to their Mohammedan masters, that the founder of their religion and his followers had not been compelled, as Christians then were in Egypt, to ride upon asses. These churches, moreover, were strewed with so many crutches, that a stranger might conclude, upon observing them, that the whole Coptic community had lost the use of their limbs; however, upon inquiry, our traveller discovered that it was the custom among them to stand in church, which many persons found so wearisome that they resolved to aid their piety with crutches. The floors were covered with mats, which, not being [Pg 107] changed very frequently, swarmed with fleas, numbers of which did our traveller the honour to prefer him before any of their ancient patrons. In approaching Damietta he saw about twenty large boats loaded with bees: each of these boats carried two hundred hives; the number, therefore, of the hives here assembled in one spot, was four thousand; and when the inhabitants of this floating city issued forth to visit the flowers of the neighbourhood, they must have appeared like a locust cloud.

His stay at Damietta, which is about four miles above the mouth of the Nile, was short. Europeans are nowhere in the East so much detested, on account, chiefly, of the profligate character of the French formerly settled there, who, having debauched several Mohammedan women, were nearly all massacred by the infuriated populace. Niebuhr’s fancy that they still remember the crusades, and hate the Franks for the evils those insane expeditions inflicted on their ancestors, is just as rational as if the English people were to be supposed to nourish resentment against all the northern nations, because their barbarous ancestors made piratical descents upon our coasts.

While at Cairo he could not, of course, resist the desire of visiting the Pyramids. He therefore hired two Bedouin guides, and proceeded with his friend Forskaal towards the desert, where they were encountered by a young sheïkh, who, by dint of bravado and insolence, succeeded in extorting from them a small sum of money; but had they, when he first offered his services, bestowed upon him half a crown, he would not only have given them no further molestation, but would have constituted himself their protector against all other importunates. Niebuhr afterward returned under more favourable auspices, and completed the measurement of the two great pyramids, the loftier of which he found to be 443 feet, and the second to be 403 feet high. I shall [Pg 108] hereafter, perhaps, have occasion to remark upon the strange discrepancies which are found between the measurements of various travellers, which are, in fact, so great, that we must suspect some of them, at least, of having wanted the knowledge required by such an undertaking. From considering the petrifactions and the nature of the rocks in this neighbourhood, Niebuhr was led to infer the prodigious antiquity of Egypt: “Supposing the whole of the rocks in the northern portions of the country to be composed of petrifactions of a certain kind of shell, how many years,” says he, “must have elapsed before a sufficient number of little snails to raise mountains to their present height could have been born and died! How many other years before Egypt could have been drained and become solid, supposing that, in those remote ages, the waters retired from the shore as slowly as they have during the last ten centuries! How many years still, before the country was sufficiently peopled to think of erecting the first pyramid! How many more years, before that vast multitude of pyramids which are still found in the country could have been constructed! Considering that at the present day we are ignorant of when, and by whom, even the most modern of them was built.”

On the 26th of August, 1762, Niebuhr and his companions set out with the caravan going from Cairo to Suez: the rest of the party, in spite of the Mohammedans, mounted on horseback, and Niebuhr himself on a dromedary. By this means he avoided several evils to which the others were liable. Seated on his mattress he could turn his face now on one side, now on another, to avoid the heat of the sun; and, after having travelled all day, was no more fatigued in the evening than if he had been all the while reposing in a chair; while the horsemen, compelled to remain perpetually in the same posture, were well-nigh exhausted. On the 30th they encamped near [Pg 109] a well of good water, mentioned by Belin, Pietro Della Valle, and Pococke, close to which the Turks formerly erected a castle, which was now in ruins, and in three hours more arrived at the wells of Suez, which were surrounded by a strong wall, to keep out the Arabs, and entered by a door fastened with enormous clumps of iron. The water here was drawn up with buckets or sacks of leather.

Suez, from its fortunate position on the Red Sea, carried on a considerable trade. Numbers of ships were built there annually, the materials of which were transported thither on the backs of camels from Cairo. The environs consist of naked rocks, or beds of loose sand, in which nothing but brambles and a few dry stunted plants, among others the rose of Jericho, are found to grow. This rose is employed by the women of the East in various superstitious practices, and is therefore to be found for sale in all cities. When pregnant, they gather one of the buds, and putting its stem in water, foretel whether their pains will be severe or slight from the greater or smaller development of the flower.

Niebuhr’s first inquiry on arriving at Suez was concerning the “Mountain of Inscriptions,” about which so much had been said in Europe. The individuals to whom his first questions were put had never even heard of it; others, who were exactly in the same predicament, but desired to possess themselves of a little of their European gold, professed a most accurate knowledge of the spot, but upon inquiry were detected. At length, however, an Arab was discovered, from whose replies it was clear, that whether he had seen the real Gebel el Mokatteb or not, some mountain or another he had beheld, upon which inscriptions in an unknown language were to be found. Under this man’s guidance, therefore, they placed themselves,—that is, Niebuhr and Von Haven, for the rest were, from various causes, [Pg 110] detained at Suez; and leaving the Red Sea on their right-hand, they struck off into the desert.

As I have given a description of this part of Arabia in the life of Dr. Shaw, it will not be necessary here to repeat what I then said. Niebuhr found that the Arabs, whose profession it is to serve as guides, were distinguished, like all other persons of that class, for their extravagant cupidity. So long as they could live at the expense of strangers their own provisions and means were assiduously spared; but on other occasions they exhibited various symptoms that the old national virtue of hospitality was not wholly banished from their minds. The women in this part of Arabia are not in the habit of concealing their faces from strangers, as is the fashion in Egypt. Niebuhr, in his solitary rambles through the country, discovered the wife and sister of a sheïkh grinding corn beside their tent; who, instead of flying and concealing themselves at his approach, as he seems to have expected, came forward, according to the good old custom of the East, with a present in their hands.

On arriving at what his guides called the “Mountain of Inscriptions,” a lofty rugged eminence, which it cost them much time and toil to climb, he found—not what he had expected—but a vast Egyptian cemetery, in which were a great number of sepulchral monuments, covered with hieroglyphics. These inscriptions he was not permitted to copy at the time, because the sheïkh of the mountain apprehended he might thereby gain possession of the immense treasures concealed beneath; but one of his guides, who probably had little faith in that point of the sheïkh’s creed, afterward, on his return from Mount Sinai, enabled him to copy whatever he pleased. On his arrival at the convent of St. Catherine the monks politely refused to admit him, alleging, as their excuse, that he had not brought along with him [Pg 111] a letter from their bishop. The patriarch’s letter, which he presented to them, they returned unopened. He was, in fact, destined to meet with nothing but disappointment in these celebrated regions; for his Arabs, having conducted him up to a certain height on Mount Sinai, refused to proceed any farther, and he was not possessed of sufficient resolution to ascend the remainder alone.

Niebuhr now hastened back to Suez, and on his return forded the Red Sea on his dromedary, a thing which no European had done before, though the guides, who were on foot, did not find the water above knee deep. Being desirous of surveying the extremity of the Arabian Gulf, he procured a guide soon after his return from Mount Sinai, with whom he set out upon this expedition. They travelled, however, in constant fear; and the sight of a stranger in the distance increased the terrors of the guide to so extraordinary a pitch, that I suspect he had blood upon his hands, and dreaded the hour of retribution.

The constant arrival of pilgrims from Egypt had now rendered Suez, in proportion to its extent, more populous than Cairo. These holy men, being on their way to the city of their prophet, regarded Christians with an evil eye, just as a bigoted Franciscan travelling to Jerusalem would regard a heretic or an unbeliever; and on this account Niebuhr greatly dreaded the voyage he was about to perform in their company from Suez to Jidda. To avoid, as far as possible, all causes of dispute with their fellow-passengers, they embarked several days before the rest, paid their passage, stowed away their luggage, and then amused themselves with observing the strange characters by which they were surrounded, not the least extraordinary of which was a rich black eunuch, who, in imitation of the great Turkish lords, travelled with his harem.

[Pg 112]

All the passengers having at length repaired on board, they set sail on the 9th of October, and sailing along coral reefs, which in bad weather are highly dangerous, they arrived next day at Tor. Near this town is a small village inhabited by Christians, to which Forskaal went alone, for the purpose of visiting what is supposed to be the site of ancient Elim. While he was absent it was rumoured on board that the Arabs had formed the intention of pursuing and arresting the Frank, who had landed with the design of sketching their mountains; upon which a number of janizaries from Cairo, who happened to be on board, immediately set out for the village, and having met with M. Forskaal, conducted him back in safety to the vessel. “Are there many Christians,” inquires Niebuhr, “who, under similar circumstances, would do as much for a Jew?”

On the evening of the 16th of October they discovered, about sunset, the Emerald Mountains on the coast of Egypt, called Gebel Zumrud by the Arabs. Next day there happened an eclipse of the sun. In Mohammedan countries persons who are able to calculate an eclipse are regarded as consummate physicians. Forskaal had informed the reis, or captain, that an eclipse was about to take place; and to amuse him and keep him from interrupting his astronomical observations, Niebuhr had smoked several glasses, through which he, as well as the principal merchants, might contemplate the phenomenon. They were all greatly amused, and from that moment Forskaal enjoyed the reputation of being a second Avicenna. From a spirit of humane complaisance, which induces us to allow every one an opportunity of exhibiting his peculiar talents, men are exceedingly apt to fall ill when they come in contact with a physician. Our traveller’s Mohammedan companions were particularly polite in this way; for no sooner had they persuaded themselves that there was a physician on board than they all [Pg 113] discovered that they were attacked by diseases which had previously lain dormant, and confidingly demanded medicines and advice. Forskaal prescribed for all. To the majority he recommended more or less sleep, and a careful attention to their diet. A pilgrim at length presented himself who complained that he was unable to see during the night. The physician advised him to light a candle. This was excellent. The Arabs, who are naturally lively, burst into a loud laugh, and all their diseases were forgotten in a moment.

Between Ras Mohammed and Hassâni the ship was twice in danger of being set on fire by the negligence of the women; but at length they reached this small island in safety, and the Mohammedans, believing the principal danger to be now over, exhibited various tokens of joy, firing muskets and pistols, illuminating the ship with lamps and lanterns, and uttering the triumphant cry of Be, be, be! so commonly used by the orientals. The sailors and the pilot petitioned for a present, the former coming round to each passenger with a little boat in their hands, which, when the collection was over, was thrown into the sea. During this passage Niebuhr, who, up to his arrival at Suez, had scarcely seen the face of a Mohammedan woman, had an opportunity of viewing three or four of them naked in a bath; and his indiscreet curiosity very fortunately entailed upon him no evil consequences.

On the 29th of October they arrived at Jidda, where the usual attempts were made to defraud the custom-house. In this praiseworthy design some succeeded to the extent of their desires; but others, less adroit, or more unfortunate, were detected and compelled to pay the duties, no such atrocity as the confiscation of the whole property being ever practised. A duty of two or two and a half per cent. being levied upon all specie, people were most anxious to conceal their wealth: but by endeavouring [Pg 114] to effect this, one of Niebuhr’s companions suffered severely; for in stepping from the ship into the boat, his purse, which he had tied round his body, opened accidentally, and about a hundred crowns fell into the sea. The common cash of the expedition was conveyed on shore in the bottoms of their boxes of drugs, which were not searched, it being in Arabia a general opinion that physicians, having no need of money, seldom carry any about with them.

Niebuhr had observed in Egypt that the populace looked with inexpressible contempt upon Christians, and thence inferred that in proportion as they approached the Holy City they should find this inhospitable bigotry on the increase; but his apprehensions were unfounded, for the people of Jidda, long accustomed to the sight of Europeans, and constantly experiencing the humanizing influence of commerce, were peculiarly refined, allowing strangers to do almost what they pleased. It was merely forbidden them to approach the Mecca gate; which, like the city to which it leads, is reputed holy. Our traveller, during his residence at Cairo, had formed an acquaintance with a poor sheïkh, who, for a Mohammedan, might be said to be as highly favoured by science as he was neglected by fortune; and this man, in gratitude for the knowledge he had derived from him, besides furnishing him with letters of recommendation to the Kihaya and Pasha of Jidda, had privately written to those important personages, who had honoured him for his knowledge, earnestly requesting them to show every possible mark of kindness and attention to his European friends. These were the letters from which they had least expectations, and presented last; nevertheless, when the recommendations of all their other friends had failed even to procure them a lodging, those of the poor sheïkh introduced them to powerful protectors. Niebuhr was here witness of the curious mode of catching wild ducks [Pg 115] noticed by Pococke in Upper Egypt, and by another English traveller in China. When a number of these birds were observed in the water, the sportsman undressed, covered his head with seaweed, and then crept quietly into the water. By this means the ducks were deceived, so that they allowed the man to come near and catch them by the legs.

They remained at Jidda until the 14th of December, when they embarked in one of the country vessels for Loheia. Niebuhr was not possessed of the art of painting what he saw with the fine colours of language. His narrative is frequently dry even to insipidity. He was observant, he was calm, he was judicious, but he was destitute of eloquence, and this deficiency is nowhere in his works more strongly felt than in his account of his various voyages through the Red Sea. On the 22d they landed on the coast of Yemen, near Fej el Jelbe, inhabited by Bedouins, who are suspected of being pagans. A few tents were discovered on the shore, and as soon as the travellers had landed, which they did unarmed lest they should be taken for enemies, several of the wild natives came down to meet them. Their appearance and dress were extraordinary. Their dark hair descended in profusion to their shoulders; and instead of a turban, several of them had merely a cord tied round the head, intended, I imagine, to keep their tresses in order. Others, more careful and industrious, had woven themselves a kind of bonnet with green palm-leaves. A miserable waist-cloth constituted the whole of their dress. From the eagerness of the sailors to get their lances out of their hands they immediately discovered that they were suspected; upon which they cast the weapons on the ground, assuring the strangers that they had nothing to fear. Notwithstanding that they had landed in search of provisions the Bedouins conducted them to their tents, where two women came out to meet them. Their salutation was [Pg 116] curious. The women, who were unveiled, kissed the arm of the sheïkh, who, in return, pressed their heads with his lips. The ladies then advanced towards the strangers. Their complexion was sallow brown, they had blackened their eyelids with surme, and died their nails with henne; and, like the lower ranks of women in Egypt, exhibited marks of tattooing on the chin, cheeks, and forehead. Cosmetics being rare in those countries, they requested our travellers to favour them with a small quantity of kohol and al henne; but they had injudiciously neglected to provide themselves with any thing of the kind, and consequently saw themselves in the disagreeable predicament of being compelled to refuse.

On their arrival at Loheia they were received with remarkable politeness by the emir and the chief merchants of the city. They had taken the small vessel in which they performed the voyage for a longer passage as far as Hodeida; and the captain, understanding that they had some intention of remaining at Loheia, secretly applied to the emir with a request that he would compel them to complete their engagement, either by proceeding all the way to Hodeida, or by paying the whole sum agreed upon. With a generosity not often displayed towards utter strangers by men in office, the emir replied, that should the travellers refuse payment of the sum in question, he himself would satisfy his demands; and the principal merchant to whom the suspicious navigator also applied entered into the same engagement. Of course they were not allowed to suffer by their grateful and astonished guests.

The above merchant, in his eastern style of hospitality, gave them a house to live in during their stay. In return the travellers amused him and the emir with the effects of their microscopes, telescopes, &c. These things filled them with wonder; crowds of people, curious but well-behaved, thronged [Pg 117] their court from morning till night, examining with attention whatever they saw, and expressing their astonishment at every thing. This was too much for Danish politeness. They hired a porter, and stationing him at their door, gave strict orders that none but professional men should be admitted. But the curiosity of the Arabs was not to be subdued so easily; for, when all other excuses failed, they feigned illness, and gained admittance under pretence of coming to consult the physician. Sometimes Dr. Cramer, who appears to have been an uncouth creature, was requested to favour sick persons with a visit at their own houses, and one day received a pressing entreaty to repair without delay to the emir el bahr, or captain of the port, who had need of consulting him. Cramer, not attending to this summons immediately, was shortly afterward informed that the emir el bahr’s saddle-horse was at the door waiting for him. This piece of attention was too flattering to be resisted; he therefore descended immediately, and was about to put his foot into the stirrup, when he was interrupted with the information that the horse was unwell, and had been brought there as a patient! Physicians in Arabia prescribe for horses as well as men; this, therefore, was not meant as an insult; but Cramer, who felt all his Danish blood curdle in his veins at the bare idea of prescribing for a Mohammedan horse, and was, moreover, mortified at not being allowed to mount his patient, indignantly refused to exercise the functions of a horse-doctor. Luckily, however, their European servant, who had served in a dragoon regiment, understood something of the veterinary art, and undertook the cure of the emir’s horse; which succeeding happily, he also was regarded as an eminent physician, and was allowed to elevate his ambition to the treatment of men.

As our travellers continued, as far as possible, to live after the European fashion, their manners were [Pg 118] necessarily as much an object of curiosity to the Arabs as those of the Arabs were to them. One day two young men came to see them eat. Of these, the one was a young nobleman from Sana, whose gentle manners announced a superior education; the other a young chief from the mountains, whose country was seldom visited by strangers. This the naïveté and simplicity of his manners soon rendered manifest. Upon being invited to eat, he replied, “God preserve me from eating with infidels, who have no belief in God!” Niebuhr then demanded the name of his country; “What,” said he, “can my country concern thee? Hast thou formed the design of going thither to subdue it?” He afterward made several remarks upon their manners, the simplicity of which excited their laughter; at which the Arab felt ashamed, and ran away in confusion. His companion fetched him back, however, and he returned, wondering at the amazing quantity of food which they devoured. Fowl after fowl disappeared before these mighty eaters; the poor Arab, who began to entertain awful ideas of the capacity of a German stomach, and apprehending that they might bring about a famine in the land, for a while looked on in silent amazement; but when they had already eaten as much as would, perhaps, have satisfied a whole tribe of Bedouins, he started up, upon seeing Von Haven preparing to carve yet another fowl, and seizing him by the arm, exclaimed, “How much, then, dost thou intend to eat?” This sally produced still louder peals of laughter than ever, and the poor Arab, who probably apprehended that they might finish by eating him, rushed out of the house and disappeared.

Having sufficiently observed whatever was interesting or new at Loheia, they departed thence on the 20th of February, 1763, their servants and baggage mounted on camels, and themselves on asses. Not that Europeans were here, as at Cairo, prohibited [Pg 119] from riding on horseback, but that horses were dear and not easily to be hired, while the asses, though comparatively cheap, were large fine animals, of easy gait. Arabia, it is well known, is surrounded by a belt of burning sand, which has in all ages aided in protecting it from invasion. This our travellers had now to traverse, but they suffered no particular inconvenience from the heat, and in four days arrived at Beit el Fakih, the greatest coffee emporium in the world.

Niebuhr, being now in a country where travelling was attended with no risk, and desiring, apparently, to escape from the society of his companions, hired an ass, and set out alone on an excursion to several neighbouring towns. This was succeeded by several other excursions, and at length he proceeded to the Coffee Mountains, a district which offers, perhaps, as many curious particulars to the observation of a traveller as any spot in Asia. These mountains could be ascended only on foot. The road, though rugged and broken, lay through coffee plantations and gardens, and to Niebuhr, who had just quitted the burning plains of the Tehama, afforded the most exquisite gratification. The prospects, moreover, which here meet the eye on all sides are rich and beautiful. They are precisely what the hills of Judea must have been before Sion had been profaned by the heathen, when every man, confident in the protection of the Lord, sat down tranquilly under his vine or under his fig-tree. The small chain of hills, called the Côte d’Or, which traverses nearly the whole of Burgundy from north to south, and is covered with vineyards to the summit, may probably represent to a European eye the ridge of the Coffee Mountains, except that the latter have necessarily a more woody appearance, and are beautified by numerous mountain streams, which frequently leap in long cascades from the rocks. The coffee-tree, which was at this time in full flower in many places, [Pg 120] diffuses around an agreeable odour, and somewhat resembles the Spanish jasmin. The Arabs plant these trees so close that the rays of the sun can scarcely find their way between them, which prevents the necessity of frequent watering; but they have reservoirs on the heights from which they can, when necessary, turn numerous streamlets into the plantations.

From the Coffee Mountains they returned to Beit el Fakih, whence they shortly afterward departed on another short excursion. The natives, who carefully abstained from exposing themselves to the sun during the heat of the day, expressed their well-grounded astonishment that Europeans should be imprudent enough to hazard so dangerous a step; and our travellers were, in reality, at this very time laying the foundation of those fatal diseases which shortly afterward swept them away, Niebuhr only excepted; for I am persuaded that they might have returned, even in spite of their execrable diet and destructive habits of drinking, to brave the climate of Yemen, had they timed their journeys more judiciously.

By this time their appearance was tolerably oriental; the sun had bronzed their countenances, their beards had acquired a respectable length, their dress was exactly that of the country, and they had, moreover, adopted Arabic names. Even their guides no longer took them for Europeans, but supposed them to be members of the eastern church, who by forbidden studies had succeeded in discovering the art of making gold, and were searching among the lonely recesses of their mountains for some rare plant whose juices were requisite in their alchymical processes. Niebuhr’s assiduous observation of the stars considerably aided in strengthening this delusion, which upon the whole, perhaps, was rather beneficial to them than otherwise.

In the hilly districts of Yemen our traveller observed [Pg 121] among the Arabs a peculiar mode of passing the night. Instead of making use of a bed, each individual crept entirely naked into a sack, where, without closing the mouth of it, the breath and transpiration kept him sufficiently warm. Niebuhr himself never tried the sack, but very soon acquired the habit, which is universal among the Arabs of Yemen, of sleeping with the face covered, to guard against the malignant effects of the dews and poisonous winds. Here M. Forskaal discovered the small tree that produces the balm of Mecca, which happening to be in flower at the time enabled him to write a complete description of it, which he did seated under its branches. The inhabitants, who knew nothing of its value, merely made use of it as firewood, on account of its agreeable odour.

Upon descending from these mountainous countries, where the climate is as cool and salubrious as in most parts of Europe, Niebuhr found the heat of the Tehama almost insupportable, and entering a little coffee-house, overwhelmed with fatigue, threw himself on his mat in a current of air, and fell asleep. This heedless action nearly cost him his life. He awoke in a violent fever, which hung about him for a considerable time, and reduced his frame to such an extreme state of weakness that the slightest exertion became painful. Von Haven, too, whose supreme delight consisted in brandy, wine, and good eating, and who seldom quitted his sofa, except for the purpose of placing himself before his gods at the dinner-table, now began to experience the impolicy of feeding like an ogre in the deserts of the Tehama, and very quickly fell a victim to his imprudence.

From Beit el Fakih they proceeded to Mokha, where, as at Cairo, Europeans were compelled to enter the city by a particular gate, on foot, as a mark of humiliation. Niebuhr found that he and his companions were here taken for Turks, and they were accordingly directed to the khan, or inn, where [Pg 122] the Osmanlis usually took up their abode. Though they understood that there was an English merchant at Mokha, they judged it unnecessary, in the first instance, to make application to him, as they had everywhere else in Yemen been received with politeness and hospitality; and besides, they were somewhat apprehensive that, from their dress and appearance, he might be led to regard them as vagabonds or renegades. They therefore addressed themselves to an Arab merchant, by whom they were well received.

The people of Mokha made some pretensions to civilization, which is unfortunate, as the term, at least in the East, means custom-house officers, and insolence towards strangers. Our travellers, though no merchants, had large quantities of baggage, which, of course, was taken to the custom-house, before they could be allowed to enjoy the use of it. I have already observed, that although Niebuhr himself was a temperate, perhaps even an abstemious man, his companions set a high value on the gratification of their senses. Von Haven himself, who, as I have already observed, shortly afterward fell a victim to his indiscretion, was still among them, and it may therefore be easily imagined that the first articles they were desirous of obtaining from the custom-house were their cooking utensils and their beds. The Arabs, however, were differently minded. They allowed their curiosity to fasten upon the cases in which the natural history specimens were packed, and resolved to begin with them. Among these, unfortunately, there was a small barrel containing various fish of the Red Sea, preserved in spirits of wine. This M. Forskaal, who had collected these fishes himself, injudiciously requested the officers to allow to pass unopened. The request immediately roused all their suspicions. He might, for aught they knew, be a magician, who had confined the Red Sea itself in that barrel, for the purpose of carrying it off, with all its fishes, into Europe. It behooved them, therefore, [Pg 123] to bestir themselves. Accordingly the barrel was the first thing opened; but when the operation had been performed, the result anticipated by the naturalist was produced, for so pungent, so atrocious a stink was emitted from the half-putrefied fish, that the authorities very probably apprehended them to be a troop of assassins, commissioned by the devil to administer perdition through the nostrils to all true believers. The custom-house officer, however, confiding in the protection of the Prophet, determined to brave the infernal odour, and in order to explore the abomination to the bottom, took out the horrid remains of the fish, and stirred up the liquor with a piece of iron. The entreaties of the travellers to have it put on one side probably caused them to be regarded as ghouls, who made their odious repasts upon such foul preparations. The Arab still stirred and stirred, and at length in an inauspicious moment upset the cask, and deluged the whole custom-house with its contents. Had Mohammed himself been boiled in this liquid, it could not have smelt more execrably; we may therefore easily imagine the disgust with which the grave assembly beheld it flowing under their beards, infecting them with a scent which it would take several dirrhems’ worth of perfume to remove. Their ill-humour was increased when, on opening another cask, containing insects, their nostrils were again saluted with a fresh variety of stink, which they inferred must possess peculiar charms for the nose of a Frank, since he would travel so far to procure himself the enjoyment of its savour. An idea now began to suggest itself to the Arabs, which still further irritated them, which was, that the insolent Franks had packed up these odious things in order to insult the governor of the city, at the expense of whose beard, it was not doubted, they intended to amuse themselves. This persuasion was fatal to many a cockleshell. They mercilessly thrust down a pointed iron bar through [Pg 124] the collections, crushing shells, and beetles, and spiders. The worst stroke of all, however, was yet to come. This was the opening of a small cask, in which several kinds of serpents were preserved in spirits. Everybody was now terrified. It was suggested that the Franks had no doubt come to the city for the purpose of poisoning the inhabitants, and had represented themselves as physicians in order to commit their horrid crimes the more effectually. Even the governor was now moved. In fact, his anger was roused to such a pitch, that, though a grave and pious man, he exclaimed, “By God, these people shall not pass the night in our city!” The custom-house was then closed.

While they were in this perplexity, one of their servants arrived in great hurry and confusion, with the news that their books and clothes had been thrown out through the window at their lodgings, and the door shut against them. They moreover found, upon inquiry, that it would be difficult to discover any person who would receive into his house individuals suspected of meditating the poisoning of the city; but at length a man bold enough to undertake this was found. Such was their position when they received from the English merchant above alluded to an invitation to dinner. “Never,” says Niebuhr, “was an invitation more gladly accepted; for we not only found at his house a dinner such as we had never seen since our departure from Cairo, but had at the same time the good fortune to meet with a man who became our sincere and faithful friend. The affair of the custom-house was long and tedious; but at length, by dint of bribery and perseverance, their baggage, snakes and all, was delivered to them, and they even rose, in consequence of a cure attempted by M. Cramer on the governor’s leg, into high consideration and favour.”

Niebuhr was here again attacked by dysentery, and Von Haven died. This event inspired the whole [Pg 125] party with terror, and having with much difficulty obtained the governor’s permission, they shortly afterward departed for the interior. They travelled by night, to escape the extreme heat of the sun, but soon found the roads so bad as to render this mode of journeying impracticable. The country during the early part of their route was barren, and but thinly inhabited; but in proportion as they departed from the shore the landscape improved in beauty and fertility. At the small city of Jerim, on the road to Sana, Niebuhr had the misfortune to lose his friend Forskaal, the best Arabic scholar of the whole party, and a man who looked forward with enthusiasm to the glory to be derived from the successful termination of their travels. The bigotry of the Mohammedans rendered it difficult to obtain a place of burial for the dead, who was interred in the European fashion; which, immediately after their departure, caused the Arabs, who imagine that Europeans bury treasures with their dead, to exhume the body. Finding nothing to reward their pains, they compelled the Jews to reinter him; and as these honest people complained that they were likely to have no remuneration for their labour, the governor allowed them to take the coffin in payment, and restore the body naked to the earth.

On the 17th of July, 1763, they arrived in the environs of Sana, and sent forward a servant with a letter, announcing their arrival to the chief minister of the imam. This statesman, however, who had previously received tidings of their approach, and was desirous of receiving them with true Arab politeness, had already despatched one of his secretaries to meet them at the distance of half a league from the city. This gentleman informed them that they had been long expected at Sana, and that, in order to render their stay agreeable, the imam had assigned them a country-house at Bir el Assab. While they were conversing with the secretary, and [Pg 126] secretly congratulating themselves on their good fortune, they arrived at the entrance into their garden, where the Arab desired them to alight. They of course obeyed, but soon discovered that their guide had played them a trick in the manner of the people of Cairo, for he remained on his ass during the rest of the way, which was considerable, enjoying the pleasure of beholding a number of Franks toiling along on foot beside his beast. This put them out of humour, and their spleen was increased when, on arriving at their villa, they found that, however elegant or agreeable it might be, it did not contain a single article of furniture, or a person who would provide them even with bread and water.

Next day, however, they received from the imam a present of five sheep, three camel-loads of wood, a large quantity of wax-tapers, rice, and spices. At the same time they were informed that two days at least would elapse before they could obtain an audience, a matter about which they were indifferent; but that they could not in the mean time quit their house. Though considerably chagrined at the latter circumstance, they hoped in some measure to neutralize its effects, by receiving the visits of such natives as curiosity, or any other motive, might allure to the house; and accordingly were very much gratified at the appearance of a Jew, who had performed in their company the journey from Cairo to Loheia. This young Israelite, delighted to spend a few moments in the company of persons who received him without any demonstrations of contempt, appeared to experience a gratification in obliging them; and came on the second day accompanied by one of the most celebrated astrologers of his sect, from whom Niebuhr learned the Hebrew appellations of several stars. While he was yet conversing with this learned descendant of Abraham, the secretary of the imam arrived. They were ignorant of the etiquette of the court of Sana, according to which they should [Pg 127] have abstained from receiving as well as from paying visits; but the secretary, whose business it was to have instructed them on these points, doubly enraged by their infraction of the rules of decorum, and by a sense of his own negligence, directed all the violence of his fury against the unfortunate Jews, whose society he imagined must have been equally disagreeable to the travellers as it would have been to him. He therefore not only expelled them from the house, but, in order to protect the imam’s guests from a repetition of the same intrusion, gave peremptory orders to their Mohammedan attendant to admit no person whatever until they should have obtained their audience.

Two days after their arrival they were admitted into the presence of the imam. It is probable that, having previously formed an exalted idea of the splendour of oriental princes, the reader will be liable to disappointment on the present occasion. The riches and magnificence of the califs, however, of which we find so many glowing descriptions in the Thousand and One Nights, in D’Herbelot, and many other writers, have long passed away, leaving to the successors of those religious monarchs nothing but remembrance of ancient glory, which gleams like a meteoric light about their throne and diadem. Niebuhr, arriving at Sana from the sandy deserts of the Tehama, where poverty reigns paramount over every thing, enjoyed the advantage of possessing an imagination sobered by stern realities. His fancy depicted the court of the imam in the livery of the desert. He expected little. If he was disappointed, therefore, it was not disagreeably.

The imam, with a vanity pardonable enough in a prince who learns from his cradle to estimate his own greatness by the pomp and glitter which surround him, had in fact employed the two days elapsed since the arrival of his guests in active preparations for their reception; and the rules of etiquette forbidding [Pg 128] strangers to pay or receive visits during the interval, were originally intended to conceal this circumstance, and create the belief that the holyday appearance of the court was its ordinary costume. Our travellers were conducted to the palace by the minister’s secretary, who here performed what is called the mehmandar’s office in Persia. They found the great court of the edifice thronged with horses, officers, and other Arabs of various grades; so that it required the ministry of the imam’s grand equerry to open them a way through the crowd. The hall of audience was a spacious square apartment, vaulted above, and having on its centre several fountains of water, which, gushing aloft to a considerable height, and falling again incessantly, maintained a refreshing coolness in the air. A broad divan, adorned with fine Persian carpets, occupied the extremity of the hall, and flanked the throne, which was merely covered with silken stuffs, and rich cushions. Here the imam sat cross-legged, according to the custom of the East. He received the travellers graciously, allowed them to kiss the hem of his garment, and the back and palm of his hand—an honour which is but sparingly granted to strangers. At the conclusion of this ceremony a herald cried aloud, “God save the imam!” and all the people repeated the same words. As their knowledge of Arabic was still very limited, they conversed with the imam by means of an interpreter, a contrivance admirably adapted for shortening public conferences, since there are few persons who, under such circumstances, would be disposed to indulge in useless circumlocution.

The result of this audience was, that they obtained the prince’s permission to remain in the country as long as they desired; and on their retiring, a small present in money was sent them, which they judiciously determined to accept. In the afternoon of the same day they were invited to the minister’s [Pg 129] villa, where Niebuhr exhibited his mathematical instruments, his microscopes, books, engravings, &c.; at the sight of which Fakih Achmed expressed the highest satisfaction. From the various questions which he put to them, they discovered, moreover, that he himself was a man of very considerable knowledge, particularly in geography; while from his constant intercourse with foreigners his manners had acquired an ease and gracefulness which rendered his company highly pleasing. Nevertheless, Niebuhr, who feared that the cupidity of this minister, or of some other courtier, might be excited by the sight of his instruments, regretted to perceive these tokens of curiosity, and the necessity he was under of satisfying it; but his suspicions, which appear to have been as unfounded as they were illiberal, were not of long duration, for no man demanded of him any part of his property, or seemed to regard it with covetousness. He, in fact, learned shortly afterward that even the presents which it was judged necessary to make both to the imam and his minister were altogether unexpected, since they were not merchants, and demanded no favours of prince or courtiers.

Niebuhr confesses that the reception which he and his companions met with at Sana was marked by a degree of civility and friendship that far surpassed their expectations. The Arabs would seem, indeed, to have derived so much gratification from their society, that it is more than probable they would willingly have made some sacrifice to retain them; but the death of Von Haven and Forskaal had cast a damp over their imaginations; they apprehended that disease might even then be undermining their constitutions, and were therefore more desirous of flying from the country than of studying its productions or its inhabitants. When they departed from Mokha several English ships were lying there, taking in cargoes of coffee for India; and this circumstance, [Pg 130] by promising to facilitate their progress farther towards the east, operated strongly upon their determination to quit Arabia, the original object of their mission, for other regions which appeared more agreeable. One of Niebuhr’s biographers appears to think that it was mere solicitude to transmit to Europe an account of what had been performed by the expedition, and not any apprehension of danger, which rendered him so exceedingly desirous of quitting Yemen, for that he never clung to life with any great eagerness. I have by no means an unfavourable opinion of Niebuhr’s courage, which, on the contrary, I consider to have been in general equal to the dangers to which he was exposed; but I nowhere find any traces of that stoical indifference about life and death which his biographer seems to attribute to him; and am persuaded, that on the occasion of his departure from Sana, it was the apprehension of death, united, perhaps, with a longing for European society, which actuated his movements. At the same time I acknowledge that his fears were natural, and that most travellers under similar circumstances would have acted much the same way. We miss, however, in Niebuhr, both on this and on all other occasions, the chivalrous spirit of Marco Polo, Pietro della Valle, Chardin, and Bruce, as we miss in his writings the enthusiasm which casts so powerful a charm over the records of their adventures.

The same reasons which induce me to acknowledge the rational nature of Niebuhr’s apology for suddenly quitting Yemen long before he had completed his examination and description of it, incline me likewise to accept his reasons for avoiding the road by Jerim and Táäs, which would have led him by Haddâfa and Dhâfar, where Hamyaric inscriptions were said to exist. He had already been frequently deceived by the misrepresentations of Arabic ignorance, and therefore doubted the accuracy [Pg 131] of his informants. The three remaining members of the mission set out from Sana on the 26th of July, and, arriving at Mokha on the 5th of August, found that their apprehensions of danger at Sana, which, though excusable, were not well founded, had precipitated them into real peril; for the English ship in which they intended to embark was by no means ready to sail, so that they had to remain in that burning climate nearly a whole month, during which almost every individual in the party, servants and all, fell sick.

The ship in which Niebuhr at length set sail for India belonged to Mr. Francis Scott, a younger son of the Scotts of Harden, a jacobite family of Roxburghshire. With this gentleman Niebuhr ever after lived on terms of intimate friendship; and “five-and-thirty years afterward,” says our traveller’s son, the historian of the Roman republic, “when I studied in Edinburgh, I was received in all respects as one of the family in the house of this venerable man, who then lived at his ease in the Scottish capital on the fortune he had acquired by honourable industry.”

On his arrival at Bombay he met with the most cordial reception from the English, in whose society he had first learned to delight while in Egypt. Here he spent a considerable time in studying the manners and customs of the Hindoos, and his observations, though now destitute of value, must at that time have possessed considerable interest, above all on the Continent. He here lost Cramer, the last of his companions; Baurenfeind, the artist, having died on the voyage. During his stay at Bombay he made a voyage to Surat, famous in the history of oriental commerce and in the Arabian Nights; but his stay was short, and he returned to Bombay without pushing his researches any farther into the interior. The passion for travelling was certainly never very powerful in Niebuhr; but he was posessed [Pg 132] by considerable curiosity, and this passion induced him to form the design of proceeding in an English ship to China; but being unwell at the time of the ship’s departure, he relinquished the design, which he never afterward resumed.

His residence at Bombay, a much less healthy place than Sana, was continued so long, that I am strongly inclined to suspect the want of European society may, after all, have numbered among his most powerful reasons for hurrying from Yemen. From this city he forwarded the manuscripts of his deceased companions as well as his own papers, by way of London, to Copenhagen; and at length, on the 8th of December, 1764, set sail in one of the company’s ships of war, bound for Muskat and the Persian Gulf. During this voyage he beheld the surface of the sea for half a German mile in extent covered at night with that luminous appearance which we denominate “phosphoric fires;” and which, according to his opinion, arises entirely from shoals of medusas, which by the English sailors are called “blubbers.” A few days afterward, as they approached the shore of Oman, they were accompanied for a considerable distance by a troop of dolphins, which, by the persevering manner in which they followed the ship, seemed, as Lucian jocularly observes, to be animated by a kind of philanthropy, as when they bore Melicerta and Arion to the shore on their backs.

They arrived at Muskat on the 3d of January, 1765; and here Niebuhr, had the interior of Arabia possessed any attractions for him, had once more an opportunity of indulging his curiosity, and fulfilling the original design of the expedition; for, from the humane and polished manners of the people of Oman, travelling was here, he says, attended with no more danger than in Yemen. He preferred, however, ascending the Persian Gulf in an English ship; and therefore, after a stay of a few days, set [Pg 133] sail for Abusheher, where he arrived on the 4th of February.

Here Niebuhr, who had learned the English language at Bombay, found himself still in the company of one of our countrymen, from whom he obtained a plan of the city, together with much curious and valuable information respecting the country and its inhabitants. This Englishman, whose name was Jervis, spoke, read, and wrote the Persian with fluency, and amused himself with making a collection of manuscripts in that language; among which was the “Life of Nadir Shah,” by his own private secretary Mohammed Mahadi Khan. The authenticity of this work was so highly spoken of in Persia, that Niebuhr was at some pains to procure a copy of it for the King of Denmark’s library; and it was from this copy that Sir William Jones afterward compiled his “History of Nadir Shah,” once celebrated, but now sunk into oblivion. At Abusheher our traveller saw several of that species of cat numbers of which are now brought into Europe from Angola. They were procured from Kermân, and it was said that they would nowhere breed except in those countries in which the shawl goat was found—an opinion which has long been proved to have been erroneous.

Shortly after Niebuhr’s arrival at Abusheher, Mr. Jervis determined upon sending a quantity of merchandise to Shiraz; and his intention was no sooner made public, than a number of petty merchants, together with several families from the interior, who had been expelled from their homes by the troubles consequent upon the death of Nadir Shah, desired to unite themselves to his party; and thus a small kafilah was at once formed. So excellent an opportunity of visiting the most beautiful city of Persia, as well as the famous ruins of Persepolis, was not to be overlooked. Our traveller therefore joined the trading caravan, and on the 15th of February set out for the interior.

[Pg 134]

For this journey, however, he was but badly prepared. He was wholly ignorant of the Persian language, and therefore, had he not by great good fortune found some persons among the party who spoke Arabic, as well as an Armenian who was a tolerable master of the Italian, he must have been reduced to depend upon the universal but scanty language of signs. Strange to say, likewise, he had abandoned the oriental costume, though fully aware, by his own account, of the advantages to be derived from it by a traveller. In other respects he conducted himself judiciously; for, understanding that the English, notwithstanding the troubled state of Persia, had nowhere any thing to fear, he represented himself as an Englishman; and thus, without passport or formal permission, he travelled with perfect freedom and safety. He observed during this journey a curious superstition among the Armenians, of which he had nowhere else discovered any traces: having despatched his servant upon some business at a distance from the encampment, he was one day compelled to act as his own cook, and was about to cut off the head of a fowl. His face at that moment happening to be turned towards the west, an Armenian who was present informed him that a Christian should turn his face to the east when he killed a fowl, no less than when he prayed. Others (as the affair was a serious business) conjectured that he turned towards Mecca, either that his servant, who was a Mohammedan, might conscientiously partake of the food, or because that in reality was his kebleh. Seeing, however, that people endeavoured to decide respecting his religion by the mode in which he slaughtered a hen, he for the future relinquished to his servant the art and mystery of cookery.

Our traveller had an opportunity, near Firashbend, of visiting a Turkoman camp. He found them rich in camels, horses, asses, cows, and sheep. Their women, like those of the Bedouins, enjoyed the [Pg 135] most perfect liberty, and wore no veils. These Turkoman women were said to be exceedingly laborious, and the small carpets so universal in Persia were of their workmanship. He likewise beheld a Kurdish family. Farther on, he had a very laughable adventure with a troop of Armenian women, which, as characteristic at once of the Armenians and of himself, merits some attention. Having travelled for some time through rain and hail, the kafilah at length halted, near the village of Romshun, in which Niebuhr hired a horse for a day, and purchased a quantity of wood, in the hope of enjoying a good fire until bedtime. Not desiring, however, to taste of these blessings alone, he invited several Armenians to share the advantage of his apartments, which they most readily accepted. Presently, however, a number of women and children presented themselves for admission, and appeared extremely well satisfied when he granted them permission to place themselves inside of the door. He had shortly afterward occasion to leave the house for a moment. Upon his return, he found the husbands of the women seated near the entrance of the house, while the whole harem had established itself round the fire! and conceiving that it might be imprudent to sit down by the fire among the women, or to drive them away from it, he allowed them, though certainly not from politeness, to dry themselves first. Here he was detained for twenty-four hours by bad weather. The apartments which he occupied were on the second story, and his horse, which had its quarters in the adjoining chamber, being somewhat restless in the night, broke through the floor, and fell down into the landlord’s apartment below!

The kafilah reached Shiraz on the 4th of March. Here he was hospitably received and entertained by the only European in the city, a young English merchant, whose name he should have been at the pains [Pg 136] to learn, for assuredly it was not, as he imagined, Mr. Hercules. His stay at Shiraz was rendered agreeable by the politeness of the governor, who, at his first audience, informed him that he would decapitate the first person who should offer him any injury in his territories. The audience being over, one of the governor’s friends undertook to show them the palace. Several of the apartments were coated with beautiful Tabriz marble, and covered with magnificent carpets; and among the ornaments of the palace were numerous European mirrors, and pictures of Persian workmanship, among which was one representing a woman bathing, almost wholly naked. Niebuhr was greatly surprised to find pictures of this kind in the house of a Mohammedan; but, in fact, the Shiahs are far less rigid on this point than the Soonnees; and we learn from the Arabian Nights, that even so early as the time of Haroon al Rashid painting was encouraged in Persia and Mesopotamia, since that celebrated prince is said to have adorned his palace with the performances of the principal Persian artists.

From Shiraz he proceeded to the ruins of Persepolis, the site and nature of which I have already had occasion to describe in the lives of Chardin and Kæmpfer. His head-quarters during his stay was at the small village of Merdast. From thence, as well as from the other villages, the peasants frequently came to observe him during his examination of the ruins, in which he constantly employed the whole day, from eight o’clock in the morning until five in the afternoon. The majority of these visiters were women and young girls, who were curious to see a European; and the whole of the population were so entirely harmless, that the traveller felt himself as safe in their company as he could have been in any village in Europe. He here received a visit from an Arab sheïkh, a learned, polished, and agreeable man, who had passed thirty years in Persia, [Pg 137] during which time he had amassed considerable wealth, and now lived in independence and ease.

From Persepolis he returned by the way of Shiraz to Abusheher, where he embarked in one of the country vessels for the island of Karak, where he was hospitably received and entertained by the Dutch merchants settled there; and after a short stay, proceeded to Bassorah. Here he embarked in a small vessel which was about to sail up the Euphrates to Hillah. His companion, during this voyage, was an officer of the janizary corps, who lay in a small chamber close to Niebuhr’s cabin, and appeared to be at the point of death. In other respects this little voyage, which occupied twenty-one days, was sufficiently agreeable. The passengers were remarkable for their good-humour and obliging disposition; and often, when our traveller set up his quadrant on the banks of the stream, they stood round him in a circle, while he was making his observations, to screen him from the wind with their long flowing dresses.

At Rumahia, a small village on the Euphrates, he lodged with two of his Mohammedan companions at the house of a Soonnee, who happened to be the moollah of a mosque. Soon after their arrival, our traveller entered into conversation with his host, and their discourse turning on the subject of marriage, he observed, among other things, that in Europe a man, when he gives his daughter to any one in wedlock, is generally accustomed to add a considerable sum of money. This custom greatly delighted the moollah. “Do you hear,” says he to his mother-in-law, who was sitting near him, while the daughter was preparing their pilau,—“do you hear what the stranger is saying? It was not thus that you acted towards me, my mother; I was compelled to pay you a sum of money before you would give me your daughter!” The mother-in-law, after patiently hearing him to the end, replied, “Ah! my [Pg 138] son, upon what should I and my daughter have subsisted, had I given thee my field and my date-trees?” This slight interruption in the conversation having ceased, Niebuhr, resuming the thread of the discourse, remarked, that in Europe no man could possess more than one wife, under pain of death; that married persons enjoyed every thing in common; and that their property descended to their children. It was now the old lady’s turn to be eloquent. “Well, my son,” says she, “have you marked what the gentleman has just related? Ah! what justice prevails in those countries! Ah! had you no other wife than my daughter, and could I be sure you would never divorce her, how willingly would I relinquish to you my house, and all I possess!” The young woman, who had hitherto seemed to pay no attention to what was said, now likewise joined in the discussion. “Alas! my husband!” said she, “how can you desire that my mother should give you her house? You would soon bestow it upon your other wives. You love them better than me. I see you so seldom!”

The mother and daughter proceeded in this style for some time, and at length Niebuhr, turning to the moollah, demanded how many wives he had.—“Four,” replied the man. This was the highest number permitted by the law. He had, therefore, indulged his affections to the utmost; and as each of his spouses had a separate house and garden, he flitted at pleasure from wife to wife, and was everywhere received as a man returning home from a long journey. Our traveller inquired of this zealous polygamist whether his private happiness had been increased or diminished by his having availed himself of the privilege of a Mohammedan; but, because his reply was contrary to his own European views, as that of every other Mussulman, whom he had questioned on the subject, had been, he absurdly accused him of insincerity.

[Pg 139]

From this place he proceeded to Meshed Ali, where he was deterred from entering the mosque, by the fear that he might, as a punishment for his presumption, be compelled to profess Mohammedanism; but he admired the exterior of its gilded dome, which glittered like a globe of flame in the sun. The riches of this mosque, allowing much for the exaggeration of the Shiahs, must still be immense. The interior of the dome is no less superbly gilt than the exterior, and is adorned with Arabic inscriptions in rich enamel; other inscriptions, in letters of gold, glitter along the walls; while enormous candelabra, in silver and fine gold, set with jewels, support the tapers which afford light to the pious during the darkness of the night. This accumulation of gorgeous ornaments, though supplied from a commendable motive, affects the worshippers injuriously, and once occasioned a pious Arab to exclaim, “Verily, the treasures lavished upon this tomb have made me forget God!”

Niebuhr next visited the ruins of Kufa, and Meshed Hussein, and then returned to Hillah, near which are found the misshapen ruins of Babylon. We must not, as he justly observes, expect to find among the remains of this city any thing resembling the sublime magnificence which cast a halo over the ruins of Persian and Egyptian cities. Babylon, like modern London, was a city of bricks, prodigious in extent, mighty in appearance, but calculated, from the nature of its materials, to give way, when war or time laid its giant hands upon its towers. Its very site is now become an enigma, “a place for the bittern, and pools of water.” Modern travellers, however, have since visited this celebrated spot, and described it so frequently, that it is unnecessary to pause and repeat what they have written, particularly as no two agree upon any one point.

His stay at Babylon was brief, and on the 5th of January, 1766, he left it to proceed towards Bagdad, [Pg 140] where he remained until the 3d of March, awaiting the departure of a caravan for Syria. At length, finding no better companions, he departed with a kafilah composed wholly of Jews, from one of whom, who had travelled much in the country, he expected to derive considerable information. He still possessed the sultan’s firman, which he had procured at Constantinople, and had likewise provided himself with a passport from the Pasha of Bagdad. He therefore anticipated no interruption on the way. In proceeding from Bagdad to Mousul, he traversed the plain on which the great battle of Arbela, which reduced Persia to a Macedonian province, was gained by Alexander. Ruin and desolation have since that day been busily at work in these countries. Among the vagabonds who now roam over or vegetate upon these renowned scenes, are a strange people, accused by many writers of worshipping the devil; I mean the Yezeedis, who, though suspected by Niebuhr of being an offshoot from the Beyazi sect of Oman, appear to be rather the descendants of the ancient Manichæans, or a remnant of the Hindoo population, worshippers of Siva, hurled into this obscure haunt by the storms of war.

At Mousul, where he found numerous Catholic and Nestorian Christians, he was received with extreme scorn, because his worthy coreligionists learned that he did not fast during Lent. However, by allowing himself to be defrauded a little by a Dominican father, a dealer in coins and physic, he quickly regained his character, and, during the remainder of his stay, was reputed a very good Christian. From this city he departed with a numerous caravan, bound partly for Aleppo, partly for Mardin, Orfah, or Armenia. The whole number of the travellers, including a guard of fifty soldiers, and about three or four hundred Arabs, amounted to little less than a thousand men. Yet, notwithstanding [Pg 141] their numbers, the slightest report of there being a horde of Kurds in their neighbourhood threw these gallant warriors into consternation, and, upon one particular occasion, their confusion was so extreme that, like the honest knight of La Mancha, they mistook a flock of sheep for an army. The robbers on this road are exceedingly expert in their vocation; and one of the merchants of the caravan, who had often travelled by this route, amused Niebuhr with an anecdote illustrative of their skill, which deserves to be repeated:—He was one night encamped, he said, on the summit of a steep hill, and for the greater security had pitched his tent on the edge of the precipice. He himself kept watch until midnight, at which time he was relieved by his servant, who, as it would appear, soon fell asleep. On awaking about daybreak he observed a robber in the tent. He had already fastened the hook, with which he meant to perform his feat, in a bale of merchandise; but sprang out of the tent, upon perceiving he was discovered, still holding fast the cord of his hook. The merchant, however, immediately detached the hook from the bale, and fastened it in the clothes of his slumbering domestic, who, as the robber continued tugging violently at the cord, was soon roused. The robber pulled, the servant rolled along like a woolsack, and the master had the satisfaction of seeing him tumble down to the bottom of the hill, that he might in future be somewhat more careful of his master’s property.

Niebuhr himself, whose cautious temper generally defended him from danger, had on this journey a trifling adventure with an Arab sheïkh. It entered into the head of this fiery young Islamite that it would be amusing to have a frolic with a Giaour, and for this purpose he deprived our traveller of his bed and counterpanes. Niebuhr complained to the caravan bashi, but could only get a portion of his property restored. Next day, therefore, he applied [Pg 142] to the sheïkh himself, who, instead of returning the articles, only jested with him upon his uncharitable disposition, which would not allow him to share his luxuries, even for a few days, with a true believer, who was willing to be condescending enough to sleep on the bed of an infidel. Our traveller, hoping to terrify the Arab, now produced the sultan’s firman, and the Pasha of Bagdad’s passport; but this only rendered matters worse. “Here in the desert,” said the sheïkh, “I am thy sultan and thy pasha. Thy papers have no authority with me!” Some days afterward, however, the Arab returned him his effects, from fear, according to Niebuhr, of the Governor of Mardin; but more probably because he had never intended to retain them.

From this point of his travels he proceeded by way of Mardin, Diarbekr, and Orfah, to Aleppo, where he arrived on the 6th of June. Here he remained some time, during which he acquired the friendship of the celebrated Dr. Patrick Russel, from whom he received much information respecting the Kurds and Turkomans, whose principal chiefs frequently visited our distinguished countryman at his house. His inquiries likewise extended to the Nassaireah and Ismaeleah, who, from the accounts of the Mohammedans and oriental Christians, would appear to have preserved among them the rites and ceremonies of the ancient worshippers of Venus. Nocturnal orgies, in which every man chose his mistress in the dark, and the adoration of the Yoni, in a young woman who exposed herself naked for the purpose of receiving this extravagant reverence, were likewise attributed to them; but, as Niebuhr observes, there is nothing too absurd or abominable to be related by the orthodox and dominant party of a persecuted heretical sect. He, in fact, found that the Roman Catholics everywhere in the East represented their Protestant [Pg 143] brethren as persons who lived without hope and without God in the world; while we, on the other hand, look upon them as idolaters, as far removed as the pagans of old from the pure religion of Christ.

After the death of his companions, Niebuhr had applied to the Danish government for permission to extend his journey in the East, and, through the benevolence of Count Bernstorf, his wishes had been readily complied with. He therefore passed from Syria into Cyprus, for the purpose of copying certain Phenician inscriptions at Cittium, the birth-place of Zeno, which had, it was suspected, been incorrectly copied by Pococke. Finding no inscriptions of the kind on the spot to which he had been directed, he, with an illiberality which was not common with him, imputed to Pococke the gross absurdity of having confounded Armenian with Phenician characters; but, as his recent biographer remarks, it is more probable that the stones had, in the interval, been removed.

From Cyprus he passed over into Palestine, visited Jerusalem, Sidon, Mount Lebanon, and Damascus, and then returned to Aleppo. Here he continued until the 20th of November, 1766, when he set out with a caravan for Brusa, in Asia Minor; and in traversing the table-land of Mount Taurus, suffered, says one of his biographers, as much from frosts, piercing winds, and snow-drifts, as he could have done in a winter journey in northern regions. Lofty mountains are everywhere cold. Chardin nearly perished among the snows of Mount Caucasus; Don Ulloa suffered severely from the same cause in the Andes, almost directly under the equator; and the lofty range of the Himalaya, which divides Hindostan from Tibet, is so excessively cold, that Baber Khan, though a soldier and a Tartar, beheld with terror the obstacle which these mountains presented to his ambition; and their summits have hitherto been protected by cold from human [Pg 144] intrusion. Upon reaching Brusa, however, he reposed himself for some time, and then set out for Constantinople, where he arrived on the 20th of February, 1767.

Here he remained three or four months, studying the institutions of the empire, civil and military. He then directed his course through Roumelia, Bulgaria, Wallachia, and Moldavia, towards Poland, and on arriving at Warsaw was received with extraordinary politeness by King Stanislaus Poniatowsky, with whom he afterward corresponded for many years. From Warsaw he continued his journey towards Copenhagen, and visited on the way Göttingen and his beloved native place, when the death of his mother’s brother, during his absence, had left him in possession of a considerable marsh-farm. He arrived at Copenhagen in November, and was received in the most flattering manner by the court, the ministers, and men of science.

Niebuhr now employed himself in preparing his various works for publication. The “Description of Arabia” was published in 1772, and although it must unquestionably be regarded as one of the most exact and copious works of the kind ever composed on any Asiatic country, it met with but a cold reception from the public. This, however, is not at all surprising. Written in the old style of books of travels, which appear to have aimed at imparting instruction without at all interesting the imagination, it can never be relished by the generality of readers, who at all times, and especially in these latter ages, have required to be cheated into knowledge by the secret but irresistible charms of composition. Niebuhr, unfortunately, possessed in a very limited degree the art of an author. His style has nothing of that life and vivacity which compensates, in many writers, for the want of method. But those who neglect his works on these accounts are to be pitied; for they abound with information, and everywhere [Pg 145] exhibit marks of a remarkable power of penetrating into the character and motives of men, and a noble, manly benevolence, which generally inclines to a favourable, but just interpretation. He understood the Arabs better than almost any other traveller, and his opinion of them upon the whole was remarkably favourable. It is to him, therefore, that in an attempt to appreciate the character of this extraordinary people, I would resort, in preference even to Volney, who, whatever might be the perspicuity of his mind, had far fewer data whereon to found his conclusions.

In 1773 he married, and his wife bore him two children, a daughter and B. G. Niebuhr, the author of the “Roman History.” Next year the first volume of his “Travels” appeared, and was received by the public no less coldly than the “Description of Arabia;” which was, perhaps, the cause why the second volume was not published until 1778; and why the third, which would have completed his “Travels’” history, was never laid before the world, or even prepared for publication. This is exceedingly to be regretted, as, whatever may be the defects of Niebuhr as an author, which it appeared to be my duty to explain, he was, as an observer, highly distinguished for sagacity; and his account of Asia Minor would have been still valuable, notwithstanding all that has since been written on that country.

He continued to live at Copenhagen for ten years; but at length the retirement of Count Bernstorf from the ministry, and a report that General Huth designed to despatch him into Norway for the purpose of making a geographical survey of that country, disgusted him with the capital. He therefore demanded of the government permission to exchange his military for a civil appointment, and accordingly obtained the situation of secretary of the district of Meldorf, whither he removed his family in the year 1778. This town afforded Niebuhr few opportunities [Pg 146] of entering into society. He consequently endeavoured to extract from solitude and from study the pleasures which he could not take in the company of mankind, and addicted himself to gardening and books. When his children had reached an age to require instruction, he undertook to conduct their education himself. “He instructed us,” says his son, “in geography, and related to us many passages of history. He taught me English and French—better, at any rate, than they would have been taught by anybody else in such a place; and something of mathematics, in which he would have proceeded much further, had not want of zeal and desire in me unfortunately destroyed all his pleasure in the occupation. One thing, indeed, was characteristic of his whole system of teaching: as he had no idea how anybody could have knowledge of any kind placed before him, and not seize it with the greatest avidity, and hold to it with the steadiest perseverance, he became disinclined to teach whenever we appeared inattentive or reluctant to learn. As the first instruction I received in Latin, before I had the good fortune to become a scholar of the learned and excellent Jäger, was very defective, he helped me, and read with me “Cæsar’s Commentaries.” Here again, the peculiar bent of his mind showed itself: he always called my attention much more strongly to the geography than the history. The map of Ancient Gaul by D’Anville, for whom he had the greatest reverence, always lay before us. I was obliged to look out every place as it occurred, and to tell its exact situation. His instruction had no pretensions to be grammatical; his knowledge of the language, so far as it went, was gained entirely by reading, and by looking at it as a whole. He was of opinion that a man did not deserve to learn what he had not principally worked out for himself; and that a teacher should be only a helper to assist the pupil out of otherwise inexplicable difficulties. From [Pg 147] these causes his attempts to teach me Arabic, when he had already lost that facility in speaking it without which it is impossible to dispense with grammatical instruction, to his disappointment and my shame, did not succeed. When I afterward taught it myself, and sent him translations from it, he was greatly delighted.

“I have the most lively recollection of many descriptions of the structure of the universe, and accounts of eastern countries, which he used to tell me instead of fairy tales, when he took me on his knee before I went to bed. The history of Mohammed; of the first califs, particularly of Omar and Ali, for whom he had the deepest veneration; of the conquests and spread of Islamism; of the virtues of the heroes of the new faith, and of the Turkish converts, were imprinted on my childish imagination in the liveliest colours. Historical works on these same subjects were nearly the first books that fell into my hands.

“I recollect, too, that on the Christmas-eve of my tenth year, by way of making the day one of peculiar solemnity and rejoicing to me, he went to a beautiful chest containing his manuscripts, which was regarded by us children, and indeed by the whole household, as a kind of ark of the covenant; took out the papers relating to Africa, and read to me from them. He had taught me to draw maps, and with his encouragement and assistance I soon produced maps of Habbesh and Soudan.

“I could not make him a more welcome birthday present than a sketch of the geography of eastern countries, or translations from voyages and travels, executed as might be expected from a child. He had originally no stronger desire than that I might be his successor as a traveller in the East. But the influence of a very tender and anxious mother upon my physical training and constitution, thwarted his plan, almost as soon as it was formed. In consequence [Pg 148] of her opposition, my father afterward gave up all thoughts of it.

“The distinguished kindness he had experienced from the English, and the services which he had been able to render to the East India Company, by throwing light upon the higher part of the Red Sea, led him to entertain the idea of sending me, as soon as I was old enough, to India. With this scheme, which, plausible as it was, he was afterward as glad to see frustrated as I was myself, many things, in the education he gave me, was intimately connected. He taught me, by preference, out of English books, and put English works, of all sorts, into my hands. At a very early age he gave me a regular supply of English newspapers: circumstances which I record here, not on account of the powerful influence they have had on my maturer life, but as indications of his character.”

In the winter of 1788 he received from Herder a copy of his “Persepolis,” which afforded him one proof that he was not forgotten by his countrymen. He took a deep interest in the war which was then raging against Turkey; for, in proportion to his love for the Arabs, was his hatred of the Turks, whom he cordially desired to see expelled from Europe. The French expedition to Egypt, however, was no object of gratification to him; for his dislike of the French was as strong as his dislike of the Turks, convinced that their absurd vanity and want of faith would infallibly neutralize the good effects even of the revolution itself. I am sorry to discover that, among other prejudices, he was led, partly, perhaps, from vanity, to accuse Bruce of having copied his astronomical observations; of having fabricated his conversation with Ali Bey; as well as, to borrow the strange language of his recent English biographer, “the pretended journey over the Red Sea, in the country of Bab el Mandeb, as well as that on the coast south from Cosseir.” The same writer informs us that [Pg 149] “Niebuhr read Bruce’s work without prejudice, and the conclusion he arrived at was the same which is, since the second Edinburgh edition, and the publication of Salt’s two journeys, the universal and ultimate one.” During the composition of these Lives, I have almost constantly avoided every temptation to engage in controversy with any man; I hope, likewise, that I have escaped from another, and still stronger temptation, to exalt my own countrymen at the expense of foreigners; but I cannot regard it as my duty, on the present occasion, to permit to pass unnoticed what appears to me a mere ebullition of envy in Niebuhr, and of weakness and want of reflection in his biographer. What is meant by a “journey over the Red Sea?” And where does Bruce pretend to have travelled in the “country of Bab el Mandeb?” These Arabic words are, I believe, by oriental scholars acknowledged to signify the “Gate of Tears,” and were anciently applied to what is commonly called the “Strait of Bab el Mandel,” from the belief that those who issued through that strait into the ocean could never return. The biographer seems to misunderstand the state of the question. Bruce has often been charged with never having sailed down the Red Sea so far as the strait, notwithstanding his assertions in the affirmative. But who are his accusers? Lord Valentia, Salt, and others of that stamp; men who never dared to venture their beards amid the dangers which Bruce encountered intrepidly. With respect to the coast from Cosseir southward, what, I will venture to inquire, could Niebuhr have known about the matter? Had he ever set his foot upon it? Had he even beheld it from a distance? If he relied, as in fact he did, upon the testimony of others, who were they? what were their opportunities? and what their claims to be believed? I am far from insinuating that Lord Valentia and Mr. Salt have entered into a conspiracy to wound the memory of Bruce; but, to [Pg 150] adopt the language of an old orator, I would ask these gentlemen if they themselves could have been guilty of the impudent mendacity which they impute to Bruce? If, as there can be no doubt on the subject, Lord Valentia and Mr. Salt would spurn the imputation, is it to be for a moment believed that the discoverer of the sources of the Nile, the honourable, the fearless, the brave Bruce, could have condescended to do what these individuals, who, compared with him, are insignificant and obscure, would, by their own confession, have shrunk from perpetrating? But my unwillingness to speak harshly of Niebuhr, whose name ranks with me among those of the most honest and useful of travellers, forbids me to carry this discussion any further. I honour him for his knowledge, for his integrity, for his high sense of honour; but, for this very reason, I vehemently condemn his unjust attack upon the memory of our illustrious traveller. The opinion of his recent biographer, an able and, I make no doubt, a conscientious man, appears evidently to have arisen from an imperfect knowledge of the subject, and is therefore the less entitled to consideration.

The account given by his distinguished son of the latter days of this meritorious traveller is worthy of finding a place here. “His appearance,” says he, “was calculated to leave a delightful picture in the mind. All his features, as well as his extinguished eyes, wore the expression of the extreme and exhausted old age of an extraordinarily robust nature. It was impossible to behold a more venerable sight. So venerable was it, that a Cossack who entered an unbidden guest into the chamber where he sat with his silver locks uncovered, was so struck with it, that he manifested the greatest reverence for him, and a sincere and cordial interest for the whole household. His sweetness of temper was unalterable, though he often expressed his desire to go to his final home, since all which he had desired to live for had been accomplished.

[Pg 151]

“A numerous, and as yet unbroken, family circle was assembled around him; and every day in which he was not assailed by some peculiar indisposition he conversed with cheerfulness and cordial enjoyment on the happy change which had taken place in public affairs. We found it very delightful to engage in continued recitals of his travels, which he now related with peculiar fulness and vivacity. In this manner he once spoke much and in great detail of Persepolis, and described the walls on which he had found the inscriptions and bas-reliefs, exactly as one would describe those of a building visited within a few days and familiarly known. We could not conceal our astonishment. He replied, that as he lay in bed, all visible objects shut out, the pictures of what he had beheld in the East continually floated before his mind’s eye, so that it was no wonder he could speak of them as if he had seen them yesterday. With like vividness was the deep intense sky of Asia, with its brilliant and twinkling host of stars, which he had so often gazed at by night, or its lofty vault of blue by day, reflected in the hours of stillness and darkness on his inmost soul; and this was his greatest enjoyment. In the beginning of winter he had another bleeding at the nose, so violent that the bystanders expected his death; but this also he withstood.

“About the end of April, 1815, the long obstruction in his chest grew much worse; but his friendly physician alleviated the symptoms, which to those around him appeared rather painful than dangerous. Towards evening on the 26th of April, 1815, he was read to as usual, and asked questions which showed perfect apprehension and intelligence; he then sunk into a slumber, and departed without a struggle.”

Niebuhr had attained his eighty-second year. He was a man rather below than above the middle size, but robust in make, and exceedingly oriental in air and gestures. As might be clearly enough inferred [Pg 152] from his works, he was no lover of poetry; for, though he is said to have admired Homer in the German translation of Voss, together with the Herman and Dorothea of Goëthe, this might be accounted for upon a different principle. His imagination, however, was liable to be sometimes excited in a very peculiar way. “It is extraordinary,” says his son, “that this man, so remarkably devoid of imagination, so exempt from illusion, waked us on the night in which his brother died, though he was at such a distance that he knew not even of his illness, and told us that his brother was dead. What had appeared to him, waking or dreaming, he never told us.”


Born 1752.—Died 1817.

I have frequently regretted, during the composition of these Lives, that the materials for the early biography of many celebrated men should be so scanty and incomplete as I have found them. It seems to be considered sufficient if we can obtain some general notion respecting their literary career, and, in consequence, criticism too frequently usurps the place of anecdote and narrative. The Comte de Choiseul-Gouffier occupied, however, too prominent a place among his contemporaries, both from his rank and talents, to allow any portion of his life to pass unnoticed; though it were to be wished that those who have spoken of him had been less eloquent and more circumstantial. The style of mortuary panegyric seems less designed, indeed, to make known the qualities or adventures of the deceased [Pg 153] than to afford the orator an apology for casting over his memory a veil of fine language, which as effectually conceals from the observer the real nature of the subject as his stiff sombre pall conceals his hearse and coffin. Such, notwithstanding, are the only sources, besides his own works, from which a knowledge of this celebrated and able traveller is to be derived.

Choiseul-Gouffier was born at Paris in 1752. His family was scarcely less ancient or illustrious than that of the kings of France, in every page of whose history, says M. Dacier, we find traces of its importance and splendour. He pursued his youthful studies at the College D’Harcourt. Like Swift, and many other literary men who have acquired a high reputation in after-life, Choiseul did not render himself remarkable for a rapid progress or precocious abilities at school. He was attentive to his studies, however; and while he exhibited a decided taste for literature, his passion for the fine arts was no less powerful. At this period, says M. Dacier, a great name and a large fortune had frequently no other effect than to inspire their owners with the love of dissipation and frivolous amusement, which they were aware could in no degree obstruct their career in the road to honour and office, which, however worthless might be their characters, was opened to them by their birth. From this general contagion Choiseul was happily protected by his studious habits. Every moment which he could with propriety snatch from the duties of his station was devoted to literature and the arts of design. Above all things, he admired with enthusiasm whatever had any relation to ancient Greece,—a country which, from his earliest boyhood, he passionately desired to behold, as the cradle of poetry, of the arts, and of freedom, rich in historical glory, and rendered illustrious by every form of genius which can ennoble human nature.

[Pg 154]

Being in possession of a fortune which placed within his reach the gratification of these ardent wishes, he nevertheless did not immediately commence his travels. In defiance of the fashion of the times, which proscribed as unphilosophical the honest feelings of the heart, Choiseul seems to have fallen early in love, and at the age of nineteen was married to the heiress of the Gouffier family, whose name he ever afterward associated with his own. Like all other persons of noble birth, he as a matter of course adopted the profession of arms, and was at once complimented with the rank of colonel, which it was customary to bestow upon such persons on their entrance into the service.

At length, after a protracted delay, which considering his years is not to be regretted, Choiseul-Gouffier departed for Greece in the month of March, 1776. Having enjoyed the advantages of the conversation and instruction of Barthélemy, who had himself profoundly studied Greece in her literary monuments, Choiseul-Gouffier was, perhaps, as well prepared to exercise the duties of a classical traveller as any young man of twenty-five could be expected to be. In aid of his own exertions he took along with him several artists and literary men, of whom some were distinguished for their taste or natural abilities. He was transported to Greece on board the Atalante ship of war, commanded by the Marquis de Chabert, himself a member of the Academy of Sciences, and appointed by the government to construct a reduced chart of the Mediterranean. This gentleman, who seems in some measure to have possessed a congenial taste, engaged to transport Choiseul-Gouffier to whatever part of Greece he might be desirous of visiting, and to lie off the land during such time as he should choose to employ in his excursions and researches.

On his arrival in Greece, Choiseul-Gouffier commenced at once his researches and his drawings. [Pg 155] He was not a mere classical traveller; his principal object, it is true, was, as his French biographers assert, to study the noble remains of antiquity, the wrecks of that splendid and imperfect civilization which had once covered the soil on which he was now treading, with all the glory of the creative arts; but, besides this, he had an eye for whatever was interesting in the existing population, which, with every thinking and feeling man, he must have regarded as by far the most august and touching ruin which the traveller can behold in Greece. The mere undertaking of such an enterprise presupposes an intense enthusiasm for antiquity. Poetry, history, freedom, beauty, animate and inanimate, had separately and collectively produced on his mind an impassioned veneration for the Hellenic soil; and he saw with equal delight the scene of a fable and the site of a city.

In pursuance of the plan which he had traced out for himself previous to leaving France, he examined with scrupulous care all the fragments and ruins within the scope of his researches. After touching on the southern coast of the Morea, and sketching the castle of Coron, with various Albanian soldiers whom he met with on the shore, he proceeded to the isles,—Milo, Siphanto, Naxia, Delos, where the wrecks of antiquity and the grotesque costume and manners of modern times exercised his elegant pencil and pen. Those persons who have visited countries where the ruins of former ages eclipse, as it were, the stunted heirs of the soil, will comprehend the difficulty of attending, amid monuments rendered doubly sublime by decay, to the rude attempts at architecture and the undignified circumstances which mark the existence of a population relapsed into ignorance. To these, however, Choiseul-Gouffier was by no means inattentive. He sketched, and it would seem with equal complacency, the ruins of some venerable temple and the beautiful dark-eyed girl of [Pg 156] the Ionian Islands, plaiting her tresses, or sporting with her fat, long-haired Angola.

In sketching the life of this traveller, I must beware that I am not carried away by classical recollections. Here, where

Not a mountain rears its head unsung,

it might, perhaps, be pleasing to a certain variety of minds to expatiate at leisure over the immortal fields of fable, and the scenes of actions which man is still proud to have performed; and if I abstain from entering upon the subject, it is not from any indifference to its charms, or that I want faith in its powers to produce, if properly handled, the same effect upon others which it has long exercised over me. But this is not the place to indulge in themes of this kind. Biography rejects all pictures of such a description, and requires narrative; and accordingly I proceed with the history of our traveller’s labours.

In the course of his visits to the Grecian islands he beheld the famous Grotto of Antiparos, so eloquently described by Tournefort. Their opinions respecting its wonderful construction did not, as might very well be expected, agree; but if the botanist exaggerated, I think the young antiquarian underrated its richness and grandeur, probably from a desire to check his ardent imagination, or by an ill-timed application of his philosophy. From thence, touching at Skyros in his way, he proceeded to Lemnos, Mitelin, Scio, Samos, Patmos, and Rhodes, and thence into Asia Minor. Here he commenced operations with the ruins of Telmissus, in ancient Lycia. He sketched the sarcophagi, the Necropolis, the tombs, theatre, and other antiquities; and having also drawn up an account of his researches, and a description of the existing ruins, set off through Caria towards the river Mæander, and Ephesus, and Smyrna, and Troy. Throughout the whole of this [Pg 157] incomparably interesting route, the same lavish researches were undertaken and conducted with vast expense and perseverance. But on arriving upon the plains of Troy, his exertions, everywhere enthusiastic, appeared to be redoubled. Choiseul-Gouffier was an impassioned admirer of Homer. No other poet, in fact, ever possesses so firm a hold upon the youthful mind as this ancient bard, because no one paints so truly those boiling passions which prevail in youth, and with which all men sympathize, until age or some other cause damps their energy, and makes them, as Shakspeare expresses it, “babble of green fields,” and tranquillity, and security, and civilization.

For the admirers of Homer, our traveller’s researches in the ancient empire of Priam must possess more than ordinary charms. Having to the best of his ability determined the extent and limits of the Trojan territories, he fixes the site of the city, and traces to their sources the rivers Simois and Scamander. He then presents the reader with views of the most remarkable spots in the neighbourhood of the city, which are either mentioned by Homer, or referred to by celebrated writers of later date; Mount Gargarus, the camp of the Greeks, the tombs of Ilus, Achilles, and Patroclus.

On his return to France he laboured assiduously at the arranging of the rich and various materials which he had collected during his travels. An author, and, above all, a traveller of distinguished rank, is always secure beforehand of a flattering reception. Choiseul-Gouffier experienced this truth. Fearful lest their compliments should come too late, and be paid, not to his rank, but to his merit, the members of the Académie des Belles-Lettres, in obedience, says M. Dacier, to the public voice, elected our traveller a member of their body in the room of Mons. Foncemagne in 1779, before the publication of the “Voyage Pittoresque de la Grèce.” This splendid [Pg 158] work, which was at least equal to any thing which had been published of the kind, and in many respects superior, was expected with impatience, and read on its appearance with avidity. Praise, which in France is but too lavishly bestowed upon noble authors, was now showered down in profusion upon our traveller. He, however, deserved high commendation. The design of the work was in itself exceedingly praiseworthy, and its execution, whether we consider the literary portion or the embellishments, highly honourable to the taste and talents of the author. Barthélemy, in such matters a judge inferior to none, conceived so favourable an opinion of his accuracy, that he in many instances appealed to his authority in his “Travels of Anacharsis.”

What tended still more powerfully to promote the success of the “Voyage Pittoresque de la Grèce” than all these praises was, the lively, elegant style in which it is composed. Although the polished simplicity of the preceding age had already begun to give way before laborious struggles after strength and originality, Choiseul-Gouffier belonged rather to the old than the new school. His learning a profession, which young men are rather apt to display than to hide, was not very profound, I suspect, in 1782, when the first volume of his travels appeared; and therefore the more credit is due to him for his moderation in the use of it. But I am far from thinking, with M. Dacier, that he purposely masked his acquirements, from the fear of frightening away the men of the world. He was not, as I have already observed, unmindful of the modern Greeks. Convinced that, next to the love of God, patriotism, expressed in Scripture by the love of our neighbour, is the best foundation of national and individual happiness, our traveller was vehement in his exhortations to the Greeks to recover their liberty. He even pointed out to them the means by which this was to be effected. He appealed to the priests, as to those [Pg 159] who exercised the most powerful influence over the popular mind, to sanctify the enterprise; and, by associating the spirit of religion with that of liberty, to inspire their flocks with the zeal of martyrs by spiritual incitements or menaces.

In 1784 the success of the first volume of his travels threw open to him the doors of the French Academy, where he was elected to fill up the vacancy occasioned by the death of D’Alembert. The circumstances attending his reception into this celebrated literary body were particularly flattering. Never, according to the records of the times, had there been collected together a more numerous or more brilliant assembly. The discourse of the traveller was finely conceived, and executed with ability. The subject was, of course, determined by usage; it was the eulogium of his predecessor. Having, according to custom, by which all such things are regulated, occasion to allude to the birth of D’Alembert, he executed this delicate part of his task in a manner so judicious and manly, that from a circumstance, in itself unfortunate and dishonourable, he contrived to attach additional interest to the memory of his predecessor. “And yet,” said he, “what was this celebrated man, whom Providence had destined to extend the boundaries of human knowledge? You understand me, gentlemen; and why should I hesitate to express what I consider it honourable to feel? Why should I, by a pusillanimous silence, defraud his memory of that tribute which all noble minds are fond to pay to unfortunate virtue and genius in obscurity? What was he?—An unhappy, parentless child, cast forth from his cradle to perish, who owed to symptoms of approaching death and the humanity of a public officer the advantage of being snatched from amid that unfortunate multitude of foundlings, who are kept alive only to remain in eternal ignorance of their name and race!”

It was on this occasion that he received one of [Pg 160] those compliments which men of genius sometimes pay to each other, and which, when deserved, are among the most cherished rewards that can be granted to distinguished abilities. Delille, whom he had long numbered among his friends, eagerly seized upon the opportunity which was now offered him of expressing his admiration of his enthusiasm and taste. He accordingly drew forth from his pocket a splendid fragment of his poem entitled “Imagination,” which was not published until twenty years afterward, and read it to the academy. It related to Greece, which Choiseul-Gouffier had visited and depicted. He represents the forlorn genius of that ancient country singling out from among the crowd of ordinary travellers one young lover of the arts, recommending to his notice the glory of her ancient monuments and brilliant recollections, and promising him as his reward the academic palm in a New Athens. The verses, in spite of the national vanity of comparing Paris with Athens, and some other defects which I need not pause to point out, are highly poetical and beautiful; and the reader will not, I think, regret to find them here subjoined.

Hâte toi, rends la vie à leur gloire éclipsée
Pour prix de tes travaux, dans un nouveau Lycée
Un jour je te promets la couronne des arts.
Il dit et dans le fond de leurs tombeau épars,
Des Platon, des Solon les ombres l’entendirent:
Du jeune voyageur tous les sens tressaillirent:
Aussitôt dans ces lieux, berceau des arts naissans,
Accourent à sa voix les arts reconnaissans;
Le Dessin le premier prend son crayon fidèle,
Et, tel qu’un tendre fils, lorsque la mort cruelle
D’une mère adorée a terminé le sort
A ses restes sacrés s’attache avec transport,
Demande à l’air, au temps d’épargner sa poussière
Et se plaît à tracer une image si chère;
Ainsi par l’amour même instruit dans ces beaux lieux
Le Dessin, de la Grèce enfant ingénieux,
Va chercher, va saisir, va tracer son image;
Et belle encor, malgré les injures de l’âge
Avec ses monumens, ses héros, et ses dieux,
La Grèce reparaît tout entière à nos yeux.

Shortly after this Choiseul-Gouffier was appointed [Pg 161] ambassador of France to the Ottoman Porte, and, in selecting the companions of his mission, was not unmindful of Delille. The poet, therefore, accompanied him to Constantinople; and according to the testimony of both, many years after their return, nothing could exceed the delight of their residence in the East, and their visits to the spots celebrated in Grecian story. Choiseul-Gouffier would, from all accounts, appear to have been a man of enlarged views, friendly towards all nations, as well as towards every art, and anxious to promote the general interests of civilization. His agreeable manners enabled him quickly to acquire the confidence of Halil Pasha, the Turkish grand vizier, and of Prince Mauro Cordato, first dragoman of the Porte; and he succeeded in inspiring both with a desire to introduce among the Turks the arts and civilization of Europe. By his advice, engineer, artillery, and staff officers were invited from France to Constantinople, to instruct the Ottomans in the theory and practice of war. The impulse once given, the grand vizier, seconded by the dragoman, who would appear to have possessed unusual influence, repaired the fortifications in the various strong cities of the empire, improved the system of casting cannon, and considerably ameliorated the discipline of the Turkish army. Shortly the public saw with surprise a fine seventy-four, constructed by Leroy, after the most approved European method, launched from the docks of Constantinople; and the system thus introduced has ever since been followed in all the docks of the empire. To crown all these efforts, our traveller prevailed on the vizier to send thirty Turkish youths to receive their education in Paris; and had not this part of the scheme been defeated by religious fanaticism, there is no foreseeing to how great an extent this measure might have influenced the destinies of Turkey.

When war had broken out between the Porte and [Pg 162] Russia, in spite of the efforts of the French ambassador to prevent the rupture, he continued to perform the part of a conciliator. It was by his intercession that the Russian ambassador, imprisoned contrary to the law of nations in the Seven Towers, was liberated, and placed on board a French frigate, commanded by the Prince de Rohan, which conveyed him to Trieste. And afterward, when Austria had determined to unite its forces with those of Russia to attack the common enemy of Christendom, Choiseul-Gouffier succeeded in preventing the imprisonment of its internuncio, whom he caused to embark with all his family and suite on board two French ships, which conveyed them to Leghorn. At the same time he effectually protected the Russian and Austrian prisoners detained in chains at Constantinople, and carefully caused to be distributed among them the provisions which their governments or families conveyed to them through his means. Several of these miserable beings he ransomed from captivity with his own money, particularly a young Austrian officer who had fallen into the hands of a cruel master, and who, resigned to his unhappy condition, appeared only to grieve for the affliction which the sad lot of their only son would cause his aged parents. His zeal for the interests of Turkey was not less remarkable. For not only did he in like manner protect the Turkish prisoners in Russia, but he caused French ships to transport provisions to Constantinople and the Black Sea, whose losses, when they incurred any, he made up out of his own private fortune.

In the midst of those assiduous and important cares which the policy and critical position of the Ottoman empire required of him, he at no time lost sight of the commerce and other interests of his country. He moreover found leisure for the indulgence of his old classical tastes, and once more ran over, with the Iliad in his hand, the whole of the [Pg 163] Troad and the other places celebrated by Homer. In addition to this, he despatched several artists to Syria and Egypt at his own expense, for the purpose of exploring and sketching ancient monuments, ruins, picturesque sites, and in general whatever was worthy of occupying the attention of the learned world. In 1791 he was appointed by the new government ambassador to the court of London; but as his political principles would not allow him to acknowledge the authority from which this nomination proceeded, he still continued at Constantinople, from whence he addressed all his despatches to the brothers of Louis XVI., then in Germany. This correspondence was seized during the following year by the French army in Champagne, and on the 22d of November, 1792, a decree of arrest was passed against him.

Not long after this event he departed from Constantinople, honoured with distinguished marks of respect both by the sultan and the grand vizier, and sincerely regretted by his brother ambassadors, and all the French established in the Levant. Being unable to return to France, he retired to Russia, where Catherine, who, as I have already had frequent occasion to observe, was an excellent judge of men, received him in the most flattering manner, and afforded him the most honourable protection. Paul I., on his accession to the throne, distinguished him by new favours, nominated him privy counsellor, director of the academy of arts and of all the imperial libraries, and also gave him many other solid proofs of his esteem. The favour of a madman, however, was necessarily liable to change. The Comte de Cobentzel, with whom Choiseul-Gouffier had lived on very intimate terms, falling into disgrace, he was uncourtly enough to continue the connexion; which so displeased Paul, that our traveller considered it unsafe to remain at court, and retired. No longer seeing his old favourite about him, the imperial [Pg 164] lunatic commanded him to return, and upon his approach remarked, in a friendly tone, “M. le Count, there are stormy cloudy days in which it rains misunderstandings; we have experienced one of these; but as we are men of understanding, we have shaken it off, and are only upon the better footing.”

Our traveller, who no doubt saw clearly enough the state of the emperor’s head, and dreaded his relapse into ill-humour, very quickly determined to return to France; where he at length arrived in 1802, stripped of his titles and fortune, and reduced to rely upon his literary rank for distinction. He, however, sought for no office or employment. All his thoughts were now directed towards the completion of his work on his beloved Greece, and during seven years he laboured assiduously at this agreeable undertaking. Other travellers had in the mean while visited and described the same countries; his ideas and views were regarded as antiquated; the interest inspired by his first volume, published twenty-seven years before, had in a great measure ceased; and, more than all this, he himself, worn down by misfortunes, sobered by long adversity, and somewhat unaccustomed to the art of composition, was no longer the same naïve, lively author that he had been. He now gave himself up to geographical disquisitions, learned dissertations, and geological remarks. Homer himself, though still his favourite, had undergone a transformation in his eyes. Losing sight of the poet, the matchless painter of human nature, he was satisfied with admiring him as an historian and geographer.

Nevertheless there still remained a mixture of the old leaven in his composition. The sight of the rose harvest near Adrianople in Thrace reawakened all his enthusiasm, and his description of the festival with which it closes, in which the beautiful Grecian girls perform so elegant and classical a part, would certainly not disgrace the pages of Theocritus or [Pg 165] Virgil. The completion of the third volume (or rather the 2d part of the second) seems to have been retarded, among other causes, by the composition of several memoirs for the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres, on the Olympian Hippodrome, on the origin of the Thracian Bosphorus, and on the personal existence of Homer, which has been called in question by several critics more learned than wise.

Before the completion of his work, however, he was seized with an apoplectic fit, which made his friends despair of his life. He was advised to make trial of the waters of Aix-la-Chapelle, whither he removed, accompanied by the Princess de Bauffremont, his second wife. Here he died on the 22d of June, 1817. It was now feared by all those who had properly appreciated his labours, that the concluding portion of his work, without which the former parts would be comparatively valueless, might never appear; but a publisher was at length found to undertake the expensive and hazardous enterprise. He purchased from the Princess de Bauffremont all the papers, charts, drawings, engravings, and copper-plates of her deceased husband, and with a taste, zeal, and industry for which the arts are indebted to him, completed the “Voyage Pittoresque de la Grèce” in a style worthy of the commencement. The portrait of the Comte de Choiseul, which M. Blaise, the publisher, caused to be engraved by a distinguished French artist, is a masterpiece of its kind; but there still remain many splendid drawings, and several valuable maps and charts of various parts of Greece, which may some day, perhaps, be published as a supplement, or in a second edition, should it be called for by the public.

[Pg 166]


Born 1784.—Died 1817.

This traveller, descended from an eminent family of Basle, in Switzerland, was born at Lausanne, in 1784. He was the eighth child of John Rodolph Burckhardt, whose prospects in life were early blighted by his adherence to the Austrian faction during the troubles in Switzerland, consequent upon the French revolution. Our traveller, led by hereditary prejudices to nourish an aversion for republican principles, or too young and hot-headed not to confound the agents with the cause, imbibed at a very early age a detestation for the French, at that period regarded as the representatives of republicanism; and, with the same spirit which induced Pietro della Valle to engage in a crusade against the Turks, he wished to serve in the armies of some nation at war with France. These wishes, however, were the mere hallucinations of a boy, or an echo of the sentiments which he heard uttered by others. His education had not been completed: his notions were necessarily crude, and he had neither discovered nor learned from others the paramount importance of freedom, without which even national independence is a vain possession.

Burckhardt’s studies were, from various causes, conducted in the manner best calculated to create and nourish restless and adventurous habits. Having received the first rudiments of his education in his father’s house, he was removed to a school at Neufchatel, where he remained two years. At the age of sixteen he was entered a student at the university of Leipzig; from whence, after four years’ residence, he [Pg 167] proceeded to Göttingen, where he continued another year. He then returned to his parents. The natural firmness and consistency of his character, of which his countenance was strikingly expressive, still taught him to keep alive his hatred of the French; but no continental nation had preserved itself wholly free from the influence of this people; and therefore, rejecting an offer which was made him by one of the petty courts of Germany, desirous of numbering him among its diplomatic body, he turned his thoughts towards England, which, like a separate world, had remained inviolate from the tread of the enemy. Accordingly, having provided himself with letters of introduction to several persons of distinction, among which was one from Professor Blumenbach to Sir Joseph Banks, he set out for London, where he arrived in the month of July, 1806.

This step was the pivot upon which the whole circle of his short life was destined to turn. His introduction to Sir Joseph Banks, who had long been an active member of the African Association, almost necessarily brought him into contact with several other individuals connected with that celebrated society; and conversations with these persons, whose motives were at least respectable, and whose enthusiasm was unbounded, naturally begot in Burckhardt a corresponding warmth, and transformed him, from a Quixotic crusader against the French, into an ardent, ambitious traveller.

It should not be dissembled that, upon Burckhardt’s desire to travel for the African Association being communicated to Sir Joseph Banks and Dr. Hamilton (then acting secretary to that body), strong representations of the dangers to be encountered in the execution of the plan were made to the youthful aspirant after fame; but such representations, which are a delusive kind of peace-offering placed for form’s sake on the altar of conscience, are seldom sincerely designed to effect their apparent purpose; [Pg 168] and the actors in the farce would, for the most part, experience extreme chagrin should they find their eloquence prove successful. At all events, few men are so ignorant as not to know that the aspect of danger wears a certain charm for youth, which naturally associates therewith an idea of honour; and, provided success be probable, or even possible, reckons obstacles of every kind among the incentives to exertion. These dissuasive speeches, therefore, from persons whose sole object in constituting themselves into a public body was to produce a directly opposite result, were altogether hypocritical; and Burckhardt, if he possessed half the sagacity which seems to have entered into his character, must have distinctly perceived this, and have despised them accordingly.

However this may be, his offer, which was laid before the association at the general meeting of May, 1808, was “willingly accepted;” and he immediately commenced all those preparations which were necessary to the proper accomplishment of his undertaking. He employed himself diligently in the study of the Arabic language both in London and Cambridge, as well as in the acquiring of a knowledge of several branches of science, such as chymistry, astronomy, mineralogy, medicine, and surgery; he likewise allowed his beard to grow, assumed the oriental dress, “and in the intervals of his studies he exercised himself by long journeys on foot, bare-headed, in the heat of the sun, sleeping upon the ground, and living upon vegetables and water.”

On the 25th of January, 1809, he received his instructions, by which he was directed to proceed in the first instance to Syria, where, it was supposed, he might complete his knowledge of the Arabic, and acquire oriental habits and manners at a distance from the scene of his researches, and where he was not likely to meet with any individuals who might afterward recognise him at an inconvenient moment.

[Pg 169]

Burckhardt sailed from Cowes on the 2d of March, 1809, in a merchant-ship, proceeding to the Mediterranean, and arrived at Malta in the middle of April. From thence, in a letter to Sir Joseph Banks, he transmitted an account of the attempt to explore the interior of Africa which was at that time meditated by Dr. Seetzen, a German physician, who shortly afterward perished, not without suspicions of poison, in Yemen; and of a recent eruption of Mount Etna, the description of which he obtained from the letter of an English gentleman.

During his stay at Malta he completed his equipment in the oriental manner, and assumed the character of an Indian Mohammedan merchant, bearing despatches from the East India Company to Mr. Barker, British consul, and the company’s agent at Aleppo. Meanwhile he carefully avoided all intercourse with such persons from Barbary as happened to be in the island; and when he met parties of them in the street, as he often did, the salaam alaikum, given and returned, was all that passed between them. There was at this time a Swiss regiment in the English service at Malta, to many of the officers of which Burckhardt was personally known. To be recognised by these gentlemen would at once have proved fatal to his assumed character; he therefore appeared in public cautiously, and but seldom; but had at length the satisfaction of finding that his disguise was so complete as to enable him to pass unknown and unnoticed.

Our traveller here entered into arrangements with a Greek, respecting his passage from this island to Cyprus; but on the very morning of his expected departure he received information that the owner of the ship had directed the captain to proceed to Tripoly. His baggage was in consequence transferred to another ship, said to be bound for the same island; “but the very moment I was embarking,” says Burckhardt, “the new captain told me that he [Pg 170] was not quite sure whether he should touch at Cyprus, his ship being properly bound for Acre. I had now the option to wait at Malta, perhaps another month or two, for an opportunity for Cyprus or the coast of Syria, or to run the chance of disembarking at a place where there was no person whatever to whom I could apply for advice or protection. Luckily an Arab of Acre, then at Malta, happened to be known to Mr. Barker, jun.; in half an hour’s time a letter for a merchant at Acre, with another in case of need for the pasha, were procured, and I embarked and sailed the same morning, in the hope of finding, when arrived at Acre, a passage for Tripoly (Syria), or for Latakia. However, we were no sooner out of sight of the island, than it was made known to me that the real destination of the ship was the coast of Caramania, that the captain had orders to touch first at the port of Satalia, then at that of Tarsus; and that if grain could not be purchased at an advantageous price at either of these places, in that case only he was to proceed to Acre. My remonstrances with the captain would have been vain: nothing was left to me but to cultivate his good graces and those of my fellow-travellers, as the progress of my journey must depend greatly upon their good offices. The passengers consisted, to my astonishment, of a rich Tripoline merchant, who owned part of the ship, two other Tripolines, and two negro slaves. I introduced myself among them as an Indian Mohammedan merchant, who had been from early years in England, and was now on his way home; and I had the good fortune to make my story credible enough to the passengers as well as to the ship’s company. During the course of our voyage numerous questions were put to me relative to India, its inhabitants, and its language, which I answered as well as I could: whenever I was asked for a specimen of the Hindoo language, I answered in the worst dialect of the Swiss German, almost [Pg 171] unintelligible even to a German, and which in its guttural sounds may fairly rival the harshest utterance of Arabic. Every evening we assembled upon deck to enjoy the cooling sea-breeze and to smoke our pipes. While one of the sailors was amusing his companions with story-telling, I was called upon to relate to my companions the wonders of the farthest east; of the grand mogul, and the riches of his court; of the widows in Hindostan burning themselves; of the Chinese, their wall, and great porcelain tower,” &c.

They sailed along the southern coast of Candia, saw Rhodes at a great distance, and arrived in a few days at Satalia in Caramania. Here the plague, it was found, was raging in the town; but this circumstance did not prevent the Tripoline merchant from landing and disposing of his merchandise, nor the captain from receiving him again on board. When their business with this town was completed, they again set sail, and after coasting for three days along the shore of Caramania, arrived in the roads of Mersin, from whence Burckhardt and several of his companions proceeded by land on an excursion to Tarsus. Finding here a ship bound for the coast of Syria, our traveller left the Maltese vessel in order to proceed by this new conveyance: “In taking leave of the Tripoline,” says he, “I took off my sash, a sort of red cambric shawl, of Glasgow manufacture, which he had always much admired, thinking it to be Indian stuff, and presented it to him as a keepsake or reward for his good services. He immediately unloosened his turban, and twisted the shawl in its stead round his head: making me many professions of friendship, and assuring me of his hospitality, if ever the chance of mercantile pursuits should again engage me to visit the Mediterranean, and perhaps Tripoly in Barbary.”

Burckhardt reached the coast of Syria at that point where the Aasi, the ancient Orontis, falls into [Pg 172] the sea; and immediately prepared to depart for Aleppo with a caravan. Having been intrusted with several chests for the British consul at Aleppo, his baggage appeared considerable; and he was consequently sent for by the aga, who expected a handsome present for permitting them to pass. When questioned by this officer respecting the contents of the chests, he replied that he was entirely ignorant of the matter, but suspected that among other things there was a sort of French drink, called beer, with various kinds of eatables. The aga now sent an officer to examine them. A bottle of beer having been broken in loading, “the man tasted it by putting his finger into the liquor, and found it abominably bitter: such was his report to the aga. As a sample of the eatables, he produced a potato which he had taken out of one of the barrels, and that noble root excited general laughter in the room: ‘It is well worth while,’ they said, ‘to send such stuff to such a distance.’ The aga tasted of the raw potato, and spitting it out again, swore at the Frank’s stomach which could bear such food.” The mean opinion which these specimens inspired them with for such merchandise inclined the aga to be content with the trifling sum of ten piastres, which he probably thought more than the value of a whole ship’s cargo of potatoes and beer.

Upon the arrival of the caravan at Antakia, our traveller, desirous of studying the manners of all ranks of men, took up his quarters in the khan of the muleteers, where, from a suspicion that he was a Frank in disguise, he was subjected to numerous indignities. The aga’s dragoman, some wretched Frenchman or Piedmontese, being sent by his master to discover the truth, and failing to effect his purpose by any other means, determined, as a last resource, on pulling him by the beard, and at the same time asked him familiarly why he had suffered such a thing to grow? To this Burckhardt replied by [Pg 173] striking him on the face, which turned the laugh against the poor dragoman, and was an argument so peculiarly Mohammedan that it seems to have convinced the bystanders of the truth of his assertions.

After a delay of four days he continued his journey with the caravan, with the motley members of which he was compelled to maintain an unceasing struggle in defence of his assumed character; a circumstance which proves one of two things, either that the Saonees of the west have by intercourse with Europeans been rendered more acute in discovering impostors, than the Shiahs of Afghanistan and Northern Persia, or that Burckhardt was hitherto somewhat unskilful in his movements; for the reader will no doubt remember that Forster, when he professed Mohammedanism, had much fewer suspicions to combat on his way through Central Asia.

On his arrival at Aleppo, he determined, in pursuance of the advice of Mr. Barker, to put off his Mohammedan disguise, though he still retained the Turkish dress; and with the aid of an able master, recommenced the study of the Arabic, both literal and vulgar. He was attacked, however, shortly after his arrival, by a strong inflammatory fever, which lasted a fortnight; and was occasioned, as he conjectured, by the want of sleep, of which blessing he had been deprived by the prodigious colonies of that “friendly beast to man” which, according to Sir Hugh Evans, “signifies love,” which had established themselves in his garments during his stay at the khan of Antakia. When this seasoning was over, his health appeared to be improved, and he found the climate finer and more salubrious than he had expected.

During his stay in this city, which was a very protracted one, Burckhardt laboured assiduously in fitting himself for the honourable performance of [Pg 174] the task he had undertaken. His Arabic studies were uninterrupted. Besides seizing eagerly on every opportunity of improving himself by conversation with the natives, he laboured at an attempt to transform “Robinson Crusoe” into an Arabian tale. He moreover succeeded in making the acquaintance of several sheïkhs, and other literary men, who honoured him occasionally with a visit; a favour, he says, which he owed principally to Mr. Wilkins’s “Arabic and Persian Dictionary.” The ordinary lexicons of the country being very defective, the learned Turks were often obliged to have recourse to Wilkins, whose learning and exactness sometimes compelled them to exclaim, “How wonderful that a Frank should know more of our language than our first ulmas!”

In the month of July, 1810, Burckhardt departed from Aleppo under the protection of an Arab sheïkh, of the Aenezy tribe, who undertook to escort him to Palmyra, and thence through the Haurān to Damascus. On the way they were attacked, while the sheïkh was absent at a watering-place, by the hostile Marváli Arabs, by whom our traveller was robbed of his watch and compass; after which he pushed on into the desert to rejoin the chief. Contrary to the well-known faith of the Arabs, this man transferred to another the protection of his guest, thereby exposing him to be robbed a second time, at Palmyra, where the bandit in authority, finding that he had no money, contented himself with seizing upon his saddle. Returning from these ruins, he found at Yerud a letter from the sheïkh, forbidding him to proceed towards the Haurān, because, as the writer asserted, the invasion of the Wahabis had rendered that portion of the country unsafe, even to himself and his Arabs. In consequence of this fraudulent conduct of the sheïkh, for the excuse was a fiction, he found himself necessitated to take the road to Damascus; disappointed in part, but upon [Pg 175] the whole well satisfied with having beheld those magnificent ruins in the desert which have charmed so many strangers, and with having at the same time enjoyed so many occasions of observing the Bedouins under their own tents, where he was everywhere received with hospitality and kindness.

The rich and well-cultivated environs of Damascus, which all travellers, from Mohammed to the present day, have admired, appeared to great advantage to the eye of Burckhardt, accustomed to be sickened by the signs of misery which surround Aleppo. “The unsettled state of the government of Damascus,” says he, “obliged me to prolong my stay there for upwards of six weeks. I again left it in the middle of September, to visit Baalbec and Libanus. My route lay through Zahle, a small but prosperous town on the western side of the valley Bekan, the ancient Cœlosyria, and from thence to Baalbec, where I remained three days; then to the top of the Libanus, the Cedars, and Kannobin, from whence, following the highest summits of the mountain, I returned to Zahle by the villages called Akoura and Afki.”

After proceeding southward to the territory of the Druses, and Mount Hermon, he returned to Damascus; whence, after a short stay, he made an excursion into the Haurān, the patrimony of Abraham, which four years before had been in part visited by Dr. Seetzen, previous to his tour round the Dead Sea. “During a fatiguing journey of twenty-six days,” says Burckhardt, “I explored this country as far as five days’ journey to the south and south-east of Damascus; I went over the whole of the Jebel Haurān, or mountain of the Druses, who have in these parts a settlement of about twenty villages; I passed Bozra, a place mentioned in the books of Moses, and not to be confounded with Boostra; I then entered the desert to the south-east of it, and returned afterward to Damascus through the rocky [Pg 176] district on the foot of the Jebel Haurān, called El Leja. At every step I found vestiges of ancient cities; saw the remains of many temples, public edifices, and Greek churches; met at Shohbe with a well-preserved amphitheatre, at other places with numbers of still standing columns, and had opportunities of copying many Greek inscriptions, which may serve to throw some light upon the history of this almost forgotten corner. The inscriptions are for the greater part of the lower empire, but some of the most elegant ruins have their inscriptions dated from the reigns of Trajan and M. Aurelius. The Haurān, with its adjacent districts, is the spring and summer rendezvous of most of the Arab tribes, who inhabit in winter time the great Syrian desert, called by them El Hammad. They approach the cultivated lands in search of grass, water, and corn, of which last they buy up in the Haurān their yearly provision.”

Having to a certain extent satisfied his curiosity respecting this obscure country, he returned by way of Homs and Hamah towards Aleppo, where he arrived on the New-year’s day of 1811. He now meditated an excursion into the desert towards the Euphrates, but was for some time prevented from putting his design in execution by the troubled state of the country, two powerful Arab tribes, the one inimical, the other friendly to the Aleppines, having been for many months at war with each other. Burckhardt at length succeeded, however, in placing himself under the protection of the Sheïkh of Sukhne, and set out towards the desert: but his own account of this journey was lost, and all that can now be known of it is to be gathered from a letter from Mr. Barker, the celebrated British consul at Aleppo, to whose princely hospitality so many travellers of all nations have been indebted. “One hundred and twenty, or one hundred and fifty miles below the ruins of Membigeh, in the Zor,” says this gentleman, [Pg 177] “there is a tract on the banks of the Euphrates possessed by a tribe of very savage Arabs. Not far from them is the village of Sukhne, at the distance of five days from Aleppo, and of twelve hours from Palmyra, in the road which Zenobia in her flight took to gain the Euphrates. The people of Sukhne are sedentary Arabs, of a breed half Fellah and half Bedouin. They bring to Aleppo alkali and ostrich feathers. It was upon one of these visits of the Sheïkh of Sukhne to Aleppo, that Burckhardt, after some negotiation, resolved to accept the protection of the sheïkh, who undertook, upon their arrival at his village, to place him under the protection of a Bedouin of sufficient influence to procure him a safe passage through the tribes of the country which he wished to explore. Burckhardt had reason to be satisfied both with the Sheïkh of Sukhne, and with the Arab whom he procured as an escort, except that, in the end, the protection of the latter proved insufficient. The consequence was, that poor Burckhardt was stripped to the skin, and he returned to Sukhne, his body blistered with the rays of the sun, and without having accomplished any of the objects of his journey. It was in this excursion to the desert that Burckhardt had so hard a struggle with an Arab lady, who took a fancy to the only garment which the delicacy or compassion of the men had left him.”

After his return from this unfortunate journey, Burckhardt was delayed for a considerable time at Aleppo by incessant rains; but at length, on the 14th of February, he bade this city a final adieu, and hastened once more to Damascus. He was desirous, before quitting Syria, of performing another journey in the Haurān. This he completed, and having transmitted to England an account of his discoveries in this extraordinary region, he departed on the 18th of June for the Dead Sea. The reader will not, I imagine, be displeased to find the [Pg 178] description of this journey given in the author’s own words: having reached Nazareth, “I met here,” says he, “a couple of petty merchants from Szalt, a castle in the mountains of Balka, which I had not been able to see during my late tour, and which lies on the road I had pointed out to myself for passing into the Egyptian deserts. I joined their caravan; after eight hours’ march, we descended into the valley of the Jordan, called El Gor, near Bysan; crossed the river, and continued along its verdant banks for about ten hours, until we reached the river Zerka, near the place where it empties itself into the Jordan. Turning then to our left, we ascended the eastern chain, formerly part of the district of Balka, and arrived at Szalt, two long days’ journey from Nazareth. The inhabitants of Szalt are entirely independent of the Turkish government; they cultivate the ground for a considerable distance round their habitations, and part of them live the whole year round in tents, to watch their harvests and to pasture their cattle. Many ruined places and mountains in the district of Balka preserve the names of the Old Testament, and elucidate the topography of the province that fell to the share of the tribes of Gad and Reuben. Szalt is at present the only inhabited place in the Balka, but numerous Arab tribes pasture there their camels and sheep. I visited from thence the ruins of Amān, or Philadelphia, five hours and a half distant from Szalt. They are situated in a valley on both sides of a rivulet, which empties itself into the Zerka. A large amphitheatre is the most remarkable of these ruins, which are much decayed, and in every respect inferior to those of Jerash. At four or five hours south-east of Amān are the ruins of Om Erresas and El Kotif, which I could not see, but which, according to report, are more considerable than those of Philadelphia. The want of communication between Szalt and the southern countries [Pg 179] delayed my departure for upwards of a week; I found at last a guide, and we reached Kerek in two days and a half, after having passed the deep beds of the torrents El Wale and El Mojeb, which I suppose to be the Nahaliel and Arnon. The Mojeb divides the district of Balka from that of Kerek, as it formerly divided the Moabites from the Amorites. The ruins of Eleale, Hesebon, Meon, Medaba, Dibon, Arver, all situated on the north side of the Arnon, still subsist to illustrate the history of the Beni Israel. To the south of the wild torrent Mojeb I found the considerable ruins of Rabbab Moab: and, three hours’ distance from them, the town of Kerek, situated at about twelve hours’ distance to the east of the southern extremity of the Dead Sea....

“The treachery of the Sheïkh of Kerek, to whom I had been particularly recommended by a grandee of Damascus, obliged me to stay at Kerek above twenty days. After having annoyed me in different ways, he permitted me to accompany him southward, as he had himself business in the mountains of Djebal, a district which is divided from that of Kerek by the deep bed of the torrent El Ahhsa, or El Kahary, eight hours’ distance from Kerek. We remained for ten days in the villages to the north and south of El Ansa, which are inhabited by Arabs, who have become cultivators, and who sell the produce of their fields to the Bedouins. The sheïkh, having finished his business, left me at Beszeyra, a village about sixteen hours south of Kerek, to shift for myself, after having maliciously recommended me to the care of a Bedouin, with whose character he must have been acquainted, and who nearly stripped me of the remainder of my money. I encountered here many difficulties, was obliged to walk from one encampment to another, until I found at last a Bedouin who engaged to carry me to Egypt. In his company I continued southward, in the mountains of Shera, which are divided to the north from [Pg 180] Djebal by the broad valley called Ghoseyr, at about five hours’ distance from Beszeyra. The chief place in Djebal is Tafyle, and in Shera the castle of Shobak. This chain of mountains is a continuation of the eastern Syrian chain, which begins with the Antilibanus, joins the Jebel el Sheïkh, forms the valley of Ghor, and borders the Dead Sea. The valley of Ghor is continued to the south of the Dead Sea; at about sixteen hours’ distance from the extremity of the Dead Sea its name is changed into that of Araba, and it runs in almost a straight line, declining somewhat to the west as far as Akaba, at the extremity of the eastern branch of the Red Sea. The existence of this valley appears to have been unknown to ancient as well as modern geographers, although it is a very remarkable feature in the geography of Syria and Arabia Petræa, and is still more interesting for its productions. In this valley the manna is still found; it drops from the sprigs of several trees, but principally from the Gharrab. It is collected by the Arabs, who make cakes of it, and who eat it with butter; they call it Assal Beyrook, or the honey of Beyrook. Indigo, gum-arabic, and the silk-tree, called Asheyr, whose fruit encloses a white silky substance, of which the Arabs twist their matches, grow in this valley.”

In this valley, about two long days’ journey north-east of Akaba, is a small rivulet, near the banks of which Burckhardt discovered the ruins of a city, which he conjectured to be those of Petra, the capital of Arabia Petræa. No other European traveller had ever visited the spot, though few places in Western Asia seem more curious or deserving of examination. The red rocks composing the flanks of the valley contained upwards of two hundred and fifty sepulchral chambers, adorned with Grecian ornaments. Besides these there were numerous mausolea, some in the Egyptian style, with obelisks, others in the chaste manner of the Greeks; and [Pg 181] among the latter there was one in perfect preservation, and of vast dimensions, with all its apartments, its vestibule, its peristyle, &c. cut out in the solid rock. On the summit of the mountain which forms the western boundary of the valley is the tomb of Aaron, which the Arabs, who are great Scriptural antiquarians, hold in extraordinary veneration. Our traveller, however, to his great regret, was necessitated to abandon to some more fortunate visiter the thorough examination of this interesting region, at which circumstances allowed him merely to cast a glance as he was hurrying along with his Bedouin conductor towards the Red Sea. In proceeding from this place towards Akaba he encountered a small party of Arabs who were conducting a few camels for sale to Cairo, and uniting himself to this little caravan, performed the remainder of the journey in their company. “We crossed the valley of Araba,” says he, “ascended on the other side of it the barren mountains of Beyane, and entered the desert called El Tih, which is the most barren and horrid tract of country I have ever seen; black flints cover the chalky or sandy ground, which in most places is without any vegetation. The tree which produces the gum-arabic grows in some spots; and the tamarisk is met with here and there; but the scarcity of water forbids much extent of vegetation, and the hungry camels are obliged to go in the evening for whole hours out of the road in order to find some withered shrubs upon which to feed. During ten days’ forced marches we passed only four springs or wells, of which one only, at about eight hours east of Suez, was of sweet water. The others were brackish and sulphureous. We passed at a short distance to the north of Suez, and arrived at Cairo by the pilgrim road.”

On his arrival at Cairo, Burckhardt’s first employment was to draw up a detailed account of his journey through Arabia Petræa: he then turned his [Pg 182] attention to the means of fulfilling the great design of his mission; but no opportunity of penetrating into the interior of Africa occurring, he undertook, in order to fill up the interval thus created, a journey into Nubia. During his residence at Cairo, and on his journey up the Nile to Assouan, he beheld the principal ruins of Egypt. His preparations for the Nubian excursion were soon made. He purchased two dromedaries, one for himself and the other for his guide, for about twenty-two pounds; provided himself with letters of recommendation, and a firman from the pasha; and leaving his servant and baggage at Assouan, set out with his guide on the 14th of February, 1813, carrying along with him nothing but a gun, a sabre, a pistol, a provision-bag, and a woollen mantle, which served by day for a carpet, and for a covering during the night.

Their road lay along the eastern bank of the Nile; they passed Philæ (where, a few days before, a pregnant woman had been killed in a fray, as the softer sex always mix in the battles in which their husbands are engaged, which had created a deadly feud between the hostile villages); and then pushed on with rapidity towards Derr. The Mameluke chiefs, with their desperate followers, were at this period roaming about Nubia, amusing their imaginations with vain projects for the recovery of Egypt.—Every person coming from the north was of course an object of curiosity, if not of suspicion, to these baffled soldiers, as it was possible he might be the bearer of tidings of events upon the results of which their fate depended. Such was the state of things when Burckhardt entered Nubia. Everywhere reports calculated to create alarm were circulated. To-day it was said that the Mamelukes had descended, like famished tigers, from the mountains, and were about to deliver up the whole country to plunder and devastation; to-morrow they appeared to have passed away, like a thunder-cloud, towards [Pg 183] Dongola and the desert, leaving behind them that sort of uneasy satisfaction with which we behold the quelling of unruly elements.

Burckhardt arrived at Derr on the 1st of March, and, to his surprise, found two Mameluke beys at the palace of the governor. He had reckoned upon their utter disappearance, and had intended, under these circumstances, to represent himself as the secret agent of the Pasha of Egypt; but learning, upon inquiry, that the pasha and his enemies were regarded with nearly equal dread by the Nubian princes, he changed his resolution, and professed to be guided in his motions by no other motive than pleasure. Ignorant persons find it hard to conceive that men can expose themselves to difficulties and dangers from an enthusiasm for knowledge, or can find pleasure in encountering hardships and fatigue; however, a concurrence of fortunate circumstances extorted from the governor a permission to proceed, and accordingly, having provided himself with provisions for the road, our traveller departed for Sukkot.

His guide on the present occasion was an old Arab of the Ababde tribe. The branch of the Ababde to which this man, whose name was Mohammed, belonged, feed their flocks on the uninhabited banks of the river, and on its numerous islands, as far south as Dongola. Though poor, they refuse to bestow their daughters, who are famed for their beauty, in marriage on the rich Nubians, and have thus preserved the purity of their race. They are, moreover, an honest and hospitable race, and during his journeys in Nubia, Burckhardt was constantly received and treated with kindness by these simple people.

In pursuing his course up the Nile, our traveller passed a day at Ibrim, a town inhabited by Turks, where, though quarrels and bloodshed were frequent, property was more secure than in any other town [Pg 184] he had visited in the eastern world; the corn was left all night in the field, and the cattle on the banks of the river, unwatched, and even the greater part of the household furniture remained all night under the palm-trees around their dwellings. Indeed, theft was here quite unknown. Proceeding a short distance to the south of this town, he dismounted from his dromedary, and directing his guide to continue his road to the next village, struck off into a narrow footpath along the lofty, precipitous shores of the river. Pursuing this mountain-track he arrived at an ancient temple hewn out of the rock, in as perfect a state of preservation as when first finished. Sepulchral chambers and mystic sculptures, the usual accompaniments of Egyptian temples, were found here.

The reception which our traveller and his guide met with at the Nubian villages was generally hospitable; as soon as they alighted a mat was spread for them upon the ground, just before the door of the house, which none but intimate friends are permitted to enter; dhourra bread, milk, and sometimes dates were placed before the strangers, and their host, if earnestly pressed, sat down with them. Straw, when plentiful, was likewise given to their camels; and when the host desired to be particularly hospitable, a breakfast of hot milk and bread was served up before their departure in the morning.

At length, on the 6th of March, they arrived on a sandy plain, sprinkled with rocky points, which thrust up their heads through the sand that concealed their bases. Here they encamped in the evening near one of the islands which are formed by the river. The noise of the cataract was heard in the night, at about half an hour’s distance. The place is very romantic: when the inundation subsides, many small lakes are left among the rocks; and the banks of these, overgrown with large tamarisks, have a picturesque appearance amid the black and [Pg 185] green rocks; the lakes and pools thus formed cover a space of upwards of two miles in breadth.

The Arabs who serve as guides through these wild districts “have devised,” says Burckhardt, “a singular mode of extorting small presents from the traveller: they alight at certain spots, and beg a present; if it is refused, they collect a heap of sand, and mould it into the form of a diminutive tomb, and then placing a stone at each of its extremities, they apprize the traveller that his tomb is made; meaning that henceforward there will be no security for him in this rocky wilderness. Most persons pay a trifling contribution rather than have their graves made before their eyes; there were, however, several tombs of this description dispersed over the plain. Being satisfied with my guide, I gave him one piastre, with which he was content.”

On his arriving in the territory of Sukkot, he presented the letter to the governor of which he was the bearer; and received from this old savage a scrap of paper, containing an introduction to his son, who was the chief of the southern part of the district. Here the guide, who had been granted him at Derr, reached the extremity of his commission, and announced his intention of returning from thence; four piastres, however, overcame his determination, and he agreed to proceed to Mahass: “If Hassan Kashif,” said he, “upbraids me, I shall tell him that you rode on, notwithstanding my exhortations, and that I did not think it honourable to leave you alone.” An admirable custom prevails in this and every other part of Nubia: water-jars are placed under a low roof at short distances by the roadside, where the traveller may always quench his thirst; and every village pays a small monthly sum to some person to fill those jars morning and evening. The same thing is practised upon a much larger scale in Upper Egypt.

Upon Burckhardt’s reaching the Mahass territory, [Pg 186] he suddenly found himself in the midst of the worst description of savages. The governor, a ferocious black, received him in a hut, furiously intoxicated, and surrounded by numerous followers in the same condition. In the midst of their drunken mirth they called for their muskets, and amused themselves with firing in the hut. Burckhardt every moment expected that a random ball would put an end to his travels; but the palm wine at length extended the whole of this atrocious rabble upon the ground, and next morning, when sleep had somewhat restored the tone of the governor’s senses, he found time to question our traveller respecting the motives of his visit. The story which he related to them was not believed: “You are an agent of Mohammed,” said they; “but at Mahass we spit at Mohammed Ali’s beard, and cut off the heads of those who are enemies to the Mamelukes.” These suspicions, although they produced no immediate injury to his personal safety, entirely put a stop to his progress farther south; for he was now within two days and a half of the limits of Dongola, where the Mamelukes were lords paramount, and to enter their territories with the character of an agent of Mohammed Ali would be to court certain death. He therefore turned his face towards the north, and travelled with all possible celerity along the eastern bank of the Nile, until he arrived at Kolbe, where he swam across the river, holding by his camel’s tail with one hand, and urging on the beast with the other.

Burckhardt now descended the Nile to Ipsambol, the vast rocky temple of which he supposed to be of extremely ancient date. He here found four colossal statues of enormous magnitude, which had been hewn out of the rock, on the face of an elevated cliff, with their backs adhering to the precipice. The fine sand of the desert had been blown up into mounds against the rock, and covered two of these statues almost entirely; the rest rose [Pg 187] somewhat above the surface. The faces of these colossal statues are turned towards the north. “The head, which is above the surface,” says he, “has a most expressive youthful countenance, approaching nearer to the Grecian model of beauty than that of any ancient Egyptian figure I have seen; indeed, were it not for a thin, oblong beard, it might well pass for a head of Pallas.”

From Ipsambol he continued his journey to Mosmos and Derr, where he parted with his guide, who, on taking his leave, begged as a present the mellaye, or cloak, which our traveller usually wore. To this request Burckhardt replied, “May God smooth your path!”—a phrase usually addressed to beggars, when they are civilly told to be gone. “No,” said the Arab, who had often employed this phrase when he desired to elude the questions of the traveller, “for once I will beg you to smooth it.” “So,” says Burckhardt, “I gave him the mellaye, and a small present in money; and am confident that Abou Saad will never forget me.”

On his return to Assouan, Burckhardt’s first care was to repair, by repose, the inroads which fatigue had made upon his constitution. He then repaired to Esne, where he established his head-quarters. It being his policy to excite but little attention, he very seldom went into company, dressed meanly, and reduced his expenditure to the lowest possible sum. The cheapness of provisions was incredible. His whole expenditure for himself, his servant, his dromedary, and his ass not exceeding one shilling and sixpence per day, while his horse cost him no more than sixteen pence per month.

Here he remained until the 2d of March, 1814, when he joined himself, as a petty trader, to another caravan, which was proceeding from Deraou to Berber. The caravan, consisting of about fifty merchants, with their slaves and beasts, moved under the protection of about thirty Ababde Arabs, who, though no heroes or philosophers, were not remarkably [Pg 188] deficient either in courage or humanity. Burckhardt was a man more apt to blame than praise. If an individual performed a generous action, he generally evinced a disposition to attribute it to some selfish or mean motive, probably from the opinion that it might be considered vulgar and unphilosophical to betray a belief in disinterested virtue. It is to be regretted, however, that he should have indulged in this unamiable habit of thinking, as nothing more surely tends to awaken the resentment or suspicion of the reader, who will be led to imagine that he who constantly misrepresents the motives of men may sometimes, from unknown causes, be tempted to misrepresent their manners and actions also. If we do not entertain this opinion of Burckhardt, it is that we exercise towards him a higher degree of charity than he was accustomed to exercise towards others.

The march of a caravan through the desert is a magnificent spectacle. There is a kind of sublime daring in thus venturing upon what seem to be the secret places of nature; the places whence the simoom, the hurricane, and the locust-cloud issue forth upon their fatal errands, and where many tremendous phenomena, peculiar to those dreary regions, present themselves, at intervals, to the astonished but delighted eye of the traveller.

Burckhardt, on this occasion, possessed no command over his own movements. He travelled, halted, ate, slept, in obedience to the fantasy of the caravan-leaders; who were ignorant, however, that the humble trader, whom they regarded, at most, with compassion, was at that moment forming reflections, and bringing observations to maturity, which were, perhaps for ages, to affect the opinion entertained by the civilized world of their character and pursuits. Meanwhile the merchants, who were chiefly engaged in the debasing traffic of slaves, and, as may be supposed, cherished no respect for any [Pg 189] thing but riches, and the power which commands riches, looked upon their humble companion with undisguised contempt; for imbecility and ignorance are of themselves incapable of appreciating intellectual superiority, and reverence it only when it is exerted for their defence or destruction. The scorn which our traveller entertained for those miscreants was, therefore, just. They constantly treated him with contumely, though he professed a belief in the same law and the same prophets; plundered his water-skins, or obstructed his filling them at the wells, thus exposing him to the danger of perishing of thirst; circulated, in the towns where they stopped, the report that he was a spy; and, in short, put in practice every art which their dastardly malice and shallow brains could conceive, in order to disgust him with the trade, and thus free themselves from a new competitor. But they were slave-dealers: an epithet which comprises every thing most loathsome and abominable; and their manners entirely corresponded with their occupation, being marked by a degree of depravity which language blushes to describe.

At the end of a week’s journey, the caravan arrived at the celebrated wells of El Haimar, in the vicinity of which they found the tomb of a Mameluke chief, who died on this spot. “His companions, having enclosed the naked corpse within low walls of loose stones, had covered it over with a large block. The dryness of the air had preserved the corpse in the most perfect state. Looking at it through the interstices of the stones which enveloped it, it appeared to me a more perfect mummy than any I had seen in Egypt. The mouth was wide open, and our guide related that the man had died for want of water, although so near the wells.” Next day they passed Wady Ollaky, a fine valley, extending east and west from the Nile to the Red Sea. Here were numerous trees and excellent pasture; advantages which [Pg 190] caused it to be regarded with peculiar veneration by the Bedouins; and every man, as he traversed it on his ass or camel, took a handful of dhourra, and threw it on the ground, as a kind of pious offering to the good genius of the Wady.

On the following day, in crossing Wady El Towashy, or the Valley of the Eunuch, Burckhardt saw the tomb of that Mahomet Towash whose body was found on the sands by Bruce, three days after he had been murdered by his guides. The principal facts in Bruce’s narrative of this transaction Burckhardt found to be true, but he imagined that the details of the story must have been “made up.” Nothing can be conceived more insolent or absurd than this skepticism. Why should it be supposed that we were to accept the testimony of this young man, coming from a country where assuredly truth is not more respected than it is in Britain, and who, compared with Bruce, was an unknown and an inferior person, before that of an English gentleman, whose education was conducted with the utmost care, and who, except as a traveller, was never regarded, I believe, other than as a person of probity and honour? The principle which teaches the despots of the East to respect each other’s harems, when, by the chances of war, they fall into their hands, as Darius’s fell into those of Alexander, should, we think, be acted upon by travellers, who, unless upon the amplest and most satisfactory information, should beware of tampering with the integrity of each other’s characters. The contrary proceeding must, in the end, be productive of a degree of skepticism which would extinguish all enthusiasm and enterprise in travellers, who, at this rate, could expect no better fate than to be denounced as liars by every timid knave, who, skulking by his own fireside, might be impelled by envy to rail at those who boldly measure sea and land, and undergo the extremity of hardships to obtain an honourable reputation.

[Pg 191]

Burckhardt, however, had acquired the habit of suspecting every thing, not because he himself could have been guilty of an untruth, for he was a high-spirited and honourable man, but because he generalized too hastily. I readily pardon his error, therefore, and trust that his involuntary injustice may be injurious neither to Bruce’s character, nor to his own. His picture of what he endured in the course of this journey is sufficient to account for any little asperity of manner observable in his travels. “For myself,” says he, in describing what daily occurred at their halting-places, “I was often driven from the coolest and most comfortable birth into the burning sun, and generally passed the midday hours in great distress; for besides the exposure to heat, I had to cook my dinner, a service which I could never prevail upon any of my companions, even the poorest servants, to perform for me, though I offered to let them share my homely fare. In the evening the same labour occurred again, when fatigued by the day’s journey, during which I always walked for four or five hours, in order to spare my ass, and when I was in the utmost need of repose. Hunger, however, always prevailed over fatigue, and I was obliged to fetch and cut wood, to light a fire, to cook, to feed the ass, and finally to make coffee, a cup of which, presented to my Daraou companions, who were extremely eager to obtain it, was the only means I possessed of keeping them in tolerable good-humour. A good night’s rest, however, always repaired my strength, and I was never in better health and spirits than during this journey, although its fatigues were certainly very great, and much beyond my expectation. The common dish of all the travellers at noon was fetyre, which is flour mixed up with water into a liquid paste, and then baked upon the sadj, or iron plate; butter is then poured over it, or honey, or sometimes a sauce is [Pg 192] made of butter and dried bamyé. In the evening some lentils are boiled, or some bread is baked with salt, either upon the sadj or in ashes, and a sauce of bamyé, or onion, poured over lentils, or upon the bread, after it has been crumbled into small pieces. Early in the morning every one eats a piece of dry biscuit, with some raw onions or dates.”

On the 14th of March, on arriving at the Wady el Nabeh, they found the celebrated wells of that valley insufficient to supply the caravan until they should reach the rocks of Shigre, and as no water was anywhere to be found in the intervening space they were reduced to the greatest perplexity. “Upon such occasions as these,” says Burckhardt, “every man gives his opinion: and mine was, that we should kill our thirty-five asses, which required a daily supply of at least fifteen water-skins, that we should load the camels to the utmost of their strength with water, and strike out a straight way through the desert towards Berber, without touching at Shigre; in this manner we might perform the journey in five forced marches.” This plan the Arabs refused to follow. They repaired their water-skins and their sandals, refreshed themselves with bathing in the cool wells, and then set out. But “it was not without great apprehension,” says our traveller, “that I departed from this place. Our camels and asses carried water for three or four days only, and I saw no possibility of escaping from the dreadful effects of a want of water. In order to keep my ass in good spirits, I took off the two small water-skins with which I had hitherto loaded him, and paid one of the Ababdes four dollars to carry four small water-skins as far as Berber; for I thought that if the ass could carry me, I might bear thirst for two days at least, but that if he should break down, I should certainly not be able to walk one whole day without water in this hot season of the year.”

[Pg 193]

Notwithstanding all these difficulties and sufferings, our traveller considered the Nubian desert, at least as far south as Shigre, far less terrible than that of Syria or Tyh. Trees and water are much more frequent, and though it be intersected in various directions by shaggy barren rocks, the more desolate and awful appearance which it acquires from this circumstance is, in a great measure, compensated for by its consequent grandeur and variety. “Here,” says the traveller, “during the whole day’s march, we were surrounded on all sides by lakes of mirage, called by the Arabs Serab. Its colour was of the purest azure, and so clear that the shadows of the mountains that bordered the horizon were reflected on it with the greatest precision, and the delusion of its being a sheet of water was thus rendered still more perfect.” This mockwater, however, only served to heighten the terrors which the scarcity of real water excited. Every man now began to attach the greatest importance to the small stock he possessed. Burckhardt, who possessed but two draughts of water in the world, drank the moiety of it at once, reserving the remainder for the next day; but, observing the general scarcity, shared the dejection of his companions. At length, their condition having become nearly desperate, they adopted the course recommended by the Ababde chief, and despatched ten or twelve of their companions, mounted on as many camels, to the nearest part of the Nile, which was not more than five or six hours distant; but its banks being inhabited in this part by fierce hostile tribes, nothing but the fear of instant death could have forced them upon this step. They timed their march in such a manner that they would reach the banks of the river by night; when they were directed to select some uninhabited spot, and having there loaded their camels, to return with all speed. “We passed the evening,” says Burckhardt, “in the greatest anxiety, for if the camels should not return, [Pg 194] we had little hopes of escape either from thirst or from the sword of our enemies, who, if they had once got sight of our camels, would have followed their footsteps through the desert, and would certainly have discovered us. Many of my companions came in the course of the evening to beg some water of me, but I had well hidden my treasure, and answered them by showing my empty skins. We remained the greater part of the night in silent and sullen expectation of the result of our desperate mission. At length, about three o’clock in the morning, we heard the distant hallooings of our companions; and soon after refreshed ourselves with copious draughts of the delicious water of the Nile.”

This was the last of their sufferings on this route; on the 23d of March they entered on a plain with a slight slope towards the river, which was felt at more than two hours’ distance by the greater moisture of the air. The Arabs exclaimed, “God be praised, we again smell the Nile!” and about ten o’clock at night, the caravan entered the village of Ankhecreh, the principal place in the district of Berber. Burckhardt’s residence at this place was nothing but one continued series of annoyance. The principal delight of the whole population, among whom drunkenness and debauchery were scarcely accounted vices, seemed to consist in deluding and plundering travellers, who on all the envenomed soil of Africa could scarcely be exposed to more irritating insults or extortion than on this spot.

The caravan, now reduced to about two-thirds of its original number, several of the merchants having returned to Egypt, while others remained at Berber to dispose of their goods, again put itself in motion on the 7th of April. Our traveller, who had hitherto attached himself to the merchant portion of the party, several of whom, previous to their leaving Egypt, had received benefits at his hands, was here [Pg 195] driven by abuse and contumely to take refuge among the Ababde, who not only willingly received him as their companion, but exercised their influence, on more than one occasion, to protect him from violence. Pursuing a southerly direction for three days, they arrived at the town of Damer, which, under the government of a number of religious men, had attained a very high pitch of prosperity. Their sanctity, indeed, was considerably aided by their skill in magic, which, as Burckhardt was credibly informed, was so great that, on one occasion, the Faky el Kebir, or Great Fakir, caused a lamb to bleat in the stomach of the thief who had stolen, and afterward eaten it. There was no daily market at Damer, nor was there any thing whatever sold publicly, except on the weekly market-day. However, as our traveller needed a few measures of dhourra for his ass, and found it impracticable to purchase less than a dollar’s worth, which would have been more than he could carry, he was under the necessity of imitating his companions, and went from house to house with some strings of beads in his hands, offering them for sale at about four handfuls of dhourra for each bead. “I gained at this rate,” says he, “about sixty per cent. above the prime cost, and had at the same time an opportunity of entering many private houses. I repeated these walks every day during our stay. One afternoon, while crying my beads for sale, I was accosted by a faky, who asked me if I could read. On my answering in the affirmative, he desired me to follow him to a place where, he said, I might expect to get a good dinner. He then led me to a house where I found a great number of people, collected to celebrate the memory of some relative lately deceased. Several fakies were reading the Koran in a low tone of voice. A great faky afterward came in, whose arrival was the signal for reciting the Koran in loud songs, in the manner customary in the East, in [Pg 196] which I joined them. This was continued for about half an hour, until dinner was brought in, which was very plentiful, as a cow had been killed upon the occasion. After a hearty meal, we recommenced our reading. One of the sheïkhs produced a basketful of white pebbles, over which several prayers were read. These pebbles were destined to be strewed over the tomb of the deceased in the manner which I had often observed upon tombs freshly made. Upon my inquiries respecting this custom, which I confessed to have never before seen practised in any Mohammedan country, the faky answered that it was a mere meritorious action: that there was no absolute necessity for it; but that it was thought that the soul of the deceased, when hereafter visiting the tomb, might be glad to find these pebbles, in order to use them as beads in addressing its prayers to the Creator. When the reading was over, the women began to sing and howl. I then left the room, and on taking my departure my kind host put some bones of roasted meat in my hand to serve for my supper.”

In proceeding from this place to Shendy the caravan was accompanied by several fakies, whose presence was found to be a sufficient protection against the Nubian Bedouins. They reached Shendy on the 17th of April, and this being, next to Sennaar and Kobbe, the largest town in eastern Soudan, they remained here a whole month, during which time Burckhardt enjoyed an ample opportunity of collecting materials for an account of this and the neighbouring countries. Crocodiles are numerous in this part of the Nile. They are much dreaded by the inhabitants, who, when repairing to its banks for water or to wash their linen, are in constant fear of these creatures. Burckhardt ate of the crocodile’s flesh, which he found of a dirty white colour, not unlike young veal, with a slight fishy smell. To bring its flesh into fashion as an article of food [Pg 197] would be the most certain way of rendering it rare.

At this place Burckhardt abandoned all idea of proceeding farther south, and, in order to procure himself some little civility from his former companions, circulated the report that he intended to return directly to Egypt, where, by describing to the pasha their conduct towards him during the journey, he might do them considerable injury. This stratagem succeeded. Their civility and affected friendship now surpassed their former insolence. In the mean while, understanding that a caravan was about to set out for Suakin on the Red Sea, our traveller prevailed on the Ababde chief to introduce and recommend him as his own friend to its leader. Here he disposed of his merchandise, and purchased a slave-boy to attend upon him on the road; and having laid in the necessary quantity of provisions, joined the Suakin caravan, and departed from Shendy on the 17th of May. “After all my accounts were settled,” says he, “I had four dollars left; but the smallness of the sum occasioned me no uneasiness, for I calculated on selling my camel on the coast for as much as would defray the expenses of my voyage to Jidda, and I had a letter of credit on that place for a considerable sum, which I had procured at Cairo.”

The road now traversed by the caravan crossed the Atbara, the Astaboras of the ancients, on the banks of which they found numerous groves of trees, and the most luxuriant vegetation. At the sight of this, the imagination even of the slave-dealers was touched with enthusiasm; and in alluding to the dreary track over which they had travelled, one of them exclaimed, “After death comes paradise!” “There was a greater variety of natural vegetation here than I had seen anywhere on the banks of the Nile in Egypt. I observed different species of the mimosa, doom-trees of the largest size, whose luxuriant clusters of fruit excited the wishes of the slaves, the nebek-tree, with its fruit ripe; the allobé, [Pg 198] of the size of the nebek, besides a great number of others unknown to me; to these may be added an abundance of wild herbage, growing on a rich fat soil, similar to that of Egypt. The trees were inhabited by great numbers of the feathered tribe, whose song travellers in Egypt very rarely hear. I saw no birds with rich plumage, but observed small ones of several different kinds. Some sweet notes struck my ears, which I had never before heard, and the amorous cooings of the turtle-dove were unceasing. We hastened to the river, and eagerly descended its low banks to allay our thirst. Several camels, at the sight of the water, broke the halters by which they were led, and in rushing or stumbling down the banks threw off their loads, and occasioned great clamour and disorder.”

In the vicinity of Goz Rajeb, Burckhardt saw on the summit of a hill the ruins of a huge fabric of ancient times, but was deterred from visiting it by the assertion of his companions that it was the haunt of banditti. On the 5th of June, while the caravan halted at an encampment of Hadendoa Bedouins, Burckhardt beheld the effects of a desert storm: “Towards evening we were visited by another hurricane, the most tremendous I ever remember to have witnessed. A dark blue cloud first appeared, extending to about 25° above the horizon; as it approached nearer, and increased in height, it assumed an ash-gray colour, with a tinge of yellow, striking every person in the caravan who had not been accustomed to such phenomena with amazement at its magnificent and terrific appearance; as the cloud approached still nearer, the yellow tinge became more general, while the horizon presented the brightest azure. At last, it burst upon us in its rapid course, and involved us in darkness and confusion; nothing could be distinguished at the distance of five or six feet; our eyes were filled with dust; our temporary sheds were blown down at the first gust, [Pg 199] and many of the more firmly fixed tents of the Hadendoa followed; the largest withstood for a time the effects of the blast, but were at last obliged to yield, and the whole camp was levelled with the ground. In the mean time the terrified camels arose, broke the cords by which they were fastened, and endeavoured to escape from the destruction which appeared to threaten them; thus adding not a little to our embarrassment. After blowing about half an hour with incessant violence, the wind suddenly abated, and when the atmosphere became clear, the tremendous cloud was seen continuing its havoc to the north-west.”

Next day they reached Taka, a district famous for its fertility, where hares, gazelles, wolves, giraffes, and limes as large, it was said, as cows, were found in the woods. Hence, after a stay of several days, they departed for Suakin, and after a not unpleasant journey through a wild, picturesque country, approached the termination of their toils. On the morning of the last day they started before sunrise. “The eastern hills,” says Burckhardt, “terminate in this latitude; and the sun was just rising beyond them, when we descried its reflection at an immense distance in the sea, affording a pleasing sight to every individual in the caravan, but most of all to me.” At length, on the 26th of June, they reached Suakin, and pitched their little sheds at about twenty minutes’ walk from the town. Next day they were visited by the emir, who, understanding that our traveller’s camel was an excellent animal, determined on taking it as a part of the caravan dues; upon which Burckhardt insisted upon referring their difference to the Turkish custom-house officer. His wishes were quickly complied with, but the aga, instead of interfering to protect the stranger, immediately conceived the idea of uniting with the emir in seizing upon the whole of his property; and therefore, pretending to regard him as a Mameluke spy, [Pg 200] began at once to overwhelm him with abuse. To all this Burckhardt returned no reply, but requested the aga to inform him whether the emir was entitled to his camel. “Not only thy camel,” replied the Turk, “but thy whole baggage must be taken and searched. We shall render a good account of them to the pasha, depend upon it. You shall not impose upon us, you rascal; and you may be thankful if we do not cut off your head!” Our traveller protested that he was nothing but an unfortunate merchant, and endeavoured, by a submissive deportment, to pacify his anger; but “he began cursing and swearing in Turkish,” says Burckhardt, “and then calling an old cripple, to whom he had given the title of waly, or police-officer, he ordered him to tie my hands, to put me in prison, and to bring my slave and baggage into his presence. I now thought it high time to produce my firmans, which I drew from a secret pocket in my thaboot; one of them was written in Turkish, upon a piece of paper two feet and a half in length, and one foot in breadth, and was sealed with the great seal of Mohammed Aly; the other, a smaller one, was written in Arabic, and bore the seal of Ibrahim Pasha, his son, in which Ibrahim termed me ‘Our man, Ibrahim, the Syrian.’ When Yemak saw the firmans unfolded, he became completely stupified, and the persons present looked at me with amazement. The aga could read the Arabic only; but he kissed them both, put them to his forehead, and then protested to me, in the most submissive terms, that it was the good of the public service alone that had led him to treat me as he had done, and for which he begged me a thousand pardons. Nothing more was said about the emir’s right to my camel, and he declared that I should pay no duty for my slave, though he was entitled to it.”

Burckhardt now disposed of his camel, and took his passage to Jidda in one of the country vessels. After tossing about the Red Sea for nearly a fortnight, [Pg 201] visiting Macouar, and several points of the African coast, he arrived at Jidda on the 18th of July, 1814. His first care now was to present his letter of credit, which being of an old date, however, he was refused payment, though the merchant offered him a lodging at his house. This he accepted, but removed, two days afterward, to a public khan, where he was attacked by a fever, in which he lay delirious for several days. His recovery from this violent disorder, which he attributed to his indulging in the fine fruits of the Jidda market, seems to have been chiefly owing to the kindness of a Greek captain, who, having been his fellow-passenger from Suakin, attended him during one of his lucid intervals, and, at his own request, procured a barber, who bled him copiously.

Here our traveller was reduced to the hard necessity of parting with his slave, for whom he obtained forty-eight dollars, of which thirty-two were profit. With this he dressed himself in the guise of a reduced Egyptian gentleman, and determined to remain in the Hejaz until the time of the pilgrimage in the following November. However, as his funds were far too low to enable him to live independently until that period, he began to turn his thoughts towards manual labour; but first determined upon trying the effect of a direct application to Mohammed Aly, then at Tayef. He accordingly wrote to his highness’s Armenian physician, who was likewise at Tayef with his master, requesting him to learn from the pasha whether he would accept a bill upon Burckhardt’s correspondent at Cairo, and order his treasurer at Jidda to pay the amount of it. Before the result of this application could be known, he received an invitation to the house of Tousoun Pasha’s physician, who, upon being made acquainted with the state of his finances, kindly offered him the sum of three thousand piasters (about 100l.) for a bill upon Cairo payable at sight. Mohammed Aly, [Pg 202] to whom his condition was accidentally made known, immediately despatched a messenger with two dromedaries, an order for five hundred piasters, and a request that he would repair immediately with the same messenger to Tayef. With this invitation, which was, in fact, equivalent to a command, he thought it necessary to comply, and accordingly set off on the same afternoon (24th of August) for the interior of the Hejaz.

They were accompanied during the first portion of the way by about twenty camel-drivers of the tribe of Harb, who were carrying money to Mecca for the pasha’s treasury. The road at first lay over a barren sandy plain, ascending slightly as it receded from the sea; it then entered the narrow gorges of a mountainous country, where they overtook a caravan of pilgrims, who were accompanying a quantity of goods and provisions destined for the army. The pasha, who, no doubt, suspected the sincerity of our traveller’s creed, had given orders to the guide to conduct him by a by-road to Tayef, which lay to the north of Mecca: “Just before we left Hadda,” says Burckhardt, “my guide, who knew nothing further respecting me than that I had business with the pasha at Tayef, that I performed all the outward observances of a Moslem pilgrim, and that I had been liberal to him before our departure, asked me the reason of his having been ordered to take me by the northern road. I replied that it was probably thought shorter than the other. ‘That is a mistake,’ he replied; ‘the Mecca road is quite as short, and much safer; and if you have no objection we will proceed by it.’ This was just what I wished, though I had taken care not to betray any anxiety on the subject; and we accordingly followed the great road, in company with the other travellers.”

On this occasion, however, Burckhardt saw but little of the sacred city, as the guide, who had no curiosity to gratify, hurried through the streets [Pg 203] without allowing him time for observation. Continuing their journey, therefore, towards the east, they arrived, on the 27th of August, at Ras el Kora, where they passed the night. “This,” says our traveller, “is the most beautiful spot in the Hejaz, and more picturesque and delightful than any spot I had seen since my departure from Lebanon, in Syria. The top of Jebel Kora is flat, but large masses of granite lie scattered over it, the surface of which, like that of the granite rocks near the sacred cataract of the Nile, is blackened by the sun. Several small rivulets descend from this peak, and irrigate the plain, which is covered with verdant fields, and large shady trees, on the side of the granite rocks. To those who have only known the dreary and scorching sands of the lower country of the Hejaz, this scene is as surprising as the keen air which blows here is refreshing. Many of the fruit-trees of Europe are found here; figs, apricots, peaches, apples, the Egyptian sycamore, almonds, pomegranates; but particularly vines, the produce of which is of the best quality.” “After having passed through this delightful district for about half an hour, just as the sun was rising, when every leaf and blade of grass was covered with a balmy dew, and every tree and shrub diffused a fragrance as delicious to the smell as was the landscape to the eye, I halted near the largest of the rivulets, which, although not more than two paces across, nourishes upon its banks a green alpine turf, such as the mighty Nile, with all its luxuriance, can never produce in Egypt.”

Upon his reaching Tayef, he caused his arrival to be made known to the pasha, who, upon learning his desire to visit the Holy Cities, expressed a desire to see him late in the evening at his public residence, and observed jocosely to the Kadhy of Mecca, who happened to be present, “It is not the beard alone which proves a man to be a true Moslem; but you are a better judge in such matters than I am.” Our [Pg 204] traveller, on learning these particulars, affected to be much hurt by the pasha’s suspicions, and let the physician, who was the bearer of the message, know that he should not go to the pasha’s public audience unless he was received as a Turk. When the physician delivered this message, Mohammed Aly smiled, and said that he was welcome, whether Turk or not. The audience passed off well. But Burckhardt clearly discovered that he was regarded as a spy of the English government; that his conduct was narrowly watched; and that, in being made the guest of the physician, he was a kind of prisoner, all whose words and actions were reported to the pasha. This was by no means an agreeable position. He therefore determined to be delivered from it; and, in order to effect his purpose, adopted the most prudent plan that could have been imagined: he rendered himself so troublesome and expensive to his host, that the latter, in order to be freed from him, represented him in the most favourable light to his master, and contrived to obtain him permission to spend the last days of the Ramadhan at Mecca.

Accordingly, on the 7th of September, Burckhardt departed in company with the kadhy for the Holy City. On passing Wady Mohram, he assumed the ihram, the dress worn by all pilgrims during the Hadj, and consisting of two pieces of linen, woollen, or cotton cloth, one of which is wrapped round the loins, while the other is thrown over the neck and shoulders, so as to leave part of the right arm bare. In this dress he arrived at Mecca, on the 9th of September; and, as the law enjoins, proceeded immediately to visit the temple, before he had attended to any worldly concern whatever. The ceremonies practised on this occasion are long and tedious, the Mohammedans apparently believing, like our monkish madmen in Europe, that whatever is painful or disgusting to man must therefore be pleasing to God. Having completed these absurdities, he [Pg 205] hired a ready-furnished lodging in the house of a metowaf, or guide to the holy places; who, while the poor hajjî was occupied with his devotions, employed his spare moments industriously in stealing whatever he could from his travelling-sack.

Being desirous of completing his travelling equipments before the commencement of the Hadj, Burckhardt now proceeded to Jidda, where such things are more easily procured than at Mecca, and again returned about the middle of October, with a slave-boy whom he purchased. He hired apartments in an unfrequented part of the city, where he enjoyed the advantage of several large trees growing before his windows, “the verdure of which,” says he, “among the barren and sunburnt rocks of Mecca, was to me more exhilarating than the finest landscape could have been under different circumstances.” The principal curiosity of Mecca is the Beitullah, or House of God, a species of quadrangle, in the centre of which stands the Kaaba, “an oblong massive structure, eighteen paces in length, fourteen in breadth, and from thirty-five to forty feet in height. It is constructed of the gray Mecca stone, in large blocks of different sizes, joined together in a very rough manner, and with bad cement.” “At the north-east corner of the Kaaba, near the door, is the famous ‘Black Stone;’ it forms a part of the sharp angle of the building at four or five feet above the ground. It is an irregular oval of about seven inches in diameter, with an undulating surface, composed of about a dozen smaller stones of different sizes and shapes, well joined together with a small quantity of cement, and perfectly smoothed. It looks as if the whole had been broken into many pieces by a violent blow, and then united again. It is very difficult to determine accurately the quality of this stone, which has been worn to its present surface by the millions of touches and kisses it has received. It appeared to [Pg 206] me like a laver, containing several small extraneous particles, of a whitish and of a yellowish substance. Its colour is now a deep reddish brown, approaching to black: it is surrounded on all sides by a border, composed of a substance which I took to be a close cement of pitch and gravel, of a similar, but not quite the same, brownish colour. This border serves to support its detached pieces; it is two or three inches in breadth, and rises a little above the surface of the stone. Both the border and the stone itself are encircled by a silver band, broader below than above, and on the two sides, with a considerable swelling below, as if a part of the stone were hidden under it. The lower part of the border is studded with silver nails.”

I have purposely made use of Burckhardt’s own words in describing the Black Stone, and several other objects of curiosity, that the reader may see the exact impressions which they made on the mind of the traveller; though, as his style is very diffuse, it would frequently not have been difficult to compress his meaning into a much smaller compass. I cannot, however, pursue the same course with his description of the Hadj; which, notwithstanding its interest, is far too voluminous for the space which I can bestow upon it. On the 21st of November, 1814, the approach of the Syrian caravan was announced by a messenger, whose horse dropped down dead the moment he dismounted. Several other persons followed in about two hours after; and during the night, the main body, with the Pasha of Damascus at its head, came up, and encamped in the plain of Sheïkh Mahmoud. Next morning the Egyptian caravan likewise arrived; and at the same time Mohammed Aly, who desired to be present at the Hadj, appeared unexpectedly at Mecca, dressed in an ihram composed of two magnificent shawls of Kashmeer. All the hajjîs residing in the city now assumed the ihram, with the usual ceremonies, at [Pg 207] their own lodgings, preparatory to their setting out for Arafat, and at noon heard a short sermon in the mosque.

The city was now full of movement and activity: all the pilgrims were preparing to set out for Arafat, some running hither and thither in search of lodgings, others visiting the markets, or the Kaaba. Many Meccawys, engaged in petty traffic, were hastening to establish themselves on the mountain, for the accommodation of the pilgrims. Camel-drivers led their beasts through the streets, offering them to the pilgrims for hire. On the 24th of November, the Syrian caravan, with the Mahmal, or sacred camel, in front, passed in procession through the city. The majority of the pilgrims rode in a species of palanquin, placed upon their camels; but the Pasha of Damascus, and other grandees, were mounted in tackhtravans, or splendid litters, which were borne by two camels. The heads of these picturesque animals were decorated with feathers, tassels, and bells. Crowds of people of all classes lined the streets, and greeted the pilgrims as they passed with loud acclamations and praise. The martial music of the pasha, twelve finely-caparisoned horses led in front of his tackhtravan, and the rich litters in which his women rode, particularly attracted attention. The Egyptian caravan followed soon after, and, consisting entirely of military pilgrims in the splendid Turkish costume, was no less admired than its predecessor. Both continued, without stopping, their march to Arafat, and were almost immediately followed by the other pilgrims in the city, and by far the greater proportion of the population of Mecca and Jidda, among whom our traveller likewise proceeded to the sacred hill.

Burckhardt reached the camp about three hours after sunset. The pilgrims were still wandering about the plain, and among the tents, in search of their companions, or of their resting-place, and [Pg 208] many did not arrive until midnight. Numberless fires glimmered upon the dark plain to the extent of several miles; and high and brilliant clusters of lamps marked the different places of encampment of Mohammed Aly, Soleyman Pasha, and the Emir el Hadj of the Egyptian caravan. Few slept: “the devotees set up praying, and their loud chants were particularly distinguished on the side of the Syrian encampment. The merry Meccawys formed themselves into parties, singing jovial songs, accompanied by clapping of hands; and the coffee-houses scattered over the plain were crowded all night with customers. The night was dark and cold. I had formed a resting-place for myself by means of a large carpet tied to the back of a Meccawy’s tent; and having walked about for the greater part of the night, I had just disposed myself to sleep, when two guns, fired by the Syrian and Egyptian Hadj, announced the approaching dawn of the day of pilgrimage, and summoned the faithful to prepare for their morning prayers.”

The scene which, on the unfolding of the dawn, presented itself to the eye of the traveller, was one of the most extraordinary upon earth. “Every pilgrim issued from his tent to walk over the plains, and take a view of the busy crowds assembled there. Long streets of tents, fitted up as bazaars, furnished all kinds of provisions. The Syrian and Egyptian cavalry were exercised by their chiefs early in the morning, while thousands of camels were seen feeding upon the dry shrubs of the plain all round the camp.” Burckhardt now ascended the summit of Arafat, whence he could enjoy a distant view of the whole, the mountain being an isolated mass of granite, and reaching the height of two hundred feet above the level of the plain. From this point he counted about three thousand tents, but the far greater number were, like himself, without tents. Twenty or twenty-five thousand camels were dispersed, [Pg 209] in separate groups, over the plain; and the number of pilgrims of both sexes, and of all classes, could not amount to less than seventy thousand. “The Syrian Hadj was encamped on the south and south-west side of the mountain; the Egyptian on the south-east. Around the house of the Sherif, Yahya himself was encamped with his Bedouin troops, and in its neighbourhood were all the Hejaz people. Mohammed Aly, and Soleyman, Pasha of Damascus, as well as several of their officers, had very handsome tents; but the most magnificent of all was that of the wife of Mohammed Aly, the mother of Tousoun Pasha and Ibrahim Pasha, who had lately arrived at Cairo for the Hadj, with a truly royal equipage, five hundred camels being necessary to transport her baggage from Jidda to Mecca. Her tent was in fact an encampment, consisting of a dozen tents of different sizes, inhabited by her women; the whole enclosed by a wall of linen cloth, eight hundred paces in circuit, the single entrance to which was guarded by eunuchs in splendid dresses. Around this enclosure were pitched the tents of the men who formed her numerous suite. The beautiful embroidery on the exterior of this linen palace, with the various colours displayed in every part of it, constituted an object which reminded me of some descriptions in the Arabian Tales of the Thousand and One Nights.”

Among the prodigious crowd were persons from every corner of the Mohammedan world. Burckhardt counted forty different languages, and did not doubt that there were many more. About three o’clock in the afternoon, the pilgrims, quitting their tents, which were immediately struck, and mounting their camels, pressed forward towards Mount Arafat, and covered its sides from top to bottom. The preacher now took his stand upon the platform on the mountain, and began to address the multitude. The hearing of the sermon, which lasts till sunset, [Pg 210] constitutes the holy ceremony of the Hadj, and without being present at it, and at least appearing to hear, no pilgrim is entitled to the name of hajjî. “The two pashas, with their whole cavalry drawn up in two squadrons behind them, took their post in the rear of the deep line of camels of the hajjîs, to which those of the people of the Hejaz were also joined: and here they waited in solemn and respectful silence the conclusion of the sermon. Farther removed from the preacher was the Sherif Yahya, with his small body of soldiers, distinguished by several green standards carried before him. The two Mahmals, or holy camels, which carry on their backs the high structure that serves as the banner of their respective caravans, made way with difficulty through the ranks of camels that encircled the southern and eastern sides of the hill, opposite to the preacher, and took their station, surrounded by their guards, directly under the platform in front of him. The preacher, or khatyb, who is usually the Kadhy of Mecca, was mounted upon a finely-caparisoned camel, which had been led up the steps; it being traditionally said that Mohammed was always seated when he addressed his followers, a practice in which he was imitated by all the califs who came to the Hadj, and who from hence addressed their subjects in person. The Turkish gentleman of Constantinople, however, unused to camel-riding, could not keep his seat so well as the hardy Bedouin prophet; and the camel becoming unruly, he was soon obliged to alight from it. He read his sermon from a book in Arabic, which he held in his hands. At intervals of every four or five minutes he paused, and stretched forth his arms to implore blessings from above; while the assembled multitudes around and before him waved the skirts of their ihrams over their heads, and rent the air with shouts of Lebeyk, Allah, huma Lebeyk!—“Here we are at thy bidding, O God!” During the wavings of the ihrams, [Pg 211] the side of the mountain, thickly crowded as it was by the people in their white garments, had the appearance of a cataract of water; while the green umbrellas, with which several thousand hajjîs, sitting on their camels below, were provided, bore some resemblance to a verdant plain.”

Burckhardt was present at all the remaining ceremonies of the Hadj, which I shall not now pause to describe; and after observing whatever was worthy of examination both at Mecca and Jidda, he joined a small caravan of pilgrims who were going to visit the tomb of the prophet, and set out for Medina on the 15th of January, 1815. During this journey he imprudently advanced before the caravan, and was attacked by five Bedouins, from whom he was quickly delivered, however, by the approach of his companions. They reached Medina on the 28th of January. The ceremonies practised in this city were much less tedious than at Mecca, and did not occupy our traveller more than a quarter of an hour. Here, shortly after his arrival, he was attacked by an intermittent fever, accompanied by extraordinary despondency. His condition, indeed, was well calculated to inspire gloomy thoughts; for he had no society, and but one book, which was, however, as he observes, worth a whole shelf full of others. This was a pocket edition of Milton, which he had borrowed from an English ship at Jidda.

Medina, it is well known, is chiefly indebted to the tomb of Mohammed for its celebrity. This mausoleum, which stands on the south-eastern corner of the principal mosque, is protected from the too near approach of visiters by an iron railing, painted green, about two-thirds the height of the pillars of the colonnade which runs round the interior of the mosque. “The railing is of good workmanship, in imitation of filligree, and is interwoven with open-worked inscriptions of yellow bronze, supposed by the vulgar to be of gold, and of so close a texture, [Pg 212] that no view can be obtained of the interior except by several small windows about six inches square, which are placed in the four sides of the railing, about five feet above the ground.” On the south side, where are the two principal windows, before which the devout stand when praying, the railing is plated with silver, and the common inscription—“There is no God but God, the Evident Truth”—is wrought in silver letters round the windows. The tomb itself, as well as that of Abu Bekr and Omar, which stand close to it, is concealed from the public gaze by a curtain of rich silk brocade of various colours, interwoven with silver flowers and arabesques, with inscriptions in characters of gold running across the midst of it, like that of the covering of the Kaaba. Behind this curtain, which, according to the historian of the city, was formerly changed every six years, and is now renewed by the Porte whenever the old one is decayed, or when a new sultan ascends the throne, none but the chief eunuchs, the attendants of the mosque, are permitted to enter. This holy sanctuary once served, as the temple of Delphi did among the Greeks, as the public treasury of the nation. Here the money, jewels, and other precious articles of the people of the Hejaz were kept in chests, or suspended on silken ropes. Among these was a copy of the Koran in Kufic characters; a brilliant star set in diamonds and pearls, which was suspended directly over the prophet’s tomb; with all sorts of vessels set with jewels, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and other ornaments, sent as presents from all parts of the empire. Most of these articles were carried away by the Wahabees when they sacked and plundered the sacred cities.

On the 21st of April, 1815, Burckhardt quitted Medina with a small caravan bound for Yembo, on the seacoast. His mind was still exceedingly depressed by the weak state of his body; and his gayety and animal spirits, with the energy which accompanies [Pg 213] them in ardent minds, having deserted him, the world assumed in his eyes a sombre aspect, which rendered travelling and every other pleasure insipid. All he now sighed for was rest. This mental condition seems strongly to have affected even his opinions. His views both of men and things became cynical. Vice seemed to have spread like a deluge over the eastern world, leaving no single spot whereon Virtue might rest the sole of her foot. “For my own part,” says he, “a long residence among Turks, Syrians, and Egyptians justifies me in declaring that they are wholly deficient in virtue, honour, and justice; that they have little true piety, and still less charity or forbearance; and that honesty is only to be found in their paupers or idiots.” His mind was certainly labouring under the effects of his Medina fever when he wrote this passage, and it would therefore be lost labour to analyze or confute it minutely. That people who are “wholly deficient in virtue, honour, and justice” should be destitute of honesty, is no more to be wondered at than that a black camel should not be half-white; but if “true piety” be, as most moralists will admit, to be numbered among the virtues, then the orientals are not, as Mr. Burckhardt asserts, “wholly deficient in virtue,” &c., since he allows that they have some, though but little, “true piety.” Again, either the majority of the orientals are rich, or the majority of them are honest; for if the majority of them are poor, or paupers, then the majority of them are honest; for honesty, we are told, is only to be found among paupers and idiots. It would be easy to expose and refute our traveller’s assertion by the direct testimony of persons still more competent than he to decide on such points; but his opinion is palpably absurd, like most others formed by sick or gloomy individuals, since no society could subsist if formed entirely of vicious members. Had Burckhardt himself lived to see his works through the press, such passages as the above [Pg 214] would, I am persuaded, have been expunged or modified; for he was much too judicious deliberately to have hazarded so monstrous an assertion.

Upon his arrival at Yembo, dejected and melancholy, to add to his despondency, he found the plague raging in the city. The air, night and day, was filled with the piercing cries of those who had been bereaved of the objects of their affection; yet, as no vessel was ready to sail for Egypt, he was constrained to remain during eighteen days in the midst of the dying and the dead, continually exposed to infection through the heedlessness and the imprudence of his slave. At length, however, he procured a passage in an open boat bound for Cosseir, many of the passengers in which were sick of a disease which appeared to be the plague, though only two of them died. After remaining twenty days on board, he was, at his own request, put on shore in the harbour of Sherin, at the entrance of the Gulf of Akaba, where he agreed with some Bedouins to transport him and his slave to Tor and Suez. Learning on the way, however, that the plague was at Suez, he remained at a village in the vicinity of the former place, where the enjoyment of tranquillity and a bracing mountain air soon restored his strength, and enabled him, though still convalescent, to pursue his journey to Cairo, where he arrived on the 24th of June, after an absence of nearly two years and a half. As his health was not yet completely recovered, he undertook a journey into Lower Egypt during the following winter, which, as he seems to have believed, restored his constitution to its former tone.

His time was now entirely occupied in writing the journal of his Nubian and Arabian travels, and in the necessary care of his health, which, notwithstanding his sanguine expectation to the contrary, was still in a somewhat equivocal state. In the spring of 1816 the plague again broke out at Cairo, [Pg 215] and our traveller, to avoid the infection, undertook a journey to Mount Sinai, intending to remain, until the pestilence should be over, among the Bedouins, who are never visited by this scourge. During this excursion he traced the course of the eastern branch of the Red Sea to within sight of Akaba, the ancient Ælanas, which he was prevented by circumstances from visiting. On his return to Cairo, he united with Mr. Salt in furnishing Belzoni with money for transporting the head of Memnon from Gournou to Alexandria. The scheme, it would seem, originated with Burckhardt and Salt, to whom, therefore, we are chiefly indebted for the possession of that extraordinary specimen of ancient art.

On the 4th of October, 1817, Burckhardt, who had so long waited in vain for an opportunity of penetrating with a Moggrebin caravan into Africa, was attacked with violent dysentery. The best medical advice which an eminent English physician (Doctor Richardson), then at Cairo, could afford was found unavailing. The disease prevailed, and on the 15th of the same month our able, adventurous, and lamented traveller breathed his last. As he had lived while in the East as a Mussulman, the Turks, he foresaw, would claim his body, “and perhaps,” said he to Mr. Salt, who was present at his death-bed, “you had better let them.”—“The funeral, as he desired,” says this gentleman, “was Mohammedan, conducted with all proper regard to the respectable rank which he had held in the eyes of the natives.” This was honourable to his Cairo friends; and to those who are interested in the history of his manly career it is gratifying to discover how highly he was valued. I have closed the lives of few travellers with more regret. It would have given me extreme pleasure to have followed him through those undiscovered regions whither his ardent imagination so anxiously tended; and, instead of thus recording his untimely death, to have beheld him enjoying in the [Pg 216] first capital of the world the reward of his courage and enterprise. That I cannot enter into all Mr. Burckhardt’s views, either of men or things, is no reason why I should not be sensible of his extraordinary merit. His character, upon the whole, admirably fitted him to be a great traveller. He was bold, patient, persevering, judicious. He penetrated with admirable tact into the designs of his enemies, and not only knew how to prevent them, but, what was more difficult, to turn them to the confusion of their inventors. Upon this very excellence, however, was based one of his principal defects; he interpreted men in too refined and systematical a manner, and often saw in their actions more contrivance than ever existed. He was too hasty, moreover, in believing evil of mankind, which, with too many other able speculators, he supposed to be the necessary consequence of a philosophical spirit. But he was a young man. His mind, had he lived, would unquestionably have purified itself from this stain, as truth, which he possessed the courage and the ability to search for with success, was his only object. The works which he has left behind him, exceedingly numerous considering his brief career, are an imperishable monument of his genius and enterprise, and, when the fate of the writer is reflected on, can never be read without a feeling of deep interest almost amounting to emotion. Fortunately for his fame, their publication has been superintended by editors every way qualified for the task, who, without in the least dissipating their originality, must in very many instances have infinitely improved their style and arrangement. A popular edition of the whole would at once be a benefit to the public and an additional honour to the memory of Burckhardt.

[Pg 217]


Born 1757.—Died 1820.

This traveller, who is very justly enumerated among the most distinguished which France has produced, was born on the 3d of February, 1757, at Craon, in Anjou. His father, an able provincial barrister, was unwilling that he should bear the name of Chassebœuf (ox or bull hunter), which in his own case had been, though we are not told how, a source of a thousand uneasinesses, and therefore gave his son the name of Boisgirais, under which appellation our traveller studied at the colleges of Ancenis and Angers, and was at first known in the world. At a later period, just as he was about to depart for the East, he quitted the name of Boisgirais, and assumed that of Volney, which he was shortly after to render so celebrated.

Becoming his own master at the age of seventeen, with a small independence bequeathed him by his mother, he quitted the country for Paris, where he applied himself to the study of the severer sciences. Volney felt no inclination for the profession of a barrister, which it was his father’s desire he should follow; physic appeared to have greater charms for him, and he at first seemed disposed to adopt this as his profession; but his speculative turn of mind soon led him to look with disdain on its practical part. Scarcely had he reached his twentieth year when he entered with enthusiasm into the study of the science of nature, delighting to discover the relations which subsist between the moral and the physical [Pg 218] world. He moreover devoted a portion of his time to the study of the history and languages of antiquity.

When he had made these preparations, apparently without foreseeing to what use he should apply them, a small inheritance which fell to him put him in possession of two hundred and forty pounds. “The difficulty was,” he observes, “how to employ it. Some of my friends advised me to enjoy the capital, others to purchase an annuity; but, on reflection, I thought the sum too inconsiderable to make any sensible addition to my income, and too great to be dissipated in frivolous expenses. Some fortunate circumstances had habituated me to study; I had acquired a taste, and even a passion, for knowledge; and this accession of fortune appeared to me a fresh means of gratifying my inclination, and opening a new way to improvement. I had read, and frequently heard repeated, that of all the methods of adorning the mind and forming the judgment, travelling is the most efficacious. I determined, therefore, on a plan of travelling; but to what part of the world I should direct my course remained still to be chosen. I wished the scene of my observations to be new, or at least brilliant. My own country and the neighbouring nations seemed to me either too well known or too easy of access; the rising States of America and the savages were not without their temptations; but other considerations determined me in favour of Asia. Syria especially, and Egypt, both with a view of what they once have been, and what they now are, appeared to me a field equally adapted to those political and moral observations with which I wished to occupy my mind.”

Foreseeing the fatigues and dangers of such a journey, he occupied a whole year in preparing himself to undertake it, by accustoming his body to the most violent exercises and the most painful privations. At length, all his preparatory arrangements [Pg 219] being completed, he commenced his journey on foot, with a knapsack on his back, a musket on his shoulder, and two hundred and forty pounds in gold concealed in his girdle. “When I set out from Marseilles in 1783,” says he, “it was with all my heart; with that alacrity, that confidence in others and in myself which youth inspires. I gayly quitted a country of peace and abundance to live in a country of barbarism and misery, from no other motive than to employ the active and restless moments of youth, to acquire a new kind of knowledge, which might procure for the remainder of my days a certain portion of reputation and honour.”

On arriving in Egypt he proceeded to Cairo, where he remained during seven months; after which, finding that there existed too many obstacles to a proper examination of the interior parts of the country, and that too little assistance in learning Arabic was to be obtained, he determined on travelling into Syria. M. Durozoir, the author of the Life of Volney, in the “Biographie Universelle,” to which I am greatly indebted, falls into a most unaccountable error in narrating this part of our traveller’s career. According to him, Volney had no sooner arrived in Egypt than he shut himself up in a Coptic convent, where he remained eight months, for the purpose of acquiring the Arabic; after which he traversed the country with more advantages than any other traveller had hitherto enjoyed. Volney himself asserts, on the contrary, that he resided but seven months in the country; that he was prevented by obstacles which appeared to him insurmountable from traversing more than a very small portion of Egypt; that he did not acquire a competent knowledge of Arabic until he arrived in Syria, where (and not in Egypt) he shut himself up during eight months in an Arabian convent, in order to render himself master of the language. M. Durozoir must have forgotten Pococke, and Shaw, and Hasselquist, and Niebuhr and [Pg 220] Bruce, every one of whom were superior in external advantages to Volney, and probably understood the language of the country better than he did previous to his residence in Syria. It is surprising, therefore, to find a writer of respectable name speaking of the advantages which Volney possessed over all preceding travellers in Egypt, arising from his long residence and knowledge, while most of his predecessors saw ten times more of the country, enjoyed greater privileges, and possessed a more intimate knowledge of Arabic. The real advantage which Volney actually did possess over the majority of Egyptian travellers consisted in his superior genius, which enabled him to turn his short experience to good account, and to comprehend the meanings of things which thousands had seen without comprehending at all.

The mode in which Volney has given the results of his travels to the public precludes the possibility of our following his track. He sedulously avoids, as Daru has justly remarked, placing himself upon the stage, and neither tells you by what route he travelled through the country, nor what were the impressions which the sight of certain objects produced upon his mind. The fact must be admitted, whether it make for or against the author; but when the count proceeds to inform us, in his inflated rhetorical style, that the traveller is suddenly transformed into a native of the country, who, after mature observation, describes its physical, political, and moral condition, we smile at his boyish enthusiasm.

I cannot help regretting, however, that our traveller should have omitted to trace his route through Egypt, not only because his having done so would have been advantageous to me, but from a persuasion that the omission has been seriously injurious to his popularity. It is, moreover, a very great error, and one in which I myself formerly participated, [Pg 221] to imagine that a traveller is more likely to impart just notions of the scene of his researches by giving the results only of his experience, suppressing the manner in which that experience was obtained. An attentive examination of the works of travellers of all ages and countries has at length created a contrary conviction in my mind. In a judicious personal narrative the traveller is but one interlocutor in a drama exhibiting innumerable characters and a perpetually changing scene. You in some sort behold him surrounded by strangers in a strange land; you observe them not, and hear them, as it were, converse together; and if the traveller himself sometimes feigns or walks in masquerade, it is rarely that the natives can be supposed to have sufficiently powerful motives for so doing. They exhibit themselves exactly as they are. It would seem to follow from this view of the case, that whatever its advantages in other respects may be, the method adopted by Volney is liable, on the grounds above stated, to very serious objections. It not only shuts out the traveller from our view, but, in lieu of an animated picture, presents us with reasoning and discussion, able, I admit, and frequently original, but wanting that irresistible charm which is possessed in so eminent a degree by beautiful narrative.

Having examined such objects of curiosity in Lower Egypt as could easily be viewed, and collected ample materials for the defence of Herodotus, the greatest traveller of all antiquity, from the attacks of conceited and ignorant persons, Volney passed into Syria. “Here,” he observes, “eight months’ residence among the Druses, in an Arabian convent, rendered the Arabic familiar to me, and enabled me to travel through all Syria during a whole year.” His long residence in the mountains of Syria, during which he no doubt undertook numerous little excursions in various directions, furnished him with materials for a correct picture of the scene. [Pg 222] This he has drawn with equal vigour and beauty. “Lebanon,” says he, “which gives its name to the whole extensive chain of the Kesraouan, and the country of the Druses, presents us everywhere with majestic mountains. At every step we meet with scenes in which nature displays either beauty or grandeur; sometimes singularity, but always variety. When we land on the coast, the loftiness and steep ascent of this mountainous ridge, which seems to enclose the country, those gigantic masses which shoot into the clouds, inspire astonishment and awe. Should the curious traveller then climb these summits which bound his view, the wide extended place which he discovers becomes a fresh subject of admiration; but completely to enjoy this majestic scene, he must ascend the very point of Lebanon, or the Sannia. There on every side he will view a horizon without bounds; while in clear weather the sight is lost over the desert, which extends to the Persian Gulf, and over the sea, which bathes the coasts of Europe. He seems to command the whole world, while the wandering eye, now surveying the successive chains of mountains, transports the imagination in an instant from Antioch to Jerusalem, and now approaching the surrounding objects, observes the distant profundity of the coast, till the attention, at length, fixed by distinctive objects, more minutely examines the rocks, woods, torrents, hillsides, villages, and towns; and the mind secretly exults at the diminution of things which before appeared so great. He contemplates the valley obscured by stormy clouds with a novel delight; and smiles at hearing the thunder, which had so often burst over his head, growling under his feet, while the threatening summits of the mountains are diminished till they appear only like the furrows of a ploughed field, or the steps of an amphitheatre; and he feels himself flattered by an elevation above so many great objects on which pride makes him look [Pg 223] down with a secret satisfaction. When the traveller visits the interior parts of these mountains, the ruggedness of the roads, the steepness of the descents, the height of the precipices, strike him at first with terror, but the sagacity of his mule soon relieves him, and he examines at his ease those picturesque scenes which succeed each other to entertain him. There, as in the Alps, he travels whole days to reach a place that was in sight at his departure: he winds, he descends, he skirts the hills, he climbs; and in this perpetual change of position it seems as if some magic power varied for him at every step the decorations of the scenery. Sometimes he sees villages ready to glide from the steep declivities on which they are built, and so disposed, that the terraces of one row of houses serve as a street to the row above them. Sometimes he sees a convent standing on a solitary eminence, like Mar-shaya in the valley of the Tigris. Here is a rock perforated by a torrent, and become a natural arch, like that of Nahr-el-Leben. There another rock, worn perpendicular, resembles a lofty wall.”

The same difficulty of tracing the footsteps of our traveller of which I complained when speaking of his Egyptian journey occurs again in Syria. It is, in fact, impossible to discover from his works any particulars, excepting a few dates, which are perfectly unimportant. After a protracted residence at the convent of Mar-hanna, or “St. John,” where, as already observed, he matured his knowledge of Arabic, he descended into the lower districts, and visited a Bedouin camp, near Gaza, where he remained several days. I know not whether it was upon this or on some other occasion that he so far recommended himself to the chief of a tribe by his agreeable manners, as to inspire in the Arabs a desire to retain him among them. Having remarked that the Bedouins enjoy an extraordinary freedom from religious prejudices, and are consequently disposed [Pg 224] to be tolerant, he adds, “Nothing can better describe, or be a more satisfactory proof of this, than a dialogue which one day passed between myself and one of their sheïkhs, named Ahmed, son of Bahir, chief of the tribe of Wahidia. ‘Why,’ said this sheïkh to me, ‘do you wish to return among the Franks? Since you have no aversion to our manners, since you know how to use the lance and manage a horse like a Bedouin, stay among us. We will give you pelisses, a tent, a virtuous and young Bedouin girl, and a good blood mare. You shall live in our house.’—‘But do you not know,’ said I, ‘that, born among the Franks, I have been educated in their religion? In what light will the Arabs view an infidel, or what will they think of an apostate?’—‘And do you not yourself perceive,’ said he, ‘that the Arabs live without troubling themselves either about the prophet, or the Book (the Koran)? Every man with us follows the dictates of his conscience. Men have a right to judge of actions, but religion must be left to God alone.’ Another sheïkh, conversing with me one day, addressed me, by mistake, in the customary formulary, ‘Listen, and pray for the prophet.’ Instead of the usual answer, I have prayed, I replied with a smile, ‘I listen.’ He recollected his error, and smiled in his turn. A Turk of Jerusalem who was present took the matter up more seriously: ‘O sheïkh,’ said he, ‘how canst thou address the words of the true believers to an infidel?’—‘The tongue is light;’ replied the sheïkh, ‘let but the heart be white (pure); but you who know the customs of the Arabs, how can you offend a stranger, with whom we have eaten bread and salt?’ Then, turning to me, ‘All those tribes of Frankestan, of whom you told me that they follow not the law of the prophet, are they more numerous than the Mussulmans?’—‘It is thought,’ answered I, ‘that they are five or six times more numerous, even including the [Pg 225] Arabs.’—‘God is just,’ returned he; ‘he will weigh them in his balance.’”

The most singular people, however, who came under the observation of Volney during his eastern travels, were unquestionably the Druses. Extraordinary stories respecting their origin and manners had from time to time prevailed in Europe. By some they were supposed to be the descendants of the crusaders, particularly of the English; others attributed to them a different origin; but all agreed in accusing them of believing in strange absurd dogmas, and of practising monstrous rites. At length he obtained from oriental writers the following account of the rise of this remarkable sect. In the year of the Hegira 386 (A. D. 996) the third calif of the race of the Fatimites, called Hakem-b’amr-ellah, succeeded to the throne of Egypt, at the age of eleven years. He was one of the most extraordinary princes of whom history has preserved the memory. He caused the first calif, the companion of Mahomet, to be cursed in the mosques, and afterward revoked the anathema. He compelled the Jews and Christians to abjure their religion, and then permitted them to resume it. He prohibited the making slippers for women, to prevent their coming out of their houses. He burnt one-half of the city of Cairo for his diversion, while his soldiers pillaged the other. Not content with these extravagant actions, he forbade the pilgrimage to Mecca, fasting, and the five prayers; and at length carried his madness so far, as to desire to pass for God himself. He ordered a register of those who acknowledged him to be so; and the number amounted to sixteen thousand. This impious pretension was supported by a false prophet, who came from Persia into Egypt; which impostor, named Mohammed-ben-Ismael, taught that it was not necessary to fast or pray, to practise circumcision, to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, or observe festivals; [Pg 226] that the prohibition of pork and wine was absurd; and that marriage between brothers and sisters, fathers and children, was lawful. To ingratiate himself with Hakem, he maintained that this calif was God himself incarnate, and instead of his name being Hakem-b’amr-ellah, which signifies governing by the order of God, he called him Hakem-b’amr-eh, governing by his own order. Unluckily for the prophet, his god had not the power to protect him from the fury of his enemies, who slew him in a tumult, almost in the arms of the calif, who was himself massacred soon after on Mount Mokattam, where he, as he said, had held conversation with angels. The death of these two chiefs did not prevent the progress of their opinions: a disciple of Mohammed-ben-Ismael, named Hamzaben-Ahmud, propagated them with indefatigable zeal, in Egypt, in Palestine, and along the coast of Syria, as far as Sidon and Berytus. His proselytes, it seems, underwent the same fate as the Maronites; for being persecuted by the sect in power, they took refuge in the mountains of Lebanon, where they were better able to defend themselves; at least it is certain, that shortly after this era we find them established there, and forming an independent society like their neighbours.

In the opinion of Volney the great body of the Druses are wholly destitute of religion; “yet,” says he, “one class of them must be excepted, whose religious customs are very peculiar. Those who compose it are to the rest of the nation what the initiated are to the profane; they assume the name of Okkals, which means spiritualists; and bestow on the vulgar the epithet Djahel, or ignorant; they have various degrees of initiation, the highest orders of which require celibacy. These are distinguishable by the white turban they affect to wear, as a symbol of their purity; and so proud are they of this supposed purity, that they think themselves [Pg 227] sullied by even touching a profane person. If you eat out of their plate, or drink out of their cup, they break them; and hence the custom so general in this country, of using vases with a sort of cock, which may be drunk out of without touching the lips. All their practices are enveloped in mysteries. Their oratories always stand alone, and are constantly situated on eminences: in these they hold their secret assemblies, to which women are admitted. It is pretended they perform ceremonies there in presence of a small statue resembling an ox or a calf; whence some have pretended to prove that they are descended from the Samaritans. But, besides that the fact is not well ascertained, the worship of the ox may be deduced from other circumstances.

“They have one or two books which they conceal with the greatest care, but chance has deceived their jealousy; for, in a civil war, which happened six or seven years ago, the Emir Yousef, who is Djahel, or ignorant, found one among the pillage of their oratories. I am assured by persons who have read it, that it contains only a mystic jargon, the obscurity of which doubtless renders it valuable to adepts. Hakem-b’amr-ellah is there spoken of, by whom they mean God, incarnated in the person of the calif. It likewise treats of another life, of a place of punishment and a place of happiness, where the Okkals shall of course be most distinguished. Several degrees of perfection are mentioned, to which they arrive by successive trials. In other respects these sectaries have all the insolence and all the fears of superstition: they are not communicative, because they are weak; but it is probable that, were they powerful, they would be promulgators and intolerant.”

On returning to France after an absence of nearly three years (which M. Durozoir, who loves to differ with the traveller upon such points, will have to be [Pg 228] nearly four years), Volney employed himself in preparing his “Travels” for the press. Upon the appearance of the work the public, which is seldom in the wrong in such matters, received it as a masterpiece of its kind; and from that time to the present its reputation may be said to be on the increase. I am averse from adopting the unmeaning or exaggerated panegyrics of his French biographers, who are satisfied with nothing short of regarding Volney as the continuator of Herodotus, with whom they seem to consider him upon a par. No person can be more desirous than myself to enhance the just praises of Volney, who has exhibited, in his description of Syria and Egypt, remarkable force and depth of thinking, and powers of delineation of no ordinary class. But in Herodotus we have a picture of the whole world, as far, at least, as it was known in his time, sketched with inimitable truth and brevity, and adorned with a splendour of colouring which with matchless skill he has known how to unite with the severest accuracy. To many of the excellences of this writer Volney has no pretensions. Others he may have possessed in an equal degree; but I will not continue a comparison in itself absurd, never dreamed of by the traveller himself, and which could only have suggested itself to writers blinded by national vanity.

To proceed, however, with the events of our traveller’s life. No sooner had the travels appeared, than the Empress Catherine II., who, besides her desire to wheedle every writer of distinction in Europe, was really actuated by an admiration for genius, sent him a gold medal in token of her satisfaction. This was in the year 1787. In the following year he published his “Considerations on the War between the Turks and Russians.” In this political pamphlet the knowledge which he had acquired in his travels was of course the basis of his reasoning; but he had likewise received, perhaps [Pg 229] from the Russian court, information which would appear to have been correct, respecting the resources of the Scythians; for events, says his French biographer with a kind of triumph, have realized nearly all his predictions. He did not, continues the same writer, forget, in the consideration of this great quarrel, the interests of France, and dwelt more particularly on the project of seizing upon Egypt, in order to counterbalance the aggrandizement of Russia and Austria. But to the execution of this project he foresaw numerous obstacles. “In the first place,” said he, “it will be necessary to maintain three separate wars: the first against Turkey, the second against the English, and a third against the natives of Egypt, which, though apparently the least formidable, will be the most dangerous of the three. Should the Franks venture to disembark in the country, Turks, Arabs, and peasants would all arm against them at once: and fanaticism would serve them instead of art and courage.”

From the period of his return into his country, being actuated by the desire of being useful, which seems to have been ever predominant in his mind, though it did not always manifest itself in a rational way, Volney conceived the idea of introducing improvements in agriculture in the island of Corsica. For this purpose he began to concert measures for purchasing an estate in that island, on which he meant to make several experiments in the culture of the sugar-cane, cotton, indigo, coffee, &c. The utility of these schemes induced the French government to nominate him Director of Agriculture and Commerce in Corsica; but other duties retained him in his country. Upon the convocation of the States General in 1789, he was elected deputy for the seneschalship of Anjou. Shortly after this he resigned the place he held under government, being persuaded that the duties of a representative of the people, and those of a dependant on the government, are [Pg 230] incompatible. In the tribune of the Constituent Assembly Volney advocated the same opinions which are found in his writings. He was the declared enemy of despotism, whether exercised by one individual or by many; and constantly distinguished himself by his bold and liberal advocacy of popular rights. His intimate connexion with Cabanis, celebrated for the extravagance of his metaphysical opinions, frequently brought him into contact with Mirabeau, the Catiline of the revolution. This able improvisator, equally indifferent respecting the meum and tuum in ideas as in money, in a discussion concerning the clergy, borrowed from Volney his well-known rhetorical flourish on the window of Charles IX., from whence that gracious monarch amused himself with shooting at his subjects. Twenty deputies were besieging the tribune, and among these was Volney, who held a written discourse in his hand. “Show me what you are going to say,” said Mirabeau. “This is beautiful, sublime,” he exclaimed, after having glanced over the manuscript; “but it is not with a feeble voice and a clear countenance that such things should be uttered. Give the manuscript to me!” Such consummate arrogance was not to be resisted. Volney yielded up his speech to the audacious sophist, who, melting up our traveller’s original ideas with his own, poured out the whole with that artificial theatrical enthusiasm which produces upon inexperienced minds nearly the same effects as eloquence. It is said that Volney ere long began to perceive that the storm which had been raised with so much labour and artifice was likely to sweep away in its fury much more than was intended; and that he then began to think of moderating its rage. But if he was in earnest in his opposition, he very quickly had the mortification to discover that his efforts were futile; that revolution had, in fact, become a general movement, which bore down with irresistible [Pg 231] violence every obstacle which might be opposed to it, whether by friends or foes.

In the midst of these political labours Volney found time to produce two works of very different character and pretensions: “The Chronology of the Twelve Centuries preceding the Invasion of Greece by Xerxes,” and his well-known rhapsody called the “Ruins.” Shortly after this, the Empress Catherine, who found that she had been made the dupe of the French sophists, declared herself the enemy of France; upon which Volney, eager to display his contempt for his fickle admirer, returned the medal which she had formerly presented to him. Upon this, Grimm, the literary gladiator of the empress, and up to that moment the friend of Volney, addressed him a letter filled with the most biting sarcasms and unjust personalities, but written in so keen a style that it has been attributed to Rivarol, another clever advocate of ancient abuses.

In 1792 Volney accompanied Pozzo di Borgo to Corsica, with his old design of making agricultural experiments. He accordingly purchased the estate of La Confina, near Ajaccio, and was proceeding to realize some of his useful plans, when he was driven from the island by the troubles excited by Pascal Paoli, who sold his estate by auction, notwithstanding that he had recently given him various assurances of friendship. During his residence in Corsica our traveller became acquainted with Napoleon, who was at that time only an officer of artillery. He is said to have divined the character of this ambitious man from the first; and some years later, upon learning in America that Napoleon had been appointed commander of the army of Italy, he remarked to several French refugees, “Provided that circumstances second him, he will be found to possess the head of Cæsar on the shoulders of Alexander.” This oracular saying, which is by no means the best thing of the kind attributed to our traveller, [Pg 232] is remarkable merely for the pomposity of the expression, and signifies little or nothing, except that Napoleon was as able as he was ambitious. On his return to France, in 1793, he published a “Sketch of the State of Corsica,” and the “Law of Nature,” the latter of which M. Durozoir, with characteristic exaggeration, pronounces to be “one of the best treatises on morals which have ever been published in any language.” The “Law of Nature” is well known in England, and proves its writer to have been a man of an acute and vigorous mind, as well as an accomplished master of style; but it would be paying Volney an absurd compliment to place his little catechism, in which there are no ideas absolutely new, on a level with the “Ethics to Nichomachus,” or the great work of Panætius, of which we may form a tolerably clear conception from the “De Officiis” of Cicero, which is little more than a copy of it. Moreover, in the “Law of Nature,” man is considered too much in a material, and too little in a spiritual light; which, though it may be a merit in the eyes of such a writer as M. Durozoir, must to a person of a different creed appear to be a very remarkable defect. Considering the question merely in a philosophical point of view, it can, I think, admit of no dispute that the incentives to good actions can never be too numerous; but Volney, from his peculiar notions, could only speak of morals as of physical science, which, taken as a whole, it certainly is not. Whatever merit this little tract may possess, therefore, it seems to be essentially defective in attributing to one set of principles effects which they never produce unless in combination with others.

In 1793 our traveller, whose political opinions were purely republican, was imprisoned ten months as a royalist, and only recovered his liberty after the events of the 9th of Thermidor. To console him in some degree for this injustice, he was shortly afterward [Pg 233] appointed historical professor in the Normal School, which had just then been established by the friends of order and of their country. Volney was eminently well qualified to shine in this capacity. His reading, which was immense, had lain much, if not chiefly, among historical writers; and his calm, penetrating genius enabled him to discover with extraordinary precision the natural chain of events. Nevertheless, from a passion for vain paradox, which has of late been but too common both in France and Germany among persons who would be thought to be philosophers, he unfortunately exhibited in his historical researches a degree of skepticism highly absurd. He had perhaps read and admired the startling proposition of Aristotle, that doubt is the foundation of all science; but if doubt eternally generate doubt, upon what basis are the sciences to be erected? The Greek philosopher, I conceive, merely intends to say, that without doubt there can be no inquiry, and without inquiry no science. However, notwithstanding this radical defect, Volney’s lectures at the Normal School were received with applause, principally perhaps from the striking originality of the author’s style, and the novelty of his views. Truths long and familiarly known, appear to lose their beauty, and are eagerly exchanged for errors, tricked out in all the dazzling gloss of novelty.

His oratorical career was not of long duration. The Normal School was quickly suppressed; and Volney, disgusted and fatigued with fruitless endeavours to benefit his country, determined on deserting it for ever, and seeking in the New World that tranquillity which he had failed to find in the Old. On his arrival in the United States of America, in 1795, he was well received by Washington, who gave him many public marks of his confidence and friendship. It is said, however, though I know not upon what grounds, that John Adams, elected president in 1797, entertained feelings highly inimical to [Pg 234] Volney, who, a short time before, had criticised severely, perhaps unjustly, his “Defence of the Constitutions of the United States.” It is even insinuated by Durozoir, whose unsupported testimony I should, however, refuse to accept in a matter of this kind, that our traveller was driven from America by the unmanly revenge of John Adams in the spring of 1798. Be this as it may, he was suspected by the Americans of being engaged in a conspiracy for delivering up Louisiana to the Directory; while in France, on the other hand, he was accused of having asserted that Louisiana could never become an advantageous possession of the French republic. While his mind was thus harassed by contradictory and absurd suspicions, Dr. Priestley published his “Observations on the Progress of Infidelity,” &c., in which Volney, says Durozoir, who probably had no more read Priestley’s pamphlet than I have, was denounced as an “atheist, an ignoramus, a Chinese, and a Hottentot.” Priestley was no doubt a rough polemic, too much addicted, perhaps, to hard names; but the work which he denounced had, in many respects, a highly mischievous tendency, and in refuting it some degree of warmth was pardonable.

On our traveller’s return to France, where he had been elected a member of the Institute during his absence, he became once more intimately connected with Napoleon, whom, in 1794, he had dissuaded from seeking military employment in Turkey or Russia, and by his influence caused to be restored to his rank in the army. Napoleon was not ungrateful, and when elected to the consulate was desirous of naming Volney his colleague. This dignity, however, the traveller refused, as well as that of minister of the interior, which was soon afterward offered him. He was content with the mere rank of senator. When at a future period Napoleon was about to assume the title of emperor, Volney ventured to oppose him, observing that it were better to restore the [Pg 235] Bourbons. From this time forward he was invariably found among that small minority in the senate who condemned and opposed the despotic measures of the emperor; yet he allowed himself to be decorated with the rank of count, and the title of commandant of the Legion of Honour. Still he took little share in political matters, preferring before all distinctions retirement and study.

In 1803 appeared his “Description of the Climate and Soil of the United States,” a work possessing, no doubt, considerable merit, but which has been far from obtaining equal success with his “Eastern Travels.” He now resumed his chronological studies, which had been for some time interrupted. In these he gave vent to all his heterodox opinions, which it could answer no good purpose either to retail or refute in this place. Others, more deeply versed than I in the chronology of the world, have performed this task; which was not, however, extremely necessary, as Volney’s labours on this subject seem designed never to acquire popularity. In 1810 he married Mademoiselle Chassebœuf, his cousin, for whose amusement he purchased a large mansion, with extensive gardens, &c., in the Rue Vaugirard. Here he lived in a kind of morose and misanthropic retirement, heightened, if not caused, by his gloomy and unhappy opinions; and here he died, on the 25th of April, 1820, in the sixty-third year of his age.

[Pg 236]


Born 1769.—Died 1822.

Edward Daniel Clarke was born on the 5th of June, 1769, at Willingdon, in the county of Sussex. Even when a child he is said to have displayed great narrative powers, which he exercised as frequently as possible for the amusement of his father’s domestics and parishioners. In his boyish studies, however, he was wanting in application; a fault arising from the quickness and vivacity of his mind, actuated by insatiable curiosity, and characterized from the beginning by a decided partiality for natural history. Still, the loss sustained by this species of negligence he afterward severely felt, when, notwithstanding the habits of industry which he acquired at a later period of youth, it was found impossible by any degree of exertion to retrieve the moments misspent or wasted in boyhood. At the same time there was one advantage derived from his unstudious inclinations; they urged him to be much abroad in the open air, where he amused himself with running, leaping, and swimming, in which last accomplishment he was particularly skilled, and on one occasion had the satisfaction of saving by this means the life of his younger brother, who was seized by the cramp while bathing in the moat which surrounded his father’s house.

In the spring of 1786, through the kindness of Dr. Beadon, afterward Bishop of Bath and Wells, Clarke obtained the office of chapel clerk at Jesus College, Cambridge, whither he removed about the Easter of the above year. Next year he sustained the [Pg 237] heavy calamity to lose a pious, beneficent, affectionate father, by which misfortune, young and inexperienced as he was, without a profession, and with few prospects of advancement, he was entirely thrown upon his own resources, his remaining parent not possessing the means of aiding him with aught beyond her prayers. Fortunately his deceased father had, instead of wealth, bequeathed to his family a more valuable inheritance; a name revered for sanctity, and a number of noble-minded friends, who not only provided for the immediate necessities of its several members, but continued to watch over their progress, and on many important occasions to advance their interests in after-life. Nevertheless, Clarke had to contend with numerous difficulties. “Soon after the death of their father,” says Mr. Otter, “the two elder sons returned to college; and Edward, having now acquired a melancholy title to one of the scholarships of the society of Jesus College, founded by Sir Tobias Rustat, for the benefit of clergymen’s orphans, was elected a scholar on this foundation immediately upon his return. The emoluments of his scholarship, joined to those of an exhibition from Tunbridge school, and the profits of his chapel clerk’s place, amounting in the whole to less than 90l. a year, were his principal, indeed it is believed his only resources during his residence at college; and, however well they may have been husbanded, it must be evident that, even in those times of comparative moderation in expense, they could not have been sufficient for his support, especially when it is understood that he was naturally liberal to a fault. It does not appear, however, that he derived during this time any pecuniary assistance from his father’s friends; and as there is the strongest reason to believe that he faithfully adhered to the promise he had made to his mother, that he would never draw upon her slender resources for his support, it may excite some curiosity to know [Pg 238] by what means the deficiency was supplied. The fact is, that he was materially assisted in providing for his college expenses by the liberality of his tutor, Mr. Plampin, who, being acquainted with his circumstances, suffered his bills to remain in arrear; and they were afterward discharged from the first profits he derived from his private pupils.”

The indolent inactivity which had marked his school studies did not desert him at college. He seems, in fact, to have been disgusted with the system of education pursued at Cambridge, caring nothing for mathematics, which were there regarded as all in all, and finding among the other mental pursuits of the place nothing whatever to kindle the ardour of his ambitious mind. Still the desire of fame, without which man never performed any thing great, began gradually to manifest itself in his character both to himself and others. Exceedingly uncertain as to the mode, he yet determined to acquire in one way or another a reputation in literature; and while many of those around him were descanting complacently upon his failings, and the consequent backwardness of his acquirements, he silently felt the sting which was so soon to goad him on to a destiny more brilliant than his compassionate comrades ever dreamed of. His favourite studies, however, such as they were, he seems to have pursued with considerable eagerness; and by degrees his taste, after wavering for some time, settled definitively on literature.

In the spring of 1790 Clarke obtained, through the recommendation of Dr. Beadon, then Bishop of Gloucester, the office of private tutor to the honourable Henry Tufton, nephew to the Duke of Dorset. The place selected for his residence with his pupil, says Mr. Otter, was a large house belonging to Lord Thanet, inhabited at that time only by one or two servants, situated in a wild and secluded part of the county of Kent, and cut off, as well by distance as [Pg 239] bad roads, from all cheerful and improving society; a residence suitable enough to a nobleman with a large establishment and a wide circle of friends, but the last place, one would have thought, to improve and polish a young man of family just entering into active life. His pupil, moreover, had conceived a dislike for study and for tutors of every kind, which promised to enhance the tedium of a life spent in such a scene. But Clarke, who probably sympathized with the young man’s aversion from intellectual task-work, very quickly succeeded by his gay, lively, insinuating manners in winning his confidence, and, apparently, in convincing him that a certain degree of knowledge might be useful, even to a man of his rank. This agreeable result, which seems to have been somewhat unexpected, so raised our incipient traveller in the estimation of the Duke of Dorset, that the engagement, which appears to have been at first for nine months only, was prolonged another year, the latter part of which was occupied in making with his pupil the tour of Great Britain. Of these domestic travels he on his return published the history; but the performance appears to have been hastily and slovenly written, and, as has been the fate of many other youthful works, to have been severely judged by the mature author, jealous of his fame, and averse from exhibiting to the public the nakedness of his unformed mind.

Shortly after the conclusion of this tour he accompanied his pupil in a little excursion to Calais, when he enjoyed the satisfaction, which none but a traveller can appreciate, of treading for the first time on foreign ground. In 1792 he was fortunate enough to obtain an engagement to travel with Lord Berwick, whom he had known at college, and in the autumn of that year set out in company with that young nobleman, through Germany and Switzerland into Italy. He was now in the position for which nature had originally designed him. “An unbounded [Pg 240] love of travel,” says he, “influenced me at a very early period of my life. It was conceived in infancy, and I shall carry it with me to the grave. When I reflect upon the speculations of my youth, I am at a loss to account for a passion which, predominating over every motive of interest and every tie of affection, urges me to press forward and to pursue inquiry, even in the bosoms of the ocean and the desert. Sometimes, in the dreams of fancy, I am weak enough to imagine that the map of the world was painted in the awning of my cradle, and that my nurse chanted the wanderings of pilgrims in her legendary lullabies.” This was the spirit which urged the Marco Polos, the Chardins, and the Bruces to undertake their illustrious journeys; and if Clarke was compelled by circumstances to confine his researches to less remote and better known countries, he exhibited in his rambles through these a kindred enthusiasm, and similar devotion and energy.

Clarke and his companion having passed the Alps, which, however frequently seen, still maintain their rank among the most sublime objects in nature, descended into Italy, visited Turin and Rome, and then proceeded to Naples, in which city and its environs they remained nearly two years. In the summer of 1793 there was, as is well known, an eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which our traveller, now an inhabitant of Naples, enjoyed ample opportunities of visiting. And here a striking manifestation of the daring intrepidity of the English occurred: for not only Clarke himself, part of whose business as a traveller it was to familiarize himself with danger, but numbers of other English gentlemen, and even ladies, ascended to the mouth of the burning crater and the sources of lava-streams in an active state for mere amusement; where, on one occasion, a lady narrowly escaped death from a large stone from the volcano, which flew by her like a wheel. At another time the whole party were menaced with [Pg 241] the fate of the elder Pliny. It was in the month of February. “I found the crater in a very active state,” says Clarke, “throwing out volleys of immense stones transparent with vitrification, and such showers of ashes involved in thick sulphurous clouds as rendered any approach to it extremely dangerous. We ascended as near as possible, and then crossing over to the lava attempted to coast it up to its source. This we soon found was impossible, for an unfortunate wind blew all the smoke of the lava hot upon us, attended at the same time with such a thick mist of minute ashes from the crater, and such fumes of sulphur, that we were in danger of being suffocated. In this perplexity I had recourse to an expedient recommended by Sir W. Hamilton, and proposed immediately crossing the current of liquid lava to gain the windward side of it; but felt some fears, owing to the very liquid appearance the lava there had so near its source. All my companions were against the scheme, and while we stood deliberating, immense fragments of stone and huge volcanic bombs that had been cast out by the crater, but which the smoke had prevented us from observing, fell thick about us, and rolled by with a velocity that would have crushed any of us, had we been in the way. I found we must either leave our present spot, or expect instant death; therefore, covering my face with my hat, I rushed upon the lava and crossed over safely to the other side, having my boots only a little burnt and my hands scorched. Not one of my companions, however, would stir, nor could any persuasion of mine avail in getting a single guide over to me. I then saw clearly the whole of the scene, and expected my friends would every moment be sacrificed to their own imprudence and want of courage, as the stones from the crater fell continually around them, and vast rocks of lava bounded by them with great force. At last I had the satisfaction of seeing them [Pg 242] retire, leaving me entirely alone. I begged hard for a torch to be thrown over to me, that I might not be lost when the night came on. It was then that André, one of the ciceroni of Resina, after being promised a bribe, ran over to me, and brought with him a bottle of wine and a torch. We had coasted the lava, ascending for some time, when looking back I perceived my companions endeavouring to cross the lava lower down, where the stream was narrower. In doing this they found themselves insulated, as it were, and surrounded by two different rivers of liquid fire. They immediately pressed forward, being terribly scorched by both currents, and ran to the side where I was; in doing which one of the guides fell into the middle of the red-hot lava, but met with no other injury than having his hands and face burnt, and losing at the same time a bottle of vin de grave, which was broken in the fall, and which proved a very unpleasant loss to us, being ready to faint with excessive thirst, fatigue, and heat. Having once more rallied my forces, I proceeded on, and in about half an hour I gained the chasm through which the lava had opened itself a passage out of the mountain. To describe this sight is utterly beyond all human ability. My companions, who were with me then, shared in the astonishment it produced; and the sensations they felt in concert with me were such as can be obliterated only with our lives. All I had seen of volcanic phenomena before did not lead me to expect such a spectacle as I then beheld. I had seen the vast rivers of lava which descended into the plains below, and carried ruin and devastation with them; but they resembled a vast heap of cinders on the scoriæ of an iron foundry, rolling slowly along, and falling with a rattling noise over one another. Here a vast arched chasm presented itself in the side of the mountain, from which rushed with the velocity of a flood the clear vivid torrent of lava in perfect fusion, and totally unconnected [Pg 243] with any other matter that was not in a state of complete solution, unattended by any scoriæ on its surface, or gross materials of an insolvent nature; but flowing with the translucency of honey, in regular channels cut finer than art can imitate, and glowing with all the splendour of the sun.”

In the July of the same year our traveller viewed Vesuvius under another aspect, when soft, tranquil beauty had succeeded to terrific sublimity. “While we were at tea in the Albergo Reale,” says he, “such a scene presented itself as every one agreed was beyond any thing of that kind they had ever seen before. It was caused by the moon, which suddenly rose behind the convent on Vesuvius; at first a small bright line silvering all the clouds, and then a full orb which threw a blaze of light across the sea, through which the vessels passed and re-passed in a most beautiful manner. At the same time the lava, of a different hue, spread its warm tint upon all the objects near it, and threw a red line across the bay, directly parallel to the reflection of the moon’s rays. It was one of those scenes which one dwells upon with regret, because one feels the impossibility of retaining the impression it affords. It remains in the memory, but then all its outlines and its colours are so faintly touched, that the beauty of the spectacle fades away with the landscape; which, when covered by the clouds of the night, and veiled in darkness, can never be revived by the pencil, the pen, or by any recourse to the traces it has left upon the mind.”

In the autumn of 1793 Clarke received from Lord Berwick a proposal that he should accompany him to Egypt and the Holy Land, with which our traveller, whose secret wishes had long pointed that way, immediately closed. While preparations were making for the journey, Lord Berwick suddenly recollected that some living, to which he was to present his brother, might fall vacant during his [Pg 244] absence, and be lost to his family. He determined, therefore, on sending an express to England; and when he had hired his courier, Clarke, who perhaps felt the want of violent exercise, offered to accompany the man, that no time might be lost. He accordingly set out for England, and having remained two or three days in London to execute the commission with which he had been intrusted, he hurried down to Shropshire, and arranged the business which had brought him to England. This being accomplished, he returned to London, where, to his infinite surprise and mortification, he found a letter from Lord Berwick, informing him that the expedition to Egypt had been postponed or abandoned. His engagement with this nobleman, however, had not yet expired. He therefore, after a short stay in England, hastened back to Italy, from whence he finally returned in the summer of 1794.

Clarke now spent some time with his mother and family at Uckfield, and in the autumn of the same year undertook, at the recommendation of the Bishop of St. Asaph, the care of Sir Thomas Mostyn, a youth of about seventeen. This engagement continued about a year, during which period he resided with his pupil in Wales, where he became known to Pennant, with whom he afterward maintained a correspondence. When this connexion had, from some unexplained causes, ceased to exist, our traveller undertook a small periodical work called “Le Rêveur,” which, when twenty-nine numbers had been published without success, was judiciously discontinued, and sunk so completely into oblivion that not a single copy, it is believed, could now be found.

In the autumn of 1796 Clarke entered into an engagement with the family of Lord Uxbridge, which, under whatever auspices begun, was highly beneficial to himself and satisfactory to his employers. The youth first placed under his care, delicate and [Pg 245] feeble in constitution, soon fell a prey to disease; but the next youngest son of the family, the honourable Berkeley Paget, succeeded his brother; and with him, in the summer and autumn of 1797, our traveller made the tour of Scotland. This was in every respect an agreeable and fortunate journey for our traveller, who not only enjoyed the scenery, wild, varied, and beautiful, which the north of England and many parts of Scotland afford, but secured in his pupil a powerful friend, who, so long as our traveller lived, promoted his interests, and when his life had closed, continued the same benevolent regard to his family.

On the termination of his connexion with Mr. Paget, who was now sent to Oxford, Clarke retired to Uckfield, where, for a time, he seemed entirely immersed in the pleasures of field-sports. His devotion to this species of amusement, however, was destined to be of short duration. A young gentleman of Sussex, whose education had been very much neglected, succeeded about this time to a considerable estate, upon which he intimated his desire of placing himself for three years under the guidance and instruction of our traveller, first at Cambridge, and afterward during a long and extensive tour upon the Continent. The pecuniary part of the proposal was very liberal, says Mr. Otter, and the plan was entered upon without delay. The traveller and his pupil remained a whole year at Cambridge, during which the former, who fully understood the advantages of knowledge, and had been hitherto prevented by his wandering life from pursuing any regular course of study, profited quite as much as the latter.

The preliminary portion of their studies being over, Clarke and his pupil began to prepare for their travels. Two other individuals were at first associated with them, Professor Malthus, author of the celebrated treatise on population, and the Rev. Mr. Otter, afterward the biographer of our traveller. [Pg 246] The party set out from Cambridge on the 20th May, 1799, and arrived at Hamburgh on the 25th. Here they made but a short stay before they set out for Copenhagen, and from thence, by way of Stockholm, across the whole of Sweden to Tornea, on the Gulf of Bothnia. Malthus and Otter left them at the Wener Lake. Clarke, with all the enthusiasm of a genuine traveller, could never imagine he had carried his researches sufficiently far; but, having reached the 66th degree of northern latitude, declared he would not return until he should have snuffed the polar air. His pupil, Cripps, seems to have shared largely in his locomotive propensity, and in the courage which prompts to indulge it. They therefore proceeded towards the polar regions together; but having reached Enontakis, in latitude 68° 30´ 30´´ north, our traveller, who had previously been seized by a severe fit of illness, was constrained to abandon the polar expedition and shape his course towards the south. Writing from Enontakis to his mother, “We have found,” says he, “the cottage of a priest in this remote corner of the world, and have been snug with him a few days. Yesterday I launched a balloon eighteen feet in height, which I had made to attract the natives. You may guess their astonishment when they saw it rise from the earth.

“Is it not famous to be here within the frigid zone, more than two degrees within the arctic, and nearer to the pole than the most northern shores of Iceland? For a long time darkness has been a stranger to us. The sun, as yet, passes not below the horizon, but he dips his crimson visage behind a mountain to the north. This mountain we ascended, and had the satisfaction to see him make his courtesy without setting. At midnight the priest of this place lights his pipe during three weeks in the year by means of a burning-glass from the sun’s rays.”

Having, for the reason above stated, given up the [Pg 247] design of visiting the polar regions, they returned to Tornea, and thence proceeded through Sweden and Norway; which latter country (probably for the same reason which made Pope of the opinion of the last author he read) he preferred for sublimity of scenery to Switzerland. They then entered Russia, and arrived at Petersburg on the 26th of January, 1800. Clarke, it is well known, entertained a very mean opinion of the Russians; but, judging from the testimony of Bishop Heber—a calmer and more dispassionate man—as well as from that of many other travellers, it would appear that his judgment was neither rash nor ill founded. “We have been here five days,” says he. “Our servants were taken from us at the frontiers, and much difficulty had we with the Russian thieves as we came along. Long accustomed to Swedish honesty it is difficult for us to assume all at once a system of suspicion and caution: the consequence of this is that they remove all the moveables out of their way. I wish much to like the Russians, but those who govern them will take care I never shall. This place, were it not for its magnificence, would be insufferable. We silently mourn when we remember Sweden. As for our harps there are no trees to hang them upon; nevertheless we sit down by the waters of Babylon and weep. They open all the letters, and therefore there is something for them to chew upon. More I dare not add; perhaps your experience will supply the rest.”

To this, if we add his picture of the execrable despot who then governed Russia, enough will have been said of his experience at Petersburg. “It is impossible,” he writes, “to say what will be the end of things here, or whether the emperor is more of a madman, a fool, a knave, or a tyrant. If I were to relate the ravings, the follies, the villanies, the cruelties of that detestable beast, I should never reach the end of my letter. Certainly things cannot [Pg 248] long go on as they do now. The other day the soldiers by his order cudgelled a gentleman in the street because the cock of his hat was not in a line with his nose. He has sent the Prince of Condé’s army to the right-about, which is hushed up, and it is to appear that they are ceded to Great Britain. He refuses passports even to ambassadors for their couriers. One is not safe a moment. It is not enough to act by rule, you must regulate your features to the whims of a police officer. If you frown in the street you will be taken up.”

From Petersburg they proceeded in sledges to Moscow, which, like most oriental cities, seemed all splendour from a distant view, but shrunk upon their entering it into a miserable collection of hovels, interspersed with a few grotesque churches and tawdry palaces. This place, which is too well known to require me to dwell much upon its appearance, they quitted to proceed to the Crimea. Arriving at Taganrog, on the Sea of Azov, Clarke amused himself with swimming in the Don, the ancient Tanais, between Europe and Asia, and in thinking of the vast extent of country over which his good fortune had already carried him, and of the far more glorious scenes—Palestine—Egypt—Greece—which yet lay in his route. “Do, for God’s sake imagine,” says he in a letter to a friend, “what I must feel in the prospect of treading the plains of Troy!—Tears of joy stream from my eyes while I write.” To a person of such a frame of mind—and no others should ever leave their firesides—travelling, next to the performance of virtuous actions, affords the most exquisite pleasure upon earth. The imagination, impregnated by a classical education with glowing ideas of what certain scenes once were, invests them with unearthly splendour, of which no experience can ever afterward divest them.

Upon their arriving at Achmedshid in the Crimea, [Pg 249] they remained some time in the house of Professor Pallas, who entertained them in so hospitable a manner that Clarke, who spoke of men as he found them, could not forbear imparting to his friends at home the warm gratitude of his heart. “It is with him we now live,” says he, “till the vessel is ready to sail for Constantinople; and how can I express his kindness to me? He has all the tenderness of a father to us both. Every thing in his house he makes our own. He received me worn down with fatigue and ill of a tertian fever. Mrs. Pallas nursed me, and he cured me, and then loaded me with all sorts of presents; books, drawings, insects, plants, minerals, &c. The advantage of conversing with such a man is worth the whole journey from England, not considering the excellent qualities of his heart. Here we are in quite an elegant English house; and if you knew the comfort of lying down in a clean bed after passing months without taking off your clothes in deserts and among savages, you would know the comfort we feel. The vessel is at Kosloff, distant forty miles; and when we leave the Crimea Mr. and Mrs. Pallas and their daughter, who has been married since we were in the house to a general officer, go with us to Kosloff; and will dine with us on board the day we sail. They prepare all our provisions for the voyage.”

The whole of their stay in Russia was rendered so exceedingly disagreeable—first by the savage tyranny of the emperor, and secondly by the evil character of his subjects, which, as being everywhere felt, was infinitely more annoying—that our traveller regarded himself among a civilized and hospitable people when he reached Constantinople. In fact, he found himself in a sort of English society which, congregating together at the palace of the embassy, engaged in the same round of amusements which would have occupied them in London. The time which these agreeable occupations left him was [Pg 250] employed in searching for and examining Greek medals, and in viewing such curiosities as were to be found in Constantinople; among other things the interior of the seraglio, where no Frank, he says, had before set his foot. He moreover found time to peruse many of the various publications called forth by the Bryant controversy respecting the existence of Troy; and so unsteady was his faith on this point, that, after dipping a little into the subject, he began to imagine something like a new theory to explain the manner in which we are required to believe Homer might have invented the whole groundwork of the Iliad! However, upon shortly afterward arriving on the spot, this flimsy vagary vanished. Jacob Bryant and his followers were found to be the pettifogging skeptics which they have always been considered by sensible men. “The Plain of Troy now,” exclaims our traveller, “offers every fact you want; there is nothing doubtful. No argument will stand an instant[3] in [Pg 251] opposition to the test of inquiry upon the spot; penetrating into the mountains behind the Acropolis the proofs grow more numerous as you advance, till at length the discussion becomes absurd, and the nonsense of Bryantism so ridiculous that his warmest partisans would be ashamed to acknowledge they had ever assented for an instant to such contemptible blasphemy upon the most sacred records of history.”

[3] An intaglio purchased by Clarke at Constantinople is exceedingly remarkable, as throwing light upon the original story of Æneas, before it had been deformed by Virgil or Ovid. “There are poor Turks at Constantinople, whose business it is to wash the mud of the common sewers of the city, and the sand of the shore. These people found a small onyx, with an antique intaglio of most excellent workmanship, representing Æneas flying from the city, leading his boy by the hand, and bearing on his shoulders (who do you suppose?)—not his father—for in that case the subject might have been borrowed from Virgil or Ovid—but—his wife, with the Penates in her lap; and so wonderfully wrought that these three figures are brought into a gem of the smallest size, and wings are added to the feet of Æneas,

‘Pedibus timor addidit alas!’

to express by symbols of the most explicit nature the story and the situation of the hero. Thus it is proved that a tradition, founded neither on the works of Homer nor the Greek historians (and perhaps unknown to Virgil and the Roman poets, who always borrowed their stories from such records as were afforded by the works of ancient artists), existed among the ancients in the remotest periods, respecting the war of Troy. The authenticity of this invaluable little relic, the light it strews on ancient history, its beauty, and the remarkable coincidence of the spot on which it was found, with the locality of the subject it illustrates, interested so much the late Swedish minister, Mr. Heidensham, and other antiquarians of the first talents in this part of the world, that I have given it a very considerable part of this letter, hoping it will not be indifferent to you.”

From the Troad Clarke proceeded to Rhodes, the Gulf of Glaucus, on the coast of Asia Minor, and thence by sea to Egypt, where the English fleet was then lying in Aboukir Bay. He did not, however, see much of Egypt on this occasion, for the country was still in the possession of the French; and therefore, after a short visit to Rosetta, he sailed for Cyprus, and on returning from this voyage proceeded in the Romulus to Palestine. Here he visited Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem, and the Lake of Genesareth; near which he enjoyed an opportunity of conversing with a party of Druses. Almost every traveller in Syria has given us some new particulars respecting this curious people. “They are,” says Clarke, “the most extraordinary people on earth; singular in the simplicity of their lives by their strict integrity and virtue. They only eat what they earn by their own labour, and preserve at this moment the superstitions brought by the Israelites out of Egypt. What will be your surprise to learn that every Thursday they elevate the molten calf, before which they prostrate themselves, and having paid their adoration, each man selects among the women present the wife he likes best, with whom the ceremony ends. The calf is of gold, silver, or bronze. This is exactly that worship at which Moses was so incensed in descending from Mount Sinai. The cow was the Venus of the Egyptians, and of course the calf a personification of animal desire; a Cupid before which the sacrifices [Pg 252] so offensive to Moses were held. For it is related they set up a molten calf, which Aaron had made from the earrings of the Israelite women; before which similar sacrifices were made. And certainly the Druses on Mount Lebanon are a detachment of the posterity of those Israelites who are so often represented in Scripture as deserters from the true faith, falling back into the old superstitions and pagan worship of the country from whence they came. I could not visit Mount Lebanon; but I took every method necessary to ascertain the truth of this relation; and I send it you as one of the highest antiquities and most curious relics of remote ages which has yet been found upon earth.”

His stay in Palestine was exceedingly short, just sufficient to enable him to say he had looked at it. He then returned to Aboukir Bay, where his brother was commander of an English ship; which now, on the 6th of August, 1801, swarmed with French prisoners like a beehive. When the road to Cairo was rendered practicable by the defeat of the French, our traveller proceeded to that city, where the most interesting objects existing were the beautiful young women who had been torn by the French soldiers from the harems of the bey; and then, when they evacuated the country, deserted and abandoned to their fate. Here he procured a complete copy of the “Arabian Nights,” which, with many other works that were so many sealed books to him, gave rise to much unavailing regret that he had bestowed little or no attention on the Arabic language. The Pyramids he of course admired. “Without hyperbole,” says he, “they are immense mountains; and when clouds cast shadows over their white sides they are seen passing as upon the summit of the Alps.” From the pinnacle of the loftiest he dated one of his letters to England, all of which are filled with lively dashing gossip, accompanied with rash, headlong, unphilosophical [Pg 253] decisions, which the reflections of a moment, perhaps, might have served to dissipate. The news of the capitulation of Alexandria induced him to hurry back to the coast. He found the French troops still in the city, but preparing to embark with all speed. Great disputes, he says, had already arisen between General Hutchinson and Menou respecting the antiquities and collections of natural history which had been made by the French; the former claiming them as public, and the latter refusing them as private property. The part performed by Clarke himself in this affair he shall relate in his own words:—“When I arrived in the British camp, General Hutchinson informed me that he had already stipulated for the stone in question (the Rosetta marble), and asked me whether I thought the other literary treasures were sufficiently national to be included in his demands. You may be sure I urged all the arguments I could muster to justify the proceeding; and it is clear they are not private property. General Hutchinson sent me to Menou, and charged me to discover what national property of that kind was in the hands of the French. Hamilton, Lord Elgin’s secretary, had gone the same morning about an hour before with Colonel Turner of the Antiquarian Society about the Hieroglyphic Table. I showed my pass at the gates, and was admitted. The streets and public places were filled with the French troops, in desperate bad-humour. Our proposals were made known, and backed with a menace from the British general that he would break the capitulation if the proposals were not acceded to. The whole corps of sçavans and engineers beset Menou, and the poor old fellow, what with us and them, was completely hunted. We have been now at this work since Thursday the 11th, and I believe have succeeded. We found much more in their possession than was suspected or imagined. Pointers would not range better for [Pg 254] game than we have done for statues, sarcophagi, maps, MSS., drawings, plans, charts, botany, stuffed birds, animals, dried fishes, &c. Savigny, who has been years in forming the beautiful collection of natural history for the republic, is in despair. Therefore we represented to General Hutchinson, that it would be the best plan to send him to England also, as the most proper person to take care of the collection, and to publish its description if necessary.”

No man, I suppose, who has passed beyond the frontiers of his own country, can fail to have experienced frequent depressions of spirit, during which he has probably repented him of his wandering habits. But Clarke was like a weathercock, now pointing to the east, now to the west. In the island of Zea, off the promontory of Sunium, he repented heartily of having undertaken the voyage to Greece. “Danger, fatigue, disease, filth, treachery, thirst, hunger, storms, rocks, assassins,—these,” he exclaims, “are the realities which a traveller in Greece meets with!” Anon, at Athens, he writes, “We have been here three days; we sailed into the port of the Piræus after sunset on the 28th. The little voyage from Cape Sunium to Athens is one of the most interesting I ever made. The height of the mountains brings the most distant objects into the view, and you are surrounded by beauty and grandeur. The sailors and pilots still give to every thing its ancient name, with only a little difference in the pronunciation. They show you as you sail along, Ægina and Salamis, Mount Hymettus and Athens, and Megara, and the mountains of Corinth. The picture is the same as it was in the earliest ages of Greece. The Acropolis rises to view as if it were in its most perfect state: the temples and buildings seem entire; for the eye, in the Saronic Gulf, does not distinguish the injuries which the buildings have suffered, and nature, of [Pg 255] course, is the same now as she was in the days of Themistocles. I cannot tell you what sensations I felt: the successions were so rapid I knew not whether to laugh or to cry,—sometimes I did both.

“Our happiness is complete, we have forgotten all our disasters, and I have half a mind to blot out all I have written in the first part of this letter. We are in the most comfortable house imaginable, with a good widow and her daughter. You do not know Lusieri. He was my friend in Italy many years ago. Think what a joy to find him here, presiding over the troop of artists, architects, sculptors, and excavators that Lord Elgin has sent here to work for him. He is the most celebrated artist at present in the world. Pericles would have deified him. He attends us everywhere, and Pausanias himself would not have made a better cicerone.

“Athens exceeds all that ever has been written or painted from it. I know not how to give an idea of it; because, having never seen any thing like it, I must become more familiar with so much majesty before I can describe it. I am no longer to lament the voyage I lost with Lord Berwick; because it is exactly that which a man should see last in his travels. It is even with joy I consider it is perhaps the end of all my admiration. We are lucky in the time of our being here. The popularity of the English name gives us access to many things which strangers before were prohibited from visiting, and the great excavations that are going on discover daily some hidden treasures. Rome is almost as insignificant in comparison with Athens as London with Rome; and one regrets the consciousness that no probable union of circumstances will ever again carry the effects of human labour to the degree of perfection they have attained here.”

No one after this will accuse Clarke of being deficient in enthusiasm; but this is not all. On reaching the summit of Parnassus, he bursts forth into [Pg 256] expressions of admiration, which, if they were not justified by the sublime beauty of the scenes themselves, or by the historical glory with which they must be eternally associated, would be absurd. “It is necessary to forget all that has preceded—all the travels of my life—all I ever imagined—all I ever saw! Asia—Egypt—the Isles—Italy—the Alps—whatever you will! Greece surpasses all! Stupendous in its ruins! Awful in its mountains!—captivating in its vales—bewitching in its climate. Nothing ever equalled it—no pen can describe it—no pencil can portray it!

“I know not when we shall get to Constantinople. We are as yet only three days’ distance from Athens; and here we sit on the top of Parnassus, in a little sty, full of smoke, after wandering for a fortnight in Attica, Bœotia, and Phocis. We have been in every spot celebrated in ancient story—in fields of slaughter, and in groves of song. I shall grow old in telling you the wonders of this country. Marathon, Thebes, Platæa, Leuctra, Thespia, Mount Helicon, the grove of the Muses, the cave of Trophonius, Cheronea, Orchomene, Delphi, the Castalian fountain, Parnassus; we have paid our vows in all! But what is most remarkable, in Greece there is hardly a spot which hath been particularly dignified that is not also adorned by the most singular beauties of nature. Independently of its history, each particular object is interesting.”

From Athens they proceeded by land to Constantinople through ancient Thrace, by a route partly trodden by Pococke. After a short stay at this city, they directed their course homewards through Roumelia, Austria, Germany, and France, and arrived in England after an absence of upwards of three years. Cripps now returned for a short period to his family, and Clarke, who had by this time acquired an immense reputation, took up his residence at Cambridge, where, with very few intervals [Pg 257] of absence, he remained nearly twenty years. He was very soon rejoined by his pupil, the completing of whose education, together with the arranging of his curiosities and antiquities, and the composition of his travels, fully occupied his leisure for some time. A statue of Ceres which our traveller had dug up, and sent home from Greece, was presented, on his return, to the university; in consequence of which the degree of LL.D. was conferred upon Clarke, and that of M.A. upon his companion.

In 1805 Dr. Clarke published a “Dissertation on the Sarcophagus in the British Museum,” which, though necessarily neglected by the public, is said to have given considerable satisfaction to the learned, and procured for its author many valuable acquaintances. Another and a very different subject employed his mind throughout a great part of the following year. This was no less a thing than matrimony; which, as soon as the idea got footing in his brain, occupied his ardent imagination to the exclusion of every thing else. His suit, however, was successful. The lady of his choice became his wife; and to increase this piece of good fortune, two livings, for he had entered into orders, were presented him by his friends, the one shortly before, and the other immediately after his marriage. He now occupied himself with lectures on mineralogy, which were delivered at the university to crowded audiences, and were a source of considerable profit. This, as he expected, led to his appointment as professor of mineralogy; and “thus,” says Mr. Otter, “were his most sanguine wishes crowned with success; and thus were his spirit and perseverance rewarded with one of the rarest and highest honours which the university could bestow.”

Dr. Clarke now began to think of turning the treasures he had picked up in his travels to account; he sold his MSS. to the Bodleian Library at Oxford [Pg 258] for 1000l., and his Greek coins to Mr. Payne Knight for 100 guineas. The publication of his travels next followed, and produced him a clear sum of 6595l. In the year 1814 his old passion for travelling revived, and an expedition was projected into the Grecian Archipelago for the purpose of collecting antiquities, manuscripts, &c. But he was overruled by his friend, who probably believed that his constitution was now unequal to the fatigue which would be the inevitable attendant on such a mission. To this scheme he would appear to have been urged by the extravagant manner in which he had for some time lived; but a more practicable, or at least a more certain mode of recovering from the effects of this false step presented itself; which was no other than reducing his expenses, and living within his income. This he had the courage to undertake and execute; and from that day forward seems to have led the life of a sensible man. His passion now took a new turn, and he was wholly absorbed by chymistry. In September, 1816, he wrote as follows to a friend: “I sacrificed the whole month of August to chymistry. Oh how I did work! It was delightful play to me, and I stuck to it day and night. At last, having blown off both my eyebrows and eyelashes, and nearly blown out both my eyes, I ended with a bang that shook all the houses round my lecture-room. The Cambridge paper has told you the result of all this alchymy, for I have actually decomposed the earths, and obtained them in a metallic form.”

I adopt from Mr. Otter the following account of Clarke’s death. It was hastened, if not entirely caused, by continued high-wrought mental excitement. He was carried to town for advice by Sir William and Lady Rush, where he was attended by Sir Astley Cooper, Dr. Bailey, and Dr. Scudamore, but their efforts to save him were in vain; the rest of his life, about a fortnight, over which a veil will [Pg 259] soon be drawn, was like a feverish dream after a day of strong excitement, when the same ideas chase each other through the mind in a perpetual round, and baffle every attempt to banish them. Nothing seemed to occupy his attention but the syllabus of his lectures, and the details of the operations he had just finished; nor could there exist to his friends a stronger proof that all control over his mind was gone, and that the ascendency of such thoughts at a season when the devotion so natural to him, and of late so strikingly exhibited under circumstances far less trying, would, in a sounder state, have been the prime, if not the only, mover of his soul. One lucid interval there was, in which, to judge from the subject and the manner of his conversation, he had the command of his thoughts, as well as a sense of his danger; for in the presence of Lieut. Chappel and Mr. Cripps, he pronounced a very pathetic eulogium on Mrs. Clarke, and recommended her earnestly to the care of those about him; but when the currents of his thoughts seemed running fast towards those pious contemplations on which they would naturally have rested, his mind suddenly relapsed into the power of its former occupants, from which it never more was free. At times, indeed, gleams of his former kindness and intelligence would mingle with the wildness of his delirium, in a manner the most striking and affecting; and then, even his incoherences, to use his own thoughts respecting another person who had finished his race shortly before him, was as the wreck of some beautiful decayed structure, when all its goodly ornaments and stately pillars fall in promiscuous ruin. He died on Saturday, the 9th of March, and was buried in Jesus College chapel on the 18th of the same month.

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Born 1753.—Died 1824.

In commencing the life of this traveller I experience some apprehension that the interest of the narrative may suffer in my hands; since his exploits, as Sallust observes of those of the Athenians, appear to acquire much of their importance from the peculiar eloquence with which they are described. The style of Le Vaillant, though regarded by many as declamatory and negligent, is in fact so graceful, natural, and full of vivacity,—his sentiments are so warm,—his ideas, whether right or wrong, so peculiarly his own, that, whether he desires to interest you in the fate of his friends or of his cattle, of his collections or of his cocks and hens, the result is invariably the same: he irresistibly inspires you with feelings like his own, and for the moment compels you, in spite of yourself, to adopt his views and opinions. I cannot, however, flatter myself with the hope of equal success. Things really trifling in themselves might, I am afraid, continue to appear so when dressed in my plain style; and it therefore only remains for me to select, to the best of my judgment, such actions and events as really deserve to be remembered, and must always, with whatever degree of simplicity they may be described, command a certain degree of attention. The scene of this writer’s adventures had in many instances all the charm of novelty when his travels first appeared. No European had preceded him in his route. He could form no conjecture respecting the nature of the objects with which the morrow was to bring [Pg 261] him acquainted, and at every step experienced the

Novos decerpere flores.

In all the pleasures to be derived from pursuing an untrodden path, from penetrating into an unknown world; for such then was Africa, and such, in a great measure, it still continues—from beholding new species of birds and animals which his enthusiasm and perseverance were about to make known to mankind;—in all these pleasures, I say, he skilfully makes his readers his associates, and thus, apparently without effort, accomplishes the intention of the most consummate rhetorical art, the object of which is only to lead the imagination captive by the allurements of pleasure, or to urge it along by the keen sting of curiosity.

François le Vaillant was born in 1753, at Paramaribo, in Dutch Guiana, where his father, a rich merchant, originally from Metz, filled the office of consul. Even while a child the tastes and habits of his parents inspired him with a partiality for a wandering life, and for collections of objects of natural history, which quickly generated another passion, the passion for hunting; and this amusement, unphilosophical as it may seem, not only occupied his boyish days, in which man is cruel from thoughtlessness, but his riper and declining years, when suffering and calamity might have taught him to respect the lives even of the inferior animals.

His father, actuated by the love of science, or by the vanity of forming a collection, employed much of the leisure which he enjoyed in travelling through the less frequented parts of the colony, accompanied by his wife and son; and to this circumstance may be attributed Le Vaillant’s twofold passion for travelling and for natural history. The desire of possessing a cabinet of his own soon arose. Birds and beasts being as yet beyond his reach, he commenced [Pg 262] with caterpillars, butterflies, and other insects; but his ambition increasing with his acquisitions, he at length armed himself with the Indian sarbacan and bow, and before he had reached his tenth year had slain innumerable birds.

In 1763 he proceeded with his parents to Europe, where every object which presented itself to his eye was new. They first landed in Holland, where the phlegmatic Dutchmen, who, like the Chinese, pique themselves upon being “slow and sure,” viewed with astonishment the pert and forward urchin, who, at ten years of age, began to babble of science, cabinets, and collections. From Holland, however, they soon removed to the more congenial soil of France. Here precocity, which too frequently generates hopes never destined to be fulfilled, has always been viewed with more complacency than in any other country in Europe; and accordingly our youthful traveller, whose vanity amply made up for his want of knowledge, was flattered and encouraged to his heart’s content. In this particular instance the flowers were succeeded by fruit. Being capable of existing in solitude, which is difficult in youth, but yet absolutely necessary to the acquisition of studious habits, he yielded to his natural inclination for the chase, and spent whole weeks in the forests of Lorrain and Germany, intently studying the manners of animals and birds. His education, meanwhile, was not in other respects neglected; but the books which occupied him most agreeably were voyages and travels, as his mind seems already to have turned towards that point from which he was to derive his fame.

In the course of the year 1777 some fortunate circumstance conducted him to Paris, where the collections and cabinets of learned and scientific men at first afforded him extraordinary delight; but ended, he says, by inspiring him with contempt, the richness of the treasures which they contained being equalled only by the confusion and absurdity observable [Pg 263] in their arrangement. He discovered likewise in the current works on natural history, even in those of Buffon, so much exaggeration, and so many errors, notwithstanding the masterly eloquence with which those errors are clothed, that, convinced that no degree of genius could preserve from delusion the man who describes nature at second-hand, he at length determined to become a traveller before he became a natural historian, that he might observe in their native woods and deserts the animals which he wished to make known to the world. With these views, without communicating his plans to any person, he departed from Paris on the 17th of July, 1780, and proceeded to Holland.

Having visited the principal cities of the republic, and admired at Amsterdam the superb collection and aviary of M. Temminck and others, he obtained permission to proceed to the Cape of Good Hope in one of the ships of the Dutch East India Company, and set sail for that country on the 3d of December, 1780, the day before England declared war against the Dutch. Had this event taken place twenty-four hours sooner, the company, he observes, would not have allowed them to depart; in which case all his projects might have been frustrated. During the voyage the ship was cannonaded during several hours by a small English privateer, while the Dutch captain, rendered incapable of reflection by terror, never returned a single shot; and although exceedingly superior in men and metal to the enemy, would undoubtedly have suffered himself to be taken prisoner, had not another Dutch ship-of-war hove in sight, and put to flight the audacious Englishman. This was the only incident worthy of mention which occurred to dissipate the ennui of their long voyage; and they arrived at Cape Town three months and ten days after their departure from the Texel.

Le Vaillant, who had taken care to provide himself previous to his departure from Amsterdam with [Pg 264] numerous letters of recommendation, was received with remarkable attention by several individuals of distinction at the Cape. His design of exploring the remoter districts of the colony and the adjacent countries fortunately excited no jealousy or suspicion in their minds, and therefore, instead of labouring, as petty colonial governments too frequently do, to obstruct the interests of science, they evinced a disposition to favour the views of the traveller, entertained him with profuse hospitality during the many months which the preparations for his journey required him to remain among them, and, which to him was still more important, exerted their influence and authority to facilitate his movements towards the countries of the interior. So agreeable a reception could not, of course, fail to produce its effect upon the mind of the traveller. It quite melted away his affected misanthropy. He found himself in good-humour with mankind, and, as if benevolence and philanthropy were the peculiar attributes of the natives of Holland, observes, that this species of politeness was what he had reckoned upon, for that he knew he had to deal with Dutchmen!

His remarks upon Cape Town, now no longer in the possession of the Dutch, are sufficiently curious, as they enable us to contrast its appearance fifty years ago with that which it at present wears under English government. Though a large proportion of the houses were spacious and handsome, the streets, in spite of their great breadth, appeared disagreeable even to a Frenchman, on account of the badness of the pavement, and the stench which everywhere offended the nostrils, arising from the heads, feet, and intestines of slaughtered animals which the butchers of the company were in the habit of casting forth in heaps before their doors, and which, with more than Ottomite negligence, the authorities allowed to putrefy upon the spot. The effluvia proceeding from these abominations Le Vaillant [Pg 265] with reason regarded as one of the active causes of those epidemics which usually prevailed in the city during those seasons in which the violent south-east wind had not blown. While this cleansing wind was performing its operations, the streets were almost rendered impassable. The hurricane, precipitating from the mountains dense masses of vapour, raged for several days with indescribable impetuosity, overthrowing every thing in its course, and filling all places, even to the closets, trunks, and drawers, with dust. Trees and plants were frequently torn up by the roots; and well-planted gardens were rendered in the course of twenty-four hours as bare and naked as a desert.

Le Vaillant found the native colonists of the Cape handsome and well formed, particularly the women; but, although they studied with perseverance the important science of dress, they were still very far, in his opinion, from the ease and elegance of the ladies of France; a result which he in a great measure attributes to the practice of employing slaves as wet-nurses, and of otherwise living with them in habits of great familiarity. Slavery under any form is a thing to be abhorred; but our traveller here seems to exaggerate its deformities. Gracefulness, taste, decorum, which should, perhaps, be numbered among the virtues in a well-regulated state, are things with which slavery is by no means incompatible. The most polished nation of antiquity, which every person but a Frenchman will allow to have at least equalled the Parisians in refinement, constantly employed domestic slaves, and lived with them on terms of considerable familiarity. But ignorance and refinement are necessarily repugnant to each other; and in general the Dutch inhabitants of the Cape were, according to Le Vaillant, remarkable for their ignorance, which, without the aid of slavery, would sufficiently account for the absence of graceful and elegant manners.

[Pg 266]

Strangers, however, arriving at the Cape were almost invariably received with great hospitality, more particularly the English, who were admired for their generosity, as much as the French, for their sordid avarice and egotism, were despised and hated. Le Vaillant, in fact, observes that he has frequently heard colonists declare they would prefer being conquered by the English to their owing their safety to a nation whom they regarded with such aversion as the French; and the French troops which shortly afterward arrived in the colony, spreading around them vice and profligacy like a pestilence, debauching the wives and daughters of those who hospitably received them into their houses, and sowing dissension and eternal regrets in the bosoms of a hundred families, fully justified this deep-rooted hatred. The great number of persons in France who from selfish motives remain unmarried, and speculate upon the gratification of their feeble passions at the expense of the weak-minded and the miserable, must always render the nation an object of aversion among a remote people like the Dutch colonists of the Cape, whose ignorant simplicity necessarily exposes them to the shame of suffering by such immorality.

But if the English were so much the objects of admiration to the people, their numerous and powerful fleets, which have for centuries exercised an undisputed omnipotence on the ocean, rendered them no less terrible to the authorities, who, to secure the company’s vessels from their dreaded cannon, commanded them to be removed from Table Bay to that of Saldanha, where, it was hoped, their chances of escape would be more numerous. On board of one of these our traveller embarked on the 10th of May, and next morning arrived safely in the Bay of Saldanha, happy that the dreaded English flag had not encountered them on their passage.

In the waters of this bay, which was then but seldom [Pg 267] visited, great numbers of whales were continually seen sporting about; and Le Vaillant, whose hunting propensities were immediately awakened by the sight of a wild animal, frequently amused himself with firing at this new species of game. He could never perceive, however, that his balls produced the least effect upon them. But in Mutton Island, situated in the entrance of the bay, his fowlingpiece was more fortunate; for, from the prodigious number of rabbits with which that isle abounded, he found it easy on all occasions to kill as many as he pleased. In fact, this little isle became the warren of the whole fleet.

Various species of game abounded in the neighbourhood, among which the principal were the partridge and the hare, and that small kind of gazelle denominated steen-bock by the colonists. The panther, too, following in the track of his prey, was found in great numbers in this district. A few days after his arrival Le Vaillant was invited by the commandant to join him in a hunting-party. Their chase was unsuccessful: they killed nothing. Towards the close of the day, as if fate had decreed that his courage should at once be put to the proof, Le Vaillant found himself separated from his companion; and continuing as he proceeded to fire at intervals, in the hope of arousing the game, he started a small gazelle, which his dog immediately pursued. The gazelle was quickly out of sight, but the dog, which still seemed to be upon his track, stopped on the skirts of a large thicket, and began to bark. Le Vaillant, who had now no doubt that the game had taken refuge there, hastened to the spot with all the eagerness of a sportsman. His presence encouraged the dog, and he every moment expected to see the gazelle appear; but at length, growing impatient, he entered into the thicket, beating the bushes aside with his fowlingpiece. It is difficult, however, to describe the terror and confusion he experienced [Pg 268] when, instead of a timid and feeble gazelle, he saw before him a tremendous panther, whose glaring eyes were fixed upon him, while its outstretched neck, gaping jaws, and low, hollow growl seemed to announce its intention of springing. He regarded himself as lost. But the calm courage of his dog saved his life. It kept the animal at bay, hesitating between rage and fear, until the traveller had retreated out of the thicket. He then made towards the house of the commandant with all possible speed, frequently looking behind him as he ran.

Another kind of terror shortly after seized upon him at sea. He was sitting at supper with the captain and the other officers, when a sudden strange motion was observed in the ship. Every person immediately ran on deck. The whole crew were alarmed. Some imagined they had run upon their anchors, and were beating against the rocks; others accounted for the shock in a different manner; but, perceiving from the position of the other ships that they were still exactly where they had been before, no one could conjecture the cause of what had happened, and their alarm was redoubled. Presently, however, upon more careful observation, a whale was discovered entangled by the tail, between the ship’s cables, and making furious efforts to disengage itself. This was the cause of the singular motion they had felt. All hands now rushed with harpoons into the boat; but the obscurity of the night retarding their movements, the whale, just as they were ready to attack it, succeeded in disentangling its tail, and escaped.

In the entrance to Saldanha Bay there is a second small island, to which the colonists have given the name of the Marmotte. Upon this sequestered spot the captain of a Danish vessel, as our traveller had learned from tradition, having been long detained in the bay by contrary winds, had died there, and been buried by his crew. Le Vaillant now conceived the [Pg 269] desire of visiting his grave. In sailing by this lonely rock, in the passage to and from Mutton Island, he had invariably been struck by a dull but startling sound, proceeding from the isle. He mentioned the circumstance to the captain. The good-natured navigator, anxious to oblige his guest, and perhaps himself desirous of beholding the Dane’s grave, replied, that if his wishes pointed that way they should immediately be gratified.

Next morning, accordingly, they proceeded towards the island. In proportion as they advanced, the noise, increasing in loudness, more and more excited their curiosity; and the sound of the waves, which broke with great violence against the rocks, contributed not a little to swell the deep murmur, the cause of which no one could conjecture. They landed at length amid spray and foam, and, clambering up the cliffs, succeeded with much difficulty in reaching the summit. Here they beheld a sight such, in the opinion of our traveller, as no mortal ever beheld before. There arose in a moment from the surface of the earth an impenetrable cloud, which formed, at the height of forty feet above their heads, a prodigious canopy, or rather sky, of birds of every kind and colour. “Cormorants, sea-swallows, pelicans,—in one word,” says he, “all the winged creatures of Southern Africa were collected, I verily believe, in that spot. The screams of so enormous a multitude of birds mingling together formed an infernal species of music, which seemed to rend the ear with its piercing notes.

“The alarm,” he adds, “was so much the greater, among these innumerable legions of birds, in that it was the females with whom we had principally to deal, it being the season of nesting. They had therefore their nests, their eggs, their young ones to defend, and were as fierce as so many harpies. They deafened us with their cries. They stooped upon the wing, and in darting past us, brushed our [Pg 270] faces. It was in vain that we fired our pieces; nothing could frighten away this living cloud. We could scarcely take a single step without crushing some eggs or young birds: the earth was covered by them.”

They found the caverns and hollows of the rocks inhabited by seals and sea-lions, of the latter of which they killed one specimen of enormous size. The various creeks of the island afforded a retreat to the manchot, a species of penguin, two feet in height, the wings of which, being entirely devoid of feathers, are only used in swimming. On land they hang down by the side of the body in a negligent manner, and communicate to the appearance and air of the bird something peculiarly sinister and funereal. These dismal-looking birds crowded every part of the island, but were nowhere so numerous as about the Dane’s tomb, around which they clustered as if to defend it from violation, and with their startling, melancholy cry, which mingled with the roar of the seal and the sea-lion, gave an air of sadness to the scene which deeply affected the soul. In itself the tomb was rude and simple,—a single block of stone, without name or inscription.

During the whole of his stay on this part of the coast Le Vaillant was actively employed in adding to his collection, which, with his money, clothes, and papers, continued on board the Middleburg, the principal ship on the station. He had now been three months in this neighbourhood, which he had traversed in every direction. He still continued, however, to roam about with his dog and gun in search of birds and animals; but one day, on approaching the shore, the roaring of cannon struck his ear. He at first supposed it might be some fête given on board the ships, and hastened his march as much as possible, in the hope of sharing in the rejoicings. Upon his reaching the downs overlooking the bay, a very different spectacle presented itself. The Middleburg had just been blown up, and [Pg 271] its burning fragments still filled the air, or lay widely scattered upon the sea! Here, then, was the end of all his hopes; for not only the results of his labours, but his fortune, the basis upon which all his projects were founded, was now destroyed.

The cause of this calamity was soon discovered. The English fleet, having obtained intelligence of the retreat of the Dutch, had burst upon them so suddenly, that the terrified commanders had all, with the exception of Vangenep, the commander of the Middleburg, been taken unawares, and prevented from executing the orders they had received, rather to run aground, sink, or blow up their ships, than suffer them to fall into the hands of the enemy. Instead of this, they all abandoned their vessels at the first appearance of the English, the sailors, notwithstanding their apprehensions of the enemy, carrying away with them every thing they could bring on shore, though the desire to escape beyond reach of the English cannon quickly compelled them to cast their burdens on the ground. Everywhere the roads and paths were crowded with fugitives, and covered with the plunder which they had abandoned on the way. Among the rest, an English prisoner was flying from the shore. Le Vaillant met him, and having, as well as he could, questioned him in English respecting the horrible catastrophe, was expecting an answer, when a cannon-ball carried off his head, and the answer with it. A large dog, which was running about wild and trembling, apparently in search of his master, was next moment killed by another ball; and Le Vaillant, apprehensive that the third might reach himself, immediately fled over the downs, and ensconced himself behind an eminence.

His position at this moment, it must be confessed, was sufficiently calamitous. To repair to the Cape, there to petition among a crowd of adventurers and unfortunates for pecuniary aid, was a step he could [Pg 272] ill brook; yet, unless he submitted to this humiliation, what must be his fate? His family, his friends, his adopted country were two thousand leagues distant. His whole resources now consisted in his fowlingpiece, the clothes he then wore, and ten ducats. His misfortunes presented themselves to his mind in all their horrors, and he burst into tears,—a trait of weakness for which he might have pleaded the example of Homer’s and Virgil’s poetical heroes. An honest colonist, however, to whose house he repaired in this extremity, received him with a frank hospitality, which in some degree dissipated his chagrin; and he next day returned, though not without melancholy, to the first elements of his collection.

His misfortunes were soon known at the Cape, and in a few days after this occurrence he was again placed, by the friendship of M. Boers, the fiscal, in a condition to act as if nothing had happened. He therefore directed his attention to the preparations required by his projected journey into the interior; and these, from the style in which he designed to travel, were numerous and considerable. He caused to be constructed two large four-wheeled wagons, covered above with double canvass, in one of which were placed five large packing-cases, which exactly filled the bottom of the vehicle, and could be opened without being removed. Over these was spread a mattress, on which he might occasionally sleep; and on this mattress, which during the day was rolled up in the back of the wagon, he placed the cabinet fitted up with drawers, in which he intended to preserve his insects. The other cases were filled with powder, lead for casting balls, tobacco, hardware, brandy, and toys. He had sixteen fowlingpieces, one of which, calculated for shooting elephants, rhinoceroses, and hippopotami, carried a quarter of a pound ball. Besides these he had several pairs of double-barrelled pistols, a scimitar, and a dagger.

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The second wagon carried his kitchen utensils, which, as he was rather addicted to luxurious eating, were numerous for a traveller: a gridiron, a frying-pan, two kettles, a caldron, tea-kettles, tea-pots, coffee-pots, basins, plates, dishes, &c. of porcelain. To supply these he laid in a large store of white sugar, coffee, tea, chocolate, and sugar-candy. His brandy and tobacco, to the use of which he was not at all addicted, were designed to purchase friends among the natives, and to keep his Hottentot attendants in good-humour. In addition to his wagons he had a great and a small tent, and numerous other conveniences, which he describes with great complacency. His train consisted of five Hottentots, nine dogs, and thirty oxen; but both his servants and his cattle were afterward considerably increased.

Le Vaillant judged rightly, that on proceeding on such an expedition it would be imprudent to have any associate of equal rank. Few men are calculated by nature to become travellers, though every person whose constitution will endure fatigue may perform a journey; but there are still fewer who are gifted with those happy qualities which render men desirable companions in an undertaking whence fame is expected to be derived. Some, from feebleness of purpose, desert you almost at the outset, and, to conceal their own pusillanimity, represent you in their coteries as feeble, or selfish, or impracticable; others, more mischievous still, proceed so far that they cannot return, but, clinging to your skirts, contrive on every trying occasion to impede your movements, or cast a damp upon your energies; while a third class, too brave to feel alarm, too consistent to shrink from an enterprise begun, too honest to misrepresent you, will yet thwart your designs through obstinacy, or through the pardonable but fatal desire to follow a plan of their own. For these reasons our traveller, though solicited by many who would have gladly borne him company, steadily refused [Pg 274] to admit of an associate, and determined to proceed on his journey alone.

His preparations being at length completed, he took leave of his friends, and departed from Cape Town on the 18th of December, 1781. Whatever be the natural condition of man, his mind never so powerfully experiences the emotions of delight as when, escaping voluntarily from the restraints of society and civilization, he finds himself his own master, and trusting to his own prowess for protection, on the virgin bosom of the earth; for of all the enjoyments which Heaven bestows upon mankind perfect liberty is the sweetest. Something of this Le Vaillant now tasted; for, although still within the pale of the laws and the purlieus of government, he saw himself on the way to the freedom of the woods, and partook by anticipation of those pleasures which to the savage are, perhaps, an ample equivalent for the gratification which letters and refinement afford.

The direction of his course lay along the eastern coast, towards the country of the Kaffers. At intervals the houses of colonists, with their orchards and plantations, appeared; but they became thinner as he advanced, while the woods and general scenery increased in magnificence; and the troops of wild animals, such as the zebra and the antelope, which stretched themselves out like armies on the plain, became strikingly more numerous and of more frequent occurrence. “We likewise,” says the traveller, “saw several ostriches; and the variety and the movements of these vast hordes were particularly amusing. My dogs fiercely pursued all these different species of animals, which, mingling together in their flight, often formed but one enormous column. This confusion, however, like that of theatrical machines, lasted but for a moment. I recalled my dogs, and in an instant each animal had regained his own herd, which constantly kept at a certain distance [Pg 275] from all the others.” Among these animals were the blue antelope, the rarest and most beautiful of all the known species of gazelle.

The habits of a small kind of tortoise, which afforded them the materials of various feasts during this part of the journey, are very remarkable. When the great heats of summer arrive, and dry up the ponds in which they pass the winter, they descend into the earth in search of humidity, deeper and deeper in proportion as the sun penetrates farther and farther into the soil. In this position they remain plunged in a kind of lethargy until the return of the rainy season; but those who require them for food may always, by digging, discover an ample supply. Their eggs, which they lay on the brink of the small lakes and ponds which they inhabit, and abandon to be hatched by the sun, are about the size of those of the pigeon, and extremely good eating.

Le Vaillant was careful as he went along to augment his followers, both rational and irrational. He hired several new Hottentots, and purchased a number of oxen, with a milch-cow, and some she-goats, whose milk he foresaw might be an important possession in various circumstances. He likewise purchased a cock to awake him in the morning, and a monkey, which, besides serving as an almost unerring taster, his instinct enabling him immediately to distinguish such fruits and herbs as were innoxious and wholesome from such as were hurtful, was a still better watchman even than the dog, as the slightest noise, the most distant sign of danger, instantly awakened his terrors, and, by the cries and gestures of fear which it extorted from him, put his master upon his guard.

Thus accompanied, he continued his journey towards the east, until his progress was stopped by the Dove’s River, upon the banks of which he determined to encamp until the decrease of its waters should render it fordable. His mode of life, which [Pg 276] the hospitable invitations of the neighbouring colonists, to whom the sight of a stranger was like a spring in the desert, were not suffered to interrupt, was exceedingly agreeable. “I regulated,” says he, “the employment of my time, which was usually spent in the following manner:—At night, when not travelling, I slept in my wagon or in my tent; awakened by the break of day by my cock, my first business was to prepare my coffee, while the Hottentots, on their part, were busied about the cattle. As soon as the sun appeared I took my fowlingpiece, and, setting out with my monkey, beat about the neighbourhood until ten o’clock. On returning to my tent, I always found it well swept and clean. The superintendence of this part of my economy had been confided to the care of an old African whose name was Swanspoel, who, not being able to follow us in our rambles, was intrusted with the government of the camp, and invariably maintained it in good order. The furniture of my tent was not very abundant; a camp-stool or two, a table appropriated to the dissection of my animals, and a few instruments required in their preparation constituted the whole of its ornaments. From ten o’clock until twelve I was employed in my tents, classing in my drawers the insects I had found. I then dined. Placing upon my knees a small board covered with a napkin, a single dish of roasted or broiled meat was served up. After this frugal meal I returned to my work, if I had left any thing unfinished, and then amused myself with hunting until sunset. I then retired to my tent, lighted a candle, and spent an hour or two in describing my discoveries or the events of the day in my journal. Meanwhile, the Hottentots were employed in collecting the cattle, and penning them around the tents and wagons. The she-goats, as soon as they had been milked, lay down here and there among the dogs. Business being over, and the customary great fire kindled, we [Pg 277] gathered together in a circle. I then took my tea; my people joyously smoked their pipes, and for my amusement related stories, the humorous absurdity of which almost made me crack my sides with laughter. I delighted to encourage them, and they were by no means timid with me, as I was careful to treat them with frankness, cordiality, and attention. On many occasions, in fact, when the beauty of the evening succeeding the fatigues of the day had put me in good-humour with myself and with every thing about me, I involuntarily yielded to the spell, and gently cherished the illusion. At such moments every one disputed with his neighbour for the honour of amusing me by his superior wit; and by the profound silence which reigned among us, the able story-teller might discover how highly we appreciated his art. I know not what powerful attraction continually leads my memory back to those peaceful days! I still imagine myself in the midst of my camp, surrounded by my people and my animals; an agreeable site, a mountain, a tree,—nay, even a plant, a flower, or a fragment of rock scattered here and there,—nothing escapes from my memory; and this spectacle, which daily grows more and more affecting, amuses me, follows me into all places, and has often made me forget what I have suffered from men who call themselves civilized.”

Provisions were plentiful; partridges as large as pheasants, and two kinds of antelopes, whose flesh was tender and nourishing. The colonists of the vicinity, rendered generous by abundance, gratuitously furnished him with an ample provision of milk, fruit, and vegetables, which the traveller shared with his monkey and his Hottentots. From this position, however, he was at length, by the shrinking of the river, enabled to remove; and, continuing to pursue his route in the same direction as before, he crossed several diminutive streams, and arrived on the banks of the river Gaurits, where, the stream [Pg 278] not being fordable, he encamped for three days among groves of mimosa-trees. Perceiving no sign of abatement in the waters, he then constructed a raft, upon which his wagons and baggage were ferried over, while the oxen and other animals swam across.

His road during this part of the journey lay at no great distance from the sea, which therefore communicated a refreshing coolness to the breezes, presented him at intervals with magnificent prospects, and at the same time administered pabulum to his passion for shooting, its solitary margin affording a retreat to thousands of flamingoes and pelicans. His animals, meanwhile, fared luxuriously. The soil throughout these districts was remarkable for its fertility; but a small canton, a little to the east of Mossel Bay, called the country of the Auteniquas, surpassed in beauty and magnificence all the landscapes of southern Africa. Having with considerable toil ascended to the summit of a mountain, “we were well repaid,” says Le Vaillant, “for the fatigue which we had undergone. Our admiration was excited by the loveliest country in the world. In the distance appeared the chain of mountains covered with forests, which bounded the prospect on the west; beneath our feet the eye wandered over an immense valley, the aspect of which was diversified by hillocks, infinitely varied in form, and descending in wavy swells towards the sea. Richly enamelled meadows and splendid pasture-grounds still further increased the beauty of this magnificent landscape. I was literally in ecstasy. This country bears the name of Auteniquas, which, in the Hottentot idiom, signifies ‘the man laden with honey;’ and, in fact, we could not proceed a single step without beholding a thousand swarms of bees. The flowers grew in myriads, and the mingled perfume which exhaled from them, and deliciously intoxicated the senses, their colours, their variety, the [Pg 279] cool pure air which we breathed, every thing united to arrest our footsteps. Nature has bestowed the charms of fairy-land upon this spot. Almost every flower was filled with exquisite juices, and furnished the bees with abundant materials for the fabrication of their honey, which they deposited in every hollow rock and tree.”

This description, which no doubt falls far short of the reality—for what language can equal the beauties of nature?—reminds me strongly of Spenser’s noble picture of the Gardens of Adonis. Poetry itself, however, with all its metaphors and picturesque expressions, is faint and dim compared with the splendour of a summer landscape, where earth, air, and sea unite their rich hues and sublime aspect to entrance and dazzle the eye. But our old bard, whom no man ever excelled in minute painting of inanimate nature, contrives, by careful and repeated touches, to unfold before the imagination an exquisite view. “There,” says he, speaking of the gardens of the Assyrian youth,

“There is continual spring, and harvest there
Continual, both meeting at one time:
For both the boughs do laughing blossoms bear
And with fresh flowers deck the wanton prime,
And eke at once the heavy trees they climb,
Which seem to labour under their fruit’s load:
The while the joyous birds make their pastime,
Among the shady leaves, their sweet abode,
And their true loves without suspicion tell abroad.

And all about grew every sort of flower,
To which sad lovers were transformed of yore,” &c.

The dwellings which the few colonists, who had been led by poverty so far from the Cape, erected in the midst of this smiling scene, offered a striking contrast with it. Huts covered with earth, like the dens of wild animals, in which the inhabitants passed the night stretched upon a buffalo’s hide, afforded shelter to men who lived in plenty, and were thus [Pg 280] badly lodged from mere idleness. It is now inhabited by Englishmen, and the contrast, it may well be imagined, no longer exists.

Le Vaillant, who apprehended that the country of the Auteniquas might prove a kind of Capua to his followers, made no stay in it, but pushed forward with all speed, and encamped on the skirts of an immense forest. This wood abounded with touracos, a species of bird of which he had hitherto been able to procure no specimen. His first business therefore was, if possible, to possess himself of this bird. His scientific ardour was kindled. He scoured the woods. The touraco presented itself before him, but its habits unfortunately inclining it always to perch upon the tops of the loftiest trees, he could never succeed in bringing it down. One afternoon, however, his eagerness increasing with his disappointments, he determined not to desist from the pursuit of his prey, and the bird, which appeared to delight in mocking him, confined itself to short flights, flitting from tree to tree, until it had drawn him to a considerable distance from his camp. Growing impatient, at length the traveller, though still believing the bird beyond the reach of his fowlingpiece, fired, and had the unexpected satisfaction of seeing it drop from the tree. His joy now knew no bounds. He rushed on to snatch up his prey,

Thorough bush, thorough briar,

until his hands and legs were dripping with blood; but when he came up to the spot where the touraco should have been, he could discover nothing. He searched the surrounding thickets again and again; he proceeded farther, he returned, he examined the same spots twenty times, he peeped into every bush, into every hole; his labour was in vain. No touraco. “I was,” says he, “in despair, and the thick brushwood and thorny shrubs, which had now covered [Pg 281] even my very face with blood, had irritated me in an indescribable manner. Nothing less than the appearance of a lion or a tiger could at that moment have calmed my rage. That a wretched bird, which, after so many wishes and so much toil, I had at length succeeded in bringing down, should after all escape from me in so unaccountable a manner! I struck my fowlingpiece against the earth, and stamped with passion. All at once the ground gave way under my feet; I disappeared, and sunk, with my arms in my hand, into a pit twelve feet deep. Astonishment, and the pain caused by the fall, now succeeded my rage. I saw myself in one of those covered pitfalls which the Hottentots construct for the taking of wild beasts, particularly the elephant. When I had recovered from my surprise I began to reflect upon the means of escaping, and congratulated myself that I had not fallen upon the sharp stake fixed up at the bottom of the pit to impale the wild animals, and that I found no company in the snare. But as it was every moment possible that some might arrive, particularly during the night, should I be compelled to remain there so long, my terrors quickly increased as darkness approached, and retarded the execution of the only plan I could imagine for extricating myself without assistance; this was to cut out a kind of steps with my sabre in the sides of the pit, but this operation would be a tedious one. In this dilemma the idea of the only rational plan suggested itself; which was, to pick up and load my fusil. I did so, and fired shot after shot. It was possible I might be heard by my attendants. I therefore listened from time to time with the most painful anxiety and a palpitating heart, in order to discover whether my signal had been heard. At last two shots re-echoed through the wood, and overwhelmed me with joy. I now continued firing at intervals, in order to guide my deliverers to the spot, and in a short time they [Pg 282] arrived, armed to the teeth, and full of uneasiness and alarm.”

He was immediately delivered from the elephant-trap; but having incurred so much risk in searching for the touraco, he made it a point of honour not to be balked, and recommencing his scrutiny, with the dogs which had arrived with his servants, found it jammed close under a small bush. He immediately seized upon his prey, and the pleasure of possessing this new and rare bird very quickly obliterated from his memory the trouble and danger which it had cost him.

In this encampment they remained until the setting in of the rains, when storms, accompanied by tremendous thunder, succeeded each other with singular rapidity. The thunderbolt several times fell near them in the forest. The whole country round was flooded, but they still clung to their encampment, until the whole was at length overflowed during the night. They then removed; but could proceed but a very short distance, for every paltry stream was now swelled to a furious torrent, which rushed down with impetuosity from the hills, rolling along with it mud, trees, and fragments of rock, and threatening whoever should attempt to traverse them with destruction. Meanwhile his cattle, pressed by hunger, had escaped from the camp; his dogs, which no degree of want could estrange, were reduced to skeletons, and fought with each other for the most revolting food; his Hottentots, less affectionate than the dogs, began to murmur, but could discover no just cause of complaint, and were but little disposed to aid themselves. A drowned buffalo, however, which was accidentally found in one of the torrents, came opportunely to appease their hunger; they dragged it on shore with shouts of joy, and having cut it in pieces, and given the dogs their share, they feasted upon the remainder and were happy.

[Pg 283]

At length the month of March arrived, and the rains abated. The torrents, ceasing to receive their aliments from the clouds—for, like the Nile, they are strictly διϊὲες—shrunk to their ordinary insignificance, the camp was immediately put in motion, and pushing onwards for a few leagues, they discovered a more convenient site on the acclivity of a hill, where they remained some time to recruit themselves and their cattle. Le Vaillant travelled for pleasure, and was gifted with the happy faculty of discovering at a glance its springs and sources. Near the site of his camp there was a small eminence, the summit of which was crowned with a diminutive grove, where the trees had so grown into each other that the whole seemed one solid mass of foliage. He immediately conceived the idea of transforming this thicket into a palace; and causing a covered entrance to be cut into the centre, he there hewed out two large square apartments, one of which was immediately converted into a study, and the other into a kitchen. If we keep out of sight the kitchen, and the share which art had in its formation, Spenser has admirably described this arbour, as well as the hill on which it stood:

Right in the middest of that paradise
There stood a stately mount, on whose round top
A gloomy grove of myrtle-trees did rise,
Whose shady boughs sharp steel did never lop,
Nor wicked beasts their tender buds did crop.
But like a girlond compassed the height,
And from their fruitful sides sweet gum did drop,
That all the ground, with precious dew bedight,
Threw forth most dainty odours and most sweet delight.
And in the thickest covert of that shade
There was a pleasant arbour, not by art,
But of the trees’ own inclination, made,
Which knitting their rank branches, part to part,
With wanton ivy-twine entrailed athwart,
And eglantine and caprifole among,
Fashioned above within their inmost part,
That neither Phœbus’ beams could through them throng,
Nor Æolus’ sharp blast could work them any wrong.

[Pg 284]

But, whatever charms his arbours might possess for him, his plans rendered it necessary soon to leave them. He therefore, after spending a pleasant week with M. Mulder, the last of the colonists in his route, pushed on towards the Black River, which he crossed on rafts, and at length found himself beyond the Dutch settlements. Here an accident occurred which might at once have terminated his journey. In toiling up a rough, precipitous mountain, where it was found necessary to yoke twenty oxen to a wagon, the traces of the principal vehicle snapped asunder, immediately in front of the great shaft-oxen, which being unable to resist the enormous weight to which they were attached, reeled back, and the wagon at once rolled down along the edge of an abyss; while Le Vaillant and his whole party stood still, watching, with uplifted hands and looks of dismay, each shock and slide of the cumbrous machine, which, after twenty hair-breadth escapes, ran against a large rock on the edge of the torrent, and stopped, without receiving any material injury. Loss of time, therefore, was the only injury he sustained. By patience and industry they succeeded in passing the mountain, which being effected, they descended into a magnificent country, watered by numerous rivers, covered with woods, abounding in game, and affording numerous specimens of birds and quadrupeds unknown to natural history.

In the midst of this new scene he was overtaken by disease. Though of a disposition naturally intrepid, the idea that he might be destined to perish in the wilderness, surrounded by savages, two thousand leagues from home, disturbed his imagination. Charles the Twelfth of Sweden, attacked by a fever when flying through the Ukraine after the battle of Pultowa, experienced a diminution of courage, and, unless my memory deceive me, was seen to shed tears; and Cæsar, when the fit, as Shakspeare has it, was on him, cried, “Give me some drink, Titinius, [Pg 285] like a sick girl.” Le Vaillant, therefore, had good authority for his melancholy. His temperament, moreover, in proportion as it was more susceptible of exhilarating impressions in health, was proner in sickness to yield to despondency. He was, besides, entirely ignorant of medicine; knew nothing of the nature of the disease by which he was attacked; and was surrounded by persons still more ignorant than himself. All he could do, therefore, was to remain quiet, and allow nature to work. For twelve days he lingered on the confines of life and death, kept in a perpetual bath of perspiration by the heat of the atmosphere; and this heat was his Pæon and Æsculapius, for by its sole aid the fever, which had so fiercely menaced him, was entirely subdued. However, it is extremely probable that he owed the disease as well as the remedy to the climate. To enhance his misfortunes, his Hottentots were at the same time attacked by dysentery; but, by strictly attending to regimen, a difficult task to a gross and sensual people, they all, without exception, recovered.

This danger being removed, they proceeded on their journey, the interest of which was every day increased by the greater solitude of the scene, and the more frequent occurrence of wild animals, or their traces. I would willingly describe at length the pleasures and the adventures of this romantic excursion; but my plan forbids me to indulge in voluminous details, and I want the art to present by a few masterly strokes the whole of a complicated and animated scene to the mind. However, I must attempt what I can. After wandering a full month in a vast plain, intersected by forests, and, in a manner, walled round by precipices, they were driven back upon their own footsteps, fatigued and mortified, and unable to conjecture in what direction it would be possible to advance. While they were in this humour, they discovered in their route the footmarks [Pg 286] of a herd of elephants. To Le Vaillant, who had never yet enjoyed the satisfaction of hunting this enormous animal, though it might, perhaps, be said to have constituted one of his principal reasons for travelling in Africa, the sight was sufficient to restore his equanimity. The order for halting was immediately given, and having, as soon as the tents were pitched, selected five of his best marksmen, our traveller set out in pursuit of the game.

The traces were so fresh and striking, that they had no difficulty in following them. They therefore pushed on vigorously, expecting every moment to come in sight of the herd. But still they saw nothing; and night coming on, they bivouacked in the woods, and having supped gayly, lay down to sleep, though not without considerable agitation and alarm. At every puff of wind rustling through the leaves, at every hum of a beetle, the whole party was roused, and put upon its guard. It was feared that the monsters of which they were in search might rush upon them unawares, and trample them to atoms. However, the night passed away, as did likewise the day and night ensuing, without their being disturbed by any thing more formidable than a stray buffalo, which approaching the fire, and discovering that it was in the vicinity of man, rushed back with all speed into the woods.

On the third day, after a painful march among briers and underwood, they arrived in a rather open part of the forest, when one of the Hottentots, who had climbed up into a tree to reconnoitre, perceived the herd in the distance, and putting his finger on his lips to enjoin silence, informed them by opening and closing his hand of the number of the elephants. He then came down; a council was held; and it was determined they should approach them on the lee-side that they might not be discovered. The Hottentot now conducted Le Vaillant through the bushes to a small knoll, and desiring him to cast his [Pg 287] eyes in a certain direction, pointed out an enormous elephant not many paces distant. At first, however, Le Vaillant could see nothing; or, rather, he mistook what he saw of the animal for a portion of the rock by which it stood. But when at length a slight motion had corrected his mistake, he distinguished the head and enormous tusks of the beast turned towards him. He instantly levelled his musket, and, aiming at the brain, fired, and the elephant dropped down dead. The report of the gun put the whole herd, consisting of about thirty, to instant flight; and our traveller beheld with amazement their huge ears flapping the air with a violence in proportion to the rapidity of their motion.

The whole party now experienced that joyous alacrity which man always feels when engaged in the work of destruction. They fired upon the enemy, for as such the beasts were now to be regarded, and the sight of the excrements mingled with blood, which escaped from the wounded animal, and informed them that their bullets had taken effect, delighted them exceedingly. Their pursuit now became more eager. The elephant, writhing with pain, at one moment crouched to the earth, at another rose, but only to fall again. The hunters, however, who hung close upon his haunches, constantly by fresh volleys compelled him to rise. In this condition he rushed through the woods, snapping off, or uprooting trees in his passage. At length, becoming furious with pain, he turned round upon his pursuers, who immediately fled in their turn. Le Vaillant, more eager than the rest, had unhappily advanced before them, and was now but twenty-five paces from the animal. His gun of thirty pounds’ weight impeded his movements. The enemy gained upon him every moment. His followers gave him up for lost; but just as the elephant had overtaken him, he dropped down, and crept under the trunk of a fallen tree, over which the furious beast, whose great height [Pg 288] prevents it, at least in such situations, from seeing under its feet, bounded in an instant. Being terrified, however, by the noise of the Hottentots, it had not advanced many paces before it stopped, and with a wild but searching eye, began to reconnoitre the spot. Our traveller had his long gun in his hand, and might, had he chosen, have fired upon his enemy; but he knew that instant destruction must ensue should he miss his aim, and he therefore preferred trusting to the chances of concealment. Presently the elephant faced about, and drew near the tree; but he again leaped over it without perceiving Le Vaillant, who, as soon as he retreated to a sufficient distance, sprang from his hiding-place, and shot him in the flank. Notwithstanding all this, he succeeded in effecting his escape, though his bloody traces too clearly showed the terrible condition to which their balls had reduced him. In this critical conjuncture, Klaas, his principal Hottentot, exhibited proofs of courage and affection which infinitely endeared him to his master, who thenceforward regarded him more in the light of a brother than a servant.

To those who have all their lives been accustomed to live upon the flesh of the ox and the sheep, elephant cutlets may appear revolting; but in the deserts of Africa, where imperious hunger silences the objections of prejudice, and teaches man to regard the whole animal creation as his farmyard, the palate quickly accommodates itself to the viands within its reach, and even learns to discover delicacy in things which, in a fashionable dining-room, it might have loathed. However this may be, Le Vaillant and his Hottentots, whose appetites were grievously sharpened by fatigue, immediately employed themselves in cutting up and cooking their game. For the former, as the most dainty personage of the party, a few slices off the trunk were broiled, and he found them so exquisite that, being as I have already said, to a certain degree, an epicure, they gave him a taste [Pg 289] for elephant hunting, which he afterward seized every occasion of indulging. But he was informed by Klaas that by far the greatest delicacy, which would cause him to forget the flavour of the trunk, was yet to come. This consisted of the elephant’s foot, which his people undertook to dress for his breakfast.

The reader who has perused Captain Cook’s “Voyages in the South Seas,” or Ledyard, or the “Histoire Naturelle de l’Homme” of Lesson, will remember the description given by those navigators of the curious subterranean ovens employed by the native islanders in cooking. A large opening is made in the earth, which is filled with red-hot stones or charcoal, and upon these a great fire is kept up for several hours. The hole is then cleared, and the thing which is to be baked inserted in the centre. Then the top is again closed, and a blazing fire once more kindled; which, having burned during a great part of the night, is at length extinguished, when the oven is opened, and the meat taken out, more exquisitely cooked than any man accustomed to the ordinary culinary processes can conceive.

Such was the process by which the elephant’s feet were baked for Le Vaillant. When they presented him one for breakfast, “The cooking,” says he, “had enlarged it prodigiously; I could scarcely recognise the form. But it looked so nice, and exhaled so delicious an odour, that I was impatient to taste it. It was a breakfast for a king. I had heard much of the excellence of bears’ feet, but could not have conceived that an animal so awkward, so material as the elephant, could have afforded so tender, so delicate a meat. Never have our modern Luculluses, thought I, seen any thing comparable upon their tables; it is in vain that they confound and reverse the seasons by the force of gold, and lay all the countries in the world under contribution: there are bounds to their craving sensuality; they [Pg 290] have never been able to reach this point.” I do not see, however, what should prevent our rearing elephants, as we rear sheep and oxen, for the slaughter; in which case many persons, not ambitious of rivalling Lucullus in luxury, might enjoy the sight of this ne plus ultra of cooking upon their tables.

In proceeding eastward from this spot they encountered a horde of wandering Hottentots, with whose women our traveller’s followers, now considerably increased in number, contracted connexions with that easy effrontery which, at first consideration, would appear to be an attribute peculiar to civilized man. Le Vaillant is the apologist of the Hottentots; they were the instruments of his pleasure. His imagination associated them with romantic wanderings, with adventures, with dangers, with escapes; and when, after his return to France, he wished to remember and paint them in their true colours, the idea that they had been his companions, that they had suffered privations, and tasted of many enjoyments together, rushed into his mind, and blinded his judgment by interesting his heart. This natural result is not dishonourable to his feelings; but it can have no influence with me. I have received from them neither good nor harm. I must, therefore, confess that in my estimation they rank very low, even in the scale of savage excellence. Timid even to cowardliness, they are not urged by their temperament towards violence and bloodshed: but this induces cringing and dastardly habits, and causes them to desert their dearest friends when in danger. Gratitude is a plant which flourishes only in noble breasts. Among the Hottentots it is feeble and shortlived, unless nourished by a constant stream of benefits. That they have little religion, or superstition, though no proof of immorality, is an incontrovertible evidence of want of capacity and genius; for intellect, wherever it exists, is skilful in the discovery of intellect, and few, even among [Pg 291] savage nations, are cursed with perceptions so obtuse that they cannot, if I may venture so to express myself, discover the footsteps of the sovereign intellect among the phenomena of the visible world. How far the profound indifference in which they are said to grovel on this point may exist, however, I will not presume to determine. It is possible that travellers may sometimes make these and similar savages the interpreters of their own thoughts.

On approaching the country of the Kaffers, a brave and warlike people, exceedingly hostile to the Hottentots, whom they regarded as the slaves and spies of the colonists, the most terrible apprehensions were awakened in his camp. Night and day they were on the alert. Every sound which startled the darkness was transformed, by their terror, into the footsteps of a Kaffer; and if they did not at once burst into open mutiny against their chief, it was rather the fear of the dangers to which the loss of him might expose them, than any ideas of discipline or fidelity, that restrained them.

Le Vaillant’s determination, nevertheless, still was to advance into Kaffraria; but finding after repeated endeavours that no argument could prevail upon his attendants, a very small number excepted, to accompany him, he contented himself with despatching an envoy to the Kaffer king, or chief. Meanwhile he continued to roam about on the frontiers, hunting, shooting, and adding to his collections. Here he encountered the fury of an African tempest. “The rain,” he observes, “fell all night in such abundance, that, in spite of all our efforts, it extinguished our fires. Our dogs made an indescribable clamour, and kept us awake all night, though no wild beast appeared. I have observed that during these rainy nights the lion, the tiger, and the hyena are never heard; but the danger is increased twofold; for, as they still roam about, they thus fall suddenly and unexpectedly on their prey. Still further to increase the fright [Pg 292] which this unfortunate fact must occasion, the great humidity almost entirely deprives the dogs of the power of smelling, which renders them of little use. Of this danger my people were well aware, and therefore laboured with remarkable energy to keep alive the fires.

“It must be confessed,” he continues, “that the stormy nights of the African deserts are the very image of desolation, and that terror, on such occasions, involuntarily comes over one. When you are overtaken by these deluges, your tents and mats are quickly drenched and overflowed; a continual succession of lightning-flashes causes you twenty times in a minute to pass abruptly and suddenly from the most terrific light to entire darkness: the deafening roarings of the thunder, which burst from every side with horrible din, roll, as it were, against each other, are multiplied by the echoes, and hurled from peak to peak; the howling of the domestic animals; short intervals of fearful silence; every thing concurs to render those moments more melancholy. The danger to be apprehended from wild beasts still further increases the terror; and nothing but day can lessen the alarm, and restore nature to her tranquillity.”

In the interim between the departure and return of his messengers to the Kaffer chief, he fell in with a horde of wild Hottentots whom he denominates Gonaquas. A small party of them arrived at his camp during the night, and on awaking in the morning he saw himself with surprise surrounded by about twenty strange savages. They were accompanied by their chief, who advanced in a polite manner to pay his respects to the traveller, while the women, at once curious and timid, followed close behind, adorned with all their ornaments. Their bodies, the greater part of which was naked, were all newly anointed and sprinkled with red powder, which exhaled an agreeable perfume; while their [Pg 293] faces had been painted in a variety of fashions. Each came, in the manner of the East, bringing or bearing a present. From one he received a number of ostrich’s eggs, a lamb from a second, while a third presented him with a quantity of milk in baskets. These baskets, woven with exquisite ingenuity with fine reeds or roots, are of so close a texture, that they may be used in carrying water. The chief’s present consisted of a handful of ostrich feathers of rare beauty, which Le Vaillant, to show how highly he valued them, immediately fixed in his hat, instead of his own plume. He then, in return, laid before the old chief, whose name was Haabas, several pounds of tobacco, which the Gonaqua at once distributed in equal portions among his people, reserving merely his own share, which did not exceed any other person’s, for himself. Other gifts, highly valued by savages, such as tinder-boxes, knives, beads, and bracelets, were added to the tobacco, and diffused universal joy among the tribe.

Among the women there was a girl of sixteen, who, by the pleasure with which she seemed to regard his person, particularly attracted the attention of Le Vaillant. Considered as an African she might be pronounced beautiful, and her form, which would have tempted the pencil of an Albano, possessed all those amorous contours which we admire in the Graces. Our traveller appears to have been in general but little susceptible of the charms of women; but the beautiful Gonaqua quickly caused him to feel that when accompanied by a desire to please, female attractions are everywhere irresistible, and to express his admiration he bestowed upon the savage beauty the name of Narina, which, in the Hottentot idiom, signifies “a flower.” Presents, it may be easily imagined, were not spared in this instance. The riches of his camp were in her power,—shawls, necklaces, girdles, every ornament which his European taste loved to contemplate on the female [Pg 294] form, was lavished on Narina, who, in the intoxicating delight of the moment, scarcely knew whether she was in heaven or earth. She felt her arms, her feet, her head; and the touch of her dress and ornaments caused fresh pleasure every moment. He then produced a small mirror, more faithful than the lake or stream which had hitherto served for this purpose, and put the finishing stroke to the picture by showing her her own image reflected from its surface. His days now passed in one uninterrupted series of feasts, visits, dances, amusements of every kind. Nothing could have been more favourable to his views of studying Hottentot manners; but with respect to his ulterior design of penetrating far into the solitudes of the desert, the case was different, for his followers contracted in these Circean bowers a disease from which their chief himself, perhaps, was not altogether exempt; that is, an effeminate aversion to fatigue, a secret repugnance to toil, and, what was still worse, the habit of viewing dangers in the light thrown over them by an enamoured fancy, which distorts even more powerfully than the mirage of the desert.

It was now three weeks since the departure of his messengers for Kaffer-land, and he began to entertain apprehensions for their safety. His attendants, who partook of the same fears, became more than ever averse to advance eastward, and, as he was quickly informed by Klaas, began to concert among themselves various schemes of desertion. The camp at this period was stationed near a river, on the rich banks of which his oxen were turned out to graze, under the care of several Hottentots, who were kept by their fear of the Kaffers in a strict attention to their duty. One day, when Le Vaillant was accidentally detained in his tent, a messenger from the herdsmen arrived in breathless haste, to announce the fearful intelligence that a party of the enemy was approaching, and had already reached [Pg 295] the opposite side of the river. Klaas and four fusileers were immediately despatched to reconnoitre, while the traveller called out and examined his forces and his arms, and prepared to give the Kaffers a warm reception should their intentions be found to be hostile; but it was shortly discovered that they had been invited to his camp by his envoys, whom they had accordingly accompanied on their return.

Our traveller had with laudable patience acquired a knowledge of the Hottentot language, but the people who now thronged his camp spoke a different dialect, not one word of which could he conjecture the meaning. But the languages of savages are easy in proportion as they are simple and poor, and the acquisition of Greek or Arabic would probably cost more pains and study than would render a man master of half the uncultivated languages of the world. It was not long, therefore, before he learned to disentangle, as it were, the intertwisted sounds which re-echoed around him, and to assign a meaning to them. The Kaffers employed much gesticulation and grimace in speaking, which aided him, likewise, in divining their thoughts; and he soon began to entertain reasonable hopes that an interpreter might not always be necessary in his intercourse with this lively people.

He imagined that his firearms, and the skill with which he made use of them, inspired the Kaffers with wonder; but he was no doubt mistaken. His fancy placed him among those simple tribes described by early travellers and navigators, to whom our weapons were utterly unknown; while the savages who were now his guests had frequently fought hand to hand with the colonists, and not only beheld their firearms, but learned, at the expense of their blood, how destructive they were. This illusion, however, appears to have afforded him pleasure, and he honestly cherished it; and as no [Pg 296] injury can arise from it to the reader, it will have been sufficient to allude to it thus briefly.

The history of his intercourse with this people affords a striking example of the incalculable benefits which one civilized man, who possessed courage to make the experiment, might confer upon a wild nation, whose Menû or Manco Capæ he would thus become. For genius the Kaffers are decidedly superior to the Hottentots; and if the picture which Le Vaillant draws of them be correct, it would require no very extraordinary impulse to launch them into the career of civilization. He saw them, however, but for a moment, as it were; for not long after their arrival, it was discovered that several half-castes, or bastards, as they are termed at the Cape, had been commissioned by the colonists to insinuate themselves into his camp, for the purpose of discovering whether or not he was entering into an alliance with the Kaffers. This, at least, was the interpretation which, after all the information he could obtain, he was induced to put upon the matter; but, like Rousseau, he seems to have amused himself with the idea that spies were continually placed upon his movements, and by this hypothesis he explained many little events resulting much less from design than from a fortuitous concourse of circumstances. Still, the poor Kaffers, who had suffered grievously by the Dutch, fully participated in his alarm, and made a precipitate retreat into their own country, but not before they had given him a pressing invitation to follow them.

Upon considering the state of the camp, and the inclinations of his people, it was judged imprudent to attempt against their will to lead them away farther from the colony; and therefore, selecting from among them a small number of the bravest, and leaving the remainder under the care of Swanspoel, he departed on his long-desired journey into [Pg 297] Kaffer-land. Upon quitting the encampment they ascended the banks of the Great Fish River, and having forded its stream, entered Kaffer-land, moving in a north-easterly direction. The whole plain was covered with mimosa-trees, which, as Burckhardt observes, cast but a scanty shade. They were, therefore, greatly exposed to the heat of the sun, which was now intense. After marching for several days in this manner through a country which had once been inhabited, but was deserted now, and abandoned to the wild beasts, fires at night, deserted kraal, gardens overrun with weeds, and fields, the culture of which had recently been interrupted, inspired the belief that some half-stationary, half-wandering hordes must be in the neighbourhood.

The fatigue of the journey, united with a scarcity of water, began at length to cause the luxuries of the camp and the neighbourhood of the Great Fish River to be regretted; but although Le Vaillant himself evidently shared to a certain degree in these regrets, he was still unwilling to relinquish his enterprise before he caught a single glimpse of the Kaffers. At length a small party was discovered, whose dread of the whites equalled at least the terror with which they themselves inspired the pusillanimous Hottentots. From these men Le Vaillant learned that the greater part of the nation had retreated far into the interior, and as his imagination, at this time, seems to have exaggerated every difficulty and danger, for he was weary of the journey, he gladly seized upon the first excuse for relinquishing his enterprise, and returned with all possible celerity to his camp.

All his thoughts and wishes now pointed towards the Cape. Narina and the friendly Gonaquas in vain exerted their influence. The desert had lost its charms. For the moment he was weary of travelling. However, not to encounter in vain the fatigue of a long journey, he formed the design of verging [Pg 298] a little to the north of his former route, through the immense solitudes of the Sneuw Bergen. The caravan, therefore, quitted the vicinity of the sea, and proceeded towards the west through forests of mimosa-trees, which were then in full flower, and imparted all the charms of summer to the landscape. The extreme silence of the nights during this part of the journey was sublime. All the functions of life seemed for the time to be suspended; except that, at intervals, the roaring of the lion resounded through the forests, startling the echoes, and according to the interpretation of the fancy, hushing the whole scene with terror.

At length, on the 3d of January, 1782, he discovered in the north-west the formidable summits of the Sneuw Bergen, which, though surrounded on all sides by burning plains, it being in those southern latitudes the height of summer, bore still upon its sides long ridges of snow. Prodigious herds of antelopes, amounting to more than fifty thousand in number, now crossed their route, driven by insufferable heat and drought towards the north. The scenery every league became more dreary. Wastes of sand, rocks piled upon each other, chasms, precipices, barrenness, sublimity, but no pasturage; and men in want of the necessaries of life regard as insipid whatever refuses to minister to their wants. Thus we can account for the little interest with which the sight of the Sneuw Bergen inspired Le Vaillant, who would otherwise appear to have been constitutionally deprived of that masculine energy which impels us rather to rejoice than be depressed at the sight of steril and desolate mountains, seldom trodden but by the brave, and seeming to have been expressly thrown up by nature as a rampart upon which freedom might successfully struggle against the oppressors of mankind. This is the true source of that indescribable delight with which we all tread upon mountain soil. A secret instinct seems [Pg 299] to whisper to the heart the original design, if it may be said without impiety, with which those inexpugnable fastnesses were fashioned by the hand of God. “Here,” say we to ourselves, “here at least we may be free;” and we look down from these arid heights with scorn upon the possessors of the fattest pastures, if the mark of tyranny, like that of the Beast in the Apocalypse, is set upon the soil.

Le Vaillant’s enthusiasm, which greatly depended upon the state of his animal spirits, was now evaporating rapidly. His care and circumspection were likewise proportionably diminished, and, in consequence, the want of provisions and water was frequently experienced. To give a keener edge to these calamities and privations, it was rumoured among his followers that the recesses of the snowy mountains afforded a retreat to numerous Bushmans or banditti, men whom necessity or inclination had arrayed in opposition to the laws, and those who lived under their protection. Every privation was therefore borne with greater impatience. They considered themselves as persons wantonly exposed to danger by the caprice of their leader; hence his authority was daily less and less respected. Nevertheless, he drew near the mountains, and climbing up with difficulty to the summit of one of their peaks, enjoyed the wide prospect it afforded. This satisfied his curiosity, more particularly as three men, supposed to be bandits, were discovered among the ravines, but made their escape at their approach. A few days afterward one of these fierce robbers was killed in an attempt to murder one of the Hottentots of the escort.

The want of water, which they had already begun to experience, continued to increase as they advanced. The oxen, like the men, suffered extremely, and several of them dropped down, and were unable to rise again. The feet of the dogs were exceedingly lacerated; they limped along painfully, [Pg 300] and with the greatest exertion. In one word, every man and animal in the camp required repose; and with inexpressible joy they at length saw the day of their arrival at the Cape, which put an end to the toils and sufferings of sixteen months.

Le Vaillant had not yet satisfied his locomotive passion, and had, indeed, notwithstanding the interest which his adventures inspire, seen but little of Africa. He now amused himself with visiting the various districts of the colony, and, among other spots, the extreme point of the promontory, which opposes its rocky snout to the eternal storms and waves of the Southern Ocean. Here, as with a sombre melancholy, he viewed the constant succession of the billows, which, confused and foaming under the influence of the winds, hurled themselves against the cliffs, a depression of soul came over him, and he compared the phenomenon before him to the life of man, and the annihilation which, according to his creed, succeeds it. This miserable dogma, the offspring of insane reasoning, and a distrust in the power or goodness of the Divinity, was at that period in dispute among the sophists of Europe; but I pity the man who could make so bestial a creed the companion of his soul amid the vast solitudes of the desert, where we might expect that the very winds of heaven would have winnowed away so vile a chaff, and rendered back its native whiteness and purity to the mind.

Returning to Cape Town, he began, but with less enthusiasm than on the former occasion, his preparations for a second journey into the interior. Experience, he imagined, had enabled him to improve upon his former plans. He had seen the country, he had studied its inhabitants. Had he not laid the foundation for almost certain success? The result showed how dim, how bounded, how little to be depended upon is human foresight.

His followers were now more numerous than formerly: [Pg 301] eighteen men, one woman, three horses, thirteen dogs, three milch cows, eleven goats, and fifty-two oxen. With this train he departed from Saldanha Bay, June 15th, 1782, directing his course towards the north, along the western coast of Africa. During the early part of the journey, in the district of the Twenty-four Rivers, he found the prodigious nests of the Termites or white ant, which, though inferior in dimensions to those described by other travellers, were yet four feet in height. These ants, which are accounted a delicacy by the Chensu Karir, a wandering people of the Deccan, are likewise eaten by the Hottentots, who seem to regard them with a more favourable eye even than locusts, which are, however, highly esteemed.

Notwithstanding that, in pursuance of the advice of his Cape friends, he had set out in the rainy season, the party had not advanced far before the want of water was experienced. The men and oxen suffered extremely, but the dogs were still more severely afflicted, and several of them, after exhibiting symptoms of their approach to a state bordering upon hydrophobia, ran off into the desert, where they perished, or relapsed into their original wildness. The party was in this position when Le Vaillant, whose mind was tortured by the most gloomy forebodings, was startled from his reveries by the sharp cry of a bird which was passing over his head. It was a mountain duck, which, he doubted not, was proceeding towards a spring. He therefore put his horse to the gallop, and earnestly pursuing the flight of the bird with his eye, had very quickly the satisfaction of observing it alight upon a great rock, where it disappeared. Persuaded that it had stopped to drink, he clambered up the rock, and found in fact a large basin, or hollow in the rock, filled with water, in which the duck was gayly swimming about and amusing itself. He had not the ingratitude to fire at it, but he frightened it away, in the hope that, [Pg 302] not having sufficiently quenched its thirst, it might fly to another cistern within sight; but in this he was disappointed. They now laid up a provision of water for several days, and having allowed all the cattle to quench their thirst, proceeded on their journey. During those excessive droughts, it was curious, when a shower came on, to behold the contrivance of the animals: observing that whatever water fell upon the sands was immediately absorbed and lost, while the quantity with which their own bodies were drenched ran down in little tread-like streams over their sides, they drew near to each other, and by applying their mouths to those diminutive currents, thus succeeded in quenching their excruciating thirst. I am surprised that, in the tremendous extremities to which our traveller and his followers were reduced by want of water, they never had recourse to a method which, disgusting and terrible as it may seem, has, I believe, been successfully tried for quenching thirst by other travellers, as well as by certain tribes of savages; I mean, to drink the blood of the animals they slaughtered. Man has no doubt a natural repugnance to such expedients, but may yield, under the pressure of imperious necessity, to whatever means, short of injustice, Providence may afford him of preserving life.

Upon arriving, after extraordinary privations and fatigue, upon the banks of the Elephant’s River, they indeed found water in abundance; but there was no pasture for the cattle, not even under the shade of the mimosas and willows which bordered the stream. All was burnt up. They proceeded farther inland, therefore, in search of verdure, and arrived on the banks of the Koïgnas, where they encamped upon a spot called the “Bat’s Rock.” From the fresh footmarks of the lion in the sand, they knew that there were enemies in the neighbourhood, and accordingly were more than ordinarily cautious in keeping watch, and in the kindling of their night-fires. But,—

[Pg 303]

Incidit in Scyllam qui vult evitare Charybdin:

for no sooner had the fires begun to blaze, than there issued forth from the hollows of the rocks myriads of bats, which, flittering hither and thither, struck against their faces, and stunned them with their obscene cries, until, no longer able to endure their clamour, they struck their tents and decamped. Virgil probably derived the idea of his famous description of the Harpies from some such adventure as this; for he had travelled a good deal in the Grecian islands, where bats, I believe, are numerous:

At subitæ horrifico lapsu de montibus adsunt
Harpyiæ, et magnis quatiunt clangoribus alas,
Diripiuntque dapes, contactuque omnia fœdant
Immundo: tum vox tetrum dira inter odorem.

Le Vaillant, who had a partiality for adventure, was here engaged in one which I must describe at some length. Leaving the greater number of his people encamped on the banks of the Elephant River, he had descended with a small detachment to the seashore. Here a whale was found, from which the Hottentots drew several skins of oil. The traveller, having been disappointed in his expectations of meeting with elephants on the right bank of the stream, concluded, with some degree of probability, that they had crossed the river, and taken refuge on the opposite side: he was therefore desirous of following them. But he was near the mouth of the river, which, at all times wide and rapid, had been exceedingly increased by the late rains, and now presented a formidable appearance. Unhappily, he was incapable of swimming, and for constructing a raft there was no time. After much consideration, therefore, it was resolved to attempt the stream in a novel mode. The trunk of a fallen tree was selected; the tent, with the garments of the Hottentots, was fastened upon its centre, the oil-skins at each end; [Pg 304] while Le Vaillant himself, having suspended his watch and powder-flasks about his neck, and tied all their fowling-pieces on his shoulders, got astride upon the tree as soon as it was afloat. The Hottentots, having fastened strips of leather to the end of the trunk, then jumped into the water, and pushed off from the shore. They were four in number, and it was agreed that two should tow the tree along, while the other two pushed it forward from behind, taking these different offices in turn. As long as they remained in smooth water their progress was rapid. Nothing could appear more easy than their undertaking. They laughed, they jested with each other, and already thought themselves on the opposite shore. But their triumph was premature: for they had no sooner entered the current than the tree became unmanageable; now pitching forward upon the swimmers, now recoiling with invincible force against those who laboured to impel it from behind; dragging the former after it, submerging the latter in the waves. No jests were now heard. Every limb was plied, every nerve strained, to force a way through the impetuous current; every man exerted himself to the utmost; but the river rushed along with irresistible violence, and instead of making way towards the shore, they saw themselves hurried down by the stream towards the sea, where inevitable death awaited them. Meanwhile Le Vaillant perceived with dismay that their strength began to fail them. They breathed short, their strokes became irregular, their efforts grew fainter and fainter; yet they tugged desperately at the tree, apparently resolved at least to perish at their posts, and to share the fate of him whom they could not save. Still they drew nearer and nearer to the sea, and their hopes diminished in proportion. Observing this, the two men who had been placed in the rear sprang forward, and by their united strength endeavoured to force along the trunk. At length Le Vaillant thought [Pg 305] he perceived a diminution in the violence of the current, and this discovery being communicated to the swimmers, they redoubled their efforts, and in a few minutes one of them found that he could touch the bottom. This he announced by a loud cry of joy, which was re-echoed by the others. They now began to recover their tranquillity, and pushing forward with vigour, were quickly landed on the shore. Here they joyously kindled an immense fire, and having along with them a small quantity of brandy, they drank it, dried themselves, and next day departed on their return to the camp.

Here fresh troubles awaited the traveller. His oxen were dying of hunger and fatigue; his followers were discouraged; even his own resolution was shaken. But the shame of succumbing to surmountable difficulties,—of entertaining a base fear of dangers which other men had braved,—of returning, in fact, baffled and defeated to the Cape, urged him forward, and he accordingly struck his tents, and moved once more towards the north. Courage and intrepidity are of vast importance in every circumstance of life, in none more so than in the circumstances in which an African traveller is placed; but these virtues will not draw wagons, or silence the murmurs of the appetite when clamouring for food. Le Vaillant was prepared to endure, and he cheerfully abandoned his chariots in the desert when oxen were wanting to drag them along; but he abandoned at the same time much of that merchandise with which he was accustomed to purchase the friendship and aid of the savage, and from that moment all rational hope of traversing the whole continent, from the Cape of Good Hope to the Mediterranean, vanished. He continued his journey, however, from the laudable desire of performing what he could, though what he had projected might prove impracticable.

Le Vaillant’s difficulties were far from being imaginary. [Pg 306] Thirst, that most maddening of human privations, was now felt once more, and the parched herbage afforded neither nourishment nor cooling juices to the cattle. All their hopes now centred in those thunderstorms which, at certain seasons of the year, are common in southern Africa, and the jocular extravagance of Aristophanes, who represents men as cloud-worshippers, was now scarcely an exaggeration: for both our traveller and his followers almost bowed down in religious adoration to every cloud that sailed aloft in the blue firmament, and seemed to announce a tempest. At length vast masses of black vapour began to gather together in heaps over their heads, and to spread in sombre files along the sky. Flashes of lightning were perceived on the edge of the horizon; and all the forerunners of a storm successively presented themselves to their delighted senses.

It came at length. “I heard,” says the traveller, “the sound of some large drops, the happy precursors of an abundant shower. All my senses, dilated at once by joy and gladness, unfolded themselves to the vital influence. I crept out from under my covering, and lying down on my back, with my mouth open, I received with delight the drops which chanced to fall on me, every one of which seemed to be a refreshing balm to my parched lips and tongue. I repeat it, the purest pleasure of my whole life was what I tasted in that delicious moment, which had been purchased by so many sighs and hours of anguish. It was not long before the shower poured down from all sides; during three hours it fell in torrents, seeming in noise to rival the thunder, which all the while continued roaring over our heads. My people ran about in all directions through the storm, seeking for one another, with triumphant mutual congratulations for the drenching they experienced; for they felt themselves revived; and appeared as if desirous of inflating their bodies that [Pg 307] they might thus offer a larger surface to the rain, and imbibe a greater quantity of it. For my own part, I enjoyed so delicious a pleasure in soaking myself like them, that, in order the longer to preserve the refreshing coolness, I would not at first change my dress, which I was at length, however, compelled to do by the cold.”

On the following night one of his followers disappeared, a circumstance which, as they were now in the country of the Bushmen, to whom it was possible the fugitive might betray them, was a source of peculiar uneasiness. However, after causing considerable alarm among the whole party, each of whom indulged a different conjecture, the man returned, announcing the discovery of a Hottentot kraal at no great distance. Towards this spot the whole party immediately proceeded, again and again quenching their thirst on the way, in reservoirs of crystal purity, which had been formed in the hollows of the rocks by the recent storm. Arrived, Le Vaillant found that the horde of which they had come in search was fortunately that of a man to whom he had been strongly recommended by a friend at the Cape. He was received with hospitality. The chief, flattered by the visit, undertook for a time to become his guide; and having generously and successfully exerted himself for the recovery of the chariots abandoned in the desert, and performed numerous other kind offices for his guest, the caravan was once more put in motion.

In the evening, on their arriving at the halting-place, Le Vaillant observed with surprise a tent, guarded by Hottentots, pitched a little in advance of him; and upon inquiry, found that it belonged to a M. Pinard, one of the individuals he had rejected at Cape Town. A presentiment of evil immediately flashed upon his mind. He regarded the tent with inquietude. Misfortune seemed to perch upon its summit. And in the sequel he learned, with vexation, [Pg 308] how well-founded his apprehensions had been. However, for the moment, the encounter seemed to offer nothing but pleasure. Pinard was the bearer of letters from some of his dearest friends, and to a man of sound feelings a person thus armed is irresistible; but to an evil disposition the very counterfeiting of goodness is too painful long to be endured. Our Dutch adventurer, whose wealth chiefly consisted in brandy, a commodity which experience had taught him was omnipotent with Hottentots, seemed to consider his casks as too weighty, and habitually exerted himself in diminishing the burden. In one word, he was a drunkard; and having indulged himself with an extraordinary dose on the very evening of Le Vaillant’s arrival, the brandy-casks were abandoned to the Hottentots, and in a short time both camps were a scene of wild revelry and intoxication.

To those who have observed the manners of savages, whether in our own country or in the woods, it must be well known that the Circean transformations are not fabulous. Brandy has everywhere the power of changing men into beasts, and into beasts which are the more dangerous, inasmuch as they retain, under their new forms, a memory morbidly retentive, which seems to rejoice at its escape from the restraints of reason. Le Vaillant’s followers, having nothing to fear from the reproaches of decorum, now plunged into the delights of drunkenness with an avidity which appeared as if intended as an imputation on his want of generosity; for they considered his prudent economy as a niggardly doling out of a necessary of life, brandy being by them regarded in that light. Though he had given orders that the caravan should be put in motion at the break of day, the men, with the exception of Klaas and two or three of his companions, were all furiously intoxicated before the oxen could be yoked to the wagons. Even old Swanspoel, who had hitherto conducted himself [Pg 309] with prudence, yielded to the seduction, and endeavouring with reeling steps to mount the wagon, his foot slipped, and he rolled under the wheel, which immediately passed over his body. Le Vaillant, who loved the old man, feared he had been crushed to pieces; but it was afterward found, upon examination, that he merely had two ribs broken; though this fracture caused him such terrible anguish on the road, that he conjured his master, with clasped hands, to blow out his brains with one of his pistols. As our traveller was utterly ignorant of surgery, it was necessary to leave the treatment of the fracture to nature. The pain, meanwhile, was excruciating, and in order to blunt its point, the old Hottentot continued to drink immoderate quantities of brandy, which, as it failed to kill him, obtained, in the sequel, the honour of a cure. In six weeks he was able to resume his occupations.

At length, after enduring his company with a patience which it were easier to praise than to imitate, he separated from Pinard. He now discovered another remarkable person, a sailor, who, having deserted from the Dutch navy, had retired into the wilderness, where he had adopted, as far as possible, the manners of a savage; married several wives, by whom he had numerous children, and laid the foundation of what might have proved a powerful horde. But this individual affords an example of how difficult it is for the civilized man, of whatever rank he may be, to retrograde; for, although possessed of considerable wealth, and, which is still sweeter, of independence, and the germs of power, he yearned after that society in which he must always be as nothing; and afterward, upon Le Vaillant’s obtaining him his pardon, deserted his harem, returned with his children to the colony, married, and sunk into the dull lethargy of ordinary Dutch life.

This man, whose name was Shoenmaker, became our traveller’s guide through the neighbouring regions. [Pg 310] They continued still to advance towards the north, passed through the countries of the Lesser and Greater Namaquas, and arrived at length in the district in which the giraffe is found. Here all his ardour for the chase was at once revived by the sight of one of these animals’ skins, which, in one of the kraals he visited, served as a covering to a hut. A few days afterward, while he was admiring the nest of the constructor bird, one of his Namaqua guides came in great haste to inform him that he had just seen a giraffe browsing upon the leaves of a mimosa-tree. “In an instant,” says the traveller, “I mounted my horse, being intoxicated with joy, and causing Bernfry” (a deserter from the colony whom he encountered in the desert) “to follow my example, I hurried with my dogs towards the mimosa-tree. The giraffe was no longer there. We saw her crossing the plain towards the west, and put spurs to our horses in order to overtake her. She then got into an easy trot, but did not seem at all hurried. We galloped after her, firing at her from time to time; but she insensibly gained ground upon us in such a manner that, after continuing the chase for three hours, we were compelled to stop, our horses being out of breath, and we immediately lost sight of her.” He now found himself alone, at a distance from his camp; and, what was worse, knew not how to shape his course towards it. Meantime he suffered considerably from thirst and hunger; but having killed and cooked some birds, his wants were soon satisfied, and he had leisure for reflection. In the midst of his reveries he was found by some of his attendants, and conducted back to the camp. Next day the hunting of the giraffe was continued with equally bad success. On the third day seven of these animals were discovered, and immediately pursued by his dogs. “Six of them,” says he, “went off together; but the seventh, cut off by my pack, took a different direction. Bernfry, who [Pg 311] happened just then to be on foot, immediately vaulted into the saddle, and set off in pursuit of the former. I pursued the latter at all speed; but in spite of the swiftness of my horse, she gained upon me so much that, on turning a small eminence, I lost sight of her, and gave up the chase. My dogs, however, had quickly overtaken her, and pressed her so closely that she was compelled to stop in her own defence. From the place where I was I heard them give tongue with all their might; but as their voices all appeared to come from the same spot, I conjectured that they had got the animal into some corner, and I again pushed forwards. As soon as I had turned the hill, I in fact discovered her surrounded by the dogs, and making desperate efforts to drive them off by heavy kicks. In a moment I was on my feet, and a single shot from my carbine brought her to the earth. Enchanted with my victory, I returned to call my people about me, that they might skin and cut up the animal. As I was looking about, I observed Klaas Bastard eagerly making signals to me, which I could not at first comprehend; but on turning towards the direction in which he pointed, I perceived a giraffe assailed by my dogs under an ebony-tree. Supposing it to be another animal, I ran towards it; but it was the same, which had risen again, and just as I was about to fire a second time dropped down dead.

“Who could have believed that a conquest like this would have excited me to a transport almost approaching to madness! Pains, fatigues, cruel privations, uncertainty as to the future, disgust sometimes as to the past—all these recollections and feelings fled at the sight of this new prey. I could not satisfy my desire to contemplate it. I measured its enormous height. I looked from the animal to the instrument which had destroyed it. I called and recalled my people about me. Although we had combated together the largest and the most [Pg 312] dangerous animals, it was I alone who had killed the giraffe. I was now able to add to the riches of natural history; I was now able to destroy the romance which attached to this animal, and to establish a truth. My people congratulated me on my triumph. Bernfry alone was absent; but he came at last, walking at a slow pace, and holding his horse by the bridle. He had fallen from his seat, and injured his shoulder. I heard not what he said to me. I saw not that he wanted assistance; I spoke to him only of my victory. He showed me his shoulder; I showed him my giraffe. I was intoxicated, and I should not have thought even of my own wounds.”

He now paid a visit to the Kameniqua horde. His camp abounded with provisions; but his people, who had for some time been accustomed to the company of women, drew so many of these fair ones about them, that it was feared nothing else would be thought of. However, Le Vaillant was obliged to wink at this irregularity, to prevent the desertion of the whole body, and his complaisance, as it happened, drew after it no evil consequences. In proceeding through the country of the Greater Namaquas he arrived at a kraal, which had been thrown by the death of its chief into the utmost confusion, and, upon his making strenuous exertions to restore order, was himself elected chief. This dignity, however, he delegated to another, and had the satisfaction of observing, at his departure, tranquillity and good order taking the place of discord and bloodshed.

Our traveller now drew near the country of the most extraordinary people which he ever met with during his travels. These were the Hoozwanas, a nation by the Hottentots confounded with the Bushmen, but which, in the opinion of Le Vaillant, differed from them entirely; as while the latter were a collection of vagabonds from all nations, living in holes and caves, and subsisting chiefly by plunder, the former were as nearly as possible homogeneous. [Pg 313] They differed in a remarkable manner from the Hottentots in being enterprising and brave, and enjoyed among their neighbours so great a reputation for these qualities, that their very name was a talisman which struck terror into all who heard it. For this reason Le Vaillant could not, in this instance, pursue his ordinary practice of sending forward native ambassadors or agents to prepare him a welcome reception among the horde. At the bare mention of the Hoozwanas his followers and allies felt their blood curdle with fear, and not only refused to advance before him, but endeavoured likewise to dissuade him from the attempt, which, in their opinion, could terminate no otherwise than fatally.

Le Vaillant, who remembered their vain terrors in the case of the Kaffers, was thoroughly convinced that their present apprehensions had no better foundation. His wagons and a considerable number of his attendants had been left encamped on the banks of the Gariep, or Orange River; he was now resolved rather to dismiss the remainder, and proceed alone, than shrink from his undertaking; and Klaas and five of his companions voluntarily engaging to undertake the expedition, he informed the remainder that they were at liberty to depart, their services being no longer required. But if they were afraid to advance, to retreat seemed no less terrible; so that, whipped into enterprise by their very fears, they one and all announced their readiness to follow the fortunes of their chief.

He therefore proceeded towards the north; but, while he despised the fears of his Hottentots, and somewhat doubted the correctness of their representations, he nevertheless considered it prudent to move along in a guarded manner, seeing that every thicket might contain an enemy. For some days silence and solitude prevailed around. There appeared no traces of man; or if any human beings ever started up in the distance, it was only to flit [Pg 314] immediately away like phantoms among the rocks and sandhills, leaving behind them strong doubts of the reality of their apparition. Meanwhile their route led them over a burning desert, covered with saline dust, which, lifted up by the winds, entered their eyes and almost maddened them. The vehement heat of the sun, from which no contrivance could wholly shield them, likewise began to disorder their senses and their imaginations; so that, like mariners in a calenture, they saw mountains, green fields, or groves, or running streams, where in reality there was nothing but a prodigious plateau of scorching sand.

At length, upon halting in the evening, they observed, as the darkness came on, several vast fires among the peaks of the distant hills, which they doubted not belonged to the Hoozwanas. With this discovery all their old terrors returned. The watch, therefore, it may be easily imagined, was vigilant that night; and as soon as the morning appeared, Le Vaillant, taking a few of his attendants along with him, proceeded to reconnoitre. The scene which now presented itself was desolate beyond description. Steep ridges of barren rock, rising from a plain of sand, and broken into ravines, gullies, chasms, precipices; beyond a few stunted, miserable plants, no signs of life; while a dead silence brooded over all, save when the wild daman sent forth its shrill cry from among the rocks, or when the vulture or the eagle screamed aloft over their heads.

After a fatiguing march through these savage mountains, they reached a slender stream which flowed from a narrow opening in the rocks, and discovered upon its banks a small Hoozwana encampment. No persons but a few women were visible; but upon their uttering a cry of alarm, the men immediately rushed out, armed with bows and arrows, and taking their families along with them, retreated, and took up their position on a small eminence commanding [Pg 315] their huts. Failing to make himself understood by the ordinary signs of friendship and good-will, he advanced towards their huts, deposited a quantity of beads and tobacco, and then retired to observe their movements. When they considered him at a sufficient distance, they returned, and upon examining the presents exhibited tokens of extraordinary satisfaction; but upon the approach of the traveller a second time they again retreated, though to a smaller distance than before. He now resolved to endeavour, by going forward alone and unarmed, to remove their apprehensions; and, taking in his hand a new present, he proceeded towards them. This manœuvre succeeded. One of the savages immediately came to meet him; and addressing him in the Hottentot language, demanded who he was, and whence he came. Le Vaillant replied that he was a traveller, desirous of examining the country, and, if possible, of finding friends in it. The man then came up to him. The Hottentots likewise drew near, and entered into conversation with the stranger, who, they found, belonged to their nation. Observing that no evil had befallen their friend, the remainder of the horde now joined the group, and were rendered, by a few trifling presents, as friendly and peaceful in their deportment as the least ferocious of the Hottentot tribes.

The manners of this people were remarkable. They remained in their rocky fastnesses, to which they were habitually confined by the hostility of their neighbours, as long as the gazelles, white ants, or locusts, which abound in those districts, afforded them provisions. When a scarcity happened, however, then wo to the surrounding nations. They stood upon the lofty summits of their mountains, and casting their eyes around, selected for the scene of their desperate foray the region which presented the richest aspect. Flocks and herds were seized, and killed upon the spot, or driven to the mountains, [Pg 316] as circumstances required; but, unless when attacked and put in actual peril, the Hoozwanas abstained from shedding human blood. Their appearance, when engaged in war, was peculiarly striking. Naked, excepting that small portion of the body which instinct alone teaches man to conceal, they yet wore a species of helmet or war-cap on their heads, upon which there was a crest formed of the hyena’s mane. Though considerably below the middle size, their well-formed active bodies, and daring character, the evidence of which was deeply written in their countenance, admirably fitted them for warriors. In peace, however, no men could exhibit more gentleness, or regard for strangers; and our traveller observes, that had he attempted the traversing the African continent from the Cape to the Mediterranean, he should have chiefly founded his hopes of success on the active, faithful character of the Hoozwanas.

The Hoozwana women exhibited that peculiar conformation of the nates which is generally supposed to be a characteristic of the Hottentot race. With the latter, however, it is the growth of years, and commences only at a late period of life; while in the former it is a portion of the original form with which the infant is born, and which increases merely in proportion as the whole body is developed. Upon this strange projection mothers carry their children, which, when two or three years old, stand upon it as a footman does behind a carriage. But, notwithstanding that they were in this respect deformed, they possessed hands and arms of extraordinary beauty. They wore the war-bonnet and sandals like their husbands; but were in other respects naked, with the exception of a small apron. A small wooden, ivory, or tortoise-shell case hung by their side, in which they carried their ointment; and the tail of some small animal, fastened on a staff, served, [Pg 317] instead of a pocket handkerchief, to wipe away the dust or perspiration from their faces.

Having spent some time in the country of the Hoozwanas, he bent his course towards his camp on the Gariep, his gallant hosts serving him as guides across the mountains. In the course of the journey one of the oxen threw from off its back the box of toys and cutlery, which, making a frightful clatter, terrified the animal, which ran off roaring in a furious manner. Le Vaillant, in endeavouring to force it back, found himself engaged in a dangerous adventure; for, instead of returning towards his companions, it rushed impetuously at the horse, which, springing suddenly aside, threw his rider and took to flight. The ox now rushed with stooping head at the traveller, who, having fortunately fallen with his musket in his hand, pointed his piece, and carefully levelling it at his enemy, fired, and shot him dead upon the spot.

This accident seemed to be merely the forerunner of that which happened immediately after his arrival at the camp. He had crossed the Gariep with his tents and baggage; but the oxen, never having seen so broad a stream, could by no means whatever be induced to attempt the passage. They resisted all the efforts of their drivers, and even their very blows seemed to render them more stubborn. It was therefore determined to take them farther up the stream, and renew their endeavours next morning. The herdsmen, however, rendered heedless or confident by the vicinity of the camp, fell asleep, and allowed their fires to die away. At this moment the Bushmen, who had been lying in wait for them, stole quietly into the circle, and, driving off the oxen, escaped, and before the break of day were already far on their way towards their secret haunts.

Next morning, early, Le Vaillant was suddenly awakened by Klaas, who informed him of what had happened; and counselled him to arm a number of [Pg 318] his followers, and pursue the robbers. This advice was instantly adopted. He took thirteen of the bravest, and following the track of the oxen, which was visible enough upon the sand, during six hours, found that it struck off from the river. Here they passed the night. Next morning before day they continued the pursuit, and finding that the herd had been divided into two parts, pursued the track of the more numerous, not doubting that the division had been made merely for the purpose of distracting their attention. From a Hottentot village by which they passed they obtained two guides, who, being perfectly acquainted with the country, undertook to conduct them to the hiding-places of the Bushmen. They therefore again set forward, and after tracking the robbers for several leagues, found that they had crossed the river, in which they discovered the body of one of the oxen which had been drowned in the passage. The stream being here deep and rapid rendered the passage both difficult and dangerous. They, however, succeeded in gaining the opposite shore, but what was their vexation when, having ascended a short distance up the river, it was perceived that the artful bandits had again crossed, and were therefore on the other side. This manœuvre was repeated three times, for so frequently had the Bushmen crossed and recrossed the stream. But at length the track was lost in the path leading to a kraal, in which, therefore, they concluded the oxen must be concealed.

The guides, fearful lest their presence among the traveller’s attendants might occasion a war between these bandits and their nation, here demanded permission to remain behind during the attack upon the kraal, and their request was unhappily complied with. Le Vaillant himself, conceiving that darkness would be favourable to his views, resolved to defer the execution of his project until night. They accordingly encamped upon the spot, and a little after [Pg 319] midnight set off in the greatest silence. “Soon afterward,” says he, “we perceived, at the distance of about three-quarters of a league, the light of several fires; and advancing a little farther, we heard songs, cries of joy, and immoderate shouts of laughter. The bandits were amusing themselves, and making good cheer at my expense. Their clamour, however, had one good effect; for my dogs began to set up so loud a barking on drawing near the kraal, that it became necessary to muzzle them, so that but for the frightful tumult within we should infallibly have been betrayed. I was now, therefore, in a state of warfare with savages, and resolved to employ against them the resources of art, should they oppose me with superior force. The moment not being favourable for commencing the attack, I put it off until the break of day, and in order to conduct it in the most advantageous manner, I intrenched myself and my troop behind a copse, which, by affording us an impenetrable shield against the attacks of our enemies, would render our own doubly terrible. The copse, in fact, was sufficiently extensive to contain and conceal all my musketeers; and each of us, by pushing aside or breaking off a few branches, immediately formed a sort of porthole through which we could fire. In this position we patiently and silently awaited the moment for action. The villains themselves appeared, by their conduct, to favour our views. Their noisy merriment died away by degrees; and at length, yielding to fatigue, they retired into their huts to rest, and the noise entirely ceased.

“The day soon appeared, when we discovered that the position we had taken up was too far from the kraal. Leaving our oxen, and my two horses, ready saddled in case of a defeat, behind the bushes, under the care of one of my people, we advanced, therefore, and posted ourselves within gunshot of the kraal. It was a considerable hamlet, consisting [Pg 320] of not less than thirty or forty huts, and occupied the slope of a hill, behind which a range of high mountains swept round in the form of an amphitheatre. Though our muskets were all loaded, it was not my intention to commence hostilities with the effusion of blood. I designed merely to alarm the brigands, and by the consternation caused by a sudden attack, to compel them to take to flight. For this reason I commanded my followers to fire in the air, and on no account to take aim at a single individual unless by my express orders. I began the assault by firing my large carbine, the report of which, multiplied by the echoes of the neighbouring mountains, produced a terrible noise. We had persuaded ourselves that at the sound of this thunder the whole horde would fly in consternation, and my companions were preparing to augment their terrors by a general discharge. But, to our astonishment, not a creature appeared. It was in vain that we fired round after round; every thing remained calm, and I knew not what to conjecture. This security was merely apparent. While external appearances announced sleep and peace, every soul within was given up to terror and confusion. But by a stratagem to which they, no doubt, had been long accustomed, no one wished to appear before the whole body were armed; and it is probable that they communicated with each other by signals. When they were ready for battle, they all at the same moment rushed out of their huts, and advancing with frightful howlings towards us, let fly a cloud of arrows, which falling far short of their mark, we still replied to by firing over their heads. Observing that none of their party were hurt, they began to imagine that our muskets would not carry so far, and therefore uniting into one body, they came on with fury. We awaited the assault with firmness. My people, in the mean time, called aloud to them to restore my oxen. Whether they heard us or not I cannot determine; [Pg 321] but they had now advanced so near that their arrows fell about us in showers. I now thought it full time to fire in earnest, and issuing my orders to aim at their bodies, we fired several volleys in rapid succession, and had very quickly the satisfaction to see this numerous band of men scattered about like emmets, flying in all directions, and uttering fearful shrieks, which were no longer, as at first, cries of valour and defiance, but the howlings of despair. Their wives and children had retreated, during the combat, to the summit of the hill, where the oxen were grazing; and it was thither that they now fled; whence, having rapidly collected the cattle, they plunged down into the hollow on the opposite side, and disappeared. Being well persuaded that, should they once reach the defiles of the mountains, all pursuit would be vain, I mounted my horse, and dividing my men into two bodies, directed one party to cut off their retreat on one side, while I myself with the remainder should attack them on the other. It was not many minutes before we discovered the savages hurrying down the hill towards a plain, in which there was a small wood; and, in fact, the greater number of them quickly disappeared a second time, but those who drove the cattle were necessarily more slow, and seeing us close upon their heels, they likewise took to flight, leaving the oxen behind them. At this moment my other detachment coming up, fired at them, and stretched one of their number upon the earth. The rest escaped.”

Having thus regained possession of his cattle, and fearing he might fall into some ambush laid for him by the savages, he hastened back to the kraal, where he found their own herd. In lieu of one of the oxen which had been killed and eaten, he took away a young cow and two sheep, and hurried towards the spot where he had left his Kameniqua guides. Here he was shocked by a very horrible spectacle. One [Pg 322] of the men had been torn to pieces during the night, and the other likewise had suffered severely. They had, in fact, neglected to keep alive their fire, and had been attacked by a lion in their sleep. Le Vaillant caused them to be placed upon his horses, and carried along with them; but abandoned the dying man at the first halting-place. The other eventually recovered.

Though dogged all the way by the Bushmen, he reached his camp in safety, from whence, having now entirely abandoned the idea of traversing the African continent, he turned his face southwards, and directed his course towards the Cape. His constitution had considerably suffered during this journey, and he suddenly began to experience unequivocal symptoms of illness. While he was in this condition he encountered a white family, who, having endured signal misfortunes in the world, had succeeded in snapping asunder the links which ordinarily bind men to society, and were now, with a few Hottentot servants, and a wagon which contained all their worldly possessions, proceeding towards Namaqua-land in search of a better fortune than they had hitherto met with. Le Vaillant, who could easily read indolence and inactivity in the countenance of the father, was still deeply interested in his fate, by an air of goodness which accompanied the indication of those qualities; and anticipating the consent of the owner, he bestowed upon them a small house and ground in the vicinity, four sheep, a goat, a dog, together with a quantity of toys and cutlery, wherewith to purchase the friendship of the savages. With these riches they departed on their way, blessing the friendly hand which had enabled them to live in comfort, and praying for the happiness of him who, under Providence, had been the creator of theirs.

He now pushed forward to the banks of the Kansi, where his progress was put a stop to by a buinsy, [Pg 323] accompanied by violent fever. This disease is generally mortal in Africa. Of this circumstance he was perfectly aware, and accordingly from the beginning began to fear the worst, and gave himself up for lost. But his followers, who, with ignorance of physic equal to his own, indulged more sanguine hopes, requested his permission to apply the only remedy known among them; and having obtained his consent, applied round his neck towels dipped in boiling milk, until the skin was nearly scalded off. This treatment was continued during three days; but finding no benefit from it, he abandoned the physicians, and resolved to leave the whole to nature. Meanwhile his condition was alarming. His throat and tongue were so much swelled that he could swallow nothing but a few drops of weak tea, and at length lost entirely the power of speaking, except by signs. The fears of his Hottentots were no less than his own. When Klaas or Swanspoel entered his tent, the other attendants would thrust their black woolly heads in after them, in the expectation of gathering from their looks whether there was still any hope. Such was the state of the case when several persons of the Lesser Namaqua horde arrived in the camp, among the rest a little man, who, when informed of the disorder of the chief, immediately undertook his cure. Our traveller, willing to make trial of every means within his power, permitted the Hottentot Æsculapius to treat him as he pleased; and had once more to endure a hot cataplasm on his throat, which, together with a gargle of sage-juice, formed the whole remedy. In the course of one night his freedom of respiration and the power of swallowing were restored, and in three days he was well.

This danger being over, Le Vaillant returned to the Cape, dismissed his Hottentots, and taking leave of his South African friends, set sail for Europe, July 14th, 1784. He arrived in Paris in the beginning [Pg 324] of the January following, and from thenceforward his whole life was occupied in putting his collections in order, in compiling the account of his travels, and in composing the various works which he afterward published or left in MS. on the natural history of the birds and quadrupeds of Africa.—Though his occupations were thus simple and peaceful, he was not able during the stormy days of the Revolution to escape unsuspected; he was apprehended and imprisoned in 1793, and is supposed to have escaped the guillotine only by the fall of Robespierre. His habitual residence during the latter part of his life was on a small estate that he possessed at La Noue, near Sezanne. There, when not engaged in his literary labours, he amused himself with hunting; and in this manner he lived during nearly thirty years. He died on the 22d of November, 1824. During the whole of that time he had seldom quitted his retreat to visit Paris, except for the purpose of seeing his works through the press. His “Travels,” upon which his hopes of fame must chiefly rest, appear to have occupied him nearly eleven years, the first part having been published in 1790, and the second in 1796. It has often been asserted, says M. Eyriès, that these travels were compiled from the author’s notes by Casimir Varron but this is a mistake; he merely read the proof sheets for the purpose of correction, Le Vaillant not being sufficiently acquainted with the French language to enable him to confide in his own judgment.

It was Le Vaillant who first made the giraffe known in France, and the stuffed specimen in the king’s collection is the one which was brought over by him. His other works are, “The Natural History of the Birds of Africa,” of the parroquet, and of the birds of Paradise. The figures, designed under his inspection by Barraband, are said to possess great merit; and his scientific works occupy the first rank among books of that kind.

[Pg 325]


This able and interesting traveller, descended from a respectable Roman family, was born at Padua, whither his relations had many years previously removed. Being designed by his parents for some monastic order, he was at a very early age sent to Rome, the original abode of his ancestors, where he received his education, and spent the greater part of his youth. Here the sciences would appear to have obtained a decided preference in his mind, over every other branch of study; particularly hydraulics, to which he owed the reputation which he afterward acquired in the world, and a success which was by no means equal to his deserts. The invasion of Italy, and the capture of Rome by the French, disturbed the peaceful but insignificant plan of life which he had traced out for himself. Instead of a monk he became a traveller. Departing from Rome in the year 1800, he for some time wandered about the Continent, deriving his subsistence, as he himself observes, from his own knowledge and industry, and occasional remittances from his family, who, though by no means wealthy, seem to have been generously disposed to afford him a support, which he, in a short time, no less generously refused to accept.

In the year 1803 he arrived in England, where he not long afterward married. In this country he supported himself, as is well known, by performing in public feats of prodigious strength, and by scientific exhibitions; still, with a manly independence, preferring the gaining of a precarious subsistence by these means to the idea of draining the slender resources of his family, or of resorting to those more [Pg 326] easy but less reputable sources of gain which too frequently employ the talents of foreigners in England. Having remained nine years in Great Britain, Belzoni conceived the desire of visiting the south of Europe; and, taking his wife along with him, travelled through Portugal, Spain, and Malta. It seems to have been during this part of his travels that he learned, from what he considered unexceptionable authority, that his scientific knowledge might be turned to good account in Egypt, where an hydraulic machine would be of the greatest utility in irrigating the fields, which want water only to make them produce at any season of the year.

He accordingly took his passage on board of some ship bound for Egypt, and arrived in the harbour of Alexandria on the 9th of June, 1815. The plague, he was informed, was now in the city, but gradually decreasing in malignity. St. John’s day, the 24th of June, was likewise at hand, on which it usually ceases entirely, through the interference, as the vulgar believe, of the saint, but in reality from the intense heat of the sun, which has by that time exhaled those damp miasmata which are the immediate cause of the plague. Belzoni, who was accompanied by his wife and a young Irish lad, named Curtain, landed, notwithstanding the disease; and having remained secluded in the occale, or khun, until after the 24th, set off for Cairo. On reaching this city, where he meant to make an offer of his services to the pasha, to whose principal interpreter he brought letters of recommendation, he obtained lodgings in an old house, which from its vast size and ruinous condition would have made a handsome figure in one of Mrs. Ratcliffe’s romances. Though antiquities, as he observes, were not at that time his object, he could not refrain from visiting the Pyramids. He accordingly accompanied an English gentleman to the spot, where they passed the night, and long before dawn had ascended the summit of [Pg 327] the highest pile, to behold the sun rise over the land of Egypt.

“The scene here,” says he, “is majestic and grand far beyond description: a mist over the plains of Egypt formed a veil, which ascended and vanished gradually as the sun rose, and unveiled to the view that beautiful land, once the site of Memphis. The distant view of the smaller pyramids on the south marked the extension of that vast capital; while the solemn endless spectacle of the desert, on the west, inspired us with reverence for the all-powerful Creator. The fertile lands on the north, with the serpentine course of the Nile, descending towards the sea; the rich appearance of Cairo, and its minarets, at the foot of the Mokatam mountain, on the east; the beautiful plain which extends from the Pyramids to that city; the Nile, which flows magnificently through the centre of the Sacred Valley; and the thick groves of palm-trees under our eyes, altogether formed a scene of which a very imperfect idea can be given by the most elaborate description.”

A few days after his return to Cairo he was to have been presented to the pasha, but on the way to the citadel was attacked and wounded by a Turkish soldier in such a manner that he was compelled to defer his presentation for thirty days. Mohammed Ali had not at that time properly established his power; for, when informed of the injury which had been inflicted on his guest, he only observed that such accidents were not to be prevented in cities filled with troops. This point was very soon made still clearer. In a few days the soldiers burst out into open rebellion, pillaged the inhabitants, committed every description of atrocity, and pursued his highness himself into his castle, where they for some time held him besieged. When this storm had blown over, Belzoni, whose hydraulic project was highly approved of by the pasha, commenced the construction of his machine in his highness’s gardens [Pg 328] at Soubra, three miles from Cairo. As Mohammed Ali is not bigotedly attached to oriental fashions, he freely permitted Belzoni to be witness of his amusements, which he was sometimes even called upon to multiply. During his stay at Soubra business frequently required his presence at Cairo, where, on one occasion, he narrowly escaped being shot by a Turkish soldier. The ruffian having struck him in the street, he returned the blow; upon which the Turk drew his pistol, fired at him, singed his hair, and killed one of his comrades who happened to be standing behind the traveller. The man was next day apprehended by the pasha, and never more heard of. When the hydraulic machine was completed, its power was made trial of in the presence of Mohammed, who, perceiving that as an innovation it was regarded with extraordinary dislike by the Turkish and Arabic cultivators, abandoned the project altogether, without even remunerating the traveller for the loss of time and money which he had incurred.

Notwithstanding these circumstances, which reflect but little honour on Mohammed Ali, Belzoni found, upon calculation, that his finances would still enable him to ascend the Nile as far as Assouan; and was about to proceed up the country when Burckhardt and Mr. Salt, who had previously discussed the point together, determined upon the removal of the colossal head of young Memnon to England, for the purpose of being presented to the British Museum; and requested our traveller, as one of the fittest persons that could be thought of, to undertake the task. The expenses Burckhardt and Mr. Salt were to defray between them. A report was, it seems, circulated even during the lifetime of Belzoni, and previous to the publication of his travels, that in this affair he was merely the paid agent of Mr. Salt (for, as a professed Mohammedan, Burckhardt did not choose to appear). This, however, was [Pg 329] clearly not the case. The expenses incurred in the undertaking they could do no other than defray. Mr. Salt’s instructions are written, as Belzoni himself observes, in an assuming style, but nevertheless have not the air of being addressed to a paid agent. But the testimony of Sheïkh Burckhardt, which I insert in justice to the memory of an enterprising and worthy man, completely sets the matter at rest. In a letter addressed to the African Association, dated Cairo, February 20th, 1817, he says, “You will be pleased to hear that the colossal head from Thebes has at last, after many difficulties, safely arrived at Alexandria. Mr. Belzoni, who offered himself to undertake this commission, has executed it with great spirit, intelligence, and perseverance. The head is waiting now at Alexandria for a proper conveyance to Malta. Mr. Salt and myself have borne the expenses jointly; and the trouble of the undertaking has devolved upon Mr. Belzoni, whose name I wish to be mentioned, if ever ours shall, on this occasion, because he was actuated by public spirit fully as much as ourselves.”

Few things are more interesting in themselves, or less captivating in description, than a search after antiquities. Belzoni, after visiting Hermontis and Dendara, arrived at Thebes, which, from the time of Germanicus to the present moment, has excited the wonder and admiration of every traveller who has beheld it. “It is absolutely impossible,” says Belzoni, “to imagine the scene displayed, without seeing it. The most sublime ideas that can be formed from the most magnificent specimens of our present architecture would give a very incorrect picture of these ruins; for such is the difference, not only in magnitude, but in form, proportion, and construction, that even the pencil can convey but a faint idea of the whole. It appeared to me like entering a city of giants, who, after a long conflict, were all destroyed, leaving the ruins of their various temples as the only proof of their existence.”

[Pg 330]

After a brief examination of these mighty ruins, he crossed to the western bank of the Nile, where, amid the vast remains of the Memnonium, was the colossal head which he was to remove. He found it, he says, near the remains of its body and chair, with its face upwards, and apparently smiling on him at the thought of being taken to England. The implements which he had brought from Cairo were sufficiently simple: fourteen poles, eight of which were employed in making a sort of car to lay the bust on, four ropes of palm-leaves, and four rollers, without tackle of any sort. Their boat lying too far to be used as a lodging every night, they established themselves in the Memnonium, where, as the traveller remarks, they were handsomely lodged in a small hut formed of stones. Mrs. Belzoni seems, in fact, to have been as enterprising and romantic as her husband, and made no difficulty about the rudeness of their accommodation. Into a detail of his laborious exertions, or those of the Arabs in conveying the head to the Nile, I do not think it necessary to enter. It will be sufficient to state, that after incredible toil and perseverance, it was at length brought to the edge of the stream on the 12th of August, 1816.

This object being effected, he made an excursion to the sepulchral excavations in the mountain of Gornou, celebrated for the quantity of mummies which they contain. Into this vast labyrinth he entered with two Arabs and his interpreter. They were in search of a sarcophagus which was said to have been discovered by Drovetti; but, in roaming about amid the dreary passages, lost their way, which, without extraordinary good fortune, might have been the first step to losing their lives. In labouring to find a passage out, they came to a small aperture, through which the interpreter and one of the Arabs passed easily, but Belzoni, who was a very large man, found it too small. “One of the [Pg 331] Arabs, however, succeeded, as did my interpreter; and it was then agreed,” says he, “that I and the other Arab should wait till their return. They proceeded evidently to a great distance, for the light disappeared, and only a murmuring sound from their voices could be distinguished as they went on. After a few moments I heard a loud noise, and the interpreter distinctly crying, ‘O mon Dieu! O mon Dieu! je suis perdu!’ after which a profound silence ensued. I asked my Arab whether he had ever been in that place. He replied, ‘Never.’ I could not conceive what could have happened, and thought the best plan was to return to procure help from the other Arabs. Accordingly, I told my man to show me the way out again; but, staring at me like an idiot, he said he did not know the road. I called repeatedly to the interpreter, but received no answer. I watched a long time, but no one returned, and my situation was no very pleasant one.”

At length, however, by dint of laborious perseverance, they issued into upper air; and as the sarcophagus, which they had discovered, could not at that moment be removed, our traveller conceived the design of making a small excursion into Nubia. Accordingly, he proceeded up the river to Assouan, where, after much altercation, he procured a fresh boat to carry him to the second cataract. He admired, in passing, the beautiful island of Phile, rich in the ruins of antiquity. On the next day several natives, armed with spears and shields of crocodile skins, came in boats to attack them on the river; but observing them, Mrs. Belzoni and all, to be armed with pistols, they very prudently retired. At Deir, the capital of Lower Nubia, our traveller purchased with a small looking-glass permission to continue his voyage. Previous to this, many of the people of the country had never enjoyed the gratification of contemplating the reflection of their own countenances, unless, like Polypheme, they made a [Pg 332] mirror of the glassy stream. On arriving at Ipsambul, he saw with amazement the great rock-temple discovered by Burckhardt. He immediately conceived the design of clearing away the sand which obstructed the entrance into the temple, and made the proposal to the villagers, promising, in order to excite them to the task, a present in money; but soon found that he had at length arrived in a region where money had ceased to be omnipotent. The people stared at his piasters as they would have stared at a letter in an unknown language, and inquired who would give them any thing for such small bits of metal as those? However, he by degrees succeeded in convincing them that money possessed over civilized men, and all who came within their influence, a mysterious power which they could not resist, and thus awakened in their souls the “accursed thirst of gold.” This seemed at first to produce a good effect; but the love of money once excited, they knew not where to stop; and their avarice, which he had reckoned his best ally, soon exhausted his means, so that before he had half-completed his undertaking he was compelled to desist, and continue his voyage up the Nile to Ibrim and the first cataract.

Having gratified his curiosity with a glance at these celebrated spots, Belzoni returned to Assouan, and from thence proceeded to Thebes, where he immediately put in train the measures necessary for conveying down the river the Memnon’s head, and various other antiquities. The obstacles which were thrown in his way by the obstinacy of the natives, and the intrigues of Drovetti, and other collectors of antiquities, were numerous, and highly disgraceful to their originators. Nevertheless, on the 17th of November, 1816, he succeeded in placing the head on board of a boat, in which he set sail on the 21st for Cairo, where he arrived on the 15th of December, after a voyage of twenty-four days. All [Pg 333] professions reckon among their members many knaves and many fools; but the antiquarians with whom Belzoni came in contact deserved, in several instances, to be sent to the galleys. His labours were, as a matter of course, depreciated by several foreigners of this cast, who absurdly misrepresented his researches. In this number must be reckoned Count Forbin, who was frightened away from Thebes by beholding the apparition of an English waiting-maid in a blue pelisse among the ruins. This gentleman, in his absurd “Travels,” represents our traveller as having employed six months in placing the colossal bust on board the boat, although he knew, or should have known, that the operation did not occupy a sixth part of that time. The origin of this contemptible fiction was the jealousy which the idea of seeing this extraordinary piece of antiquity in the possession of the English inspired. An able writer in the Quarterly Review, after animadverting in a very spirited manner upon the meanness of these proceedings, observes, “But detraction, it would appear, is not all that Mr. Belzoni has had to sustain from this irrational jealousy. M. Drovetti, French consul, has, as Count Forbin observes, two agents at Thebes,—the one a Mameluke, named Yousuf, originally a drummer in the French army; the other a Marseillese renegade of the name of Riffo, ‘small in stature, bold, enterprising, and choleric; beating the Arabs because they had neither time nor taste to understand the Provençal language.’ These persons are more than suspected of being concerned in a plot against the life of Mr. Belzoni, who was recently fired at from behind a wall, while employed in his researches among the ruins of Carnac, where these two fellows were then known to be lurking. The affair has been brought before the Consular Court at Cairo; and we trust that M. Drovetti, for the sake of his own character and that of his country, will not interfere with the judicial proceedings, [Pg 334] nor attempt to shelter his agents from the punishment which awaits them.”

From Cairo Belzoni proceeded with the bust down the Nile to Rosetta and Alexandria; from whence, after having placed his charge in the pasha’s warehouses, he quickly returned, for the purpose of proceeding on a second voyage up the Nile. It was on this occasion that he had the good fortune to become known to Mr. Briggs, with whom he returned to Cairo. Captain Caviglia had at this period commenced his researches in the interior of the first pyramid of Ghizeh; but was about to discontinue them for lack of means, when Mr. Briggs munificently engaged to furnish funds for the purpose, in which he was seconded by Mr. Salt. It was proposed by this latter gentleman that Belzoni should join Captain Caviglia in his researches; but our traveller, with commendable ambition, preferred some undertaking in which all the credit should redound to himself; and, having left his wife at the house of a friend at Cairo, he once more ascended the Nile, accompanied by Mr. Beechey, to whom he had been introduced at Alexandria.

At Eraramoun, near Ashmouneir, Belzoni obtained intelligence that two agents of M. Drovetti were hurrying on towards Thebes, in the hope of forestalling him in the purchase of antiquities; upon which he hired two asses, and, leaving Mr. Beechey to come up slowly with the boat, hurried off by night. On reaching the ruins, after an incredibly fatiguing journey of five days, he found that, although the agents were not arrived, Mr. Salt’s neglect, in not paving the way with a handsome present, had so completely irritated the bey, that he had appropriated to the French ex-consul the very ground upon which Belzoni had commenced his excavations during his first journey. Into the details of these wretched squabbles, which it is humiliating to the lovers of art even to peruse, I shall of course not enter. Belzoni, [Pg 335] it should be observed, was forced into them much against his feelings; for he was an educated, liberal, and high-minded man, altogether averse from low caballing and intrigue, which appear to have formed the native element of Drovetti and his congenial coadjutor, the Count de Forbin.

The most interesting transaction, perhaps, in which our traveller was anywhere engaged, was his visit to the Necropolis of Thebes, in the mountain of Gournou. This is a tract of about two miles in length, at the foot of the Libyan ridge. Every part of these rocks is scooped out into a sepulchre, which, however close it may be to other sepulchral chambers, has rarely any interior communication with them. It is impossible, as Belzoni observes, to convey by description an adequate idea of these subterraneous abodes and their inhabitants. No other sepulchres in the world resemble them. There are no excavations or mines that can be compared with those astonishing places, which, when once seen, for ever after haunt the imagination, like a glimpse of the regions beyond the grave. Few travellers see more of these catacombs than the exterior chambers, from which the dead have been removed. In the interior sepulchres the air is suffocating, and frequently causes fainting. The dust of decayed mummies, which is so fine that it quickly penetrates in vast quantities to the lungs, and causes a difficulty of respiration; the strong effluvia of decomposed bodies; the dark, dismal, lonesome nature of the place;—every thing tends to discourage the intruder. Belzoni was not, however, to be deterred. In describing the difficulties which he here encountered, he observes, “In some places there is not more than the vacancy of a foot left, which you must contrive to pass through in a creeping posture, like a snail, on pointed and keen stones that cut like glass. After getting through these passages, some of them two or three hundred yards long, you generally find a [Pg 336] more commodious place, perhaps high enough to sit. But what a place of rest! surrounded by bodies, by heaps of mummies, in all directions, which, previous to my being accustomed to the sight, impressed me with horror. The blackness of the wall; the faint light given by the candles or torches for want of air; the different objects that surrounded me seeming to converse with each other; and the Arabs with the candles or torches in their hands, naked and covered with dust, themselves resembling living mummies,—absolutely formed a scene that cannot be described. In such a situation I found myself several times, and often returned exhausted and fainting, till at last I became inured to it, and indifferent to what I suffered except from the dust, which never failed to choke my throat and nose; and though fortunately I am destitute of the sense of smelling, I could taste that the mummies were rather unpleasant to swallow. After the exertion of entering into such a place, through a passage of fifty, a hundred, three hundred, or perhaps six hundred yards, nearly overcome, I sought a resting-place, found one, and contrived to sit; but when my weight bore on the body of an Egyptian, it crushed it like a bandbox. I naturally had recourse to my hands to sustain my weight, but they found no better support; so that I sank altogether among the broken mummies, with a crash of bones, rags, and wooden cases, which raised such a dust as kept me motionless for a quarter of an hour, waiting till it subsided again. I could not move from the place, however, without increasing it, and every step I took crushed a mummy in some part or other. Once I was conducted from such a place to another resembling it, through a passage of about twenty feet in length, and no wider than that the body could be forced through. It was choked with mummies, and I could not pass without putting my face in contact with that of some decayed Egyptian; but as the passage inclined downwards, my [Pg 337] own weight helped me on. However, I could not help being covered with bones, legs, arms, and heads, rolling from above. Thus I proceeded from one cave to another, all full of mummies, piled up in various ways, some standing, some lying, and some on their heads. The purpose of my researches was to rob the Egyptians of their papyri, of which I found a few hidden in their breasts, under their arms, and in the space above the knees, or on the legs, and covered by the numerous folds of cloth that envelop the mummy.”

Belzoni continued indefatigably making new researches both at Gournou and Carnac, but was at length put to flight by the machinations of the French, who had succeeded in gaining over to their party the bey of the province. He then resolved once more to ascend the Nile to Ipsambul, and was fortunate enough to meet with two English travellers, Captains Irby and Mangles, who were desirous of performing the same voyage. They hired a boat between them at Philo, where they celebrated the birth-day of George the Third, and setting out together in high spirits, visited the second cataract, and then returned to Ipsambul. Here the wrong-headedness and quarrelsome disposition of the Nubians considerably obstructed their labours in clearing away the entrance to the temple. But at length, having dismissed the native labourers, and undertaken the task themselves, they succeeded, and enjoyed the satisfaction of beholding one of the most perfect and beautiful rock-temples in the world.

Having completed this laborious operation, our traveller returned to his old station at Thebes, where he continued his researches in the valley of Beban el Malook. Here, among other remarkable antiquities, he discovered one relic of the ancient world, which certainly appears to rank among the most beautiful that have ever been exhumed. “It is,” says he, “a sarcophagus of the finest oriental [Pg 338] alabaster, nine feet five inches long, and three feet seven inches wide. Its thickness is only two inches, and it is transparent when a light is placed inside it. It is minutely sculptured within and without with several hundred figures which do not exceed two inches in height, and represent, as I suppose, the whole of the funeral procession and ceremonies relating to the deceased, united with several emblems, &c. I cannot give an adequate idea of this beautiful and invaluable piece of antiquity, and can only say, that nothing has been brought into Europe from Egypt that can be compared to it. The cover was not there; it had been taken out and broken into several pieces.”

Of the tomb in which this extraordinary monument was found a model was many years afterward exhibited in London, and so exceedingly well executed was the representation, that had it not been for the crowds of visiters, one might easily have imagined one’s self in the sepulchres of the Egyptian kings. Belzoni wanted but one thing to render him one of the greatest antiquarian collectors in the world: this one thing was money. But for the lack of this, many of his most arduous and well-planned enterprises came to nothing.

From Thebes, with which he was now as familiar as he was with London, he some time after this proceeded to Cairo. He had by this time acquired quite a passion for excavations, tomb-opening, and all those other pursuits by which travellers aim at diving into the mysteries of Egyptian manners and arts; and reflecting upon the success of Captain Caviglia in descending into the well of the Great Pyramid, the project of attempting the opening of the second occurred to him. It were beside my purpose to describe the difficulties which he encountered and overcame in the execution of this design. His labours were incessant; his expenses considerable; but, at length, after success had frequently [Pg 339] appeared hopeless, the entrance to the interior chambers was found. “After thirty days’ exertion,” says he, “I had the pleasure of finding myself in the way to the central chamber of one of the two great pyramids of Egypt, which have long been the admiration of beholders!”

This object having been happily effected, Belzoni again set out for Thebes. There he was made acquainted with the history of a pretended discovery, which became a motive for a journey to the coast of the Red Sea. The history of this expedition is given in a very few words by a writer in the Quarterly Review whom I have already cited. “A French mineralogist, of the name of Caillaud, had accompanied some Arab soldiers sent by the pasha of Egypt in search of emeralds among the mountains between the Nile and the Red Sea. On their return, this person gave out (as we learn from an intelligent correspondent in the Malta Gazette) that in this expedition he had discovered the ancient city of the Ptolemies, the celebrated Bernicé, the great emporium of Europe and the Indies, of which he gave a magnificent description. Mr. Belzoni, doubtful of the accuracy of the story, set out from Edfoo, with one of the former party, to visit the supposed Bernicé; where, instead of the ruins of 800 houses and three temples, as stated by M. Caillaud, he could find no more than eighty-seven scattered houses, or rather cells; the greater number of which did not exceed ten feet square, built with unhewn stones, and without cement; and the only appearance of a temple was a niche in a rock, without inscription or sculpture of any kind; there was no land for cultivation, nor any water within twenty-four miles; no communication with the sea but by a rough road over the mountains of twenty-four miles; and the shore was so covered with projecting rocks for twenty or thirty miles on each side, that there was no security even for the smallest boats, much less [Pg 340] for ships trading to India. These, therefore, he was quite certain, could not be the remains of Bernicé.

As, however, the site of this celebrated city had been fully described by the ancient writers, Mr. Belzoni determined to prosecute his researches; and at the end of twenty days he discovered, close to the shore, the extensive ruins of an ancient city near the Cape Lepte Extrema, the Ras el Auf of the present day; the projection of which forms an ample bay (now named Foul Bay), having at the bottom an excellent harbour for vessels of small burden. These ruins, which are beyond dispute those of the celebrated emporium founded by Ptolemy Philadelphus, were four days’ journey from the rude cells of the quarrymen or miners, which M. Caillaud is stated to have so strangely mistaken for the magnificent vestiges of the ancient Bernicé. Several wells of bitter water were found among the ruins; and between them and the mountains was an extensive plain fit for cultivation. The remains of more than 3000 houses were counted, about the centre of which were those of a temple with sculptured figures and hieroglyphics.”

Having made this discovery, he again returned to the valley of the Nile, where he was for some time occupied in the removal of various antiquities. He then descended to the seacoast, and on the 20th of April, 1819, set out from Rosetta, on an excursion to the district of Fayoum, and the Oasis of Jupiter Ammon. After roaming about the shores of Lake Mœris for some time, for he had no leisure for making researches, he visited the ruins of Arconde, consisting of a few granite columns and fragments and mounds of burnt bricks. He then prepared to cross the desert to the Oasis, which was an affair of some difficulty. Nevertheless, he at length succeeded in completing his preparations, and commenced his journey, accompanied by a Bedouin guide, and three or four other persons. Even here, [Pg 341] in the desert, ruins of Egyptian edifices, beautifully sculptured with hieroglyphics, were found. The scene at first lay among low rocks, sandy hills, and barren valleys, which were gradually exchanged for a plain of sand, as level as the sea, and thickly strewed with brown and black pebbles. They continued during five days their journey over this dreary waste, at the end of which time they perceived the rocks of the Oasis, and beheld two crows coming, as it were, to meet them. In the afternoon they entered the valley, which is surrounded by high rocks, and forms in the midst a spacious plain, about twelve or fourteen miles long, and about six in breadth. “There is only a very small portion of the valley cultivated on the opposite side to that which we reached, and it can only be distinguished by the woods of palm-trees which cover it. The rest of the valley is wholly covered with tracts of sand, but it is evidently seen it has once been cultivated everywhere. Many tracts of land are of a clayey substance, which could be brought into use even now. There are several small hills scattered about, some with a natural spring at the top, and covered with rushes and small plants. We advanced towards a forest of date-trees, and before evening we reached within a mile of a village named Zaboo, all of us exceedingly thirsty: here we observed some cultivation, several beds of rice and some sunt-trees, &c. Before the camels arrived, they scented the water at a distance; and as they had not drank since they left Rejan, they set off at full gallop, and did not stop till they reached a rivulet, which was quite sweet, although the soil was almost impregnated with salt. I observed here a great many wild birds, particularly wild ducks, in greater abundance than any other.”

The first man who perceived them after their entrance into the valley evinced a disposition to shoot Belzoni; but, upon the explanation of the Bedouin [Pg 342] guide, consented to conduct them to the village. “We advanced,” says our traveller, “and entered a lane between these plants; and as we penetrated farther, we entered a most beautiful place, full of dates, intermixed with other trees, some in blossom and others in fruit: these were apricots, figs, almonds, plums, and some grapes. The apricots were in greater abundance than the rest, and the figs were very fine. The soil was covered with verdure of grass and rice, and the whole formed a most pleasing recess, particularly after the barren scenes of the desert.”

His reception at this village was equivocal: there being several sheïkhs, each of whom made pretensions to authority. Some were disposed to treat him kindly, while others, more morose, kept at a distance; but a few cups of coffee, judiciously distributed, and followed by a sheep boiled in rice, reconciled the whole; although they next morning, when they were again hungry, relapsed into their former rude manners. Like all other ignorant people, they supposed that he must necessarily be in search of treasure, and for some time refused to conduct him to the ruins of which he was in search; but upon being assured that whatever treasures might be discovered should fall to their share, while all he stipulated for were a few stones, they consented to accompany him. The ruins, which, with much probability, he concluded to be those of the temple of Jupiter Ammon, now served, he found, as a basement for nearly a whole village, in the vicinity of which he discovered the famous “Fountain of the Sun,” which is warm at midnight and cold at noon. This is a well of sixty feet deep by eight square, which, overflowing in a considerable rivulet, serves to irrigate some cultivated lands. All around it is a grove of palm and other trees. The temperature of the water, however, continues at all times the same; all its apparent changes being accounted for [Pg 343] by the greater or less degree of heat in the atmosphere.

From this excursion Belzoni returned to Egypt, from whence he embarked for Europe about the middle of September, 1819. After an absence of twenty years he returned to his family; whence he departed for England, where he completed and published his travels. A few years afterward this enterprising and able traveller fell in an attempt to penetrate into the interior of Africa.


Born 1754.—Died 1825

This traveller was born at Givry, near Chalons-sur-Soane, in Burgundy. He was descended from a noble family, and commenced his career in life as a royal page. When he had for some time served in the palace in this capacity, he was nominated gentleman in ordinary to the king; not long after which he obtained the office of secretary to an embassy. In this capacity he accompanied the Baron de Talleyrand, ambassador of France to Naples, where, during the absence of the ambassador, he remained chargé des affaires. At the epoch of the emigration he incurred the displeasure of Queen Marie Caroline, and in consequence removed to Venice, where he was known under the name of the Chevalier Denon, and became one of the most distinguished members of the society of Madame Albrizzi. This lady has sketched his portrait in her Ritratti. After having spoken in a highly laudatory strain of his passion for knowledge, his intrepidity in danger, the constant gayety of his mind, the fertility of his imagination, the versatility of his character, [Pg 344] his irresistible inclination to drollery, she adds, “He is generally supposed to resemble Voltaire. For my own part, I would admit that in his physiognomy you may discover that of Voltaire, but in the physiognomy of Voltaire you would look in vain for that of Denon. That which, in my opinion, they possess in common, is simply an indication of sprightliness, vivacity, versatility, and a certain sarcastic air in the look and smile, which amuses while it terrifies; but the physiognomy of Voltaire indicates none of those qualities which characterize the soul of Denon.”

During his stay in Italy, Denon diligently applied himself to the art of design, in which, as was afterward seen, he acquired a remarkable facility and power. On the breaking out of the revolution he adopted its principles, and even connected himself with the most furious jacobins, with the intention, it has been said, of snatching a few victims from their fangs. But, notwithstanding all this, he would probably have sunk into that oblivion which has already devoured the memory of so many actors in those sanguinary times, had not the Egyptian expedition placed him in an advantageous position before the world. He had all his life, he says, been desirous of travelling in Egypt, and easily obtained the consent of Napoleon to accompany him. Embarking at Marseilles on the 14th of May, 1799, he sailed along the shores of Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, and Malta, where he landed and made some stay, and then proceeded to Egypt. Having had the good fortune to escape the English fleet in a fog, he landed near Alexandria with the French troops, of whose movements I shall take no further notice, except in as far as they may be connected with the actions of Denon.

It has been truly remarked by Volney, that on arriving any foreign country, how many descriptions soever you may have read of it, you nevertheless [Pg 345] find every thing new and strange; as if, in fact, you had just discovered it. Denon was precisely in this predicament. He had, no doubt, read what had been written respecting Egypt; yet he looked upon it as a country of which little beyond the name was known in Europe, and consequently commenced the study of its antiquities with all possible enthusiasm. His views, though vanity had some influence in the formation of them, were tolerably correct. Egypt has indeed been often visited, and in many instances by able men and accomplished scholars; but no one who has toiled, as I have, through the descriptions of these various travellers, can avoid making the discovery that very much remains yet to be done before we can be said to possess a thorough knowledge of Egypt, ancient or modern.

From Alexandria Denon proceeded with Kleber’s division towards Rosetta; clouds of Arabs hung on their front and in their rear, cutting off every man who lagged behind, or strayed to the distance of fifty yards from the main body. Desaix himself narrowly escaped; and several young officers, less on the alert, were either made prisoners or shot. After making numerous little excursions in the Delta, he set out for Upper Egypt, which, in his opinion, had never before been visited by a European; so that, if we interpret him literally, all the travellers who had previously described that country were so many fiction-mongers. In ascending the Nile, he beheld at ten leagues’ distance from Cairo the points of the Pyramids piercing the horizon. These prodigious monuments, which, even more powerfully than Thebes itself, command the attention of every traveller in Egypt, he soon visited with an escort, and sketched from various positions. The city of Cairo disappointed his expectations, which appear to have been absurd, since he had formed his ideas of the place from the “Arabian [Pg 346] Nights,” rather than from the descriptions of travellers.

The population of Cairo, which, though far less numerous than is commonly supposed, is still very great, saw with disgust and horror the triumph of the Franks; who, they feared, might soon introduce among them the eating of the “unclean beast,” abhorred by Jews and Mussulmans, with drinking, gambling, and other accomplishments which Mohammed had prohibited to his followers. They therefore determined to shake off the yoke which they had too tamely suffered to be placed on their necks. Rushing fiercely to arms, they attacked their invaders with fury. The house which had been appropriated to the learned men who accompanied the expedition stood apart from the city, and was surrounded by gardens. Here they were collected together when the revolt began. The report of musketry and symptoms of increasing consternation soon informed them, however, of what was going forward in the more populous quarters, and their alarm was proportioned to the solitude by which they were surrounded. Presently a report reached them that the house of General Caffarelli had been sacked and pillaged, and that several members of the commission of arts had perished. They now reviewed their numbers, and four of the party were missing. In an hour after this it was ascertained that they had been massacred. Meanwhile no one could give any account of Napoleon; night was coming on; the firing continued; shouts and clamours filled the air; and it was evident that the insurrection was general. A tremendous carnage had already taken place, but the inhabitants still held out, having in one half of the city adopted that barricading system in which they were recently imitated by the people of Paris; and in others, taken refuge, to the number of four thousand, in a spacious mosque, from whence they repulsed two companies of grenadiers. [Pg 347] Night produced a pause in the struggle. At the commencement of the insurrection the literati had been granted a guard, but about midnight the exigences of the moment caused this to be withdrawn; when they themselves took arms, and, though every man was disposed to command and none to obey, prepared to receive the insurgents. Thus the night passed away in confusion and slaughter, and in the morning the French were again masters of the city.

It must be acknowledged, to the honour of the French, that, whatever their conduct in Egypt may have been in other respects, nothing could be more constant than their ardour for the sciences. In the midst of battles, revolts, and dangers of every kind, their researches were still continued. We accordingly find Denon, just escaped from becoming a mummy himself, busily engaged in dissecting an ibis, five hundred mummies of which bird had just been discovered in the caverns of Saccara. He next witnessed an exhibition of the achievements of the Psylli; but his incredulity and self-sufficiency disinclined him from making any serious inquiries on the subject of their power over serpents, which he was contented with turning into ridicule: an unfortunate propensity for a traveller, who should abandon all such absurd displays of littleness to the wits of the metropolis.

Shortly after this Denon accompanied General Desaix on an expedition into Upper Egypt. The Mamelukes, though forced to retire, still continued to make head against their enemies, who, if they triumphed over them through the effects of discipline, were assuredly neither more brave nor more enterprising. When they drew near the place where the Mamelukes under Murad Bey were reported to be encamped, Desaix was informed that Murad was already putting himself in motion to attack him. The French general, no less chivalrous than Murad, [Pg 348] determined at once to anticipate the attack. Both armies came in sight of each other in the evening. It was too late for battle. The victory which both parties promised themselves was deferred until the morrow. In the Mameluke camp the night was spent in rejoicings; and their sentinels approached, with laughter and insult, the advanced posts of the French. The battle commenced with the dawn. Murad, at the head of his redoubtable Mamelukes and eight or ten thousand Arabs, appeared ready for the attack. The French formed with rapidity, and the combat commenced. Never, on any occasion, was more impetuous bravery displayed than by Murad and his Mamelukes on this day. Finding that the chances of battle were turning against them, their habitual courage degenerated into fury: they galloped up, reckless of danger, to the ranks of their enemies, and endeavoured to open themselves a way through the bayonets and muskets of the French, which they attempted to hew in pieces with their sabres. Failing in this, they made their horses rear and plunge into the opposing lines, or backed them against the bayonets, in the hope of breaking and dispersing them. When this desperate measure also deceived their hopes, they lost all government of their rage, and in the madness of their despair, threw their muskets, pistols, and blunderbusses at the enemy; or, if dismounted, crept along the ground, beneath the bayonets, to cut at the legs of the soldiers. It was in this fight that an instance of ferocity on both sides, unsurpassed by any thing of the kind recorded in history, occurred: a French soldier and a Mameluke, engaged in mortal struggle on the ground, were discovered by an officer, just as the Frenchman was cutting the throat of his enemy. “How can you be guilty of so horrible an action,” said the officer, “in the state in which you are?” The soldier replied, “You talk very finely, at your ease, sir; for my own part, however, I have but a [Pg 349] moment to live, and I mean to enjoy it!” The Mamelukes retired, but they did not fly; and it cost the French torrents of blood before the victory was completed.

This victory caused Desaix to return once more to Cairo for a reinforcement, after which the journey towards the south was resumed. At Miniel Guidi, while Denon was sitting beside the general in the shade, a criminal, who had been caught in stealing the muskets from the volunteers, was brought up for judgment. It was a boy not more than twelve years of age, beautiful as an angel, but bleeding from a large sabre wound which he had received in his arm. He paid no attention to his wound, but presented himself with an ingenuous and confident air before the general, whom he soon discovered to be his judge. How great is the power of unaffected grace! The anger of every person present immediately disappeared. He was first questioned respecting the person who had instigated the crime. “No one,” he replied. The question was repeated under another form: he answered that “he did not know—the powerful—the Almighty.”—“Have you any relations?”—“Only a mother, very poor, and blind.” He was then informed, that if he confessed who had sent him nothing would be done to him; whereas certain punishment would ensue upon his concealing the truth. “I have told you,” he said, “I was sent by no one; God alone inspired me!” Then placing his cap at the feet of the general, he continued, “Behold my head, command it to be struck off.”—“Poor fellow!” exclaimed Desaix, “let him be dismissed.” He was led away, and divining his fate from the looks of the general, he departed with a smile.

Here they enjoyed the unusual pleasure of a shower of rain. On visiting the ruins of Oxyrinchus, Denon suffered one of the penalties attached to a hopeless creed; beholding around him nothing but [Pg 350] desolation and sterility, a thousand melancholy ideas glided into his mind; he saw the desert encroaching upon the cultivated soil, as the domain of death encroaches upon life; the tombs in the pathless waste seemed the emblems of death and annihilation. The gayety described by Signora Albrizzi had now fled. He thought himself alone, and felt all that awful solitude inspired by a want of faith in the spiritual nature of man, that faith which sheds around us, wherever we move, a light by which we discern the links that unite us to our Creator, and to every thing noble and immortal in the works of his hands. He was not, however, alone. Desaix had wandered to the same spot, and having apparently yielded, like himself, to the fatal error of the times, experienced the same sensations, and was oppressed by the same gloom.

They shortly afterward set out together, escorted by three hundred men, on an excursion to the ruins of Hermopolis; which, being the first monument of ancient Egyptian architecture that he beheld, the Pyramids excepted, became in his mind the type of that sublime style. Notwithstanding the number of his escort, Denon soon found that, although arms might indeed open him a way to places which had hitherto been inaccessible to travellers, other circumstances, over which neither himself nor Desaix could exercise any control, prevented him from maturely studying what he beheld. A few hours satisfied the curiosity of the general, and overwhelmed the soldiers, who felt no curiosity about the matter, with fatigue. It was therefore necessary to be contented with a few fugitive glances, as it were, with a few sketches hastily made, and the hope of returning again under more favourable auspices.

On approaching Tentyris Denon ventured, he says, to propose that the army should halt there. Desaix, though no less sensible than himself of the charms of these antique ruins, had his mind filled with other [Pg 351] cares, and met the proposal with anger. Passion, however, could possess but a momentary influence over that beautiful mind; shortly afterward he sought out the enthusiastic traveller, in whose company he visited Denderah, and admired the sublimity of its ponderous architecture. In the evening, Latournerie, a young officer remarkable for his courage and the delicacy of his taste, observed to Denon, “Ever since I have arrived in Egypt, continual disappointment has made me ill and melancholy. The sight of Denderah has revived me. What I have seen this day has repaid me for all my fatigues; and whatever may be the fate to which the present expedition shall lead me, the remembrance of this day will cause me to rejoice, as long as I live, that I was engaged in it.”

Two days after this, on turning the point of a chain of mountains, the army came in sight of the ruins of Thebes. Denon loved above all things to be original. In approaching the wreck of this mighty city, Homer’s phrase, “Thebes with its hundred gates,” occurred to him; he repeated it, and then descanted upon its poetical vanity, and the folly of those who harped upon this string. As soon as the army came in sight of these gigantic ruins, the whole body stopped spontaneously as one man, and clapped their hands with admiration and delight. The conquest of Egypt appeared to be complete. Our traveller, who rivalled Dr. Syntax himself in his love of the picturesque, immediately set about sketching the view, as if it had been merely a city of vapour, like that which appears under the name of the “Palace of the Rajah Harchund,” in the desert of Ajmere. Being desirous of beholding at once all the wonders of this stupendous city, he quickly visited those colossal statues which are found in a sitting posture in the neighbouring plain, which he supposed to be those of the mother and son of Ossymandyas.

From Thebes he proceeded with General Belliard [Pg 352] to Syene, while Desaix struck off into the desert in search of a detachment of Mamelukes. Here he resided for some time, making the island of Elephantina his country-house, and Syene his head-quarters. He visited the cataracts, the island of Phile, and made drawings of whatever was striking or remarkable in the vicinity. After a considerable stay, he returned towards the north, where he bade adieu to his friend Desaix, never to meet again. He afterward made a second excursion to Thebes, Denderah, and other celebrated spots; and experienced, during one of these rambles, the effects of the Khamsyn wind, variously described by travellers, according to the variety of their temperaments. It was about the middle of May, the heat was almost intolerable, a complete stagnation seemed to have taken place in the air. “At the very moment,” he says, “when to remove the painful sensation occasioned by such a state of the atmosphere, I was hastening to bathe in the Nile, all nature seemed to have put on a new aspect: the light and colours were such as I had never seen before; the sun, without being concealed, had lost its rays; become dimmer than the moon, it yielded but a pale light, diffused around every object without shadows; the water no longer reflected its rays, and appeared troubled: the aspect of every thing was changed; it was the earth which now appeared luminous, while the air was dim, and seemed opaque; the trees, beheld through a yellow horizon, wore a dirty blue colour; a long column of birds swept before the cloud; the terrified animals wandered wild through the plain, and the peasants, who pursued them with shouts, failed to collect them together. The wind, which had raised this prodigious mass of sand, and transported it along through the atmosphere, had not yet reached us, and we hoped, by entering into the water, to escape from its effects. But we had scarcely stepped into the river before its waves were lifted up by the hurricane, [Pg 353] dashed over our heads, and carried in an instantaneous inundation over the plain. The bed of the Nile seemed shaken under our feet, and its banks with our garments appeared to have been blown away. We hurried out of the water, the dust fell upon us like rain, we were immediately covered as with a crust. Too much terrified even to put on our garments, we crept along through a reddish, insufficient light, partly guiding our steps by the walls, until at length we found refuge in our lodgings.”

Denon, who really possessed all the genuine enthusiasm of a traveller, shortly after this undertook a journey to Cosseir on the Red Sea, where he enjoyed an opportunity of beholding the manners of the Arabs under less disadvantages than in the valley of the Nile. He then returned again to Thebes, where he visited the sepulchres of Gournon, and descending the Nile to the seacoast, embarked with Napoleon on board a frigate, and sailed for France. The ship, fearful of encountering the English, coasted along the shores of Africa, as far as the Gulf of Carthage and Biserta; then, after passing close to Sardinia, and touching at Corsica, arrived safe on the coast of Provence.

On his return to France, Napoleon, of whom he was a devoted admirer, and in whose praise he was frequently guilty of adulation, conferred upon him the office of superintendent of museums and the striking of medals. The triumphal column in the Place Vendôme was erected under his direction. On the fall of Napoleon, the king, who was not ignorant of the merits of Denon, continued him in his offices; but as on the reappearance of Napoleon in 1815 he returned to his allegiance to his first sovereign, he naturally sank with him upon his final fall. In his place of superintendent of the medal mint he was succeeded by M. de Puymaurin and by the Comte de Farbin, as director-general of museums. Denon enjoyed the reputation, however, of being the most [Pg 354] competent person in Paris for filling the offices of which he had been deprived. Remarking upon those changes, “It would be difficult,” says the Quarterly Review, “to discover on what grounds an old and meritorious servant, who, like Denon, had distinguished himself by his knowledge of antiquities, by his taste and execution in the fine arts, and by his zeal for their promotion among his countrymen, was dismissed to make room for the present Apollo of the Museum, who has not the good fortune to be gifted with science, art, or taste, or even with the semblance of zeal or respect for any of them.” Denon died in 1827, leaving behind him an extensive and well-merited reputation, which is likely long to survive. His travels have been translated into English, and are still highly esteemed.


Born 1783.—Died 1826.

Reginald Heber, equally distinguished for his talents and for his piety, was born on the 21st of April, 1783, at Malpas, in the county of Chester. From his earliest years religion was the predominant feeling of his mind. His passions, which would seem to have been naturally ardent, he quickly learned to hold in subjection; and was thus happily delivered from those stormy agitations and poignant regrets to which those who are formed of more fiery materials are but too frequently liable. Like most other men who have been remarkable for their attainments in after-life, Heber was strongly addicted, while a boy, to extensive miscellaneous reading. Guicciardini and Machiavelli were among his early favourites. He admired the great Florentine historian [Pg 355] for his style, and with a freedom from prejudice which indicated the purity of his mind, ventured to make the discovery, that this much-calumniated advocate of freedom was a far better man than the world was inclined to admit. At the same time his study of the sacred Scriptures was incessant. Even while a child, the principal events which they record were so firmly imprinted on his memory, that his friends used to apply to him, when at a loss where to find the account of any important transaction, or any remarkable passage.

In the year 1800 Heber was entered a student of Brazen Nose College, Oxford, where he exhibited on all occasions the same high sense of religion and primitive piety which had distinguished him in his earlier years. His studies in the mean while were pursued with a passionate ardour, particularly all those which were connected with poetry, for the mind of Heber was eminently imaginative; and although circumstances, which I know not whether to denominate fortunate or unfortunate (since in either case he would, like the divine Founder of his religion, have been employed in doing good), prevented him from devoting himself to the study and building of the “lofty rhyme,” his soul was yet a fountain, as it were, of poetry, which, if possible, cast additional beauty and splendour on his faith. However, as I am not, on the present occasion, engaged in viewing Heber as a poet, or as a divine, it will not be necessary for me to enter minutely into a description of his poetical or theological studies. His “Palestine,” the principal contribution which he has made to our rich poetical literature, was a juvenile performance, written before or soon after he had completed his twentieth year; but the effect which it produced on those who heard it recited in the theatre of the college was more extraordinary, perhaps, than the bare reading of the poem would lead one to conceive; though the judgment of those [Pg 356] who then heard it has since been confirmed by the public. “None,” says an able writer in Blackwood’s Magazine, who heard Reginald Heber recite his ‘Palestine’ in that magnificent theatre, “will ever forget his appearance—so interesting and impressive. It was known that his old father was somewhere sitting among the crowded audience, when his universally admired son ascended the rostrum; and we have heard that the sudden thunder of applause which then arose so shook his frame, weak and wasted by long illness, that he never recovered it, and may be said to have died of the joy dearest to a parent’s heart. Reginald Heber’s recitation, like that of all poets whom we have heard recite, was altogether untrammelled by the critical laws of elocution, which were not set at defiance, but either by the poet unknown or forgotten; and there was a charm in his somewhat melancholy voice, that occasionally faltered, less from a feeling of the solemnity and even grandeur of the scene, of which he was himself the conspicuous object—though that feeling did suffuse his pale, ingenuous, and animated countenance—than from the deeply-felt sanctity of his subject, comprehending the most awful mysteries of God’s revelations to man. As his voice grew bolder and more sonorous in the hush, the audience felt that this was not the mere display of the skill and ingenuity of a clever youth, the accidental triumph of an accomplished versifier over his compeers, in the dexterity of scholarship, which is all that can generally be truly said of such exhibitions; but that here was a poet indeed, not only of bright promise, but of high achievement; one whose name was already written in the roll of the immortals. And that feeling, whatever might have been the share of the boundless enthusiasm with which the poem was listened to, attributable to the influence of the ‘genius loci,’ has been since sanctioned by the judgment of the world, that has placed ‘Palestine’ at the [Pg 357] very head of the poetry on divine subjects of this age. It is now incorporated for ever with the poetry of England.”

In this eloquent tribute to the memory of Heber there appears to be but one error; it is that which attributes the death of Reginald’s father to the influence of excessive joy on a frame debilitated by illness; a report which we are assured by the widow of our traveller was wholly without foundation. During the same year, Napoleon conceived the insane design of invading England; and thus roused in the ardent breasts of our countrymen a fierce spirit of resistance, which affected even the peaceful college student, who, to use the familiar expression of Heber in describing himself thus engaged, “fagged and drilled by turns.” Neither Napoleon nor his army, however, had been doomed by Providence to lay their bones in English clay, as, had the invasion taken place, they must have done; and our traveller’s military enthusiasm was quickly suffered to cool.

Early in the year 1804, Heber sustained one of the heaviest calamities which men can experience on this side of the grave—the loss of a father; which he bore with that deep but meek sorrow which a youth full of religious hope and untiring resignation to the will of Providence might be naturally expected to feel. In the autumn of the same year he was elected a fellow of All Souls; shortly after which his academical career terminated, and he exchanged the mimic world of the university for that far more arduous scene where many an academical star has grown dim, though Heber, with the happy fortune which usually attends the virtuous, continued even in the great theatre of the world to command the approval and admiration of mankind.

About the middle of the year 1805, he accompanied his early friend, Mr. John Thornton, whose virtues would appear to have been akin to his own, [Pg 358] on a tour through the north of Europe. They proceeded by sea to Gottenburg in Sweden, where they experienced the effect of that strangeness and novelty, which is felt once by all persons who travel in a foreign country, but which can never, by any possibility, visit the mind a second time. Here they purchased a carriage, and proceeded through the wildest and most sublime scenery, interspersed with meadows and corn-fields, on a tour among the mountains of Norway. At intervals, dispersed over craggy, desolate heaths, immense numbers of cairns and Runic columns were discovered,—which, with pine forests of sombre hue, large bays of the sea nearly land-locked, and appearing like so many lakes; cascades, rocks, cloud-capped mountains,—produced a series of impressions upon the mind, characterized by so high a degree of solemn grandeur, that even the vast solitudes of the Brenner Alps or Wetterhorn could scarcely inspire a deeper sense of sublimity. Amid those wild landscapes the natives amused themselves with wolf-hunting on sledges, during the winter; but their ferocious game sometimes come out in such multitudes from the woods, that even the most skilled huntsmen were in danger.

At Munkholm, or Monk’s Island, called the Bastille du Nord, Heber saw, among other prisoners, a very old man, who had been confined there for above fifty years, and had lost in a great measure the use of his faculties; they were much moved by his appearance, and the answers which he gave. On being asked how old he was, he answered three hundred years. His crime was variously reported: some said he was sent there by his relations for violent behaviour to his father; others as being a spend-thrift; and M. Leganger said, as being mad. A pretty government this, where a man is shut up for his whole life, and three or four different reasons given for his imprisonment, all equally uncertain! In Norway, as well as in some parts of Hadramaut and [Pg 359] the Coromandel coast, the cattle are fed upon the refuse of fish, which fattens them rapidly, but seems, at the same time, totally to change their nature, and render them unmanageably ferocious.

Heber’s stay in Norway was short. He had the talent to describe whatever was presented to his view, but his mild and gentle nature inspired him with no sympathy for the craggy, barren, desolate scenery of the Norwegian mountains; and he appears to have hastened his return to the abodes of civilization from an instinctive perception of this fact. Upon passing from Norway into Sweden, they spent some time at Upsala and the capital; from whence they crossed the Gulf of Bothnia in a fishing-boat, to Abo, in Finland. From hence, however, as it seems to have contained nothing worth seeing, they proceeded with all possible celerity, the approved English mode of travelling, to Petersburg. Notwithstanding the rapidity of their movements, they found time to make one discovery, which, as it is the echo of what most travellers repeat of the countries they visit, I insert for the honour of the Finns and Russians: “In one point,” says he, “both the Finlanders and Russians are unfortunately agreed, I mean in the proverbial knavery of the lower classes. In Sweden every thing was secure from theft, and our carriage, with its harness, cushions, &c., stood every night untouched in the open street. But we soon found how very inferior the Sclavonian race is to the Gothic in honesty, and were obliged to keep a constant watch. I cannot account for this apparently generic difference. If the Russians only had been thieves I should have called it the effects of the slavery of the peasants, but Swedish Finland is just as bad, and the peasants are as free as in England.”

Our travellers remained at St. Petersburg until the 30th of December, amusing themselves with learning the German language, and in seeing sights, and [Pg 360] then departed for Moscow, travelling at the same prodigious rate as when they fled thither from Abo. “Our mode of travelling,” says Heber, “deserves describing, both as very comfortable in itself, and as being entirely different from every thing in England. We performed the journey in kabitkas, the carriages usually employed by the Russians in their winter journeys: they are nothing more than a very large cradle, well covered with leather, and placed on a sledge, with a leather curtain in front; the luggage is placed at the bottom, the portmanteaus serving for an occasional seat, and the whole covered with a mattress, on which one or more persons can lie at full length, or sit supported by pillows. In this attitude, and well wrapped up in furs, one can scarcely conceive a more luxurious mode of getting over a country, when the roads are good, and the weather not intense; but in twenty-four or twenty-five degrees of frost (Reaumur), no wrapping can keep you quite warm; and in bad roads, of which we have had some little experience, the jolting is only equalled by the motion of a ship in a storm.”

From Moscow, where they arrived on the 3d of January, 1806, they shortly afterward made an excursion eastward to Yaroslav, on the banks of the Volga, during which Heber made the remarkable discovery that the Russian clergy almost universally were inimical to the government; being more connected than most other classes of men with the peasants, many of whose sufferings and oppressions they shared. They witnessed at Yaroslav a wolf-hunt on the frozen Volga. It should rather, however, be termed a “wolf-baiting;” for the animals, which had been previously caught for the purpose, were at once set upon by a number of dogs, and beaten almost blind by the long whips of savages, whom I cannot term hunters. A couple of hares were likewise chased upon the ice by Siberian greyhounds, very beautiful creatures, with silky hair and [Pg 361] a fan tail, which, though less swift, were said to be more hardy than our greyhounds.

Heber, somewhat dazzled, as was natural, by the gorgeous taste of the Muscovites, seems to have been highly gratified by the reception which he and his fellow-traveller experienced at the ancient capital of the empire: “The eastern retinues and luxuries,” says he, “which one meets with here are almost beyond belief. There are few English countesses have so many pearls in their possession as I have seen in the streets in the cap of a merchant’s wife. At a ball in the ancient costume, which was given by M. Nedilensky (secretary of state to the late empress, whose family we have found the most agreeable in Moscow), the ladies all wore caps entirely of pearls, and the blaze of diamonds on their saraphaus (the ancient Russian tunic) would have outshone, I think, St. James’s. The pearl bonnet is not a becoming dress, as it makes its wearer look very pale, a fault which some ladies had evidently been endeavouring to obviate.” The heads which were thus gaudily garnished on the outside were generally exceedingly empty, as may safely be inferred from the degree of information possessed by their fathers, husbands, and brothers; so that the comparison with English ladies, in whom beauty and intelligence usually go hand in hand, could, I imagine, be carried no further.

Upon leaving Moscow about the middle of March, our traveller proceeded southward through the Ukraine, the country of the Cossacks, at Charkof, the capital of which, a university had recently been established. The professors of this establishment, who were all very handsomely paid, presented a motley assemblage of Russians, Germans, and Frenchmen, nearly every individual of which was big with some new scheme of teaching or college government; but this ludicrous appearance would wear off in time, while the benefit conferred on the [Pg 362] people would be extensive and permanent. From hence they hurried on, for they were still rapid in their motions, to Taganroy, or the “Cape of the Teakettle,” so called from the form of the rock on which the fortress stands; and from thence to Nakitchivan on the Don. “This town,” says Heber, “is a singular mixture of Cossack houses and the black felt tents of the Kalmucs, all fishermen, and with their habitations almost thrust into the river. From the windows of the public-house where I am writing, the view is very singular and pleasing. The moon is risen, and throws a broad glare of light over the Don, which is here so widely overflowed that the opposite bank is scarcely visible; the foreground is a steep limestone hill covered with cottages and circular tents; and we hear on every side the mingled characteristic sounds of the singing of the boatmen on the river, the barking of the large ferocious Kalmuc dogs, which in all these countries are suffered to prowl about during the night, blended with the low monotonous chant of the Cossack women, who are enjoying the fine evening, and dancing in a large circle in the streets.”

Tcherkask, their next station, which in spring was mostly under water, seemed in some degree to resemble Venice. It was, in the opinion of our travellers, one of the most singular towns in the world, where, in the season of the inundation, the communication between one house and another was preserved by a kind of balcony or gallery, raised on wooden pillars, and running along the streets on both sides. From hence they continued their journey along the banks of the Kuban and the frontiers of Circassia, having in view the wild range of the Caucasus, with vast forests of oak at its roots. The population of these districts, fierce marauding mountaineers, beheld with regret the efforts which were making by the Russian government to wean them from their sanguinary habits. Their whole delight [Pg 363] consisted in bloodshed and plunder. But their frays had gradually become less and less frequent: “Formerly,” said their guide, “we were ourselves a terror to our neighbours—but we are now,” added he with a sigh—“a civilized people!” “The land on the Russian side of the river (Kuban),” says Heber, “is but scantily wooded; on the southern side it rises in a magnificent theatre of oak woods, interspersed with cultivated ground, and the smoke of villages, with the ridges of Caucasus above the whole. The nearest hills are by no means gigantic; but there are some white peaks which rise at a vast distance, and which proved to us that these were only the first story of the mountain.”

Our travellers now traversed the Crimea, and proceeded across a stepp intersected by numerous streams, inlets of the sea, and some large salt-water lakes, to Odessa, an interesting town, which in the opinion of Heber owed its prosperity to the administration of the Duc de Richelieu far more than to any natural advantages. Their route now lay across Russian Poland, Hungary, Austria, and Northern Germany. They arrived at Yarmouth on the 14th of October, 1806, and Heber immediately set forward to join the family circle at Hodnet, where he enjoyed the satisfaction which every wanderer feels when returning, after a long and toilsome journey, to his native home.

In the year 1807 Heber took orders, and obtained the living of Hodnet, in Shropshire, which was in his brother’s gift; he then returned to Oxford for the purpose of taking his degree as master of arts. It will readily be supposed that he, whose piety was truly apostolical, even while in a secular station, now that he had assumed the habit of a Christian minister, became doubly anxious to render not only his conduct, but the very thoughts of his mind, pure as became his holy calling. The church has in no age been destitute of teachers remarkable for their [Pg 364] virtue and benevolence; but even among preachers of the gospel it is not often that a man so gifted as Heber with genius, with enlarged knowledge of mankind, with almost boundless charity and benevolence, can be found, the perusal of whose life must create in the reader as well as in me the vain wish that we had numbered him among our friends. Yet Heber was far from being an ascetic. Like all men of high imaginative powers who have never suffered vice to brush away the down from their nobler feelings, he had a bold faith in the enduring nature of affection, and spoke of love, not like a pert worldling, whom no excellence could kindle, but like a philosopher, aware of the prejudices of the vulgar, but far above being swayed by them. “To speak, however, my serious opinion,” says he, in a letter to a friend, “I believe that were it possible for a well-founded passion to wear out, the very recollection of it would be more valuable than the greatest happiness afforded by those calm and vulgar kindnesses which chiefly proceed from knowing no great harm of one another. You remember Shenstone’s epitaph on Miss Dolman: Vale, Maria, Puellarum Elegantissima, heu quanto minus est cum reliquis versari quam tui meminisse. I am not sure how long that romance of passion may continue which the world shows such anxiety to wean us of as soon as possible, and which it laughs at because it envies; but, end when it may, it is never lost, but will contribute, like fermentation, to make the remainder of the cup of happiness more pleasant and wholesome.”

In the April of 1809 Heber married Amelia, youngest daughter of Dr. Shipley, dean of St. Asaph. On this occasion he undertook an excursion in Wales, the beauties of which, notwithstanding the variety of scenes he had beheld, he seemed to consider equal to those of any country in the world. He then settled on his rectory, and employed himself earnestly in diffusing among his parishioners a proper [Pg 365] sense of religion, and habits of piety and virtue. “He became, indeed,” says his excellent widow, “their earthly guide, their pastor, and friend. His ear was never shut to their complaints, nor his hands closed to their wants. Instead of hiding his face from the poor, he sought out distress; he made it a rule, from which no circumstances induced him to swerve, to ‘give to all who asked,’ however trifling the sum; and wherever he had an opportunity, he never failed to inquire into, and more effectually to relieve their distress. He could not pass a sick person, or a child crying, without endeavouring to sooth and help them; and the kindness of his manner always rendered his gifts doubly valuable.”

Heber, whose leisure, however, was not considerable, was now led, by a praiseworthy literary ambition, to become a contributor to the Quarterly Review, where many of the excellent critiques on books of travels which appeared about that period were of his writing. Having himself travelled, he knew how to appreciate the historian of foreign manners, while the high tone of his Christian virtues emancipated him from that mean jealousy with which little minds are inspired by the success of a rival. He was, moreover, admirably calculated by the extent and variety of his reading, in which perhaps, he was scarcely excelled even by Dr. Southey or Sir Walter Scott, for determining the amount of information which any particular observer added to the common stock; without which no critic, however able or acute, can possibly judge with accuracy of the merits of a traveller. The Castalian rill, which Providence had intrusted to our traveller’s keeping, was not, in the mean while, permitted to stagnate. Various poems, of different character and pretensions, he from time to time composed, and submitted to the world; and in 1812 published a collected edition of all his poetical works. In the same year he was afflicted by a severe and somewhat protracted [Pg 366] illness. Indeed, he continued through life, observes Mrs. Heber, subject to inflammatory attacks, though rigid temperance and exercise enabled him to pursue his studies without inconvenience. He was an early riser, and having performed his daily devotions, devoted the larger portion of the day to literature; from which, nevertheless, he was ready to separate himself at the call of duty.

I have before observed that Heber’s character was by no means morose or ascetic; he was full of vivacity, good-humour, wit, and no enemy to amusements; but he conceived that on Sunday it was the Christian’s duty to abstain as far as possible from every species of business. An anecdote illustrative of this point, which is related by Mrs. Heber, is well worth repeating: As Mr. Reginald Heber was riding one Sunday morning to preach at Moreton, his horse cast a shoe. Seeing the village blacksmith standing at the door of his forge, he requested him to replace it. The man immediately set about blowing up the embers of his Saturday night’s fire, on seeing which, he said, “On second thoughts, John, it does not signify; I can walk my mare; it will not lame her, and I do not like to disturb your day of rest.”

In 1815 he was appointed Bampton lecturer. His subject was necessarily theological, so that it is not within my competence to decide respecting the merit of his mode of treating it; but notwithstanding that it excited the opposition of one antagonist, who called in question his orthodoxy, the lectures appear, when published, to have been generally approved of by the clergy, the legitimate judges in such matters. Two years after this he was promoted to a stall in the cathedral of St. Asaph, an appointment which led to many journeys into Wales, during which he yielded up his mind to the delight of poetical composition. In the midst of these and similar enjoyments, which, to a mind so purely and beautifully constituted as his, must have been secondary [Pg 367] only to those arising from the exercise of virtue, Heber underwent the affliction of losing at a very early age his only child. This bereavement, however, severely as it affected his heart, he submitted to with that religious resignation which his character would have led us to expect from him.

Our traveller himself appeared, in the spring of 1820, in extreme danger of being snatched away from the world. By constantly attending in the chambers of the sick, during the prevalence of putrid sore-throat in his neighbourhood, he caught this dangerous disorder, which from himself was communicated to seven members of his household, to none of whom, however, did it prove fatal. In the autumn of the same year he paid a visit to Oxford, “when,” says Mrs. Heber, “he had the gratification of hearing ‘Palestine’ performed as an oratorio in the same theatre, where, seventeen years before, he had recited it to an equally, or perhaps a more crowded audience than was then assembled. To the eye the scene was the same, but its component parts were widely different. Of the relations who were present at the former period, some had paid the debt of nature; the greater number of his contemporaries were scattered abroad in the pursuit of their respective professions; new faces occupied the arena.”

About the close of the year 1822 Heber received, through his friend, the Right Honourable Watkins Williams Wynn, the offer of the bishopric of Calcutta. Our traveller had long viewed with deep interest the progress of Christianity in the East, and the prospect opened to him by this offer, of contributing by his own zeal and exertions to the success of so holy a cause, seems quickly to have outweighed in his mind every consideration of personal interest, and to have determined him, at all hazards, to accept of that distinguished but dangerous post. The conduct of Mr. Wynn on this occasion, his ardent desire that India should not be deprived of the [Pg 368] services of so good, so great a man (for virtue like Heber’s is true greatness), while he was scarcely less unwilling to lose, certainly for a considerable time, if not, as it happened, for ever, a friend of incomparable value, reflects the highest honour on his heart and character. “The king,” said he, “has returned his entire approbation of your appointment to Calcutta, and if I could only divide you, so as to leave one in England and send the other to India, it would also have mine; but the die is now cast, and we must not look on any side but that which stands uppermost.” To this Heber replied, “For this last, as well as for all former proofs of your kindness, accept my best thanks. God grant that my conduct in India may be such as not to do your recommendation discredit, or make you repent the flattering confidence which you have placed in me.”

When Heber’s intention of leaving England was made known, he received from every quarter those warm voluntary testimonies of affection and regret which nothing but virtue, distinguished, persevering, exalted, can command. His own parishioners, as was natural, were the foremost in their demonstrations of their profound esteem. Rich, poor, old, and young—all joined in presenting their exemplary pastor with a lasting mark of the veneration in which his character was held among them. “Almost the last business,” says Mrs. Heber, “which Dr. Heber (he had recently been created D.D. by the University of Oxford) transacted before he left Shropshire was settling a long-standing account, in which he had been charged as debtor to the amount of a hundred pounds; but it was believed by those who were best acquainted with the circumstances, that he was not bound either in law or probity to pay it. As he himself, however, did not feel certain on this point, he resolved to pay the money, observing to a friend who endeavoured to dissuade him, ‘How can I reasonably hope for a blessing on my undertaking, or how [Pg 369] can I commence so long a voyage with a quiet conscience, if I leave even the shadow of a committed act of injustice behind?’ About the same time an unknown person sent him a small sum of money through the hands of a clergyman in Shrewsbury, confessing that he had defrauded him of it, and stating that he could not endure to see him leave England for such objects without relieving his own conscience by making restitution. On the 22d of April, 1823,” she continues, “Dr. Heber finally took leave of Shropshire: from a range of high grounds near Newport, he turned back to catch a last view of his beloved Hodnet; and here the feelings which he had hitherto suppressed in tenderness to others burst forth unrestrained, and he uttered the words which have proved prophetic, that he ‘should return to it no more!’”

Heber, having made all necessary preparations for his long voyage, and received consecration, repaired on the 16th of June on board the Company’s ship Grenville, in which he and his family were to proceed to India. As our traveller’s first desire, in whatever position he happened to be placed, was to effect all the good in his power, he no sooner found himself on board than he endeavoured to communicate to the sailors a sense of their religious duties; which he did with all that authority and effect which genius and virtue invariably exert over inferior individuals. His exhortations were listened to attentively and respectfully; and there can be no doubt produced, in many instances at least, conviction and amendment of life. The influence which the majestic simplicity of his character enabled him to exercise over his rude audience may in some measure be conceived from the following anecdote: “We had divine service on deck this morning,” says he; “a large shoal of dolphins were playing round the ship, and I thought it right to interfere to check the [Pg 370] harpoons and fishing-hooks of some of the crew. I am not strict in my notions of what is called the Christian Sabbath; but the wanton destruction of animal life seems to be precisely one of those works by which the sanctity and charity of our weekly feast would be profaned. The sailors took my reproof in good part.” Such were his occupations until, on the 3d of October, the ship safely anchored in Sangor roads, in the Hoogly, or great western branch of the Ganges.

Heber was now arrived in the most extraordinary region, Greece and Egypt perhaps excepted, which has ever been inhabited by mankind. And he was well calculated by his high enthusiasm, extensive learning, and remarkable freedom from prejudice, to conceive all the splendour of the scene before him, to enter profoundly into the spirit of its institutions, and to describe with graceful and simple eloquence the picturesque variety of manners which the natives of this vast empire present to the contemplation of a stranger. “Two observations struck me forcibly,” says he; “first, that the deep bronze tint (observable in the Hindoos) is more naturally agreeable to the human eye than the fair skins of Europe, since we are not displeased with it even in the first instance, while it is well known that to them a fair complexion gives the idea of ill health, and of that sort of deformity which in our eyes belongs to an Albino. There is, indeed, something in a negro which requires long habit to reconcile the eye to him; but for this the features and the hair, far more than the colour, are answerable. The second observation was, how entirely the idea of indelicacy, which would naturally belong to such naked figures as those now around us, if they were white, is prevented by their being of a different colour from ourselves. So much are we children of association and habit, and so instinctively and immediately do our [Pg 371] feelings adapt themselves to a total change of circumstances! It is the partial and inconsistent change only which affects us.”

They now entered the mighty Ganges, and sailing up towards Calcutta through the Sunderbunds, or rather along their western limit, beheld their dark impenetrable forests stretching away interminably towards the right, while a rich vegetable fragrance was wafted from the shore. The current of the river, when increased by the ebb-tide, was found as they ascended to be tremendously rapid, running at no less a rate, according to their pilot, than ten or eleven miles an hour. On arriving at Calcutta, Heber found that the ecclesiastical business of his bishopric, at all times multiplex and extensive, had now, since the death of Dr. Middleton, accumulated prodigiously; so that, although he had come out neither with the expectation nor the wish to find his place a sinecure, he felt somewhat alarmed at the laborious prospect before him. However, he was a man accustomed to labour, and not easily discouraged. He therefore diligently applied himself to business, and had soon the satisfaction to find that, notwithstanding the formidable appearance of things on his first arrival, it was still possible, after fully performing his duty, which no consideration could induce him to neglect, to command sufficient leisure for studying whatever was curious or striking in the natural or moral aspect of Hindostan. Former travellers, he now found, were, notwithstanding their numbers, very far from having exhausted the subject, either because the phenomena of Asiatic manners are, like those of the heavens, in a state of perpetual change, or because these, continuing the same, which however they do not, appear under various phases to different men, from being viewed by each individual from the peculiar point of observation afforded by his character and acquirements.

In the course of seven months, Heber had achieved [Pg 372] that portion of his task which was to be performed in the capital. Next to this in importance was his visitation through the Upper Provinces, an expedition in which he had hoped to be accompanied by his family; but this being rendered impracticable by the delicate health of his wife, and the tender age of his infant child, he departed with his domestic chaplain, Mr. Stowe, in a sixteen-oared pinnace, for Dacca. The shores of the Ganges, though flat almost throughout Bengal, are far from wanting in stately or picturesque objects. Lofty pagodas, with their fantastic angular domes, towering over forests of bamboos, banyans, and cocoa-trees; ruins of Mussulman palaces; wild tracts of jungle inhabited by tigers; groves of peepul or tamarind-trees; with Hindoo villages or hamlets, perched upon artificial mounds to escape the periodical inundations of the river. But no scene is possessed of all advantages. There is always some small drawback, to afford man an excuse for enjoying the delicious pleasure of complaining. “One of the greatest plagues we have yet met with in this journey,” says Heber, “is that of the winged bugs. In shape, size, and scent, with the additional faculty of flying, they resemble the ‘grabbatic’ genus, too well known in England. The night of our lying off Barrackpoor, they were troublesome; but when we were off the rajah’s palace, they came out, like the ghosts of his ancestor’s armies, in hundreds and thousands from every bush and every heap of ruins, and so filled our cabins as to make them barely endurable. These unhappy animals crowded round our candles in such swarms, some just burning their feet and wings on the edge of the glass shade, and thus toppling over, others, more bold, flying right into the crater, and meeting their death there, that we really paid no attention to what was next day a ghastly spectacle,—the mighty army which had settled on the wet paint of the ceiling, and remained there, black and stinking, till the ants [Pg 373] devoured them. These last swarm in my pinnace: they have eaten up no inconsiderable portion of my provisions, and have taken, I trust to their benefit, a whole box of blue pills; but as they do their best to clear it of all other vermin, I cannot but look upon them with some degree of favour.”

A gentleman travelling as Heber travelled in India is likely to meet with few personal adventures. He runs no risk, except from the climate, and moves on smoothly from one station to another, in that state of tranquillity which is useful, if not necessary, to calm, dispassionate observation. Thus our traveller sailed from Calcutta to Dacca, once renowned for the spaciousness and splendour of its palaces, but now ruined, deserted, and reduced to be the haunt of bats, serpents, and every loathsome thing. Here, in an interview with the nawâb, who, like his imperial master of Delhi, has long been reduced to subsist upon the bounty of the Company, Heber exhibited that delicate regard for the feelings of a man,

Fallen from his high estate,

which a careful observation of his previous life would have led us to expect from him. Here he had the misfortune to lose Mr. Stowe, his domestic chaplain, who, by his many excellent and amiable qualities, had long occupied the place of a friend in his affections.

From Dacca, where his stay was much longer than he had anticipated, he proceeded up the river. Furreedpoor, his next station, did not long detain him. Near Rajmahal he approached, but did not visit, the ruins of Gour, an ancient city, which almost rivalled Babylon or Nineveh in extent, and which fell to decay, because the Ganges, which once flowed under its walls, changed its bed, and took another direction, six or seven miles south of the [Pg 374] city. However, on arriving next day at the town of Rajmahal, to make up in some measure for this loss, he undertook a short excursion to the ruined palace of Sultan Sujah, brother of Araungzêbe. “I was a little at a loss,” says he, “to find my way through the ruins and young jungle, when a man came up, and in Persian, with many low bows, offered his services. He led me into a sort of second court, a little lower on the hill, where I saw two European tombs, and then to three very beautiful arches of black slate, on pillars of the same, leading into a small but singularly elegant hall, opening immediately on the river, though a considerable height above it, through similar arches to those by which we entered. The roof was vaulted with stone, delicately carved, and the walls divided by Gothic tracery into panels, still retaining traces of gilding and Arabic inscriptions. At each end of this beautiful room was a Gothic arch, in like manner of slate, leading into two small square apartments, ornamented in the same way, and also opening on the river. The centre room might be thirty feet long, each of the others fifteen square. For their size I cannot conceive more delightful apartments. The view was very fine. The river, as if incensed at having been obliged to make a circuit round the barrier of the hills, and impeded here again by the rocks under the castle, sweeps round this corner with exceeding violence, roaring and foaming like a gigantic Dee. The range of hills runs to the left-hand, beautiful, blue, and woody.”

From thence he proceeded, as before, up the Ganges, observing whatever was remarkable, making a short stay at each of the European stations on his way, for the purpose of preaching or baptizing, and arrived on the 20th of August at Patna. At this city, which is extensive, and situated in a commanding position, he remained several days, for the purpose of preaching and administering confirmation. [Pg 375] He then continued his voyage to Ghazeepoor, famous for its rose-gardens and salubrious air. “The rose-fields, which occupy many hundred acres in the neighbourhood, are described as, at the proper season, extremely beautiful. They are cultivated for distillation, and for making ‘attar.’ Rose-water is both good and cheap here. The price of a seer, or weight of two pounds (a large quart), of the best, being eight anas, or a shilling. The attar is obtained after the rose-water is made, by setting it out during the night and till sunrise in the morning, in large open vessels exposed to the air, and then skimming off the essential oil which floats at the top.” “To produce one rupee’s weight of attar, two hundred thousand well-grown roses are required.” This small quantity, when warranted genuine, for they begin to adulterate it on the spot, costs one hundred sicca rupees, or ten pounds sterling.

A short way farther up the stream, Heber quitted his pinnace, and providing himself with bearers, continued his journey to Benares by land. Of Benares I have already given a brief description in the Life of Bernier. Heber’s stay in it was short. He visited with attention its principal curiosities, and conversed on several points with some of its Brahminical professors, whose belief in Hindooism he regarded as very equivocal. He then continued his voyage up the river to Allahabad, where he dismissed his pinnace, and made the necessary preparations for performing the remainder of his journey by land. Archdeacon Corrie, who had accompanied him from Calcutta, and Mr. Lushington, whom he joined on the way, were now his travelling companions, and with their attendants helped to increase his motley caravan, which consisted of twenty-four camels, eight carts drawn by bullocks, twenty-four horse-servants, ten ponies, forty bearers, and coolies of different descriptions, twelve tent-pitchers, and a guard of twenty sepoys under a native officer. With this[Pg 376] retinue, which in the eyes of a European would have had something of a princely air, Heber proceeded by the way of Cawnpoor to Lucknow, the capital of the kingdom of Oude, where he enjoyed the honour of breakfasting with the monarch of this ill-governed state, who, on this occasion at least, appeared desirous of imitating the manners of the English.

At Lucknow Heber separated from his companions; and, accompanied merely by his attendants, directed his course towards the wild districts at the foot of the Himalaya. On arriving at Barelly, not more than fifty miles distant from the nearest range, he vainly looked out for the snowy peaks of this “monarch of mountains;” but, instead, discovered nothing but a ridge of black clouds, and a gray autumnal haze through which no object was discernible. The features of the country now became wild and striking. Forests infested by malaria, tigers, and lions, and half-desolate plains, announced the termination of the fertile provinces of Hindostan, and the approach to a different region. Here “we had,” says Heber, “a first view of the range of the Himalaya,[4] indistinctly seen through the haze, but not [Pg 377] so indistinctly as to conceal the general form of the mountains. The nearer hills are blue, and in outline and tints resemble pretty closely, at this distance, those which close in the vale of Clwyd. Above these rose what might, in the present unfavourable atmosphere, have been taken for clouds, had not their seat been so stationary, and their outline so harsh and pyramidical—the patriarchs of the continent, perhaps the surviving ruins of a former world, white and glistening as alabaster, and even at this distance, of probably one hundred and fifty miles, towering above the nearer and secondary range, as much as those last (though said to be seven thousand six hundred feet high) are above the plain in which we were standing. I felt intense delight and awe in looking on them, but the pleasure lasted not many minutes; the clouds closed in again, as on the fairy castle of St. John, and left us but the former gray cold horizon, girding in the green plain of Rohiland, and broken only by people and mango-trees.”

[4] The Himalaya mountains have been said, by some other travellers, to be visible, in clear weather, from Patna, a distance of two hundred miles. The fact appears to be by no means improbable. From the window of the library in which these pages are written, the snowy mountains of Switzerland and Savoy—Mont Blanc, the Great and Little St. Bernard, and the peaks of St. Corvin and St. Gothard—are almost constantly visible during the prevalence of the south-west wind. From the appearance of these mountains a tolerable idea may be formed of the aspect of the Himalaya. During summer thin vapours commonly obstruct the view, except in the early dawn; and if, as sometimes happens, the white peaks appear in the afternoon, when the sun’s rays are streaming upon them from the west, they are generally, by the unpractised observer, mistaken for clouds. But in the cool autumnal mornings just before the sun rises above the horizon, Mont Blanc, though one hundred and twenty-five miles distant, is painted with astonishing distinctness upon the sky, and towering above the sea of white vapour which overspreads the great plain of Burgundy and rises almost to the summit of the Jura, seems but a few leagues distant. A little before sunset it presents a totally different aspect. Instead of the dusky mass which we beheld in the morning, we discover the “monarch of mountains” clothed in dazzling white, rising far above every surrounding object; while the glittering pinnacles of the inferior mountains seem to stretch away interminably to the right and left, until their peaks are confounded and lost in the dimness of the horizon. The Mont St. Gothard, which is very distinctly visible, at least during clear weather, is distant one hundred and seventy miles from the point of observation. With respect to Mont Blanc, its whole aspect, when viewed through a good telescope, is so admirably defined, that every inequality in its surface is clearly discernible, so that an excellent sketch of it might be taken from my library. The dark chain of the Jura, which conceals its base, and stretches from Geneva almost to the Rhine, increases by contrast the magnificence of the view, which, for extent and grandeur, falls very little short, perhaps, of any landscape in Europe.

Next day, soon after sunrise, he saw distinctly, painted on a clear blue sky, the prodigiously lofty pinnacles of these mountains, the centre of earth,

Its altar, and its cradle, and its throne,

which, as he justly observes, “are really among the greatest earthly works of the Almighty Creator’s [Pg 378] hands—the highest spots below the moon—and overtopping by many hundred feet the summits of Cotopaxi and Chimborazo.” To approach these mountains, however, from the south, the traveller has to traverse a belt of forest and jungle, where the air is impregnated with the most deadly qualities. “I asked Mr. Boulderson if it were true,” says Heber, “that the monkeys forsook these woods during the unwholesome months. He answered that not the monkeys only, but every thing which has the breath of life instinctively deserts them, from the beginning of April to October. The tigers go up to the hills, the antelopes and wild hogs make incursions into the cultivated plain; and those persons, such as dâkbearers, or military officers who are obliged to traverse the forests in the intervening months, agree that not so much as a bird can be heard or seen in the frightful solitude.” Yet the insalubrity of these districts is not of any ancient date. Thirty years ago, though fever and ague were common, the plains were populous and productive, and considerable progress was made in reclaiming the forest; but the devastation consequent upon the invasion of Meer Khan, in 1805, checked the course of population, which has never since been able to recover itself.

Through this deadly region Heber passed with all possible rapidity, though the majestic trees which bordered the road, the songs of the birds in their branches (for it was now November), and the luxuriant vegetation which on all sides covered the soil, conferred a kind of syren beauty upon the scene, which tempted the wayfarer to a fatal pause. At length, after a long, fatiguing march, they found themselves upon rising ground, at the entrance to a green valley, with woody mountains on either side, and a considerable river running through it, dashing over a rocky bottom, with great noise and violence. The scenery now put on features of surpassing beauty. [Pg 379] Mountains, precipices, narrow romantic dells; with rivers which were sometimes seen, and sometimes only heard rolling at the bottom of them; trees inhabited by innumerable white monkeys and singing birds, and copses abounding in black and purple pheasants. When they had climbed up to a considerable height upon the lower range of the mountains, there burst suddenly upon their sight the most awfully magnificent spectacle which the earth furnishes for the contemplation of man. Language always fails to convey an adequate conception of the tumultuous delight experienced in such positions. The mind, wrought upon by history, by poetry, by a secret hungering after the sublime, instantaneously feels itself in the presence of objects which, by their prodigious magnitude and elevation, enhanced by an idea of their unapproachableness, seem for a moment to surpass the most ambitious aspirations of the imagination, and in reality carry our thoughts

Extra flammantia mænia mundi.

Our traveller, standing on the platform from whence the Indian Caucasus can be most advantageously contemplated, beheld a range of snow-white pinnacles, which, stretching like an interminable line of shining spears from east to west, appeared with their glittering points to pierce the deep blue sky, which formed the ground of this landscape of unrivalled glory and splendour. At the foot of these mountains stands Almorah, the last point of Heber’s journey in this direction; whence, after a short stay, he again descended to the plain, and pursued his route to Meerut, and thence to Delhi.

The imperial city, the ruins of which extend over a surface as large as London, is still the residence of the descendants of the Mogul sovereigns of India. The reader who remembers how superb it was when visited by Bernier will learn with a melancholy [Pg 380] regret that all its grandeur and power have departed from it, leaving in their stead want, wretchedness, decay, and disease. Heber was presented to the poor old man who, as the descendant of Akbar, is still, as it were in mockery, denominated “Emperor of Delhi.” Those who delight to triumph over fallen greatness may purchase this pleasure by a journey to Delhi; for myself, much as I abhor a tyrant, few remote scenes of distress, unless such in which whole nations are sufferers, could touch me more sensibly than the misfortunes of this Mogul prince, and I exclaim, with the prophet, “How are the mighty fallen!” It is true they deserved their fate—history in their, as in all other cases, justifies the ways of Providence—but we therefore pity them the more; and, before we lift up our hand to cast a stone at them, our heart involuntarily forms the earnest wish that we may by our justice and equity deserve the diadem which we have wrested from their brows. This consideration is the only thing which can confer an interest on such a presentation. In every other point of view it is, like every thing of the kind, a vulgar show, which has no more meaning than a theatrical exhibition.

From Delhi Heber proceeded to the still more ancient capital of Agra, where the principal objects of curiosity “are the Motee Musjeed, a beautiful mosque of white marble, carved with exquisite simplicity and elegance; and the palace built by Akbar, in a great degree of the same material, and containing some noble rooms, now sadly disfigured and destroyed by neglect, and by being used as warehouses, armories, offices, and lodging-rooms for the garrison. The hall, now used as the ‘Dewanny Aum,’ or public court of justice, is a splendid edifice, supported by pillars and arches of white marble, as large and more nobly simple than that of Delhi. The ornaments, carving, and mosaic of the smaller apartments, in which was formerly the Zenanah, are equal or superior [Pg 381] to any thing which is described as found in the Alhambra. The view from those rooms is very fine, at the same time that there are some, adapted for the hot winds, from which light is carefully excluded. This suite is lined with small mirrors in fantastic frames; a cascade of water, also surrounded by mirrors, has been made to gush from a recess at the upper end, and marble channels, beautifully inlaid with cornelians, agates, and jasper, convey the stream to every side of the apartment.” Heber likewise visited the Taj-mahal, which I have described in the Life of Bernier, and observes, that after hearing its praises ever since he had been in India, its beauty rather exceeded than fell short of his expectations. After holding a confirmation, at which about forty persons were made full members of the Christian church, our traveller departed from Agra, and commenced his journey across the independent states of Western India. During this portion of his travels he obtained, from unexceptionable authority, an account of the gorgeous style in which that fortunate adventurer, Sir David Ochterlony, lived in Central India. “Dr. Smith,” he observes, “in his late march from Mhow to Meerut, passed by Sir David’s camp. The ‘barra sahib,’ or great man, was merely travelling with his own family and personal followers from Delhi to Jyepoor, but his retinue, including servants, escort, European and native aids-de-camp, and the various nondescripts of an Asiatic train, together with the apparatus of horses, elephants, and camels—the number of his tents, and the size of the enclosure, hung round with red cloth, by which his own and his daughter’s private tents were fenced in from the eyes of the profane, were what a European, or even an old Indian whose experience had been confined to Bengal, would scarcely be brought to credit.”

Our traveller’s journey through Rajpootana was attended by circumstances flattering to his personal [Pg 382] feelings. The petty sovereigns through whose dominions his route lay invariably received him hospitably when he visited their capitals, and on some occasions, when he did not choose to diverge so far from the road, sent messengers expressly to meet him on the way with polite invitations to their court. He pushed on, however, with considerable expedition, and having traversed the territories, and beheld the capitals of Jyepoor, Ajmere, Bunaira, and others, proceeded, by way of Neemuch and Baroda, to Bombay. His time, during his stay in this city, was principally occupied with ecclesiastical business, in promoting the founding of schools, and in conversing with that venerable statesman and traveller, Mr. Elphinstone, the governor, who, from the most humane and enlightened motives, has endeavoured, with success, to diffuse among the natives a knowledge of our literature and sciences. Here Heber had the satisfaction of being joined by his wife and elder child. With these, shortly afterward, he visited the cavern temples of Elephanta and Kennery; and subsequently, in company with Archdeacon Barnes, made an excursion across the Western Ghants to Poonah, in the Deccan, during which he enjoyed an opportunity of examining another celebrated cavern temple at Carlee. I cannot refuse myself the pleasure, or deprive the reader of the advantage, of inserting in this place the character which Heber has drawn of the most extraordinary man whom he encountered during his travels. “Mr. Elphinstone,” says he, “is in every respect an extraordinary man, possessing great activity of body and mind; remarkable talent for and application to public business; a love of literature, and a degree of almost universal information, such as I have met with in no other person similarly situated, and manners and conversation of the most amiable and interesting character. While he has seen more of India and the adjoining countries than any man now [Pg 383] living, and has been engaged in active political and sometimes military duties since the age of eighteen, he has found time, not only to cultivate the languages of Hindostan and Persia, but to preserve and extend his acquaintance with the Greek and Latin classics, with the French and Italian, with all the elder and more distinguished English writers, and with the current and popular literature of the day, both in poetry, history, politics, and political economy. With these remarkable accomplishments, and notwithstanding a temperance amounting to rigid abstinence, he is fond of society; and it is a common subject of surprise with his friends, at what hour of the day or night he found time for the acquisition of knowledge. His policy, so far as India is concerned, appeared to me peculiarly wise and liberal, and he is evidently attached to, and thinks well of, the country and its inhabitants. His public measures, in their general tendency, evince a steady wish to improve their present condition. No government in India pays so much attention to schools and public institutions for education. In none are the taxes lighter; and in the administration of justice to the natives in their own languages, in the establishment of punchacts, in the degree in which he employs the natives in official situations, and the countenance and familiarity which he extends to all the natives of rank who approach him, he seems to have reduced to practice almost all the reforms which had struck me as most required in the system of government pursued in those provinces of our eastern empire which I had previously visited.”

From Bombay, Heber sailed with his wife and daughter to Ceylon, a large portion of which he visited. He then proceeded to Calcutta. On the 30th of January, 1826, shortly after his recovery from a fever, he again quitted his family for the purpose of visiting Madras and the southern provinces of India. At Madras he was received with great kindness by [Pg 384] Sir Thomas Munro, who was warmly desirous of rendering his position as little disagreeable as the season and climate would permit. From thence he proceeded through Caddalore and Tanjore to Trichinopoly, where, on the 3d of April, 1826, his pious, active, and valuable life was closed. “It were a useless,” says Mrs. Heber, “and a deeply painful task to enter into any detail of the apparent cause of his death: it is sufficient to say that disease had, unsuspected, been existing for some time; and that it was the opinion of all the medical men in attendance, that under no circumstances could his invaluable life have been very long preserved, though the event was undoubtedly hastened by the effects of climate, by intense mental application to those duties which increased in interest with every step he took, and was finally caused by the effects of cold on a frame exhausted by heat and fatigue.” His mortal remains were attended to the grave with the highest honours, and followed by the tears of the inhabitants of Trichinopoly. They rest on the north side of the altar in St. John’s Church.


Transcriber’s Notes

A number of typographical errors were corrected silently.

Cover image is in the public domain.