Obrazy na stronie


DR ANDREw Thomson (1779–1831), an active and able minister of the Scottish church, was author of various sermons and lectures, and editor of the Scottish Christian Instructor, a periodical which exercised no small influence in Scotland on ecclesiastical questions. Dr Thomson was successively minister of Sprouston, in the presbytery of Kelso, of the East Church, Perth, and of St George's Church, Edinburgh. In the annual meetings of the general assembly he displayed great ardour and eloquence as a debater, and was the recognized leader of one of the church parties. He waged a long and keen warfare with the British and Foreign Bible Society for circulating the books of the Apocrypha along with the Bible, and his speeches on this subject, though exaggerated in tone and manner, produced a powerful effect. There was, in truth, always more of the debater than the divine in his public addresses; and he was an unmerciful opponent in controversy. When the question of the abolition of colonial slavery was agitated in Scotland, he took his stand on the expediency of immediate abolition, and by his public appearances on this subject, and the energy of his eloquence, carried the feelings of his countrymen completely along with him. The life of this ardent, impetuous, and independent-minded man was brought suddenly and awfully to a close. In the prime of health and vigour he fell down dead at the threshold of his own door. The sermons of Dr Thomson scarcely support his high reputation as a church leader and debater. "They are weighty and earnest, but without pathos or elegance of style.


The most distinguished and able of living Scottish divines is THoMAs CHALMERs, D.D. and LL.D., one of the first Presbyterian ministers who obtained an honorary degree from the university of Cambridge,

Dr Thomas Chalmers.

and one of the few Scotsmen who have been elected a corresponding member of the Royal Institute of France. The collected works of Dr Chalmers fill twenty-five duodecimo volumes. Of these the two first are devoted to Natural Theology; three and four

to Evidences of Christianity; five, Moral Philosophy; six, Commercial Discourses; seven, Astronomical Discourses; eight, nine, and ten, Congregational Sermons ; eleven, Sermons on Public Occasions; twelve, Tracts and Essays ; thirteen, Introductory Essays, originally prefixed to editions of Select Christian Authors; fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen, Christian and Economic Polity of a Nation, more especially with reference to its Large Towns; seventeen, On Church and College Endowments ; eighteen, On Church Ertension; nineteen and twenty, Political Economy; twenty-one, The Sufficiency of a Parochial System without a Poor-Rate; twenty-two, three, four, and five, Lectures on the Romans. In all Dr Chalmers's works there is great energy and earnestness, accompanied with a vast variety of illustration. His knowledge is extensive, including science no less than literature, the learning of the philosopher with the fancy of the poet, and a familiar acquaintance with the habits, feelings, and daily life of the Scottish poor and middle classes. The

ardour with which he pursues any favourite topic, presenting it to the reader or hearer in every pos

sible point of view, and investing it with the charms of a rich poetical imagination, is a peculiar feature in his intellectual character, and one well calculated to arrest attention.” It gives peculiar effect to his

* Robert Hall seems to have been struck with this peculiarity. In some Gleanings from Hall's Conversational Remarks, appended to Dr Gregory's Memoir, we find the following criticism, understood to refer to the Scottish divine:—‘Mr Hall repeatedly referred to Dr —, and always in terms of great esteem as well as high admiration of his general character, exercising, however, his usual free and independent judgment. The following are some remarks on that extraordinary individual:—“Pray, sir, did you ever know any man who had that singular faculty of repetition possessed by Dr – ? Why, sir, he often reiterates the same thing ten or twelve times in the course of a few pages. Even Burke himself had not so much of that peculiarity. His mind resembles that optical instrument lately invented; what do you call it?” “You mean, Isuppose, the kaleidoscope.” “Yes, sir, an idea thrown into his mind is just as if thrown into a kaleidoscope. Every turn presents the object in a new and beautiful form ; but the object presented is still the same. * * His mind seems to move on hinges, not on wheels. There is incessant motion, but no progress. When he was at Leicester, he preached a most admirable sermon on the necessity of immediate repentance; but there were only two ideas in it, and on these his mind revolved as on a pivot."" A writer in the London Magazine gives a graphic account of Dr Chalmers's appearances in London. “When he visited London, the hold that he took on the minds of men was unprecedented. It was a time of strong political feeling; but even that was unheeded, and all parties thronged to hear the Scottish preacher. The very best judges were not prepared for the display that they heard. Canning and Wilberforce went together, and got into a pew near the door. The elder in attendance stood close by the pew. Chalmers began in his usual unpromising way, by stating a few nearly self-evident propositions neither in the choicest language nor in the most impressive voice. “ If this be all,” said Canning to his companion, “it will never do.” Chalmers went on—the shuffling of the congregation gradually subsided. He got into the mass of his subject; his weakness became strength, his hesitation was turned into energy; and, bringing the whole volume of his mind to bear upon it, he poured forth a torrent of the most close and conclusive argument, brilliant with all the exuberance of an imagination which ranged over all nature for illustrations, and yet managed and applied each of them with the same unerring dexterity, as if that single one had been the study of a whole life. “The tartan beats us,” said Mr Canning; “we have no preaching like that in England.” Chalmers, like the celebrated French divines (according to Goldsmith), assumed all that dignity and zeal which become men who are ambassadors from Christ. The English divines, like timorous envoys, seem more solicitous not to offend the court to which they are sent, than to drive home the interests of their employers. The * Dr pulpit ministrations; for by concentrating his attention on one or two points at a time, and pressing these home with almost unexampled zeal and animation, a distinct and vivid impression is conveyed to the mind, unbroken by any extraneous or discursive matter. His pictures have little or no background—the principal figure or conception fills the canvass. The style of Dr Chalmers is far from being correct or elegant—it is often turgid, loose, and declamatory, vehement beyond the bounds of good taste, and disfigured by a peculiar and by no means graceful phraseology. These blemishes are, however, more than redeemed by his piety and eloquence, the originality of many of his views, and the astonishing force and ardour of his mind. His “Astronomical Discourses’ contain passages of great sublimity and beauty, and even the most humble and prosaic subject, treated by him, becomes attractive and poetical. His triumphs are those of genius, aided by the deepest conviction of the importance of the truths he inculcates.


Dr Chalmers is a native of Anstruther, in the county of Fife. A fugitive memoir states that he was born about the year 1780, that he studied at St Andrews, and was soon “a mathematician, a natural philosopher, and, though there was no regular professor of that science at St Andrews, a chemist.’ After his admission to holy orders, he officiated for sometime as assistant to the minister of Wilton, near Hawick. He afterwards obtained the church of Kilmany, in his native county, and here the activity of his mind was strikingly displayed. In addition to his parochial labours, he “lectured in the different towns on chemistry and other subjects; he became an officer of a volunteer corps; and he wrote a book on the resources of the country, besides pamphlets on some of the topics of the day; and when the Edinburgh Encyclopædia was projected, he was invited to be a contributor, and engaged to furnish the article “Christianity,” which he afterwards completed with so much ability.” At Kilmany Dr Chalmers seems to have received more serious and solemn impressions as to his clerical duties, for in an address to the inhabitants of the parish, included in his tracts, there is the following remarkable passage:–

[Inefficacy of mere Moral Preaching.]

And here I cannot but record the effect of an actual though undesigned experiment which I prosecuted for upwards of twelve years amongst you. For the greater part of that time I could expatiate on the meanness of dishonesty, on the villany of falsehood, on the despicable arts of calumny—in a word, upon all those deformities of character which awaken the natural indignation of the human heart against the pests and the disturbers of human society. Now, could I, upon the strength of these warm expostulations, have got the thief to give up his stealing, and the evil speaker his censoriousness, and the liar his deviations from truth, I should have felt all the repose of one who had gotten his ultimate object. It never occurred to me that all this might have been done, and yet every soul of every hearer have remained in full alienation from God; and that even could I have established in the bosom of one who stole such a principle of abhorrence at the meanness of dishonesty that he was prevailed upon to steal no more, he might still have retained a heart as completely unturned to God, and as totally unpossessed by a principle of love to Him,

Chalmers became the rage in Scotland among the young preachers, but few could do more than copy his defects. * London Magazine.

as before. In a word, though I might have made him a more upright and honourable man, I might have left him as destitute of the essence of religious principle as ever. But the interesting fact is, that during the whole of that period in which I made no attempt against the natural enmity of the mind to God, while I was inattentive to the way in which this enmity is dissolved, even by the free offer on the one hand, and the believing acceptance on the other, of the gospel salvation; while Christ, through whose blood the sinner, who by nature stands afar off, is brought near to the heavenly Lawgiver whom he has offended, was scarcely ever spoken of, or spoken of in such a way as stripped him of all the importance of his character and his offices, even at this time I certainly did press the reformations of honour, and truth, and integrity among my people; but I never once heard of any such reformations having been effected amongst them. If there was anything at all brought about in this way, it was more than ever I got any account of. I am not sensible that all the vehemence with which I urged the virtues and the proprieties of social life had the weight of a feather on the moral habits of my parishioners. And it was not till I got impressed by the utter alienation of the heart in all its desires and affections from God; it was not till reconciliation to him became the distinct and the prominent object of my ministerial exertions; it was not till I took the Scriptural way of laying the method of reconciliation before them; it was not till the free offer of forgiveness through the blood of Christ was urged upon their acceptance, and the Holy Spirit given through the channel of Christ's mediatorship to all who ask him, was set before them as the unceasing object of their dependence and their prayers; it was not, in one word, till the contemplations of my people were turned to these great and essential elements in the business of a soul providing for its interest with God and the concerns of its eternity, that I ever heard of any of those subordinate reformations which I aforetime made the earnest and the zealous, but, I am afraid, at the same time the ultimate object of my earlier ministrations. Ye servants, whose scrupulous fidelity has now attracted the notice and drawn forth in my hearing a delightful testimony from your masters, what mischief you would have done had your zeal for doctrines and sacraments been accompanied by the sloth and the remissness, and what, in the prevailing tone of moral relaxation, is counted the allowable purloining of your earlier days! But a sense of your heavenly Master's eye has brought another influence to bear upon you; and while you are thus striving to adorn the doctrine of God your Saviour in all things, you may, poor as you are, reclaim the great ones of the land to the acknowledgment of the faith. You have at least taught me that to preach Christ is the only effective way of preaching morality in all its branches; and out of your humble cottages have I gathered a lesson, ić I pray God I may be enabled to carry with all its simplicity into a wider theatre, and to bring with all the power of its subduing efficacy upon the vices of a more crowded population.

From Kilmany Dr Chalmers removed to the new church of St John's in Glasgow, where his labours were unceasing and meritorious. Here his principal sermons were delivered and published; and his fame as a preacher and author was diffused not only over Great Britain, but throughout all Europe and America. In 1823 he removed to St Andrews, as professor of moral philosophy in the United college; and in 1828 he was appointed professor of divinity in the university of Edinburgh. This appointment he relinquished in 1843, on his secession from the established church.

[Picture of the Chase–Cruelty to Animals.]

The sufferings of the lower animals may, when out of sight, be out of mind. But more than this, these sufferings may be in sight, and yet out of mind. This is strikingly exemplified in the sports of the field, in the midst of whose varied and animating bustle that cruelty which all along is present to the senses may not for one moment have been present to the thoughts. There sits a somewhat ancestral dignity and glory on this favourite pastime of joyous old England; when the gallant knighthood, and the hearty yeomen, and the amateurs or virtuosos of the chase, and the full assembled jockeyship of half a province, muster together in all the pride and pageantry of their great emprize—and the panorama of some noble landscape, lighted up with autumnal clearness from an unclouded heaven, pours fresh exhilaration into every blithe and choice spirit of the scene—and every adventurous heart is braced and impatient for the hazards of the coming enterprise—and even the high-breathed coursers catch the general sympathy, and seem to fret

in all the restiveness of their yet checked and irri

tated fire, till the echoing horn shall set them at liberty—even that horn which is the knell of death to some trembling victim now brought forth of its lurking-place to the delighted gaze, and borne down upon with the full and open cry of its ruthless pursuers. Be assured that, amid the whole glee and fervency of this tumultuous enjoyment, there might not, in one single bosom, be aught so fiendish as a principle of naked and abstract cruelty. The fear which gives its lightning-speed to the unhappy animal; the thickening horrors which, in the progress of exhaustion, must gather upon its flight; its gradually sinking energies, and, at length, the terrible certainty of that destruction which is awaiting it; that piteous cry which the ear can sometimes distinguish amid the deafening clamour of the bloodhounds as they spring exultingly upon their prey; the dread massacre and dying agonies of a creature so miserably torn;– all this weight of suffering, we admit, is not once sympathised with ; but it is just because the suffering itself is not once thought of. It touches not the sensibilities of the heart; but just because it is never present to the notice of the mind. We allow that the

hardy followers in the wild romance of this occupa

tion, we allow them to be reckless of pain, but this is not rejoicing in pain. Theirs is not the delight of the savage, but the apathy of unreflecting creatures. They are wholly occupied with the chase itself and its spirit-stirring accompaniments, nor bestow one moment's thought on the dread violence of that infliction upon sentient nature which marks its termination. It is the spirit of the competition, and it alone, which goads onward this hurrying career; and even he who in at the death is foremost in the triumph, although to him the death itself is in sight, the agony of its wretched sufferer is wholly out of mind. * * Man is the direct agent of a wide and continual distress to the lower animals, and the question is, Can any method be devised for its alleviation ? On this subject that Scriptural image is strikingly realised, “The whole inferior creation groaning and travailling together in pain, because of . It signifies not to the substantive amount of the suffering whether this be prompted by the hardness of his heart, or only permitted through the heedlessness of his mind. In either way it holds true, not only that the arch-devourer man stands pre-eminent over the fiercest children of the wilderness as an animal of prey, but that

"for his lordly and luxurious appetite, as well as for

his service or merest curiosity and amusement, Nature Inust be ransacked throughout all her elements. Rather than forego the veriest gratifications of vanity, he will wring them from the anguish of wretched and

ill-fated creatures; and whether for the indulgence of his barbaric sensuality or barbaric splendour, can stalk paramount over the sufferings of that prostrate creation which has been placed beneath his feet. That beauteous domain whereof he has been constituted the terrestrial sovereign, gives out so many blissful and benignant aspects; and whether we look to its peaceful lakes, or to its flowery landscapes, or its evening skies, or to all that soft attire which overspreads the hills and the valleys, lighted up by smiles of sweetest sunshine, and where animals disport themselves in all the exuberance of gaiety—this surely were a more befitting scene for the rule of clemency, than for the iron rod of a murderous and remorseless tyrant. But the present is a mysterious world wherein we dwell. It still bears much upon its materialism of the impress of Paradise. But a breath from the air of Pandemonium has gone over its living generations; and so “the fear of man and the dread of man is now upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, and upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into man's hands are they delivered: every moving thing that liveth is meat for him; yea, even as the green herbs, there have been given to him all things.” Such is the extent of his jurisdiction, and with most full and wanton license has he revelled among its privileges. The whole earth labours and is in violence because of his cruelties; and from the amphitheatre of sentient Nature there sounds in fancy's ear the bleat of one wide and universal suffering—a dreadful homage to the power of Nature's constituted lord. These sufferings are really felt. The beasts of the field are not so many automata without sensation, and just so constructed as to give forth all the natural signs and expressions of it. Nature hath not practised this universal deception upon our species. These poor animals just look, and tremble, and give forth the very indications of suffering that we do. Theirs is the distinct cry of pain. Theirs is the unequivocal physiognomy of pain. They put on the same aspect of terror on the demonstrations of a menaced blow. They exhibit the same distortions of agony after the infliction of it. The bruise, or the burn, or the fracture, or the deep incision, or the fierce encounter with one of equal or superior strength, just affects them similarly to ourselves. Their blood circulates as ours. They have pulsations in various parts of the body like ours. They sicken, and they grow feeble with age, and, finally, they die just as we do. They possess the same feelings; and, what exposes them to like suffering from another quarter, they possess the same instincts with our own species. The lioness robbed of her whelps causes the wilderness to wring aloud with the proclamation of her wrongs; or the bird whose little household has been stolen, fills and saddens all the grove with melodies of deepest pathos. All this is palpable even to the general and unlearned eye : and when the physiologist lays open the recesses of their system by means of that scalpel, under whose operation they just shrink and are con- . vulsed as any living subject of our own species—there stands forth to view the same sentient apparatus, and furnished with the same conductors for the transmission of feeling to every minutest pore upon the surface. Theirs is unmixed and unmitigated pain—the agonies of martyrdom without the alleviation of the hopes and the sentiments whereof they are incapable. When they lay them down to die, their only fellowship is o, suffering; for in the prison-house of their beset and bounded faculties there can no relief be afforded by communion with other interests or other things. The attention does not lighten their distress as it does that of man, by carrying off his spirit from that existing pungency and pressure which might else be overwhelming. There is but room in their myste663

rious economy for one inmate, and that is, the absorbing sense of their own single and concentrated anguish. And so in that bed of torment whereon the wounded animal lingers and expires, there is an unexplored depth and intensity of suffering which the poor dumb animal itself cannot tell, and against which it can offer no remonstrance—an untold and unknown amount of wretchedness of which no articulate voice gives utterance. But there is an eloquence in its silence; and the very shroud which disguises it only serves to aggravate its horrors.

[Insignificance of this Earth.]

Though the earth were to be burned up, though the trumpet of its dissolution were sounded, though yon sky were to pass away as a scroll, and every visible glory which the finger of the Divinity has inscribed on it were extinguished for ever—an event so awful to us, and to every world in our vicinity, by which so many suns would be extinguished, and so many varied scenes of life and population would rush into forgetfulness—what is it in the high scale of the Almighty's workmanship ! a mere shred, which, though scattered into nothing, would leave the universe of God one entire scene of greatness and of majesty. Though the earth and the heavens were to disappear, there are other worlds which roll afar; the light of other suns shines upon them; and the sky which mantles them is garnished with other stars. Is it presumption to say that the moral world extends to these distant and unknown regions? that they are occupied with people? that the charities of home and of neighbourhood flourish there? that the praises of God are there lifted up, and his goodness rejoiced in that there piety has its temples and its offerings? and the richness of the divine attributes is there felt and admired by intelligent worshippers ?

And what is this world in the immensity which teems with them; and what are they who occupy it? The universe at large would suffer as little in its splendour and variety by the destruction of our planet, as the verdure and sublime magnitude of a forest would suffer by the fall of a single leaf. The leaf quivers on the branch which supports it. It lies at the mercy of the slightest accident. A breath of wind tears it from its stem, and it lights on the stream of water which passes underneath. In a moment of time the life, which we know by the microscope it teems with, is extinguished; and an occurrence so insignificant in the eye of man, and on the scale of his observation, carries in it to the myriads which people this little leaf an event as terrible and as decisive as the destruction of a world. Now, on the grand scale of the universe, we, the occupiers of this ball, which performs its little round among the suns and the systems that astronomy has unfolded—we may feel the same littleness and the same insecurity. We differ from the leaf only in this circumstance, that it would require the operation of greater elements to destroy us. But these elements exist. The fire which rages within may lift its devouring energy to the surface of our planet, and transform it into one wide and wasting volcano. The sudden formation of elastic matter in the bowels of the earth—and it lies within the agency of known substances to accomplish this—may explode it into fragments. The exhalation of noxious air from below may impart a virulence to the air that is around us; it may affect the delicate proportion of its ingredients; and the whole of animated nature may wither and die under the malignity of a tainted atmosphere. A blazing comet may cross this fated planet in its orbit, and realise all the terrors which superstition has conceived of it. We cannot anticipate with precision the consequences of an event which every astronomer must know to lie within the limits of chance

and probability. It may hurry our globe towards the sun, or drag it to the outer regions of the planetary system, or give it a new axis of revolution—and the effect, which I shall simply announce without explaining it, would be to change the place of the ocean, and | bring another mighty flood upon our islands and continents. These are changes which may happen in a single instant of time, and against which nothing known in | the present system of things provides us with any security. They might not annihilate the earth, but they would unpeople it, and we, who tread its surface with such firm and assured footsteps, are at the mercy of devouring elements, which, if let loose upon us by the hand of the Almighty, would spread solitude, and silence, and death over the dominions of the world. Now, it is this littleness and this insecurity which make the protection of the Almighty so dear to us, and bring with such emphasis to every pious bosom the holy lessons of humility and gratitude. The God who sitteth above, and presides in high authority over all worlds, is mindful of man; and though at this moment his energy is felt in the remotest provinces of creation, we may feel the same security in his providence as if we were the objects of his undivided care. It is not for us to bring our minds up to this mys. || terious agency. But such is the incomprehensible fact, that the same Being, whose eye is abroad over the whole universe, gives vegetation to every blade of grass, and motion to every particle of blood which circulates through the veins of the minutest animal; that though his mind takes into his comprehensive grasp immensity and all its wonders, I am as much known to him as if I were the single object of his attention; that he marks all my thoughts; that he gives birth to every feeling and every movement within me; and that, with an exercise of power which I can neither

describe nor comprehend, the same God who sits in the highest heaven, and reigns over the glories of the firmament, is at my right hand to give me every breath which I draw, and every comfort which I enjoy.

Recent years have witnessed an immense influx of books of travels and voyages—journals and narratives of personal adventure—the result of that spirit of scientific discovery, religious zeal, and enlightened curiosity, which characterise the nineteenth century. In physical geography large advances have been made. The extension of commerce and improvement of navigation have greatly facilitated foreign travelling; steamboats now traverse both the Atlantic and Mediterranean; and the overland route to India has introduced us to a more


intimate acquaintance with the countries, so fertile in interesting and romantic associations, which lie " between India and Britain. Indeed, if we except

some of the populous regions in the interior of

Africa—still guarded by barbarous jealousy and bigotry—almost every corner of the earth has been

penetrated by British enterprise; and those countries endeared to us from the associations of Holy Writ, the gorgeous and fascinating fictions of Eastern fable, or the wisdom and beauty of the classic phi

losophers and poets, have been rendered familiar to every class of British society. Even war has been instrumental in adding to our knowledge of foreign | nations. The French invasion of Egypt led to the study of Egyptian antiquities—for Napoleon carried savans in his train—and our most valuable informa-. tion regarding India has been derived from officers engaged in hostile missions and journeys caused by war. The embassies of Macartney and Amherst to || China (the first of which was highly satisfactory) ||

were prompted by the unfriendly and narrow-minded conduct of the Chinese; and our late collision with the emperor has also added to our previous scanty knowledge of that vast unexplored country, and may yet be productive of higher results.


. One of the most romantic and persevering of our travellers was JAMEs BRUCE of Kinnaird, a Scottish gentleman of ancient family and property, who devoted several years to a journey into Abyssinia to discover the sources of the river Nile. The fountains of celebrated rivers have led to some of our most interesting exploratory expeditions. Superstition has hallowed the sources of the Nile and the Ganges, and the mysterious Niger long wooed our adventurous travellers into the sultry plains of Africa. The inhabitants of mountainous countries still look with veneration on their principal streams, and as they roll on before them, connect them in imagination with the ancient glories or traditional legends of their native land. Bruce partook largely of this feeling, and was a man of an ardent enthusiastic temperament. He was born at Kinnaird House, in the county of Stirling, on the 14th of December 1730, and was intended for the legal profession. He was averse, however, to the study of the law, and entered into business as a wine-merchant in London. Being led to visit Spain and Portugal, he was struck with the architectural ruins and chivalrous tales of the Moorish dominion, and applied himself diligently to the study of Eastern antiquities and languages. On his return to England he became known to the government, and it was proposed that he should make a journey to Barbary, which had been partially explored by Dr Shaw. At the same time the consulship of Algiers | became vacant, and Bruce was appointed to the office. He left England, and arrived at Algiers in | 1762. Above six years were spent by our traveller at Algiers and in various travels (during which he surveyed and sketched the ruins of Palmyra and Baalbec), and it was not till June 1768 that he reached Alexandria. From thence he proceeded to |*Cairo, and embarked on the Nile. He arrived at Gondar, the capital of Abyssinia, and after some stay there, he set out for the sources of Bahr-el-Azrek, under an impression that this was the principal | branch of the Nile. The spot was at length pointed out by his guide—a hillock of green sod in the middle of a watery plain. The guide counselled him to pull off his shoes, as the people were all pagans, and prayed to the river as if it were God.

“Half undressed as I was, continues Bruce, ‘by the loss of my sash, and throwing off my shoes, I ran down the hill towards the hillock of green sod, which was about two hundred yards distant; the whole side of the hill was thick grown with flowers, the large bulbous roots of which appearing above the surface of the ground, and their skins coming off on my treading upon them, occasioned me two very severe falls before I reached the brink of the marsh. I after this came to the altar of green turf, which was apparently the work of art, and I stood in rapture above the principal fountain, which rises in the middle of it. It is easier to guess than to describe the situation of my mind at that moment— standing in that spot which had baffled the genius, industry, and inquiry of both ancients and moderns for the course of near three thousand years. Kings had attempted this discovery at the head of armies, and each expedition was distinguished from the last only by the difference of numbers which had perished, and agreed alone in the disappointment which had

uniformly, and without exception, followed them all. Fame, riches, and honour, had been held out for a series of ages to every individual of those myriads these princes commanded, without having produced one man capable of gratifying the curiosity of his sovereign, or wiping off this stain upon the enterprise and abilities of mankind, or adding this desideratum for the encouragement of geography. Though a mere private Briton, I triumphed here, in my own mind, over kings and their armies! and every comparison was leading nearer and nearer to presumption, when the place itself where I stood, the object of my vain glory, suggested what depressed my short-lived triumph. I was but a few minutes arrived at the sources of the Nile, through numberless dangers and sufferings, the least of which would have overwhelmed me but for the continual goodness and protection of Providence: I was, however, but then half through my journey, and all those dangers through which I had already passed awaited me on my return; I found a despondency gaining ground fast, and blasting the crown of laurels which I had too rashly woven for myself.” After several adventures in Abyssinia, in the course of which he received high personal distinctions from the king, Bruce obtained leave to depart. He returned through the great deserts of Nubia into Egypt, encountering the severest hardships and dangers from the sand-floods and simoom of the desert, and his own physical sufferings and exhaustion. It was not until seventeen years after his return that Bruce published his travels. Parts had been made public, and were much ridiculed. Even Johnson doubted whether he had ever been in Abyssinia! The work appeared in 1790, in five large quarto volumes, with another volume of plates. The strangeness of the author's adventures at the court at Gondar, the somewhat inflated style of the narrative, and the undisguised vanity of the traveller, led to a disbelief of his statements, and numerous lampoons and satires, both in prose and verse, were

[merged small][graphic]
« PoprzedniaDalej »