Obrazy na stronie
PDF

sently every one of our party was seen busied in adding the inscription of his name. Upon this area, which looks like a point when seen from Cairo or from the Nile, it is extraordinary that none of those numerous hermits fixed their abode who retired to the tops of columns and to almost inaccessible solitudes upon the pinnacles of the highest rocks. It offers a much more convenient and secure retreat than was selected by an ascetic, who pitched his residence upon the architrave of a temple in the vicinity of Athens. The heat, according to Fahrenheit's thermometer at the time of our coming, did not exceed 84 degrees; and the same temperature continued during the time we remained, a strong wind blowing from the north-west. The view from this eminence amply fulfilled our expectations; nor do the accounts which have been given of it, as it appears at this season of the year, exaggerate the novelty and grandeur of the sight. All the region towards Cairo and the Delta resembled a sea covered with innumerable islands. Forests of palm-trees were seen standing in the water, the inundation spreading over the land where they stood, so as to give them an appearance of growing in the flood. To the north, as far as the eye could reach, nothing could be discerned but a watery surface thus diversified by plantations and by villages. To the south we saw the pyramids of Saccára ; and upon the east of these, smaller monuments of the same kind nearer to the Nile. An appearance of ruins might indeed be traced the whole way from the pyramids of Djiza to those of Saccára, as if they had been once connected, so as to constitute one vast cemetery. Beyond the pyramids of Saccára. we could perceive the distant mountains of the Said ; and upon an eminence near the Libyan side of the Nile, appeared a monastery of considerable size. Towards the west and southwest, the eye ranged over the great Libyan Desert, extending to the utmost verge of the horizon, without a single object to interrupt the dreary horror of the landscape, except dark floating spots caused by the shadows of passing clouds upon the sand. Upon the south-east side is the gigantic statue of the Sphinx, the most colossal piece of sculpture which remains of all the works executed by the ancients. The French have uncovered all the pedestal of this statue, and all the cumbent or leonine parts of the figure; these were before entirely concealed by sand. Instead, however, of answering the expectations raised concerning the work upon which it was supposed to rest, the pedestal proves to be a wretched substructure of brickwork and small pieces of stone put together, like the most insignificant piece of modern masonry, and wholly out of character both with respect to the prodigious labour bestowed upon the statue itself, and the gigantic appearance of the surrounding objects. Beyond the Sphinx we distinctly discerned amidst the sandy waste the remains and vestiges of a magnificent building, perhaps the Serapeum. Immediately beneath our view, upon the eastern and western side, we saw so many tombs that we were unable to count them, some being half buried in the sand, others rising considerably above it. All these are of an oblong form, with sides sloping like the roofs of European houses. A plan of their situation and appearance is given in Pocock's Travels. The second pyramid, standing to the south-west, has the remains of a covering near its vertex, as of a plating of stone which had once invested all its four sides. Some persons, deceived by the external hue of this covering, have believed it to be of marble; but its white appearance is owing to a partial decomposition affecting the surface only. Not a single fragment of marble can be found anywhere near this pyramid. It is surrounded by a paved court, having walls on the outside, and places as for doors or portals in the walls; also an advanced work or portico. A third pyramid,

of much smaller dimensions than the second, appears beyond the Sphinx to the south-west; and there are three others, one of which is nearly buried in the sand, between the large pyramid and this statue to the south-east.

CLASSIC TRAVELLERs—Forsyth, EUSTACE, &c.

The classic countries of Greece and Italy have been described by various travellers—scholars, poets, painters, architects, and antiquaries. The celebrated Travels of Anacharsis, by Barthelemy, were published in 1788, and shortly afterwards translated into English. This excellent work (of which the hero is as interesting as any character in romance) exated a general enthusiasm with respect to the memorable soil and history of Greece. Dr Clarke's travels further stimulated inquiry, and Byron's Childe Harold drew attention to the natural beauty and magnificence of Grecian scenery and ancient art. MR (now SIR) John CAM Hobhouse, the fellowtraveller of Lord Byron, published an account of his Journey through Albania; and DR Holland, in 1815, gave to the world his interesting Travels in the Ionian Isles, Albania, Thessaly, and Macedonia. A voluminous and able work, in two quarto volumes, was published in 1819 by MR Edward Dodwell, entitled A Classical and Topographical Tour through Greece. SIR WILLIAM GELL, in 1823, gave an account of a Journey to the Morea. An artist, MR H. W. WILLIAMs, also published Travels in Greece and Italy, enriched with valuable remarks on the ancient works of art. In 1837 a young scholar, Edward Giff ARD, published a Visit to the Ionian Islands, Athens, and the Morea. DR CHR1stophen Wordsworth (now head-master of Harrow school) issued in 1839 a work entitled Athens and Attica, finely

illustrated, and devoted chiefly to classical inves

tigations. The latest work on Greece is by a Scottish gentleman, WILLIAM Murr, Esq. of Caldwell, who spent two months in the spring of 1838 in visiting Greece and the Ionian Islands. Greek poetry and scenery are marked by good sense and discrimination. Lord Byron also extended his kindling power and energy to Italy; but previous to this time a masterhand had described its ruins and antiquities. A valuable work, which has now become a standard authority, was in 1812 published under the modest title of Remarks on Antiquities, Arts, and Letters, during an Ercursion in Italy in the years 1802 and 1803, by Joseph Forsyth, Esq. Mr Forsyth (1763– 1815) was a native of Elgin, in the county of Moray, and conducted a classical seminary at NewingtonButts, near London, for many years. On his return from a tour in Italy, he was arrested at Turin in 1803, in consequence of Napoleon's harsh and unjust order to detain all British subjects travelling in his dominions. After several years of detention, he prepared the notes he had made in Italy, and published them in England as a means of enlisting the sympathies of Napoleon and the leading members of the National Institute in his behalf. This last effort for freedom failed, and the author always regretted that he had made it. Mr Forsyth was at length released on the downfall of Napoleon in 1814. The “Remarks' thus hastily prepared for a special purpose, could hardly have been improved if expanded into regular dissertations and essays. They are vigorous and acute, evincing keen observation and original thinking, as well as the perfect knowledge of the scholar and the critic. Some detached sentences from Forsyth will show his peculiar and picturesque style. First, of the author's journey to Rome:– 671

His illustrations of

[merged small][ocr errors]

A colossal taste gave rise to the Coliseum. Here, indeed, gigantic dimensions were necessary; for though hundreds could enter at once, and fifty thousand find seats, the space was still insufficient for Rome, and the crowd for the morning games began at midnight. Vespasian and Titus, as if presaging their own deaths, hurried the building, and left several marks of their precipitancy behind. In the upper walls they have inserted stones which had evidently been dressed for a different purpose. Some of the arcades are grossly unequal; no moulding preserves the same level and form round the whole ellipse, and every order is full of license. The Doric has no triglyphs nor metopes, and its arch is too low for its columns; the Ionic repeats the entablature of the Doric; the third order is but a rough cast of the Corinthian, and its foliage the thickest water-plants; the fourth seems a mere repetition of the third in pilasters; and the whole is crowned by a heavy Attic. Happily for the Coliseum, the shape necessary to an amphitheatre has given it a stability of construction sufficient to resist fires, and earthquakes, and lightnings, and sieges. Its elliptical form was the hoop which bound and held it entire till barbarians rent that consolidating ring; popes widened the breach; and time, not unassisted, continues the work of dilapidation. At this moment the hermitage is threatened with a dreadful crash, and a generation not very remote must be content, I apprehend, with the picture of this stupendous monument. Of the interior elevation, two slopes, by some called meniana, are already demolished; the arena, the podium, are interred. No member runs entire round the whole ellipse; but every member made such a circuit, and re-appears so often, that plans, sections, and elevations of the original work are drawn with the precision of a modern fabric. When the whole amphitheatre was entire, a child might comprehend its design in a moment, and go direct to his place without straying in the porticos, for each arcade bears its number engraved, and opposite to every fourth arcade was a staircase. This multiplicity of wide, straight, and separate passages, proves the attention which the ancients paid to the safe discharge of a crowd; it finely illustrates the precept of Vitruvius, and exposes the perplexity of some modern theatres. Every nation has undergone its revolution of vices; and as cruelty is not the present vice of ours, we can all humanely execrate the purpose of amphitheatres, now that they lie in ruins. Moralists may tell us that the truly brave are never cruel; but this monument says “No." Here sat the conquerors of the world, coolly to enjoy the tortures and death of men who had never offended them. Two aqueducts were scarcely sufficient to wash off the human blood which

* The poet Rogers has sketched the same joyous scene of Italian life—

“Many a canzonet
Comes through the leaves, the vines in light festoons
From tree to tree, the trees in avenues,
And every avenue a covered walk
Hung with black clusters. 'Tis enough to mako
The sad man merry, the benevolent one
Melt into tears, so general is the joy."

a few hours' sport shed in this imperial shambles. Twice in one day came the senators and matrons of Rome to the butchery; a virgin always gave the signal for slaughter; and when glutted with bloodshed, those ladies sat down in the wet and streaming arena to a luxurious supper! Such reflections check our regret for its ruin. As it now stands, the Coliseum is a striking image of Rome itself-decayed, vacant, serious, yet grand—half-gray and hio. Qu one side and fallen on the other, with consecrated ground in its bosom-inhabited by a beadsman; visited by every caste; for moralists, antiquaries, painters, architects, devotees, all meet here to meditate, to examine, to draw, to measure, and to pray. “In contemplating antiquities,’ says Livy, “the mind itself becomes antique.’ It contracts from such objects a venerable rust, which I prefer to the polish and the point of those wits who have lately profaned this august ruin with ridicule.

In the year following the publication of Forsyth's original and valuable work, appeared A Classical Tour in Italy, in two large volumes, by John CHETwode Eustace, an English Catholic priest, who had travelled in Italy in the capacity of tutor. Though pleasantly written, Eustace's work is one of no authority. Sir John Cam Hobhouse (who furnished the notes to the fourth canto of Lord Byron's Childe Harold, and afterwards published a volume of Historical Illustrations to the same poem) characterises Eustace as “one of the most inaccurate and unsatisfactory writers that have in our times attained a temporary reputation.” Mr Eustace died at Naples in 1815. Letters from the North of Italy, addressed to Mr Hallam the historian, by W. STEwART Rose, Esq. in two volumes, 1819, are partly descriptive and partly critical; and though somewhat affected in style, form an amusing miscellany. A Tour through the Southern Provinces of the Kingdom of Naples, by the HoN. R. KEPPEL CRAven (1821), is more of | an itinerary than a work of reflection, but is plainly and pleasingly written. The Diary of an Inraid, by HENRY MATHEws (1820), and Rome in the Nineteenth Century (1820), by Mrss WALDIE, are both interesting works: the first is lively and picturesque in style, and was well received by the public. In 1821 Lady Morgan published a work entitled Italy, containing pictures of Italian society and manners, drawn with more vivacity and point than delicacy. Observations on Italy, by MR John BELL (1s25), and a Description of the Antiquities of Rome, by DR BUFToN (1828), are works of accuracy and research. Illustrations of the Passes of the Alps, by W. BRockeDoN (1828–9), unite the effects of the artist's pencil with the information of the observant topographer. MR BEckford, author of the romance of “Wathek," |

| | |

Portugal. After remaining unpublished for more than forty years, two volumes of these graphic and picturesque delineations were given to the world in 1834. Time has altered some of the objects described by the accomplished traveller, but his work abounds in passages of permanent interest, and of finished and beautiful composition. Every season adds to the number of works on Italy and the other parts of the continent.

had in early life written Sketches of Italy, Spain, and

[Funeral Ceremony at Rome.] [From Mathews's ‘Diary of an Invalid.]

One day, in my way home, I met a funeral ceremony. A crucifix hung with black, followed by a train of priests, with lighted tapers in their hands, headed the procession. Then came a troop of figures | dressed in white robes, with their faces covered with masks of the same materials. The bier followed, on

which lay the corpse of a young woman arrayed in all the ornaments of dress, with her face exposed, where the bloom of life yet lingered. The members of different fraternities followed the bier, dressed in the robes of their orders, and all masked. They carried lighted tapers in their hands, and chanted out prayers in a sort of mumbling recitative. I followed the train to the church, for I had doubts whether the beautiful figure I had seen on the bier was not a figure of wax; but I was soon convinced it was indeed the corpse of a fellow-creature, cut off in the pride and bloom of youthful maiden beauty. Such is the Italian mode of conducting the last scene of the tragi-comedy of life. As soon as a person dies, the relations leave the house, and fly to bury themselves and their griefs in some other retirement. The care of the funeral devolves on one of the fraternities who are associated for this purpose in every parish. These are dressed in a sort of domino and hood, which, having holes for the eyes, answers the purpose of a mask, and completely conceals the face. The funeral of the very poorest is thus conducted with quite as much ceremony as need be. This is perhaps a better system than our own, where the relatives are exhibited as a spectacle to impertinent curiosity, whilst from feelings of duty they follow to the grave the remains of those they loved. But ours is surely an unphilosophical view of the subject. It looks as if we were materialists, and considered the cold clod as the sole remains of the object of our affection. The Italians reason better, and perhaps feel as much as ourselves, when they regard the body, deprived of the soul that animated, and the mind that informed it, as no more a part of the departed spirit than the clothes which it has also left behind. The ultimate disposal of the body is perhaps conducted here with too much of that spirit which would disregard all claims that “this mortal coil' can have to our attention. As soon as the funeral service is concluded, the corpse is stripped and consigned to those who have the care of the interment. There are large vaults underneath the churches for the reception of the dead. Those who can afford it, are put into a wooden shell before they are cast into one of these Golgothas; but the great mass are tossed in without a rag to cover them. When one of these caverns is full, it is bricked up; and after fifty years it is opened again, and the bones are removed to other places prepared for their reception. So Inuch for the last scene of the drama of life. With respect to the first act, our conduct of it is certainly more natural. Here they swathe and swaddle their children till the poor urchins look like Egyptian mummies. To this frightful custom one may attribute the want of strength and symmetry of the men, which is sufficiently remarkable.

[Statue of the Medicean Venus at Florence.”] [From Mathews's Diary.]

The statue that enchants the world—the unimitated, the inimitable Venus. One is generally disappointed after great expectations have been raised; but in this instance I was delighted at first sight, and each succeeding visit has charmed me more. It is indeed a wonderful work in conception and execution —but I doubt whether Venus be not a misnomer. Who can recognize in this divine statue any traits of the Queen of Love and Pleasure ? It seems rather

* This celebrated work of art was discovered in the villa of Adrian, in Tivoli, in the sixteenth century, broken into thirteen pieces. The restorations are by a Florentine sculptor. It was brought to Florence in the year 1680. It measures in stature only 4 feet 11 inches. There is no expression of passion or sentiment in the statue: it is an image of abstract or ideal beauty.

[merged small][ocr errors]

It was not five o'clock before I was aroused by a loud din of voices and splashing of water under my balcony. Looking out, I beheld the grand canal so entirely covered with fruits and vegetables on rafts and in barges, that I could scarcely distinguish a wave. Loads of grapes, peaches, and melons arrived and disappeared in an instant, for every vessel was in motion; and the crowds of purchasers, hurrying from boat to boat, formed a very lively picture. Amongst the multitudes I remarked a good many whose dress and carriage announced something above the common rank; and, upon inquiry, I found they were noble Venetians just come from their casinos, and met to refresh themselves with fruit before they retired to sleep for the day.

Whilst I was observing them, the sun began to colour the balustrades of the palaces, and the pure exhilarating air of the morning drawing me abroad, I procured a gondola, laid in my provision of bread and grapes, and was rowed under the Rialto, down the grand canal, to the marble steps of S. Maria della Salute, erected by the senate in performance of a vow to the Holy Virgin, who begged off a terrible pestilence in 1630. The great bronze portal opened whilst I was standing on the steps which lead to it, and discovered the interior of the dome, where I expatiated in solitude; no mortal appearing, except one old priest, who trimmed the lamps, and muttered a prayer before the high altar, still wrapped in shadows. The sunbeams began to strike against the windows of the cupola, just as I left the church, and was wafted across the waves to the spacious platform in front of St Giorgio Maggiore, one of the most celebrated works of Palladio. When my first transport was a little subsided, and I had examined the graceful design of each particular ornament, and united the just proportion and grand effect of the whole in my mind, I planted my umbrella on the margin of the sea, and viewed at my leisure the vast range of palaces, of porticos, of towers, opening on every side, and extending out of sight. The doge's palace, and the tall columns at the entrance of the piazza of St Mark, form, together with the arcades of the public library, the lofty Campanile, and the cupolas of the ducal church, one of the most striking groups of buildings that art can boast of...To behold at one glance these stately fabrics, so illustrious in the records of former ages, before which, in the flourishing times of the republic, so many valiant chiefs and princes have landed, loaded with Oriental spoils, was a spectacle I had long and ardently desired. I thought of the days of Frederick Barbarossa, when looking up the piazza of St Mark, along which he marched in solemn procession to cast himself at the feet of Alexander III., and pay a tardy homage to St Peter's successor. Here were no longer those splendid fleets that attended his progress; one solitary galeas was all I beheld, anchored opposite the palace of the doge, and surrounded by crowds of gondolas, whose sable hues contrasted strongly with its vermilion oars and shining ornaments. A partycoloured multitude was continually shifting from one side of the piazza to the other; whilst * and

s

magistrates, in long black robes, were already arriving to fill their respective offices. I contemplated the busy scene from my peaceful platform, where nothing stirred but aged devotees creeping to their devotions; and whilst I remained thus calm and tranquil, heard the distant buzz of the town. Fortunately, some length of waves rolled between me and its tumults, so that I ate my grapes and read Metastasio undisturbed by officiousness or curiosity. When the sun became too powerful, I entered the nave. After I had admired the masterly structure of the roof and the lightness of its arches, my eyes naturally directed themselves to the pavement of white and ruddy marble, polished, and reflecting like a mirror the columns which rise from it. Over this I walked to a door that admitted me into the principal quadrangle of the convent, surrounded by a cloister supported on Ionic pillars beautifully proportioned. A flight of stairs opens into the court, adorned with balustrades and pedestals sculptured with elegance truly Grecian. This brought me to the refectory, where the chef d'oeuvre of Paul Veronese, representing the marriage of Cana in Galilee, was the first object that presented itself. I never beheld so gorgeous a group of wedding garments before; there is every variety of fold and plait that can possibly be imagined. The attitudes and countenances are more uniform, and the guests appear a very genteel decent sort of people, well used to the mode of their times, and accustomed to miracles. Having examined this fictitious repast, I cast a look on a long range of tables covered with very excellent realities, which the monks were coming to devour with energy, if one might judge from their appearance. These sons of penitence and mortification possess one of the most spacious islands of the whole cluster; a princely habitation, with gardens and open porticos that engross every breath of air ; and what adds not a little to the charms of their abode, is the facility of making excursions from it whenever they have a mind.

[ocr errors]

Pompeii is getting daily disencumbered, and a very considerable part of this Grecian city is unveiled. We entered by the Appian way, through a narrow street of marble tombs, beautifully executed, with the names of the deceased plain and legible. We looked into the columbary below that of Marius Arius Diomedes, and perceived jars containing the ashes of the dead, with a small lamp at the side of each. Arriving at the gate, we perceived a sentry-box in which the skeleton of a soldier was found with a lamp in his hand : proceeding up the street beyond the gate, we went into several streets, and entered what is called a coffeehouse, the marks of cups being visible on the stone: we came likewise to a tavern, and found the sign (not a very decent one) near the entrance. The streets are lined with public buildings and private houses, most of which have their original painted decorations fresh and entire. The pavement of the streets is much worn by carriage wheels, and holes are cut through the side stones for the purpose of fastening animals in the market-place ; and in certain situations are placed stepping-stones, which give us a rather unfavourable idea of the state of the streets. We passed two beautiful little temples; went into a surgeon's house, in the operation-room of which chirurgical instruments were found; entered an ironmonger's shop, where an anvil and hammer were discovered; a sculptor's and a baker's shop, in the latter of which may be seen an oven and grinding mills, like old Scotch querns. We examined likewise an oilman's shop, and a wine shop lately opened, where money was found in the till; a

[blocks in formation]

Contemporaneous with the African expeditions already described, a strong desire was felt in this country to prosecute our discoveries in the Northern seas, which for fifty years had been neglected. The idea of a north-west passage to Asia still presented attractions, and on the close of the revolutionary war, an effort to discover it was resolved upon. In 1818 an expedition was fitted out, consisting of two ships, one under the command of CAPTAIN John Ross, and another under LIEUTENANT, now SIR Edward PARRY. The most interesting feature in this voyage is the account of a tribe of Esquimaux hitherto unknown, who inhabited a tract of country extending on the shore for 120 miles, and situated near Baffin's Bay. A singular phenomenon was also witnessed—a range of cliffs covered with snow of a deep crimson colour, arising from some vegetable substance. When the expedition came to Lancaster Sound, a passage was contidently anticipated; but after sailing up the bay, Captain Ross conceived that he saw land—a high ridge of mountains, extending directly across the bottom of the inlet—and he abandoned the enterprise. Lieutenant Parry and others entertained a

different opinion from that of their commander as to

[blocks in formation]

The whole extent of the city, not one

supposed to be a mountain barrier in Lancaster Sound. ‘To have sailed upwards of thirty degrees of longitude beyond the point reached by any former navigator—to have discovered many new lands, islands, and bays—to have established the muchcontested existence of a Polar sea north of America —finally, after a wintering of eleven months, to have brought back his crew in a sound and vigorous state—were enough to raise his name above that of any former Arctic voyager.’ The long winter sojourn in this Polar region was relieved by various devices and amusements: a temporary theatre was fitted up, and the officers came forward as amateur performers. A sort of newspaper was also established, called the North Georgian Gazette, to which all were invited to contribute; and excursions abroad were kept up as much as possible. The brilliant results of Captain Parry's voyage soon induced another expedition to the Northern seas of America. That commander hoisted his flag on board the “Fury,’ and Captain Lyon, distinguished by his services in Africa, received the command of the “Hecla.” The ships sailed in May 1821. It was more than two years ere they returned; and though the expedition, as to its main object of finding a passage into the Polar sea, was a failure, various geographical discoveries were made. The tediousness of winter, when the vessels were frozen up, was again relieved by entertainments similar to those formerly adopted; and further gratification was afforded by intercourse with the Esquimaux, who, in their houses of snow and ice, burrowed along the shores. We shall extract part of Captain Parry's account of this shrewd though savage race.

[Description of the Esquimaur.]

The Esquimaux exhibit a strange mixture of intellect and dulness, of cunning and simplicity, of ingenuity and stupidity; few of them could count beyond five, and not one of them beyond ten, nor could any of them speak a dozen words of English after a constant intercourse of seventeen or eighteen months; yet many of them could imitate the manners and actions of the strangers, and were on the whole excellent mimics. One woman in particular, of the name of Iligluik, very soon attracted the attention of our voyagers by the various traits of that superiority of understanding for which, it was found, she was remarkably distinguished, and held in esteem even by her own countrymen. She had a great fondness for singing, possessed a soft voice and an excellent ear; but, like another great singer who figured in a different society, “there was scarcely any stopping her when she had once begun; she would listen, however, for hours together to the tunes played on the organ. Her superior intelligence was perhaps most conspicuous in the readiness with which she was made to comprehend the manner of laying down on paper the geographical outline of that part of the coast of America she was acquainted with, and the neighbouring islands, so as to construct a chart. At first it was found difficult to make her comprehend what was meant; but when Captain Parry had discovered that the Esquimaux were already acquainted with the four cardinal points of the compass, for which they have appropriate names, he drew them on a sheet of paper, together with that portion of the coast just discovered, which was opposite to Winter Island, where then they were, and of course well known to her.

We desired her (says Captain Parry) to complete the rest, and to do it mikkee (small), when, with a countenance of the most grave attention and peculiar intelligence, she drew the coast of the continent beyond her own country, as lying nearly north from Winter Island. The most important part still re

mained, and it would have amused an unconcerned looker-on to have observed the anxiety and suspense depicted on the countenances of our part of the group till this was accomplished, for never were the tracings of a pencil watched with more eager solicitude. Our surprise and satisfaction may therefore in some degree be imagined when, without taking it from the paper, Iligluik brought the continental coast short round to the westward, and afterwards to the S.S.W., so as to come within three or four days’ journey of Repulse Bay. I am, however, compelled to acknowledge, that in proportion as the superior understanding of this extraordinary woman became more and more developed, her head (for what female head is indifferent to praise?) began to be turned by the general attention and numberless presents she received. The superior decency and even modesty of her behaviour had combined, with her intellectual qualities, to raise her in our estimation far above her companions; and I often heard others express what I could not but agree in, that for Iligluik alone, of all the Esquimaux women, that kind of respect could be entertained which modesty in a female never fails to command in our sex. Thus regarded, she had always been freely admitted into the ships, the quarter-masters at the gangway never thinking of refusing entrance to ‘the wise woman,’ as they called her. Whenever any explanation was necessary between the Esquimaux and us, Iligluik was sent for as an interpreter; information was chiefly obtained through her, and she thus found herself rising into a degree of consequence to which, but for us, she could never have attained. Notwithstanding a more than ordinary share of good sense on her part, it will not therefore be wondered at if she became giddy with her exaltation—considered her admission into the ships and most of the cabins no longer an indulgence, but a right—ceased to return the slightest acknowledgment for any kindness or resents—became listless and inattentive in unraveling the meaning of our questions, and careless whether her answers conveyed the information we desired. In short, Iligluik in February and Iligluik in April were confessedly very different persons; and it was at last amusing to recollect, though not very easy to persuade one’s self, that the woman who now sat demurely in a chair, so confidently expecting the notice of those around her, and she who had at first, with eager and wild delight, assisted in cutting snow for the building of a hut, and with the hope of obtaining a single needle, were actually one and the same individual. No kind of distress can deprive the Esquimaux of their cheerful temper and good humour, which they preserve even when severely pinched with hunger and cold, and wholly deprived for days together both of food and fuel—a situation to which they are very frequently reduced. Yet no calamity of this kind can teach them to be provident, or to take the least thought for the morrow; with them, indeed, it is always either a feast or a famine. The enormous quantity of animal food (they have no other) which they devour at a time is almost incredible. The quantity of meat which they procured between the first of October and the first of April was sufficient to have furnished about double the number of working people, who were moderate eaters, and had any idea of providing for a future day; but to individuals who can demolish four or five pounds at a sitting, and at least ten in the course of a day, and who never bestow a thought on to-morrow, at least with the view to provide for it by economy, there is scarcely any supply which could secure them from occasional scarcity. It is highly probable that the alternate feasting and fasting to which the gluttony and improvidence of these people so constantly subject them, may have oc

« PoprzedniaDalej »