« PoprzedniaDalej »
Wynd, Edinburgh, either has it himself, or knows where it is to be found." The above information was correct. There is strong presumptive evidence, that the Manuscripts of King James the Second were destroyed, but the Narrative, as described, was then, and is now, in the hands of Dr Cameron, Roman Catholic Bishop in Edinburgh. It could not be in possession of a person who is better qualified to judge of its merits, and on whose fidelity, should he be induced to print it, the
public carriage. Some other things were put up with the Manuscripts. The whole arrived without any accident, and was laid in a cellar. But the patriotism of the Frenchman becoming suspicious, perhaps upon account of his connection with the English College, he was put in prison; and his wife, apprehensive of the consequences of being found to have English manuscripts, richly bound and ornamented with Royal arms, in her house, cut off the boards, and destroypublic might more implicitly rely.-ed them. The Manuscripts, thus disfigured, and more easily huddled up in any sort of bundle, were secretly carried with papers belonging to the Frenchman himself, to his countryhouse; and buried in the garden.— They were not, however, permitted to remain long there; the lady's fears increased, and the Manuscripts were taken up and reduced to ashes.
I am indebted to his accuracy and friendship, for some additional information respecting the manner in which the Manuscripts of the Scotch College were lost. As the facts are in them selves curious, I lay before the reader his succinct and interesting relation of them, contained in a letter to me, da ted Edinburgh, March 2, 1808.
"Before Lord Gower, the British Embassador, left Paris, in the beginning of the French Revolution, he wrote to Principal Gordon, and offered to take charge of those valuable papers, (King James's Manuscripts, &c.) and deposit them in some place of safety in Britain. I know not what answer was returned, but nothing was done. Not long thereafter, the Principal came to England, and the care of every thing in the College devolved on Mr Alexander Innes, the only British subject who remained in it. About the same time, Mr Stapleton, then President of the English College of St Omer, afterwards Bishop in England, went to Paris, previously to his retiring from France, and Mr Inhes, who had resolved not to abandon his
post, consulted with him about the means of preserving the manuscripts. Mr Stapleton thought, if he had them at St Omer, he could, with small risk, convey them to England. It was therefore resolved, that they should be carefully packed up, addressed to a Frenchman, a confidential friend of Mr Stapleton, and remitted by some
"This is the substance of the account given to Mr Innes, and reported by him to me in June 1802, in Paris. I desired it might be authenticated by a proces verbale. A letter was therefore written to St Omer, either by Mr Innes, or by Mr Cleghorn, a lay gentleman, who had resided in the English College of St Omer, and was personally acquainted with the Frenchman, and happened to be at Paris at this time. The answer given to this letter was, that the good man, under the pressure of old age and other infirmis ties, was alarmed by the proposal of a discussion and investigation, which revived in his memory past sufferings, and might, perhaps, lead to a renewal of them. Any further correspondence upon the subject seemed useless, especially as I instructed Mr Innes to go to St Omer, and clear up every doubt, in
formal and legal manner, that some authentic document might be handed down to posterity concerning those valuable Manuscripts. I did not fore see that war was to be kindled up anew, or that my friend Mr Innes was to die
"Mr Cleghorn, whom I mentioned above, is at present in the Catholic seminary of Old Hall Green, Puckeridge, Hertfordshire. He can probably name another gentleman who saw the Manuscripts at St Omer, and saved some small things, (but unconnected with the Manuscripts,) which he carried away in his pocket, and has still in his possession.
even at this early period, is sometimes found subjected to a degree of despotism, of which the severity can hardly be paralleled in more civilized ages. One instance, indeed, that of the Natches, was here so striking, as inevitably to force itself upon the attention. It has generally been regarded, however, as a mere accidental occurrence, and as forming a singular exception to that freedom, which forms the general characteristic of savage life. But extensive discoveries, made since the time of these writers, have brought to light a number of new societies, in which the sovereign meets with the same unlimited submission. On an attentive examination, too, of the accounts handed down from antiquity, we shall discover evident traces of the existence of these carly sovereignties. Upon the whole, it appears to me evident, that this is a regular and constant stage through which man is destined to pass; and there is none, perhaps, which is more essential to the civilization of the species.
This form of government was, in North America, by no means confined to the Natches. It prevailed equally among the different nations of Florida and Virginia; nay, it extended, in a greater or less degree, over the whole east coast of North America, from the Gulph of Mexico, to the river St Lawrence, without excepting even the bleak shores of Nova Scotia. The vicinity of the sea, by yielding subsistence with ease and abundance, thus at once increasing numbers and diminishing the necessity of labour, accelerates the arrival of this state of things. In Nootka Sound, on the north-west coast, we find several numerous tribes living in a state of complete subjection. Most of the fertile and beautiful islands of the south sea; the Society, the Marquesas, the Sandwich, the Friendly, and the Pelew Islands, exist under this form of government. To them, may be added, the
WRITERS on this subject have most fruitful and populous part of New
not failed to observe, that man, Zealand.
"I need not trouble your Lordship with my reflections upon this relation: but I ought not to omit that I was told, sometimes, that all the Manuscripts, as well as their boards, were consumed by fire in the cellar in which they had been deposited upon their arrival at St Omer."
The gentleman alluded to in the latter part of the above letter, is Mr Mostyn, from whom Mr Butler of Lincoln's Inn very kindly procured a statement of the particulars relating to this subject, in the year 1804, and transmitted it to Mr Fox. It contains in substance, though with some additional circumstances, and slight variations, the same account as Mr Cameron's, up to the period of the writer's leaving St Omer, which was previous to the imprisonment of the Frenchman.
Mr Fox, in a letter to Mr Laing, remarks, that, "to know that a paper is lost, is next best to getting a sight of it, and in some instances nearly as good." So many rumours have been circulated, and so many misapprehensions prevailed, respecting the contents and the fate of the manuscripts formerly deposited in the Scotch College at Paris, that it is hoped the above account, the result of the Historian's researches, will not be deemed out of its place in a Preface to a History of the times to which those manuscripts related.
On certain Forms of Despotism which
In ancient history, too, we discover not glimpses merely, but distinct traces of this form of society. The most populous and civilized of the Scythian tribes, particularly the Massagetes; the Scandinavians, the Britons, evidently exhibit all its leading characteristics.
Man in a rude state, as we have repeatedly observed, is liable, in every passion, to run into extremes. Of this we have already seen instances in those of pride and resentment; and the case is the same with that of admiration. The untutored mind, when confined above all to a narrow round of objects, is, in all cases, liable to be affected, in an unlimited degree, by this sentiment. Any being, then, who possesses a striking superiority over others, especially if that superiority be beneficently exerted, becomes, as it were, its idol, and is worshipped with a reverence which knows no bounds. This propensity, indeed, with the devotional character which it assumes, may, perhaps, be considered as a secret tendency of the soul towards that Being who is alone worthy of this unbounded affection.
him as the object of supreme veneration. Hence the obedience, the blind submission paid to him, are absolutely without a parallel.
We may observe, moreover, that the despotism thus established is colupletely the despotism of opinion. In the great states afterwards formed, a small body of men armed and collected round the person of the sovereign, may keep in awe extensive provinces, incapable of acting in concert, ignorant of each others sentiments, and deprived of the means of communication. But here all the subjects are collected within a small compass; they are equally armed *, and can assemble on all occasions with the utmost facility. The savage chief, however, without palace, without guards, and withont attendants, sleeps safer, resting on the assured fidelity of his subjects, than the eastern monarch, surrounded by myriads of satellites, in the most secret recesses of his haram. The historian of Louisiana observes, that among all the monarchs he knew of, that of the Natches alone was absolutely secure from all danger of rebellion. The Chiefs of the South Sea islands were thus seen by our navigators, without any external marks of royalty, going about unattended and unguarded, often paddling their own canoes; and were distinguishable only by the awful prostrations, and signs of profound homage, with which their presence was hailed. Advantage was fre.
We daily see the veneration with which such persons, above all, when placed in rural and sequestered situations, regard men superior in rank, by whom they are treated with kindness. Now, in the societies we are now considering, the chief, who has once risen to distinction by personal qualities, or the supposed favour of the divinity, becomes the grand object on which the eyes of all are constantly fixed. There is not, as in a more cultivated society, any variety of objects to diversify the passions, or prevent them from all centering in this single point. Nor is the authority of the sovereign, as in the most absolute of subsequent formas of government, checked by any restraint of law, of custom, of public
To this observation, I have met
only with two exceptions; one of the Suiones in Scandinavia; and the other, of a savage nation in South America.—In both these cases, the arms were all kept in a place by themselves, under the royal custody. Yet this is so differshould suspect it to be rather a mere ar ent from the general practice, that I
opinion; for these are not yet form-rangement of convenience, than a symptom of jealous precaution. (Charlevoix, Paraguay, I. 71. Tacitus, de Moribus Germanorum, 44.)
ed; nor is there any sentiment capable of rivalling that, which represents
frequently taken of this circumstance, on occasion of the thefts which were habitually committed by those islanders. The chief was seized and carried on shipboard, upon which the stolen article was instantly restored. This mode of procedure, however, demanded peculiar delicacy, and it was an unsuccessful attempt to practice it, which proved fatal to Captain Cooke. The whole narrative of that unfortunate event, affords a striking illustration of the strength of this passion among these savages. The anxiety and alarm which appear whenever danger seems to threaten their king; the eager enquiries whether any injury be intended him and above all, on the fall of one of their chiefs, the intrepidity with which they faced those arms, which before had struck them with such terror; after standing whose fire, they rushed forward and massacred all who could not effect their escape; all this indicates a spontaneous zeal and fidelity, which could not be the result of fear or compulsion.
Besides that obedience and submission which is common to them with the subjects of all absolute governments, other modes of homage are practised, peculiar to themselves, and eminently characteristic of their habits of thinking. Among the most remarkable of these, is the celebration of their prince's obsequies by human sacrifices. This too, in its original at least, is completely spontaneous, and is considered as a privilege of the first order. For this they chearfully sacrifice their own lives, and the lives of those who are dearest to them. They consider, as their first happiness, that of dying along with their sovereign, and being laid in the same grave.
Of all others, the most noted for this strange and savage custom, seem to have been the nation of the Natches. Among them, a certain number of persons, who had been born about the same time with their prince,
were set aside to be his attendants during life, and his followers in death. To their number were added a few, who, by long and earnest solicitation, had succeeded in having their names placed upon this list. All the wives of the sovereign also accompanied him to the tomb, with the exception of such as had infants at the breast; and they have been known to give their children to another, and even to destroy them, rather than forfeit this privilege. On the appointed day, all these persons assembled to grace the obsequies of their chief: and while every other countenance was overspread with mourning, theirs was chearful and serene. They walked forth, dressed in their gayest attire, and met their fate, dancing and singing, with inconceivable joy and exultation*.
This custom prevailed very extensively, not only in America†, but in other parts of the world. Ancient Scythia, almost in every thing the counterpart of America, possessed also this trait of resemblance. It continued to be practised even by the Mexicans and Peruvians. Among the former, every nobleman (chief or lord of some town) had at death a priest and several of his slaves buried with him. At the death of the sovereign, two hundred persons were sacrificed ‡ As the reverence for their princes gradually declines, this sacrifice may be supposed to become less and less voluntary, till at length compulsion becomes necessary §. When this is the case, the custom may be supposed approaching to its final abolition.
Among other tribes, life is sacrificed even on slighter occasions. In the Ca
* Charlevoix, VI. Lettres edifiantes, VIII. 13, 14. Pratz, Hist. of Louisi ana, 354-7.
+ Ramusio, III. 53.
Astley's Collection of Voyages and Travels, II. 537.
Canaries, when a lord came of age, or married, several of his people precipitated themselves from a high rock, in celebration of those happy events Every reader must have heard of the Schiek, or Old Man of the Mountain, so famous in the time of the Crusades. It was upon this devotion of his people, upon the alacrity with which, at his command, they faced inevitable destruction, that he founded the system of assassination which rendered him so formidable. It is related, that one day, standing with an European ambassador on the brink of a precipice, he, with the mere view of displaying his absolute power, called to him a boy, who, at his command, instantly threw himself down, and was dashed to pieces.
It was customary with the Floridans to make their first-born a sacrifice to their king; and in the presence of an assembled multitude, the inhuman ceremony was performed, amid shouts and savage rejoicingst. Among the Ansicans, with whom human flesh is considered as the most delicious food, the nobles are said often to present themselves and families, for the purpose of being served up as a dish at the table of their master ‡.
Among other nations, we find customs less fatal indeed, but no less expressive of unbounded veneration. In Otaheite, on the death of the sovereign, the whole people take new names; as if, by this mighty change, they had all been converted into different beings. When he has entered any house, it is from that time sacred to him; no other person must set foot within it. Captain Cook having landed at a village in the Sandwich Islands, found all the inhabitants lying prostrate at the doors of their houses; and
on enquiring the reason, learned that it was in honour of a certain great man who had recently arrived there. The same navigator having invited the king of the Friendly Islands into his cabin, the monarch's attendants instantly took the alarm, and remonstrated against a measure which would enable any one to walk above his majesty*.
Among the ancient Ethiopians, if the sovereign lost a leg or an arm, all his courtiers thought it incumbent on them to mutilate themselves in like. manner t.
We have now seen this authority of the savage chieftain under two aspects; while forming, and after arriving at its full maturity. But there is a third aspect under which it must be viewed, before we can understand completely the phenomena which it exhibits; this is that of its decay. Power, and, above all, despotic power, after subsisting for a certain period, inevitably sinks into a state of debility. Such seems to be the provision made by nature against its permanence, which would keep the human mind in a state of perpetual childhood; and for furnishing to a people, at certain intervals, the opportunity of acquiring such a measure of liberty, as circumstances may render them capable of. The sources of this debility are not difficult to trace. The chiefs, finding themselves in the undisputed possession of this high authority, no longer feel the same impulse to exertion. It is no longer necessary for them to display those qualities, or that attention to the interest of their people, which first raised them to distinction. They abandon themselves to indolence and voluptuousness. Poulaho, king of the Friendly Islands, had got so fat with indolence and eating, that he was scarcely able to drag himself along t The
*Cooke's Third Voyage, I. 265. + Diodorus Siculus.
Cooke's Third Voyage, I. 264, &c.