Page images

late Mr. Canning indulged a solicitude akin to that of Parr ; yet the stupendous scholar and the academic orator were the two persons of their era who might have trusted with most composure or least hesitation, in the accuracy and sufficiency of their first effusions. But they knew the secret of durability and the efficacy of full-wrought excellence. If a contrast were wanted on this head, we should adduce some pages of Parr's Dedication to the Tracts, or Preface to the Sequel, or of any one of Canning's Speeches as revised by himself for the last London edition, and place by them extracts from Pelham or the Disowned-books which are so much lauded in the daily papers. The extravagancies, blunders, and improprieties of diction in the latter, are matched only by the dissoluteness of the morals which are painted, and the depravity of the sentiments and doctrines constituting that which, by a wretched perversion of language, is called the philosophy of this lawless scribble. We do not require it of ephemeral novelists to flounder in the sentences of Johnson or Parr,-to mimick the mannerism of lofty and lavish erudition; but some correctness of structure, some chasteness of style as well as purity of description, may be held indispensable in every work designed for the public eye.

We should be disposed to apologize to our readers for the space which we have devoted to Parr, if he had been a merely learned and skilful pedagogue, an erudite oddity, an ordinary divine, or a simple emendator of Greek and Latin texts. The man whose character and career we have attempted to exhibit in profile, was a luminary in moral science; a writer who has left masterpieces of English as well as Latin and Greek prose; a profound theologian, who set the example of the most comprehensive and benevolent toleration; a scholar, to whom such a scholar and metaphysician as Dr. Copleston wrote, “ if there is a person living, qualified to throw light on the structure of the Greek and Latin languages, by the aid of philosophical investigation, that is yourself;" a personage so distinguished and connected, that the list of his eminent correspondents spreads over twenty pages in print, and the number of letters on the most important topics of literature, which he could collect several years before his death, considerably exceeded eight thousand; a phenomenon looming from an humble sphere, with eccentricities or foibles to provoke ridicule, virtues to command reverence, and abilities to excite wonder. He shed additional lustre on the calling which Milton and Johnson exercised, the instruction of youth; a calling that should be equal in consideration to any other, as it is second to none in refined utility; and which the American people particularly may honour, sinee it has been pursued originally by so large a portion of their ablest public men.


No. X.

JUNE, 1829.

ART. I. --Journal of a Second Expedition into the Interior

of Africa, by the late CAPTAIN CLAPPERTON: to which is added the Journal of his own return to the Coast, by RiCHARD LANDER, his faithful Servant. London: 1829.

THE continent of Africa affords a remarkable instance of human knowledge and human ignorance. Of a surface extending over nearly one fourth of the terrestrial portion of the globe, we know scarcely more than the outlines, and yet much of what we do know is derived from the very traditions and records of the most remote antiquity. When history first shines upon the world, it displays the land of Egypt, bright with the glories of civilization, of learning, and of science. While Europe was a desert, inhabited by naked savages, and the empires of Asia, vast and venerable as they are, were in the rudeness of infancy, that country was governed by mighty kings, and displayed a refinement only to have been obtained in the progress of time. With the history of Egypt, of Carthage, and of Numidia, we are better acquainted than with the early annals of most Euroropean and Asiatic nations; and the fathers of poetry have conferred on this continent the fame of being the favourite seat of the gods, and the ultimate resort of the blest. Yet while centuries rolled onward, each, in its course, presenting fresh information of the contiguous quarters of the globe, and at last opening to the boldness of enterprise and science, a new,hemisphere, they scarcely increased our knowledge of Africa, and enabled us to add to the information derived from antiquity, little more than the surveys of its eastern and western shores, and the small territory which commerce explored around its southern promontory. VOL. V, --NO. 10,


It was not to be supposed that a field, apparently so fruitful of adventure, could long escape the notice of modern enterprise ; or that a region so vast, and full as it was known to be of populous kingdoms and cities, would be long neglected by the allsearching eye of modern commerce. Restless curiosity, inquiring science, the grasping speculation of trade, and perhaps we may add the charity of the pious and humane to extend to benighted nations the lights of religion and knowledge, have each in turn endeavoured to raise the veil, and have each in turn given to that fatal sepulchre lives of inestimable value. Yet the sacrifice has not been altogether abortive; if all is not accomplished, much has been attained, and by scarcely perceptible degrees, the map of central Africa ceases to present the blank which it did half a century ago.

To trace these degrees, will, we think, be a useful and agreeable task; and it will better prepare our readers to understand and appreciate the discoveries of the last few years, to which it is our intention more especially to call their notice.

Our first geographical knowledge of Africa, if we except the incidental notices of it met with in the Scriptures, is derived from the charming narrative of the father of history. He who had extended his personal observation over so many, and his careful inquiries to all the known regions of the earth; who delighted in collecting and relating the wonders of nature, and the peculiarities of mankind; and who combined in his delightful pages, all that was calculated to attract, to instruct, and to please, the curious and intelligent multitude, before whom he intended to recite them; could not pass over, could not dwell without more than usual interest, on a land remarkable, beyond every other, for what was wonderful in the productions of nature and of art. Its mountains buried in the clouds, its rivers whose sources were unseen by human eyes, its islands of the desert blooming with perpetual spring, its enormous serpents, its ferocious wild beasts, were scarcely more attractive to his eager imagination, than the antiquity of its kings, the mysterious learning of its priests, the strange customs of its religion, the vast grandeur of its monuments, and the inscrutable records of past ages, which adorned the sides of its obelisks and temples. On the geography and the history therefore of this country, he has dwelt with more than usual fulness; and from his narrative we are able to fix, with considerable accuracy, the portion of Africa which was really known to the Greeks.

In the time of Herodotus, then, a pretty correct knowledge existed of the northern coast, and the several nations which succeeded one another from Egypt to the pillars of Hercules. It was known that these countries extended to the south, as far as a wild and mountainous region inhabited by wild beasts,

heyond which lay a vast sandy desert. Of the other coasts, the information was less accurate; it was indeed asserted to be surrounded on all sides by the sea, except at the isthmus of Suez; and a band of Phænician navigators are reported to have sailed from the Red Sea round the cape of Good Hope, and to have returned through the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Little information of course was obtained from this voyage, and its very accomplishment has been doubted, though we think on insufficient grounds; yet it proves that an accurate belief as to the general shape of Africa then existed; a belief which is confirmed by the circumstance, that Xerxes sentenced Sataspes, a nobleman of Persia, to a voyage round Africa, as the punishment of some crime. It is evident, however, that beyond these vague and general ideas, an acquaintance with the African coasts, in the time of Herodotus, was limited to those which border on the Mediterranean and Red Seas. Of the interior, more was known at that period than might at first be expected. Along the Nile, the great guide into the desert, nations, towns, and people, are mentioned with the appearance of considerable certainty; and the most southern point, in the country of the Automoli, is fixed as far as a hundred and four days' journey from Elephantina, the modern Assouan, and the boundary of Upper Egypt. But of central Africa, or that portion of the desert lying to the westward of Egypt, nothing was known, except what was gathered from the rash enterprises of Cambyses, which probably extended to a very short distance; and from the bold exploits of five young Nussamonians, who seem to have been led by much the same spirit of romantic adventure, that characterises the travellers of the present day. These young men, living on the coast of the Mediterranean, near the present town of Tripoli, sons of the principal citizens, and actuated solely by the desire of exploring the vast and unknown country to the south, which had always been regarded with so much mystery and wonder, penetrated beyond the cultivated coast, and after passing the mountainous region, pursued their journey through the sandy desert; being taken prisoners by a body of black men, they were carried to a city inhabited also by negroes, and traversed by a river flowing from west to east, in which they beheld crocodiles; they afterwards safely effected their return home. The river Herodotus believed to be the Nile, and modern geographers have also supposed it to be the Niger.

In the century succeeding that when Herodotus flourished, the only expedition into the interior of Africa of which we have any account, is the march of Alexander

with his victorious army, to the temple of Jupiter Ammon. This great prince, not more remarkable for his skill in battle and the extent and splendour of his conquests, than for the penetrating and prudent zeal with

which he examined and regarded the institutions and resources of the countries he overran, and the ardour with which he visit. ed and viewed every spot immortalized by poetry, history, or tradition, after marching through the country on both sides of the Nile, from Memphis to Heliopolis, undertook this expedition, one of the most famous in history, apparently from blended motives of ambition, curiosity, and public utility. He desired the auspices of the same mysterious oracle, whose responses had been given to Perseus, Hercules, and Cræsus; he was anxjous to view the far-famed island of the desert, where the father of the gods had fixed his seat, at the same time as at Dodona, the oldest oracle of Greece; and he sought to open new paths for commerce and adventure, into lands which were reported to be populous and rich. His march, though not extending far into the interior, certainly gave additional and more certain information relative to those regions, and added considerably to the accuracy of geographical knowledge.

In the following century, the third before the Christian era, ought to be placed the observations of Eratosthenes, Eudoxus, and probably Hanno the Carthaginian; though of the latter, the period is uncertain. Eratosthenes, the librarian of Ptolemy Philadelphus at Alexandria, though evidently ignorant of the extent of the African continent to the south and its true shape, was well acquainted with the course of the Nile to a very high point; for he describes its two branches flowing from the east, under the names of the Astabaras and Astapus—the Bahr el Abiad and the Tacazze of the moderns—and the great bend which it makes in passing through Nubia and Dongola. Eudoxus, an enterprising native of Cyzicus, on an accidental visit to the library of Alexandria, was fired with the desire of exploring the remote course of the same noble river; this plan he afterwards changed to a voyage along the eastern coast, though the point he reached is uncertain, and subsequently to an expedition westward, with the hope of making the circuit of the continent, in which, however, after proceeding some distance southward along the Atlantic shore, he lost his vessels on a shoal, and was obliged to return in a small one constructed from their timbers. Hanno the Carthaginian was more successful, if the narrative which has come down to us is to be considered as authentic; with an incredible armament of sixty vessels, and thirty thousand persons, he sailed from the pillars of Hercules, founded several cities on the coast as he proceeded southward, passed by regions where the land appeared to be in a blaze, and where at night tumultuous shouts and wild music were heard, and where the inhabitants, though of human form, were covered with hair; and then visited the river Lixus, and the islands of Cerne and Gorillæ. The extent of this voyage has been of course a

« PreviousContinue »