ePub 版

proud attitude of independence it enjoyed under the Batoris, the Sigismonds, the Sobieskis, without one moment thinking of the immense changes the political condition of Europe has since then undergone, and their peculiar geographical position, which makes it impossible that they should stand again on the same footing as formerly. Poland is now linked to us, and must be content with the fate which is unavoidably reserved for her political existence. If ever we allowed her to become completely independent, she would make an Asiatic nation of us, and we are not disposed to recede.'- Burke has said,' observed the Prince, that the partition of Poland would be paid dearly for by its authors: he might have added, that such might be the case with her defenders also; for Napoleon's interference with her concerns has in no small degree contributed to the loss of his crown. I hope a better fate will be reserved for the Emperor Alexander; but all must depend upon the adoption of suitable measures, and their security on a firm basis. A people who are proud of themselves may suffer themselves to be conquered, but will not bear to be humiliated. The force of arms may achieve their conquest; but it is only through a generous and just policy that they may be thoroughly subjugated.'-' You need not apprehend any system of policy, my dear Prince, of which the Poles will ever have reason to complain at our hands. If you read this manuscript, the margin of which is full of notes, written in the Emperor Alexander's own hand, you will find how great is our desire to meet the wishes of the Polish nation. This is the constitution intended for them. It will enable you to judge whether the lofty sentiments which spring from the heart should not be taken as the guarantees of that monarch's good intentions. The institutions of that country, hereby fixed upon a solid foundation, will become the means by which the peace of Europe may be ever maintained.'-'If the bases of the edifice are proportioned to its weight, and of comparative solidity, they will, no doubt, prove durable; but if not, you may have to fear the vengeance of men who are driven to desperate means. I wish you had time to read the Memoirs of Poland, which I wrote in 1788. You may, perhaps, think, that what was written so long back, is not exactly applicable to the present period. Nevertheless, you would meet with much useful information in that work, and a great deal of coincidence between your thoughts and mine on some material points.'”

This passage will place to the mind of every reflecting reader the present contest between the Poles and Russians in its true light. The question at issue is, whether the former nation shall be governed with a view to their own advantage, or to that of another country. It is the question of national independence, the only guarantee for political as that is for personal freedom. Nicholas may be a good, kind man ; he may have lightened the burdens of the peasantry and burghers; but he can claim no right to rule Poland, in accordance with any theory of government ever promulgated. The social arrangements of that country may-do-imperatively demand improve. ment; but that can only be effected by the people itself. Nations, no more than men, can be watched and whipped into good behaviour.

The Persian Adventurer; being the Sequel of the Kuzzilbash. By J. B. Frazer, Esq. In three volumes. London. Colburn and Bentley.

THE author of the Kuzzilbash is no novelist, in the legitimate sense of the word. Fielding gives us the true notion of a novel, when he calls it a prose epic. It ought to be a story complete in itself, interesting from its skilful complexity, and happy unravelling. This is the form; the substance ought to be, well-developed character -pictures of the human mind, unfolding its hidden recesses at the same time that it forms itself; and the evolvement of this character ought to be made subservient to the incidents-the soil, indeed, out of which they spring. Many of our best novels, it must be confessed, are deficient in the article of plot-none of them in that of character. They may be imperfect in form, but their matter is always good. But try the Kuzzilbash, and still more the sequel to that work, now under our review, and they will be found lamentably deficient.

The interest excited by the Kuzzilbash is owing entirely to the spirited character of the narrative, the novel scenery to which we are introduced, and the startling nature of his adventures. Story there is none. The different adventures of the hero might be inverted in the order of time, without any shock being given to probability, in so far as they are subservient to the winding-up of the story, or the display of his maturing character. They have no natural connexion or dependence. The Kuzzilbash, except that he takes care to tell us that he has grown wiser and sedater, is the same person from first to last. Shireen Selim, all the dramatis persona, are as satisfactorily known to us the first time we meet them, as when we close the last volume. There are affecting incidents, hair-breadth escapes, and gorgeous description, but there is a want of any vital pervading interest to give unity to the whole.

All this holds true of the Kuzzilbash-the Persian Adventurer is a more decided failure. It is simply a repetition of the former tale, more languidly told. The hero is, as in the former part of the work, thrown into situations from which nothing but a miracle can rescue him, and this trick has been repeated, till, from having become incredible, it fails to move us. There is a sameness, too, in the continually recurring scenes of battle and bloodshed. Two or three accounts of skirmishes may do, but six long volumes full of nothing else satiate. There are a great many passages in the three volumes now before us, which show that Mr Frazer knew what ought to be done, but in no one instance has he done it. He indicates fine things instead of executing them.

One of his most successful efforts is


"The chief himself, wounded in body and broken in spirit, was brought before me as commander of the partyknow that for him there was no mercy. When I reminded the humble organ of his majesty's pleasure. Well did he him of his crimes, upbraided him with his mad obstinacy, and declared his doom, the pale gloomy countenance of the Affghaun lighted up with a gleam of indignant fire: 'What I have done, is done,' said he. I have lived your master's foe, and his foe I will die. What good cause has he given me to love him?' demanded he, throwing a darkening glance on the ruin around him; the energy of his mind rose superior to his situation, and I began to be moved with admithe Saafee at that moment stept forward like a messenger ration of his constancy, and compassion for his fate, when of evil: Tyrant!' said he, in a hoarse unnatural voice, the day of reckoning is come at last. Remember Ibrahim Mullich! Such as the house of Ibrahim was rendered by the arm of Waled Abbas, such is the house of Waled Abbas this day, smitten through the might of the Omnipotent, by the hand of his servant Polundeh! My lord, the murderer I claim this man as my due-the reward of my promised of my father stands before me! I demand the price of blood aid."


"In a moment the proud flush left the cheek of the Meer, as he heard the address of Poyundeh. His eye quailed beneath the withering frown of the young Saafee. But his hardihood at length revived, and he returned his haughty gaze with equal scorn. Thy aid, thou coward traitor! and darest thou boast that to thee the Affghaun power owes this last blow? Base fool! treacherous worm! thou art beneath my curses. Had Allah not seen fitting to pour out his wrath upon this people, where then had been thy pitiful revenge? Chief of the troops of Nadir! I am thy prisoner, and as such I claim to be conducted to the foot of that throne of which thou art the servant.'

"Prisoner,' replied I, 'the orders of my master are these: That wheresoever Waled Abbas may be taken, on that spot shall he meet his doom. The youth before thee claims the price of blood.. He hath, moreover, named that just revenge as the only reward of his services; and my word is passed that into his hand thou shalt be delivered. Such is our sacred law, the injunctions of our holy faith; and far be it from Ismael to break his oath, or contravene these venerable mandates, even had his prisoner merited another fate. Young Saafee, behold thy victim! Take and deal with him as it seemeth good to thee. But his head must be laid at the foot of the king of kings, in proof that his behests have been obeyed,'

"Holy Prophet! is this thy justice?' exclaimed the unfortunate Meer, who, fearless of death itself, was yet appalled at the thought of being thus tamely delivered into the hands of one, who conscience told him had too much cause to be his mortal foe. Can a warrior, and a bold one, denounce a doom like this upon a brave man, who has only asserted his own freedom, and repelled the enemies of his country, with all his might? Once more I appeal to thy honour as a soldier ;-see, I am ready!-let me but die by the stroke of the scimitar, as a soldier should meet his death. I seek not to live. Why should I? My family and my tribe are gone-destroyed-cut off. What have I left to live for? But let me not fall, bound, by the horrid knife of a mean, cowardly assassin.'


"The poignant energy of his appeal penetrated my very soul. I looked at the young Saafee; but the expression of his countenance was dark and impenetrable. Still I hesitated he saw the workings of my soul, and doubtless dreaded the consequences. My lord,' said he, I claim your promise. The blood of my father and my brothers, the spirits of my kindred, cry out from their graves upon their kinsman. My soul has no peace.' I saw that all was vain, and contended no farther. May Allah be my help! as I strove to do my duty, as I acted according to my belief of what that duty was; but the pale and noble countenance of the Affghaun chief as he stood helpless before me -his tongue now mute-but his deep-set eyes fixed upon mine with a stern upbraiding look,-that look I never can forget. Long after did it haunt my imagination with a force, which, though my conscience denied, my heart was forced to acknowledge.

"But the worst was spared both to himself and me. The interview I have described took place in a court of the Meer's own dwelling, in front of the building which had been his own dewankhaneh. Of this court, one side was formed by the external wall of the fort, which, rising to considerable height above the giddy precipice, terminated in a terrace and parapet, accessible from the court by a flight of steps. The whole of this little court, which had been laid out with some attention to comfort and neatness, was now thickly strewed with ghastly mangled bodies, and the buildings were smeared with blood, and blackened with smoke. In one corner of this scene of carnage a horse cloth had been hastily spread for me, and upon it I was seated when the prisoner was brought before me. Sickening with an indescribable feeling of emotion at the conviction of what was about to ensue, but unable any longer to prevent or retard the catastrophe, I made the signal to the guards who held the Meer that they should deliver him into the possession of the claimant; and they accordingly transferred the shawl by which his arms were bound into the hands of the young Saafee; while I, hating the sight, turned away my eyes, but they were speedily recalled. I heard the voice of Waled Abbas exclaim, Is it indeed thus ?-then I have but one resource !' and, watching his opportunity before the Saafee had rightly secured his hold, he sprang from between the guards, and, wounded as he was, rushed with the rapidity of light up the steps of the parapet. Every arm was paralysed, and the beating of each heart was arrested for a moment, as the lofty figure of the Meer appeared standing on the giddy verge. Tyrants and fools!' exclaimed he, in tones of ineffable scorn, I despise,-I spit at ye! I am beyond your power.' With these words, he bounded into the air; and such was the awful silence which prevailed, that the crash of his falling body was heard distinctly ascending from the abyss below."

His Nadir Shah, as a whole, is a failure; but the account of the tyrant's end, although somewhat enfeebled by diffuseness, has sparkles of grandeur and terror.


"The terrible smile which convulsed, rather than relaxed, his features, as in tones of bitter mockery he uttered this savage jest, made even those best accustomed to his excesses of cruelty shudder with horror. A more than usual gloom brooded over the whole assembly, which irritated and exacerbated, if possible, the devilish ill-humour of the shah; and he sought to vent it in increased and extraordinary atrocities. In truth, the conduct and demeanour of Nadir, on this eventful evening, betrayed an utterly distempered mind; and if ever the unconscious indications of approaching fate are to be traced in the yet living and secure man, they were written on the aspect and deportment of the Shah this fatal day. "His countenance, once so serenely composed and noble

in its expression, had, long ere this, from the habitual indulgence of evil passions, contracted a savage frown, which weighed upon the spirits of beholders; while the deep-worn lines on cheek and brow, prevailing over increased corpulency, evinced the constant load of jealous care and suspicious hatred which embittered and rankled in his mind. On this evening, these peculiarities of appearance were fearfully increased;-his swarthy cheek was tinged with livid yellow; the furrows on his brow were ominously dark; his eye, rolling in its orbit, expressed the restless fever of his mind, no less than the convulsive movements of his features, and his quick, startling changes of attitude, did the corresponding uneasiness of his frame. Rapidly and suspiciously did his glance flit over the persons and countenances of his officers, as if his soul sought for a restingplace, a single spot on which it could repose in confidence; but the search was vain.

"The durbar of Nadir had, for a long time past, been a scene of gloom and constraint; for no one could tell whether he might be one moment safe from the effects of a sudden ebullition of ill-humour, nor what might be the conduct most likely to secure him. Thus, all for the most part stood silent and downcast, awaiting the address of their sovereign rather in terror than in hope; and though an occasional facetious remark from his majesty might prove the signal for mirth and laughter, it was a merriment so obviously forced and constrained, as not even to deceive the ear for which it was designed, a failure which served to increase the very evil in which that constraint had originated.

"So passed the time, until the durbar was broken up, when the Shah retired within the wall of serpurdehs, which enclosed his pavilions; and the chiefs and officers quitted the sahn before the audience-tent. Still they did not retire to their quarters, but congregated in groups, and continued in earnest conversation; and it was afterwards remarked, that the officers and chiefs of Iraun gathered themselves together in parties distinct from those of the Oozbecks, the Toorkomans, and the Affghauns, who on their side maintained the same rule, and had their own separate consultations.

"To an observant eye, even though totally unacquainted with the rumours of existing conspiracies, the arrangement of the camp, and the relative positions of its several divisions, might have afforded matter of surprise, and even of suspicion, for the troops immediately around the royal quarters were principally Oozbecks, while the Affghauns and Toorkomans occupied the upper part of the slope upon which the camp was pitched, in such a manner that the divisions assigned to the Persian troops should, in case of an uproar, lie enclosed between two fires. It was asserted that the Toorkomans and Affghauns were observed whetting their scimitars according to the custom before an action; and this circumstance did not escape the observation of those who knew what was in contemplation.

"Notwithstanding the dark treasons and jealous alarms which rendered the camp no unapt similitude of a mine about to be sprung, the night sunk down in tranquillity and silence; nor could a stranger have imagined that a catastrophe, involving the fate of a great empire, and of so many thousand human lives, was on the eve, nay, at the very moment, of occurrence. Fatigued with the sustained exertions and agitating incidents of the late expedition, I had retired to rest, and was enjoying a profound repose, when one of my most attached followers and guards ran into the tent, and hastily aroused me,-Arise, arise, my lord,' said he, the camp is in a tumult, and wild cries are heard in the direction of the royal quarters.' Starting up, I was shaking myself to throw off the heaviness of sleep, for I scarcely comprehended the man's words, when in rushed Noor Mahomed, exclaiming, ere he well reached the doorway, In the name of God, Ismael, arise! the camp is in horrible confusion; they say the Shah has been murdered !'


"Effectually aroused by the bare mention of such an alarming rumour, I hastily threw on my coat of mail and a few clothes, and catching up my arms, ran with Noor Mahomed towards the royal pavilion. Numbers, who had been startled by the same indistinct rumour, were now streaming from sundry quarters in this direction, and Iraunees, Affghauns, Toorkomans, and Oozbecks, all ran thither in a mingled crowd to learn the truth. It was afterwards remembered that all the latter troops were fully armed-a circumstance which corroborated the belief generally entertained, of the intended massacre of the Persian troops on this very night.

hour of summer sunshine, succeeded by the wildest storm of winter, affords not an adequate image of its horrors. It was like the day of eternal doom succeeding to the joys of Paradise.

"Before the royal pavilion, the confusion was already complete. The serpurdehs were torn down in many places, number of persons were running in and out, and blows and loud execrations were beginning to make themselves be heard. For some time, our enquiries regarding what had happened remained unanswered, and we knew not what to think, for it was not the first alarm of the kind which had proved groundless, although never before had appearances been so alarming.


"At last, observing Moossa Beg, an officer of the guard, passing hastily by, although ignorant at the time of his great share in the business, I stopped and entreated him to tell the truth. Know ye not of it?' replied he: tumaum hond! it is all over!-the bloody tyrant is dead!'—' Punahhe-Khodah! can it be?' It is true. Mahomed Sabeh Khan Affshar and the Kussukchee Bashee forced their way in not an hour ago, killed the eunuch of the guard at the entrance of the sleeping tent, cut down some women and other eunuchs, who were moving about, and sought for the Shah; but he, probably awakened and alarmed by the noise, could not immediately be found. They caught a sight of him at last by the light of a small chiraugh, and rushed towards him. But by that time he was on his guard, and while loudly calling on his own guards, actually struck down two of the gholaums who followed us, before a blow from Mahomed Saleh disabled him in some degree, and convinced him of our errand. A fearful scuffle ensued. The Shah, at last tripped up, I believe by a tent rope-for, in the scuffle, he sought to escape from the tent, and we had by that time got to its outside-fell, and cried out for mercy, promising unqualified forgiveness to all concerned. Mercy, tyrant ? said Saleh Khan, aiming at him a terrible stroke; you never knew what it was, and you shall not now.' The blow was mortal; but he received many more wounds before we left him; and then Mahomed Saleh severed the head from the body.'

"And were you then one of them, Moossa?' exclaimed I, smitten with horror and with pity; 'you, an officer !a confidential officer of his own guard! What was to be done?' responded Moossa Beg; it was come to the point with a vengeance,-it was he or me-us, I should say. Where was the room for hesitation? besides, I had the orders of Allee Koolee Khan.'

"The increasing light of day, however, appeared to calm, in some measure, and to restore to reason, the sundry furious factions, who having tried their strength in the medley of a night encounter, and having found that little was to be gained, while much was to be lost, by further violence, now drew off to parley and negotiate. But while each party stood thus on guard, surlily glaring on each other like lions breathing from a first encounter, and eying the strength and preparation of their respective adversaries be fore recommencing the combat, a cry of enquiry arose, of— Where is the body of the Shah? Is he in reality dead?' And the Toorkomans and Affghauns, upon whom the blow could not fail of falling with most severity, were the loudest in calling out for satisfaction upon this important point. "The principal leaders of each corps were now called upon in a tumultuous manner to stand forward, and pro ceeded, at the common voice, to search for the corpse. It was found, after a while, lying half naked upon the ground among the ruins of the harem pavilion: the only living thing near it was an old woman, who sat lamenting over the severed head. At sight of these bloody tokens, which were instantly brought forth, and produced to the foreign troops, who soon assembled in their respective corps, a mist seemed to fall from their eyes. They now felt palpably what before they had not perceived, that their power had passed away, and with it their security; that the spell which had incorporated them, and identified them with the sons and soldiers of another land, and almost given it into their possession, was for ever broken, and that they now stood alone, unsupported, among those who had ceased to be their comrades and friends."

Illustrations of Zoology; being Representations of New,
Rare, or Remarkable Subjects of the Animal Kingdom,
Drawn and Coloured after Nature; with Historical
and Descriptive Details. By James Wilson, F. R.S. E.
Royal Folio. Edinburgh. William Blackwood. 1831.

"While these words were passing hastily between us, Mahomed Koolee Khan himself came hurriedly by, his clothes sprinkled with blood, and his drawn sword in his hand. If ye desire to live till morning,' said he, do not stand here gazing upon a broken pipkin, but fly every man to his quarters, and defend his own. The Oozbecks and Toorkomans are upon us already; let the Iraunees look to it.' And, in truth, the tumult was fast thickening and swelling, and swords were flashing, and musket-shots were dropping here and there. The uproar was soon repeated in other quarters of the camp. The shouts rose into a continued yell of various sounds; the musket peals increased to a continued rattle. The gathering cries of each troop and clan were heard above the tumult. Affshars! Beyants! Jalloyers! Koords! To your arms! Hah! Gholaumee! Keep your ground! The rascally Toorkomans and Affghauns are upon us!' and soldiers were fast running about to find their comrades or officers.


"By a judicious and varied selection," he says in his Pre"The morning dawned upon a spectacle of confusion, face," of subjects from the different classes of the Animal pillage, and bloodshed, which the mind cannot imagine nor Kingdom, accompanied by a history of their habits and the pen describe; and which, from being so sudden and modes of life, it is hoped that, in the course of not many totally unexpected, was the more striking and appalling. years, such a representative assemblage may be brought toOf the lofty and magnificent pavilions of the Shah, scarce gether," [revolutionary and democratic principles at work a vestige remained, except the torn serpurdehs, and walls among the brutes, too,] as will serve to exemplify, in a which lay scattered about, with a part of one of the harem novel and interesting manner, the numerous tribes of living tents still hanging upon its broken pole. Of those belong-creatures, of which the great family of Nature is composed. ing to the chief officers of the army, most were in a similar On the first introduction of every established order, or condition, except in those quarters where the inmates, being well-marked genus, such observations will be presented as on their guard, had manfully resisted their assailants; and may suffice to illustrate the natural history of the species among these was that of the Affshars. The lines and streets which it contains, considered in their generalities; and between the tents were encumbered with dead bodies, thus, while the subjects treated of individually may, from which, to the amount of many thousands, lay strewed their rarity, or the accuracy of their portraitures, be regardthroughout the camp. The sinoke of the dying fires stilled with some degree of interest even by the scientific natufaintly rose upwards, and fragments of pillaged goods were ralist, the work itself will at the same time serve as an elethickly scattered over the whole ground. Among this mentary introduction under a popular form, not unadapted hideous scene swarmed thousands of fierce and armed men, to the purposes of the general reader. It will be the author's still thirsting for each other's lives; still threatening their aim to combine the precision of a scientific treatise with the former comrades with the arms which, till now, had been more excursive and agreeable character of a popular miscelwielded in each other's defence. Such was this awful lany; and by avoiding alike the vagueness and inaccuracy transmutation; a single night, nay, a few hours, had reduced of the one, and the repulsive dryness of the other, to gain the well-ordered arrangement and admirable organization the favour of both classes of readers." of the camp to this frightful condition. On the life of a single man hung all this mighty change. The brilliant

The author has performed all that he has here promi

We look upon Mr Wilson's splendid work as a valuable addition to natural history. The figures of the different animals are uniformly executed with accuracy and taste; the historical details in that graphic and amusing manner which characterises all Mr Wilson's writings. The Illustrations are selected from a mass of interesting subjects contained in the Museum of our University, eked out by the materials with which the author's extensive correspondence with the Zoologists of Europe have supplied him. Mr Wilson's object has been to furnish naturalists with correct representations "of such objects as are either entirely new, or have never before been adequately represented in the pages of Natural History," published at intervals.

sed. In the course of nine numbers, (the ninth, which concludes the first volume, has just been published,) he has furnished us with figures and histories of thirty-two rare species; and in addition to this, he has given, on the introduction of every individual belonging to a new genus, comprehensive and scientific generic descriptions. We know not whether we have been most delighted with the accuracy of the systematic portions of the work, or the fresh breathings of forest adventure, which come across us in his particular descriptions. We roam in fancy with him through the luxuriant forests of tropical America, listening with beating hearts to the howlings of the puma, or the yet more dreadful jaguar; or, treading upon the arctic ice, we lie in watch for the grey American wolf. We enjoy the good-humoured indolence of the water-hog as he sits comfortably cooling his fore-paws in the water, and laugh at the antic grimace of the giant ourang-outang. We quote a passage, which may serve as a specimen of Mr Wilson's powers of generic description :

"Animals of the cat kind are, in a state of nature, almost continually in action, both by night and day. They either walk, creep, or advance rapidly by prodigious bounds; but they seldom run, owing, it is believed, to the extreme flexibility of their limbs, and vertebral column, which cannot preserve the rigidity necessary to that species of movement. Their sense of sight, especially during twilight, is acutetheir hearing very perfect-their perception of smell less so than in the dog tribe. Their most obtuse sense is that of taste, the lingual nerve in the lion, according to Desmoulins, being no larger than that of a middle-sized dog. In fact, the tongue of these animals is as much an organ of mastication as of taste, its sharp and horny points, inclined backwards, being used for tearing away the softer parts of the animal substances on which they prey. The perception of touch is said to reside very delicately in the small bulbs at

the base of the mustaches.

"The females are remarkable for their tender attachment to their young: the males, on the other hand, are distinguished by a peculiar jealousy, as it may be called, which frequently renders them the most formidable enemies of their own offspring. Hence it is, that the former sex usually conceal the places where they have brought forth, or frequently remove their young. They are a solitary tribe, and, like most animals which feed on living prey, rarely seek each other's society, except during the season of love. Like the mighty hunters' among the human race, they require an extensive domain for the exercise of their predacious habits; and a near neighbour can only be regarded as a mortal foe. It is the uneradicable nature of this sentiment which causes that very peculiar noise in the throat, and the mistrustful rolling of the eye, observable even in the most perfectly reclaimed individuals, when they are approached during meal-time.


"If we were to judge from the great uniformity of aspect which prevails among the different species of this genus, we would naturally conclude that they were all inhabitants of one and the same climate. The fact is,, however, that there is scarcely any genus more truly cosmopolite; for every zone has its species of felis, and the tiger itself extends its ravages from the equatorial regions almost to the polar circle. The cry varies greatly in the different species. The lion roars with a voice resembling distant thunder, deep, tremulous, and broken; the jaguar barks almost like a dog; the cry of a panther is like the grating of a saw; and they all purr after the manner of a domestic cat, with an energy proportioned to the size of the species."

art which has handed down unimpaired to a far removed posterity, the form and features of so frail a creature. The perfection of an unknown process has almost defied the raages of time, and through its intervention, the self-same individuals exist in a tangible form, which wandered along the banks of the mysterious Nile in the earliest ages of the world, or, in dim seclusion veiled,' inhabited the sanctuary of temples, which, though themselves of most magnificent proportions, are now scarcely discernible amid the desert dust of an unpeopled wilderness.

"The natural and mythological histories of this species are so closely combined by ancient authors, that it is scarcely possible to gather from their statements any rational meaning. Those, indeed, whose province it is to illustrate the history of mankind, by explaining the rise and progress of superstition, and the frequent connexion between certain forms of a delusive worship, and the physical conditions of clime and country, may find in the distorted history of Egyptian animals an ample field for the exercise of such ingenious speculations; but the zoologist has to do rather with things as they are, than as they are supposed to be; and his province is to explain-or attempt so to do-the works of the God of Nature, as they exist in their most beautiful and harmonious simplicity, undeformed by the multitudinous fables of a remote antiquity. We need not then to enquire whether the basilisk be born from an egg produced in the body of the ibis, by a concentration of all the poison of all the serpents which it may have swallowed in the course of a long and reptile-eating life;-nor whether the casual touch of its lightest plume still suffices, not only to enchant and render motionless the largest crocodile, but even to deprive it at once of life;-nor whether the ibis itself, according to an expression of the Priest of Hermopolis, sometimes attains to so great an age that it cannot die,' unless when, removed from the sustaining soil of its beloved Egypt, it sinks under the nostalgia of a foreign land! For we know that the basilisk does not exist; that young ibises have been seen flapping themselves across the out-stretched bodies of sleeping crocodiles, which afterwards sought the waters of the Nile with their accustomed alacrity, and that the age of the sacred bird, though, from the skill of the embalmers, it may be said to be in death immortal,' does not exceed that of the rest of its congeners.

"The sacred ibis is usually observed either in pairs, or in small groups of eight or ten individuals. They build their nests on palms and other elevated trees, and lay two or three whitish eggs. They do not breed in Egypt, but arrive in that country when the waters of the Nile begin to swell. This apparent connexion between the presence of these birds, and the fertilizing flow of the mighty river, probably gave rise to their worship as divine agents, in immediate connexion with those grander processes of nature by which the surface of the earth was regulated and sustained in a fit condition for the health and prosperity of the human race. A slight knowledge of natural history would indeed have sufficed to show, that such divine honours had not been awarded as a consequence of their destruction of serpents and other venomous reptiles; for the modern Egyptians confirm the views of Colonel Grobert, that the ibis does not prey on serpents at all, but feeds very much after the manner of the curlew, on insects, worms, small fishes, and molluscous animals."

As a specimen of the discussions with which Mr Wilson adorns and illustrates his narratives of different animals, we select the following from his account of the sacred or Egyptian ibis.

"Among the ancient Egyptians, a people prone to award divine honours to the brute creation, the ibis was regarded as an object of superstitious worship, and its sculptured outline frequently occurs among the hieroglyphical images which adorn the walls of their temples. The conservation of its mystical body occupied the assiduous care of their holiest priests while living, and exercised the gloomy art of their most skilful embalmers when dead. The embalmed bodies of this species are still found in the Catacombs, and other places of ancient sepulture; and the ntiquary and the naturalist marvel alike at the wonderful

These extracts will suffice to show the reader that Mr Wilson possesses an acute perception of the characteristic features of nature, an imagination alive to its poetry, and that of the low voice of antiquity, together with the power of giving vent to his thoughts and feelings in lively and picturesque language. His work is an object of elegant and intellectual luxury, and will form an appropriate ornament in the drawing-rooms of the wealthy, as well as on the shelves of the student.

The Edinburgh R

The Foreign Quarterly Review. No. XIII. January,
No. CIV. Jan ry, 1831.
THE present is, in our opinion, the most powerful
Number that the Foreign Quarterly has yet published.
Some may, perhaps, object to a want of sufficient variety
in the subjects treated of; and, for a continuance, we
ourselves would certainly object to such a sameness; but

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

we have always been of opinion that it was profitable for

a periodical occasionally to add weight and impetus to a blow, by making almost a whole Number tell more or less directly in one way. The historical and statistical are the predominant themes; and Germany comes in for its full share of notice. In Article VII. we have some interesting discussion respecting the history of the ancient Germans; in Article VIII., a concise and accurate view of the history of the Hanseatic towns, a branch of the antiquities of maritime commerce and free institutions, respecting which our English literati are wofully deficient. Article I., which professes to be an essay on the spirit of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, although in a great measure confined to the field of France, may be considered as supplementary to the two we have just enumerated. Coming nearer our own times, we have, Article IX., an impartial narrative of the Brunswick Revolution.-Article I V., a biographical sketch of Weber. —Article V., some remarks upon the lately published correspondence between Schiller and Goethe. The account of Weber is just and amiable in its observations ;the more surprised were we to find in so able a paper, such a sentence as the following:-" Like almost every other great composer, his father was a musician." Is this writer aware of any great composer who was not a musician? The brief remarks upon Schiller and Goethe contain the most correct estimate of their respective excellencies which we have yet met with. To the class of articles upon which we have made this running comment, may be added Article XI., a catalogue of German | Annuals. The remaining papers in this Number are, Article II., upon the Mythology and Religion of Ancient Greece-nothing particular; Article V., on the Fine Arts of the Middle Ages, ditto; and Article III., a sound and judicious essay upon Consumption. But the Article of which the Review may most justly be proud, is the paper upon the United States of America. It is evidently the work of one who is thoroughly master of his subject, free from prejudice, and determined to speak honestly out, regardless of what either Americans or Englishmen may think of them. In its spirit and temper it is the only unexceptionable discourse that has been elicited by the bickerings between us and brother Jonathan, on either side of the Atlantic.

Sketches of Buenos Ayres, Chili, and Peru. By_Samuel
Haigh, Esq. One volume 8vo. Pp. 434.
Effingham Wilson. 1831.


MR HAIGH is a very lucky man. He tells us that he had "an opportunity of seeing, with more than a cursory eye, the principal events which have taken place in that quarter (viz. Chili and Peru) for the last fourteen years." On consulting his book, we find that he landed at Buenos Ayres in the autumn of 1817, and quitted it'in autumn 1819. He again visited South America in 1824, and remained three years. It was very kind in the "principal events" to happen all within comparatively brief periods, at a considerable interval, just to enable Mr Haigh to view them " with more than a cursory eye.” But Mr Haigh is also a very provoking man. After telling us what a lucky man he has been, in the matter of "seeing with more than a cursory eye," [perhaps he saw with two cursory eyes;] and again, how, “ during his residence in Arequipa, he had an opportunity of seeing the true nature of the mining concerns, the details of which would fill a volume," he turns short round upon us with" It is not, however, my intention here to give the history of the rise, progress, decline, and fall of those so hastily formed associations," &c. The consequence is, that he tells us nothing about the matter; and thus it is through the whole volume. This is something like what the vulgar term, "selling a bargain"-raising our expectations, in order to disappoint them. It is like the venerable nursery joke:-"Can you keep a secret?"— "Yes."-" So can I." It is like the servant's description of Autolycus's song in "The Winter's Tale:"-" He has the prettiest love songs for maids; jump her, and thump her; and where some stretch-mouthed rascal means mischief, he makes the maid answer, Whoop, do me no harm, good man: puts him off, slights him, with Whoop, do me no harm, good man."

Lastly, Mr Haigh is a very mysterious man. We cannot fancy what took him to South America. In the large towns, and among fashionable society, he is quite the gentleman. We hear of nothing but dinners and wines; tertulias, waltzing, eyes, shapes, and modesty. In crossing the Pampas, however, it turns out that he carries a box of ribbons with him, and for a moment the reader is inclined to believe that he has caught him-he is a man-milliner. But no; we have been too hasty— we have got, as Homer says, the wrong sow by the ear. At St Jago we find him disposing of a cargo of sabres. We cannot tell what to make of Mr Haigh. He is a Cheapside Proteus—a chameleon of Tottenham-Court Road.

The Edinburgh Review is good this time. The article on the China Trade is satisfactory. The review of Dr Bowring's Translations is discriminative and candid; the friendly tone in which it is composed is, considering the late war between the Edinburgh and Westminster, highly creditable. The review of M‘Culloch's Principles of Political Economy, is no review, but two essays upon different branches of that science tied together, with an encomiastic paragraph on the Professor's work tagged to their tail. The article on the Civil Disabilities of the Jews, is powerful as a piece of abstract reasoning; but the author, like most Englishmen, does not know the character of that nation. The article on the Spirit of Society in England and France, is good, but full of affectation; that on the Principles of Belief and Expectation, logical; that on the Capital Punishment of Forgery, twaddling; that on the Irish Novels, good again. | Besides these, there are articles purporting to treat of the Evangelical School; Professor Sandford's Translation of Thiersch's Greek Grammar; Irish Courts of Quarter Sessions; and Mr Sadler. Last of all comes an article on the Late and Present Ministry. It has of late been the custom of the Edinburgh to wind up every Number with a bulletin of that party of which it is the standard-bearer and rallying point. The present, therefore, we conclude to be a ministerial manifesto; and as such, recommend it to the devout perusal of our readers.

It is time, however, that we leave the author, and turn to his book. One half of it is dedicated-we beg pardon of our fair readers—we have some foolish palpitations, attributable solely to our having been educated at home instead of being sent to a public school—but in the cause of science and truth we will conquer those unworthy misgivings;— one half of the book, then, is dedicated to a narrative of his nocturnal encounters in bed with-fleas. Another portion is occupied with nice discriminations between the bite of the above-mentioned insect and that of the red mosquito. Then we have a picturesque, and rather sublime, account of the author's scamper across the deserts of South America after his ribbons and swatches, and a graphic narrative of his ride what time a chivalrous fit led him to gird himself with sword and pistol, and haste to the battle-field, time enough to see the monks confessing some who had fallen in the fray. We have nothing more of any consequence.

Seriously, we could not imagine why such a book should be published: and this problem might still have been tormenting us, had it not been for a contemporary critic. This Daniel come to judgment informs us that it is chiefly valuable as being "posterior in appearance, but prior in date," to other works professing to be descrip

« 上一頁繼續 »