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COMMERCIAL ASPECT OF CENTRAL AFRICA. An interesting lecture was delivered by Rev. Mr. Bowen, before the Mercantile Library Association, on Thursday evening, upon the commercial resources of Central Africa, and the practicability of opening a large and profitable trade between that section of the world and the United States. Mr. Bowen is of opinion, from personal experience, that a trade (now paying 30 a 50 per cent profit) to the amount of thirty millions per annum, can be established with the River Niger, which he calls the Mississippi of Africa. From its delta to its source, we are told by Mr. B., it is more than three thousand miles in length. In no place is it less than half a mile in width, and throughout its entire length would be navigable to our Mississippi steamboats. Its principal tributaries are navigable for more than fifteen hundred miles. The immense district drained by the Niger and its branches is rich in undeveloped resources. The palm tree grows in luxuriant profusion, and from its nut, oil, for the supply of the world's trade, could be manufactured. Cotton of a long and firm staple, it is believed, can be easily produced, and an immense trade in indigo, African silk, ivory, and skins, could be established with facility. The great reason why the English have not succeeded better in their attempts to establish trade, is because they have confined their operations simply to ports along the banks of the Niger, and left the great interior country unexplored. Trading posts should be established in the interior in order to break up the vast traffic which finds its way across the deserts. Around these stations large towns would spring up which would soon become the nucleuses of civilization. Mr. Bowen pictured the country in glowing colors. No one, he said, who ever lived there, and became acquainted with the resources of Africa, came away without a desire to return. He believed that the country which shall send out the necessary force, with steamers, to open the trade there, will be repaid in a marvelous manner.
Mr. Bowen’s explorations have been confined almost wholly to that portion of Western Africa extending along the River Niger, and as far eastward as Lake Tschak. The mountains of Africa are somewhat remarkable as to their configuration. There are no regular chains——they consist entirely of isolated peaks, shaped like sadole-backs, and usually densely covered with wood. Some are but gigantic boulders of granite rock, rising thousands of feet above the plains. Mr. Bowen traveled up the St. Paul River about a hundred miles from its mouth. At this distance the stream was over five hundred yards in width. Almost the entire surface of Africa presents but a vast undulating plain, wbich bears unmistakable evidence of its once having been cultivated, and the home of a mighty population. All over the country are to be seen “ trays” worn in the rocks by the process used by the natives for grinding their corn. Between Lake Tschak and the Niger there is an immense table-land, rising thousands of feet above the ocean. The Great Descris, from the time of Herodotus, have been represented as vast desolations. Nothing could be more incorrect, according to Mr. Bowen's account. It is everywhere inhabited, and contains within itself two great re. publics, having a literature among the oldest in existence. The mineral wealth of the country bas been but little explored. Iron, we are told, is found in every hill. The ruins of ancient smelting furnaces are numerous. Copper and lead are to be fuund in abundance. Gold in the Ashantee country has always been found in great quantities. The gold region extends over a thousand miles of this district. The seasons are characterized by temporales, commencing in March and September. The heat is rarely above ninety degrees. The climate is exceedingly healthy in certain districts, pone more so than the country along the River Niger. Mr. Bowen dwelt somewhat upon the capacity of the natives, foreseeing for the educated African an opportunity for developing the vast resources of the country to an almost unlimited extent.
THE HISTORY OF PRICES IN 1857 AND 1858. Mr. William Newmarch read a paper before the British Association on the above subject. After alluding to a paper on the same subject which he read last year at Dublin, and many of the views expressed in which were strongly controverted, Mr. Newmarch proceeded to consider the question—How it was that, in 1857—after a period of ten years, during which coustant and great additions were made to the amount of metallic money in circulation—there came to be a panic which, in severity and extent, exceeded nearly all that had occurred for thirty years, and which differed from them all in its exciting causes. There was perfect peace, except in India, (which might be excluded from consideration in this instance,) no scarcity, no revolutionary panic, no excessive investments in railways; and yet there was this great crisis. The range of prices first claimed notice; and he would take as the point of comparison the price of sugar in London in January, 1855, representing that price as 100. He found on comparing prices in July, 1857 and 1858, that there was a fall during that period, in coffee, from 145 to 113 ; sugar, from 230 to 117; tea, from 130 to 110; cotton, silk, and hemp, (taken together,) from 170 to 105 ; wool, from 180 to 110; oils, from 105 to 80; iron, from 90 to 80; and timber, from 115 to 100. Take the prices of the first week of this month, and compare them with those of 1851, and it would be found that sugar had fallen from 140 to 125; tea, from 135 to 110; cotton, silk, and bemp, from 125 to 107. Bear in mind that during those seven years the gold and silver in circulation had been increased about forty per cent; for he believed that, in the early part of 1848, the gold and silver existing in various forms in Europe and America did not much exceed 550,000,000, and there had been added from new sources of supply (California and Australia) 230,000,000 at least.
HOW COFFEE CAME TO BE USED. It is somewhat singular to trace the manner in which arose the use of the common beverage, coffee, without which few persons, in any half or wholly civilized country in the world, would seem hardly able to exist. At the time Columbus discovered America it had never been known or used. It only grew in Arabia and Upper Ethiopia. The discovery of its use as a beverage is ascribed to the superior of a monastery in Arabia, who, desirous of preventing the monks from sleeping at their nocturnal services, made them drink the infusion of coffee upon the report of some shepherds, who observed that their flocks were more lively after browsing on the fruit of that plant. Its reputation spread through the adjacent countries, and in about two hundred years it reached Paris. A single plant brought there in 1714, became the parent stock of all the French coffee plantations in the West Indies. The extent of the consumption can now hardly be realized. The United States alone annually consume it at the cost of its landing of from fifteen to sixteen millions of dollars. You may know the Arabia or Mocha, the best coffee, by its small bean of a dark yellow color. The Java and East Indian, the next in quality, are larger and of a paler yellow. The West Indian Rio has a bluish or greenish gray tint.
VALUE OF THE CROWN JEWELS. As it may be interesting to our readers who have heard so much lately about fetes, ceremonies, and the magnificence of upholstery, to know the value of some of the articles used on the occasion, we subjoin the estimated price of the jewels of the crown of state which Queen Victoria wore in St. James' Chapel :The great ruby....
$50,000 The aqua marina..
60,000 Twenty diamonds round the circle ($7,500 each)..
150,000 Two large center diamonds ($10,000 each).....
20,000 Four crosses, each composed of twenty-five diamonds
60,000 Four large diamonds on the tops of the crosses..
200,000 Twenty-six diamonds contained in the fleur de lis.
60,000 Pearls and diamonds on the arches and crosses..
$670,000 Notwithstanding the enormous mass of jewelry, the crown weighs only nineteen ounces ten pennyweights. It measures seven inches in height from the gold circle to the upper cross, and its diameter at the rim is five inches.
PHILIPPINE ISLANDS. The port of Iloilo, in the center of the southern group of the smaller Philippine Islands, has been opened to foreign trade by the Spanish Government, and is probably destined before long to become well known in commercial enterprise, although at present there are scarcely half a dozen merchants or shipowners here who ever heard of the place. Iloilo (or Iloylo) is the chief port of the small but fertile island of Panay, which contains a population of about 700,000 inhabitants, and together with the peighboring islands, of which it is expected to be the commercial depot, the population may be estimated at 2,000,000. Besides varieties of Eastern produce, of lesser importance, with which we are familiar from our connection with Singapore, Iloilo is expected eventually to export largely sugar and hemp to a considerable extent, and thus open a direct trade not only for shipment of raw produce to England, but for importing and distributing among the neighboring islands a proportionate amount of British manufactures.
SUPPRESSION OF THE SLAVE TRADE. It appears from a Parliamentary return just issued, that in 1854 twelve ships, with 992 officers and men, were engaged in the suppression of the slave trade on the west coast of Africa ; in 1855, twelve ships, with 1,082 officers and men ; in 1856, thirteen ships, with 1,222 officers and men; in 1857, fifteen ships, with 1,424 officers and men.
At the Cape of Good Hope ; in 1854, four ships, with 575 officers and men ; in 1855, five ships, with 775 officers and men; in 1856, three ships, with 760 officers and men ; and in 1857, three ships, with 610 officers and men.
THE BOOK TRADE.
1.- Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales
& Seaton's Annals of Congress, from their Register of Debates, and from the official reported Debates by John C. Rives. By Thomas H. Benton, autbor of “ Thirty Years' View.” Vol. IX., 1826 to 1828. 8v0., pp. 752. New York : D. Appleton & Co.
We are in receipt of this the ninth volume of Benton's Congressional Debates, and are glad to see that, though the compiler has passed away, the good work he begin shows no symptoms of flagging, although the condensation and preparation for such a work must be immense. It is to these pages we are to look for a sound and practical understanding of the principles of the Constitution and government under which we live. The vast variety of relations which the Federal government maintains, both as supreme over the republic and in its relations to the sovereign States of the Confederacy, are the basis of the numerous topics in these debates, and for this reason the work should have a place in the library of every one who would become acquainted with its parliamentary history. It may justly be considered a national enterprise, prepared with impartiality and marked fidelity to truth of history. The index which accompanies each volume shows at a glance the leading arguments used in the debates, as well as the topics discussed, and the work when complete will form a comprehensive history of the legislation of the United States—the best, we have no hesitation in saying, which will ever be written.
2.- Swedenborg, a Hermetic Philosopher ; being a Sequel to remarks on Alchemy
and the Alchemists, with a Chapter comparing Swedenborg and Spinoza. By the author of Remarks on Alchemy and the Alchemists." 12mo., pp. 352. New York: D. Appleton & Co.
There seems to be three modes by which the Christian religion is received in the world, and though not absolutely distinct from each other, yet sufficiently marked to be readily distinguished. With one class it is received historically, and its truth is supposed to rest mainly upon bistorical evidences, so strong that no man in his proper senses can reject the testimony. We next find a class of more cultivated minds, who would clothe the Scriptures, by their abstruse reasonings and attempts to connect the perfection of man with a knowledge of God, with more of philosophy, by insisting upon the fact that all ancient wisdom has come down to us in correspondences and symbolism, not to be taken literally, but to be studied out in spirit, and by these it is that the chief controversies touching the externals of religion are mainly carried on. A third class receive the Scriptures as the spirit of truth, as taught by Jesus, manifested in him so strongly as to be the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, beyond and above all controversy. We cannot readily class the author of these chapters on Swedenborgian doctrine with any of these, but must accede to him a niche somewhat separated from the rest, and to all those who take an interest in such matters, and would acquaint themselves with these abstruse questions, we would recommend this cirticism on Swedenborg, as eliciting much ingenious thought, combined with many striking truths. 3.— Blonde and Brunette ; or, the Gothamite Arcady. 12mo., pp. 316. New
York : D. Appleton & Co.
This well written and highiy interesting story, the editor tells us, was gotten hold of accidentally, after having slumbered for some time in the dust of a portfolio. Upon persual of the book, we feel constrained to congratulate him on his g ood fortune, for it has been long since we have read a story of this kind with as much interest.
4.-Vestiges of the Spirit History of Man. By S. F. DUNLAP. Member of
the American Oriental Society, New Haven. 8vo., pp. 401. New York : D. Appleton & Co.
“I caused blind hopes to dwell within them.” Man, whatever his estate in life, has ever been found to be environed by agencies visible and invisible. The Greeks worshiped the stars, the Romans adored Aurora, the rosy fingered morn, the Persians venerated rivers, trees, mountains, and stars, while the American Indian sees gods in the mists of the mountain, the rocky defile, the foaming cataract, the tempests blast, and the evening breezeeach recognizing their own deities through conceptions given them by nature, or the examples bequeathed them by those who have gone before. The object of this work is to set forth the progress the world has made in her beatific systems; for it is a part of the author's creed that thought grows like a plant, and that there has been a gradual rise of systems, one cultus growing out of another and perpetually evolving new power. In it will be found a description of the various objects and modes of worship of the different ages and nations of the earthsun-worship, fire-worship, image-worship, Polytheism, Brahmanism, Buddhism, and all the world religions. Wbile transcendently over these, and above all the false systems devised by man, shines the true and only religion-given by Godthe revelation of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The book gives evidence of great labor and patience, and a knowledge which could only be obtained by careful study of the sources from which the information is derived. 5.—Sir Waller Raleigh and his Time, with other Papers. By CHARLES
Kingsley, author of “ Hypatha,” Two Years Ago,” etc. 12m0., pp. 461. Boston : Ticknor & Fields.
This volume appears to be a reprint of papers, which originally appeared in Frazer's Magazine and the Norlh British Review, on Sir Walter Raleigh, Burns, Tennyson, together with some others, entitled, the “ Poetry of Sacred and Legendary Art," " North Devon,” “ Phæton,” and “ England from Wolsey to Elizabeth," etc., etc. Mr. Kingsley is a vigorous writer, and has gained for himself a high position in England, by his contributions to the different English periodicals. The selections here are judiciously made, as the subjects dealt with are various and dissimilar ; but, on the whole, we are not partial to reviews of this kind, and always look upon them as episodes which it were easily to dispense with ; for the best biography of every man is sure to be found in his own works, for in them we find all that has happened to him inward or outward, or rather all that bas produced a permanent effect upon his mind and heart, and knowing that you know all, and should be content with escaping from the personality and gossip usually met with in such reviews. It requires not even a skin-deep critic to form a just estimate of poor Burns, whose heart. though young to the last, seemed to have lost all faith in his brother man, and, as a consequence, in himself also, yet through whose omissions and commissions there shines out those beautiful regrets which show that, though he ceased to worship, the vestal-fire of conscience still burned within him.
6.—The Poetical Works of Filz-Greene Halleck. New Edition. 12mo., pp.
235. New York : D. Appleton & Co.
We are glad to see the productions of our poet laureate, Fitz-Greene Halleck, collected together in so neat a volume as the one before us. It is ever refreshing to browse only for a few moments into some one of his heartfelt lyrics. It is sure to quicken our feelings and awaken within us some slumbering memory which the manifold cares of the world had well-nigh obliterated, but which only need the awakening influences exerted in some one of Halleck's pieces to call into renewed life. We have ever been an ardent admirer of his, and we recommend the little book as very “ essential oil" to soothe our ruffled spirits into something like expectant hope.