Imágenes de página

reason to believe that the savages were in no disposition to renew the onset.

At last the Antarctic came to an anchor directly opposite the village where the dreadful massacre had taken place. Her course was vigilantly marked by the islanders, who, flushed with their former victory, concluded that the crew was in the same state of weakness in which they found it at the last visit, and therefore they lost but little time in acting upon that belief. Á flotilla speedily presented itself, which must have been contributed to by the whole of the group of islands, and the savages having taken their stations, commenced by a shower of arrows. The captain now gave the word, and a brisk fire of cannons, swivels, and musketry was kept up for ten minutes; and a pause ensuing, to let the smoke pass off, the wretched natives were seen scattered, and all that survived making the best of their way to the shore. Captain Morrell's chief object in returning to these islands, was, to give an opportunity to any of the crew who might be still living as prisoners with the savages, to return to the ship, and he adopted the plan of getting nearer to the shore, in order to fire on the town, for then it was likely that they would make use of such a person as a mediator. The an, ticipation proved to be correct; for, shortly after a well-directed broadside, which shivered the houses to their foundations, a small canoe was seen to put out from the shore; it contained a painted creature perfectly naked, but who eagerly made for the Antarctic. This was one of the missed, named Shaw, who, by the merest chance, was kept alive by the savages, who had destined him to die and to be afterwards eaten by his executioners. It is needless to say how Shaw was received; and, from his account, which is given at full length by the captain, it appears that he underwent the severest privations and petty persecutions from the natives, who beat and mocked him. He was enabled in this forced visit to confirm by his own observation the horrible fact that the natives were cannibals. The men on board, on hearing the description from Shaw of the treatment which he and his comrades had met with, became wound up to desperation, and it required the greatest skill and address of the captain to prevent them rushing in a body upon the island, and putting every man and woman in it to death. Shaw not only bore testimony to the fact that these savages were cannibals, but he remarked, that, during his residence on the island, he never saw any children. From this he concluded that infanticide was a general practice.

The chastisement which the natives had now received was sufficient to shew them the necessity of humbling their tone; and, as there appeared to be a facility opened for procuring terms from them, Captain Morrell then formed a plan of taking one of the islands, small, and then uninhabited, for the purpose of catching the delicious fish which happened to be very abundant about those islands. A regular negotiation was concluded between him and the chiefs;

and, after having delivered to the latter the specified number of axes, hatchets, adzes, chisels, plane-irons, gimlets, spoke-shaves, knives, scissors, razors, looking glasses, and beads of different kinds, the captain took possession of the island. Here, a series of buildings was soon raised for the curing of the fish, and above that again was erected a sort of wooden fort, which was made arrow proof, for the permanent defence of the works. The time of the captain's inen, he now saw, was nearly lost, in consequence of the necessity they were under of every moment repelling the attacks of their treacherous enemies, whom they baffled frequently, with the greatest skill. Thus, Thomas Holmes, one of the crew, being on shore at the Massacre Island, filling some water casks from a spring, was suddenly surprised by fifteen of the natives, all of whom instantly aimed their pointed arrows at his breast. At the same moment Holmes presented his musket, which caused them all to drop down upon their haunches. Perceiving that this manæuvre produced the desired effect, he held his fire, slowly retreating backwards towards the shore, with his piece still ready for an aim. The natives continued to follow him, and several times attempted to discharge a volley of arrows; but, he as often presented his piece, which invariably caused them to squat upon the ground. In this manner Holmes continued manæuvring, without discharging his piece, or giving them an opportunity of notching their arrows, until he reached the edge of the beach; when, fearful of his eluding them entirely and effecting his escape, they made a furious rush upon him, which compelled him to pull the trigger, and their leader fell, just as he was on the point of discharging an arrow. This was the brother of the treacherous Henneen, whose death he was thus seeking to avenge. A buckshot entered his heart, and two others, who were wounded by the same discharge, fell to the ground. The gallant tar then retreated as fast as possible; but, before he had got beyond bowshot distance, he found that the remaining twelve were aiming their arrows at his body; upon which he again presented his musket, which produced the same effect as before; and ere they could recover themselves, he was beyond the reach of their arrows, being taken up by a boat sent to his assistance from Wallace's island. Had he discharged his musket when first surprised at the spring in the forest, he must inevitably have fallen a prey to those ferocious cannibals. His presence of mind was fortunately equal to the emergency, and the Antarctic was not deprived of the services of this brave British seaman.

Experience had now sufficiently shewn to the captain that the perseverance of the natives was likely to last longer than his own capability of resistance; he wisely considered the reasons which might prompt him to remain, as compared with those which tempted him to depart. His decision was in favour of the latter measure; and, after sacrificing the works which the crew had erected on the island, named, from one of the party who had been massacred, Wal

lace's island, the captain bade a final adieu to the barbarous race, whom he had so much reason to dislike. Shaw, in his narrative, adds, that nothing which can be called religion appeared to be known to these islanders. The chiefs alone indulge in polygamy, every other male being contented with one wife. The females, in their reserved and modest demeanour, presented a most favourable contrast with the men.

We now arrive at the termination of the last of Captain Morrell's voyages; and it is with deep regret that we part with him at a moment, when we have reason to fear that his generous enterprise was unsuccessful. It is fortunate, however, that untoward events could never, in their visitation, fall upon a mind more able to resist their pressure than his: for it never was our lot to peruse a record of personal adventures which exhibits a nobler or more heroic spirit than that manifested by Captain Morrell. Deeply fraught as our naval annals are with stories of distress, and familiar as most of our readers are with those graphic scenes, still to the British public we strongly recommend the present volume, as calculated to fix the interest of the most indifferent amongst them, and to awaken in their minds reflections such as will not speedily be forgotten.

Art. IV.-Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford, to Sir

Horace Mann, British Envoy the Court of Tuscany. Now first published from the Originals in the Possession of the Earl of Waldegrave. Edited by Lord Dover. In 3 vols. large 8vo.

London: Bentley, 1833. The successive appearances of the embodied genius of Horace Walpole resemble, in no small degree, the visitations which one of those magnificent cometary bodies pays occasionally to our system; each, eccentric in its movements, and mysterious in the laws which appear to regulate its existence, presents itself by starts before us in the horizon, an object of irresistible attraction, to be admired and sometimes to be feared. The aspect in which the genius of Walpole shows itself on the present occasion, is quite in accordance with the general tenor of its former manifestations. The contents of these volumes having been carefully copied by order of the great man, he deposited them with other manuscripts of importance in a box, which was placed in his library at Strawberry-Hill. Another box of papers was laid, by his directions also, near the former, and both were marked, the one with an A, the other with a B. In his will the testator desires that as soon as he was dead, his executor and executrix will cord up strongly, and seal, the larger box, marked A, and deliver it to the Honourable Hugh Conway Seymour, to be kept by him unopened and unsealed till the eldest son of Lady Walde. grave, or whichever of her sons, being Earl of Waldegrave, shall attain the age of twenty-five years; when the said chest, with

But his views changed very much in the progress of his lite

whatever it contains, shall be delivered to him for his own. And he begs that the Honourable Hugh Conway Seymour, when he shall receive the said chest, will give a promise, in writing, signed by him, to Lady Waldegrave, that he or his representatives will deliver the said chest, unopened and unsealed by the said executor and executrix, to the first son of Lady Waldegrave who shall attain the age of twenty-five years. The key of the said chest is in one of the cupboards of the green closet, within the blue breakfast-room, at Strawberry-hill; and that key, he desires, may be delivered to Laura, Lady Waldegrave, to be kept by her till her son shall receive the chest.

The box thus pointed out was at the proper time corded and sealed with the seals of the Honourable Mrs. Damer and the late Lord Frederick Campbell, the executrix and executor of the testator; it was next handed over to the late Lord Hugh Seymour, by whose representatives it was given up in its unchanged state to the present Earl of Waldegrave, at the period of his attaining the age of twenty.five. On opening the box the young lord found its contents to consist of a number of manuscript volumes, and other papers, amongst which the present letters were found.

Before we proceed to the consideration of these epistles, it may be proper for us to remind the reader exactly who this personage, so celebrated in our literature, was, and also what were his pursuits. He was the third son of the famous Sir Robert Walpole, and was destined by his father for political life. But his natural tastes almost revolted against such a pursuit, and, instead of fatiguing himself by attending parliamentary committees, or advocating public questions in the senate, he addicted himself chiefly to literary and antiquarian pursuits. It must not, however, be supposed that he was indifferent to politics. His letters, even to the end of his life, show that he was though a distant yet a very concerned observer of the affairs of the state. His political opinions were, in his early age, not merely liberal but at times nearly republican; and it is well known of him, that so profound was his veneration for an engraved copy of the death-warrant of Charles I. that he hung it up in his bed-room,

and wrote upon it, with his own hands, “ Major Charta. the horrors of the French revolution alienated him altogether the democratic party. But, on most occasions when he did positively interfere in political matters, it was evident that he felt as a man of integrity, and a friend of his kind. He opposed, for instance, the insensate American war of this country; and, so early as 1750, denounced, in the language of honest indignation, the horrible African trade. In those days, when such frightful measures as the " Assiento treaty” were ratified, Walpole did not hesitate to write, « We, the British senate, that temple of Liberty, and bulwark of Protestant Christianity, have, this fortnight, been considering methods to make more effectual that horrid traffic of selling negroes. It has appeared to us, that six-and-forty thousand of these wretches

are sold every year to our plantations alone! It chills one's blood

I would not have to say I voted for it, for the continent of America! The destruction of the miserable inhabitants by the Spaniards was but a momentary misfortune, that flowed from the discovery of the New World, compared to this lasting havoc which it brought upon Africa. We reproach Spain; and yet do not even pretend the nonsense of butchering the poor creatures for the good of their souls.”

The characters, however, in which Walpole has the best claim to the respect of posterity, are his literary and antiquarian. In the latter capacity he is entitled to whatever credit may be due to the restorer of Gothic architecture in this country. The mansion at Strawberry Hill is a monument of his taste notwithstanding its defects, and these should fairly be attributed to the long neglect in which that style had remained. Walpole, himself, has proved that he had only gained at first an imperfect knowledge of its beauties, since those portions of the structures at Strawberry Hill which have been latest erected, are by far superior to the others. In reference to this taste for decorative building, which distinguished Walpole, some curious inconsistencies, of a very instructive nature, have been committed by him. His best buildings were remarkable for the lightness and fragility of their structure, and lath and plaster were the only materials to which he trusted for durability. A familiar friend used to say of him that “ he had outlived three of his own battlements." The castle which he took so much pride in building is already doomed to decay. What is curious, we repeat, in the disposition of Walpole is, that thus having neglected the security of the property itself, his care and strictness in entailing the fugitive possession were most elaborate and severe. Whatever

may be thought upon the whole of the models of the Gothic style which he has left us, one thing is certain, namely, that he occasioned an enquiry into, and a consideration of it, by men of science on its true principles.

With respect to Walpole as an author, we have not any thing to state in addition to what is well known of him through the medium of his voluminous works, but as an epistolary writer, in which capacity we meet him here. We are acquainted with no English author who unites more ease, flexibility, and happiness of expression than himself. In his letters, particularly in those which compose the volumes before us, he seems to throw off that seriousness of character which would prompt him to deliberate before he writes. He appears to indite the epistles addressed to his friends under the impression that they, alone will ever see them, and thus allows himself as it were a freedom in the choice of his language, which gives full scope to his keen ingenuity and his original humour.

It remains only for us to mention, that Sir Horace Mann, to whom these letters were addressed, was a gentleman of respectable family in Kent; and, that in the year 1740, he was appointed minister ple.

VOL. IV. (1833) NO. 11.


« AnteriorContinuar »