Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

British Biography of the Eighteenth Century, including Lives of most of the eminent characters of the present age, interspersed with much original anecdote and criticism, is printing in three thick octavo volumes.

Robert Southey, Esq. has in the press, a new edition of his Poems, in three voJumes, including the Metrical Tales and some pieces never before published.

The Rev. J. B. A. Gerardot, late rector of S. S. Cyr and Julitta, in the bishopric of Soissons, and now of Liverpool, will speedily publish a new edition of his Elements of French Grammar, with appropriate Exercises.

A new edition, with notes and illustra tions, is nearly ready, of Letters from a Gentleman in the North of Scotland to bis Friend in London, first published in 1754. This is the work so often quoted in the "Lady of the Lake," and stated to be an authentic record of the habits and manners described in "Waverley."

In a few days will be published, in 8vo. with a plan and map. The Cam. paign of Paris in 1814: to which is prefixed, a Sketch of the Campaign of 1813; or, A brief and impartial History of Events, from the Invasion of France by the Foreign Armies, to the Capitulation of Paris and the Dethronement of Buonaparte; accompanied by a Delineation of the principal Traits of his Character, and the cause of his Elevation. Compiled from authentic Documents, and the Testimony of Eye-Witnesses, Translated from the French of P. F. F. J. Giraud.

In the Press, the second edition considerably improved, in one Volume 8vo. with large Plans, &c. 10s. 6d. boards, a Circumstantial Narrative of the Campaign in Russia, embellished with Plans of the Battles of the Moskwa MaloJaroslavitz. By Eugene Labaume, Captain of the Royal Geographical Engineers, Ex-Officer of the Ordnance of Prince Eugene, Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, and of the Iron Crown; Author of an Abridged History of the Re

[ocr errors]

public of Venice. This Work has created an extraordinary sensation in France. It is not merely a dry Narrative of Battles, but abounds with the most beautiful descriptions of affecting and interesting scenes, of which the Author was an eye-witness: therefore we presume it cannot fail to interest all classes of readers.

In the press, and in the course of March will be published in 1 vol. 4to, The Remains of the late John Tweddell A.M. Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, with a selection of his Letters written from the Continent, and an account of the extraordinary disappear ance of his MSS. and Drawings, edited by the Rev. R. Tweddell, A.M.

We understand that next month will be published in one Vol., 8vo. "A Memorial offered to her Royal Highness the Princess Sophia Electoress and Dutchess Dowager of Hanover, containing a delineation of the Constitution and policy of England, with Anecdotes concerning remarkable Persons of that time: By Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury." Now first published, by per mission of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, according to the original in the Royal Library at Han-over.-To which are added some Letters from Burnet and Leibnitz, and fac-similies of the hand writing of those two distinguished men.

In the Press, and speedily will be published, Epistles, and other Poems. By T. Grinfield, of Trinity College, Cambridge.

In the press, The World without Souls, revised and corrected with the addition of a new chapter, printed uniform. ly with the Velvet Cushion: the fifth edition. By J. W. Cunningham, M. A. Vicar of Harrow.

The Rev. Mr. Eustace is now in Italy, collecting materials for a third volume of his highly interesting and popnlar work, "A Classical Tour, &c." reviewed in ourNumbers for November and December.

***We are compelled by waut of room, to defer our List of New Publications. The articles on Whitaker's Visitation Sermon, Wardlaw's Lectures, Philosophical Transactions, Salt's Abyssinia, Colquhoun on Spiritual Comfort. &c. are at press, and will appear in our next Number.

THE

ECLECTIC REVIEW,

FOR MARCH, 1815.

Art. I. A Voyage to Abyssinia, and Travels into the Interior of that

Country, executed under the Orders of the British Government, in the Years 1809 and 1810; in which are included an account of the Portuguese Settlements on the last Coast of Africa, visited in the Course of the Vovage ; a concise Narrative of late vents in Arabia Felix; and some Particulars respecting the boriginal African Tribes, extending from Mosambique to the borders of Egypt; together with Vocabularies of their respective Languages Illustrated with a Map of Abyssinia, numerous Engravings and Charts. By Henry Salt, Esq. FR.S. &c. Royal 4to, pp. 580 Price 51. 55. Rivingtons. 1814.

a

FOR the last twenty-four years Abyssinia has been regarded,

by the greater number of the people among us, who take some little account of the diflerent regions of the world they inhabit, much in the light of a newly discovered country. Previously to that time it was seldom recoll_ctd to be in existence; the relations of foreign missionaries and historians of a long anterior period, were very little known among us, excepting that of Lobo, translated by Johoson; and how much of that might be accurate no one presumed to bave any confident judgement; while the slight unauthenticated stories of more recent date, that might now and then find their way into the chronicles of adventures and curiosities, had amused for an hour, had excited, perhaps, a momentary vaio wish, that some certain information could be obtained respecting this unknown land, and had been soon forgotten. The name always conveyed an idea of utter estrangement ; and the very locality, secluded on all sides by such a breadth of impervious frontier, had to the imagination VOL. III.- N. S.

R

a certain dark air of vast remoteness, which was no longer retained by the regions of the great Southern Ocean.

This character of profound retirement was at length broken in upon, and dissipated by, a most daring and accomplished ad-, venturer from this country. When Bruce published his travels, Abyssinia became, all at once, far more familiar to our imaginations than a great part of our own island. Its leading personages, the general condition of its population, its institutions, the face of the country, its grand river, its most remarkable animal and vegetable productions, were suddenly displayed be- .' fore us in one comprehensive picture of most vigorous delineation and glowing colours. So vivid was his representation, and in so natural and interesting a manner was he himself brought forward in it, that he has associated his name, his character, his history, inseparably with the country. Abyssinia may exbibit its long list of emperors, and its ample memorials of wars, revolutions, and missionary enterprises ; but in popular recollection, in this country at least, it will, for a long time to come, have no distinction so marked, so instantly and inevitably suggested to thought, as that it is the country that Bruce visited. He had, morally, something very like that quality, or happy accident of being, which some of our voyagers to the South Sea islands found possessed by the king of a portion of one of them, that whatever ground he walked upon became thenceforward his own. Should it prove practicable for a series of travellers, each of them as intelligent, observant, and active, as the Author of this volume, to visit that country during the next half century, and make their reports in as entertaining and elegant a form, yet still, to the end of that or a longer period, Bruce will be the name which they must submit to perceive maintaining a magnitude of notoriety more than equal to their collective fame.

Bruce's representation has, partly by means of its priority, but not less by the power of mind which inspirits it, taken such effectual occupancy of the general imagination, (like Milton's representations of Eden and the infernal world,) that it is not without some little reluctance that many of his readers are yielding to the evidence which is accumulating to correct his invoJuntary errors or intentional impositions. Even Mr. Salt himself, who will be thought quite zealous enough in the detection and exposure of these, confesses that he still reads Bruce's work with an interest which makes him regret it should contain any thing to force scepticism or disbelief on his mind. After exposing some such mis-statements and contradictions, as it must be acknowledged that no stretch of charity can put to the account of unconscious error, our Author adds,

I here beg leave to observe, that the reader who wishes to form a just estimate of the merits and faults of Mr. Bruce, should carefully compare the information given in the late appendices with the original publication, and, after perusing both with attention, he will find that I have selected only a small portion of the contradictions subsisting between them; as I have been anxious to enter only so far into the question as might tend to justify the observations I felt myself compelled to make respecting this traveller; for, had I altogether evaded the question, I might, with some justice, have been supposed to have compronised my own opinions from dread of his numerous advocates, or from a culpable desire of sheltering myself under his acquired reputation. I am perfectly aware how much Mr. Bruce has accomplished; and no man can more truly admire his courage, his perseverance, his sagacity, or his genius, than myself; and I confess that, from the pleasure I still take in reading his book, I shall never cease to regret that any weakness of character or unfortunate vanity should have induced him, in a single instance, to have swerved from the plain and manly path of sincerity and truth which lay before him: since the ground which he occupied was far too elevated for him to stand in need of any such unworthy and adventitious aid.' p. 343.

In several other places he bears testimony in strong terms to the general truth of Bruce's picture of the country and its population. At some moments, what our Author beheld, so vividly recalled his predecessor's exhibitions that it was nearly equal, for obtaining a strong and true impression of the scene, whether he looked on the reality or on the reflected images in the mirror of the description. If that powerful describer could have abstained from some extravagances and exaggerations,-if the crowded diversity of actual adventures could have convinced him there was really no room for the introduction, as matter of fact, of several fictitious ones,-if he could have thought it better, freely to suffer some other individuals to enjoy an inferior share of the credit of an achievement, of which he has, after all, been unsuccessful in his earnest endeavour to monopolize the honour, than to mis-state facts, falsify dates, and even attempt to pervert geography,-and if these convictions of defective integrity, in some particulars, had not inevitably thrown a certain dubiousness over the specific detail, at least of every part of his work where any thing extraordinary is exhibited ;-he might indeed have been regarded as the prince of travellers. How much he misjudged the age that was then coming on, if he really fancied that his enterprise was to be nearly the last of the kind, that no Englishman would ever dare be found on any part of his track, and that therefore his negligent or deliberate deviations from truth could be for ever beyond the reach of inquisition. If the rapid multiplication of books of travels be, in some respects, an evil, it gives us at least the advantage of a powerful check on the romance-making propensities of the amusing vagrants; and

what has befallen Bruce will very strongly tend to admonisht them, that there is hardly any part of the earth which the most daring of them can explore, that can secure them an impunity in bringing us a deceptive account of what they shall have seen there, and have done there

The only place to warrant such an experiment would be a country going to be for ever closed up (as in the case of a great portion of the coast of Greenland) by an indissoluble assemblage of ice, or a district in some of those regions where it should not be at all improbable that the very year after the traveller's visit, the towns, the people, and the very face of the country, may be destroyed by an earthquake.

In our cursory survey of the present work, it may come in our way almost inevitably to otice, in a slight and passing manner, an instance or two of Bruce's temerity and miscalculation, in making statements and assertions which must have been hazarded in the presumption, that he was an exclusively favoured mortal with regard to attempts on the interior of Africa, and that the fountains of the Nile had hardly been more effectually guarded against vulgar approach before his time, than the very country itself was destined to be subsequently. He was not even considerate enough to advert to a danger that menaced his reputation from a quarter from which it might be deeply injured without the intervention of any rival of his adventures. He could little have anticipated that his own manuscript papers were to furnish, through the highly laudable honesty of his friends, in a new edition of his own work, the proofs of a variety of inaccuracies and contradictions, and, we fear, some intentionally false statements.

Nevertheless, he stands as yet above all danger of rivalry in practical achievement in that part of the world. He went where no other of his countrymen has penetrated since, or is likely to penetrate for an indefinite time to come; and the brilliant enterprise was accomplished by his own single energy, aided by none of that influence which now accompanies, in so many regions of the east, a man belonging to a nation known to have acquired the ascendency at sea, and the dominion of a considerable portion of Asia. His fame admits no other individual for a moment in heirship or competition but Mr. Salt; and he, with all the influence and the facilities that accompanied him, has not been able to approach that central region of Abyssinia which Bruce created himself the means of invading, and traversing with protracted and privileged and intimate inspection.

Having read with much interest Mr. Salt's former journal of travels in Abyssinia, forming a part of Lord Valentia's splendid work, we heard, with great pleasure, of his being appointed by our government to make a more formal attempt on that coun

« AnteriorContinuar »