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For disobedience stricken, saw and died,
Before ihe scene of horror petrified.
Ages a stony monument she stood
Of Heaven's fierce wrath and Sodom's burning flood,
Close at the bound where in their vengeful play
The fiery waves shook their red foam away.
For Lot had heard Heaven's messenger declare
The coming wreck, and warn him to beware.
And ere the dawn, the fatal dawn was nigh,
Bid him arouse his little family,
To Zoar escape, and find within its wall
A momentary refuge—thus had all
Been rescued from a far devouring grave,
The flaming sepulchre of lord and slave!
O, when that realm like one wide furnace bum'd, And wall and column, in the flame o'erturn'd, Melted like drossy ore, and seethed, and broke In billowy flame and jets of wreathing smoke, That with commotion Heaven's high arch divide, Rolling their volumes dense from side to side And reddening earth's dark canopy—where then Lay there a refuge for unhappy men, Who heard not, thought not, till the moment came, Of the dire ravage of that flood of flame;— Who scarcely saw, ere life was scorch'd away, The wave that on them closed eternally! Some, while asleep, were chark'd beneath the tide, With unclosed eyes and without pain they died— And some there were that waking from a dream Of hell, knew at the sight its angry gleam In their own hemisphere—yet hardly knew Ere they had breathed its air, that hotter grew And shrivelled their parch'd lungs, and from their veins Drank dry the life-blood ;—scarce their feverM pains They felt and they were dead—a wrinkled scroll They blacken first, then round and round them roll The fierce red surges, and they disappear As fuel flung within a furnace clear. No shriek was ever heard,—they had no space For suffering's utterance, scarcely had the face Time to express its death-hue, ere it lay Dissolved or borne on bubbling fires away. Thus myriads in a mighty mass expire Molten with street and dwelling quench'd in fire! A liquid chaos blending men and things. Altars and people, palaces and kings— A universe of ruin 1 schemes of ill And crime were dead, and vain desires were still; And thoughts of virtue, if such thoughts were there, And hope with fairy face, and wan despair, And thousand budding joys and high desires. And youth and age, the children and the sires. Like a volcano springs the smoke to Heaven, In eddying whirls by raging fire-storms driven, Bearing a crowd of souls to judgment sent, And longer woes and keener punishment.
Within a marble turret's ponderous wall, A monument of strength, massy and tall,
A few lone inmates mark'd the livid bail
With both her arms; and as she lay, her trunk
Within the waste where ruin'd Sodom lay,
That bore the perfumed censer, or that fanned
In noonday hours the monarch of the land.
There halls in sculptured richness glossy shone,
And gilded roofs dazzling to gaze upon,
A ad hoary courtiers lay, and glozing men,
Who dealt in flattery, to be paid again
With interest by the gold from labour wrung.
And there were priests who kindly said or sung
Their own religion—to the courtier gave
An essenced heaven, which they denied his slave.
These and a thousand such secure were there,
Hoping the sunshine of the crown to share.
But in a moment, with no time to pray,
Unwarn'd, unhousell'd, they were borne away,
Leaving no remnant, not an idle name
To cheat mankind upon the roll of fame!
And none were left lo mourn them—those who knew
And might perchance have wept them, perish'd too;
Annull'd, annihilated, drown'd in fire,
Whelm'd in the storm of God's avenging ire!
They are, and they are notl short history
Ten years ago the Ashantces were a people scarcely known to Englishmen even by name. As many months ago they were regarded as a tribe of undisciplined savages, capable of being kept in awe by a handful of us cultivated Europeans, and formidable only to themselves, and to the other scarcely more contemptible hordes who might incur their barbarous displeasure. Lately, however, those in authority over \u have been taught to rue their blunder, by the loss of not a little valuable British blood, and have now discovered (too late) that the Ashantees are a powerful and warlike nation, able, if they please, to cope with a greater force than we can possibly send against them, and not unlikely to drive us with disgrace from all our African settlements.
It is true that about five years ago Mr. Bowdich published a quarto on the subject of this singular people; in which he treated us with numerous tempting accounts of the " barbaric pomp and gold" which glittered at and glorified the " court" of his Ashantee majesty. But though much of these pomps and splendours were clearly attired, if not absolutely created, by the warmth of a youthful imagination, Mr. Bowdich obtained the avowed object of his mission, in the form of a treaty of perpetual peace and amity between the Ashantee king and the British subjects residing on the Gold Coast. That a " perpetual" treaty of this kind should be broken in pieces in the course of six months, was naturally to be expected; for Mr. Bowdich had not contrived to give this cunning negro any vast notion either of the white men's wisdom, or good faith. This young traveller's report, however, of the extraordinary wealth of the court he had just visited, having reached England, it was speedily determined, by the government here, to send out another envoy, commissioned directly from itself, and furnished with somewhat more of prudence, knowledge, and local experience than the previous self-constituted+ ambassador of the African Company had proved himself to possess. Mr. Joseph Dupuis was the gentleman entrusted with this commission; and the volume we are now to notice is the only valuable result which has hitherto attended the measure just alluded to. In saying this, however, it is but fair to add, that the blame of this negative success, and of the disastrous and fatal effects which have followed it, is attributable to any party rather than the government who ordered this commission, and the gentleman who executed it. And, in fact, it cannot for a moment be denied, that if the knowledge obtained by Mr. Dupuis during his mission had been duly weighed, and his suggestions, which were consequent upon it, had been wisely attended to, the late disastrous and disgraceful defeat of the British arms on the coast of Africa would have been totally avoided; and the most important commercial advantages might have been obtained in its place.
* Journal of a Residence in Ashantee, &c. by Joseph Dupuis, Esq.
+ Our readers are probably aware that Mr. James was the envoy appointed by the Company of African Merchants; and that Mr. Bowdich accompanied him as a subordinate agent. But while at Ashantee, Mr. B. contrived to supersede his superior, and pet the offico confirmed to himself; having previously, however, taken it upon him by force of tongue! Sec his own account of the matter in his work.
Mr. Dupuis's work consists, first, of an introductory portion, devoted to a somewhat diffuse account of the various obstacles which were thrown in the way of his mission, on his arrival at Cape Coast Castle, the residence of the then Governor-general of the British colonies on the Gold Coast. Any detail of the intrigues and misunderstandings which are attempted (not very successfully) to be developed in this portion of the work, would not be interesting to our readers. Suffice it, that after more than a twelvemonth's delay, partly occasioned by illness and partly by the circumstances alluded to above, Mr. Dupuis, on the 9th of February 1820, departs on his mission; the whole details of which, and of its return on the 24th of March following, are included in the next six chapters; which may, therefore, be considered as the main body of the work, and to which we shall almost exclusively direct our readers' attention.
The subsequent portions consist of a sketch of the events which have happened since Mr. Dupuis's mission; a chapter of historical memoirs of the kingdom of Ashantee; and finally, numerous geographical details connected with the whole of Western Africa.
Mr. Dupuis departs upon his journey under no very enviable or encouraging circumstances, it must be confessed; for his health appears to have been in a most precarious state, and his mission was in direct opposition to the views of those who were to afford him the necessary facilities in prosecuting it. He starts, nevertheless, attended by three subordinate officers, and a large party of natives, as guards, carriers, &c. All the immediate details of the party, the reader is, however, compelled to make out for himself, in the best manner he can; for the great fault of our author, as an author—and a descriptive one in particular — is, that he labours under the want of a picturesque imagination, and a consequent inability to take the reader with him in his course. Instead of finding ourselves constantly in his company, we are compelled to be perpetually on the watch lest we should lose sight of him altogether, and find ourselves in the midst of a trackless forest, not unlike some of those through which the principal p :rtion of his route lay.
The first noticeable person our author encounters in his first day's journey is not of a character to excite any very pleasing associations in connexion with the state that he is about to visit.
"One of these travellers," he says, "was decorated with a very large necklace of human teelh, interwoven with charms. The teeth had the appearance of recent extraction; an opinion that was afterwards strengthened by the sight of a little ivory blowing-horn, to which he was then in the operation of fastening a human jaw-bone. To my inquiries, how he became possessed of these trophies, 1 could not obtain a satisfactory answer; a smile of brutal insensibility, however, convinced me the question was of a gratifying nature, inasmuch as it was interpreted into a compliment to his military prowess. This feeling was displayed by various contortions of mockery and exultation, as he directed a sort of conversation to the relic, in achaunting tone."
At the end of the first day the party halted at a considerable croom, or village, called Doonqua; after having traversed a path of about five and twenty miles, through great plains of underwood; villages more or less ruined by the late wars of the natives with their Ashantee lord •,