« AnteriorContinuar »
THE PRETENDER.--In the rebellion of 1745, it is well known, that after the discomfiture of the rebels at the battle of Culloden, by the royal army under the command of His Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland, Government issued a proclamation, in which they offered a reward of 30,0001. for the apprehension of the Pretender, alive or dead.
In opposition to this, the following curious paper was issued by the Pretender and his Council :
CHARLES, PRINCE OF WALES, &c. Regent of the kingdoms of Scotland, England, France, and Ireland, and the doininions thereunto belonging :
Whereas we have seen a certain scandalous and malicious paper, published in the stile and form of a Proclamation, bearing date the 1st instant, wherein, under pretence of bringing us to justice, like our royal ancestor, King Charles the 1st of blessed memory, there is a reward of thirty thousand pounds sterling promised to those who shall deliver us into the hands of our enemies, we could not but be moved with a just indignation at so insolent an attempt: and though, from our nature and principles, we abhor and detest a practice so unusual. among Christian Princes, we cannot, but out of a just regard to the dignity of our person, promise the like reward of thirty thousand pounds sterling, to him, or those, who shall seize or secure till our further orders, the person of the Elector of Hanover, whether landed, or attempting to land in any part of His Majesty's doininions. Should any fatal accident happen from hence, let the blame lie entirely at the door of those who first set the infamous exanple.
CHARLES, P. R. Given at our camp at Knilockeill, August 22, 1745.
By His Highness's command,
The original paper from which the above was copied is so rare, that I never heard of any other than that which accident lately deposited in the British Museum. The fact, however, itself is mentioned by Hume, and other historians. [Beloe.]
AN ESSAY ON BRUCE'S TRAVELS,
THE SOURCE OF THE NILE.
It would be no easy task barely to enumerate all those eminent Scotsmen, who have amused the imagination, and enlightened the understanding, by exhibiting Nature uuder new aspects, and depicted mankind in the various stages from barbarism to refinement.
But there are some who, from the extraordinary interest excited by their adventures, and the importance of the information they communicate, obtrude themselves, as it were, upon our notice. The narratives of Lithgow, who, on foot, perambulated almost all Europe, much of Asia, and, perhaps, more of Africa than any individual of the 17th century, notwithstanding his uncouth phraseology, his antiquated prejudices, and risible self-importance, still excite interest from the naïveté of his manner, from the extraordinary incidents he encountered, and the vivid, lively pictures he presents of the state of society, and manners of past ages and remote countries. The vast extent of Asia traversed by Bell in his journies from Petersburg to the Courts of Ispahan, Pekin, and Constantinople, afforded him the means of collecting much solid information, which he has communicated to us, of nations less known than generally celebrated. Mackenzie, from the magnitude of his attempt, and the obstacles he had to surmount, in his journey through the vast American Continent, from the shores of the Northern Atlantic to those of the Pacific Ocean, is well entitled to the praise of daring enterprize and inflexible perseverance. The romantic spirit of adventure so happily displayed, and so fortunately achieved, by Mungo Park, in the wilds of Africa, is the theme of undivided panegyric. Great, meritorious, and useful to themselves and to their country, as have been the exertions of those intrepid Scotsmen, I cannot but think that in magnitude and importance, interest and in utility, they must yield to those of Bruce, whose unparalleled merits seem at length to be appreciated by a pablic ultimately impartial, in spite of the insidious arts of caluinny, and the more open attacks of ignorance and prejudice. It is not my object to
expatiate upon the merits of this illustrious traveller, or enter into details respecting a performance, upon which all impartial and intelligent men never had but one opinion. Suffice it to state, that the daring, ardent spirit of enterprize that enabled him to surmount hardships and dangers without a parallel, places him longo intervallo at the head of all modern travellers; that the countries he traversed, by presenting subji cts most important to the philosopher, the historian, and the divine, were a field the most worthy such a traveller; that he has collected, or communicated to the world, a greater mass of curious, useful, and important information than any one traveller, I may add ancient or modern; and that no one, who has accompanied him through his five large quartos, does not wish them still longer, is the best eulogium that can be pronounced upon his merits as a traveller and writer.
That malicious attempts to shade such great merit should have been made, was natural; it is to be lamented that for a time they should have been successful. A refutation of these would now be unnecessary, the public having at length rendered ample justice to his honour and veracity: - It is enough to state, that the most rigid ex amination has fully established the truth of every fact, even those apparently the most improbable, which he had narrated as having fallen under his observation.
Of the many atteinpts to injure his fame, it will not easily be forgotten, that from 1773 downwards, it was de nied that he had ever visited the sources of the Nile. But the malice of the worthless Montague, and the ca lumnies of De Tott, soon met their refutal by the most indubitable evidence of that fact, both direct and cir. cumstantial. The inuendoes of “ Dar Fur” Browne, have now been proved equally groundless, With all my respect for the intrepidity and adventurous spirit of this gentleman, I cannot help thinking, that had he not failed in attempting that in which Bruce succeeded, some insinuations respecting his distinguished precursor would scarcely have found a place in his narrative,
But those, who still continue to depreciate Bruce, have now, it seems, made a most important discovery: The river, say they, whose source he reached, is not the true“ Nile;' and, froin this important discovery, they arrogate to themselves the right of venting every reç proach, due to a daring successful impostor, upon his
devoted head. It is not that I think the circumstance, even if true, of much importance, as the merits of Bruce rest upon grounds too stable to be shaken by what is now a mere speculative opinion respecting the claim of one of two branches of a river to give the name to the stream which they both contribute equally to form. The following considerations have, however, operated to convince me, that even in this instance, essentially unimportant as it is, these gentlemen have not been one whit more successful than in their other liberal, candid, and gentlemanly strictures upon the character and veracity of my illustrious countryman.
The Bahar el Azergue, or Blue River, to the source of which Bruce ascended, and which, as will afterwards be shewn, not only continues to give its name to the river before and after its junction with the rival branch, but has actually done so from the remotest ages, must now, it seems, ground its claim to the little-known Bahar el Abiad, or White River, notwithstanding the evidence of name, of the opinions of all the inhabitants of the countries through which it passes, and, I conceive, all historical evidence, because the translators of Herodotus and Esdrisi, and the modest geographer Pinkerton, choose to assert, that Herodotus and Ptolemy, as well as the ancients in general, conceived what is now called the White River to be the true Nile, and the Blue River to be merely a paltry stream, well known to them as the Astapus. Though I am far from admitting the evidence of men, confessedly knowing almost nothing of either branches, to be of the least avail when opposed to the decided testimony of the natives of 'Abyssinia, of Nubia, and Barbara, who most positively declare the very reverse ; yet as such weight is attached to the
supposed evidence of these ancient writers, as to have induced some of our late map-makers to rob the Blue River of its long-acknowledged claims, by placing the source of the Nile in the nameless range of mountains from which the White River is supposed to flow, I shall shortly examine the grounds of this opinion, so boldly advanced, and, by many, so implicitly followed.
I begin this branch of the subject, by asserting with confidence, that the Nile of the ancients never was, and never could be, the Bahar el Abiad, or White River, the source of which is far to the Westward. If any one fact can be collected from all the ancient accounts, it is,
that the sources of the Nile were far to the eastward of Alexandria. It is a well-known fact, that Alexander, accompanied by numbers of the most eminent Savans of Greece, imagined he had discovered these coy fountains in the Pansale. Whence this most extraordinary mistake!--we may ask, had not the ancients universally believed that the Nile rose far to the east of Egypt? (In fact, India was thought to be joined to Ethiopia :) Those sent by that conqueror from Egypt to discover those fountains in the interior of Africa, it would appear, actually did, indeed must have passed over the White River, but never viewed, or were told to consider it as the true Nile. They, of course, passed on, leaving the true Nile far to the left, and, consequently, returned without success. The Ptolemy who entered Ethiopia with an army, and who, of all men, could procure the most authentic information respecting the Sacred River, sought these sources, not in Lybia, nor even in Nubia, but somewhere near the Red Sea, or, what is pow called, the Indian Ocean. Indeed, he seems to have taken the Tacazze (anciently the Astaberas) for the Nile, a proof, at least, of the general belief of these fountains being far to the eastward.
In fact, Ptolemy, the geographer, whose authority is chiefly relied on by Pinkerton and Co. and whose statements shall be afterwards commented upon, confirms this proposition. The marsh, or lake, from which his Nile issues, is expressly called by him Oriental, i. e, in regard to Alexandria, of which he was an inhabitant. Indeed, from what he mentions respecting the voyage of a Diogenes, who was, it seems, driven from what is now called Cape Gardefan to near Quilva, or Rapta, it is clear, that it was the universal opinion of the ancients, and, indeed, the only opinion regarding the sources in which they did agree, that the great lake, from whence the Nile flowed, was far to the eastward of Alexandria, or Memphis.
The account given by Herodotus of what he heard from certain inhabitants of the interior, no way affects the truth of this proposition. The recent discoveries of Horneman and others have put it beyond a doubt, that the great river running to the east in their country was, and only could be, the river now called (nobody knows why) the Niger. But of this historian I shall speak in his proper place.