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ratory nature. Men naturally wish to pursue their usual avocations, and enjoy the fruits of their industry and the profits of their estates in security and with economy. How they can best accomplish this, is seldom a matter of choice. The best mode always exists; it remains for the good sense of men to discover, not create it. The discovery of this mode is, for the most part, the work of society, aided by time; and all the acts of government—we mean good government—are merely declaratory of this. Hence it is impossible to fix upon any form of government as.the best, since that alone can be the best which declares this mode; and this again must vary with varying circumstances, different peoples and progressive ages.
Writers, during the last hundred years, have been particularly fond of denouncing every government which is not essentially popular. But, just as this denunciation maybe, with respect to some communities, it is certainly out of place with regard to others. It does well enough for Americans to denounce monarchy, for that system would be intolerable to them; but, may we not doubt whether republicanism would not be a fatal experiment with certain European states when we have the modern history of France before our eyes 1 We beg not to be considered an apologist for monarchy; we are simply the advocate of moderation and caution, and have more than once been struck by Mr. Jefferson's scathing paragraph in his letter to Governor Langdon,* in which he says:
"When I observed, however, that the King of England was a cypher, I did not mean to confine the observation to the mere individual now on that throne. The practice of Kings marrying only into the families of Kings, has been that of Europe, for some centuries. Now, take any race of animals, confine them in idleness and inaction, whether in a stye, a stable, or a state room, pamper them with high diet, gratify all their sexual appettos. immerse them in sensualities, nourish their passions, let every thing bend before them, and banish whatever might lead them to think, and in a few generations, they become all body and no mind: and this, too, by a law of nature, by that very law by which we are in the constant practice of changing the characters and propensities of the animals we raise for our own purposes. Such is the regimen in raising kings, and in this way they have gone on for centuries. While in Europe, I often amused myself with contemplating the characters of the then reigning sovereigns of Europe. Louis the XVI. was a fool, of my own knowledge, and in despite of the answers made for him at his trial. The King of Spain was a fool; and of Naples, the same. They passed their lives in hunting, and despatched two couriers a week, one thousand miles, to let each other know what game they had killed the preceding days. The King of Sardinia was a fool. All these were Bourbons. The Queen of Portugal, a Braganza, was an idiot by nature. And so was the King of Denmark. Their sons, as regents, exercised the powers of government. The King of Prussia, successor to the great Frederick, was a mere hog in body, as well as in mind. Gustavus of Sweden, and Joseph of Austria, were really crazy; and George of England, you know, was in a strait jacket. There remained, then, none but old Catherine, who had been too lately picked up to have lost her common sense. In this state, Bonaparte found Europe; and it was this state of its rulers which lost it with scarce a struggle. These animals had become without mind, and powerless; and so will every hereditary monarch be after a few generations. Alexander, the grandson of Catherine, is as yet an exception. He is able to hold his own. But he is only of the third generation. His race is not yet run out. And so endeth the book of Kings, from all of whom the Lord deliver us, and have you, my friend, and all such good men and true, in his holy keeping."
* Jefferson's Works, vol. 4, p. 147.
We shall resume this subject in other pages.
E. B. B.
Art. III.—Africans At Home.
Abrkgi des Voyages. Par Mons. De La Harpe. Paris:
1780. Ashantee. By John Beech Am. London: 1841.
The condition of the African race, for some years past has occupied such a degree of popular attention as to have been the source of great misunderstandings, many misrepresentations, violent hostilities, unwise and immature legislation, and a vast quantity of insane philanthropy, all of which, we fear, will result in very little profit to that peculiar people. To contribute to the better understanding of the subject, we have undertaken, in this article, to give a rapid but faithful sketch of the present wretched condition of the African, and to show that this condition has continued substantially, if not literally, the same, for the last three hundred years, and as far back as we have any accounts of this peculiar people.
We know nothing of Africa, in the times of the Greeks and Romans, save of Egypt, Nubia, and the parts bordering upon the Mediterranean. The interior was then too barbarous and insignificant to invite curiosity, cupidity or conquest. From the Periplus of Hanno, the celebrated Carthagenian navigator, we have only a coasting voyage, as the word implies, from Gibraltar to Cape Bojador, beyond the Senegal, on the coast of Guinea; and the impression then entertained, of the savage and degraded character of the inhabitants, is to be inferred from the fact that they are supposed to have caught Ourang Outangs, or a species of monkey, whom they took for the women of the country, and having flayed them, brought their skins back to Carthage, where they were deposited with the other curiosities, and an account of the voyage, in the Temple of Juno, which was their Museum. This account being read by Aristotle, it is supposed that he influenced his scholar, Alexander, to contemplate the circumnavigation of Africa; which, however, was not effected. At a subsequent period, the Arabian geographers seem to have entertained but vague and conjectural ideas of that region. No one, in those days, ever seems to have contemplated an examination of the interior. Even the Portuguese did not attempt it after they had made their settlements. It was left for the enterprise of a Park and his subsequent followers, in modern times.
But, long before the time of Park, the enterprise of Portugal had made the first lodgement on the coast of Africa, and set the example of that coasting trade with that continent, which has been, more or less, ever since in the hands of the Dutch, the English, the Spanish and the American Nations. Yet, with all their factories, their posts, their forts and their castles, they have been able to penetrate but a small distance from that sickly and densely wooded coast, and we have advanced but very little way in the extent of our knowledge of Africa since the cry of Gama, in 1498, "Bonnes nouvelles, bonnes nouvelles, dcs rubies, dcs emeraudesr des ipices, des pierreries, toutes les richesses de runivers"— instigated that enterprise and passion for gold, new countries, new lands and new homes, which has scarcely yet lost any of its vigour and activity. Wondrous changes this passion has produced and is still producing! Where will it stop? He only that can look into futurity may answer, and without asking aid from "celestial telegraphs."
But has this great move—this world's progress—redounded nothing to the profit of poor doomed, dark, night-covered Africa? Was she merely intended by Divine Providence to afford the means of working out the civilization and the exaltation of all other countries, and of all other races but her own? We think not. But God has his own ways of working out his will; and man in vain may think to amend his decrees, or set them at defiance. Do those who believe in the Bible, dare to disown that Providence which acknowledges some favoured races, and places curses and trials upon others? Why is it so? When we are as wise as Deity itself, then may we say why there shall be rich and poor, sick and healthy, strong and weak, the beautiful and the ugly, the Apollo and Caliban, a Washington and a Jonathan Wild, a Napoleon and an idiot, the robber and the honest labourer—in short, happiness and misery! Why the wealth and superabundance of the one, and the toilsome, loathsome labour of the other, in the service of the rich—a labour which yields no stores, but affords merely the wretched means of staving off starvation from the destitute and his numerous family of suffering children?
There is a Law on the subject, and that law has been given man by his Maker from above. The violation of that law,, though we may not see why it should be so, or believe it the origin of these inequalities, is the true source of all the misery and of all inequality on earth. Not that virtue is alwaysrewarded among men; for we are not told of recompense,, but duty. Reward is not for us to challenge and demand— only obedience is ours. Enough that the violator of God'a laws takes heed; for it is visited upon the heads of generations untold. And let no man point his finger to heaven and say "it is there done; it is He that did it;" for the evil is the result of his own folly or misdeeds, of his neglect of that self-restraint and that forbearance, which heaven exacts as the price of our happiness and advancement while on earth. What is true of one man, may be true of a family ; and what is true of a family, may be true of nations—the mere aggregate of families. Terrible are the judgments of heaven. Inscrutable the ways of Providence; and whole nations are made to bear the penalties, through long ages, of the violations of law which they simply sanction.
While the rest of the world has made such rapid strides in the advancement of the condition of its inhabitants, it becomes an interesting inquiry, if Africa has made any, and to what degree? In this article we propose to take a condensed view of her condition, from the period of the Portuguese discoveries to the present day. For this purpose we have placed at the head of this article La Harpe's collection of old voyages, and the recent work by John Beecham, of the London Wesleyan Mission, the very last that has fallen under our observation. These are acknowledged authorities, which should suffice for our purpose. In a future number, should leisure and inclination serve, we propose to give a similar sketch of the condition of such Africans as have been removed from their original home, and now exist in other countries, either in a state of freedom or of bondage. We think that we can show that no part of the race has been so advanced in morals and happiness as that portion which has been expatriated; and that the part which most excels in all that makes approach to civilization, is that which remains in slavery in the Southern States of this Union.
SneJgrave gives the following myth, as commonly believed on the Gold Coast, as the history of the origin of the African race. It will be seen, hereafter, that the same tradition substantially exists to this day among this people.
The three sons of Noah, being each of a different colour, met, after the death of their father, to make partition of his goods and chattels; that is to say, of the gold, of the silver, of the precious stones, of the ivory, of the linen, of the stuffs of silk and cotton, of the horses, of the camels, of the beeves,