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Nile, the Senegal, with all its tributaries, the Joliba, the Congo, and the Zambazce.
For many ages the curiosity of the world was excited to discover the sources of the Niger, anil some of the most famous travellers' names arc associated with the enterprise. So lately, however, has auy real informal ion been obtained, that we find in a work written little more than fifty years ago that it is "a great river of Africa, supposed to have its original near that of the Nile." According to our present ideas, more than 2,000 miles of solid land, embracing many kingdoms, intersected by vast streams, and ridged by high chains of mountains, lie between. From the same account, published especially for the edification of geographers, we learn that this, the Black ltivcr of the ancients, rises near the confines of Upper Ethiopia. It then runs "a prodigiously long course," from cast to west, some 3,000 miles, and after approaching within four miles of the "Western Oceun," turns to the south, flows some eighty miles in that direction, and eutcrs the sea near the spot where the Senegal pays its tribute to the Atlautic. So much for the geography of fifty years ago.
But while this account was concocting, Mungo Park was wandering on foot through the kiugdom of Bambara, where his hopes were crowned, and he saw "the long-sought majestio Niger, glittering in the morning sun, as broad as the Thames at "Westminster, and flowing slowly to the eastward."
From that period discovery proceeded, but much in connexion with the mighty river remains still doubtfid. From all that we know, it is supposed to rise in the Snowy Mountains, on the borders of Ganorn, about two hundred and fifty miles from the Ivory Coast. It flows first to the north-west, thence to the north-cast, continues in that direction as far as the long-sought and fallen city of Timbuctoo, makes a complete curve there, rolls in a broad and deep stream south-cast, changes to due cast, receives the waters of the Chadda, and then flows through many channels into the Gulf of Guinea, after a course of more than 2,500 miles.
For some of these details we still rely on the reports of native travellers and conjectures based on a comparison of their theories. There is still, therefore a great task unperformed, which it is left for some explorer to achieve. The last expedition to the Niger was singularly fruitless of results. It sailed in 1840, and proposed to explore the stream, to make treaties with the savage kinglings inhabiting its banks, to plant the influence of England in the interior, and establish a model farm; to discourage the slave-trade, and open a commerce with the native nations. The end was melancholy. The river fever struck great numbers of the adventurers, and many who hail left England full of heart and hope, were laid in their graves under a lonely grove on the island of Fernando Po. The native kings, in sonic instances, accepted treaties, but afterwards exercised the royal prerogative of breaking faith. The model farm was abandoned, partly from the hostility of the people, but partly also
from the mismanagement of its founders. Altogether the expedition, which set out with flourishing auspices, accomplished little save proving the deadly nature of the climate at the borders of the Niger. Every precaution was adopted, but in vain. The steamers proceeded a few hundred miles, and were compelled to return, and in melancholy dejection our countrymen gave up the project.
A general view of the condition of our knowledge of Africa, though it must be of the slightest kind, may still be interesting. Few regions in their outward aspect offer so much to the curious observation of man. The great desert, whose hot and barren solitudes are traversed by the native traders in their annual caravans, presents an invincible barrier against the march of armies across its centre from west to east. A line of oiiscs, indeed, refreshed by copious springs, lies like a chain along its arid surface, from the gnat Lake Shad to the foot of the Black Mountains. Scattered at intervals few and far between over the vast Sahara, arc wells surrounded by small patches of green, to which the fancy, fainting after the weary travel of the desert, imparts a magical beauty. Eastward lie—
"The tufted isles
but with the exception of (hose happy spots—the stars, as it were, that lighten up tlic gloom of tbc desert—one mighty waste is spread from the Atlantic to the Valley of the Nile, and beyond it to the borders of the Bed Sea. From the mountains which shut it in on the north, descend many rivers whose waters, after a course of from one to two hundred miles, are swallowed up by the thirsty sand.
Thus the mighty tract, beautifully compared hy ancient poets to a lco]>ard's skin, extends from nortli to south about eight hundred, and from east, to west more than three thousand miles, varied only by the fertile valley of Egypt, the oiiscs of Libya, and the "Isles of the Blessed," which form the only smiles ou the frowning face of the Saharau desert. The moat recent explorer of this region was Richardson, who is now engaged in penetrating to the centre, aud acquiring a complete knowledge of the routes from ouc siiie of the continent to the other.
South of the desert lies an immense jwpulous tract watered by many rivers, very fertile, but covered chiefly with woods. Several of the numerous tcr ritorics into which it is divided, arc ungenial to the European constitution, and all are inhabited by barbarous races of men. There is the great field of slavery. Over these two thousand miles the degenerate savages are scattered, in subjection to heathen kings,—curses of the earth—who revel in their subjects' blood, nnd draw their resources from the sale of the unhappy people. Here humanity is seen in its uncouthest form. Human sacrifices, of fearful extent, bloody slave hunts, abominable orgies in the name of religion, the lowest and the basest superstition, with customs too horrible and filthy to describe, prevail among millions of beings. The earth is poorly tilled, and vast tracts of it arc left totally wild. Mines remain unworked, and immense natural treasures wholly undeveloped. Rivers, towns, tribes, hills, lakes, and even kiugdoms exist here unknown to Europeans, and only described in the reports of the barbarian traders. It is evident that civilization has found few restingplaces on this " wild and swarthy shore"
On the borders of the Atlantic and the Eastern Oceans, the Red and the Mediterranean Seas, as well as around the Nubian Deserts, lie kingdoms which we cannot enumerate. At the extreme south is our flourishing aud important colony of the Cape of Good Hope, whose prosperity will shortly receive such an impulse from steam communication with Great Britain. Hounding the famous promontory of Rams, and sailing northward, we reach the newly settled district of Natal. Of these settlements wc sliall have more to say, especially of the latter, which lias recently been much misrepresented.
On the shores of the Mediterranean lies Algeria, tlic scene of French conquest, which presents some curious facts for our contemplation in another notice. At a few other points on the coast European flags have been fixed, but principally as naval stations. It trill be remembered that Gordon Cumming, who displayed so much manly valour in his conflicts with the cazdles and giraffes of South Africa, penetrated further into the countries beyond Kalfirland than any previous traveller. He crossed extensive tracts north of the Bamangwato Mountains, among the boundless elephant forests. Ho found them inhabited br numerous tribes, and densely swarming with the nublcr orders of the animal creation. Many other ,'cntlcmcn have, within a few years, visited different parts of Africa, obtaining a knowledge of their resources and their social state. One has just returned »ith an interesting picture of life in Dahomey, another has described his visit to Algeria, another has arcniiipanicd a French expedition among the wild tribes of the Kabylie. Mr. Richardson, with several companions, is, as we have said, exploring the interior. BajleSt. John lately visited the little-known Oases of Garah and Siwahah, and is now prosecuting his researches on the banks of the Nile, though we know not whether he may be enabled to reach the White Kivcr and explore it even so far as Wernc went.
With this slight glance at the aspect of Africa, and the recent endeavours to improve our knowledge of its geography, wc conclude our first notice of the wcat continent. Wc shall next sketch, briefly, the present state of the slave trade, the foreign and domestic commerce, the condition of our settlements, Jsd the French possessions. A plan has been pro["osed for extirpating by the roots the inhuman traffic in negroes. This we shall briefly describe and submit it to discussion. Many projects have been started, but all have, hitherto, failed, though our African squadron docs good service by checking what it cannot destroy. It will be a melancholy day for i Africa, if ever this check should be withdrawn. Wo
are advancing towards success in the great object which humanity has in view, and it will be poor policy now to abandon the African coasts to the undisputed reign of slavers, that they may run riot in their hideous occupation. The Americans are anxious to abolish the vile traffic. Let it be remembered wc gave it to them. It is an inheritance they received from Great Britain, but their landed proprietors, the aristocratic lords of the soil, in the southern states, cling to it, and it is only by civilizing Africa that we can cut off their supply of slaves.
(FH01I THE ITALIAN.)
Two gentle lovers to an absent friend
Some gifts of love's remembrance fain would send.
The youth an oil' ring of a rose-bud bore,
The damsel on her breast a lily wore:
This rose, he raid, her clustering hair shall deck,
And this fair gem shall sparkle on her neck.
And I this lily send, the girl replied;
My ehasten'd flower shall bo thy rose's bride.
Sweet love, the youth replied, Uh I never sparo
From thy fair breast the lily—guard it there.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EMINENT MEN.
Everybody has heard of Benjamin Franklin, how from a poor printer's hoy he raised himself, by following out his own maxims of thrift and perseverance, to be one of the first citizens of Philadelphia; that he took an important part in the struggle which ensured the independence of America, became her representative in foreign courts, and died full of years and honours, embalmed in the hearts of his countrymen, and venerated by the whole civilized world. In the intervals of leisure he left behind him an Autobiography, certainly one of the most delectable as well as the most instructive ever penned by mortal. As the whole may now be bought for a shilling, wc shall allow ourselves but a few racy extracts, which will serve however to convey a distinct idea of the moral idiosyncrncy of the man.
In proposing to write his memoirs, Franklin sets out in the peculiar vein of pleasantry that runs through all his writings:—
"In thus employing myself, I shall yield to the inclination so natural to old men, of talking of themselves and their own actions; and I shall indulge it without being tiresome to those who, from respect to my age, might conceive themselves obliged to listen to me, since they will be always free to read me or not. And, lastly (I may as well confess it, as the denial of it would be believed by nobody), I shali, perhaps, not a little gratify my own vanity. Indeed, I never heard or saw the introductory words, 'Without vanity I may say,' &c, but some vain tiling immediately followed. Most people dislike vanity in others, whatever share they have of it themselves; hut I give it fair quarter wherever I meet with it, being persuaded that it is often productive of good to the |>ossessor, and to others who are within his sphere of action; and therefore, in many cases, it would not be altogether absurd, if a man were to thank God for his vanity among the other comforts of his life."—P. 2.
After tracing the events of his early youth—his engagement as a printer in his brother's office at Boston —we come to his departure for Philadelphia, with but few dollars in his pocket, but a fund of self-reliance whereon to draw for success. On his voyage, he tells us,
"Being becalmed off Block island, our crew employed themselves in catching cod, and hauled up a great number. Till then, I had stuck to my resolution to eat nothing that had had life; and on this occasion I considered, according to my master Tryon, the taking every fish as a kind of unprovoked murder, since none of them had, or could do us any injury, that might justify this massacre. All this seemed very reasonable. But I had been formerly a great lover of fish, and when it came out of the frying-pan it smelt admirably well. I balanced some time between principle and inclination, till, recollecting that when the fish were opened I saw smaller fish taken out of their stomachs, then thought I, 'If you eat one another, I don't see why we may not eat you;' so I dined upon cod very heartily, and have since continued to eat as other people, returning only now and then occasionally to a vegetable diet. So convenient a thing it is to be. a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do." —P. 33.
Franklin, at first, got on but slowly in Philadelphia, and went over to England to try his fortune. While here he lets us a little into his religious views. Happening to meet with some arguments meant to refute infidelity, they produced in him the very opposite effect to that intended by the writer, and he became a confirmed Deist:—
"My arguments perverted some others, particularly Collins and Ralph; but, each of these having wronged me greatly without the least compunction, and recollecting Keith's conduct towards me, (who was another freethinker,) and my own towards Vernon and Miss Read, which at times gave me great trouble, / began to suspect that this doctrine, though it might be true, was not very useful. My London pamphlet, printed in 1725, which had for its motto these lines of Drydcn:
'Whatever is, is right. But purblind man
and which, from the attributes of God, his infinite wisdom, goodness, and power, concluded that nothing could possibly be wrong in the world; and that vice and virtue were empty distinctions, no such things existing; appeared now not so clever a performance as 1 once thought it; and I doubted whether some
error had not insinuated itself unperceived into my argument, so as to infect all that followed, as is common in metaphysical reasonings."—Pp. 53, 54.
Uninlluenced by Christianity, as a vital principle, Franklin nevertheless strenuously endeavoured to regulate his life by the principles of virtue. In following out this plan, he went to work with that method and system that distinguished all his actions :—
"I made," he tells us, " a little honk, in which I allotted a page for each of the virtues. 1 ruled each page with red ink, so as to have seven columns, one for each day of the week, marking each column with a letter for the day. I crossed these columns with thirteen red lines, marking the beginning of each line with the first letter of one of the virtues; on which line, and in its proper column, I might mark, by a little black spot, every fault I found upon examination to have been committed respecting that virtue, upon that day.
"I determined to give a week's strict attention to each of the virtues successively. Thus, in the first week, my great guard was to avoid every the least offence against Temperance; leaving the other virtues to their ordinary chance, only marking every evening the faults of the day. Thus, if in the first week I could keep my first line, marked T, clear of spots, I supposed the habit of that virtue so much strengthened, ami its opposite weakened, that I might venture extending my attention to include the next, and for the following week keep both lines clear of spots.
Proceeding thus to the last, I could get through a course complete in thirteen weeks, and four courses in a year. And like him, who, having a garden to weed, does not attempt to eradicate all the bad herbs at once, which would exceed his reach and his strength, but works on one of the beds at a time, and, having accomplished the first, proceeds to a second; so 1 should have, I hoped, the encouraging pleasure of seeing on my pages the progress made in virtue, by clearing successively my lines of their spots; till in the end, hy a number of courses, I should be happy in viewing a clean book, alter a thirteen weeks' daily examination."—Pp. 77,78.
Although when tested by this arithmetical process he was surprised to Cud himself "so much fuller of faults than be had imagined," he made, on the whole, decided advance in virtue, though unable to attain into absolute perfection. In one particular, as he deplores,—
"I made so little progress in amendment, and had •iH'h frequent relapses, that I was almost ready to L.-ire up the attempt, and content myself with a faulty character in that respect. Like the man, who, in buying an axe of a smith, my neighbour, desired to lisve the whole of its surface as bright as the edge. The smith consented to grind it bright for him, if lie would turn the wheel; he turned while the smith pressed the broad fuce of the axe hard and heavily on the stone, which made the turning of it very fatiguing. The man eame every now and then from the wheel to see how the work went on; and at length would take Ids axe as it was, without further grinding. 'No,' said the smith, ' turn on, turn on, we shall have it bright by and by; as yet it is only speckled.' 'Yes,' said the man, 'but / think I like a speckled axe Lest.' Aad I believe this may have been the case with many, too, having for want of some such means as I employed found the difficulty of obtaining good, and breaking bad habits, in other points of vice and virtue, have given up the struggle, and concluded that 'a rpeckkd axe it best.' For something, that pretended to be reason, was every now and then suggesting to me, that such extreme nicety as I exacted of myself might be a kind of foppery in morals, which, if it. were known, would make nic ridiculous; that a perfect character might be attended with the inconvenience of Wing envied and hated; and that a benevolent man ihnld allow a few faults in himself to keep his friends in countenance."—P. 81.
Few persons, it must he admitted, displayed equal candour in estimating their own character, and in listening to the strictures of others.
"My list of virtues," he says, "contained at first but twelve; but a Quaker friend having kindly informed me, Unit 1 was generally thought proud; that my pride showed itself frequently in conversation; that. I was not content with being in the right when discussing any point, but was overbearing, and rather insolent, of which he convinced me by mentioning several instances; I determined to endeavour to cure myself, if I could, of this vice or folly among the rest; and I added Humility to my list, giving an extensive meaning to the word.
"I cannot boast of much success in acquiring the reality of this virtue, but 1 hail a good deal with regard to the appearance of it. In reality there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, stitle it, mortify it as much us one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; vou will see it, perhaps, often in this history. For, even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably he proud of my humility." -Pp. 53, 84.
Franklin now conceived w hat he calls a great and extensive project. Observing that in human affairs everything is carried on by parly interest, he proposed to raise a United Parly for Virtue, a sort of moral freemasonry, to be called by the attractive title of "The Society of the Free and Easy." "Free," he observes, as being, by the general practice and habits of the virtuous, free from the dominion of vice, and particularly, by the practice of industry and frugality, free from debt, which exposes a man to constraint, and a species of slavery to his creditors." This plan, however, so promising for the interests of humanity, was never destined to be carried out.
From these specimens of Franklin's schemes, the reader may be apt to suspect that he was little better than a crazy visionary. So far from it, he was, perhaps, the most practical man that ever lived, and did most good in his day ami generation, lie was not of those, who, as they get wealthy, wrap themselves up in their own sellish comforts and conveniences. His mind wus perpetually active in devising something for the benefit of his fellow citizens. He established the first library in Philadelphia—gave a tone to the public mind—founded a Philosophical society, to which his own experiments gave celebrity—was chosen representative for his city, and at last became so essential a portion of its economy, that, as he tells us, when any new plan was started, every one said to his neighbour—Have you consulted Franklin on the business, and what does he say to it?
It was whilst Franklin was thus at the zenith of popularity, that Philadelphia was visited by Whitfield. It would be difficult to hit upon two characters more strikingly contrasted. Whitfield's object was to collect money for an orphan asylum he was building in Georgia. Franklin thought that Philadelphia would have been a better place for it, and therefore refused to subscribe; but the enthusiasm of the preacher proved an overmatch for the caution of the philosopher.
"1 happened," says the latter, "soon after to attend one of his sermons, in the course of which I perceived ho intended to finish with a collection, and I silently resolved ho should get nothing from me. I had in my pocket a handful of copper money, three or four silver dollars, and live pistoles in gold. As he proceeded I began to soften, and concluded to give the copper. Another stroke of his oratory made inc ashamed of that, and determined me to give the silver; and he finished so admirably, that 1 emptied my pocket wholly into the collector's dish, gold and all. At this sermon there was also one of our club, who, being of my sentiments respecting the building in Georgia, and suspecting a collection might be intended, had by precaution emptied his pockets before he came from home. Towards the conclusion of the discourse, however, he felt a strong inclination to give, and applied to a neighbour, who stood near him, to lend him some money for the purpose. The request was fortunately made to perhaps the only man in the company who had the firmness not I J be affected by the preacher. His answer was, 'At any other time, friend HopWnson, I would lend to thee freely; but not now; for thee seems to bo out of thy right senses.' * » *
"The following instanc; will show the terms on which we stood. Upon one of his arrivals from England at Boston, he wrote to me, that he should come soon to Philadelphia, but knew not where he could lodge when there, as he understood his old friend and host, Mr. Bcnezct, was removed to Germantown. My answer was, 'You know my house; if you can make shift with its scanty accommodations, you will be most heartily welcome.' He replied, that if I made that kind offer fur Christ's sake, 1 should not miss of a reward. And I returned, 'Don't let inc be mistaken; it was not for Christ's sake, but your sake.' One of our common acquaintance jocosely remarked, that, knowing it to be the custom of the saints, when they received any favour, to shift the burden of the obligation from off their own shoulders, and place it in heaven, I had contrived to fix it on earth.'"
One of Whitfield's disciples having soon after asked his advice how to go to work to get subscriptions for a chapel, Franklin advised him as follows: —and the hint, we are persuaded, will not be lost upon those who are meditating a similar appeal.
"'In the first place, I advise you to apply to all those who you know will give something; next, to those who you are uncertain whether they will give anything or not, and show them the list of those who have given; and lastly, do not neglect those who you are sure will give nothing; for in some of them you mny be mistaken.' He laughed and thanked mc, and said he would take my advice. He did so, for he asked of ererybody; and he obtained a much larger sum than he expected, with which he erected the capacious and elegant meeting-house that stands in Arch Street."—P. 117.
One of Franklin's difficulties as a public man, was to get out of the Quakers, who were a majority in the council, and who stuck, in name at least, to their peace principles, a vote of supplies for the war then waging with France. When pressed hard, and compelled to yield—they salved their consciences by voting a small sum for the king's use. On one occasion, as he tells us:—
"They would not grant money to buy potcder, because that was an ingredient of war, but they voted an aid to New England of three thousand pounds, to be put into the hands of the Governor, and appropriated it for the purchase of bread, flour, wheat, or other grata. Some of the Council, desirous of giving the House still further embarrassment, advised the Governor not to accept that provision, as not being the thing he had demanded; but he replied, 'I shall take the money, for I understand very well their meaning; other grain is gunpowder;' which ho accordingly bought, and they never objected to it.
"It was in allusion to this fact, that when in our fire company wc feared the success of our proposal in
favour of the lottery, and I had said to a friend of mine, one of our members, 'If we fail, let us move the purchase of a fire engine with the money; the Quakers can have no objection to that: and then, if you nominate me, and 1 you, as a committee for that purpose, wc will buy a great gun, which is certainly a fire engine:' 'I sec,' said he, 'you have improved by being so long in the Assembly; your equivocal project would be just a match for their wheat or other grain.'"—Pp. 108, 109.
To which we may add this amusing story, communicated by one James Logan, who admitted the lawfulness of defensive warfare.
"He told mc the following anecdote of his old master, William Penn, respecting defence. He came over from England when a young man with that Proprietary, and as his secretary. It was war time, and their ship was chased by an armed vessel, supposed to be an enemy. Their captain prepared for defence, but told William Penn and his company of Quakers that he did not expect their assistance, and they might retire into the cabin, which they did, except James Logan, who chose to stay upon deck, and was quartered to a gun. The supposed enemy proved a friend, so there was no fighting; but when the secretary went down to communicate the intelligence, William Penn rebuked him severely for staying upon deck, and undertaking to assist in defending the vessel, contrary to the principles of Friends; especially as it had not been required by the captain. This reprimand, being before all the company, piqued the secretary, who answered, 'I being thy servant, why did thee not order me come dowu? But thee was willing enough that I should stay and help to fight the ship when thee thought there was danger.'" —Pp. 107, 10S.
Not long before the revolutionary war, Franklin was sent over to England as political agent for Pennsylvania. He had acquired a handsome fortune, and had attained to the highest post his countrymen, had to bestow. His father, he tells us, when urging upon his children habits of industry and frugality, frequently repeated the proverb of Solomon, "Seest thou a man diligent in his calling, he shall stand befure kings, he shall not stand before mean men." "I thence considered industry as a means of obtaining wealth and distinction, which encouraged mc,—though I did not think that I should ever literally stand before kings, which, however, has since happened; for I have stood before fice, and even had the honour of sitting down with one, the King of Denmark, to dinner." On his voyage he was very ncar,bcing wrecked un the Scilly islands, of which incident he wrote an account, from Falmouth, to his wife, ending after this characteristic fashion—" The bell ringing for church, wc went thither immediately, and, with hearts full of gratitude, returned sincere thanks to God for the mercies we had received. AVerc I a Roman Catholic, perhaps, I should on this occasion row to build a chapel to some saint; but as I am not, if I were to vow at all, it should be to build a lighthouse."