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Rich Scenery of Southern Africa.
ing a numerous and highly eccentric genus, in odour so nearly allied to putrescent animal matter, that insects are induced to deposit their larvæ thereon. The brilliant mesanbryanthemum, or fig marigold, comprising another genus almost peculiar to South Africa, extends to nearly three hundred species, and whilst they possess a magazine of juices, which enables them to bear without shrinking a long privation of moisture, their roots are admirably calculated to fix the loose shifting sands which form the superficies of so large a portion of the soil. But amid this gay and motley assemblage, the heaths, whether in number or in beauty, stand confessedly unrivalled. Nature has extended that elegant shrub to almost every soil and situation-the marsh, the river brink, the richest loam, and the barest mural cliff, being alike
Upwards of three hundred and fifty distinct species exist, nor is the form of their flowers less diversified than are their varied hues. Cup-shaped, globular, and bell-shaped, some exhibit the figure of a cone, others that of a cylinder; some are contracted at the base, others in the middle, and still more are bulged out like the mouth of a trumpet. Whilst many are smooth and glossy, some are covered with down, and others, again, are encrusted with mucilage. Red in every variety and depth of shade, from blush to the brightest crimson, is their prevailing complexion; but green, yellow and purple are scarcely less abundant, and blue is almost the only colour whose absence can be remarked.”
• In emerald tufts, flowers purple, pink, and white,
Such is the scene over which the sportsman pursues his game in South Africa. Of the animals hunted we can say but little. Sir Cornwallis Harris has described them with the most graphic beauty, and added to his descriptions large lithographic portraits, which, for truth of delineation and delicacy of colouring, have never been surpassed. Nor is this all. Each animal is represented in a landscape resembling that in which he is found in nature: and as the features which extra-tropical Africa puts on in the southern hemisphere are peculiarly strange and magnificent, every illustration may be regarded as a rich pastoral piece. Where vegetation abounds we have trees, and plants, and flowers, all of peculiar shapes and hues; some standing detached, and appearing like a succession of leafy platforms, smoothed and levelled, to be the scene of the midnight gambles of fairies, high in air—others, gnarled and tortuous, meeting and interlacing above, and supporting, besides, a lavish profusion of parasites, stretch over the green sward a canopy impenetrable by the rays of the fiercest sun; while others, again, rising on the margins of lakes and streams, bend down their drooping arms towards the water, as if enamoured
of their reflected images. Elsewhere we are placed upon the surface of the wild Karroo, almost scorched to a cinder by the heat. Even here, however, the rich play of light invests the scene with something like beauty. A variety of colours is sprinkled over the waste. Thin filmy vapours, impregnated with silver or azure rays, expand like a mantle over the eminences and fill up the far background with uncertain forms. Beheld in wildernesses such as these, even the strangest animals appear at home. We are not surprised to view the quagga, or the gnoo, the giraffe, the oryx, or the black antelope, occupying the foreground of landscapes so singular. Africa has always enjoyed the reputation of being the mother of monsters; and if we group together in imagination the fantastic creatures portrayed in Sir Cornwallis Harris's Portraits of Game and Wild Animals,' couple together the tall and brilliantly painted camel-leopard with the lumbering hippopotamus, resembling a huge cylinder of fat, supported awkwardly on stumps, and the ungainly rhinoceros, looking, in his corrugated skin, like a shrivelled hodman who has got into a coat a world too wide for him; if we place the slender leopard, agile, springy, light, and flexible as an eel, beside the cumbrous bulk of the elephant, striding along the plain, which seems to shake beneath him; if we set side by side the cerulean antelope and the lion, the springbok and the wild boar, the sassabe and the gnoo, the zebra and the eland, the minute humming bird and the gigantic ostrich-if we do this, we say, and compare the proportion and structure of the various animals, we shall probably conclude, that poetry has seldom fabled any thing more unlike our ordinary notions of reality than what nature has actually produced on the further extreme of the African continent.
That a sportsman like Sir Cornwallis Harris should enjoy a journey through such a region may easily be conceived; but the relentless hostility with which he pursued his quarry, is scarcely to be accounted for on the same principles. He appears to have declared perpetual war against the whole four-footed race, and never to be happy but when engaged in thinning their numbers. His horse and his rifle are part of himself; he lives on powder and two-ounce balls. He stalks abroad in the morning, and death follows his footsteps. No sooner is the sun above the horizon, than the fatal rifle is at work, and throughout the day its report never ceases to be heard amongst the hills, or along the sunburnt face of the plain. Sometimes he dwells with a sort of rapturous admiration upon certain animals-upon the giraffe, for example, or that huge antelope, equalling a horse in size-and you begin to imagine that he longed only to gaze upon its beauty -to behold it move to and fro before him, to tame and make a
Adventure on the Meritsane River.
pet of it, and lead it about over the wilderness as the ornament of his wandering kafila. No such thing: he only wanted to kill it! He reminds us of the story of Zeus and Semele; he approaches with thunder and lightning the object of his affection, and destroys it through intense love. Could the ostrich or the zebra speak, however, it would exclaim, Heaven defend me from the preference of a sportsman!' But, after all, there is an unspeakable charm in excitement, and it is excitement that the hunter seeks, when, at break-neck pace, he pursues the flying game over hill and dale, dashes through breaks-or plunges into streams and quagmires. No man, perhaps, was ever more strongly possessed by the passion for the chase than Sir Cornwallis Harris, or more capable of imparting his feelings to the reader. magnificent volume is accordingly by no means what its exterior would seem to promise-a succession of poetical or pastoral pictures-but abounds everywhere with narratives of the most stirring interest, during the perusal of which, we expect to part company with our author, and behold him snapped up by a lion,pen, pencil, and all,—or drowned in some swampy river, or hurled headlong down some treacherous precipice. Many of his most romantic adventures we strongly desire to lay before the reader; but our limits not permitting this, we are compelled to content ourselves with extracting one or two passages; merely premising, that there are hundreds of others equally vivid and exciting.
"On the morning of the 9th of October, when the waggons had started on their way to the Meritsane river our next stage, I turned off the road in pursuit of a group of brindled gnoos, and presently came upon another which was joined by a third still larger; then by a vast herd of zebras, and again by more gnoos, with sassaybes and hartebeests pouring down from every quarter, until the landscape literally presented the appearance of a moving mass of game. Their incredible numbers
so impeded their progress, that I had no difficulty in closing in with them, dismounting as opportunity offered, firing both barrels of my rifle into the retreating phalanx, and leaving the ground strewed with the Still unsatisfied I could not resist the temptation of mixing with the fugitives, loading and firing, until my jaded horse suddenly exhibited symptoms of distress, and shortly afterwards was unable to move. At this moment I discovered that I had dropped my pocket compass, and being unwilling to lose so valuable an ally, I turned loose my steed to graze, and retraced my steps several miles without success: the prints of my horse's hoofs being at length lost in those of the countless herds which had crossed the plain. Completely absorbed in the chase, I had retained but an imperfect idea of my locality, but returning to my horse, I led him in what I believed to be a north-easterly direction, knowing, from a sketch of the country which had been given me by our excellent friend Mr. Moffat, and which together with drawing materials I
VOL. XXXIV. NO. LXVIII.
carried about me, that that course would eventually bring me to the Meritsane. After dragging my weary horse nearly the whole of the day, under a burning sun, my flagging spirits were at length revived by the appearance of several villages. Under other circumstances I should have avoided intercourse with their inhospitable inmates, but dying with thirst, I eagerly entered each in succession, and to my inexpressible astonishment found them deserted; the same evidence existing of their having been recently inhabited. I shot a hartebeest, in the hope that the smell of meat would as usual bring some stragglers to the spot, but no: the keen-sighted vultures, that were my only attendants, descended in multitudes, but no woolly-headed negro appeared to dispute the prey. In many of the trees I observed large thatched houses resembling hay-stacks, and under the impression that these had been erected in so singular a position by the natives as a measure of security against the lions, whose recent tracks I distinguished in every direction, I ascended more than one in the hope of at least finding some vessel containing water; alas! they proved to be the habitations of large communities of social grosbeaks, those winged republicans, of whose architecture and magnificent edifices I had till now entertained a very inadequate conception. Faint and bewildered, my prospects began to brighten as the shadows of evening lengthened; large troops of ostriches running in one direction plainly indicated that I was approaching water, and immediately afterwards I struck into a path impressed with the footmarks of women and children; soon arriving at a nearly dry river, which, running east and west, I at once concluded to be that of which I was in search.
"Those only who have suffered as I did during this day from prolonged thirst, can form a competent idea of the delight, and, I may say, energy, afforded me by the first draught of the putrid waters of the Meritsane. They equally invigorated my exhausted steed, which I mounted immediately, and cantered up the bank of the river, in order, if possible, to reach the waggons before dark. The banks are precipitous, the channels deep, broken, and rocky, clusters of reeds and long grass indicating those spots which retain the water during the hot months. It was with no small difficulty, after crossing the river, that I forced my way through the broad belt of tangled bushes which margined the edge. The moonless night was fast closing round, and my weary horse again began to droop. The lions, commencing their nightly prowl, were roaring in all directions, and no friendly fire or beacon presenting itself to my view, the only alternative was to bivouac where I was, and to renew my search in the morning. Kindling a fire, I formed a thick bush into a pretty secure hut, by cutting away the middle, and closing the entrance with thorns; and having knee-haltered my horse, to prevent his straying, I proceeded to dine upon a guinea-fowl that I had killed, comforting myself with another draught of aqua pura. The monarchs of the forest roared incessantly, and so alarmed my horse that I was obliged repeatedly to fire my rifle to give him confidence. It was piercingly cold, and all my fuel being expended, I suffered as much
A Night among Lions.
427 from the chill as I had during the day from the scorching heat. About three o'clock, completely overcome by fatigue, I could keep my eyes open no longer, and, commending myself to the protecting care of Providence, fell into a profound sleep. On opening my eyes, my first thought was of my horse. I started from my heathy bed in the hope of finding him where I had last seen him, but his place was empty. I roamed everywhere in search of him, and ascended trees which offered a good look out; but he was nowhere to be seen. It was more than probable he had been eaten by lions, and I had almost given up the search in despair, when I at length found his footmark, and traced him to a deep hollow near the river, where he was quietly grazing. The night's rest, if so it could be called, had restored him to strength, and I pursued my journey along the bank of the river, which I now crossed opposite to the site of some former scene of strife, marked by numerous human bones, bleached by exposure. A little further on I disturbed a large lion, which walked slowly off, occasionally stopping and looking over his shoulder, as he deliberately ascended the opposite bank. In the course of half an hour I reached the end of the dense jungle, and immediately discovered the waggon-road; but, as I could detect no recent traces of it, I turned to the southward, and, after riding seven or eight miles in the direction of Sicklajole, had the unspeakable satisfaction of perceiving the waggons drawn up under a large tree in the middle of the plain."
We remember once, in the same quarter of the world, following the track of a lion, along the sandy face of the desert. We had never yet beheld him in his own domains. How, therefore, did our heart beat as we advanced, expecting every moment to see him leap forth from between the rocks to put the mettle of our whole party to the test. What careful priming of pistols and rifles was there!—with how keen an eye did we examine the burning horizon all round! From the length of his bound, he had evidently been pursuing some fleet prey-probably the light gazelle. The sand had been freshly scooped up; so that unquestionably he was somewhere in our neighbourhood, though we had not the good or ill-fortune to fall in with him. We can enter, however, fully into the feelings of our author, when, sitting quietly in his solitary bush, he listened for hours to the music of the king of beasts, while making a progress through his territories by starlight.
In the section appropriated to the ostrich, Sir Cornwallis Harris touches upon the province of comedy, and he must indeed be a grave reader who does not laugh heartily as he proceeds. All the fun, however, is not extracted out of the ostrich, though he is made to contribute his share. The natives of Africa, though gifted with little aptitude for civilisation, according to our notion of the thing, have yet, in some particulars, exhibited a bold