Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

From the boundary of the Cape northwards, the west coast, a space of 1500 miles, is barren, or inhabited by utter savages.

On the coast of Upper Guinea, the colony of Sierra Leone was establish ed in 1787, as a place of refuge for the negroes taken on board the slave-ships, and as a means of introducing civilization into Africa. But with some advantages, this settlement wanted some important features of success. It had no large river, without which the interior must be inaccessible; it had but little means of supporting itself, from its position in a corner of the coast; and last, and most obnoxious of all, the climate, always hazardous, has seemed to grow constantly more fatal to Europeans. Under these circumstances, another experiment is about to be tried at Fernando Po, a large island in the Bight of Benin, and commanding the mouths of the great rivers of West Africa. Commerce in the hands of England is among the most vigorous instruments of civilization; and if commerce can make its way up the central rivers, religion will follow.

America presents an almost unlimited region for the efforts of the missionary. The space lying between the north of Canada, the Asiatic ocean, and the United States and Mexico, a region of more than two millions and a half of square miles, had long been either altogether abandoned to the savage superstitions of the Indians, or to the blind perversions of the Gospel brought by the Romish priesthood. Within these few years, some attempts have been made by the Protestant missions from Upper Canada, but with only partial effect.

The United States have made considerable efforts to reclaim their bor dering savages. The Society, established in 1787, for the " Propagation of the Gospel among the Heathen," has laboured diligently. The circulation of the Scriptures is vigorously pursued. In 1827 there were in the States no less than 578 Bible Societies. The Aborigines have been reduced to about 470,000 souls, of which a portion are quietly adopting civilization, and settling in villages. There are forty-one missionary establishments for Indian education.

The West Indies have been, since the commencement of the 18th cen

In Ja

tury, the seat of missions. The Jesuits founded a mission in St Domingo in 1704, and the island, now containing a million of souls, is divided into four bishopricks, with an archbishop residing at Port-au-Prince. maica, the chief British settlement, the Moravians appeared in 1754. These were followed by the Wesleyans in 1781, and the Baptists, who founded numerous congregations, consisting of about a sixth part of the negro population, or 50,000. In all the Protestant islands, the Gospel has been spread with great diligence. But the original crime and calamity of the West Indies, slavery, still acts powerfully against Christianity. To abolish slavery at once, or even to abolish it at all, until the negroes are fit for freedom, would be to expose the whole white population to massacre, and throw the negroes themselves into a state of wretchedness, bloodshed, and incurable ignorance, that no rational man, let his homage for liberty and religion be what it may, can contem◄ plate without abhorrence. But the new expedient of establishing English bishops in Barbadoes and Jamaica, may lead to some advantageous change. The planters may look with less suspicion upon the labours of an authentic and responsible clergy, than upon the notorious giddiness, and comparative ignorance, of the sectaries. The doctrines of the English Church, proverbial for gentleness and good sense, may lead the negroes more securely into Scriptural knowledge; and if the distributors of office at home shall conscientiously send out no prelates inferior to their duties, men not merely of intelligence and scholarship, but of holy zeal, and filled with the consciousness of the good that may be done by Christian activity, and the evil that must follow indolence, we may before long see a great and salutary reform in the West Indian habits, the character of the planters purified, and the negroes made fit for a safe and productive freedom.

The new states of South America are still in the embarrassments of insurrection, revolution, and mutual war. But to augur from what they have done under those formidable pressures, they have a noble future before their industry. They have prohibited the slave trade, and decreed that every human being born in their

territories shall be born free. Buenos Ayres has established a university, which has 400 students. Thirty free schools are supported by the government on the British system.

In Columbia, Bolivar has established the same system, with a public stipend, and sends annually several young men to England to acquire its details. In Mexico, a convent has been turned into an Academy for 1360 pupils, with a model department for training masters for provincial schools. In Peru, a central school has been established in Lima. The British Bible Society, and the American, have many agents in those new republics, and the Bible is received willingly. The Roman Catholic faith is still paramount, and must for a while form a powerful antagonist; but prudence, perseve rance, and the great and glorious cause which stimulates the Protestant missionary, will finally overcome.

New Holland, the fifth continent, with its islands covering an immense space of the great Southern Ocean, and growing up before the eye in islands innumerable, had been, since the first English settlement in 1788, the object of religious labour. But, in 1825, an "Auxiliary Church Missionary Society" was formed in New South Wales, with a grant of 10,000, acres. A grant to the same extent was made to the "London Missionary Society," and of twice the quantity to the "Wesleyan Mission," in consequence of its wider establishment in the colony. But the natives, perhaps among the most brutish of mankind, have been hitherto but little influenced. Nothing can be more contrary to the received ideas, that human nature derives its evil habits from natural privations, inclemency of climate, or long oppression, than the tempera ment of the dwellers in the South Seas. The fine climate, abundant provisions, and lazy equality of condition, are all made for the overthrow of the theory. The people are almost universally ferocious, treacherous, licentious, and thieving. Cannibalism is not uncommon, and the massacre of prisoners is customary. In New Holland, man is a beast; in the two New Zealand islands, he is a savage; and, in the generality of the others, he is a monster of perfidy and blood. Yet it is in this Archipelago that the most striking evidence of the civilizing

power of Christianity is to be found. The Sandwich islands, once proverbial for crime, are rapidly receiving the habits of religion. Occasional excesses still disfigure the picture, and the present generation must be worn out before the recollections of its old license can be without partizans. But the change is proceeding, and must be finally productive of the highest advan tages to the national character, the prosperity of the people, and to the general influence of the missionaries over the tribes of the South Sea.

In giving this sketch, we have to acknowledge ourselves much indebted to a work which has but just appeared, entitled, "The Present State of Christianity, and of the Missionary Establishments for its Propagation through all parts of the world," -a single volume, very intelligently drawn up, and giving a number of details and opinions important to the subject, but on which we, of course, have no opportunity to enter. But the value of such publications must be not merely in the information which they give, though the present work seems to have been collected with great care by its original author, a German, and by its English reviser, and in part author, from the reports of our various societies-but in their impulse to similar publications, to the activity of missionary establishments, and the general desire of Christian men for the communication of Christian knowledge through the darkened regions of the globe-the noblest effort that can be achieved by the wisdom, the wealth, and the enterprize of man.

One immense region alone remains, the finest of the earth, and the most impervious to the step of Christianity

Turkey in Asia, an extent of more than 360,000 square miles, with a population of twelve millions. The few Christians scattered through this magnificent territory are scarcely more than nominal; and every attempt to restore them to the knowledge of their faith has been hitherto almost hopeless. To convert their masters is beyond even the highest daring of the missionary. The Turk answers all argument by the dagger. But the change which no reasoning of man can effect may be destined to severer means, and the sword may liberate the Christian slave from a hideous tyranny, which not even the light of the Gospel has

been suffered to enlighten. Whether the present Russian war be the commencement of that great revolution, by which the chains of Greece and Asia Minor are to be broken, must be beyond all but conjecture. Yet that those chains shall finally be dissolved, that Mahometanism shall be extinguished, that the chosen land of the early church, Ionia, shall be free, and that the ori

ginal seat of religion, Palestine, shall be made the throne of a dominion supreme and holy, are truths written with a fulness and splendour which force conviction, and`at once sustain us in the solemn labours of bringing our fellow-creatures to the knowledge of God; and cheer us with the certainty of a consummation illustrious beyond the thought of man.

MARTIN'S FALL OF NINEVEH.

THIS fine picture, which has occupied the artist at intervals for some years, has excited great and merited admiration. It is on a large scale, perhaps thrice the size of his Belshaz zar, and exhibits an extraordinary union of diligent labour, with original and vivid fancy. Lord Byron's tragedy has brought Sardanapalus into favour, and the traditional voluptuary has been transformed into the hero.

Yet this denial of the verdict of history is too adventurous to be safe. We have no right, at our remote period, and in the absence of all proof, to doubt the universal opinion of antiquity, formed as it was upon a better basis knowledge of the facts that have reached us, and upon a knowledge of facts which have either alto gether passed away, or have left us but their shadows. Thus, attempts have been hazarded to shew that Nero was not a monster, or that Heliogabalus was not a miserable slave of appetite and vice. But in a year or two after the triumph of the sophist, his triumph is forgotten. Opinion rights itself, the subtlety of the argument is extinguished by truth, and we revert to the early character established by time; and Sardanapalus is a slave of intemperance, Nero a monster of cruelty, and Richard a hunchback, a usurper, and a murderer of children, not withstanding all the Walpoles, past, present, and to come.

The painter has chosen his subject from the darkness of history. Of Nineveh, the great city of the first empire, we know little more than that it existed, was denounced by successive prophets for its blood-thirstiness, love of plunder, drunkenness, and oppression; and that it was destroyed by an insurrection of the subject king doms, after a duration of 1400 years,

probably reckoning from the origin of the empire, or 520 from the perfect building of the city. The outline of its fall is this: The Assyrian mo narchs had gradually degenerated from the rude virtues and barbarian valour of the founders of the dynasty. Sardanapalus exceeded them all in effeminate luxury; shut himself up from the people, and was known only by his excesses. An insult to Arbaces, the general of the Median auxiliaries, excited him to vengeance; he leagued with Belesis, a Babylonian priest, interpreter of the stars, and general, a combination of character formidable in any period of antiquity. Medes and Persians, Babylonians and Arabs, rose in arms. Three desperate battles were fought, in which the conspirators were repulsed. But the arrival of the Bactrian army turned the scale; and Sardanapalus, after having fought with a spirit worthy of the last descendant of Semiramis, was driven within the walls of his colossal city.

The

He sustained a two years' siege, which there was no Eastern Homer to make immortal. The oracle declared that the city would never be taken until the river became its enemy. In the third year, the Tigris suddenly swelled, and twenty furlongs of the great rampart were thrown down. The fate of the captives was proverbially terrible; and Sardanapalus resolved to perish in his own way. The incomplete narrative of his death has some features of the magnificence, eccen tricity, and solemn sensualism, that mark the Oriental character to this day. "He built," says Ctesias, pyramid of all precious furniture; and within it a chamber a hundred feet long. He filled it with beds for himself and his multitude of wives; and, in the midst of feasting and in

[ocr errors]

a

dulgence, in the sound of music, and in the sight of an immense treasure of gold and silver talents, of gems and kingly ornaments, he set the chamber in flames. His empire perished with him."

The moment of the picture is the march of Sardanapalus to the pile. The wrath of Heaven is combining with the fury of the inundation, and the assault of the enemy. Lightning is darting on the lofty towers, and places of idol worship in the extreme distance. In front of these, circling the wall, and forcing their way through the breaches, are the Median and Babylonish troops routing the Assyrians. Chariots and cavalry, elephants and myriads of spearmen, are rolled upon each other. In the centre of the scene rises the gigantic wall, a hundred feet high, and on which three chariots could run abreast. It is seen broken down by the river, which spreads through the picture, covered with war galleys. Beneath the eye, in the centre of the foreground, is the grand group, of Sardanapalus, with his women and slaves. They are standing on a terrace which overlooks the battle, and heads a long descent of marble steps,

[ocr errors]

at the foot of which rises the funeral pile, a vaststructure of golden couches, tables, images, embroidered apparel, and everything at once costly and combustible. In the midst of the pile is the entrance to the chamber of death, overhung with huge festoons of firecoloured silk, a mighty veil to fall and shut the revellers from the world. The groups on the terrace are singularly animated, various, and splendid. Martin's former pictures were careless of the human figure. But he has now felt its value; and making allowance for the size and crisis, the one of which renders some confusion almost inevitable, and the other at least prohibits no violence of attitude, the figures are singularly adapted to the scene. Jewels, superb robes, and mystic emblems, are flung round the groups, with the habitual lavishness of a painter whose hand

"Showers on his kings barbaric pearl and gold."

The picture has faults of colour, and perhaps of conception; but the whole effect is powerful and brilliant in a degree unrivalled, and capable of be◄ ing rivalled by Martin alone.

EVENING.

AN ODE.

HARK! 'Tis the pig, that, for her supper squeaking,
Bids a shrill farewell to departing light-
Hark! 'tis the babe, with infant treble shrieking,
And angry nurse, with emulous clamour speaking,
Through crooning pipe, alternate love and spite;
"Hushabie, baby, thy cradle is green,'
Sure such a peevish brat was never seen.
"Ride a cock-hoss-ride a cock-hoss,'

[ocr errors]

دو

For shaine of your dirty self to be so cross!

(Singing.)

"There came a little pedlar and his name was Stout,”Be quiet, or I'll shake your plague of a life out.

Now, my little honey, worth a mint of

Johnny Bo-peep has lost his sheep,”

Be good this instant, go to sleep. (1)

money

Oh, Inspiration, tell me, why
Does piggy squeak and baby cry,
In the cradle, in the sty

Gentle Muses, tell me why?

Is't that the pig, with pensive eye, surveys
Yon star reflected in the new-fallen dew,
And sighs to think how honour, pleasure, praise,
Are, like that image, glittering and untrue?

Ah, no-the watery star she cannot view,

In noisome sty condemn'd to pass her days,

And groaning gruffly grunt, and grunting gruffly groan, Like "purple tyrants," in that hymn of Gray's, "Unpitied and alone."

Happy, happy, happy swine,

That underneath the greenwood tree
Freely breakfast, fully dine,

With acorns blest, and liberty!

So men subsisted in the olden time,

Fre wandering Ceres taught the use of ploughs; (2)
What Nature gave, they took, unstain'd with crime,
Nor slaughter'd pigs, nor broke the hearts of sows-
To roast young pigs-a dish I can't abide―(3)
Oh most unnatural infanticide!

When the wind is roaring loud,

Tossing the knotty limbs of ancient oaks,
When folded flocks together crowd,

And merrily the storm-bird croaks,

Then beside each mossy trunk,
Numerous as Pharoah's frogs,
Hungry as a fasting monk,
Throng the congregating hogs.
Thick and fast down rains the mast,
And Freedom crowns the rich repast.

No need, I ween, of Kitchiner or Ude,
To cater for the swinish multitude!

But thou, poor Grumphy, ne'er through glimmering glade
Shalt wander far away to meet thy love,

Nor see thy piggies sport in vernal grove,

Nor munch fresh acorns in brown Autumn's shade.

Nor Paine, nor Cartwright, ever penn'd a line

To vindicate the natural rights of swine;

Yet when did man endure such wrongs as thine?

In vain thou deplorest,

All vainly thou squeakest,

For not in the forest

The babes that thou seekest.

Thou didst love them with ardour,

And overlay some of them.

Are they gone to the larder?

Or what is become of them?

Round and round, in magic dance,
Still they go, and ne'er advance,
They are slain, like Philistians
Who perish'd for boasting,
And like primitive Christians,
Behold, they are roasting!
The clock has struck seven,
They are done to a turning,
The moon is in Heaven,

And the crackling is burning.

Madam Cook, Madam Cook, mind the critical minute, For quickly 'tis flown, and there's much to do in it;

« AnteriorContinuar »