« PreviousContinue »
far distant. But long before that time arrives, the more the character of Siberia becomes European, the more she rivals the pa rent state in civilization, wealth, and number of inhabitants, the more incessant attention will the management of her affairs require, and the less power, we may say, the less inclination, will her sovereigns possess to extend their frontier on the side of Europe. When the banks of the Amour shall be as well peopled as those of the Don, and the frontier of Kolhyvan be cultivated like that of Poland, the protection of territories so important will require a different force from the Cossacks who now patrole there, and the armies of ancient Russia will be still more called forth, to repress or subdue the predatory hordes of Tartary, to calm the ferments of the Altaian mountaineers, and overawe the wealthy and suspected inhabitants of the plain. The government, which is already on the wing to return from Petersburg to Moscow, will transfer its perch still farther eastward to Nishnei-Novogorod or Casan; and the white Khan,' as his Asiatic subjects call him, will grow more and more detached from the more distant concerns of western Europe. It is a circumstance well worth observing in the history of nations that, when an empire has passed a certain limit, it always ceases to be so formidable to its neighbours as while it was yet in its commencement; that, if it does not fall asunder with its own weight, it becomes at least disjointed and unwieldy; that domestic jealousies begin where foreign dangers end, and that the power which seemed likely to give laws to the universe, concludes very often by soliciting the aid of foreigners, against its own satraps, its own subjects, the children or brethren of its own sovereign. It was not by Persia but by Macedon that the liberties of Greece were overthrown.
In the mean time, however, (for a change like this is not the work of a day,) and while Russia is fulfilling the splendid destiny which nature seems to have appointed her,—it is plain, that the South of Africa, that New Holland and Ceylon, and the Indian islands afford a field if not so extensive, yet by no means less advantageous to our commerce and colonies; and that hers and ours may live and grow together, not only without mutual interference, but with mutual support and countenance. Nor is this all,the more her colonies on the Pacific Ocean increase in extent and value; the greater and richer the stream of intercourse between the mouth of the Amour and Japan or China; the more obvious will be her interest to cultivate a close friendship with the only power which can assist, or, if provoked, endanger her remote possessions. It is impossible, as Sir Robert Wilson well knows, that, on the strength of the Euxine or the Baltic, a great naval force can be erected or perpetuated. And it is idle to say that this want can be
supplied by a connexion with the little kingdom of the Netherlands and the permission to take shelter in the Texel or the Scheldt. It is with the lords of the Cape and of New South Wales, with a great nation, with an enormous navy and a vast maritime population that Russia must labour to cement her union; and, so long as that union remains, all Europe is in a string be
Nor is it in Europe only that the prosperity of Russia is likely to be thus advantageous to the British monarchy. There is a nation without the limits of Europe, to whom, for the sake of our kindred race and common language, we would gladly wish prosperity; but whose hope of elevation is built on our expected fall, and who even now do not affect to conceal the bitterness of their hatred towards the land of their progenitors. Already we hear the Americans boasting that the whole continent must be their own, that the Atlantic and the Pacific are alike to wash their empire, and that it depends on their charity what share in either ocean they may allow to our vessels.— They unroll their map,' and 'point out the distance between Niagara and the Columbia.'-Let them look to this last point well!— They will find in that neighbourhood a different race from the unfortunate Indians whom it is the system of their government to treat with uniform harshness. They will find certain bearded men with green jackets and bayonets, whose flag already flies triumphant over the coast from California to the Straits of Anian,—who have the faculty, wherever they advance, of conciliating and even civilizing the native tribes to a degree which no other nation has attempted, and whose frontier is more likely to meet theirs in Louisiana, than theirs is to extend to the Pacific.
These are not very distant expectations, and they are unquestionably not unfavourable to England. It only remains to give the moral to our prophecy, and in this we are happy, though on very different grounds, and in terms not quite the same, to agree with Sir Robert Wilson. He professes, as we have seen, to dissuade us from resisting Russia. We see no necessity to resist, but we ernestly deprecate all yielding to vain alarms or popular clamour, which might induce us to injure or offend her. Let us not, on the mere possibility that she may one day become too powerful, dissolve our union with an ancient ally, from whose greatness we now derive and are likely to derive increasing benefits.-Let not the two nations whose languages (it is no vain boast,) are one day to divide the world, interfere without necessity in each other's harvests,—but let the rivalry between them be which shall govern best, and be the instrument of most improvement to the goodly fields which Providence has entrusted to their care!
VOL. XIX. NO. XXXVII.
ART. VI.-Travels in Egypt, Nubia, Holy Land, Mount Libanon, and Cyprus, in the Year 1814. By Henry Light, Captain in the Royal Artillery. 4to. London. 1818.
THE invasion of Egypt by the army under Buonaparte, and the consequences attending it, have made that country much more accessible than at any period before that event; and as far as the present pasha's authority extends, an Englishman may now travel without difficulty and without danger,—not always indeed secure from the impositions or the insults of its heterogeneous inhabitants -yet less liable to either, perhaps, than in any other country where Mahomedanism is the prevailing religion. In the days of Pococke and Norden a journey up the Nile was a serious and hazardous undertaking, whereas now, an English officer, with a few months' leave of absence, thinks he cannot pass them more pleasantly than by taking a trip to the farthest confines of Nubia, to snatch a glance at the wonderful remains of antiquity, or to sketch with a rapid pencil the ruins of the most stupendous and magnificent temples in the world. In his progress upwards as far as the northern limits of Ethiopia, by the aid of Pococke, of Denon, and of Hamilton, he knows the spot on which he is to look for the tombs and the temples, the pillars, the pyramids, and the colossal statues of Egypt, almost with as much precision as he knows the situation, from his road-book, of a gentleman's seat in England. But beyond Phile he has no such sure guide. Norden, it is true, has given a general description of Nubia as high as Deir, and Legh a somewhat more particular one as far as Ibrîm: but a detailed account of this valley of the Nile is still wanting,—a desideratum however, which, we are given to understand, will shortly be supplied by the journals of the late intelligent and indefatigable traveller Mr. Burckhardt, now preparing for publication.
Captain Light, of the Royal Artillery, is one of those officers who made a hurried journey up the Nile as far as Ibrîm, the point which terminated also the travels of Mr. Legh. His progress was as rapid as the navigation of the Nile would admit; his object being to get as high up as practicable before the hot weather set in, and to reserve for examination, and for the exercise of his pencil, the ancient remains of cities, temples, catacombs and colossal statues, on his return. Accordingly on his journey downwards he visited most of those celebrated spots where the vast remains of antiquity invite the attention of the passing traveller, and continued at each of them a sufficient length of time to enable him to bring away, if we may judge from the specimens in his book, a very interesting port-folio of accurate and well-executed drawings. We cannot, however, say much for the prints, which are meant to
decorate as well as to elucidate his book; they are engraved in a coarse and heavy style, very unworthy of their excellent originals. At the same time it may be admitted that they give the reader a more just conception of the objects represented, than could be collected from any verbal description however minute. In fact, the most detailed description of architectural ruins must fail to convey to the mind so clear and correct an impression, as the graphical representation of the objects themselves does to the eye; and the more laboured the attempt to describe in words the position, the arrangement, the form and magnitude, of the several parts, the more the picture becomes confused, and the less likely to answer the purpose.
In this view, and in this only, would we venture to pronounce Captain Light's volume a valuable addition to the works already published on Egypt and Nubia. Having travelled at no great distance of time from Mr. Legh, and gone over the same ground, he comes rather at a disadvantage just after the journal of that gentleman has appeared before the public. Not that Mr. Legh filled up the measure of information regarding Egypt or Nubia; far from it; but that the account of his travels, notwithstanding its imperfections, abated the edge of curiosity. Captain Light however labours under a still greater disadvantage, of his own creating -he had already communicated the prominent features of his remarks on Nubia to Mr. Walpole, who has printed them in his 'Memoirs relating to European and Asiatic Turkey,' to neither of which, by the way, has this part of Captain Light's journal, which is purely African, any relation.' We conceive too that in his Syrian expedition the pencil of Captain Light will be found his best auxiliary. Indeed what could be said in a hurried journey through a country already traversed by Pococke and Maundrel, in addition to what had been told by those observant and intelligent travellers, whose facts and observations have been so largely amplified by another traveller of more modern date?
That which was most desirable in Nubia still remains a desideratum. Beyond Philæ, whose latitude and longitude were determined by Nouet, there is not a single spot of which the latitude has been ascertained; the geography therefore of the valley of the Nile to the southward of Philæ must necessarily be defective. Another point in which we are deficient is that of its natural history-the plants, and animals-the geological features, and mineral products-the probable elevation of the Nile above the level of the sea at the second cataract—these and other objects of physical research have been culpably neglected by former travellers, and have not in the slightest degree engaged the attention of Captain Light. In truth, we suspect that he never meant to publish the remarks committed
to his journal, which were made probably for his own satisfaction, or the amusement of his friends; we look in vain for that ardour and enthusiasm which generally mark the progress even of an antiquarian tourist; the following extract certainly shews none of it, the former part of which by no means accords with our ideas on the subject, nor indeed with the author's own feelings expressed in the concluding paragraph.
'On the 3d of June, I began to descend the Nile; and visit, in succession, the numerous remains of ancient Egypt, for whose description I refer the reader to Mr. Hamilton's work on the antiquities of that country, and to other writers on the same subject. I felt they wanted that charm or interest which is raised in other countries whose history is known, where the traveller ranges over the ground on which heroes and remarkable men, whose actions are familiar to him, once dwelt. But here, though treading the soil where sprang the learning, and genius, and arts, to which Europe has been indebted for its present superiority among nations; where the magnificence of ancient Egypt still remains to prove the existence of all these in perfection, he can only admire the
res antiquæ laudis et artis," without any sentiment of attachment to persons or times. He is lost in admiration, and has no idea but that of sublime. A long night of oblivion has intervened, to cut off all but conjectures of their history. My wonder and surprise were continually excited at the enormous masses of building which had defied the ravages of time: I was astonished at the grand and beautiful designs, and fine taste in their execution, still seen in many of the buildings; at the exquisite symmetry and neatness with which the massy columns have been raised and formed of stones, whose size yet leaves our ideas of architecture in amazement.'—pp. 102, 103.
Captain Light remained but a few days at Alexandria, where, he observes, every thing is eastern, though the residence of so many Franks. Crimes and punishments, under the government of the present Pasha, are stated to be rare.
'The only instance of capital punishment that had lately occurred was in an Arab, who possessed a garden among the ruins of the Arab village; he had been in the habit of decoying people, particularly women, into his garden, as a place of intrigue; and, with the help of a female, contrived to surprise and strangle them: this continued for some months; many inhabitants were missed, and he was suspected. He was, at last, induced, from fear of discovery, to murder his accomplice, which led to his conviction: he was hanged, as is usual, by a rope thrown over the walls attached to his neck, and then drawn up by the Arab population of the town.'-pp. 9, 10.
Leaving Alexandria, on the 17th March, he proceeded to Rosetta, where he hired a boat to carry him to Cairo. The first seusations in the progress up the Nile are described as very agreeable;