Page images


THE country of Walo is situated on the left bank, and near the mouth of the river Senegal. The French have lately been founding establishments there for free colonial labour; the result of which may have a great influence over the whole of that part of Africa. Walo is governed by a king, who bears the title of Brak. This word has no meaning in itself. According to the negroes, it was the name of the first of their kings, and his successors have considered themselves honoured by adopting it; just as the Roman emperors took the name of Cæsar or Augustus. The order of succession to the throne is established in a very singular manner, with a view of averting the evils that spring from minorities and regencies. On the death of a Brak, his brothers succeed him in the order of their birth. When this first series is exhausted, recourse is had to the eldest son of the first, and so on. It is required of the legitimate heir that he should be neither blind nor in firm; that he should be able to ride, to shoot, &c. If he do not possess these qualifications, his right devolves to another. The ceremonies of coronation are allegorical. The new king must pass through all the conditions of society, not excepting even that of the fisherman, which is nevertheless a despised cast. The Brak goes into the water, with some of the principal fishermen, in the middle of the appointed river; and when he comes out, he holds in his hand a fish, which it is to be supposed he has caught himself, but which, in fact, has been secretly conveyed to him. It is ridiculous enough to find, at the court of the Brak, and in the places subjected to his authority, the customs and ceremonies which prevailed in Europe during the feudal ages. Thus, for instance, the people believe that the royal family possess the gift of curing diseases by the imposition of hands. In his travels, the

Brak and his retinue are maintained and fed at the expense of the villages through which they pass; while the Griot, or musicians and buffoons, sing the praises of the monarch to the unhappy peasantry, who are thus despoiled of their sheep, milk, and poultry. The Boukanek is a confidential servant, the major-domo and prime-minister. This important post is reserved for a family, who call themselves the Brak's slaves, but who, in fact, govern him. Dignities rarely go out of the families possessing them; and every one takes the name of the province over which be hereditarily reigns. They farm out the villages and domains to vassals, who pay them annual ground-rents: these vassals sub-let divisions of districts; and the fiscal and feudal chain thus descends even to the lowest inhabitant. The seigniors, proprietors of the villages, have adopted the same order of succession as that to the crown; but a few societies of the people have shaken off this system, and have formed a kind of communities, which have their civil officers, charged with the measurement of the lands, the collection of taxes, the management of the police, and the administration of the law. The chief of this municipal magistracy is sometimes a Marabout, who assumes the title of Serin, or priest, and who obliges the people to pay tithes, which tithes are divided between the priest and a military chief appointed by the Brak. To the possession of the soil is attached the right of administering justice; and the maxim, "no land without a lord," is the basis of the common law in the country of Walo. One fact ought to excite profound reflections on the comparatively deplorable ignorance of the European population; namely, that in most of the villages of Walo, the greater portion of the negroes can read and write Arabic, which is to them a dead and learned language.

The inhabitants of Walo are extremely polite. They are gay, argumentative, and fond of narratives of travels, combats, and the traditions of their country. In their assemblies by moon-light they amuse themselves with games of skill. Hospitality is a virtue by which they are particularly distinguished. Their superstition is


ROME was an ocean of flame.

Height and depth were covered with red surges, that rolled before the blast like an endless tide. The billows burst up the sides of the hills, which they turned into instant volcanoes, exploding volumes of smoke and fire; then plunged into the depths in a hundred glowing cataracts, then climbed and consumed again. The distant sound of the city in her convulsion went to the soul. The air was filled with the steady roar of the advancing flame, the crash of falling houses, and the hideous outcry of the myriads flying through the streets, or surrounded and perishing in the conflagration. * * All was clamour, violent struggle, and helpless death. Men and women of the highest rank were on foot, trampled by the rabble that had then lost all respect of conditions. One dense mass of miserable life, irresistible from its weight, crushed by the narrow streets, and scorched by the flames over their heads, rolled through the gates like an endless stream of black lava.

equal to that of Europe in the ninth century. Such is the account given of these remarkable people by Baron Roger, ex-governor of the French colony of Senegal, who intends to publish an extensive philosophical and political treatise on Senegambia, to which he will add a very curious collection of negro tales and fables.

The fire had originally broken out upon the Palatine, and hot smokes that wrapped and half blinded us, hung thick as night upon the wrecks of pavillions and palaces; but the dexterity and knowledge of my inexplicable guide carried us on. It was in vain that I insisted upon knowing the purpose of this terrible traverse. He pressed his hand on his heart in reassurance of his fidelity, and still spurred on. We now passed under the shade of an immense range of

lofty buildings, whose gloomy and solid strength seemed to bid defiance to chance and time. A sudden yell appalled me. A ring of fire swept round its summit; burning cordage, sheets of canvass, and a shower of all things combustible, flew into the air above our heads. An uproar followed, unlike all that I had ever heard, a hideous mixture of howls, shrieks, and groans. The flames rolled own the narrow street before us, and made the passage next to impossible. While we hesitated, a huge fragment of the buildings heaved, as if in an earthquake, and fortunately for us fell inwards. The whole scene of terror was then open: The great amphitheatre of Statilius Taurus had caught fire; the stage, with its inflammable furniture, was intensely blazing below. The flames were wheeling up, circle above circle, through the seventy thousand seats that rose from the ground to the roof. I stood in unspeakable awe and wonder on the side of this colossal cavern, this mighty temple of the city of fire. At length a descending blast cleared away the smoke that covered the arena. The cause of those horrid cries was now visible. The wild beasts kept for the games had broke from their dens. Maddened by affright and pain, lions, tigers, panthers, wolves, whole herds of the monsters of India and Africa, were enclosed in an impassable barrier of fire. They bounded, they fought, they screamed, they tore; they ran howling round and round the circle; they made desperate leaps upwards

through the blaze; they were flung back, and fell only to fasten their fangs in each other, and, with their parching jaws bathed in blood, die raging. I looked anxiously to see whether any human being was involved in this fearful catastrophe. To my great relief, I could see none. The keepers and attendants had obviously escaped. As I expressed my gladness, I was startled by a loud cry from my guide, the first sound that I had heard him utter. He pointed to the opposite side of the amphitheatre. There indeed sat an object of melancholy interest: a man who had either

been unable to escape, or had determined to die. Escape was now impossible.-He sat in desperate calmness on his funeral pile. He was a gigantic Ethiopian slave, entirely naked. He had chosen his place, as if in mockery, on the imperial throne; the fire was above him and around him; and under this tre mendous canopy he gazed, without the movement of a muscle, on the combat of the wild beasts below; a solitary sovereign, with the whole tremendous game played for himself, and inaccessible to the power of man.


a late of the at low water were perfectly dry. Oa

of Sciences at Paris, M. Freycinet read a letter from M. M. Quoy and Gaimart, dated Tonga Tabou, May, 1827. About a week ago a letter was published, from M. M. Quoy and Gaimart, written from New Zealand. We did not certainly entertain the least expectation of so soon receiving fresh accounts of this expedition.

our starboard side, we had only just a sufficient depth of water to prevent our touching; on our larboard thirtyfive fathoms, and at the distance of about six fathoms no bottom. All our anchors were successively let go. Those which had chain cables held firm; but from time to time we had our cables break, and momentarily expected, what we now looked on as inevitable, the total destruction of the Astrolabe.

Unfortunately, those communicated by M. Freycinet to the Academy are very afflicting.

In their last letter, dated Feb. 1827, M. M. Quoy and Gaimart, announced that the expedition had reached New Zealand, where they anticipated a rich harvest of scientific knowledge; but M. Durville, having found it necessary to repair to Tonga Tabou to complete his observations, a whole month was occupied in the passage from New Zealand to that station, a voyage which is generally performed in ten or twelve days.

"We arrived," says this letter, "at Tonga Tabou, on the 20th of May. We unfortunately ran aground, but the weather being fine we were soon enabled to get afloat again. Not long after, however, the weather became bad, the wind contrary, and we were driven at the distance only of a few fathoms from the breakers, which

"For twenty-four hours one of the smallest cables only held us in this position. You may imagine with what anxiety all our attention was directed towards this frail hope. In the evening the boats were ranged along side the vessel in readiness to receive us. It will suffice, however, to inform you, that for three days the vessel continued in this frightful situation, without our having any prospect of relief, but from the rising of a strong wind.

"We were, however, visited by canoes filled with natives. Every morning thirty or forty of them came and ranged themselves along the reef, to await the instant in which they might profit by the wreck of our vessel. These men seemed like so many vultures, to be eagerly awaiting the destruction of their prey, in or

der to divide the spoils. Some of the chiefs who were on board did not appear to possess sufficient power to restrain them; or rather, perhaps, they themselves were equally anxious to profit by the circumstance,

Mr. Durville at length determined on securing their confidence and assistance, by promising them a share in the wreck. He, no doubt, acted prudently in so doing, since, as it happened, it was to these chiefs we were compelled to be indebted for lodging and support. And from that moment they exerted all their influence to disperse the multitude.

"On the second day the wind became more favourable, and our stern only holding by one anchor and a cable which we expected every moment to part, the commander determined on making use of his last and most desperate resource, which was to set sail. "You may easily conceive the anxiety of this moment; our cable was slipped, and the sails set. The result was, that we were thrown a few fathoms further on the breakers, but fortunately, the current counterbalancing the wind, which was at that time light, carried us back again to our former position, when we again availed ourselves of the moorings which had been left attach ed to the buoys. Without anchors, without any resources, who could have anticipated a favourable result, and not looked on a total wreck as certain? It was then that the commander assembled all the Chiefs, addressed them through the means of Singleton, the Englishman, (the same of whom Mariner speaks.) All swore, that having taken us under their protection, they would perish sooner than suffer the slightest evil to happen to us. Paon, and the most

influential chiefs, harangued the multitude with that savage eloquence, which is worthy the attention of au observer, and dispersed the crowd which surrounded us. We again attempted to set sail, under almost as many disadvantages as at first, but happily with greater success.

"The Astrolabe was saved. From that moment the greatest abundance reigned on board. And as we al ways maintained the respect of the Natives, this abundance continued during our stay amongst them.

"Our vessel is in safety, but what is to become of the remainder of the voyage, having lost four anchors out of seven? We are ignorant of what course M. Durville will pursue, deprived of those resources which are so indispensable to us, in those seas to which our course is directed.

"We still talk of visiting the islands of Fidge; and seeing what may be done at New Guinea, with our small number of anchors. We have only two left, the third having only one arm or fluke.

[blocks in formation]



[R. BROUGHAM is one of the bar. He has shown that legal the few who have attained studies do not necessarily contract equal eminence in the senate and at the understanding, and that a sound

practical lawyer may be a man of extensive information and philosophic views. There are many, no doubt, who will say of him what Queen Elizabeth said of Bacon, "he hath many excellent flowers of wit, but is no great lawyer;" this opinion, founded on principles familiar to narrow minds, was natural enough in an old woman and a queen. If a sterile and contracted mind be necessary to make a lawyer, then God forbid that we should ever claim the honour of being one. But mind is universal, and Brougham has mind; he has also what renders his acquirements indubitable, industry-persevering industry. His thirst for distinction makes him disregard labour, and the variety of his pursuits renders his exertions less irksome. From his earliest career he appears to have sought political distinction. At college he was plodding and determined; sometimes satirical, and always eccentric, from a contempt perhaps of those about him; afterwards he broke out with a bright promise, derived chiefly from his boldness. In the Edinburgh Review his papers were known by their rough vigour; by the unmusical labour of his periods, and his constant effort to dip his ploughshare below the surface and turn a deep furrow. His pen and his tongue are ready for every subject by which fame is to be earned. His "Colonial Policy"

was written before he had reached his twenty-fourth year; and, as a natural philosopher, he has helped to eke out the volumes of Nicholson's Journal, and the Transactions of the Royal Society. For topics suited to oratorical display he has ransacked "all nature and all art."

The versatility of Mr. Brougham's talents may perhaps have retarded his political as well as professional success. A man who thinks of many things soon loses all enthusiasm, except that which is commingled with his self-admiration, and the ties of party are too slender to bind the self-willed ambition of such a cold and egotistical associate. A philo

sopher is a bad party man, and if he ever be at the head of a party, it must be a very small one. But he consulted his genius in diversifying his pursuits; not naturally a brilliant man, but a great thinker, his powers would have been lost in a narrow field. If he had not humanized himself in some measure by general cultivation, his harsh and intractable spirit would have been quite intolerable. Rapid success never was his lot; he was formed" to toil hard up hill." Albeit not of the finest clay, he is what his favourite author, Lord Bacon, calls "a hot genius, who must grow old e'er he be fit for action." He is not, in fact, a sufficiently practical man, and time alone can correct his intemperate disregard of the men he deals with. It is obvious that one so rough and austere as Mr. Brougham, one who prides himself so much on intellectual eminence, can have no sincere love for the aristocracy, and although he may sometimes hang on the arm of Earl Grey, he cannot pretend to venerate the noble earl's order. The right of "a cat to look at a king," which once vindicated in the House of Lords, must be often uppermost in his mind. The success of Mr. Brougham's talents, as is the case with other men's, was determined by circumstances. He was only a trou blesome speaker in the House, and had only the advantage of being more conspicuous when he had the good luck to be chosen the Queen's professional adviser. If it were not for this piece of good fortune, still might "blundering Brougham spoil the sale" of the Edinburgh Review. He wanted an opportunity of display, while her Majesty wanted a counsel disposed to make a display, and whom nothing could abash. This was an affair exactly to his taste, involving a variety of considerations, and sufficiently elevated to give some dignity to all engaged in it. Mr. Brougham has been in general very successful in watching the march of the public mind, and in taking his station in the line of its advance.

« PreviousContinue »