תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

or that they would destroy the interest which the subject may possess if they lack the outward beauties of a smooth and harmonious style. The first duty of a traveller is to tell a plain and artless tale. The duty becomes more imperative when the countries described are unknown or strange; and most of all is it binding on those who by their own choice deprive themselves of all corroborative testimony. Few, however, will be disposed to allow M. Du Chaillu the benefit of this plea, as they read a volume which, with many repetitions and a few faults of expression, is throughout pleasant and animated, and abounds in graphic descriptions, both of men and things. Those who have had the advantage of hearing M. Du Chaillu speak at the Geographical Society or elsewhere, are aware that English is not his vernacular language, and that he expresses himself in our tongue with some difficulty and many Gallicisms. We are curious to know in what language his original journals were kept? who has seen them ? and who bas assisted him in throwing his materials into the graphic and attractive form which they have been made to assume? These are points on which, in default of a full explanation from the author, , his highly respected publisher is to some extent responsible.

But while the contradictions which at present confuse and disfigure the narrative must (in whatever measure) detract from the writer's credit, as long as they remain unexplained, we are very reluctant to give up or even to call in question M. Du Chaillu's geographical discoveries, and his accounts of the negro tribes with whom his journeys made him familiar. In practical usefulness, as bearing on the great questions of slavery, commerce, and the civilisation of Africa, his travels are scarcely surpassed even by those of Dr. Livingstone. He has explored a region which more perhaps than any other will open a path into the very heart of Central Africa; and in this region he has discovered tribes belonging to various families of the great negro race, with a trade çrippled and poisoned by the plague of monopoly, and by an infamous system of agency which, by suffering no man to carry his own merchandise beyond the bounds of his own tribe, keeps alive an exquisite rivalry in theft and cunning. He has acquainted himself with a people keen-sighted in their own interest, yet withal generous for the most part and hospitable. He has described a state of society which has exalted into the place of Law a deadly system of sorcery, and struggles on under a reign of terror maintained by witch-finders not more than half-duped by their abominable falsehoods,— where religion assumes the lowest form of a degraded fetichism, in comparison of which the animal worship of Egypt itself seems pure and elevating. He has spoken of a state of belief where the dread of death is the one absorbing thought of the living, and the dead the object of their greatest hatred; where each man looks to the end of life as to his own annihilation, while he invests for a time the spirits of those whom he has loved with a malignant and vindictive power. He has brought before us men who are ready to abandon their homes at the least hint or warning of the witch-doctor,-among whom the practice of medicine is confined to cries and incantations and (in striking contrast on this as on other points with the nobler races of Southern Africa) the poison cup stands in the place of judicial pleading. He has shown us a state where a form of slavery exists unconnected with the traffic which feeds the American plantations, -- where the lot of the hereditary slave is distinguished from that penal loss of freedom which may hurry the noblest and the wealthiest to the barracoons of the coast, and where his lot, seldom severe, is yet more mitigated by the power of transferring himself to other masters who cannot refuse his offer. He has described a condition of life to which the critical sense is wholly wanting,- where marvels and prodigies are the daily food of their minds, — where faith is so mere a craving for wonders that miracles wrought for their conversion would but rivet the chains of their superstition and strengthen their belief in sorcery, -where appeals to conscience or a sense of equity are met at once by assertions of original diversity of race, which would gladden the heart of American slaveholders. He has led us also through countries wearing many aspects of rude deserts and rich prairies, of craggy mountains and tangled forests, where forms of animal life the most uncouth and the most beautiful are found side by side, and where the physical phenomena of distant regions may not improbably receive their solution. He has described the course of noble streams, which with little toil to the white man may open a highway for his trade and his civilisation, and a climate which (as the Italian malaria proves not less than the experience of British soldiers at Walcheren) is less dangerous under drenching skies and in time of flood than when the sun looks down in the beautiful dry season (we cannot call it winter) on a mass of rotten and seething vegetation. He has spoken of noble mountain ranges on whose sides dense forests are mingled with mighty rocks and leaping streams; of one huge peak at least whose summit at the height of 12,000 feet, is as thickly clothed with the overgrowth of trees as is the valley which lies beneath it, and where in the far horizon other peaks are seen lifting their green heads into the clouds, and seeming to bear witness of ranges mightier still, above whose green raiment the white crown of snow must glisten the whole year round.

He bas done all this; and if his tale be true, he has well earned the special gratitude of Englishmen. We are not insensible to the merits of a traveller whose exploits approach those of the most renowned heroes of fiction, and who has unquestionably brought to our own museums conclusive evidence of the existence of those Troglodytes, which most nearly combine the ferocity of wild beasts with something of the form and structure of man. But, without any wish to detract from M. Du Chaillu’s merits, we should be glad of a little more of that precise and simple evidence which distinguishes reality from romance. Unfortunately this is precisely what is deficient in this volume. We are required to give implicit belief to improbabilities of the highest order, to fill up the numerous blanks in an imperfect narrative, and even to reconcile positive contradictions.

Even assuming the credibility of M. Du Chaillu's account of his own personal adventures, we are also favoured with numerous reports and statements collected by him amongst the most barbarous tribes of the globe, which rest on no direct evidence. We must suppose that such is M. Du Chaillu’s familiarity with the vocabulary and dialect of Equatorial Africa, that he passes from one tribe and one river to another, without the slightest embarrassment, although it is notorious that the difficulty of conversing with natives, utterly unacquainted with civilised man, is not one of the smallest impediments to African explorations. These things leave the mind of the reader in a distressing state of perplexity; and the more narrowly M. Du Chaillu's volume is examined the more difficult does it become to feel implicit confidence in his accuracy. Fortunately, many of his statements can without much difficulty be verified. This mysterious region lies within a few days' sail of the ordinary track of our African traders. The passion of discovery and adventure is not extinct. We have no doubt that other travellers will be found to affront the dangers from which M. Du Chaillu bas fortunately escaped; and until we are in possession of more conclusive and accurate testimony, we shall suspend our judgment, not presuming, at this stage of the inquiry, to pronounce a verdict absolutely condemnatory of M. Du Chaillu's claims to be ranked as a great African discoverer.

ART. IX. - 1. Della Riforma Cattolica della Chiesa. Fram

menti di VINCENZO GIOBERTI pubblicati per Cura di Giuseppe

Massari. Volume unico. Torino: 1856. 2. Delle cinque Piaghe della Santa Chiesa. Lugano : 1848. 3. La Costituzione secondo la Giustizia Sociale. Milano: 1848. 4. An Outline of the Life of the Very Rev. Antonio Rosmini,

Founder of the Institute of Charity. Edited by the Rev.

FATHER LOCKHART. London : 1856. 5. Discours du Comte de Cavour, et Discussion à la Chambre

des Députés sur la Question de Rome. Turin: 1861. 6. Deuxième Lettre à M. de Cavour, President du Conseil des

Ministres à Turin. Par M. LE COMTE DE MONTALEMBERT.

Paris : 1861. 7. La Questione Italiana nel Novembre 1860; al Sommo Ponte

fice, Papa Pio IX. Asisi: 1860. 8. Allocuzione detta dalla Santita di N. S. Papa Pio IX. nel

Concistoro Segreto del 18 Marzo 1861. Rome. 9. Devotion to the Pope. By FREDERICK William FABER,

D.D., Priest of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. London: 1860.

IT may be a question whether the Italian people possess the

qualities requisite for permanently maintaining the success which hitherto has attended their efforts at independence. There can be no question, however, that the existence of an effective Italian power must involve a material modification in the condition of the Court of Rome. A King of Italy and a Sovereign Pontiff, both ruling or laying claim to rule over any considerable portion of Italian territory, are a contradiction pregnant with irreconcilable opposition. Between authorities of such rival natures no peace can ever exist, beyond the hollow truce of mere temporary repose from the exertions of conflict. The King of Italy can never become the supreme head of a national government so long as the Pope continues as heretofore to claim temporal and sovereign dominion in the Peninsula; for the authority of the Crown would be exposed to perpetual antagonism within the pale of its own civil jurisdiction. On the other hand it is also certain that to obtain from the Court of Rome the necessary concessions for obviating such collisions with the royal authority involves what may well appear the hopeless task of modifying the most tenacious and unrelaxing of human constitutions. Yet it must depend upon success in this attempt whether any satisfactory result can attend the effort of bringing Italy under the sway of one monarch. The violent ejection from the city of Rome of the Pope and his Court would amount to little more than a transfer of site.

The Pope quitting Rome with indignant protests against the coercion which expelled him from the Vatican, might indeed be less able to thwart from his place of refuge the action of the Italian government, than from the traditional stronghold of the Holy See. But the difficulties would be diminished, not removed. The Pope would still take up the position of a Pretender, refusing to recognise the authority which had introduced itself in his stead, and the relations between him and the King of Italy would retain the inveterate acrimony which exists between those of a dispossessed owner and his despoiler. A triumphant assault, though it might easily bring about a defeat, would not involve the subjection or downfall of the Papacy; and the conflict thus brought to a close in one shape would be resumed in another. To bring about, therefore, any lasting settlement, and relieve the government from the presence of a hostile force in the priesthood extended throughout the country, it is not sufficient or even expedient to humble the Church. Every victory over the Court of Rome will prove barren that does not finally comprise its genuine acquiescence in a treaty with the Italian Government. Under such circumstances it is of moment to inquire whether any reasonable grounds exist for believing that at this conjuncture there are elements in the Roman Catholic Church to render feasible such a combination.

It may be well to say in this place a word in reference to an opinion that the influence of the clergy in Italy has been permanently impaired, and that the progress of the people in enlightened religious speculation must deprive that body of the chance of ever recovering its former weight. We have a strong conviction that this idea is founded on a hasty and incorrect appreciation of the true state of the case. In common with the rest of the world, Italian society has certainly contracted a habit of freethinking, which, under the irritation of perpetual contact with the priesthood in the shape of an obnoxious, absolute and annoying authority, has acquired in certain sections the peculiar sharpness natural to the Italian intellect. From its overgrown position, its vexatious assumption of inquisitorial powers and a harassing interference, the Italian priesthood, as an institution, has unfortunately made itself an object of very general detestation to all classes with any tincture of education. The single exception is a small host of devotees recruited especially

« הקודםהמשך »