« PreviousContinue »
to a son.
nothing to do; but what was said by other lords was almost unheard. The whole scene appeared to me as a dream. A confused noise sounded in my ears, but I could attach no distinct idea to the place I was in, or the persons I was apparently listening to.
I looked round anxiously every moment for some message or letter to me, but I could think of nothing else.
• At last, I observed a note in the hands of one of the clerks of the house. He looked towards me, and seemed in some doubt whether he should give it to me. I soon understood that this letter was intended for me, and stretched out my hand for it, and tore it open.
I read as follows: <"My Lord ;
“ Berkeley-square, 8 o'clock, (evening.) ““ I have to inform your lordship that Lady Malvern has just given birth
I am sorry to say she is at present lifeless, but I have nevertheless, great hopes that her ladyship will recover. I am, my Lord,
** Your Lordship's most obliged servant,
Thomas Beynon, M.D.” * This letter, joined to my previous excitement, was more than I could bear. I remained for some moments perfectly stupified, and only recollect hearing some expressions of alarm as to myself, from the peers sitting
I then fell forward quite insensible. • The house was, of course, in immediate commotion. All business was suspended, and I was removed to the open air, when I soon recovered. I did not at first come to a correct knowledge of all that had passed. I had a vague notion that a child had been born to me, and that my wife was
I soon saw that the best place for me was my own house. . I got into my carriage, therefore, and was quickly at my door, and bad in the mean time fully recollected the alarming intelligence conveyed in the letter of the doctor.
I jumped out of the carriage and ran hastily into the house. I was met in the hall by Dr. Beynon. I was unable to speak, but his look restored me.
““ All is well, my dear Lord,” he said ; I hope I have not alarmed you."
My wife?" I gasped out; “but my wife ?”.
6. She was at first dreadfully overcome. She is now quite safe--quite safe, I assure you, my lord.”
His calmness did assure me. This was happiness enough for some little time. Another thought soon, however, revived. ««Ah! Doctor Beynon," I cried,“ my
child-have I a child ?” “ You have, indeed, my lord,” he replied, earnestly; “ in perfect health, a son !”
• This seemed too much to realize at once ; but the doctor well knew the feelings of my mind, and merely pointed me up stairs. I immediately felt his meaning. I rushed up, and my child was soon indeed brought to me, and in my arms. I could only welcome him by a flood of tears.
· Let me not attempt to describe my feelings on that occasion. He can alone know them who holds in his arms his first-born. They are too fine and pure to bear a detail.
• I felt, indeed, my life renewed at this moment. I felt I had not lived
in vain. I now enjoyed the full privileges of a man, and could look with tranquillity and comfort to my future life and dying moments.
My next thought was of Lady Malvern. I deposited my little infant, as yet almost unconscious of existence, in his nurse's arms, and stole softly to her room.
• She was now in a sweet and placid sleep, and all danger had passed over her. I would not awake her. It was here that I could collect and tranquillise my own perturbed feelings. I then wanted no better companion than her sleeping form, that I might reflect upon and reconcile myself to all my new-born happiness.
•She at last awoke.
· Let those who call this world one of unmitigated sorrow and vanity, but drink one draught from the fountain of pure affection, and they will then think an age of misery redeemed by the feelings of one hour.
I hope that all who read this life, may have the happiness of such a meeting as that between my wife and myself at this time—a meeting of devout thankfulness to the Giver of every blessing-a meeting of pure
devotion and joy.'-pp. 358—366.
Having discharged the functions of his high office for twelve years, our noble and learned lord resigns, while his honours are still blushing around him, thereby giving a lesson which is not very likely to find many imitators.
The reader will have observed, that we have treated with little respect that part of the present volume that is filled with the trials in which our hero was engaged, the speeches which he made in Parliament, the reforms which he introduced into our courts of justice, and into the bosom of the church itself. We have passed hastily over all these things, because we really felt no sort of relish for them in a book which professed to be the personal history of a lawyer. We were prepared to allow much latitude in the way of invention, so long as the man himself in his progress from obscurity to fame, from poverty to opulence, was kept in view. But as soon as his tale began to be mingled with, or rather lost in, reports of trials, and Parliamentary debates, reforms in the law and the church, and when matters were brought into discussion before us, which would have been much better confined to pamphlets, we felt yawn after yawn irresistibly coming upon us, until at length they terminated in a profound sleep. The introduction of such topics as these may, as we have already hinted, be a misfortune in some measure necessarily connected with the subject of a lawyer's life; it is, however, not less a misfortune, since we freely confess that the student through the first years of his career, in chambers and on the circuit, excited infinitely more influence over our sympathies, than the solicitor, or attorney-general, the chief baron, or the chancellor, with all his dull speeches and his pomp of authority around him.
ART. III.- Travels through Central Africa to Timbuctoo; and across
the great Desert to Morocco, performed in the Years 1824-1828. By René Caillié. In two volumes. 3vo. London: Colburn and Bentley.
1830. Our Gallic neighbours,—who, with all their acknowledged love of science, are far behind our own countrymen in the career of geographical discovery,-appear to be highly delighted with these travels of M. Caillié. A poor Frenchman, they exclaim, unprotected by Government, trusting entirely to his own resources, not gifted with any remarkable talents, and but partially educated, has accomplished that which has hitherto baffled so many and such expensive Eng: lish expeditions, conducted by men of the greatest capabilities and enterprise :-he has penetrated to the hidden and mysterious city of Timbuctoo, the grand sanctum sanctorum of travellers during the last forty years, the sight of which, like the favour of some of the gods of old, seemed destined to be refused, until at least a hecatomb of human victims should have been slain upon its altars. The journals of Paris have resounded with the praises of this fortunate wanderer; and one of the most distinguished members of the Institute, M. Jomard, has written an elaborate essay to prove that M. Caillié is no impostor, that his narrative deserves credit, that he is a simple and an honest man, and that he has really visited the true and undoubted spot upon which Timbuctoo stands in all its glory.
The two volumes are composed of about a thousand pages, six hundred of which are occupied with the author's narrative. As Timbuctoo was, according to his own statement, the great object of his journey, is it probable that if he had really visited that city, he would have confined his description of it within the compass of twenty-five pages? On other occasions, he is remarkably and even tediously minute in noting particulars of the dress and appearance of persons with whom he came in contact, the plan of their houses, the furniture, the aspect of streets and public buildings; and from the familiarity of his details, it is manifest that the man only tells what he actually saw, and was well acquainted with. But when he proceeds to relate his impressions of Timbuctoo, he generalises a good deal. His narrative is broken and imperfect, and he leaves upon the minds of his readers an unalterable impression that he is describing rather what he learned from others, than matters which had come within his own observation.
It is rather a singular circumstance that the only European who had been to Timbuctoo, before our author commenced his journey, was a Frenchman, Paul Imbert, a native too of the same province which has produced M. Caillié. Of his travels, however, little is known. Adams, the American sailor, whatever doubts may exist as to certain parts of his story, appears beyond all question to have
visited that city. The narrative which was published for him in 1816, was taken from his lips by a friend of ours, than whom a more honourable or a more clear-headed man, does not exist in England. The information thus obtained was sifted by frequent cross-examination ; it has never yet, so far as we are aware, been assailed with effect, so as to lose the general character of credibility which it appears to us entitled to possess. In France, we know, the narrative of Adams is not believed to be authentic, and this circumstance might have induced M. Caillié to set it aside as a guide. It is certain that in many essential points the two accounts of Timbuctoo not only differ, but are diametrically opposed. We shall mention but a few.
According to the report of Adams, the houses in Timbuctoo are “ not built in streets, or with any regularity.” M. Caillié informs us, however, that the streets of Timbuctoo are clean, and sufficiently wide to permit three horsemen to pass abreast. Again, we learn from Adams that the inhabitants of Timbuctoo “ did not appear to have any public religion, as they have no house of worship, no priest, and as far as he could discover, never meet together to pray.” But the very reverse of this is the case, if the French traveller is to be credited; for he positively states that all the native inhabitants of Timbuctoo are zealous Mahometans,’and that · Timbuctoo contains seven mosques, two of which are large,' and further, that each is surmounted by a tower.' It may, perhaps, be said that the Mahometan religion has within the last twenty years made rapid strides over Africa, and drawn millions to the mosque, who before were worshippers of idols. This undoubtedly is the fact; and as more than twenty years intervened between the visit of Adams to Timbuctoo, and that which M. Caillié is reported to have made to the same place, it would not be at all improbable that within that period the inhabitants had not only embraced Mahometanism, but had also constructed the mosques in question. But unfortunately for this supposition, the Frenchman says' that the western quarter of one mosque is very ancient;' and speaking of another, he asserts that no part of it is in ruins, though it appears very old.'
As a specimen of French candour, we may here remark that M. Jomard, in criticising the narrative of Adams, observes that “ the city appeared to him as extensive, without being as populous as Lisbon; but between two hundred and sixty thousand inhabitants, and ten or twelve thousand, there is a great difference.” The inference is, that Adams estimated the population of Timbuctoo at a much higher number than ten or twelve thousand, indeed at a number not much under two hundred thousand at least. Now, what does Adams really say upon this subject? He relates that “the town appeared to him to cover as much ground as Lisbon;" he is unable to give any idea of the number of its inhabitants : " but,” he emphatically adds, “as the houses are not built in streets, or with any regularity, its population, compared with that of European towns, is by no means in pro
portion to its size.” Being further pressed upon this point by the gentleman who reduced his narrative to writing, Adams declared that“ he could form no idea of the population of Timbuctoo, but, he thinks, that once he saw as many as two thousand persons assembled at one place : this was on the occasion of a party of five hundred men going out to make war in Bambara. So that the true conclusion to be drawn from Adams' account would be, that the population of the city in question would be rather under than over ten thousand ; and thus the sneer of the learned Academician
goes for nothing.
But to return to our comparisons. The American sailor, who had no hope or expectation of a premium before his eyes, assures us, that the houses of Timbuctoo are built of sticks, clay and grass, with flat roofs of the same materials.” On the contrary, M. Caillié states that they are built of bricks of a round form, rolled in the hands, and baked in the sun.' Here is a decided contradiction ; but we have another still more awkward.
According to Adams, the negro inhabitants of Timbuctoo "consume tobacco, both in snuff and for smoking ; for the latter purpose they use pipes, the tubes of which are made of the leg bones of ostriches !” But to our amazement, M. Caillié declares' that the inhabitants of Timbuctoo do not smoke!' Again, Adams with a great degree of probability on his side, describes “ the people of Timbuctoo as in general very dirty, sometimes not washing themselves for twelve or fourteen days together;" whereas we are told by M. Caillié, that the inhabitants of Timbuctoo are exceedingly neat in their dress, and in the interior of their dwellings. Indeed the two travellers scarcely agree on any one point.
It must be remarked too, that Caillié omits to give us any information as to the fruits and vegetables, which are in general use at Timbuctoo. He says very little of the animals, wild or domestic, which are
He says nothing of the national ceremonies of the people on the important occasions of marriages, births, and deaths; he is equally silent as to their musical instruments, and their amusements in general, which is the more singular, as Adams touches amply upon all these topics, being indeed subjects that would most naturally have in the first instance attracted the notice of a foreigner. With respect to the laws for the government of the city, for the administration of justice or the collection of revenue, the French traveller says not one syllable. He professes to have remained altogether about fourteen days at Timbuctoo, and after devoting some of these to the mosques, and to rambles about the city, he says, 'I employed the remainder of the time in collecting information respecting the unfortunate death of Major Laing. Now this strikes us to be but a very flimsy excuse for the scantiness of his details concerning Timbuctoo itself, and its inhabitants. Even supposing that he occupied himself in an inquiry about our ill-fated country