Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

It is a pity we cannot give a hundred other romantic particulars out of these old travellers, from the times of Herodotus downwards; but our limits will not permit us. We must pass, with a due amount of delight or horror, his semi-annual bleepers and pious cannibals; the isle of Nearchus, from which no one returned; the accounts of Gog and Magog, and the wall of Doolkarnien; the one-eyed and one-legged people of Mandeville, the latter of whom make an umbrella of their foot; isles of giants and rivers of gems; goblets of wine that came to the drinker of their own accord; and the Region of Darkness where there never appeared sun, moon, or star, &c. Sindbad or Ulysses could not beat them; sometimes had the same identical experiences, as in valleys of diamonds and raw-men-eating giants. We must escape from old fictions founded on truth, to modern narratives full of truth and more touching than fiction. And first for honest, admirable

LEDYARD.

LEDYARD's touching praise of women and of the kindness which he ever experienced at their hands, has been repeated in many a book of selections; but who shall be the first person to leave it out? Certainly not the compiler of this. Ledyard was a man who possessed every qualification for a traveller of the highest order, except a little more composure of purpose. He had health, strength, observation, reflection, integrity, undauntedness, enthusiasm, but was somewhat too restless and impatient; and this single flaw in his perfections probably tended to shorten his career and leave him without a great practical name. He was an American, and intended for a missionary; but he could not bear to remain at school. He became a sailor, a marine, circumnavigated the world with Cook (who respected and made use of him), and finally went to Africa under the auspices of the association for making discoveries, but, died prematurely in Egypt, in the year 1788. When he presented himself at the Institute as a candidate for discovery, he was asked when he would be ready to set out. He answered, “To-morrow morning.”

The following passage from à letter which he wrote before embarking for Africa, will show the natural dignity and purity of his character.

“I was last evening in company with Mr. Jarvis, of New-York, whom I accidentally met in the city, and invited to my lodgings. When I was in Paris in distress, he behaved very generously to me, and, as I do not want money at present, I had a double satisfaction in our meeting, being equally happy to see him, and to pay him one hundred livres, which I never expected to be able to do, and I suppose he did not think I should. If he goes to New-York as soon as he mentioned, I shall trouble him with this letter to you, and with some others to your address for my other friends. I wrote you last from this place, nearly two years ago, but I suppose you heard from me at Petersburg, by Mr. Franklin of New-York. I promised to write you from the remote parts of Siberia. I promise everything to those I love; and so does fortune to me sometimes, but we reciprocally prevent each other from fulfilling our engagements. She left me so poor in Siberia, that I could not write you, because I could not frank the letter."

Ledyard's honest biographer, though a great and intelligent admirer of his hero, finds fault with his style for its incorrectness. The faulty if it existed, must be confined to passages in his journal, not given by Mr. Sparks, for we cannot discover it in those which he has. To us it appears admirable ; quite correct and pure; indeed the best we ever saw for sheer, unaffected eloquence from an American pen. The one before us is a positive masterpiece, in style as well as feeling.

LEDYARD'S PRAISE OF WOMEN.

[merged small][ocr errors]

MEMOIRS OF HIS LIFE AND TRAVELS, BY JARED SPARKS."

I

HAVE observed among all nations that the women

ornament themselves more than the men ; that wherever found, they are the same civil, kind, obliging, humane, tender beings; that they are ever inclined to be gay and cheerful, timorous and modest. They do not hesitate, like man, to perform a hospitable or generous action; not haughty, nor arrogant, nor supercilious, but full of courtesy, and fond of society; industrious, economical, ingenuous ; more liable, in general, to err than man, but in general, also, more virtuous, and performing more good actions than he. I never addressed myself, in the language of decency and friendship, to a woman, whether civilized or savage, without receiving a decent and friendly answer. With man it has often been otherwise. In wandering over the barren plains of inhospitable Denmark, through honest Sweden, frozen Lapland, rude and churlish Finland, unprincipled Russia, and the wide spread regions of the wandering Tartar, if hungry, dry, cold, wet, or sick, woman has ever been friendly to me, and uniformly so; and to add to this virtue, so worthy of the appellation of benevolence, these actions have been performed in so free and so kind a manner, that, if I was dry, I drank the sweet draught, and if hungry, ate the coarse morsel, with a double relish.

MUNGO PARK.

Waar Ledyard wanted to complete his character, the famous Mungo Park eminently possessed. He had not so large a grasp of mind as Ledyard, but he was in no need of it. He had quite enough for his purpose, and not any of a doubtful sort to distract it. But who needs to be told what a thorough man for his purpose he was, what sufferings he went through with the simplest and most touching courage, what successes he achieved, and what a provoking, mortal mischance befell him after all? It was not so mortifying a one as Bruce's, who broke his neck down his own staircase; but it was sadder by a great deal, so far from home and on the threshold of the greatest of his adventures.

The reader of the following passages (which are like fine tunes in the history of men, and bear endless repetition), will bear in mind, that one of the objects of Park's journey was to discover the real course of the River Niger, which had been a subject of dispute for ages.

What a passage is the first one to read, when we are going to bed! And what a climax of suffering, fortitude, and piety is the last!

MUNGO PARK'S BED IN THE DESERT.

FROM HIS “TRAVELS IN AFRICA."

I

SADDLED my horse, and continued my journey. I

travelled over a level but more fertile country than I had seen for some time, until sunset, when coming to a path that took a southerly direction, I followed it until midnight, at which time I arrived at a small pool of rain water; and the wood being open, I determined to rest by it for the night. Having given my horse the remainder of the corn, I made my bed as formerly; but the musquitoes and flies from the pool prevented sleep for some time, and I was twice disturbed in the night by wild beasts, which came very near, and whose howling kept the horse in continual terror.

July 4th.—At daybreak, I pursued my course through the woods as formerly; saw numbers of antelopes, wild hogs, and ostriches; but the soil was more billy, and not so fertile as I had found it the preceding day. About eleven o'clock, I ascended an eminence, where I climbed a tree and discovered, at about eight miles' distance, an open part of the country, with several red spots, which I concluded were cultivated land; and, directing my course that way, came to the precincts of a watering-place about one o'clock. From the appearance of the place, I judged it to belong to the Foulahs, and was hopeful that I should meet a better reception thad I had experienced at Shrilla. In this I was not deceived; for one of the shepherds invited me to come into his tent, and partake of some dates. This was one of those low Foulah tents in which is just room sufficient to sit upright, and in which the family, the furniture, &c., seem huddled together like so many articles in a chest. When I had crept upon my hands and knees into this humble habitation, I found that it contained a woman and three children; who, together with the shepherd and myself, completely occupied the floor. A dish of boiled corn and dates was produced, and the master of the family, as is customary in this part of the country, first tasted it himself, and then desired me to follow his example. Whilst I was eating, the children kept their eyes fixed upon me; and no sooner did the shepherd pronounce the word Nazarani, than they began to cry, and their mother crept slowly towards the door, out of which she sprang like a greyhound, and was instantly followed by her children. So frightened were they at the very name of Christian, that no entreaties could induce them to approach the tent. Here I purchased some corn for my horse, in exchange for some brass buttons; and having thanked the shepherd for his hospitality, struck again into the woods. At sunset I came to a road that took the direction for Bambarra, and resolved to fol. low it for the night; but about eight o'clock; hearing some people coming from the southward, I thought it prudent to hide myself among some thick bushes near the road. As these thickets are generally full of wild beasts, I found my situation rather unpleasant; sitting in the dark, holding my horse by the nose with both hands to prevent him from neighing, and equally afraid of the natives without and the wild beasts within. My fears, however, were soon dissipated; for the people, after looking round the thicket and

1

« ZurückWeiter »