« PreviousContinue »
stickers, proclaiming every week to be the last week of their exist ence. I don't know if they are dead yet; but it is no harm to afford them a little posthumous praise if they are so. The first of these scenes was a complete deception; I expected every moment the dean and chapter to make their appearance. In this respect it is the best of the two, which however is more owing to the nature of the subject than the felicity of the painter; it is much easier to represent in successful perspective a chapel, however large, on a sheet of canvas, than a whole country like the Valley of Sarnen. The imagination can readily allow the one, but the reason strongly rejects the other. At all events I confess Trinity Chapel fairly took me in. In my golden simplicity of mind I thought, when I saw it, that "the play hadn't begun," and that I was merely contemplating one of those multitudinous specimens of plaster-work and architectury which are scattered over the West End and Regent's Park, to the utter discountenance of brown brick and comfortability. The beauty of the structure was the first thing that brought back my senses, this being a quality which seldom obtrudes itself upon the eye of the western itinerant.* By narrowly watching the direction of the shadows and finding them to be permanent I was at length convinced that the artist had befooled me. This is real praise!
The view of the Valley of Sarnen was, however, the chief attraction. The felicity of the execution surprised less, but the beauty of its scenery gratified more. The interior of a chapel, unless of the very richest order of magnificence, cannot be as interesting to the spectator as a green woodland, a mountain prospect, or a pastoral vale. He may happen also to be one of those sad dogs like myself who have been compelled by their follies to exchange a romantic home for the close squares and crooked_alleys of this populous wilderness-London: if so the Valley would possess in his mind a double advantage over its compe
titor. He would see his native hills in the misty pinnacles, and the green dwelling of his fathers in the deepbosomed glen of the Alpine illusion before him. He would, moreover, perhaps acknowledge himself largely indebted to the faithful transcriber of the Valley of Sarnen for the sight of a phenomenon which he had never the good fortune to witness in his own country. Two lofty hills rise on the back ground, one immediately behind the other. The hindermost is a sugar-loaf piercing into the skies far above the penetration of his round-shouldered brother. Now the phenomenon in the picture (and, of course, in the living scene) is this: the lower and nearer of these hills is covered with snow, whilst the higher and more distant is green to the apex. I am not sufficiently natural philosopher to account for this extraordinary appearance, but suppose it to arise from a different mode of snowing they have amongst the Alps from what we usually see here amidst our humble hillocks. To accomplish the aforesaid phenomenon it is only necessary that it snow horizontally in Switzerland, by which means a mountain may with every facility be snowed up as far as the shoulders, and yet preserve his head as green and as flourishing as ever. Notwithstanding the strangeness to a plain-going English eye of the above stroke of nature, the view of the Valley of Sarnen was picturesque and delightful,-and if it is not gone it is so still. The Swiss cottage, the mountain road, the flock of sheep feeding in a sequestered nook, gave a kind of lonely animation to the scene; the deep verdure of the glades and slopes, contrasted with the blue surface of the lake into which they decline, and the vapoury magnificence of the surrounding hills, combined to throw a most romantic air over this beautiful picture. I sighed for home when I saw it. A runnel of living water bestowed reality on the scene, and was so contrived as to flow down the canvas as naturally as if it was painted there, not spoiling the eye for the artificial part of the scene. This is a good
I beg leave to direct the attention of all admirers of genuine gothic to a string of towers in wooden bonnets, at the other side of the park from the Diorama. They may afford to the romantic and imaginative a tolerable idea of a row of giants standing asleep in their bedgowns and white cotton night-caps.
THERE was a light bark on the raging wave
Midway 'twixt heaven and earth:-and there was one
Upon her deck-his dark eye was as proud
And calm, as if the summer-morning's breeze
Curl'd the blue wave and fill'd her snowy sail;
His cheek unblench'd-his proud lip turn'd not pale;
BURCHELL'S TRAVELS IN SOUTHERN AFRICA.*
Ir is a part of our plan to present occasionally to our readers, an abstract of such works, as contribute to throw a new and useful light on the science of geography. With this view we take up the Travels of Mr. Burchell in Southern Africa, not only as affording an accession to our knowledge of distant regions, but as exhibiting a proof of individual and liberal enterprise, which we happy to have an opportunity of commending. The writer appears to have been well qualified for his task, by his acquirements and spirit; and though he necessarily failed in the full accomplishment of his original
design, from causes which he had no power to control, he has yet offered to our perusal, an amusing and instructive narration, from which the general reader, as well as the lover of natural history, may draw much interesting and satisfactory intelligence.
On the 26th of November, 1810, Mr. Burchell first landed at the Cape, with those intense feelings of curiosity and expectation, which the aspect of the country is calculated to awaken, in a mind devoted to science, and alive to the beauties of nature. After passing through the usual ceremonies of introduction, he re
* Travels in the Interior of Southern Africa, by William J. Burchell, Esq. Vols. I. and II. quarto. London, 1822-1824.
solved to establish his residence in Cape Town, for some months, in order to mature his arrangements, and acquire a knowledge of that dialect of the Dutch, which is the current language of the colony, as well among the Hottentot, as the European population. Impatient, however, to enter into that field of inquiry, which was his principal object, he made several excursions in the vicinity of the capital, and soon found that all anticipation was greatly surpassed, by the rich and varied stores, which this portion of the globe displays to the eye of the botanist. He fortunately became acquainted with two gentlemen of congenial pursuits, Mr. Hesse and Mr. Poleman, through whose means he was introduced to many of the most respectable Dutch families. He also derived much valuable information with regard to his future proceedings, from Mr. Anderson, who had resided some years as a missionary at the Settlement of Klaarwater, and who was afterwards destined to become his fellow traveller, as far as that place.
Among the exploratory journeys, which he undertook in this interval, we may mention one to the summit of Table Mountain, another into the district called Hottentot's Holland, and a third to the celebrated vineyard, which produces the Constantia. He also visited the hot baths of the Zwarteberg, and the missionary settlement of the Moravians, at Genadenthal, where he found much to admire, in the tranquillity and good order of the establishment, the quiet and unassuming manners of the brethren, and the sedate and decorous behaviour of the Hottentots in the offices of religion.
The original purpose of Mr. Burchell was to direct his route through the inland regions, in a course, which would ultimately bring him to one of the European settlements on the castern coast of Africa, from whence he intended to hire a vessel for St. Helena, and then return to England. He was influenced in this decision, by the consideration, that the western coast is supposed to be barren, and deficient in water, while the eastern parts are comparatively populous and fertile. He was aware, also, that little was known of the
country beyond Litakun, and he was anxious to explore the equally unknown tract between that place and Graff Reynet, on the eastern side of the colony. In the fulfilment of this plan, he had soon reason to anticipate considerable embarrassment, from the difficulty of obtaining Hottentot attendants, for these people show at all times a reluctance to venture beyond the boundaries, and this feeling was strengthened by the fatal result of an expedition, sent out by the governor in 1808, under Dr. Cowan and Captain Donovan. Another cause of perplexity was derived from the report, that a hostile body of Caffres had passed along the borders of the district of Graff Reynet, and established themselves on the Gariep, which lay in his intended route. In consequence of these difficulties and dangers, many of his friends strenuously laboured to divert him from his purpose; and he was at length induced to wait the arrival of a party of Hottentots, who were expected from Klaarwater, in order to accompany them on their return. The interval, however, was not unprofitably spent; for he visited the village of Tulbagh, situated in the recesses of the Zwarteberg, and in his return passed through the Paarl and Stellenbosch.
In April his preparations were partly matured. He procured a waggon, of the country fabric, which was fitted up for his particular purposes; and had made a purchase of the requisite number of oxen. second waggon was afterwards found necessary, to convey a portion of his baggage. The cost of these vehicles, and of the different requisites for his journey, amounted to above 600l. Still one deficiency was illsupplied, namely the proper number of Hottentot attendants. After many fruitless inquiries and disappointments, he engaged two of the Klaarwater party, who arrived in April, to attend him as far as that place; and he afterwards obtained from the Cape regiment another, who had been accustomed to the management of a waggon and team of oxen. To this number was subsequently added a fourth, named Stoffel Spielman, who was recommended for his skill as a marksman, a qualification of peculiar
utility on such an expedition, and who besides had visited most parts of the colony. The wife of this man was also permitted to form one of the party. Finally, our traveller received the requisite permission to pass the boundaries, and an official order for such assistance as he might need, as well as for the conveyance of his correspondence and packets, by the agents and servants of the go
At length he commenced his long peregrination, and on the 19th of June, for the first time, slept in the open air. He was accompanied by Mr. Anderson and his wife, who were proceeding to Klaarwater, and by Mr. Kramer, another of the mission aries belonging to that station; and the rest of the party were successively to join on their route.
On the 24th of June they reached the great Berg river, without any material hinderance, and crossed it on a kind of floating platform, with rails at the sides, and hinges at the ends. This river is subject to sudden and dangerous floods, which have frequently produced the most fatal consequences, to those who have stationed themselves unguardedly on its banks. On the 26th they traversed Roodzands Kloof, leading to Tulbagh. Here Mr. Burchell caused his papers to be registered in the office of the Landdrost of the district, and signed the legal agreement with the Hottentots in his service. Here he was also joined by a Hottentot, named Gerrit or Gert, who had been engaged for him by the Moravian missionaries at Genadenthal. Reports again prevailing, that the hostile body of the Caffres were posted on their route, a deliberation took place, in which it was finally agreed, to proceed as far as the boundaries of the colony. If at that point the rumour were confirmed, Mr. Burchell adopted the resolution of penetrating alone through the land of the Namaquas, on the western
On the 4th of July the party quitted Tulbagh, after experiencing the warmest interest and kindness from the inhabitants. From an apprehension of floods, they hastened to cross the Berg river, and to clear the wild and romantic, though dangerous
ravine, watered by the Hex. At a farm in this quarter, he made a considerable addition to his stock of tobacco, which may in a manner be regarded as the current money of the interior. For the first time, he here observed the Acacia or Dorn tree, which resembles the true Acacia or Gum Arabic tree of Egypt, and forms a botanical characteristic of the extra tropical part of Africa.
At length the travellers reached the Karro Poort, or pass through a range of mountains, separating the district called the great Karro, from the southern parts of the colony. This term in the language of the Hottentots signifies arid or dry, and is properly applied to the country. The strata of these mountains are inclined in opposite positions, and curiously curved in undulating lines. On the 14th of July they entered the pass, and found the road sandy and stony, and the atmosphere remarkably clear and dry: the soil was clayey, washed smooth by frequent thunder showers, and baked so hard by the heat, as to leave no traces of the wheels. The landscape was bare and uniform, and a few scattered clumps of thorn trees, occasionally gladdened the eye, like the Oases in the desert. In the rainy season, however, the scene is changed, and the Karro assumes a verdant hue, from the multitude of small plants, which are then forced into rapid vegetation. They were visited by a few boors, who wander over these extensive plains, with their cattle; but from the want of society these men appeared to be limited in the faculties both of speech and thought; for they were totally uninformed, and nearly as incommunicative.
After traversing Ongelucks river, the ground became hilly, and as no rain had recently fallen, their cattle were much distressed by the drought. In their progress they were joined by another party of the Klaarwater Hottentots, and at length caught a view of the Roggeveld mountains, whose even summits present one long unbroken horizontal line. This chain is the third step or rise in the surface of southern Africa: the first being the great western range, and the second the southern side of the great Karro. The high level of the Rog
geveld is indicated by the storms of snow to which it is subject, though lying under the parallel of 32°.
After pausing some days to accommodate the missionaries, and suffering various inconveniences, from the arid and barren nature of the country, they resumed their journey on the 5th of August. Provided with relays of cattle, in consequence of the official order, they succeeded in scaling the steep ascent of the Roggeveld, which in the opinion of our traveller rises to an elevation of 6000 or 7000 feet. Here they took leave of the inhabited parts of the colony, and the society of men of their own colour. The air was cold and boisterous, fuel difficult to be procured; and scarcely a blade of grass appeared to enliven the scene. They were themselves the only living objects, in this wide and dreary expanse.
At the Reed River they waited for the missionaries who had remained behind. This, with the Zak and the Brakke River, are the only streams south of the Gariep, a distance of 358 miles; and even these cease to flow for nearly six months in the year.
The missionaries arriving on the 13th of August, the party was mustered. It consisted of six waggons, with their proportion of people; and in the train were four horses, a flock of sheep, and a pack of dogs. Being joined on the Karree River by Berends, one of the captains or chiefs of the Klaarwater Kraal, their numbers amounted to 97 persons, including women and children; the men mostly armed with muskets, and partly dressed in the European, partly in their native costume. The weather now became variable, with rain, hail, and violent winds, and even a fall of snow so deep as to occasion a temporary obstruction to their progress.
On the Dwaal River, which they reached August 27, they learnt from a Hottentot that the Caffres had advanced to the Zak, with a resolution to attack the caravan. This intelligence occasioned great agitation. The missionaries were terrified and anxious to return; but by casting lots, it was finally decided that they should proceed.
On the 31st of August they reached the Zak River, which is considered
as the northern boundary of the colony. As they were now entering on the territory of the Bushmen, a race hostile to the colonists, ammunition was distributed to the whole party, every gun was kept loaded, and a watch set during the night. This being the last place of rendezvous, several waggons now joined them, making the number eighteen.
In four days they bade farewell to the colony. Soon afterwards they observed the footsteps of lions, and to protect their cattle from the attacks of these animals, they adopted the precaution of securing them during the night, within a circle formed by the waggons. At the second stage, they had the satisfaction of meeting a considerable relay of oxen, sent from Klaarwater. They at the same time received the agreeable intelligence that the body of Caffres, which had caused so much anxiety, were peaceable and quiet on the Gariep. All apprehensions of an attack were thus happily dissipated.
Hitherto they had seen none of the inhabitants of these wastes; but on the 8th of September they were visited by a party of eleven Bushmen and three women. The men were all below five feet in height, and the women still shorter; and their skin was of a sallow brown colour, darkened by dirt and grease. The next day they descried the Karree mountains, presenting their broad level tops, and forming a species of belt, from five to ten miles wide, which runs north-east and south-west, to an unknown extent. As they emerged from the pass, through these mountains, an immense plain stretched before them, and the scope of vision was terminated by far distant hills. Want of water obliged them to hurry over this expanse with unabated speed. On the 14th they traversed the range called the Modder Gat mountains, consisting of a blackish brown rock, and assuming at a distance a volcanic character. The next day they drew near the banks of the Gariep, experiencing on their march the effects of an African thunder shower. The lightning flashed in the most vivid streams, the thunder burst with tremendous explosions, and, in a moment, a black mass of clouds discharged a deluge of water.