HotFreeBooks.com
Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 62, Number 385. November, 1847.
Author: Various
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

The first start of the expedition could hardly be called a good one; at least, it was not such as to encourage the faint-hearted, or falsify anticipations of extreme hardships and difficulties. A light spring-cart, which the doctor had fondly hoped to take with him through the wilderness, was broken the very first day. He was fortunate enough to exchange it for three bullocks, and proceeded to break in five of those animals for the pack-saddle, finding he could not depend upon his horses for carrying baggage. But the bullocks gave a deal of trouble, and were most unsatisfactory beasts of burthen. The weight they could carry without injury and exhaustion, was very small in comparison with their known strength,—not more than a hundred and fifty pounds, Dr Leichhardt found, for a constancy—without the advantage of roads. Mules would have been the proper carriers; and troublesome, kicking, contrary demons as they often are, under a hot sun and with the aggravation of flies, they could hardly have been more refractory than their bovine substitutes. Persons whose whole experience of bullocks, as beasts of draught and burthen, consists in having seen a pair of them tugging, with painful docility and resignation, at a heavy continental cart—a ponderous yoke across their necks, or their heads attached with multitudinous thongs to the extremity of a massive pole—can form but a faint idea of the tribulations of the Doctor and his friends, who had to lead the beasts, as best they might, with iron nose-rings, and who, moreover, being wholly unused to cattle of that description, had at first a not unnatural dislike of the horns. Then the pack-saddles did not fit, and the immediate result was sore backs; the cargo would get loose and fall off, to the fracture and destruction of straps; or the hornets, whose nests, suspended from the branches, were disturbed by the passage of the caravan, would drive the unlucky oxen nearly mad, by a stinging assault upon their hind quarters. Finally, both horses and bullocks had a singular propensity to stray back during the night to the previous halting place, whence they had to be fetched in the morning, causing great delay, and often postponing the start till mid-day. Here is a significant little entry in the log, comprising the entire proceedings of one day, which gives an idea of the difficulty of progress. "Oct. 2—Bullocks astray, but found at last by Charley, and a start attempted at one o'clock: the greater part of the bullocks with sore backs. The native tobacco in blossom. One of the bullocks broke his pack-saddle, and compelled us to halt." Only one small plug of tobacco to all that peck of troubles! The nicotian flower the sole object in the scene of disaster, on which the eye can rest with a sensation of relief. Stray cattle, sore backs, broken saddles! The combination of calamities can only be appreciated by those who have encountered it, in the desert, and when anxious to prosecute their march. For some time, these pleasant incidents were of daily occurrence; added to which, the bullocks, in forcing their way through tangled thickets, frequently tore the sacks, and wasted large quantities of flour. And towards the latter part of the journey, when Dr Leichhardt, owing to the death of three horses, unfortunately drowned in a creek, had been forced to abandon, with tears in his eyes, a large portion of his valuable botanical collection, he had the intense mortification of seeing a reckless ox, foot-sore and heated by a long day's march, plunge deliberately into a deep pond, where the remainder of the dried plants, seeds, and the like, carefully packed upon the animal's back, underwent a thorough and disastrous soaking. As some amends for the trouble they gave, the bullocks proved useful in an unexpected capacity, namely, as guards. They conceived an antipathy to the natives, whom they charged in warlike style, whenever they had the chance. The aborigines held them in great respect, took them for large dogs (bull-dogs of course), and had a wholesome fear of their bite. These notions the travellers did not deem it advisable to dispel.

Opossums and flying squirrels, kangaroos, (some standing nine feet high,) and kangaroo rats, emus, ducks, and bronze-winged pigeons, were the principal beasts and birds encountered during the journey. Crocodiles were met with, and a few buffaloes. Fish of many kinds, now and then turtles, were seen and caught in the pools, rivers, and lagoons. Sand-flies, mosquitoes, and hornets, were very annoying, but the cool night-breeze usually swept them away. The melodious note of the glucking-bird, so named from the sound resembling "gluck, gluck," the noisy call of the "laughing jackass," the hoot of the barking owl, the howlings of native dogs, and the screech of the opossum, were the principal sounds that broke the stillness of the bush. Kangaroos were a great article of provender; the travellers chased them with dogs, so long as the dogs lasted, but these perished, little by little, until at last only one remained,—Spring by name,—a useful and valiant brute, covered with honourable scars. He was of the breed known as the kangaroo-dog, was exceedingly stanch and valuable, and the means of obtaining a vast deal of game. Of course, he was an immense favourite, and his masters had reckoned on his accompanying them to the end of their journey. They carried a calabash of water for his private use, as they were frequently very long without meeting with any, and this precaution more than once saved Spring's life. At last, during the latter part of a toilsome day's march, poor Spring lagged in rear and was forgotten. The next day two of the party returned to seek him, and found him almost dead, "stretched out in the deep cattle track, which he seemed not to have quitted even to find a shady place. They brought him to the camp; and I put his whole body, with the exception of his head, under water, and bled him; he lived six hours longer, when he began to bark, as if raving." And Spring gave up the ghost, to the great comfort and relief of the emus and kangaroos, and to the deep distress of the worthy Doctor and his biped companions.

The party had been out but one month, when the scarcity of game, far less abundant than had been expected, and the rapid shrinking of the flour-sacks, rendered it necessary to diminish its numbers, lest famine should be added to the many dangers of the journey. Mr Hodgson and Caleb the negro accordingly returned to Moreton bay, the remaining eight persons continuing their route. Two of these eight, as we have already mentioned, were Australian aborigines, indebted to Christian god-fathers for the baptismal names of Charley and Harry. Early in the expedition, these two gentlemen became exceedingly troublesome; not more so, however, than might reasonably be expected from the very sullen and brutish expression of their uncomely physiognomies. Dr Leichhardt favours us with a portrait of the pair, and notwithstanding the embellishments of clean frocks, flowing neck-kerchiefs, and a comb, we have seldom set eyes upon more unprepossessing countenances. Any more hirsute we certainly never beheld, and their whole aspect gives the idea of men who, in the natural state, would deem a tender infant the most delicious of luncheons, and look upon a deceased relative with the one absorbing idea of a juicy roast. We may be doing injustice to the creatures, but appearances are not in their favour, however British missionaries and mutton may have weaned them from aboriginal barbarity and cannibal cravings. After they had been about four months out, they began to play truant, to desert Dr Leichhardt when reconnoitring, taking the provisions with them, and to wander away without permission in quest of honey and opossums. At first the Doctor overlooked their transgressions, or let them pass with a reprimand; but he soon found occasion to regret his leniency, and that he had not inflicted a severe and decided punishment. On the 19th February the travellers, who had halted two days for the purpose of jerking the beef of a bullock, were busy greasing their straps and saddles, an operation rendered very necessary by the dust and scorching heat, when Master Charley, thirsting after honeycomb and greedy of opossum, left the camp, and was absent several hours. On his return the Doctor reprimanded him, and threatened to stop his rations, but was met with threats and abuse. "Finding it, therefore, necessary to exercise my authority, I approached to show him out of the camp, when the fellow gave me a violent blow upon the face, which severely injured me, displacing two of my lower teeth." In return for which brutal assault we expected to find that the Doctor and his friends removed the surcingle and baggage-straps from the jaw-breaker's horse, tied him to a tree with the latter, and with the former flogged his black shoulders till he cried peccavi, and promised reform. Nothing of the sort appears to have taken place, the good Doctor contenting himself, as sole revenge for the injury done to his masticators, with expelling the delinquent, who was accompanied from the camp by his countryman and ally, Harry Brown. They soon got tired, however, of going afoot and shifting for themselves, returned submissive and sorry, and were allowed to rejoin the caravan. And though they subsequently again gave cause of complaint, upon the whole they were tolerably manageable during the rest of the expedition.

The travellers were out a long time before falling in with natives, although they saw signs of their vicinity, and ascertained that they were objects of curious observation and some anxiety to the timid Australians. They stumbled upon various native camps, recently vacated, and occasionally took the liberty of helping themselves to kangaroo nets and cordage, leaving in exchange fish hooks, handkerchiefs, and other European articles. On the 6th of December, upon rousing from his bivouac, Dr Leichhardt found "the horses had gone back to Ruined Castle Creek, about twenty-one miles distant (!), and the bullocks to the last camp, which, according to Charley, had been visited by the Blackfellows, who had apparently examined it very minutely. It was evident they kept an eye upon us, although they never made their appearance." The Doctor's coolness in recording his disasters is quite provoking. If he exhibited the same laudable calm and resignation when he arose from his bed of reeds on the banks of the finch-haunted water-hole, and found his cattle had gone back a day's journey or more, as he does in writing down the fact, he is certainly the most Job-like of travellers. We could sometimes quarrel with him for making so very light of heavy inconveniences and positive misfortunes. It is necessary to pause and reflect in order to appreciate what he endured. The hasty reader, skimming the page without allowing his imagination to dwell on the Doctor's brief indications of the many sufferings, the wounds and sickness (the latter often caused by unwholesome diet), the hunger and thirst, the daily and nightly exposure, for fifteen months, to scorching suns and drenching rains, undergone by himself and his companions, might complete the perusal with the impression on his mind that the whole affair was rather pleasant than otherwise—a sort of prolonged pic-nic, varied by kangaroo hunts, fishing parties, and shooting excursions. Bread stuffs, he would have to admit, were scarce in that cornless land: but hard exercise and fresh air sharpen the appetite and strengthen the digestion; and a keen woodsman will not heed bannocks when he can get beef, varied by such an exotic viand as kangaroo venison, and by such delicate and fantastical volatiles as harlequin pigeons and rose-breasted cockatoos. Nay, so easy is it to fight battles in one's back parlour, and to endure hardships with one's feet on the fender, that this same imaginary and hastily-judging reader, whose flippant conclusions we now quote, may think lightly of the necessity in which our travellers found themselves of eating a horse, as recorded in the Leichhardtian journal, p. 247. A horse broke its thigh, and it was resolved to make the best of the meat. It proved tolerably palatable, especially the liver and kidneys, pronounced equal to those of a bullock. When the flour was gone, the only relief from the monotony of a carnivorous diet was obtained by experimentalising on seeds, fruits, and roots, of which many unknown species were met with. How the party escaped death by poison is a wonder, for they were very venturesome in their essays, and not unfrequently were punished for their boldness by severe vomitings and other unpleasant symptoms. The jerked meat they carried with them often became musty and tainted, having been imperfectly dried, or from the effects of rain. But their greatest difficulty was the frequent scarcity of water, which sadly afflicted their horses, and prolonged their route, compelling them to deviate from the direct course to encamp near pools or lagoons. These were not always to be found; and they often remained for very many hours, even for days, without other water than they could carry in their scanty kettles. Then the bullocks were allowed to stray in search of drink, and it was sometimes necessary, in order to save the horses' lives, to take them back to the previous night's camping place. The fatigues thus encountered might well have exhausted the endurance and physical energies of the strongest man. "I had been in a state of the most anxious suspense," says Dr Leichhardt on one of these occasions, "about the fate of our bullocks, and was deeply thankful to the Almighty when I heard they were all safe. I had suffered much from thirst, having been forty-eight hours without water, and which had been increased by a run of two miles after my horse, which attempted to follow the others; and also from a severe pain in the head, produced by the impatient brute's jumping with its hobbled fore-feet on my forehead, as I lay asleep with the bridle in my hand; but after drinking three quarts of cold tea, which John had brought with him, I soon recovered, and assisted to load our horses with the remainder of our luggage, when we returned to join our companions. The weather was very hot during the day, but a cool breeze moved over the plains, and the night, as usual, was very cold." It needed men of iron frame to endure, without serious and frequent indisposition, such terrible privations and sudden contrasts of temperature. Nevertheless, none of the party seem to have suffered from illness produced by other causes than irregular and hazardous diet, except in the case of the Doctor, who once or twice had a touch of lumbago. These violent transitions from heat to cold were felt during only a portion of their journey. Towards the middle of the time, in the month of June, they were greatly favoured by climate. "The state of our health showed how congenial it was to the human constitution; for, without the comforts which the civilised man thinks essentially necessary to life, without flour, without salt, and miserably clothed, we were yet all in health, although at times suffering much from weakness and fatigue. At night we stretched ourselves upon the ground, almost as naked as the natives; and though most of my companions still used their tents, it was amply proved afterwards that the want of this luxury was attended with no ill consequences." All things are comparative; and to the Doctor, whose sole canopy during the whole expedition was the vault of heaven, the canvass covering enjoyed by his comrades evidently appeared a Sybaritical indulgence.

To return to the savages. The day after the retrograde movement of the cattle to Ruined Castle Creek, and just as Dr Leichhardt was about to start on a reconnoissance, the Blackfellows came down to where the horses were grazing, and speared one of them in the shoulder. This was the first act of hostility. The Australian aborigines are very cowardly, and the aggressors hastily retreated into the bush on the appearance of two or three white men. After this, in February, some friendly and respectable barbarians were met with, and there was an interchange of courtesy and presents. Generally the natives were shy, entertaining feelings of mingled fear, aversion, and contempt for the pale-skinned intruders upon their forest domain. Mr Roper and Charley, out in search of water, fell in with a Blackfellow and his gin or squaw. Like a brace of opossums, they were up a gum-tree in no time, although the lady was in an advanced state of pregnancy. "As Mr Roper moved round the base of the tree, in order to look the Blackfellow in the face, and to speak with him, the latter studiously avoided looking at Mr Roper, by shifting round and round the trunk like an iguana. The woman also kept her face averted." A day or two afterwards, Mr Gilbert and Charley met some more natives. "Two gins were so horror-struck at the unwonted sight, that they immediately fled into the scrub; the men commenced talking to them, but occasionally interrupted their speeches by spitting and uttering a noise like pooh! pooh! apparently expressive of their disgust." Meetings with the natives now became of common occurrence; but as they showed much timidity, and, when ill disposed, confined their hostile demonstrations to expectoration and grimaces, the travellers entertained little apprehension of attack. The night watch, regularly kept at the commencement of the expedition, was now little more than nominal, and although each man was supposed to take his turn of sentry, the guard was usually a sleepy one, and a mere matter of form. They had reason to repent their negligence. Encamped one evening in the dry bed of a lagoon, some in their tents, others platting palm-leaf hats, the Doctor himself dozing near the fire, a shower of spears fell amongst them, and the savages followed up the treacherous attack by a charge with their waddies or clubs. The Europeans were so completely off their guard that they did not know where to find percussion caps for their guns. When the Doctor had procured these, two or three shots sent the assailants to the right about, with one of their number killed or wounded, for bloodstains were on their track, and they were heard next morning wailing in the woods. But the little caravan had suffered heavy loss. Gilbert was killed; Roper and Calvert were severely injured and disfigured by spear-wounds and blows from the waddies. It was a melancholy and untoward event, but time could ill be spared to mourn. The dead man was buried, a large fire made over his grave to prevent the natives from detecting and disinterring the body, and with sad hearts the little caravan prosecuted their march. The Doctor allows us to infer that the wounded would gladly have prolonged the halt, but, although feeling for their suffering state, he had duties to perform to himself and his other companions; and being of opinion that motion would not interfere with cure, he overruled objections, and insisted on proceeding. The event proved he was right; the sick men, although inconvenienced, were not injured by the march. Calvert was soon able to resume his share in the labours of the camp and the hunting-field, and Roper, although longer disabled, also eventually recovered.

The eighth chapter of Dr Leichhardt's journal will be esteemed by the general reader the most interesting in the book, for in it he deviates somewhat from his usual track, is more sparing than his wont of botanical and geographical details, and gives a few brief but interesting particulars of the daily life and habits of his party. "I usually rise," he says, "when I hear the merry laugh of the laughing-jackass (a bird) which, from its regularity, has been not unaptly named the settler's clock; a loud cooee then rouses my companions, Brown to make tea, Mr Calvert to season the stew with salt and marjoram, and myself and the others to wash, and to prepare our breakfast, which, for the party, consists of two pounds and a half of meat, stewed over night; and to each a quart pot of tea. Mr Calvert then gives to each his portion, and, by the time this important duty is performed, Charley generally arrives with the horses, which are then prepared for their day's duty." Towards eight o'clock the caravan usually started, and after travelling about four hours, selected a spot for that night's camp, which being pitched, the horses and bullocks unloaded, the fire lighted, and the dried beef put on to stew for the late dinner, the remainder of the afternoon was devoted to washing and repairing clothes, mending saddles, shooting, fishing, botanizing and writing up the log. The Doctor, who was of course provided with sextant, chronometer, compass, and the other instruments necessary to ascertain their whereabout in the wide desert, would take his observations, calculate the latitude, ride out reconnoitring, and plan the next day's route. Towards sunset came dinner, and soon after nightfall all retired to their beds. "The two Blackfellows and myself spread out each our own under the canopy of heaven, whilst Messrs Roper, Calvert, Gilbert, Murphy, and Phillips, have their tents. Mr Calvert entertains Roper with his conversation; John amuses Gilbert; Brown tunes up his corrobori songs, in which Charley, until their late quarrel, generally joined. Brown sings well, and his melodious plaintive voice lulls me to sleep, when otherwise I am not disposed. Mr Phillips is rather singular in his habits; he erects his tent generally at a distance from the rest, under a shady tree, or in a green bower of shrubs, where he makes himself as comfortable as the place will allow, by spreading branches and grass under his couch, and covering his tent with them, to keep it shady and cool, and even planting lilies in blossom (crinum) before his tent, to enjoy their sight during the short time of our stay." We would fain have heard something more of this Phillips, whose love of solitude and flowers contrast with his quality of a convict, and inspire interest and curiosity. Whatever his crime, his companions apparently did not repulse him, but he himself voluntarily avoided their society, perhaps from a feeling of unworthiness and humiliation. Dr Leichhardt casually mentions him here and there in his volume, and he seems to have behaved steadily and well, for he was pardoned on returning to Sydney, and received a portion of the thousand pounds appropriated from the crown revenue to reward the adventurous party. Why he was originally selected to form part of it, when numbers of young men of enterprising spirit and untainted reputation were refused the privilege, the Doctor does not think it necessary to inform us.

To men far removed from the pleasures and luxuries of civilisation, isolated in a desert, and leading a life of unceasing hardship and privation, small treats afford great enjoyment. The pleasures of the palate, especially, acquire unusual importance, and the discovery of some fragrant fruit or succulent vegetable, the addition to the daily stew of a bird or beast unusually flavorous, causes amongst these grown children as much jubilation as a giant cake amongst a horde of holiday urchins. "I had naturally," says the Doctor, "a great antipathy against comfort-hunting and gourmandising, particularly on an expedition like ours.... This antipathy I expressed, often perhaps, too harshly, which caused discontent; but, on these occasions, my patience was sorely tried." Notwithstanding his anti-epicurean principles, the chief of the expedition good-humouredly gave in to the fancies of his followers, who loved a feast now and then, and were partial to celebrate notable days by such modest hors-d'oeuvres and supplementary condiments as the niggard forest and their indifferently provided saddle-bags would afford. Homely indeed were the additions thus made to their daily ration of charqui beef, horse-flesh or kangaroo. Let us dwell a moment upon the magnificent preparation for a banquet on the natal day of her Majesty Queen Victoria.

"May 24. It was the Queen's birth-day, and we celebrated it with what—as our only remaining luxury—we were accustomed to call a fat cake, made of four pounds of flour and some suet, which we had saved for the express purpose, and with a pot of sugared tea. We had for several months been without sugar, with the exception of about ten pounds, which were reserved for cases of illness and for festivals."

Assuredly no sumptuary laws were needed to restrain such revels as these. "On another occasion, in consequence of the additional fatigues of the day, I allowed some pieces of fat to be fried with our meat." Horrible gluttony! After they had been some months out, an extraordinary desire for fat diet took possession of the wanderers. At first they felt disgust for it, and rejected it contemptuously, but suddenly a total change occurred. "The relish continued to increase as our bullocks grew poorer; and we became as eager to examine the condition of a slaughtered beast as the natives, whose practice in that respect we had formerly ridiculed." When they caught an emu, their first and eager care was to pluck the feathers and cut into the flesh, "to see how thick the fat was, and whether it was a rich yellow." The Spartan Doctor himself was not proof against the greasy fascination. Hear his confession of a frailty, and record of its quick-succeeding punishment. 'Tis a propos of kites, which filthy feeders, unaccustomed in the lonely bush to the sight of man, become exceedingly daring and impudent. "Yesterday, I cleaned the fat gizzard of a bustard to grill it on the embers, and the idea of the fat dainty-bit made my mouth water. But, alas! whilst holding it in my hand, a kite pounced down and carried it off, pursued by a dozen of his comrades, eager to seize the booty." It needs no great stretch of fancy to picture the Doctor, bereaved of his gizzard, sitting open-mouthed and aghast at the foot of a gum-tree, his fingers still shining from the unctuous contact, the moisture of anticipation oozing from his lips, his eyes watching the flight of the felon kite, whilst the 'possum on the branch above grins at his mishap. The loss was the more serious, that game was not abundant just then. They had got into a flat, sandy, uninteresting country; all box-trees and ant-hills, as Australian Charley described it, with no cover, and nothing to shoot at. Bad enough for the sportsman, but highly eligible squatting ground, where the settler would have few trees to fell and abundant grass for his cattle. As for the game, it came in tracts and districts. Sometimes they thought themselves fortunate could they secure a few pigeons, at others, they revelled in pinguid plenty,—kangaroos roasted whole, fat ibis, flying foxes in scores, and ducks by the dozen. The atmosphere of these latitudes must be particularly favourable to the appetite, judging from the following passage.—"Charley Brown and John, who had been left at the lagoon to shoot waterfowl, returned with twenty ducks for luncheon, and went out again during the afternoon to procure more for dinner and breakfast. They succeeded in shooting thirty-one ducks and two geese; so that we had fifty-one ducks and two geese for the three meals; and they were all eaten, with the exception of a few bony remains, which some of the party carried to the next camp. If we had had a hundred ducks, they would have been eaten quite as readily, if such an extravagant feast had been permitted." A century of the web-footed for one day's consumption! And they were seven—no more! Surely this was playing at ducks and drakes with their resources. Fourteen ducks, a leg, a wing, and a bit of the breast, entombed, within twenty-four hours, in the stomach of each of these seven men! The very feathers in their pillows (had they had any) would have cried out against such voracity. Truly it is without a spark of compassion that we read of their reduction, precisely one week afterwards, to short and less palatable commons. "Oct. 26. We enjoyed most gratefully our two wallabies, which were stewed, and to which I had added some green hide, to render the broth more substantial. This hide was almost five months old, and had served as a case to my botanical collection, which, unfortunately, I had been compelled to leave behind. It required, however, a little longer stewing than a fresh hide, and was rather tasteless." We avow total unacquaintance with wallabies, their size and edible qualities, but, whatever their dimensions, the fact of a five-months'-old hide having been stewed with them to ameliorate the broth, says very little for their succulence. The sweetness, as well as the greenness of the "case to the botanical collection," may fairly be doubted. We should have an ill opinion of the pottage that needed an old portmanteau to improve its consistency, and strongly mistrust the nutritious qualities of the meagre wallabi-broth, which followed so closely on the heels of the Feast of Ducks.

It was very fortunate for Dr Leichhardt and his companions—who certainly had abundance of difficulties to encounter—that the country they traversed was nearly free from ferocious beasts and noxious reptiles. They had plenty to do without combating such formidable enemies. Throughout the whole journal there is no mention of any dangerous animal, except crocodiles and alligators,—easily avoided, and not much to be dreaded. On the 19th June, "Charley and Brown, who had gone to the river, returned at a late hour, when they told us they had seen the tracks of a large animal on the sands of the river, which they judged to be about the size of a big dog, trailing a long tail like a snake. Charley said, that when Brown fired his gun, a deep noise like the bellowing of a bull was heard, which frightened both so much that they immediately decamped. This was the first time we became aware of the existence of the crocodile in the waters of the gulf." Afterwards they not unfrequently fell in with them. Near the banks of a magnificent salt-water river—named by Dr Leichhardt the "Robinson," in honour of one of the promoters of the expedition—they came upon a native well. "When Charley first discovered it, he saw a crocodile leaning its long head over the clay-wall, enjoying a drink of fresh water." Of venomous snakes and insects, we also find little or no account in the Doctor's diary. Once only there was a suspicion of the kind. Upon leaving a camp on the river Lynd, the lad Murphy's pony was missing, and Charley went back to look for it. "He brought us the melancholy news that he had found the poor beast on the sands of the Lynd, with its body blown up, and bleeding from the nostrils. It had either been bitten by a snake or had eaten some noxious herb, which had fortunately been avoided by the other horses." Sand-flies and mosquitoes were very troublesome, large yellow hornets savage in their attacks, and ants every where. Of these, the species called the funnel-ant is worthy of notice for the peculiarity of its nest. It digs a perpendicular hole in the ground, and surrounds the opening with an elevated wall, sloping outwards like a funnel; a style of architecture of which, upon a rainy day, the tenant of the dwelling must feel the disadvantage. The white ant is also met with, and builds itself massive hills of enormous size. "I followed the Casuarina Creek up to its head, and called it 'Big Ant-Hill Creek,' in consequence of numerous gigantic strangely-buttressed structures of the white ant, which I had never seen of such a form, and of so large a size." Within three days' journey of the gulf of Carpentaria, the box-tree flat was studded with turreted ant-hills, either single sharp cones, three to five feet high, or united in rows and forming piles of remarkable appearance.

Their arrival at the gulf of Carpentaria, which occurred on the 5th July, was a joyful event to the wanderers. From the map accompanying Dr Leichhardt's journal, it appears they did not take the most direct track from Moreton Bay to Port Essington, but inclined too much to the right, reaching the gulf on its eastern instead of its southern shore, and having consequently, as they were proceeding north-west, to strike off at right angles in a S.S.W. direction. For this deviation from the direct line, there may have been good reason in the nature of the ground, the forests, mountains, and other difficulties to be avoided, and in the necessity of preserving the vicinity of water. Hitherto the progress of the expedition was most satisfactory, the only important drawback being the death of poor Gilbert. A line of land communication between the eastern and northern coasts of Australia had been discovered and carefully mapped; it was well supplied with water, and the country was excellent—available almost throughout for pastoral purposes. The Doctor had special reason to rejoice at having got so far on his expedition, for the time occupied in reaching the gulf exceeded the period in which he had expected to arrive at Port Essington, and his companions had begun to despond, and even to question his abilities as a guide and leader. "We shall never come to Port Essington,"—the melancholy cry that too often reached Leichhardt's ears,—was exchanged for a joyful hurra at sight of salt water. Fatigues and privations were for the time forgotten as though the goal, instead of the half-way-house, had been attained. The caravan had been nine months out; they had still nearly six to pass before reaching their journey's end; and for various reasons, the latter portion was the most painful and difficult. They got amongst the salt creeks and lagoons, and fresh water was often very difficult to find. Then the little stock of comforts they had brought from Moreton Bay, became gradually exhausted. The flour was gone before they reached the gulf; the sugar was finished up, even to the boiling of the bags, that none of the saccharine particles might be lost—and at length they came to their last pot of tea. This was a great deprivation, for tea had been found most refreshing and restorative. Their diet now was dry beef and water. They tried various substitutes for the latter, but with no very good result. The M'Kenzie bean served as coffee, and although disagreeing at first, was finally relished. Mr Phillips, who discovered and adopted it, subsequently tried a similar preparation of acacia seeds, whose effects, however, were such as not to encourage consumers. To vary their edibles, they ate vine-beans in porridge, and the young leaves of bullrushes—coming, in fact, as near to grazing as human beings well can. Their animal food was not always of the choicest, as the following passage testifies: "During the night a great number of flying foxes came to revel in the honey of the blossoms of the gum-trees. Charley shot three, and we made a late but welcome supper of them. They were not so fat as those we had eaten before, and tasted a little strong; but in messes made, at night, it was always difficult to find out the cause of any particular taste, as Master Brown wished to get as quickly as possible over his work, and was not over particular in cleaning them." A negligence deserving of the bastinado. The notion of any animal, bearing the name of fox, being served up with the trail, is too full-flavoured to be agreeable, and the dish might cause a revolt in the stomach of the least particular of Australian bush-rangers. By this time, however, Dr Leichhardt and his party were inured to every sort of abomination in the way of food, and were not difficult to please. Other troubles they had, more sensibly felt than the coarse quality of the vivers. Their scanty wardrobe threatened to fail them; and, already reduced to the produce of the forest for their daily food, it appeared by no means improbable they would have to resort to the same primitive source for raiment to cover their nakedness. "The few shirts we had with us became so worn and threadbare, that the slightest tension would tear them. To find materials for mending the body, we had to cut off the sleeves; and when these were used, pieces were taken from the lower part of the shirt to mend the upper. Our trousers became equally patched, and the want of soap prevented us from washing them clean." Worse than this, inflammation, boils, and prickly heat, tormented the travellers, and their cattle showed symptoms of breaking down. At first, there were plenty of spare horses, but these had perished from accidents and disease; those which remained became daily weaker from over-work and want of water, and were sore-footed and tired from travelling over rocky ranges, their shoes, useless in the grass-land, having been long since removed. Leichhardt, who, on reaching the gulf, had sanguinely hoped the worst of the journey over, soon found his mistake. Bad enough before, it was far worse now, and too much praise can hardly be accorded to the cheerful courage with which the Doctor endured hardships, wrestled with difficulties, sustained the spirits of his companions, and pressed on over all obstacles, to the termination of his long and weary pilgrimage. It was now (at the beginning of December) not very distant. "Whilst we, were waiting for our bullock," (they were reduced to their last, which they were unwilling to kill, and took to Port Essington) "which had returned to the running brook, a fine native stepped out of the forest with the ease and grace of an Apollo, with a smiling countenance, and with the confidence of a man to whom the whiteface was perfectly familiar. He was unarmed, but a great number of his companions were keeping back to watch the reception he should meet with. We received him, of course, most cordially; and upon being joined by another good-looking little man, we heard him utter distinctly, the words 'Commandant!' 'Come here!' 'Very good!' 'What's your name?' If my readers have at all identified themselves with my feelings throughout this trying journey, if they have imagined only a tithe of the difficulties we have encountered, they will readily imagine the startling effect which these, as it were, magic words produced; we were electrified—our joy knew no limits, and I was ready to embrace the fellows, who, seeing the happiness with which they inspired us, joined with a most merry grin in the loud expression of our feelings." The party were within a fortnight's march of Port Essington, where they arrived on the 17th day of December, and received a kind welcome and needful supplies from Captain MacArthur, commandant of the place. After a month's stay, they took ship, and reached Sydney at the end of March.

We have already referred to the strong feeling prevailing at Sydney against the practicability of Dr Leichhardt's projected expedition, to the numerous efforts made to induce him to abandon it, and to the confident predictions of its failure, and of the destruction of all engaged in it. It will be remembered, also, that about a month after the departure of the adventurers from Moreton Bay, it had been found necessary, in consequence of loss of stores and scarcity of game, to send back some of the party, and that Mr Hodgson, suffering and disheartened, had volunteered to return. His reappearance in the colony strengthened the doubts already entertained, and little surprise was excited when, a month or two afterwards, news came through a party of natives, that the adventurous band had been attacked, and its members murdered, by a tribe to the northward. There could be small doubt of the catastrophe, which elicited from Mr Lynd of Sydney, a bosom friend of Leichhardt, and to whom the Journal is inscribed, some very beautiful stanzas. They were addressed to a party formed to proceed, under guidance of Mr Hodgson, in the footsteps of Dr Leichhardt, and to ascertain his fate. By favour of a near relative of Mr Lynd, resident in the environs of Edinburgh, we are enabled here to introduce them.

Ye who prepare, with pilgrim feet, Your long and doubtful path to wend, If—whitening on the waste—ye meet The relies of my murdered friend, Collect them, and with reverence bear To where some mountain streamlet flows, There, by its mossy bank, prepare The pillow of his long repose.

It shall be by a stream, whose tides Are drank by birds of every wing; Where every lovelier flower abides The earliest wakening touch of spring; O meet that he, who so caress'd All beauteous Nature's varied charms, That he—her martyred son—should rest Within his mother's fondest arms.

When ye have made his narrow bed, And laid the good man's ashes there, Ye shall kneel down around the dead, And wait upon your God in prayer; What though no reverend man be near, No anthem pour its solemn breath, No holy walls invest his bier, With all the hallowed pomp of death,

Yet humble minds shall find the grace, Devoutly bowed upon the sod, To call that blessing round the place, Which consecrates the soul to God: And ye,—the wilds and wastes,—shall tell How, faithful to the hopes of men, The Mighty Power he served so well, Shall breathe upon his bones again!

When ye your gracious task have done, Heap not the rock upon his dust! The Angel of the Lord alone Shall guard the ashes of the just! But ye shall heed, with pious care, The memory of that spot to keep; And note the marks that guide me where My venturous friend is laid in sleep.

For oh, bethink,—in other times, And be those happier times at hand, When science, like the smile of God, Comes bright'ning o'er that weary land, How will her pilgrims hail the power, Beneath the drooping miall's gloom, To sit at eve, and mourn an hour, And pluck a leaf on Leichhardt's tomb.

These charming verses were dated the 2d of July 1845. It was not till the close of the following March, that the cloud suspended over the destiny of the expedition was suddenly dispelled by the appearance of Leichhardt himself. As may be supposed, an enthusiastic welcome awaited the pilgrim, whose bones were long since supposed to be bleaching in the wilderness. Subscriptions were set on foot, and soon amounted to fifteen hundred pounds, which, with another thousand pounds voted by the Legislative Council, were divided amongst the seven persons composing the expedition. Dr Leichhardt, to whom the lion's share was with justice awarded, received it at a meeting held in the School of Arts at Sydney, of which an account is given in the Sydney Herald under the head of "The Leichhardt Testimonial," and where Dr Nicholson, speaker of the Legislative Council, addressed the intrepid traveller, in a strain of high and well-merited eulogium. "It would be difficult," he said, "to employ any terms that might be considered as exaggerated, in acknowledging the enthusiasm, the perseverance, and the talent, which prompted you to undertake, and enabled you successfully to prosecute, your late perilous journey through a portion of the hitherto untrodden wilds of Australia." A flattering letter from the Colonial Secretary at Sydney, announcing the government grant, a gold medal from the Royal Geographical Society of London, and another from that of Paris, have further rewarded Dr Leichhardt's meritorious labours. Unflinching in pursuit of science, he again set forth, in December 1845, on an overland journey to Swan River, expected to occupy two years and a half. This time he is better provided. His party consists of only eight persons, but he has mules for the stores, fourteen horses, forty oxen, and two hundred and seventy goats. And he further takes with him—light but pleasant baggage—the warm sympathy and hearty good wishes of all to whom his amiable character and previous labours are known, a class which the publication of the present Journal will doubtless tend largely to increase.

FOOTNOTE:

[15]Journal of an Overland Expedition in Australia, from Moreton Bay to Port Essington. By Dr LUDWIG LEICHHARDT. London: Boone, 1847.



MAGUS MUIR.

The subject of the following ballad is the atrocious and dastardly assassination of James Sharp, Archbishop of St Andrews and Primate of Scotland.

More than one attempt was made upon the life of that eminent prelate. On the 11th of July, 1668, a shot was fired into his carriage in the High Street of Edinburgh, by one James Mitchell, a fanatical field preacher, and an associate of the infamous Major Weir. The primate escaped unharmed, but his colleague Honyman, Bishop of Orkney, received a severe wound, from the effects of which he died in the following year. The assassin Mitchell fled to Holland, but subsequently returned, and was arrested in the midst of his preparations for another diabolical attempt. This man, who afterwards suffered for his crimes, and who in consequence has obtained a place in the book of "Covenanting Martyrology," described his motive "as an impulse of the Holy Spirit, and justified it from Phinehas killing Cosbi and Zimri, and from that law in Deuteronomy commanding to kill false prophets!" This is no matter of surprise, when it is recollected that the "principles of assassination," as Mr C. K. Sharp observes, "were strongly recommended in Naphthali, Jus Populi Vindicatum, and afterwards in The Hind let Loose, which books were in almost as much esteem with the Presbyterians as their Bibles." Sir George Mackenzie states, "These irreligious and heterodox books, called Naphthali and Jus Populi, had made the killing of all dissenters from Presbytery seem not only lawful, but a duty among many of that profession: and in a postscript to Jus Populi, it was told that the sending of the Archbishop of St Andrews' head to the king would be the best present that could be made to Jesus Christ."[16]

These principles, at first received with doubt, were afterwards carried out to the utmost extent by the more violent of the insurgent party. Murder and assault, frequently perpetrated upon unoffending and defenceless persons, became so common, that the ordinary course of the law was suspended, and its execution devolved upon the military. Scotland was indeed in a complete state of terrorism. Gangs of armed fanatics, who had openly renounced their allegiance, perambulated the country, committing every sort of atrocity, and directing their attacks promiscuously against the clerical incumbents and the civil magistracy.

But the crowning act of guilt was the murder of the unfortunate Archbishop. On the 3d of May 1679, a party of the Fife non-conformists were prowling near the village of Ceres, on the outlook, it is said, for Carmichael the Sheriff-substitute of the county, against whom they had sworn vengeance if he should ever fall into their hands. This party consisted of twelve persons, at the head of whom were John Balfour of Kinloch, better known by his soubriquet of Burley, and his brother-in-law, David Hackstoun of Rathillet. Balfour, whose moral character had never stood high, though his religious fanaticism was undoubted, had been at one time chamberlain to the Archbishop, and had failed to account for a considerable portion of the rents, which it was his official duty to levy. Hackstoun, whose earlier life had been in little accordance with the ostensible tenets of his party, was also in debt to the Archbishop, and had been arrested by the new chamberlain. "These two persons," says Mr Lawson, "had most substantial reasons for their rancour and hatred towards the Archbishop, apart from their religious animosities."

It does not seem to be clearly ascertained, whether Carmichael was the real object of their search, or whether their design from the first had been directed against the person of the Primate. It would appear, however, from the depositions taken shortly after the murder, that the deed had been long premeditated, and that three days previously some of the assassins had met at a house in Ceres and concerted their plans. The incumbent of Ceres, the Rev. Alexander Leslie, was also to have been made a victim if found in company with the Prelate.

Fortunately for himself, Carmichael eluded their search, but towards evening the carriage of the Archbishop was seen approaching the waste ground near St Andrews, which is still known by the name of Magus Muir. A hurried council was then held. Hackstoun, probably from some remnant of compunction, declined to take the lead; but Balfour, whose bloodthirsty disposition was noted even in those unhappy times, assumed the command, and called upon the others to follow him. The consummation of the tragedy can best be told in the words of the historian already quoted.

"When the Primate's servants saw their master followed by a band of men on horseback, they drove rapidly, but they were overtaken on the muir about three miles west of St Andrews; the murderers having previously satisfied themselves, by asking a female domestic of the neighbouring farmer, who refused to inform them himself, that it was really the Archbishop's coach.

"Russell first came up, and recognised the Primate sitting with his daughter. The Archbishop looked out of the coach, and Russell cast his cloak from him, exclaiming,—'Judas, be taken!' The Primate ordered the postilion to drive, at which Russell fired at the man, and called to his associates to join him. With the exception of Hackstoun, they threw off their cloaks, and continued firing at the coach for nearly half a mile. A domestic of the Archbishop presented a carbine, but was seized by the neck, and it was pulled out of his hands. One of the assassins outrun the coach, and struck one of the horses on the head with a sword. The postilion was ordered to stop, and for refusing he was cut on the face and ankle. They soon rendered it impossible to proceed further with the coach. Disregarding the screams, entreaties, and tears of his daughter, a pistol was discharged at the Primate beneath his left arm, and the young lady was seen removing the smoking combustibles from her father's black gown. Another shot was fired, and James Russell seized a sword from one of his associates, dismounted, and at the coach-door called to the Archbishop, whom he designated Judas, to come forth." Sir William Sharp's account of what now occurred, which would be doubtless related to him by his sister, is as follows:—"They fired several shots at the coach, and commanded my dearest father to come out, which he said he would.—When he had come out, not being yet wounded, he said,—'Gentlemen, I beg my life!' 'No—bloody villain, betrayer of the cause of Christ—no mercy!' Then said he,—'I ask none for myself, but have mercy on my poor child!' and, holding up his hand to one of them to get his, that he would spare his child, he cut him on the wrist. Then falling down upon his knees, and holding up his hands, he prayed that God would forgive them; and begging mercy for his sins from his Saviour, they murdered him by sixteen great wounds in his back, head, and one above his left eye, three in his left hand when he was holding it up, with a shot above his left breast, which was found to be powder. After this damnable deed they took the papers out of his pocket, robbed my sister and their servants of all their papers, gold, and money, and one of these hellish rascals cut my sister on the thumb, when she had him by the bridle begging her father's life."

So died with the calmness and intrepidity of a martyr this reverend and learned prelate, maligned indeed by the fanatics of his own and succeeding ages, but reverenced and beloved by those who best knew his innate worth, unostentatious charity, and pure piety of soul. In the words of a worthy Presbyterian divine of last century,—"His inveterate enemies are agreed in ascribing to him the high praise of a beneficent and humane disposition. He bestowed a considerable part of his income in ministering to pressing indigence, and relieving the wants of private distress. In the exercise of his charity, he had no contracted views. The widows and orphans of the Presbyterian brethren richly shared his bounty without knowing whence it came. He died with the intrepidity of a hero, and the piety of a Christian, praying for the assassins with his latest breath."

Gently ye fall, ye summer showers, On blade, and leaf, and tree; Ye bring a blessing to the earth, But nane—O nane, to me!

Ye cannot wash this red right hand Free from its deadly stain, Ye cannot cool the burning ban That lies within my brain.

O be ye still, ye blithesome birds, Within the woodland spray, And keep your songs within your hearts Until another day:

And cease to fill the blooming brae With warblings light and clear, For there's a sweeter song than yours That I maun never hear.

It was upon the Magus Muir Within the lanesome glen, That in the gloaming hour I met Wi' Burley and his men.

Our hearts were hard as was the steel We bore within the hand; But harder was the heart of him That led that bluidy band.

Dark lay the clouds upon the west Like mountains huge and still: And fast the summer lightning leaped Behind the distant hill.

It shone on grim Rathillet's brow With pale and ghastly glare: I caught the glimpse of his cold gray eye— There was MURDER glittering there!

* * * * *

Away, away! o'er bent and hill, Through moss and muir we sped: Around us roared the midnight storm, Behind us lay the dead.

We spoke no word, we made no sign But blindly rade we on, For an angry voice was in our ears That bade us to begone, We were brothers all baptised in blood, Yet sought to be alone!

Away, away! with headlong speed We rade through wind and rain, And never more upon the earth Did we all meet again.

There's some have died upon the field, And some upon the tree, And some are bent and broken men Within a far countrie, But the heaviest curse hath lighted down On him that tempted me!

O hame, hame, hame!—that holy place— There is nae hame for me! There's not a child that sees my face But runs to its mither's knee.

There's not a man of woman born That dares to call me kin— O grave! wert thou but deep enough To hide me and my sin!

I wander east, I wander west, I neither can stop nor stay, But I dread the night when all men rest Far more than the glint of day.

O weary night, wi' all its stars Sae clear, and pure, and hie! Like the eyes of angels up in heaven That will not weep for me!

O weary night, when the silence lies Around me, broad and deep, And dreams of earth, and dreams of heaven, That vex me in my sleep.

For aye I see the murdered man, As on the muir he lay, With his pale white face, and reverend head, And his locks sae thin and gray; And my hand grows red with the holy blude I shed that bitter day!

O were I but a water drop To melt into the sea— But never water yet came down Could wash that blude from me!

And O! to dream of that dear heaven That I had hoped to win— And the heavy gates o' the burning gowd That will not let me in!

I hear the psalm that's sung in heaven, When the morning breaks sae fair, And my soul is sick wi' the melodie Of the angels quiring there.

I feel the breath of God's ain flowers From out that happy land, But the fairest flower o' Paradise Would wither in my hand.

And aye before me gapes a pit Far deeper than the sea, And waefn' sounds rise up below, And deid men call on me.

O that I never had been born, And ne'er the light had seen! Dear God—to look on yonder gates And this dark gulf between!

O that a wee wee bird wad come Though 'twere but ance a-year! And bring but sae much mool and earth As its sma' feet could bear,

And drap it in the ugsome hole That lies 'twixt heaven and me, I yet might hope, ere the warld were dune, My soul might saved be!

W. E. A.

FOOTNOTE:

[16] LAWSON'S History of the Episcopal Church of Scotland.



A NOVEMBER MORNING'S REVERIE.

BY DELTA.

Hast thou a chamber in the utter West, A cave of shelter from the glare of day, Oh radiant Star of Morning! whose pure eye, Like an archangel's, over the dim Earth, With such ineffable effulgence shines? Emblem of Sanctity and Peace art thou! Thou leavest man, what time to daily toil His steps are bent—what time the bustling world Usurps his thought; and, through the sunny hours, Unseen, forgot, art like the things that were; But Twilight weeps for joy at thy return, With brighter blaze the faggots on the hearth Sparkle, and home records its happiest hour!

Hark! 'tis the Robin's shrill yet mellow pipe, That in the voiceless calm of the young morn, Commingles with my dreams:—lo! as I draw Aside the curtains of my couch, he sits, Deep over-bower'd by broad geranium leaves, (Leaves trembling 'neath the touch of sere decay,) Upon the dewy window-sill, and perks His restless black eye here and there, in search Of crumbs, or shelter from the icy breath Of wild winds rushing from the Polar sea: For now November, with a brumal robe, Mantles the moist and desolated earth; Dim sullen clouds hang o'er the cheerless sky, And yellow leaves bestrew the undergrove.

'Tis earliest sunrise. Through the hazy mass Of vapours moving on like shadowy isles, Athwart the pale, gray, spectral cope of heaven, With what a feeble, inefficient glow Looks out the Day; all things are still and calm, Half wreathed in azure mist the skeleton woods, And as a picture silent. Little bird! Why with unnatural tameness comest thou thus, Offering in fealty thy sweet simple songs To the abode of man? Hath the rude wind Chilled thy sweet woodland home, now quite despoiled Of all its summer greenery, and swept The bright, close, sheltering bowers, where merrily Rang out thy notes—as of a haunting sprite, There domiciled—the long blue summer through? Moulders untenanted thy trim-built nest, And do the unpropitious fates deny Food for thy little wants, and Penury, With tiny grip, drive thee to dubious walls,— Though terrors flutter at thy panting heart,— To stay the pangs which must be satisfied? Alas! the dire sway of Necessity Oft makes the darkest, most repugnant things Familiar to us; links us to the feet Of all we feared, or hated, or despised; And, mingling poison with our daily food, Yet asks the willing heart and smiling cheek: Yea! to our subtlest and most tyrannous foes, May we be driven for shelter, and in such May our sole refuge lie, when all the joys, That, iris-like, wantoned around our paths Of prosperous fortune, one by one have died; When day shuts in upon our hopes, and night Ushers blank darkness only. Therefore we Should pity thee, and have compassion on Thy helpless state, poor bird, whose loveliness Is yet unscathed, and whose melodious notes, (Sweeter by melancholy rendered,) steal With a deep supplication to the heart, Telling that thou wert happy once—that now Thou art most destitute; and yet, and yet— Only were thy small pinching wants supplied By Charity—couldst be most happy still!— Is it not so?

Out on unfeeling man! Will he who drives the beggar from his gates, And to the moan of fellow-man shuts up Each avenue of feeling—will he deign To think that such as Thou deserve his aid? No! when the gust raves, and the floods descend, Or the frost pinches, Thou may'st, at dim eve, With forced and fearful love approach his home, What time, 'mid western mists, the broad, red sun, Sinking, calls out from heaven the earliest star; And the crisp blazing of the dry Yule-log Flickers upon the pictured walls, and lights By fits the unshutter'd lattice; but, in vain, Thy chirp repeated earnestly; the flap, Against the obdurate pane, of thy small wing;— He hears thee not—he heeds not—but, at morn, The ice-enamoured schoolboy, early afoot, Finds thy small bulk beneath the alder stump, Thy bright eyes closed, and tiny talons clench'd, Stiff in the gripe of death.

The floating plume Tells how the wind blows, with a certainty As great as doth the vessel's full-swoln sheets; So doth the winged seed; 'tis not alone In mighty things that we may truliest read The heart, but in its temper and its tone:— Thus true Benevolence we ever find Forgiving, gentle, tremblingly alive To pity, and unweariedly intent On all the little, thousand charities, Which day by day calls forth. Oh! as we hope Forgiveness of our earthly trespasses,— Of all our erring deeds and wayward thoughts,— When Time's dread reckoning comes,—oh! as we hope Mercy, who need it much, let us, away From kindness never turning, mould our hearts To sympathy, and from all withering blight Preserve them, and all deadening influences:— So 'twill be best for us. The All-seeing Eye, Which numbers each particular hair, and notes From heaven the sparrow's fall, shall pass not o'er Without approval deeds unmarked by man— Deeds, which the right hand from the left conceals— Nor overlook the well-timed clemency, That soothed and stilled the murmurs of distress.

Enamour'd of all mysteries, in love With doubt itself, and fond to disbelieve, We ask not, "if realities be real?" With Plato, or with Berkeley; but we know Life comes not of itself, and what hath life,— However insignificant it seem To us, whose noblest standard is ourselves,— Hath been by the Almighty's finger touch'd, Or ne'er had been at all—it must be so. Therefore 'tis by comparison alone That things seem great or small; and noblest they Whose sympathies, with a capacious range, Would own no limit to their fond embrace. Yea, there, as in all else, doth Duty dwell With happiness: for far the happiest he, Who through the roughnesses of life preserves His boyish feelings, and who sees the world, Not as it is in cold reality, A motley scene of struggle and of strife, But tinted with the glow of bright romance: For him the morning has its star; the sun, Rising or setting, fires for him the clouds With glory; flowers for him have tales, Like those which, for a thousand nights and one, Enchained the East; each season as it rolls Strikes in his bosom its peculiar chord, Yet each alike harmonious, to a heart That vibrates ever in sweet unison: Each scene hath its own influence, nor less The frost that mimics each on pool or pane: Delight flows in alike from calm or storm: Delight flows in to him from nature's shows Of hill and dale, swift river, or still lake: To him the very winds are musical— Have harmony AEolian, wild and sweet; The stream sings to its banks, and the wild birds To Echo—viewless tell-tale of the rocks— Who in the wantonness of love responds.

Gifts, in the eye of Heaven, not always bear The marketable value stamped by man Upon them,—else the poor were truly poor, The willing spirit destitute indeed. In other balance are our actions weighed By Him who sees the heart in all its thoughts; Both what it wills and cannot, what it tries And doth,—and with what motive, for what end. Clouds clothe them like realities, and shine Even so to human eyes; yet, not the less Are only mockeries of the things they seem, And melt as we survey them. Let us not The shadow for the substance take, the Jay For the true Bird of Paradise. A crust Dealt, by the poor man, from his daily loaf, To the wayfarer, poorer than himself— A cup of water, in the Saviour's name Proffered, with ready hand, to thirsting lips,— Seem trifles in themselves, yet weigh for wine, And gems, and gold, and frankincense. The mite,— The widow's offering, and her all, put in With grief, because she had no more to give, Yet given although her all,—was in the sight Of Heaven a sumless treasury bestowed, And reckoned such in her account above:— When Nineveh, through all her myriad streets, Lay blackened with idolatry and crime, God had preserved her—would have saved her whole— Had but the Prophet, as a leaven, found His righteous ten!

Therefore, Oh never deem Thoughts, deeds, or feelings valueless, that bear The balance of the heart to Virtue's side! The coral worm seems nought, but coral worms Combined heave up a reef, where mightiest keels Are stranded, and the powers of man put down. The water-drop wears out the stone; and cares Trifling, if ceaseless, form an aggregate, Whose burden weighs the buoyant heart to earth. Think not the right path may be safely left, Though 'twere but for one moment, and one step; That one departure, slight howe'er it be, From Innocence is nought. The young peach-bloom, Rudely brushed off, can be restored no more, By all the cunning of the painter's art; Nor to the sered heart comes, in after life Again,—however longed for, or bewailed,— Youth's early dews, the pure and delicate!



VALEDICTORY VISITS AT ROME.

Andiamo a Napoli; and so we will, in accordance with the repeated suggestions we have received during the last ten days from all the vetturini in Rome. Easter is gone by, the Girandola went off last week, the English are going, and so is our bell, tinkle! tinkle! tinkle!—as if its wire had a touch of vernal ague—while the old delf plate in the hall is filled and running with cards, every pasteboard parallelogram among them with two P's and a C in the corner; for we are becoming too polite, it seems, to take leave of each other in our own tongue. As the English quit Rome, the swallows arrive, and may be seen in great muster flitting up and down the streets, looking at the affiches of vacancies before fixing on a lodging. Unlike us, these callow tourists—though many of them on their first visit to Rome—are no sooner within the walls, than they find, without assistance, their way to the Forum, and proceed to build and twitter in that very Temple of Concord where Juvenal's storks of old made their nidus and their noise! Andiamo a Napoli; yes, but not yet; we are sure at this season to have an impatient patient or two to visit in the Babuino, or at Serny's; who, labouring under incipient fever which has not yet tamed them into submission, tell us they would—optative mood—be at Florence in a week, and add—in the imperative—that they must be in London in three! Vedremmo! These cases—may they end well—are sure, meanwhile, to be somewhat tedious in their progress; and besides, were there none such, two motives have we for always lingering the last in Rome: the one, to avoid the importunity of many indiscreet acquaintance, who would else be sure at this season to plague us with some trifling commission, on purpose to open a sudden correspondence, in the hope of learning all about the heat, the fever, the mosquitoes, the fare and the accommodation of Castellamare and Sorrento, thinking themselves, meanwhile, perfect Talleyrands in diplomacy, in employing a ruse which it is impossible not to see through; the other and more important, to secure the necessary quiet while we linger about favourite haunts, and refresh our memory with sites and scenes endeared by long and intimate acquaintance. To describe people or places accurately, requires a long and attentive familiarity, but to do so feelingly and with effect, we should trust principally to first and last impressions: either will be more likely to furnish a lively representation, as far as it goes, than when too great intimacy with details leads us to forget what is characteristic, and to dwell without emphasis, or with equal and tedious emphasis, upon all alike. New scenes, owing, perhaps, part of their charm to that circumstance, may occasionally betray us into exaggeration; but the records of a last coup-d'oeil, when we dwell with sad complacency upon every feature, as upon those of a friend from whom we are about to part, are characterised at once by an equal freshness, and by more truth, feeling, and discrimination. We might proceed to exemplify this, from a long series of first and last views in Italy: with some of them the reader may be familiar, for we have frequently met in Maga's pages; with others he will—should it so please him—become acquainted, when, leaving the company of our present agreeable associates, we stand forth an author of "Travels," and have more ample scope for our egotism. We confine ourselves now to a few valedictory visits in and about Rome.



THE VILLA BORGHESE.

It was on 15th April, 1843, seven A. M., when we went to take farewell of the Borghese. In passing up the Via Babuino on our way thither, our ears catch some of the well-known street cries. These generally attract a momentary attention, even amidst all the bustle, activity, and din of a great commercial city: how much more, then, in the comparative stillness of Rome, particularly in the morning, when few people are stirring, and we are most alive to sounds? Some of these cries are not unpleasing: the first to greet us, plaintive and melancholy in its character, is that of "Aqua acetosa," which announces the water of a mineral spring in the neighbourhood, brought in at sunrise for those who are too idle or too ill to drink it at its source. Another kind of water—also very matutinal in its delivery,—the "Aqua vita," is intonated by the Aquavitario, in a sharp kestrel key,—hear him! Now, list to two men carrying a large deep tub of honey between them, and bellowing in rapid alternation, "Miele, miele," and say if their accents are mellifluous! Next, comes a loud-tongued salesman, who out-brays Lablache, but confines his singing to "Che vuole, che vuole!" and oranges and lemons are his commodity. From an itinerant green-grocer, who passes with his panniered donkey, suddenly bursts forth, "Cimaroli, cimaroli!" The last cry we hear is that of "Tutti vivi, tutti vivi!" from the asparagaro, who is bringing frogs and wild asparagus into Rome. Now we are in the Piazza del Popolo, and having glanced a moment at those buxom goddesses, at the foot of the Pincian hill, who look right well this morning in their flowing robes, turn out of the Popolo Gate, just as a large drove of lean turkeys, driven in from the Campagna, besiege the entrance on their way to the bird-market, where they are to be presently slaughtered, drawn, and quartered; their "disjecta membra" exposed to sale at so many baiocchi a pound; and their blood, which is more esteemed than their flesh, hawked about the streets in cakes: of course we are too humane to hint to them their coming destiny. In front of the elegant Borghese entrance, and round the Park lodge, all strewn about in picturesque disarray, we behold one of those numerous herds of goats, which come in every morning, to be milked at the different houseouse doors: their udders at present are brimful, and almost touch the lintel of the gate where they are standing—"gravido superant vix ubere limen;" and though they are emptied continually, soon fill again,—

"Et plus ta main avare epuise leurs mammelles Plus la douce ambroisie entre tes doigts ruisselle."

Some are lying down to lighten their load; and some, with an air of patient expectancy, turn their heads towards an "osteria cacinante" opposite, knowing that so soon as their drover has finished his own cold broccoli breakfast, he will come out to accompany them into Rome to disperse theirs. And now we are within the enceinte of the Borghese grounds, have passed the good-humoured custode at the gate, responded a hearty "da vero," to the "che bella qiornata" with which we are greeted, tarried for an instant by the little pond to the left, and heard the Babylonian willow susurrate the same salutation to the water under its boughs, and then make for, and soon reach, the large ever-spouting fountain which is scattering its comminuted water-dust far and near, and bathes our cheek refreshingly as we pass it: and now we are at the Borghese dairy, and now by Raphael's little frescoed house, untenanted within, and with a solitary robin, the custode of the porch; but at the back premises we come upon an artist in a blouse making a sketch. He could not have chosen a more picturesque spot than this any where in the park: for foreqround, a beautiful green sward, well dotted with recumbent and standing cows, and interspersed with masses of acanthus-crowned ruin; and for the back, the graceful sweep of the old gray Roman walls, with the Villa Medici and the Pincian hill peering just above. Fain would we carry away some such souvenir; but as nature or our misfortune forbid this, our endeavour shall be to supply its place, however inadequately, by dotting down a few words of description of one or two of the principal trees, which here so greatly embellish the view.

The Ilex, interesting alike from its appearance and physiology, first engages our notice. Compact and solid while yet a shrub, (for hers is indeed an old head upon young shoulders,) she grows like a tree that is to count by centuries, and under no advantage of soil or situation does her sober aspect change; no premature overgrowth was ever known to weaken her fibres, those tetes mortees; the Lombardy poplars there, whose only merit is their height, may shoot up ever so tauntingly, for aught she cares, at her elbow; her ambition is not like that of the stately pines, to nurse a noisy aviary on high; nor does she seek to rival the fair sisterhood of the Acacias in the youthful vanity of overdecking her person; one dark-coloured investment lasts her, and remains unchanged the whole year through. But though she takes no improper "pride in dress," even the rigid Dr Watts would hardly be disposed to object to the exceedingly charming trimming of semi-transparent green flouncing, and the rich festoons of straw-yellow tassels, with which—not to appear insensible to the festivities of spring—she has just now fringed her winter apparel. Making less demands upon the earth than many of her neighbours, she turns her supplies to better account; her acorns from early youth are firm and mature; excrescences, the common result of excess, mar not the rough symmetry of her hardy frame—few insects feed upon that uncompromising rind, which, opposing itself to most cryptogamic alliance, seldom suffers moss or lichen to spread over its incised and tesselated surface,

"Save here and there in spots aye dank and dark, When the green meshes fill the fissured bark."

Much does the Ilex gain by this prudent economy of her resources; for, long after the autumnal rains have stripped her companions bare, while they are shivering and sighing in the blast, she knows neither moult nor change. Immutably serene, she plants the dense screen of well-clothed boughs across the road, and affords shelter to the careless wight who has forgotten his umbrella, keeping him dry and warm under an impenetrable water-proof and winter-proof canopy. Of all trees that bloom, (especially when as now in full feather,) few can rival the acacia in delicacy of white, or in profusion of blossoming. Nodding their heavy plumes and parting their leafy tresses in the breeze, they are the charm of every spot where they grow; whether as here, alternating in beautiful relief by the lofty wall of the aqueduct, commingling their snowy bunches amidst thousands of red and white Banksian roses; or else standing sentinel with a weeping willow over some garden fountain. Whether alone or in company, there is not a more beautiful sylvan blonde than the acacia; but it is too apparent that such loveliness will not last, that her stature is fully beyond her strength. For example, there is a row of them; none counts her twelfth birth-day, and yet all are grown up! Turn we, now, to the great stone pines: here they stand in the morning sun, that has already cracked their fevered bark, and caused it to peel off in red laminae from the rugged trunk. See the ground at their base strewn with these thin vegetable tiles; and large quantities of that most beautiful of funguses, the Clatharus Cancellatus, chooses this situation to blush and stink. This group is a well-known land-mark for miles around Rome; far off in the Campagna we recognise the clump; the dome of St Peter's itself meets not sooner the inquiring eye of the arriving tourist. They are also the artists' trees; not a bough of them but has been studied and depicted time after time for centuries; they have stood oftener for their portraits than they have cones to count, and are as familiar to the young painter, as the line-school that beset the Pincian hill. These are the principal trees which give character to the garden; but there are hosts of others that help to make up the beauty of the scene; Catalpas, Meleas, Brousenitias, &c. &c., all now in light green foliage. Some are still hung with pods and berries of their last year's growth, producing an insieme of pictorial effect rarely to be met with out of Italy, and in Italy only at this season of the year. Continuing our walk, we pass under the rose-crowned aqueduct, and strike into the green avenue that darkens beyond; listening to the distant water bubbling up from the deepest recesses, and to the fitful whistle of blackbird and thrush, as they flit athwart the moss-grown gravel, and perch momentarily on the heads of mutilated termini and statues; whilst the clipt trees vibrate under the wings of others extricating themselves on a piratical cruise against a whole flotilla of butterflies, which is rising and falling over the sunny parterres beyond. "The well-greaved grillus" bounds twenty feet at a spring, and having thighs as thick as a lark's to double under him, makes little use of his wings. Many a callow bee is buzzing helplessly in the path. The gray curculio walks with snout erect, snuffing the morning air; and here we fall upon a party of apprentice pill-beetles, learning to make up stercoraceous boluses, and forming nearly as long a line as the shopmen who are similarly engaged behind Holloway's counter in the Strand. Near us, hordes of "quick-eyed lizards,"—insect crocodiles, which much infest this region, start from their holes in the wall, and, rustling along the box hedge, suddenly pounce upon a butterfly, detach his wings—the whole walk is strewed with them—and having bolted his body, retire again to their resting—no—they never rest—lurking-places. Notwithstanding, however, these constant aggressions, from both birds and reptiles, the lepidopterous race is not, it seems, to be exterminated; and there, in evidence, lies that very blue-zoned peacock-butterfly, with his wings extended, and motionless as if pinned to the gravel, on the same sunny spot where we have been in the habit of noticing him for these three successive Aprils past. The eye that follows butterflies takes note also of the flowers on which they settle, but we must not indulge ourselves in pointing them out to the reader, who, unless a botanist, or inclined that way, might turn as restive as the young bride listening to her "preceptor husband."

"He showed the flowers from stamina to root, Calyx and corol, pericarp and fruit; Of all the parts, the size, the use, the shape: While poor Augusta panted to escape: The various foliage various plants produce, Lunate and lyrate, runcinate, retuse, Latent and patent, papilous and plain; 'Oh!' said the pupil, 'it will turn my brain!'"

And, therefore, though "flowers, fresh in hue and many in their class," absolutely "implore the pausing step," we forbear, and will let him off this time with rehearsing only three or four among them:—the Allium fragrans, he will join with us, if he has been in Italy, in the wish that all onions there were like it! the Anchusa Italica, through whose long funnel the proboscis of the ever-buzzing Bombylius finds its way to the sweet nectar prepared within; the Scilla Lilio-hyacinthus—a Squill masquerading it as a Hyacinth; the leaves of the Cnicus Syraicus, most beautiful of thistles, glistening here in abundance, and scarcely inferior in attractions to the far-famed Acanthus. But the society of plants is as promiscuous as our own, and accordingly we find here the jaundiced Chelidonium filled with bilious juices; the feculent-smelling flowerets of the Smyrnum olusatrum, and the stinking Geranium robertianum, mingle with the sweets of Calendula, Narcissus, and Jonquil; not to mention the Orchis tribe, which flourishes in profusion. Traversing the green arena of the amphitheatre,—where annual festas are held, and occasional cricket matches played—to the left, and leaving the Temple of Diana to the right, we come upon a deep descent just in front of the villa, and enter it for a minute to cast a hasty coup-d'oeil at the ample frescoes of the ceiling and the grim mosaics of the floor; the subjects of the latter, however, not being congenial to an unbreakfasted stomach, we relinquish them presently, for the beauties of the park.... By the time we think of retracing our steps, the clock of Monte Citorio has struck ten; but the morning is still delightfully cool and exhilarating; we have been overtaken and passed by three pedestrians, each carrying away from the grounds something more than mere recollections; one, a semplicista of the Rotunda, with a collection of Galenicals for his shop; another with a pocket full of Arum roots, which he has been grubbing up for his wife, a lavatrice, to clear linen; and a third, whose handkerchief contains several pounds weight of prugnoliAgaricus prunulus—destined for his breakfast. These do not long keep pace with our lingering footsteps; we are loth to quit hastily, and for the last time, this scene of by-gone pleasures. Oh! Villa Borghese, well known to us from curly-pated boyhood, before Waterloo was won, and often at intervals since, till now, when half our hair has become gray, and the remainder has left our temples, while grown-up nephews and nieces declare to us, what our contemporaries will not—the progress of time—how many happy hours of careless childhood have we frolicked away among thine avenues and plantations—on which we cast a last sad look—with urchins now as bald as ourselves! In early youth we have read our favourite authors under thy trees; a little later, have botanised with friends who loved thee and nature as dearly as we did; and thus have we learned to know thee, in every dress, in every phase of light and shade, and in every month of the year. During our last sojourn, in particular, this has been our favourite haunt; in winter, when walking required speed, and stalactites of ice would glisten occasionally from the aqueduct; or when summer returned, and we could bask under the tall spread pines, and watch the cawing rooks as they went and came over head, or screened ourselves in some dark avenue from the fervency of the sun, from whence we could see him blazing at both ends of it. A long and endearing familiarity has indeed been ours, melancholy and unsating; and it has given rise to a host of trying associations, conjured up by each new visit after a brief absence from Rome, and now adds poignancy of regret to what we feel must be the last,—

"While at each step, against our will Does memory, with pernicious skill, Our captive thoughts enchain, Recalls each joy that treach'rous smiled, And of green griefs and sorrows wild, Resuscitates the pain."



THE VILLA ALBANI.

An Italian villa is like any other Italian belle; we would rather pay either a morning visit than summer and winter with them; both dress themselves out for strangers, and often at the expense of their rightful owners. An Italian villa is very charming for a brief spring, malarious in summer and autumn, and incommodiously furnished for every season. Comfort makes but slow progress abroad, and has not yet found its way into Italy at all; neither into her dictionaries as a name, nor into her dwellings as a thing. What should we, ease-loving English, think of a house, which, lined with marbles and frescoes, carpeted with mosaics and adorned with statues, offered nothing but niches and marble curule chairs to write on and to sit in? Yet such is the general scheme and internal arrangement throughout most villas in Italy; for as to the prime of the house, the piano nobile, that belongs as by prescriptive right to the Caesars, being indeed only fitted for impassive marble and bronze emperors:—while the over-hospitable entertainer of these august guests is content to stow away himself and family in apartments which are frequently little better than our offices for menials, in which his few articles of rococo furniture, of all sorts and sizes, are crazy, cumbersome, undusted, and ill-matched; in short, more like the promiscuous contents of some inferior broker's shop, than the elegant ameublement we might have expected to correspond to the profusion of objects of vertu which grace the principal show-rooms of the mansion. At home, we may differ in our notions about comfort in the details, but there are certain conditions which are rightly held essential to its possible existence; and if "the cold neat parlour, and the gay glazed bed," have their admirers, it is because cleanliness and neatness are two of them: but in Italy we look in vain for either, and there is nothing to compensate their absence. Few Englishmen could engage in literary labour in the fireless, ill-furnished rooms which throughout Italy are a matter of course; where carpets, curtains, or an easy chair, are unknown luxuries; and into which, entering by various ill-placed and worse fitting windows and doors, confluent draughts catch you in all directions, turning the sanctum of study into a perfect Temple of the Winds! Yet, to some men, comfort seems as unnecessary as it is unattainable. The Italian antiquary, in particular, had need be careless of his ease, and regardless of external temperature; as that degree of it necessary for the conservation of nude marble figures, is by no means congenial to flesh and blood. This reflection occurs to us to-day—not for the first time, certes—under the noble portico of the villa Albani, with a volume of Winkelmann in our hand; for in this palace, and in some such study as we have hinted at, must he have shivered over these recondite labours, while meditating, composing, and consulting authorities, to constitute himself hereafter the great oracle of the fine arts. Had Winkelmann been half as curious in his research after comfort as vertu, verily the world would have lost many an able dissertation and ingenious conjecture; and this villa in particular—to which we are now come to pay our respects—we fear our last respects—had been deprived of this renowned commentary on her treasures. Let us hope parenthetically that a recent perusal of the venerable antiquary, together with some slight acquaintance with the objects themselves, will on such an occasion excite in us a spark of that enthusiasm which animates all his descriptions. What a beautiful portico! we catch ourselves saying con amore for the hundredth time—and who will gainsay us?—with its thirty columns of different coloured granites and rare marbles, cipolino, porta santa, occhio di pavone (vide Corsi); its busts, its ornamented tazzas, its statues, and many other et coeteras too numerous to catalogue. Among the statues, our eye soon singles out the queenly figure of Agrippina seated in her marble chair. Stateliness and high rank apparent in her features, grace and perfect self-possession in her attitude, doubtless she is expecting a deputation of importance, or maybe a visit from the emperor, and has prepared her well-tutored countenance to receive either with dignity. Here are the busts of Nerva and of the first Caesar, to whose characters, while history gives the key, we are apt to fancy, as we stare at them, that to Lavater we owe the discovery. Those ubiquitous emperors Hadrian, Trajan, Antoninus Pius, and Gordianus ditto, on whom as on other boring acquaintance you are sure to stumble in every gallery at Rome till you almost yawn in their faces, are here of course. Besides these, by way of novelty, we fall in with the grave, much-bearded, long-faced bust, Epicurus underwritten on the pedestal. If it be that sage, then has not his face any vestige of the jovial "live while you live" expression which we might have expected, were he true to his own philosophy; but, on the contrary, a dignified Melancthon sadness, as if, like Solomon, he had had enough of pleasure, and had found nothing but "vanity and vexation of spirit" from them all. Opposite to him, we look with interest on the much less apocryphal head of Scipio Africanus, not only exhibiting on his bald temple a large crucial cicatrice, in token of a wound which we know him to have received, but presenting the singular appearance of having been trefined, an operation of which there is certainly no record in his life. Just before we ascend, we glance up at those beautiful Caryatides, who give their name to one of the principal saloons, and, loitering for a few moments on the stair before a charming little group of Niobe and her children, are presently in the gallery above. There—omitting all minor objects of interest chronicled in the guide books, (which we have now no time to re-examine,)—we devote ourselves chiefly to the reconsidering two or three favourite marbles and bronzes. First among the former stands the Minerva, a specimen of Roman sublime, (vide Winkelmann)—perfect, say all the guide books; but how a lady with an artificial nose, and a right arm palpably modern, can be so considered, it would be difficult to explain. By the side of his wise daughter is niched a noble statue of Jupiter, executed by some great artist while the god was master of Olympus, and probably brought to Rome when he had ceased to reign, and his effects were sold. In the effeminate Antinous, an alto-relievo of whitest marble, we admire the prototype of that arrow-stricken youth, the comely St Sebastian. Nothing can exceed the grace of the bronze Apollo; but, on looking from his form into his face, you are surprised to find him literally stone-blind; a shocking case of double cataract, produced by adopting for eyes two sardonyxes, whereof the second layer, representing the iris,

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse