« PreviousContinue »
but the colony was in a poverty-stricken condition. The slaves, formerly employed at profitable gold-washing and agriculture (especially the cultivation of coffee, sugar, indigo, and oil), had all been sold, as a quicker way of realising profits. Dr. Livingstone was informed here of the existence of nine seams of coal, so that there is little doubt but that this valuable mineral abounds in the valley of the Zambesi. There is a hot spring in the same vicinity.
Dr. Livingstone, leaving most of the companions of his arduous journey at Tete, descended the river' thence by canoe. Starting on the 22nd of April, he reached the renowned gorge of Lupata on the 24th. The socalled “ spine of the world” is not at this point, he says, so high in appearance as the Campsie Hills when seen from the Vale of Clyde—say eight hundred to a thousand feet. Dr. Livingstone believes that a steamer could force the pass at full speed. On the 27th he arrived at the Portuguese station of Senna,
which is described as being in a complete state of stagnation and ruin. The Landeens, or Caffres, visit the town periodically, and levy fines upon the inhabitants, as they consider the Portuguese a conquered tribe. At Mazaso, the Zambesi is described as being a magnificent river, more than half a mile wide, and without islands.
This was the point reached by the late lamented Captain Hyde Parker by the Luabu, the main outlet of the Zambesi. With the united testimony of the gallant captain and of Lieutenant Hoskins added to his own observations, Dr. Livingstone thinks there can be no reasonable doubt but that the real mouth of the river is available for purposes of commerce. The great object in opening Central South Africa would be to secure a permanent path to the highlands ; and Dr. Livingstone believes that even at low water small vessels, equal to the size of Thames steamers, could ply with ease along the Lower Zambesi. We have three hundred miles from the mouth to the rapids above Tete, and three hundred of open navigation beyond that to the eastern ridges. The population of the interior is friendly to a degree, and the greater part of the country is admirably adapted for the cultivation of tropical products, more especially cotton, sugar, indigo, coffee, and oil, not to mention the almost exhaustless natural resources of the country. England might have a cotton-field there, with free labour, that would put slavery out of couutenance in the Western World. Missions on the Central and Upper Zambesi have already been resolved upon, and it is to be hoped that commercial communication and civilisation will follow
their wake. It only remains to relate that Dr. Livingstone reached that spot so fatal to Europeans-Kilimane-on the 20th of May, 1856, and, after waiting about six weeks, was taken off by her Majesty's brig Frolic to the Mauritius, whence he reached England by the so-called overland route. Excepting from his own body-the London Missionary Societyand from one or two snarling critics, he cannot complain that his labours and discoveries have not received a well-merited popularity. What more tangible reward the doctor may have received we do not know, but we sincerely hope that gratitude will not be confined to empty praise.
THE FERGUSONS OF CASTLE FERGUSON.
A KERRY LEGEND.
BY THE AUTHOR OF THE RECOGNITION."
Close to the shores of the wild bay of —, on the western coast of Ireland, stands the ruined castle of the De Cantillons, to whom the greater portion of the adjacent country had belonged, from the period of Strongbow's invasion to the middle of the seventeenth century. The De Cantillons, as became their Norman blood, held firm to the ancient faith and to the royal cause, in Ireland, at least, identical, and hot and unsparing upon them came the wrath of Cromwell. Before his “ valiant Bible-guided heretics of Clan-London" the towers of Castle Cantillon fell to rise no more ; its master was driven forth into exile and poverty, to win in foreign lands, by the service of his sword, as high a place as ever his forefathers had held within the Pale, while his green acres were transferred to a “chosen vessel of the Lord,” Nehemiah Ferguson by name. Leaving the old dismantled fortress to moulder away upon that high, naked headland, which the Norman had chosen for his eyrie, Captain Ferguson built a large, unsightly, but comfortable mansion inland, where, having outlived the troubled times of his youth, the Saxon yearnings of his age after peace and plenty might at last be gratified. A few of the old Ironsides who had served in the ranks under him, settled down on the land as his tenants, and guided the household and the plough with the same energy and ability with which they had formerly wielded the sword.
Their neat cottages and well cultivated fields formed a strong contrast to the mud hovel and potato patch of the Celtic peasant, and a yet wider distinction existed between the characters of the uncongenial neighbours. As fierce in his narrow bigotry, as ignorant and vindictive in mind and heart as the rudest kerne of the “mere Irish,” the old Cromwellian, or “Palatine” (as he was termed in common with another intruding race), stood, apparently, many steps higher in the scale of civilisation. Calm and reserved in manner, stiff and ungainly in appearance, with a temper, when aggrieved, like iron at a white heat, but seldom giving forth the flash and sparkle of hasty passion, through all the meanness and homeliness of peasant life, something still remained to the man and his descendants of that rude, conscious power which had once carried desolation into the high places of the earth. The antipathies of race and the intolerance of rival creeds outlasted the strife of Republican and Royalist, and to this day the Irish Roman Catholic peasant distinguishes the Protestant of the same class by the unpopular name of “ Palatine,” and even bestows it as a term of reproach, on any of his own creed or race, who have manifested aught of churlishness or reserve. While the Protestant dependants of Castle Ferguson thus lived, a race apart, marrying and giving in marriage amongst themselves, their masters evinced a more social spirit. The Ferguson genealogical sapling had grown a goodly tree, interweaving its branches with those of stately Celtic and Norman growth. Alliances with Nugents and Fitzgeralds, De Burghs and Barrymores, had checked the old republican tendencies, and relaxed, as much as might have been expected, the puritanical discipline of selfdenying godliness. Degenerate descendants of the “chosen vessel” loved with Hamilton, diced with Talbot, shared the courtly festivities of Ormond and the courtly morals of Chesterfield.
In the year 1757 the male representative of the family was an orphan youth, who, since his parents' death, had resided chiefly at Castle Ferguson with his widowed grandmother, a daughter of the house of Barrymore. The Lady Margaret Barry had been for some years a reigning belle at the vice-regal court, before she condescended to bestow her tocherless beauty" upon the handsome Kerry squire ; not, however, with any idea of incurring the further sacrifice of provincial exile for his sake. For twenty-five years after their marriage, therefore, Castle Ferguson was well-nigh deserted by its owners, and presided over in their absence by a trusty Palatine agent, whose chief duty lay in mercilessly extorting the rack-rents and punctually transmitting them to the metropolis. Wealth brought fashion, and fashion her “dear fifty thousand friends," to the social board of Mr. and Lady Margaret Ferguson, and in its glare the somewhat dreary chill of the domestic hearth was (or seemed to be) forgotten. But, like many others of their class before and since, the gentleman and his lady wife were doomed to possess a portion of the experience, if not of the wisdom of Solomon, and when the marriage of their only son was followed by his early death, not even the baby smiles of innocence on their grandchild's face could revive the dried-up springs of gladness in those world-worn hearts. Not the less, however, was his tiny personality precious in their eyes ; the inheritor of their rank and gold, the perpetuator of their name, whose young, strong hand was some day to retain and uphold the goodly things which must fall from their dying grasp, could not be spared from their keeping for an hour—no mere mother's love could stand in the way. The gentlehearted, weak-minded little widow yielded up her boy as the lawful property of his covetous old grand-parents, much in the same spirit as she had yielded her hand to Roland Ferguson at her father's command. Mr. and Lady Margaret Ferguson broke up their town establishment, and carried the child with them to their provincial home, where, in the healthful mountain air, he grew up from childhood to boyhood, and from boyhood to wild undisciplined youth. In the course of those years, his
, mother and grandfather had joined the sleepers in the family vault, but the Lady Margaret wore her weeds and the weight of years bravely and gracefully. If the dark eye of the courtly beauty had lost in softness, it still remained at least bright, keen, and eloquent of the mind within, and of passions which often survive the wreck of heart and mind. Her ancient blood secured, as it ever does in Ireland, high social influence and respect, and amongst her numerous cousins and connexions the Lady Margaret was the acknowledged head of the Ferguson family, even after her grandson had attained his majority. The only country seats of any importance in the immediate neighbourhood of Castle Ferguson were Glandine, the residence of Marcus Ferguson, D.L., and J.P., and Abbots
town, whose proprietor (representing a junior branch of the family) had been lately elevated to the peerage.
Marcus Ferguson had a goodly train of sons and daughters grown up around him; but the Earl and Countess of Abbotstown were unblessed with heirs for their new honours and old demesnes, once the property of the holy monks who followed St. Brendan into Kerry. Constant intercourse subsisted between the three families, and rendered them in some degree independent of the society which the county-town and its neighbourhood afforded; but they were each and all hospitable, after the fashion of the Irish gentry in those days, and the stranger of any rank or fortune who, to quote from a letter of Boulter's, “had the courage to venture into Kerry,” was sure to find a friendly welcome amongst the Ferguson kindred. In the frequent absences of Barry Ferguson, on hunting or yachting expeditions, Lady Margaret had the companionship of a favourite young lady niece from Glandine, who often remained for months together at Castle Ferguson.
Dora Ferguson was a quiet-mannered, amiable girl of nineteen, possessed of very moderate personal attractions, but gifted with a quick wit and calm temper, which rendered her an agreeable companion to her strong-minded and strong-tempered old relative.
The winter of 1757 set in with unusual severity, and the iron-bound coasts of Clare and Kerry, then uncheered by any friendly beacon, proved too often fatal to the hapless wanderers across the Atlantic. The light bark of the smuggler found safe refuge in the creek, and his cargo stowage in the cellars of many a neighbouring “great house,” but the fair traders met a different fate. While the patronage bestowed on the former was more than half hinted and winked at, as a standing jest amongst the provincial gentry, few ventured to talk publicly (although all were well aware) of the existence of a darker system of outrage, of crimes abhorrent to God and man, perpetrated by the dwellers upon the extreme western coasts, especially in the wild districts of Valentia and Corcaguiny. The sudden affluence of many families, once mere tillers of a barren soil
, was and is whisperingly accounted for amongst their neighbours by tales of false lights hung out at night to lure the laden merchant ship to destruction, of miserable men escaping from wave and rock to find human hearts yet more treacherous and finty. But the rocky fastnesses of Kerry were a terra incognita to the legal as well as the fashionable authorities at the C-a-a-stle in those days, so the wreckers carried on their thriving and nefarious trade; nor were the Kerryonians a whit behind more civilised modern communities in acknowledging the claims of the nouveaux riches on society. One November night, during the dreary season we have referred to, the old Cromwellian mansion-house was shaken to its foundations by a storm as violent as that said to have mged round the death-bed of the mighty Puritan himself. There was little sleep that night at Castle Ferguson or in the neighbouring fishing villages. For several hours after midnight, through the momentary lulls, when the storm seemed pausing to gather fresh strength, the sound of signal-guns from a ship in distress were heard again and again ; and as morning dawned over the bay a large vessel was seen fast going to pieces on the sharp rocks off Kerry Head. The Fergusons and some
other magistrates and gentlemen rode down to the beach, and succeeded in persuading a few fishermen to put off and endeavour to save the lives of those who still clung to the dismasted ship. Of a numerous crew, the captain, mate, and three sailors alone survived, and worn out with cold and fatigue as they were when they reached the shore, lent an eager hand in securing as much of the cargo as could be rescued from the
The captain introduced himself to Marcus Ferguson as a Dane, in the merchant service of his native country, to which he had been conveying a sufficiently valuable cargo of spices, ivory, and gold ingots. He received an hospitable invitation to take up his abode at Castle Ferguson for the present, while the mate and sailors found accommodation in the village.
When Captain Steinmarck joined his entertainers at breakfast the following morning, his manners and appearance created a very favourable and rather unexpected impression. He conversed chiefly with Lady Margaret, expressing himself in Auent and correct English, but using now and then a French phrase. He had travelled much on land and sea ; had visited most of the European capitals, but seemed especially familiar with Paris, and there was in his bearing and address a pleasant mixture of sailor-like frankness and the graceful polish of the Parisian of that day. The gossip of courts and cities, however, ended with the morning meal, and the business of the preceding day was resumed. Steinmarck and his men were all zeal; the magistrates, experienced in such searches, knew the persons and places most open to suspicion; but at the end of a fortnight the greater and most valuable portion of the cargo remained unaccounted for. There were two large chests in particular, for the safety of which Steinmarck evinced great anxiety. One of them he had contrived to secure the day of the wreck, and it now stood in his sleeping apartment at Castle Ferguson, but no traces of the other could be discovered, and it was conjectured to have gone down to the depths of old Ocean.
Several weeks had elapsed when some articles were found concealed in a cave near the Head, and amongst them the missing chest, open and emptied of half the gold which it had contained; the robber probably fearing to convey away too much at a time, or thinking that by storing his spoil in different hiding-places he had a better chance of securing it. The magistrates gave Steinmarck hopes of recovering the rest of the ingots, but days and weeks passed away and they were unable to obtain sufficient evidence to bring the guilt home to the suspected person, one of the wild mountaineer squatters on the Castle Ferguson estates, who rejoiced in the Celtic appellation of Owen More O'Sullivan (Anglicè, Big or Tall Owen Sullivan). He was a notorious depredator on the sheep and goat flocks of the Palatines, and had many a narrow escape of the gallows under the old, bloody code, which, however, if all the stories told of him were true, one would scarcely wish repealed in his favour. It was asserted as a fact, that on one occasion, wishing to revenge himself on a wealthy Palatine who had amongst his flocks a pet goat, or sheep, of some particularly fine breed, Owen More had one night actually skinned the animal alive and let it loose on the sharp rocks of the mountain-side, near its master's dwelling. Like most of his class, he had married young, but the prudent spirit in which he made his choice