Page images
PDF
EPUB

and the time will come, when they will reflect with gratitude on the exertions of those distinguished characters in the present reign, who have, by a judicious attention to the breed of sheep, done so much to improve the wool of their native country."

We shall not detail the author's observations on the forma, tion of wool, hair, fur, feathers, and silk; nor his rationale of felting ; nor his explanation of the causes of jointed staple, cotted fleeces, &c.; for which we must refer to the volume.

On such an important article as wool, every hint from an experienced man is valuable ; and perhaps our northern farmers will listen to Mr. Bakewell's expostulations on the subject of providing some shelter for sheep. His representation is an eloquent argument to enforce the necessity of this accommodation :

• Both interest and humanity call upon the farmers to provide some shelter for their focks during the severity of winter. I trust the efforts which Lord Somerville has for some time made to awaken the Northern farmers from their supineness, will not be in vain. It is not only in the Northern countries, but in every part of our Island, that more attention is required to provide occasional shelter against the inclemencies of the climate, both for sheep and all other animals which are exposed in the fields. In proportion as they are made comfortable, will be their tendency to improve ; and it is not only our interest, but every humane man must feel it a duty, to provide for the comfort of those animals which are entrusted to his care. In the Northern districts such attention scems absolutely necessary. The farmers in the Midland and Southern counties can scarcely form an idea of the tremendous wintery storms which sweep over the Cheviot hills, and the wild fells of Cumberland and Westmoreland, or the still bleaker mountains of Scotland. At such times the Heavens are darkened with descending snows, and sleet driven by furious gusts of wind, which compel the sheep to seek protection in hollows and glens near the bottom of the mountain. Suddenly an impetuous blast uplifts whole fields of snow from its shelving sides above, and driving aloft in tumultuous whirl, precipitates the contents on the miserable flock, which are in a moment buried deep under the surface. In vain may the shepherd try to trace them over a driving expanse of snow; were he to attempt it, he might share the fate of his flock. But all effort of this kind is fruitless ; for the summits, the sides, and the very base of the mountain, " are involved in tempests and a night of clouds," which bury every object in impenetrable gloom. Sometimes these immense volumes of rolling vapour dispart, and open for a few moments to disclose the horrors of the scene. The shepherd, mindful of his own safety, returns home, and day after day, awaits the hour when he may wander out safely in search of his flock; whilst they in the mean time, sickening with hunger and perishing with cold, are at last relieved by death from their long protracted misery. Thus have perished during the last winter many ihousand sheep in Northumberland, and other northern parts of our

Island.

Island. The owner, whilst he wanders over these wild and melancholy wastes, and observes his thinly-scattered focks, may perhaps murinur at the order of Nature : let him rather accuse his own supineness, and learn at length to profit by the lessons of a dearlypurchased experience.'

Mr. B.'s tract contains many matters that are interesting to the wool-grower and manufacturer, which we have been forced to pass over : but we shall not omit Lord Somerville's review of it, which will be a proper finale to this article :

• This Treatise has brevity and much ingenuity to recommend it regardless of profit, or indeed any remuneration for his labour, the Author has no other olject than to call the public attention to this neglected, but most important branch of rural

economy. How nearly it is connected with ihe success of our finest woollen manufactures, and how much the national revenue may be affected thereby, it is needless here to dwell on.'

ART. VII. Account of the Life and Writings of James Bruce, of

Kinnaird, Esq. F.R.S. Author of Travels to discover the Source of the Nile, in the Years 1763, 1769, 170, 1771, 1772, and 1773 By Alexander Murray, F.A.S.E. and Secretary for Foreign Correspondence. 4to. pp. 504. 21. 129. 60. Boards. Edinburgh, Constable and Cor; London, Longman and Co.

1808, NINETEEN years ago, the public mind was much attracted

towards Bruce, Abyssinia, and the Nile: but, at the present moment, it is more engrossed by Wardle, Clarke, and Wright, or even by Catalani, Kemble, and 0. P. --- Though these ephemeral objects may soon vanish, it would be in vain, perhaps, to attempt to revive that attention which was once bestowed on the enterprizing traveller : yet the nature of his researches will ever make the authenticity of his statements a matter of interest ; and any farther illustrations of the subject, as well as biographical details of Mr. Bruce hinself, must still have some clains to the notice and some hold on the curiosity of all literary men. Much of this feeling will be gratified by the volume before uus ; the contents of which, contrary to the general case, are by no means adequately expressed in its title. The account of the life and writings of Mr. Bruce' does not form above a fourth, part of the volume ; and the remaining three fourths, under the title of Appendix, consist of a variety of letters and other documents, from the pen of the traveller and from those of his friends. These papers serve the double purpose of adding to the stock of information contained in the original publication, and of Rev. Dec. 1809.

CE

conferring

conferring a character of authenticity on many passages in it, which, from Mr. Bruce's habits of inaccuracy, had become subject to suspicion ; and had they been printed at the same time with the travels, they would have greatly tended to suppress the attacks of criticism, by removing the doubts which an unsupported narrative, frequently at variance with itself, was calculated to excite.

We may consider the present volume, then, in three parts. 1. The account of the life and writings of Mr. Bruce. II. Correspondence ; consisting of letters to and from him during his consulship at Algiers, as well as during the course of his travels and after his return. III. Descriptions of Abyssinia, extracts from his travelling journal, and lists of the writings from which his travels were composed.-In the second and third of these divisions, only the task of selection and arrangement has devolved on Mr. Murray : but, in the first, he appears in the character of a writer, and has afforded one of the neatest specimens of biography which has for some time come - under our notice. We shall make a brief abstract of its information.

Mr. Bruce was born in Scotland in 1739, and sent to the neighbourhood of London for education.

Of his progress when at Harrow, under Dr. Cox, very, flattering accounts were addressed to his father. One friend thus expresses himself in a letter :

" What I wrote to you about James is all true, with this difference only, that you may say, as the Queen of Sheba said of Solomon, the one half has not been told you, for I never saw so fine a lad of his years in my life; but lest I should have been deceived in my own opinion of him, I waited purposely on Dr. Cox, to get information from him how he was profiting, whose answer to me on that occasion was this : “When you write to Mr. Bruce's father about his son, you cannot say too much, for he is as promising a young man as ever I had under my care, and, for his years, I never saw his fellow."

Another friend writes two years afterward :-“I am extremely glad I can give you so good a character of him, for he is a mighty good youth, a very good scholar, and extremely good tempered; has good solid sense, and a good understanding; I make no doubt he will prove a very pretty fellow.”

After having finished his education, he intended to follow the profession of the law in Scotland, but renounced it, and came to London in 1753, in expectation of going out as a writer to India. An attachment, however, which he formed in the metropolis, to a Miss Allan, the daughter of a vinemerchant, induced him to prefer the comforts of domestic life

at home to the prospect of Asiatic wealth. His conjugal happiness was of short duration; Mrs. Bruce having betrayed symptoms of hereditary consumption in the first year of their marriage, which made it necessary to try the milder climate of France : but her journey was destined to terminate at Paris, where she sank under this fatal malady. Mr. B. left Paris immediately after her interment, frantic with grief, and travelled during a tempestuous night towards Boulogne, which he reached on the following day. Fatigue, abstinence, and sorrow threw him into a fever, which detained him at that place nearly a week; and he lost, after this event, that eager attachment to business which had been encouraged by causes that no longer existed. He now applied to the improvement of his skill in drawing, and to the study of foreign languages, with the view of travelling on the continent. In 1757 he visited Portugal, Spain, France, and the Netherlands, and in the next year succeeded to the family estate by the death of his father. The income arising from this property was soon afterward increased by the establishment of the celebrated Carron iron works in its vicinity.

In 1761, the war with Spain having taken place, he proposed to the ministry the plan of an attempt on Ferrol, which excited their serious attention, but was found incompatible with the dispatch that was requisite for the relief of Portugal. Mr. Bruce was therefore about to retire to his estate, but was prevented by Lord Halifax, who represented to him that the way to rise in the new reign was by enterprize and discovery, and “ that His Majesty's love of the arts was a sure and effectual introduction to patronage.” The place of Consul at Algiers being vacant, his Lordship offered it to Mr. Bruce, and recommended the acceptance of it as affording lim an opportunity of visiting Africa under the protection of a public character ; promising him leave to appoint a vice-consul for the dispatch of business in his occasional absence. Mr. Bruce acceded to these proposals, left England in June 1762, and, having obtained from the liberality of M. de Choiseul, the French minister, a free passage through that country, arrived in Italy, where he passed the remainder of the year and a part of the next in examining the precious monuments of antiquity.

The period of Mr. B.'s consulship at Algiers was marked by a large proportion of those difficulties and dangers which are inseparable from intercourse with rapacious barbarians : but it afforded him occasions of displaying his characteristic courage, and prepared him for the connection which he was destined to form with nations still less advanced in civilization. Сс 2

He

He also availed himself of opportunities of travelling into various parts of Africa, as well towards the interior as along the Mediterranean coast. In 1767, he passed over into Asia, visited Balbec and Palmyra, and returned to Aleppo in reduced health; where he was greatly indebted for his recovery to the affectionate solicitude of M. Belville, a French merchant, with whom he continued in correspondence for many years afterward. He here improved himself in medical knowlege, the character of physician being the best introduction among the rude nations whose territory he proposed to explore. Leaving Alcppo in the spring of 1768, and travelling through Egypt, he embarked from Cairo to proceed up the Nile, towards the end of that year : but having gone by water as far as Syene, he returned to Kenne and availed himself of the caravan to Cosseir on the Red Sea, whence he coasted the Arabian shores to jedda, the port at which the merchandise of India is distributed to Niccca and the adjoining countries. After having remained here some time, he sailed along the coast to the Straits at the catre nity of the Red Sea, and returned in September 1969 to Masuah, a small island situated on a part of the African shore of the Red Sea, contiguous to Abyssinia. Passing through a variety of toils and dangers, he reached Gondar, the Abyssinian capital, where he found himself among the most savage nation which he had yet visited. · The small-pox had lately been introduced into Abyssinia, and was making frightful havoc among the in. habitants; which enabled Mir. Bruce, by applying the European mode of treatment, to acquire great credit both at court and among the people. His biographer here observes :

• The various incidents which established Mr. Bruce's reputation for courage, abilities, and generosity, after his introduction to the king, though very interesting, are too minute to be enumerated in this place. He gained veariy as much by the discreet and liberal manner in which he treated his enemies, as by the respectful attention which he paid to his friends. He easily excited the admiration of an ignorant court by cxhibiting effects of bre-arms well known in Europe, but wonderful to such as have little knowledge of them. Though equally qualified for the field and court, he owed much of the favour bestowed on him by the Abyssinians to his medical character. In order, however, to prevent his being reckoned an indigent physician, he often refused the money which was offered him for his services, and, by asserting that he practised medicine only for his own satisfaction, and through a love of mankind, preserved the dignity of his character as a soldier and a man of rank.

By his situation at coart, he had an opportunity of observing the gross debauchery in which the higher classes of people in Abyósinia indulge. Al Gondar was one scene of festivity at ile marriage

« PreviousContinue »