« PreviousContinue »
immensely high hills. At five o'clock this morning, we found ourselves nearly opposite a very considerable river, entering the Niger from the eastward; it appeared to be three or four miles wide at its mouth, and on the bank we saw a large town, one part of which faced the river, and the other the Quorra. We at first supposed it to be an arm of that river, and running from us; and therefore directed our course for it. We proceeded up it a short distance, but, finding the current against us, and that it increased as we got within its entrance, and our people being tired, we were compelled to give up the attempt, and were easily swept back into the Niger. Consequently we passed on, but determined on making inquiries concerning it the first convenient opportunity. But we conclude this to be the Tshadda, and the large town we have alluded to to be Cuttumcurrafee, the same which had been mentioned to us by the old mallam. At all events, we had satisfied ourselves it was not a branch of the Niger. The banks on both sides, as far as we could see up it, were very high, and appeared verdant and fertile.
The morning was dull and cloudy; yet, as soon as the sun had partially. dispersed the mists which hung over the valleys and upon the little hills, we could distinguish irregular mountains jutting up almost close to the water's edge, whose height we were prevented even from guessing at; because their summits were involved in clouds, or enwrapped in vapors, which yet lingered about their sides. A double range of elevated hills appeared beyond them on the south-east side; and on the north-west side a chain of lesser hills extended as far as the eye could discern. They appeared very sterile. Those on the north-west were formed of clumps, very much resembling the shape of those we had seen in Yarriba, which are here called the Kong mountains.
At seven o'clock, the Niger seemed free of islands, and clear of morasses, on both sides, and its banks were well wooded, and much higher than we had observed them for a long time previously ; nevertheless, it ran over a rocky bottom, which caused its surface to ripple exceedingly. Just about the same hour, one of the canoes, which we were told of as of different make to our own, passed us.
In shape it much resembled a common butcher's tray, and it was furnished with seats like those used on various parts of the sea coast. It was paddled by eight or ten little boys, who sung as they worked; and they were superintended by an elderly person who sat in the middle of the canoe. The motion of their paddles was regulated by a peculiar hissing noise, which they made at intervals with their mouth; and it was pleasing to observe the celerity with which this little vessel was impelled against the stream. In the early part of the morning, after daylight, we passed a great many villages. The banks of the river were ornamented with palm-trees, and much cultivated ground, which extended to the foot of the mountains, and among the avenues formed between them.
Thus, thou ravine of Arve-dark, deep ravine-
Far, far above, piercing the infinite sky,
Mont Blanc yet gleams on high the power is there, ,
Qualities of a well-regulated Mind. -ABERCROMBIE.
I. The cultivation of a habit of steady and continuous attention; or of properly directing the mind to any subject which is before it, so as fully to contemplate its elements and relations. This is necessary for the due exercise of every other mental process, and is the foundation of all improvement of character, both intellectual and moral. We shall afterward have occasion to remark, how often sophistical opinions and various distortions of character may be traced to errors in this first act of the mind, or to a misdirection and want of due regulation of the attention. There is, indeed, every reason to believe, that the diversities in the power of judging, in different individuals, are much less than we are apt to imagine; and that the remarkable differences observed in the act of judging are rather to be ascribed to the manner in which the mind is previously directed to the facts on which the judgment is afterwards to be exercised. It is related of Sir Isaac Newton, that, when he was questioned respecting the mental qualities which formed the peculiarity of his character, he referred it entirely to the power which he had acquired of continuous attention.
II. Nearly connected with the former, and of equal importance, is a careful regulation and control of the succession of our thoughts. This remarkable faculty is very much under the influence of cultivation ; and on the power so acquired depends the important habit of regular and connected thinking. It is primarily a voluntary act; and in the exercise of it in different individuals there are the most remarkable differences. In some, the thoughts are allowed to wander at large without any regulation, or are devoted only to frivolous and transient objects; while others habitually exercise over them a stern control, directing them to subjects of real importance, and prosecuting these in a regular and connected manner. This important habit gains strength by exercise; and nothing, certainly, has a greater influence in giving tone and consistency to the whole character. It may not, indeed, be going too far to assert, that our condition, in the scale both of moral and intellectual beings, is in a great measure determined by the control which we have acquired over the succession of our thoughts, and by the subjects on which they are habitually exercised. III. The cultivation of an active, inquiring state of mind, which seeks for information from every source that comes within its reach, whether in reading, conversation, or personal observation. With this state of mental activity ought to be closely connected attention to the authenticity of facts so received ; avoiding the two extremes of credulity and skepticism.
IV. The habit of correct association; that is, connecting facts in the mind according to their true relations, and to the manner in which they tend to illustrate each other. This, as we have formerly seen, is one of the principal means of improving the memory; particularly of the kind of
memory which is an essential quality of a cultivated mind; namely, that which is founded not upon incidental connections, but on true and important relations. Nearly allied to this is the habit of reflection, or of tracing carefully the relations of facts, and the conclusions and principles which arise out of them. It is in this manner, as was formerly mentioned, that the philosophical mind often traces remarkable relations, and deduces important conclusions; while to the common understanding the facts appear to be very remote or entirely unconnected.
V. A careful selection of the subjects to which the mind ought to be directed. These are, in some respects, different in different persons, according to their situations in life; but there are certain objects of attention which are peculiarly adapted to each individual, and there are some which are equally interesting to all. In regard to the latter, an appropriate degree of attention is the part of every wise man ; in regard to the former, a proper selection is the foundation of excellence. One individual may waste his powers in that desultory application of them which leads to an imperfect acquaintance with a variety of subjects; while another allows his life to steal over him in listless inactivity, or application to trifling pursuits. It is equally melancholy to see high powers devoted to unworthy objects; such as the contests of party on matters involving no important principle, or the subtleties of sophistical controversy. For