HotFreeBooks.com
The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, Vol. 13, No. - 361, Supplementary Issue (1829)
Author: Various
Home - Random Browse

THE MIRROR OF LITERATURE, AMUSEMENT, AND INSTRUCTION

VOL. XIII, NO. 361.] SUPPLEMENTARY NUMBER. [PRICE 2d.



* * * * *



THE NATURALIST



* * * * *



THE NATURALIST.

See the Engravings.

A delightful volume, of title almost synonymous with this division of the MIRROR, has just been published. It is entitled The Journal of a Naturalist,[1] with the very appropriate motto of

——Plants, trees, and stones, we note, Birds, insects, beasts, and many rural things.

The author in his preface, says, "Many years have now passed away since we were presented with that very interesting and amusing book, the 'Natural History of Selborne;' nor do I recollect any publication at all resembling it having since appeared."[2] He then acknowledges the impression which this book left on his mind; and its having given rise to the present work, to which, in our humble opinion, it is a worthy companion.

Our "Naturalist" resides in a village upon a very ancient road, connecting Bristol and Gloucester, in a limestone district, numbering among its picturesque beauties, the broad estuary of the Severn, the mountains of Glamorgan, Monmouth, and Brecon, and their peaceful vales and cheerful cottages; Thornbury, with its fine cathedral-like church and castle, the red cliffs of the Severn, and numberless antiquities of our ancestors—as roads, encampments, aggera, watch-hills, coins, lances, and other relics of those warlike times. Labour and healthful enjoyment reign in this district: for it is neither torn up for its mineral wealth, nor are its natural beauties annihilated, or the habits of its population corrupted by speculation or avarice. A portrait of "a worthy peasant," introduced by our author, reminds us of

——A bold peasantry, their country's pride, When once destroyed, can never be supplied.

A passage quoted by the late Mr. Canning, in one of his finest speeches; and we often contrast this vigorous outline of the people of "merry England" with her artificial state of after times. Next are a page or two of agricultural chemistry (analysis of soils) unfettered with technicals; double the space of what may strictly be called rural economy, (grass lands) succeed; next the culture and history of the potato, and some new observations on "the Teazle."

Several pages on trees possess great interest, as do those on flowers.

We regret we have room but for a few heads—the maple—the Naturalist's Autumnal Walk—the Economy of Animals, especially of Birds: we must pass them over to elucidate our engraving of

THE GLOWWORM.

That pretty sparkler of our summer evenings, so often made the ploughboy's prize, the only brilliant that glitters in the rustic's hat, the glowworm, (lampyris noctiluca,) is not found in such numbers with us, as in many other places, where these signal tapers glimmer upon every grassy bank; yet, in some seasons, we have a reasonable sprinkling of them. Every body probably knows, that the male glowworm is a winged, erratic animal, yet may not have seen him. He has ever been a scarce creature to me, meeting perhaps with one or two in a year; and, when found, always a subject of admiration. Most creatures have their eyes so placed, as to be enabled to see about them; or, as Hook says of the house-fly, to be "circumspect animals;" but this male glowworm has a contrivance, by which any upward or side vision is prevented. Viewed when at rest, no portion of his eyes is visible, but the head is margined with a horny band, or plate, being a character of one of the genera of the order coleoptera, under which the eyes are situate. This prevents all upward vision; and blinds, or winkers, are so fixed at the sides of his eyes, as greatly to impede the view of all lateral objects. See Figures. The chief end of this creature in his nightly peregrinations is to seek his mate, always beneath him on the earth; and hence this apparatus appears designed to facilitate his search, confining his view entirely to what is before or below him. The first serves to direct his flight, the other presents the object of his pursuit: and as we commonly, and with advantage, place our hand over the brow, to obstruct the rays of light falling from above, which enables us to see clearer an object on the ground, so must the projecting hood of this creature converge the visual rays to a point beneath.

Glowworms emit light only for a short period in the year; and I have but partially observed it after the middle of July. I have collected many of these pretty creatures on a bank before my house, into which they retire during the winter, to shine out again when revived by the summer's warmth; but in this latter season I have frequently missed certain of my little proteges, and have reason to apprehend, that they formed the banquet of a toad, that frequented the same situation.

Observing above, that the glowworm does not emit light after the 14th of July, I mean thereby that clear, steady light, which has rendered this creature so remarkable to all persons; for I have repeatedly noticed, deep in the herbage, a faint evanescent light proceeding from these creatures, even as late as August and September. This was particularly manifested September the 28th, 1826. The evening was warm and dewy, and we observed on the house-bank multitudes of these small evanescent sparks in the grass. The light displayed was very different from that which they exhibit in warm summer months. Instead of the permanent green glow, that illumines all the blades of the surrounding herbage, it was a pale transient spot, visible for a moment or two, and then so speedily hidden, that we were obliged, in order to capture the creature, to employ the light of a candle. The number of them, and their actions, creeping away from our sight, contrary to that half lifeless dulness observed in summer, suggested the idea, that the whole body had availed themselves of this warm, moist evening, to migrate to their winter station. A single spark or so was to be seen some evenings after this, but no such large moving parties were discovered again. If we conclude, that the summer light of the glowworm is displayed as a signal taper, the appearance of this autumnal light can have no such object in view, nor can we rationally assign any use of it to the creature itself, unless, indeed, it serves as a point of union in these supposed migrations, like the leading call in the flight of night-moving birds. The activity and numbers of these insects, in the above-mentioned evening, enabled me to observe the frequent presence and disappearance of the light of an individual, which did not seem to be the result of will, but produced by situation. During the time the insect crawled along the ground, or upon the fine grass, the glow was hidden; but on its mounting any little blade, or sprig of moss, it turned round and presented the luminous caudal spot, which, on its falling or regaining its level, was hidden again.

A summary of the peculiarities of the year 1825, very appropriately concludes the volume, from which we may be tempted to make future extracts.

THE TALIPOT TREE,

The first of our Engravings is a species of palm, a native of Ceylon, and is one of the most magnificent wonders of the vegetable kingdom. The leaf is circular, terminating in the most beautiful rays, and folding up into plaits like a fan, which, in figure, it nearly resembles.

This leaf is used in the maritime provinces of Ceylon as a mark of distinction, each person being allowed to have a certain number of these leaves, folded up as fans, carried with him by his servants; and also in the Kandian country, in the shape of a round, flat umbrella on a long stick. The talipot leaves are likewise used by the common people to shelter themselves from the rain, one leaf affording sufficient shelter for seven or eight persons. It is also used in making tents.

In 1818, Sir Alexander Johnston gave to Sir Joseph Banks a very fine specimen of a tent made of their leaves, large enough to hold a party of ten persons at table.

All the books of importance in Pali and Cingalese, relative to the religion of Buddhoo, in Ceylon, are written on lamina of these leaves, with either a brass or an iron style. There are some of these books in Sir A. Johnston's collections, which are supposed to be from 500 to 600 years old, and which are still very perfect. In the museum of the Asiatic Society, there is a complete copy of the Pali book, called the Pansyapanas Iatakah, written on 1,172 laminae of the finest description of this sort of palm leaf. Large as the dimensions of the talipot leaf may appear, it is exceeded in size by the troolie of Surinam, which extends on the ground, and has frequently been known to attain the width of three feet, and the length of thirty.

Our Engraving is copied from the Gardener's Magazine, where it is reduced from the Transactions of the Asiatic Society.



THE DEATHWATCH MAGNIFIED.

Although the present may be a late hour to dissipate the faith placed in signs and tokens, we are persuaded that a more intimate knowledge of this insect will not prove uninteresting to our readers.[3]

The name death watch was evidently derived from the importance attached to the beatings of the insect, which, by superstitious people, were formerly supposed to prognosticate death to some one of the family in whose house it was heard. The natural size of the insect is about a quarter of an inch in length, of a dark brown colour, spotted, with transparent wings under the vagina, or sheath, a huge cap or helmet on the head, and two antennae, or feelers, from beneath the eyes.

It is chiefly in the advanced period of spring that these insects commence their noise; and which is the call or signal by which they are mutually attracted to each other, and may be considered as analogous to the call of birds. This noise does not arise from their voice, but from the insect beating on hard substances, with the shield or fore part of its head. The general number of successive distinct strokes is from 7 to 9 or 11. These are given in pretty quick succession, and are repeated at uncertain intervals; and in old houses, where the insects are numerous, they may be heard, if the weather be warm, almost every hour in the day. The noise exactly resembles that made by beating moderately hard with the finger on a table. Mr. Stackhouse carefully observed its manner of beating. He says, the insect raises itself upon its hinder legs, and with the body somewhat inclined, beats its head with great force and agility against the place on which it stands.

This insect, which is the real death-watch of the vulgar, must not be confounded with another minuter insect, which makes a ticking noise like a watch; but instead of beating at intervals, it continues its noise for a considerable time without intermission. This latter belongs to a very different tribe. It is usually found in old wood, decayed furniture, neglected books, &c.; and both the male and the female have the power of making this ticking noise, in order to attract each other. The Rev. Mr. Derham seems to have been the first naturalist who examined and described this species; and he says that during the month of July, in one particular summer, they scarcely ever ceased to beat either in day or night. The eggs are generally hatched about the beginning of March: many of them live through the winter; but during that time, to avoid the frost, they bury themselves deep in dust.

Mr. T. Carpenter (of whose paper in Gill's Repository we have already availed ourselves) tells us that these insects are excellent anatomists: in order to render them useful in making some delicate dissections for his microscope, Mr. Carpenter placed a few of the insects within a pill-box, with the heads of three dead flies. He found some time afterwards, that they had cleared the interior of some of the eyes completely from all the blood-vessels, leaving the lenses in the cornea beautifully transparent.

* * * * *

BIRDS' NESTS.

The structure of the nests of birds affords, perhaps, one of the most agreeable lessons in Natural History.

Among the most curious nests of our English birds may be named that of the Wren, the long-tailed Titmouse, the Thrush, the Goldfinch, the Chaffinch, the Magpie, and the House Sparrow; to these may also be added the Swallow's, the Martin's, the Wood Pigeon's, and the Wood-Pecker's. Of the nests of Rooks, it may be sufficient to observe, that they are often found to the number of six, or even more in a cluster. Crows' nests are always solitary; they are similar in structure to those of the rook.

Among the nests of Foreign birds, that of the Taylor Bird deserves especial mention; the bird itself is a diminutive one, being little more than three inches long; it is an inhabitant of India. The nest is sometimes constructed of two leaves, one of them dead; the latter is fixed to the living one as it hangs upon the tree, by sewing both together in the manner of a pouch or purse; it is open at the top, and the cavity is filled with fine down; and, being suspended from the branch, the birds are secure from the depredations of snakes and monkeys, to which they might otherwise fall a prey.

In Dr. Latham's collection is a specimen of the taylor bird's nest, composed of a single large leaf, of a fibrous rough, texture, about six inches long independent of the stalk, five inches and a half in breadth, and ending in a point. The sides of this leaf are drawn together so as to meet within three-quarters of an inch; within is the nest, about four inches deep and two broad, opening at the top; the bottom of the leaf is drawn upwards, to assist in the support of it. The interior nest is composed of white down, with here and there a feather and a small portion of white down intermixed.

Another nest of this bird has also been described as composed of several leaves, like those of some kind of hazel sewed together; the inner nest formed of dry bents, fibres, and hairs, suspended from a tree. It is, therefore, probable that this bird, as well as some others, varies the structure of its nest as occasion and the materials may require. These singular works are performed by the bird's using his bill instead of a needle, and vegetable fibres for thread.

The Rufous Bee-eater, or Merops Rufus, constructs also a very singular nest. This bird is a native of Buenos Ayres; the nest is built generally on the naked great branch of a tree, sometimes on the windows of houses, a fence, or a projecting beam of a high house or other building; it is composed of earth, in the form of a baker's oven, and is often built in the short space of two days, both birds being engaged in its construction; it is six inches in diameter, and one thick; a division is within, beginning at the entrance, and carried circularly, so that the eggs are deposited in the inner chamber, on a bed of grass. The swallow and other birds often attempt to obtain possession of this nest, but are generally repulsed by the owners.

Many of the Orioles' nests are also deserving notice. The black and yellow Oriole, inhabiting South America, has a pendent nest, shaped like an alembic; it is affixed to the extreme branches of trees; sometimes, it is said, so many as four hundred nests are found hanging on the same tree.

The Philippine and Pensile Grosbeak make also very curious nests.

In concluding this account of the nests of birds, I may notice here the nest of the Hirundo esculenta, or Esculent Swallow, an inhabitant of China and the Islands of the Indian Ocean. The nest consists of a gelatinous substance, in shape resembling an apple cut down the middle. The nests are found in great numbers together, and are by the luxurious Asiatics made into broths, and otherwise cooked, and are esteemed one of the greatest dainties of the table; they are also occasionally used for glue.—Jennings's Ornithologia.

[1] We are pleased therefore to commence our Supplementary Sheet with such a volume as the present, which we have reserved for this purpose. The feelings which it must engender in the reader will be doubly grateful in these troublous times of strong political excitement: they enjoin "peace on earth, and goodwill towards men." the Divine antidote to the storms of conflicting interests and passions, and the balm which heals the thorny wounds of the world, that cross every path and tear the finest sympathies of our nature. It adds, moreover, a pleasant variety to the contents of our sheet, and alternates with the vicissitudes of enterprise, in the progress of infant liberty in the New World, as in the Memoirs of the patriot Miller;—the daring and recklessness of crime, as in the vivid sketch of First and Last;—the picturesque country and ceremonies of Arabia and its religious people, as drawn by Burckhardt;—and the architectural embellishment of the Metropolis, as shown in Britton's Picture of London.

[2] In the MIRROR, dated March 1, 1828, we noticed "Gilbert White's Natural History of Selborne, is one of the most delightful household books in our language, and we are surprised at the rarity of such works." The publication of the Journal of a Naturalist, early in March, 1829, is "a coincidence."

[3] Philosophers and wits have written on this subject. Sir Thomas Brown, who wrote a book of Vulgar Errors, remarks with great seriousness that the man "who could eradicate this error from the minds of the people, might prevent the fearful passions of the heart, and many cold sweats taking place in grandmothers and nurses"—Swift lets fly the shafts of satire in these lines.—

A woodworm That lies in old wood, like a hare in her form; With teeth, or with claws, it will bite, or will scratch; And chambermaids christen this worm a death-watch; Because, like a watch, it always cries click; Then woe be to those in the house who are sick; For sure as a gun they will give up the ghost If the maggat cries click when it scratches the post.

Gay, too, in a pastoral dirge, says,

The wether's bell, Before the drooping flock, toll'd forth her knell; The solemn deathwatch click'd the hour she died.



* * * * *



FINE ARTS

* * * * *

METROPOLITAN IMPROVEMENTS.

Abridged from the "Introduction" to Britton's Picture of London, 26th edition, just published.

The year 1825 will ever be memorable in the annals of the metropolis; for more novel improvements, changes, and events occurred in that one year than during any other corresponding period. Schemes for the formation of new Companies—the vast speculations arising out of them, tending to the aggrandizement of a few persons, and to the ruin of others, with the utilities of some, and the futilities and impositions of many,—may also be said to belong to this year.

Let us, however, take a brief review of the real improvements and useful novelties that have been progressing, or have commenced in London since that singular and eventful era. Commencing at the court, or west end, we will take an imaginary tour to the east, adverting to such new buildings as are calculated to arrest the attention of the stranger in our progress. Without remarking on the general improvements of the age, we shall find enough to engross our attention in the particular objects before us. The most noted, or conspicuous of these are:—1. The New Palace, with the adjoining Park and Gardens. 2. A Terrace, Street, and Public Buildings on the site of Carlton House. 3. Belgrave Square, and the adjoining Squares and Streets. 4. The Entrance Lodges and Bridge in Hyde Park, with the improvements in the Roads and Walks of the same. 5. The Regent's Park, with its Terraces, Villas, Public Buildings, Zoological Gardens, and Colosseum. 6. The London University. 7. The British Museum. 8. The Post Office. 9. London Bridge, and its Vicinity. 10. St. Katherine's Docks. 11. The New Buildings and Alterations connected with the Houses of Parliament, the Ministerial Offices, and others, at Charing Cross. All these rank among the novelties and embellished features of London; and whilst the design and execution of so many public works manifest the increasing taste, or luxury of the age, they employ and give encouragement to numerous artists, artisans, and tradesmen.

Of the Royal Palace, suffice it to remark, in this place, that it is a large pile of building,—has been carried on with great rapidity of execution,—its whole exterior is stone, many parts of which are adorned with sculptured statues, basso-relievo, and other ornaments,—that a highly-decorated triumphal arch, composed of fine white, marble, is to be raised, at a short distance from the centre of the principal front—and that the interior is to be splendidly adorned with marble, scagliola, and other rich materials; whilst the galleries, armoury, chapel, state-rooms, &c. are to display the most gorgeous ornaments of the cabinet-maker, upholsterer, decorative painter, and other artisans.

The Park, in front of this palace, which had continued for nearly a century in one state of formal, tasteless insipidity, has been laid out as a large pleasure-garden, interspersed with lawn, clusters of shrubs and flowers, winding walks, varied surface, and a lake, whose margin is made to wind with every inequality of surface, spreading occasionally into a broad expanse, and then contracting to a narrow arm. In the midst of the larger spaces are islands, covered with aquatic trees and shrubs.

The Gardens, or Pleasure Grounds, belonging to the Palace, partake of the same character; but are adorned with shrubs, plants, and flowers of a more choice description. A large piece of water is likewise formed in the midst of these Gardens.

Belgrave Square, and Vicinity. Immediately to the west of the boundary-wall of the royal gardens is a tract of ground, which, in 1824, was open fields, intersected by mud-banks, and partly occupied by a few sheds, and inhabited by the lowest characters of society. In 1829, the same land, consisting of about 140 acres, is nearly covered with houses of the largest size, surrounding spacious squares, or skirting wide and handsome streets. Of all the extraordinary works carried into effect by London gentlemen and tradesmen, we may fairly adduce this as a pre-eminent example. In the space of about four years, the houses surrounding one large square, called Belgrave, have been erected, some of them finished and occupied, and several others, of nearly equal dimensions and value, completed.

The most prominent feature of this district is Belgrave Square, which includes within the front walls of the houses an area of about ten acres, the centre of which, enclosed by lofty and handsome railing, is laid out as a pleasure garden. The whole of the houses are large, lofty, and spacious, with stuccoed fronts, porches, balustraded balconies; and those in the centre of each side are decorated with columns, or three-quarter columns, vases on the parapet, &c.

Of Eaton Square, one portion only is built at present: as laid out, planted, and railed in, it is intended to occupy an area of about fourteen acres, and will be bounded by four rows of houses on the north side, and the like number on the south side, having the king's private road extending east and west through the centre. It measures 600 yards long by 120 yards wide, between the houses. At the eastern extremity is a new church, built from the designs of Henry Hakewill, Esq.

To the north of this district, at Hyde Park Corner, is a large new edifice appropriated to St. George's Hospital. It is a commodious and handsome building, from the designs of R. Smirke, Esq. Near it, and forming an entrance lodge to the Palace Gardens, is a bold, large, and highly-decorated archway, built from the designs of Decimus Burton, Esq. Opposite is a screen of columns, with three entrance archways, a lodge, &c. constituting an architectural entrance to Hyde Park. Three other lodges, with gates, by Mr. Burton, form so many other entrances to the Park from the east and north—Apsley House, the town mansion of the Duke of Wellington, at the south-east angle of Hyde Park, is rebuilding from the designs of Messrs. B. and C. Wyatt, and will form a handsome object at this entrance to the metropolis.

The Earl of Grosvenor has set a most laudable example to our opulent nobility, in the new wing to his mansion in Grosvenor Street, as a gallery for his valuable pictures. It is a handsome and imposing design, and does honour to the architect, Mr Cundy.

The new Club Houses in St. James's Street, especially that near the southern end, present imposing fronts; and it may be added, that most of the other Club Houses have contributed very much to adorn their respective situations, and to impart a strictly architectural character to our street buildings.

The site of Carlton House, and its gardens, is occupied by a wide street, by a lofty terrace overlooking the Park, by club houses, &c. Two of the latter terminate Waterloo Place, and are appropriated to "the United Service," and "the Athenaeum;" the first built from the designs of Mr. Nash, and the latter from those of Mr. D. Burton.

From Charing Cross to Exeter 'Change an amazing improvement has commenced. All the houses on the north side of the Strand are taking down, and others raising, farther back, by which the street will be much widened, and the new buildings will assume better faces, if not better accommodation, for the tradesmen who occupy them. That museum of sheds, stalls, and filth, Covent Garden, is also to be cleared and cleansed, and respectable ranges of shops and warerooms are to be erected.

It is now confidently said, that "the King's College of London" is to be attached to the eastern side of Somerset House; and that Mr. Smirke is commissioned to make a design for the building.

In the Regent's Park a new Terrace and other buildings, are in progress; the great Colosseum is nearly finished, and the Zoological Gardens have excited unusual popularity. No less than 130,000 visiters have been admitted to view the gardens and the vivarium within the year 1828.

On the east side of the Park is a mass of buildings appropriated to St. Katherine's Hospital, consisting of a chapel in the centre, with a group of dwellings on each side, and a detached mansion for the master. South of this is a series of buildings, called Cumberland Terrace, raised from the designs of Mr. Nash, which is abundantly adorned with columns, arches, statues, and basso-relievo.

The Colosseum, in the same Park, is a building of great dimensions, and novel appropriation, and therefore calculated to excite very popular attention. Near this is the Diorama, an edifice of singular construction, destined for the public display of two pictures. A new line of communication from this Park to Pall Mall has been completed within the last few years, by a wide and handsome road called Regent Street.

London University—The situation of the first University founded in this immense city is most peculiarly favourable, being equally removed from the busy and confined part of the metropolis, and from the fashionable and idle; whilst it is not inconveniently remote from either extremity. The building was commenced on the 30th of April, 1827, when the Duke of Sussex laid the first stone, in the presence of a large concourse of noblemen and gentlemen. The design is by William Wilkins, Esq., R.A., who has evinced in the principal elevation and general character of the edifice considerable taste and science. When completed, it is intended to consist of a central part, and two wings projecting at right angles from the extremities of the former. The first portion only of this is at present finished. It extends from north to south 430 feet, with a depth, from east to west, including the two semicircular theatres, of about 200 feet. The elevation is at once classical and chaste, having a bold and rich portico in the centre, elevated on a plinth, to the height of the first story (19 feet,) and is approached by numerous steps, which are arranged to produce a fine effect. Twelve Corinthian columns support a flattened pediment, in the tympanum of which is to be a composition in basso-relievo, analogous to science and literature. Behind this pediment is a cupola, finished by a lantern light, in imitation of a peripteral temple, crowning and ornamenting a grand octagonal vestibule, or saloon. North of this is the museum of natural history, 118 feet by 50, and 23 feet in height, opening to the museum of anatomy, which latter communicates with two rooms for professors, and to one of the large theatres, or lecture-rooms. East of the vestibule is a large hall, and to the south is the great library, corresponding in size, &c. with the museum of natural history; the small library; rooms for the librarian, for apparatus, and also another large theatre. The ground-floor consists of rooms for lectures, the Professor's offices, laboratory, museum, a spacious cloister 213 feet by 24; rooms for the anatomical school, &c. In the basement are other apartments for the anatomical schools, for the chemical laboratory, the students' common room, kitchen, stewards' room, refreshment rooms, housekeeper's room, vaults, &c.

At the British Museum a new room, to contain the late king's library, has been built and fitted up from the designs of Mr. R. Smirke. It is the largest apartment in this country, its measurement being 300 feet in length, by 30 feet in width, and 30 feet high,

The St. Katherine's Docks, recently formed near the Tower, will increase this species of accommodation, and be a great improvement to a district where reform and alteration are much required. By a statement published by the Committee in October, 1828, it appears that "the first stone was laid 3rd of May, 1827," and that a grand ceremony was exhibited on the 25th of October, 1828, of opening the Docks. On that occasion, nine vessels, of from 516 to 343 tons burden, entered the docks to load and discharge their freights. Above 1,200 houses, warehouses, &c. were purchased and taken down, to make room for the new works. Accommodation is provided for the stowage of 210,000 tons of merchandize; and, from the improved construction of the warehouses, these goods will be always housed under cover. The fixed capital for completing this great commercial undertaking is 1,352,752l.

A Collier Dock, on a large scale, has been projected to be excavated and formed in the Isle of Dogs, near Blackwall for which Mr. George Rennie has made plans and estimates.

The New London Bridge, now nearly completed, is a work of great magnitude, science, and novelty. Its erection, in our times, and following the recent finishing of the bridges of Waterloo and Southwark, is a memorable event in the annals of London.

The projected Tunnel under the Thames is not only a novel object in this part of London, but, should it ever be accomplished, it will be a wonderful triumph of human talents over seeming impossibilities.

Although so many useful and even important improvements have been recently effected in the metropolis, there are yet many things left undone that ought to be done, and others proceeding in a manner that will neither be creditable nor beneficial. The widening and opening of New Streets from Pall Mall to the British Museum; from that national repository to Waterloo Bridge, skirting the two theatres;—from the Strand to Lincoln's Inn Fields, and thence to Holborn; and again to Covent Garden;—from Charing Cross to Somerset House;—from Oxford Road to Bloomsbury Square and Holborn;—from Blackfriars' Bridge to Clerkenwell, removing and clearing away that nuisance in a public thoroughfare, Fleet Market;—from Moorfields to the Bank, and thence obliquely to Southwark Bridge;—widening and opening the area around St. Paul's Cathedral,—are all calculated to be very beneficial to the public. Other essential alterations are still required; and the legislature, as well as all public-spirited individuals, should co-operate to promote them. The formation of open, respectable quays, terraces, and streets, on the banks of our fine river, is an event greatly to be desired.

The vastly-increasing population of London, has occasioned a great augmentation of Churches and Chapels, both for congregations of the establishment, and for dissenters. In consequence of urgent, and argumentative appeals by some truly pious and benevolent Christians, the legislature has granted a large sum for the purpose of aiding parochial committees, to build new churches or enlarge their old ones.

The New Post Office, in St. Martin's-le-Grand, is fast approaching conclusion, and will constitute one of the most imposing public buildings of the city. Preparatory to the re-erection of the whole of the Blue Coat School, or Christ's Hospital, in Newgate Street, a spacious and handsome Hall has been erected, from the designs of Mr. Shaw.

A new Chapel, of novel design, being of an amphitheatrical form, has been recently completed, from the designs of W. Brooks, architect. It is seated near the Catholic Chapel, in Finsbury Circus.

* * * * *



THE SKETCH-BOOK.

* * * * *

THE FIRST AND LAST CRIME.

[Blackwood's Magazine for the current month contains a sketchy article under this title, which displays much of the breadth and vigour of one of Maga's contributors. Our extract is in the form of the confession of a reckless, daring spirit, who being imprisoned for murder, commits suicide. The early developement of his bad passions is admirably drawn, and altogether this is one of the most powerfully written papers that we have lately met with.]

I was the youngest child of three; but before I had attained my tenth year, I was an only one. I had always been the favourite of both my parents, and now I was their idol. They hung upon my existence, as a shipwrecked mariner clings to the last floating fragment of the gallant bark that bore him; they lived, but while they held by me, in the rough tossings of the ocean of life. I was not slow to discover my value in their estimation, or to exercise, in its fullest extent, the capricious tyranny of conscious power. Almost the earliest impression which my ripening mind received, was a regal immunity from error—I could do no wrong.

My education was not neglected. Alas! the only use I have ever made of what I acquired, has been to gild my vices when acted, or refine upon the manner of acting them while in contemplation. I look back, at this moment, to the period of my life I am describing, as prosperous men recall the day-spring of their fortunes. They, from the proud eminence on which they stand, trace, step by step, in retrospective view, the paths by which they ascended; and I, looking through the dark vista of my by-gone years, behold the fatal series of crimes and follies that stained their progress, stretching to my boyhood. The gay and frolic irregularities, as they were gently termed, of that untamed age, were the turbid source of the waters of misery in which I am now engulphed, I was a lawless planet, running at will; and the orbit I described laid waste more than one fair region of peace and happiness.

My father had a brother, his elder by many years; a man of stern and rigid character, as I then considered him; but, as I would now call him, of upright, firm, and honourable principle. He loved my father, but did not love his weakness; and the display of it, in his indulgence towards me, was the cause of many a serious, if not sometimes angry, debate between them. Well do I remember (for it rankled like poison in my swelling heart) a declaration he once made in my presence. It was a fine autumnal evening, and he was seated with my father and mother in a balcony, which opened from the library-window upon a spacious lawn. I entered the room, and advanced towards them, unconscious, of course, that their conversation had been about me; but my uncle looking at me with a severe expression of countenance, and at the same time addressing his brother, exclaimed, "Well, James, neither you nor I may live to see it; but if the grace of God, or his own better reflection, as he grows older, do not work a change in this young squire, a duel, Jack Ketch, or a razor, will work his exit some day or other."

My father smiled—I saw my mother wipe away a tear—at that moment I could have struck my uncle dead. I muttered a few words—I knew not what, and left the room. Boy as I was, (for I had barely completed my seventeenth year,) I felt all the vindictive passions of manhood kindling within me. It seemed as if a sentence had been passed upon me, the more terrible, because a secret voice whispered to me, it was prophetic! That impression never forsook me!

I questioned my father haughtily, a few days afterwards, as to the reasons of his brother for thus speaking of me; and I even dared to insinuate, that, had he felt what a father should, he would have resented the indignity. He answered me (I write it with shame and contrition) most mildly, most affectionately. The gentle being—I see him now, as he tenderly took my hand—apologized to me—to me! who ought to have stood trembling in his presence! I followed up my blow. With cold, but subtle malignity. I played off my revenge towards my uncle, through the idolatry of my father's love towards myself. I barbarously gave him a choice of misery; for I disdainfully replied, that he must henceforth determine, whether he would lose a brother or a son, as I had determined to remain no longer under his roof, unless I had the assurance that I should never again see my uncle there. He looked at me. My God! what a look it was! so full of meek sorrow and appalling obedience! Without uttering a word, he sat down to his writing-table. The tears fell upon his paper; but they did not blot out a few bitter words addressed to his brother, which severed for ever in this world two noble hearts; cast, indeed, in different moulds, but which kindred blood had cemented, in the close bonds of fraternal love, for more than forty years.

This was my first revenge. But was I satisfied? No!

It was only a few months afterwards, that chance threw in my way a daughter of my uncle's. I met her at the house of a common friend, who knew and deplored the unhappy schism which prevailed between the two brothers. He was equally attached to both, and I believe pleased himself with the idea, that an occasional intercourse between the younger branches of the families, might, some day or other, bring about a reconciliation between the heads. My cousin Harriet was a year older than myself. She was in her nineteenth, I in my eighteenth year. I loved her. Yes; the first feeling that glowed within my bosom was that of love. She was beautiful—fascinating—accomplished—amiable—and I loved her. It was not long before I was satisfied. I had kindled a reciprocal passion in her breast. The mute eloquence of her look and manner was only the harbinger of that same thrilling eloquence, which fell from her tongue when I won the declaration of her affection.

Her father knew we met at this friend's house; but whether he was told, or whether he penetrated, the secret of our attachment, I never learned. I only know, that, at the very moment when separation was madness, his mandate went forth, prohibiting all farther intercourse between us, and that it was obeyed. Not by me; for I was incapable of submission: but by my gentle Harriet, who thought herself incapable of disobeying. We met no more where we had been wont to meet; and my young heart's spring of happiness seemed for ever withered.

But here again, I began to reflect, my path was crossed—my hopes were blighted—by my uncle. I heard, too, that his tongue had been free with my name; that the blistering censure of his austere virtue had fallen upon my actions. I writhed under the contumely. My wounded spirit was insatiate for vengeance. I meditated, deeply, how I could inflict it, so as to strike the blow where he was most vulnerable. I did not brood long over my dark purpose. The love I still bore his daughter, was now mingled with the hatred I bore towards himself; and I exulted in the thought, that I should perhaps be able to gratify, at one and the same moment, two of the fiercest passions of my nature—lust and revenge!

I SUCCEEDED!

In these two words let me shroud a tale of horror. Harriet was my victim! Ask not how. I triumphed! She fell! An angel might have fallen as she did, and lost no purity. But her stainless heart was too proud in virtue to palter and equivocate with circumstances. She never rose from what she deemed her bridal bed. And ere twenty summers had fanned her cheek, the grave-worm banqueted upon its loveliness.

This was my first crime. The recollection of it is engraven upon my memory by an awful catastrophe. The night wind that sung her funeral dirge, howled with dismal fury through the burning ruins of my paternal mansion. Yes! that very night, as if it were in mercy to them, my father and my mother both perished in the flames which reduced the house itself to cinders. They were seen at the windows of their bedchamber, shrieking for aid; but before any could be procured, the flooring gave way, and they sunk at once into the yawning furnace that roared beneath. Their remains, when afterwards dug out, were a few shovelsfull of blackened ashes; except my father's right hand, which was found clasped in that of my mother, and both unconsumed. I followed these sad relics to the sepulchre. But with the tears I shed, there was blended a feeble consolation at the thought they had died before they knew the fate of Harriet; and a frightful joy, that another pang was added to the wretchedness of my uncle.

I can well remember what a feeling of loneliness and desolation now took possession of me. Time, however, rolled on; and I grew callous, if not reconciled. I could not disguise from myself that the more select circles of society were closed against me; or, if I found my way into them, some blushing whisper was quickly circulated, which created a solitude around me.

It was during this period, and while I was squandering thousands to achieve the conquest of shadows, that I succeeded in fixing an intimacy with a family equal to my own in station, and superior to it in fortune. The eldest daughter was an heiress of large expectations, and my proposals of marriage were favourably received. I might almost say that Matilda was mine; when one day I received a letter from her father, peremptorily forbidding my visits. I was thunderstruck. I hastened to the house, and demanded an explanation. It was given in few words. I was referred to my uncle for any information I required.

This blow struck me down. I had run through my patrimonial estate; but hoped, by my marriage with Matilda, to repair my shattered fortune. Three weeks after it was known that the match was broken off, I was a prisoner for debt in the King's Bench! I breathed no curses upon the cause of this sudden reverse of fortune, but—I swore revenge, in silence; and I kept my oath. I languished away six months, a captive debtor; and then, taking the benefit of the act, I walked forth a beggar, to prey upon the world at large! I had studied, during that time, in an admirable school, where I found professors in every art by which fools are gulled, and knaves foiled with their own weapons. I was an apt scholar, and returned to the bosom of society, an adept in the science of polished depredation. Translate this into the language of the Old Bailey, and I became a swindler by profession. Like the eagle, however, I was a bird of prey that soared into the highest regions, and rarely stooped to strike the meaner tribes of my species. I had not lost, with the trappings of my birth, the manners and address of the sphere in which I had moved; and these were now my stock in trade for carrying on my new vocation.

Among the children of misfortune with whom I associated in prison, was Charles Fitzroy; a bankrupt in every thing but exhaustless invention, and unconquerable perseverance. Give him the free use of his limbs, and with matchless dexterity he would make the contributions of the morning furnish out the riotous expenses of the evening. It was his boast, that he would breakfast with an empty pocket, and dine with a purse that should defray the carouse of a dozen friends. And I have known him fulfil his boast, with a heart as light, too, as became a man who thus made the credulous fools of the world his bankers.

I was needy, desperate, and an outcast; and I linked my destiny with Fitzroy's. He had my confidence; such confidence as confederates in knavery can bestow. When he obtained his liberty, which he did shortly after my own was accomplished, he introduced me to his companions; men who, like himself, lived by plundering the unwary, and who looked up to him as their Magnus Apollo. I was soon initiated in all their mysteries; and played my part to admiration at the gaming-table, on the race course, and in the ring.

Fitzroy was master of the secret that festered near my heart; the increased and increasing hatred towards my uncle. I regarded him as my evil genius; for not only had he thwarted me in two of the dearest objects of my life; but his prediction of my boyhood had clung to me like a poisoned garment. I could not shake it off; and now, more than ever, it seemed accomplishing itself with rapid strides. It made me mad when I reflected upon the polluted channels through which my precarious means flowed, and thought of the luxurious enjoyments which his opulence commanded. It was true, I had dashed his cup with bitterness; but it was no less true, that it still flowed with sweets, while mine was brimming with gall. Fitzroy would often talk to me upon this subject, and devise schemes for a successful inroad upon his purse. At length a plan was matured between us, in which I could not appear, but which Fitzroy, and a picked few of our associates, undertook to execute.

My uncle had always been passionately fond of the course, and prided himself upon his stud of racers. He betted largely, and was generally fortunate, probably because he selected his men with a wary eye. The race course, then, was the arena chosen for the enterprise; but admirable as were the projected plans, and skilfully as they were executed, such was his luck, or so profound were his calculations, that they failed five successive seasons. Fitzroy, however, was one of those men who, when satisfied that what they engage in ought to succeed, according to the means employed, only derive fresh vigour from every fresh defeat. He played his game a sixth time, and won. The same day that saw my uncle rise with thousands, saw him seek his pillow at night, a frantic beggar! He was too proud a man, too honourable, I will add, not to throw down his last guinea, in satisfaction of such demands. He never suspected villany in the business. He paid his losses, therefore; and in less than a week afterwards, an inquest sat upon his body, which was found at the bottom of his own fish pond.

I had my share of this infernal plunder; but so ravenous had been my appetite for revenge, that not one pang of remorse disturbed the riotous enjoyments in which it was lavished. On the contrary, the very consciousness that it was my uncle's money I squandered, gave a zest to every excess, and seemed to appease the gnawing passions which had so long tormented me. In two or three years, however, boundless extravagance, and the gaming-table, stripped me of my last shilling. It was in one of the frenzied moments of this profligate reverse of fortune, that I committed the crime for which, if to-morrow dawned upon me, I should be publicly arraigned.

Fitzroy had been fortunate the whole night. I had thrown with constant bad luck. He had pocketed some hundreds; I had lost more than I could pay. I asked him for a temporary loan of fifty pounds, to make good what I owed, and stake the small remaining sum for the chance of retrieving all. He refused me. It was the first time he had ever done so. But he not only refused me, he taunted me with sarcastic reproofs for my folly, and muttered something about the uselessness of assisting a man who, if he had thousands, would scatter them like dust. He should have chosen a fitter moment to exhort me, than when I was galled by my losses, and by his denial of my request. I was heated with wine too; and half mad with despair, half mad with drink, I sprang upon him, tore him to the earth, and before the by-standers could interfere to separate us, I had buried a knife, which I snatched from a table near me, up to the handle in his heart! He screamed—convulsively grappled me by the throat—-and expired! His death-gripe was so fierce and powerful, that I believe had we been alone, his murderer would have been found strangled by his side. It was with difficulty that the horror-struck witnesses of this bloody scene could force open his clenched hands time enough to let me breathe.

I have done! I remember, as if it were but yesterday, the silent response which my heart made, when my uncle pronounced that withering sentence on me. "No!" was my indignant exclamation; "I may deserve a hundred public deaths; but if I know myself, I would never undergo one!—NOR WILL I." When that which I have written shall be read—other hopes and fears—other punishments, perchance, than man can awaken or inflict—will await me. My first crime—my first revenge, and my last, I have recorded; my last crime others must tell, when they speak of the murderer and SUICIDE,

JAMES MORLEY.

There is little doubt that scarcely a moment intervened between his writing his name, and placing the pistol to his heart; for when he was discovered, the pen was lying on the paper, as if it had been laid down only for an instant.

* * * * *



RETROSPECTIVE GLEANINGS.

* * * * *

REGAL TABLET.

(Concluded from page 166.)

CHARLES II.

restored 29th May, 1669, ended 6th Feb. 1685.

Popes.

Alexander VII., 1655. Clement IX., 1667. Clement X., 1670. Innocent XI., 1676.

Emperor of Germany.

Leopold I., 1658.

France.

Louis XIV., 1643.

Spain.

Philip IV., 1620. Charles II., 1665.

Portugal.

Alonzo VI., 1656. Pedro II., 1683.

Denmark

Frederic III., 1648. Christian V., 1670.

Sweden.

Charles XI., 1660.

* * * * *

JAMES II.

began his reign 6th Feb. 1685, abdicated 13th Feb. 1689.

Contemporaries all as in the last reign.

* * * * *

WILLIAM AND MARY

began their reign 13th Feb. 1689, ended 8th March, 1702.

Popes.

Innocent XI., 1676. Alexander VIII., 1689. Innocent XII., 1691. Clement XI., 1700.

Emperor of Germany.

Leopold I., 1658.

France.

Louis XIV., 1643.

Spain.

Charles II., 1665. Philip V., 1700.

Portugal.

Pedro II., 1683.

Denmark.

Christian V., 1670. Frederic IV., 1699.

Sweden.

Charles XI., 1660. Charles XII., 1697.

Prussia.

Frederic I., 1701.

* * * * *

ANNE

began her reign 8th March, 1702, ended 1st Aug. 1714.

Popes.

Clement XI., 1700.

Emperors of Germany.

Leopold I., 1658. Joseph I., 1705. Charles VI., 1711.

France.

Louis XIV., 1643.

Spain.

Philip V., 1700.

Portugal.

Pedro II., 1683. John V., 1706.

Denmark.

Frederic IV., 1699.

Sweden.

Charles XII. 1697.

Prussia.

Frederic I., 1701. Frederic William I., 1713.

* * * * *

The Illustrious House of Brunswick.

GEORGE I.

began his reign 1st Aug. 1714, ended 11th June, 1727.

Popes.

Clement XI., 1700. Innocent XIII., 1721. Benedict XIII., 1723.

Emperor of Germany.

Charles VI., 1711.

Russia.

Peter I., 1724. Catherine I., 1725. Peter II., 1727.

France.

Louis XIV., 1643. Louis XV., 1715.

Spain.

Philip V., 1700.

Portugal.

John V., 1706.

Denmark.

Frederic IV., 1699.

Sweden.

Charles XII. 1697. Ulrica, 1718. Frederic, 1720.

Prussia.

Frederic William I., 1713.

* * * * *

GEORGE II.

began his reign 11th June, 1727, ended 25th Oct. 1760.

Popes.

Benedict XIII., 1723. Clement XII., 1730. Benedict XIV., 1740. Clement XIII., 1758.

Emperors of Germany.

Charles VI., 1711. Charles VII., 1740. Francis I., 1745.

Russia.

Peter II., 1727. Anne., 1730. John V., 1740. Elizabeth, 1741.

France.

Louis XV., 1715.

Spain.

Philip V., 1700. Ferdinand, 1746. Charles III., 1759.

Portugal.

John V., 1706. Joseph, 1750.

Denmark.

Frederic IV., 1699. Christian VI. 1730. Frederic V., 1746.

Sweden.

Frederic, 1720. Adolphus, 1751.

Prussia.

Frederic William, I, 1713. Frederic II., 1740.

* * * * *

GEORGE III.

began his reign 25th Oct. 1760, ended 29th Jan. 1820.

Popes.

Clement XIII., 1758. Clement XIV., 1769. Pius VI., 1775. Pius VII., 1800.

Emperors of Germany.

Francis I., 1745. Joseph II., 1765. Francis II., 1792.[4]

Austria.

Francis I., 1806.

Turkey.

Mustapha III., 1757. Achmed, 1774. Selim III., 1789. Mahamud VI., 1808.

Portugal.

Joseph, 1750. Mary and Peter III., 1777. Mary (alone), 1786. John, 1816.

Russia.

Elizabeth, 1741. Peter III., 1762. Catharine II., 1762. Paul I., 1796. Alexander, 1801.

Prussia.

Frederic the Great, 1740. Frederic William II., 1786.

France.

Louis XV., 1715. Louis XVI., 1774. Louis XVII. 1793. Bonaparte, 1799. Louis XVIII., 1814.

Spain.

Charles III., 1759. Charles IV., 1788. Ferdinand VII., 1808.

Denmark.

Frederic V., 1746. Christian VII., 1766. Matilda, 1772. Frederic VI. 1808.

Sweden.

Adolphus Frederic, 1751. Gustavus III., 1771. Gustavus IV., 1792. Charles XIII., 1809. Charles XIV., (Bernadotte), 1818.

Holland.

William V. (Stadtholder), 1757. William, Prince of Orange, 1815.

Prussia.

Frederic William III., 1797.

Poland.

Stanislaus II. 1764.

Naples and Sicily.

Frederic IV. 1759. Joseph Napoleon, 1806. Joachim Napoleon, 1809. King of Naples restored, 1815.

Etruria.

Francis, 1730. Leopold, 1765. Ferdinand III., 1790. Louis I., 1801. Louis II. 1802.

Sardinia.

Charles Emanuel III. 1730. Victor Amadeus, 1773. Emanuel V., 1802.

* * * * *

GEORGE IV.

ascended 29th Jan. 1820, whom GOD preserve.

Contemporaries at the commencement of his reign the same as at the death of his late majesty.

JACOBUS.

[4] Francis II. of Germany abdicated 1806, and took the title of Emperor of Austria.

* * * * *



THE SELECTOR,

AND

LITERARY NOTICES OF

NEW WORKS.

* * * * *

MOUNT ARAFAT, AND THE PILGRIMAGE TO MEKKA.

Every traditionary and topographical particular of this hallowed spot, and the picturesque ceremonies by which it is consecrated, must be acceptable to the Christian reader; and this conviction has induced us to abridge the following from that portion of Burckhardt's Travels which describes the Hadj, or pilgrimage to Mekka.

At sunrise on the 9th of Zul Hadj, every pilgrim issued from his tent, to walk over the plains, and take a view of the busy crowds assembled there. Long streets of tents, fitted up as bazars, furnished all kinds of provisions. The Syrian and Egyptian cavalry were exercised by their chiefs early in the morning, while thousands of camels were seen feeding upon the dry shrubs of the plain all round the camp. I walked to Mount Arafat, to enjoy from its summit a more distinct view of the whole. This granite hill, which is also called Djebel er' Rahme, or the Mountain of Mercy, rises on the north-east side of the plain, close to the mountains which encompass it, but separated from them by a rocky valley; it is about a mile, or a mile and a half in circuit; its sides are sloping, and its summit is nearly two hundred feet above the level of the plain. On the eastern side broad stone steps lead up to the top, and a broad unpaved path, on the western, over rude masses of granite, with which its declivity is covered. After mounting about forty steps, we find a spot a little on the left, called Modaa Seydna Adam, or the place of prayer of our Lord Adam, where, it is related, that the father of mankind used to stand while praying; for here it was, according to Mohammedan tradition, that the angel Gabriel first instructed Adam how to adore his Creator. A marble slab, bearing an inscription in modern characters, is fixed in the side of the mountain. On reaching about the sixtieth step, we come to a small paved platform to our right, on a level spot of the hill, where the preacher stands who admonishes the pilgrims on the afternoon of this day, as I shall hereafter mention. Thus high, the steps are so broad and easy that a horse or camel may ascend; but higher up they become more steep and uneven. On the summit, the place is shown where Mohammed used to take his station during the Hadj; a small chapel formerly stood over it; but this was destroyed by the Wahabys: here the pilgrims usually pray two rikats, in salutation of Arafat. The steps and the summit are covered with handkerchiefs to receive their pious gifts, and each family of the Mekkawys or Bedouins of the tribe of Koreysh, in whose territory Arafat lies, has its particular spot assigned to it for this purpose. The summit commands a very extensive and singular prospect. I brought my compass to take a circle of bearings; but the crowd was so great that I could not use it. Towards the western extremity of the plain are seen Bir Bazan and the Aalameyn; somewhat nearer, southwards, the mosque called Djama Nimre, or Djama Seydna Ibrahim; and on the south-east, a small house where the Sherif used to lodge during the pilgrimage. From thence an elevated rocky ground in the plain extends towards Arafat. On the eastern side of the mountain, and close to its foot, are the ruins of a small mosque, built on rocky ground, called Djama el Szakhrat, where Mohammed was accustomed to pray, and where the pilgrims make four prostrations in memory of the prophet. Several large reservoirs lined with stone are dispersed over the plain; two or three are close to the foot of Arafat, and there are some near the house of the Sherifs: they are filled from the same fine aqueduct which supplies Mekka, and the head of which is about one hour and a half distant, in the eastern mountains. The canal is left open here for the convenience of pilgrims, and is conducted round the three sides of the mountains, passing by Modaa Seydna Adam.[5]

From the summit of Arafat, I counted about three thousand tents dispersed over the plain, of which two-thirds belonged to the two Hadj caravans, and to the suite and soldiers of Mohammed Aly; the rest to the Arabs of the Sherif, the Bedouin hadjys, and the people of Mekka and Djidda. These assembled multitudes were for the greater number, like myself, without tents. The two caravans were encamped without much order, each party of pilgrims or soldiers having pitched its tents in large circles or dowars, in the midst of which many of their camels were reposing. The plain contained, dispersed in different parts, from twenty to twenty-five thousand camels, twelve thousand of which belonged to the Syrian Hadj, and from five to six thousand to the Egyptian; besides about three thousand, purchased by Mohammed Aly from the Bedouins in the Syrian Deserts, and brought to Mekka with the Hadj, to convey the pilgrims to this place, previously to being used for the transport of army-provisions to Tayf.

The Syrian Hadj was encamped on the south and south-west side of the mountain; the Egyptian on the south-east. Around the house of the Sherif, Yahya himself was encamped with his Bedouin troops, and in its neighbourhood were all the Hedjaz people. Here it was that the two Yemen caravans used formerly to take their station. Mohammed Aly, and Soleyman Pasha of Damascus, as well as several of their officers, had very handsome tents; but the most magnificent of all was that of the wife of Mohammed Aly, the mother of Tousoun Pasha and Ibrahim Pasha, who had lately arrived from Cairo for the Hadj, with a truly royal equipage, five hundred camels being necessary to transport her baggage from Djidda to Mekka. Her tent was in fact an encampment consisting of a dozen tents of different sizes, inhabited by her women; the whole enclosed by a wall of linen cloth, eight hundred paces in circuit, the single entrance to which was guarded by eunuchs in splendid dresses. Around this enclosure were pitched the tents of the men who formed her numerous suite. The beautiful embroidery on the exterior of this linen palace, with the various colours displayed in every part of it, constituted an object which reminded me of some descriptions in the Arabian Tales of the Thousand and One Nights. Among the rich equipages of the other hadjys, or of the Mekka people, none were so conspicuous as that belonging to the family of Djeylany, the merchant, whose tents, pitched in a semicircle, rivalled in beauty those of the two pashas, and far exceeded those of Sherif Yahya. In other parts of the East, a merchant would as soon think of buying a rope for his own neck, as of displaying his wealth in the presence of a pasha; but Djeylany has not yet laid aside the customs which the Mekkawys learned under their old government, particularly that of Sherif Ghaleb, who seldom exercised extortion upon single individuals; and they now rely on the promises of Mohammed Aly, that he will respect their property.

During the whole morning, there were repeated discharges of the artillery which both pashas had brought with them. A few pilgrims had taken up their quarters on Djebel Arafat itself, where some small cavern, or impending block of granite, afforded them shelter from the sun. It is a belief generally entertained in the East, and strengthened by many boasting hadjys on their return home, that all the pilgrims, on this day, encamp upon Mount Arafat; and that the mountain possesses the miraculous property of expansion, so as to admit an indefinite number of the faithful upon its summit. The law ordains that the wakfe, or position of the Hadj, should be on Djebel Arafat; but it wisely provides against any impossibility, by declaring that the plain in the immediate neighbourhood of the mountain may be regarded as comprised under the term "mountain," or Djebel Arafat.

I estimated the number of persons assembled here at about seventy thousand. The camp was from three to four miles long, and between one and two in breadth. There is, perhaps, no spot on earth where, in so small a place, such a diversity of languages are heard; I reckoned about forty, and I have no doubt that there were many more. It appeared to me as if I were here placed in a holy temple of travellers only; and never did I at any time feel a more ardent wish to be able to penetrate once into the inmost recesses of the countries of many of those persons whom I now saw before me, fondly imagining that I might have no more difficulty in reaching their homes, than what they had experienced in their journey to this spot.

* * * * *

The time of Aszer (or about three o'clock, P.M.) approached, when that ceremony of the Hadj takes place, for which the whole assembly had come hither. The pilgrims now pressed forward towards the mountain of Arafat, and covered its sides from top to bottom. At the precise time of Aszer, the preacher took his stand upon the platform on the mountain, and began to address the multitude. This sermon, which lasts till sun-set, constitutes the holy ceremony of the Hadj called Khotbet el Wakfe; and no pilgrim, although he may have visited all the holy places of Mekka, is entitled to the name of hadjy, unless he has been present on this occasion. As Aszer approached, therefore, all the tents were struck, every thing was packed up, the caravans began to load, and the pilgrims belonging to them mounted their camels, and crowded round the mountain, to be within sight of the preacher, which is sufficient, as the greater part of the multitude is necessarily too distant to hear him. The two pashas, with their whole cavalry drawn up in two squadrons behind them, took their post in the rear of the deep lines of camels of the hadjys, to which those of the people of the Hedjaz were also joined; and here they waited in solemn and respectful silence the conclusion of the sermon. Further removed from the preacher, was the Sherif Yahya, with his small body of soldiers, distinguished by several green standards carried before him. The two Mahmals, or holy camels, which carry on their back the high structure that serves as the banner of their respective caravans, made way with difficulty through the ranks of camels that encircled the southern and eastern sides of the hill, opposite to the preacher, and took their station, surrounded by their guards, directly under the platform in front of him.[6]

The preacher, or Khatyb, who is usually the Kadhy of Mekka, was mounted upon a finely caparisoned camel, which had been led up the steps; it being traditionally said that Mohammed was always seated when he here addressed his followers, a practice in which he was imitated by all the Khalifes who came to the Hadj, and who from hence addressed their subjects in person. The Turkish gentleman of Constantinople, however, unused to camel-riding, could not keep his seat so well as the hardy Bedouin prophet; and the camel becoming unruly, he was soon obliged to alight from it. He read his sermon from a book in Arabic, which he held in his hands. At intervals of every four or five minutes he paused, and stretched forth his arms to implore blessings from above; while the assembled multitudes around and before him waved the skirts of their ihrams over their heads, and rent the air with shouts of "Lebeyk, Allahuma Lebeyk," (i.e. Here we are, at thy commands, O God!) During the wavings of the ihrams, the side of the mountain, thickly crowded as it was by the people in their white garments, had the appearance of a cataract of water; while the green umbrellas, with which several thousand hadjys, sitting on their camels below, were provided, bore some resemblance to a verdant plain.—During his sermon, which lasted almost three hours, the Kadhy was seen constantly to wipe his eyes with a handkerchief; for the law enjoins the Khatyb or preacher to be moved with feeling and compunction; and adds that, whenever tears appear on his face, it is a sign that the Almighty enlightens him, and is ready to listen to his prayers.

At length the sun began to descend behind the western mountains; upon which the Kadhy, having shut his book, received a last greeting of "Lebeyk;" and the crowds rushed down the mountain, in order to quit Arafat. It is thought meritorious to accelerate the pace on this occasion; and many persons make it a complete race, called by the Arabs, Ad' dafa min Arafat. In former times, when the strength of the Syrian and Egyptian caravans happened to be nearly balanced, bloody affrays took place here almost every year between them, each party endeavouring to outrun and to carry its mahmal in advance of the other. The same happened when the mahmals approached the platform at the commencement of the sermon; and two hundred lives have on some occasions been lost in supporting what was thought the honour of the respective caravans. At present the power of Mohammed Aly preponderates, and the Syrian hadjys display great humility. The united caravans and the whole mass of pilgrims now moved forward over the plain; every tent had been previously packed up, to be ready for the occasion. The pilgrims pressed through the Aalameyn, which they must repass on their return; and night came on before they reached the defile called El Mazoumeyn. Innumerable torches were now lighted, twenty-four being carried before each pasha; and the sparks of fire from them flew far over the plain. There were continual discharges of artillery; the soldiers fired their muskets; the martial bands of both the pashas played; sky-rockets were thrown as well by the pashas' officers, as by many private pilgrims; while the Hadj passed at a quick pace in the greatest disorder, amidst a deafening clamour, through the pass of Mazoumeyn, leading towards Mezdelfe, where all alighted, after a two hours' march. No order was observed here in encamping; and every one lay down on the spot that first presented itself, no tents being pitched except those of the pashas and their suites; before which was an illumination of lamps in the form of high arches, which continued to blaze the whole night, while the firing of the artillery was kept up without intermission.

[5] At the close of the sixteenth century, according to Kotobeddyn, the whole plain of Arafat was cultivated.

[6] The Mahmal (an exact representation of which is given by D'Ohsson) is a high, hollow, wooden frame, in the form of a cone, with a pyramidal top, covered with a fine silk brocade adorned with ostrich feathers, and having a small book of prayers and charms placed in the midst of it, wrapped up in a piece of silk. (My description is taken from the Egyptian Mahmal.) When on the road, it serves as a holy banner to the caravan; and on the return of the Egyptian caravan, the book of prayers is exposed in the mosque El Hassaneyn, at Cairo, where men and women of the lower classes go to kiss it and obtain a blessing by rubbing their foreheads upon it. No copy of the Koran, nor any thing but the book of prayers, is placed in the Cairo Mahmal. I believe the custom to have arisen in the battle-banner of the Bedouins, called Merkeb and Otfe, which I have mentioned in my remarks on the Bedouins, and which resemble the Mahmal, inasmuch as they are high wooden frames placed upon camels.

* * * * *

SOUTH AMERICAN MANNERS

From the Memoirs of General Miller, Second Edition.

In the Pampas, where a scarcity of food is unknown to the poorest, that calculating avarice which, in its fears for to-morrow, would look with apathy on the wants of the stranger, can have but a limited sway. Kind offices are, therefore more freely and disinterestedly conferred than in less abundant regions. In addition to this, the dearth of society in a thinly-sprinkled population renders the presence of a traveller on their isolated haciendas a source of gratification. If his appearance afford no ground for mistrust, and if his manners are not disagreeable, his being a stranger is a sufficient passport to a kind and hearty welcome. Whether he be rich or poor is not a subject of inquiry, and makes no difference in the reception.

The South Americans are gay, and fond of dancing, music, and singing. There are few, whether wealthy or otherwise, who are not proficients in one or other of these accomplishments. In the warmer latitudes, people carry on not only their usual occupations, but their amusements, chiefly in the open air; and as singing constitutes one of the principal sources of the latter, the continued exercise of the voice harmonizes and strengthens it. Perhaps no opera, in Europe, could afford, to a natural and unsophisticated ear, so rich a treat as that which may be enjoyed in Cuzco, Arequipa, and other cities, where the ancient Peruvian airs are sung in the rich and melodious tones of the natives.

The South Americans possess great intellectual quickness, and a retentive memory. The following may be cited as an extraordinary instance of the latter faculty. An old man, a native of La Pax, in Upper Peru, and of unmixed Indian blood, who kept an inn at Curicavi, between Valparaiso and Santiago, could repeat nearly the whole of Robertson's "History of Charles the Fifth," and was better acquainted with the History of England than most Englishmen. He spoke of Queen Boadicea, and was as familiar with the history of the civil wars between the houses of York and Lancaster as if they had occurred in his country, and in his own times. He had been brought up by the Jesuits. He had made two voyages to Canton, and was known by the name of "the emperor of China," in consequence frequently of amusing his guests with long stories about the celestial empire.

The Peruvians have great natural talents for painting and sculpture. They generally produce striking likenesses, but being uninstructed in the principles of these arts, their pictures have no other merit. There is, however, a female figure, done in 1711, by a native of Quito, which is considered as one of the finest paintings in a very good collection belonging to Mynheer Vandermarlin, of Brussels.

* * * * *

ORATORIOS.

The first oratorio performed in London, was at the Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre, in 1732. On June 10, in the same year, the serenata of Acis and Galatea was performed at the Italian Opera House, in English, by Italian performers, with scenery representing a rural prospect, with rocks, groves, fountains, and grottoes; amongst which were disposed a chorus of nymphs and shepherds, with dresses and "every other decoration suited to the subject."—Companion to the Theatres.

* * * * *

Printed and Published by J. LIMBIRD, 143, Strand, (near Somerset House,) London; sold by ERNEST FLEISCHER, 626, New Market, Leipsic; and by all Newsmen and Booksellers.

THE END

Home - Random Browse