Transcriber's note: In this etext an accented letter with a macron is represented by x
THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS, VOL. XIX
TRAVEL AND ADVENTURE
ARTHUR MEE Editor and Founder of the Book of Knowledge
J. A. HAMMERTON Editor of Harmsworth's Universal Encyclopaedia
Wm. H. Wise & Co.
Copyright, MCMX Mckinlay, Stone & Mackenzie
Table of Contents
PORTRAIT OF JAMES BOSWELL Frontispiece
BAKER, SIR SAMUEL Page Albert N'yanza 1
BORROW, GEORGE Wild Wales 13 Bible in Spain 22
BOSWELL, JAMES Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides 37
BRUCE, JAMES Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile 47
BURCKHARDT, JOHN LEWIS Travels in Nubia 57
BURTON, SIR RICHARD Pilgrimage to El Medinah and Meccah 67
BUTLER, SIR WILLIAM Great Lone Land 79 Wild North Land 89
COOK, JAMES Voyages Round the World 100
DAMPIER, WILLIAM New Voyage Round the World 112
DARWIN, CHARLES Voyage of H. M. S. Beagle 124
DUBOIS, FELIX Timbuctoo the Mysterious 136
HAKLUYT, RICHARD Principal Navigations 148
KINGLAKE, A. W. Eothen 159
LAYARD, AUSTEN HENRY Nineveh and Its Remains 171
LINNAEUS, CAROLUS Tour in Lapland 181
LIVINGSTONE, DAVID Missionary Travels and Researches 191
LOTI, PIERRE Desert 201
MANDEVILLE, SIR JOHN Voyage and Travel 210
PARK, MUNGO Travels in the Interior of Africa 219
POLO, MARCO Travels 229
SAINT PIERRE, BERNADIN DE Voyage to the Isle of France 241
SPEKE, JOHN HANNING Discovery of the Source of the Nile 251
STERNE, LAURENCE Sentimental Journey through France and Italy 263
VOLTAIRE Letters on the English 275
WALLACE, ALFRED RUSSEL Travels on the Amazon 285
WARBURTON, ELIOT Crescent and the Cross 299
WATERTON, CHARLES Wanderings in South America 313
YOUNG, ARTHUR Travels in France 327
A Complete Index of THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS will be found at the end of Volume XX.
Travel and Adventure
SIR SAMUEL BAKER
The Albert N'yanza
I.—Explorations of the Nile Source
Sir Samuel White Baker was born in London, on June 8, 1821. From early manhood he devoted himself to a life of adventure. After a year in Mauritius he founded a colony in the mountains of Ceylon at Newera Eliya, and later constructed the railway across the Dobrudsha. His discovery of the Albert N'yanza completed the labours of Speke and Grant, and solved the mystery of the Nile. Baker's administration of the Soudan was the first great effort to arrest the slave trade in the Nile Basin, and also the first step towards the establishment of the British Protectorate of Uganda and Somaliland. Baker died on December 30, 1893. He was a voluminous writer, and his books had immense popularity. "The Albert N'yanza" may be regarded as the most important of his works of travel by reason of the exploration which it records rather than on account of any exceptional literary merit. Here his story is one of such thrilling interest that even a dull writer could scarce have failed to hold the attention of any reader by its straightforward narration.
In March, 1861, I commenced an expedition to discover the sources of the Nile, with the hope of meeting the East African Expedition of Captains Speke and Grant that had been sent by the English Government from the south, via Zanzibar, for that object. From my youth I had been inured to hardships and endurance in wild sports in tropical climates; and when I gazed upon the map of Africa I had the hope that I might, by perseverance, reach the heart of Africa. Had I been alone it would have been no hard lot to die upon the untrodden path before me; but my wife resolved, with woman's constancy, to leave the luxuries of home and share all danger, and to follow me through each rough step in the wild life in which I was about to engage. Thus accompanied, on April 15, 1861, I sailed up the Nile from Cairo to Korosko; and thence, by a forced camel march across the Nubian desert, we reached the river of Abou Hamed, and, still on camels, though within view of the palm-trees that bordered the Nile, we came to Berber. I spent a year in learning Arabic, and while doing so explored the Atbara, which joins the Nile twenty miles south of Berber, and the Blue Nile, which joins the main stream at Khartoum, with all their affluents from the mountains of Abyssinia. The general result of these explorations was that I found that the waters of the Atbara when in flood are dense with soil washed from the fertile lands scoured by its tributaries after the melting of the snows and the rainy season; and these, joining with the Blue Nile in full flood, also charged with a red earthy matter, cause the annual inundation in Lower Egypt, the sediment from which gives to that country its remarkable fertility.
I reached Khartoum, the capital of the Soudan, on June 11, 1862. Moosa Pasha was at that time governor-general. He was a rather exaggerated specimen of Turkish authority, combining the worst of oriental failings with the brutality of the wild animal. At that time the Soudan was of little commercial importance to Egypt. What prompted the occupation of the country by the Egyptians was that the Soudan supplied slaves not only for Egypt, but for Arabia and Persia.
In the face of determined opposition of Moosa Pasha and the Nile traders, who were persuaded that my object in penetrating into unknown Central Africa was to put a stop to the nefarious slave traffic, I organised my expedition. It consisted of three vessels—a good decked diahbiah (for my wife, and myself and our personal attendants), and two noggurs, or sailing-barges—the latter to take stores, twenty-one donkeys, four camels and four horses. Forty-five armed men as escort, and forty sailors, all in brown uniform, with servants—ninety-six men in all—constituted my personnel.
On February 2, 1863, we reached Gondokoro, where I landed my animals and stores. It is a curious circumstance that, although many Europeans had been as far south as Gondokoro, I was the first Englishman who had ever reached it. Gondokoro I found a perfect hell. There were about 600 slave-hunters and ivory-traders and their people, who passed the whole of their time in drinking, quarrelling and ill-treating the slaves, of which the camps were full; and the natives assured me that there were large depots of slaves in the interior who would be marched to Gondokoro for shipment to the Soudan a few hours after my departure.
I had heard rumours of Speke and Grant, and determined to wait for a time before proceeding forward. Before very long there was a mutiny among my men, who wanted to make a "razzia" upon the cattle of the natives, which, of course, I prohibited. It had been instigated by the traders, who were determined, if possible, to stop my advance. With the heroic assistance of my wife, I quelled the revolt. On February 15, on the rattle of musketry at a great distance, my men rushed madly to my boat with the report that two white men, who had come from the sea, had arrived. Could they be Speke and Grant? Off I ran, and soon met them in reality; and, with a heart beating with joy, I took off my cap and gave a welcome hurrah! We were shortly seated on the deck of my diahbiah under the awning; and such rough fare as could be hastily prepared was set before these two ragged, careworn specimens of African travel. At the first blush of meeting them I considered my expedition as terminated, since they had discovered the Nile source; but upon my congratulating them with all my heart upon the honours they had so nobly earned, Speke and Grant, with characteristic generosity, gave me a map of their route, showing that they had been unable to complete the actual exploration of the Nile, and that the most important portion still remained to be determined. It appeared that in N. lat. 2 deg. 17' they had crossed the Nile, which they had tracked from the Victoria Lake; but the river, which from its exit from that lake had a northern course, turned suddenly to the west from Karuma Falls (the point at which they crossed it at lat. 2 deg. 17'). They did not see the Nile again until they arrived in N. lat. 3 deg. 32', which was then flowing from the W.S.W. The natives and the King of Unyoro (Kamrasi) had assured them that the Nile from the Victoria N'yanza, which they had crossed at Karuma, flowed westward for several days' journey, and at length fell into a large lake called the Luta N'zige; that this lake came from the south, and that the Nile, on entering the northern extremity, almost immediately made its exit, and, as a navigable river, continued its course to the north, through the Koshi and Madi countries. Both Speke and Grant attached great importance to this lake Luta N'zige; and the former was much annoyed that it had been impossible for them to carry out the exploration.
I now heard that the field was not only open, but that an additional interest was given to the exploration by the proof that the Nile flowed out of one great lake, the Victoria, but that it evidently must derive an additional supply from an unknown lake as it entered it at the northern extremity, while the body of the lake came from the south. The fact of a great body of water, such as the Luta N'zige, extending in a direct line from south to north, while the general system of drainage of the Nile was from the same direction, showed most conclusively that the Luta N'zige, if it existed in the form assumed, must have an important position in the basin of the Nile. I determined, therefore, to go on. Speke and Grant, who were naturally anxious to reach England as soon as possible, sailed in my boat, on February 26, from Gondokoro for Khartoum. Our hearts were much too full to say more than a short "God bless you!" They had won their victory; my work lay all before me.
II.—Perils of Darkest Africa
My plan was to follow a party of traders known by the name of "Turks," and led by an Arab named Ibrahim, which was going to the Latooka country to trade for ivory and slaves, trusting to Providence, good fortune, and the virtue of presents. That party set out early in the afternoon of March 26, 1863. I had secured some rather unwilling men as drivers and porters, and was accompanied by two trusty followers, Richarn and a boy Saat, both of whom had been brought up in the Austrian mission in Khartoum. We had neither guide nor interpreter; but when the moon rose, knowing that the route lay on the east side of the mountain of Belignan, I led the way on my horse Filfil, Mrs. Baker riding by my side on my old Abyssinian hunter, Tetel, and the British flag following behind us as a guide for the caravan of heavily laden camels and donkeys. We pushed on over rough country intersected by ravines till we came to the valley of Tollogo, bounded with perpendicular walls of grey granite, one thousand feet in height, the natives of which were much excited at the sight of the horses and the camels, which were to them unknown animals. After passing through this defile, Ibrahim and his "Turks," whom we had passed during the previous night, overtook us. These slave-hunters and ivory-traders threatened effectually to spoil our enterprise, if not to secure the murder of Mrs. Baker, myself and my entire party, by raising the suspicion and enmity of the native tribes. We afterwards found that there had been a conspiracy to do this. We thought it best, therefore, to parley with Ibrahim, and came to terms with him by means of bribes of a double-barrelled gun and some gold.
Under his auspices our joint caravan cleared the palisaded villages of Ellyria, after paying blackmail to the chief, Legge, whose villainous countenance was stamped with ferocity, avarice and sensuality. Glad to escape from this country, we crossed the Kanīēti river, a tributary of the Sobat, itself a tributary of the White Nile, and entered the country of Latooka, which is bounded by the Lafeet chain of mountains. In the forests and on the plain were countless elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, rhinoceroses, and varieties of large antelopes, together with winged game. The natives are the finest savages I have ever seen, their average height being five feet eleven and a half inches, and their facial features remarkably pleasing. We stayed on many weeks at Tarrangolle, the capital, which is completely surrounded by palisaded walls, within which are over three thousand houses, each a little fort in itself, and kraals for twelve thousand head of cattle. In the neighbourhood I had some splendid big-game shooting; but we had difficulties with repeated mutinies of our men.
Early in May we left Latooka, and crossed a high mountain chain by a pass 2,500 feet in height into the beautiful country of Obbo. This is a fertile plateau, 3,674 feet above sea-level, with abundance of wild grapes and other fruits, yams, nuts, flax, tobacco, etc.; but the travelling was difficult owing to the high grass. The people are pleasant-featured and good-natured, and the chief, Katchiba, maintains his authority by a species of hocus-pocus, or sorcery. He is a merry soul, has a multiplicity of wives—a bevy in each village—so that when he travels through his kingdom he is always at home. His children number 116, and the government is quite a family affair, for he has one of his sons as chief in every village. A native of Obbo showed me some cowrie-shells which he said came from a country called Magungo, situated on a lake so large that no one knew its limits. This lake, said I, can be no other than Luta N'zige which Speke had heard of, and I shall take the first opportunity to push for Magungo.
We returned to Latooka to pick up our stores and rejoin Ibrahim, but were detained by the illness of Mrs. Baker and myself and the loss of some of my transport animals. The joint caravan left Latooka on June 23 for Unyoro, Mrs. Baker in an improvised palanquin. The weather was wretched. Constant rains made progress slow; and the natives of the districts through which we passed were dying like flies from smallpox. When we at last reached Obbo we could proceed no further.
My wife and I were so ill with bilious fever that we could not assist each other; my horses, camels and donkeys all died. Flies by day, rats and innumerable bugs by night in the miserable hut where we were located, lions roaring through the dark, never-ending rains, made for many weary months of Obbo a prison about as disagreeable as could be imagined. Having purchased some oxen in lieu of horses and baggage animals, we at length were able to leave Obbo on January 5, 1864, passing through Farājoke, crossing the river Asua at an altitude of 2,875 feet above sea-level, and then on to Fatiko, the capital of the Shooa country, at an altitude of 3,877 feet.
III.—Discovery of the Nile's Sources
Shooa proved a land flowing with milk and honey. Provisions of every kind were abundant and cheap. The pure air invigorated Mrs. Baker and myself; and on January 18 we left Shooa for Unyoro, Kamrasi's country. On the 22nd we struck the Somerset River, or the Victoria White Nile, and crossed it at the Karuma Falls, marching thence to M'rooli, Kamrasi's capital, at the junction of the Kafoor River with the Somerset, which was reached on February 10. Here we were detained till February 21, with exasperating excuses for preventing us going further, and audacious demands from Kamrasi for everything that I had, including my last watch and my wife! We were surrounded by a great number of natives, and, as my suspicions of treachery appeared confirmed, I drew my revolver, resolved that if this was to be the end of the expedition it should also be the end of Kamrasi. I held the revolver within two feet of his chest, looked at him with undisguised contempt, and told him that if he dared to repeat the insult I would shoot him on the spot. My wife also made him a speech in Arabic (not a word of which he understood), with a countenance as amiable as the head of a Medusa. Altogether, the mise en scene utterly astonished him, and he let us go, furnishing us with a guide named Rabongo to take us to M'wootan N'zige, not Luta N'zige, as Speke had erroneously suggested. In crossing the Kafoor River on a bridge of floating weeds, Mrs. Baker had a sunstroke, fell through the weeds into deep water, and was rescued with great difficulty. For many days she remained in a deep torpor, and was carried on a litter while we marched through an awful broken country. The torpor was followed by brain fever, with its attendant horrors. The rain poured in torrents; and day after day we were forced to travel for want of provisions, as in the deserted villages there were no supplies. Sometimes in the forest we procured wild honey, and rarely I was able to shoot a few guinea-fowl. We reached a village one night following a day on which my wife had had violent convulsions. I laid her down on a litter within a hut, covered her with a Scotch plaid, and I fell upon my mat insensible, worn out with sorrow and fatigue. When I woke the next morning I found my wife breathing gently, the fever gone, the eyes calm. She was saved! The gratitude of that moment I will not attempt to describe.
On March 14 the day broke beautifully clear; and, having crossed a deep valley between the hills, we toiled op the opposite slope. I hurried to the summit. The glory of our prize burst suddenly upon me! There, like a sea of quicksilver, lay, far beneath, the grand expanse of water, a boundless sea horizon on the south and south-west, glittering in the noon-day sun; and on the west, fifty or sixty miles distant, blue mountains rose from the bosom of the lake to a height of 7,000 feet above its level. It is impossible to describe the triumph of that moment. Here was the reward for all our labour—for the years of tenacity with which we had toiled through Africa. England had won the sources of the Nile!
I was about 1,500 feet above the lake; and I looked down from the steep granite cliff upon those welcome waters, upon that vast reservoir which nourished Egypt, and brought fertility where all was wilderness, upon that great source so long hidden from mankind; that source of bounty and of blessing to millions of human beings; and, as one of the greatest objects in Nature, I determined to honour it with a great name. As an imperishable memorial of one loved and mourned by our gracious queen, and deplored by every Englishman, I called this great lake "The Albert N'yanza." The Victoria and the Albert Lakes are the two sources of the Nile.
IV.—Exploring the Great Lake
The zigzag path of the descent to the lake was so steep and dangerous that we were forced to leave our oxen with a guide, who was to take them to Magungo, and wait for our arrival. We commenced the descent of the steep pass on foot. I led the way, grasping a stout bamboo. My wife, in extreme weakness, tottered down the pass, supporting herself on my shoulder, and stopping to rest every twenty paces. After a toilsome descent of about two hours, weak with years of fever, but for the moment strengthened by success, we gained the level plain below the cliff. A walk of about a mile through flat sandy meadows of fine turf, interspersed with trees and bush, brought us to the water's edge. The waves were rolling upon a white pebbly beach. I rushed into the lake, and, thirsty with fatigue, with a heart full of gratitude, I drank deep from the sources of the Nile. Within a quarter of a mile of the lake was a fishing village named Vacovia, in which we now established ourselves.
At sunrise of the following morning I took the compass to the borders of the lake to survey the country. It was beautifully clear; and with a powerful telescope I could distinguish two large waterfalls that cleft the sides of the mountains like threads of silver. My wife, who had followed me so devotedly, stood by my side pale and exhausted—a wreck upon the shores of the great Albert Lake that we had so long striven to reach. No European foot had ever trod upon its sand, nor had the eyes of a white man ever scanned its vast expanse of water. We were the first; and this was the key to the great secret that even Julius Caesar yearned to unravel, but in vain!
Having procured two canoes, we started on a voyage of exploration northward on the lake. Along the east coast, with cliffs 1,500 feet in height, we discovered a waterfall of 1,000 feet drop, formed by the Kaiigiri River emptying itself in the lake. On shore there were many elephants, and in the lake hundreds of hippopotami and crocodiles. We made narrow escapes of shipwreck on several occasions; and on the thirteenth day of our voyage the lake contracted to between fifteen and twenty miles in width, but the canoe came into a perfect wilderness of aquatic vegetation. On the western shore was the kingdom of Malegga, and a chain of mountains 4,000 feet high, but decreasing in height towards the north. We reached the long-sought town of Magungo, and entered a channel, which we were informed was the embouchure of the Somerset River, from the Victoria N'yanza, the same river we had crossed at Karuma. Here we found our guide Rabonga and the riding oxen. The town and general level of the country was 500 feet above the water. A few miles to the north was a gap in the Malegga range; due N. E. the country was a dead flat; and as far as the eye could reach was an extent of bright green reeds marking the course of the Nile as it made its exit out of the lake. The natives refused most positively to take me down the Nile outlet on account of their dread of the Madi people on its banks. I determined, therefore, to go by canoe up the Somerset River, and finally to fix the course of that stream as I had promised Speke to do.
V.—Escape from Savage Enemies
Both my wife and I were helpless with fever, and when we made our first halt at a village I had to be carried ashore on a litter, and my wife was so weak that she had to crawl on foot. At first the river was 500 yards wide, but on the second day it narrowed to 250 yards. As we pulled up the stream, it narrowed to 180 yards, and, rounding a corner, a magnificent sight burst suddenly upon us. On each side were beautifully wooded cliffs rising abruptly to a height of about 300 feet, and rushing through a gap which cleft the rock exactly before us, the river, contracted from a grand stream, was pent up in a narrow gorge of scarcely fifty yards in width. Roaring furiously through the rock-bound pass, it plunged in one leap of about 120 feet perpendicular into a dark abyss below. This was the greatest waterfall of the Nile; and in honour of the distinguished president of the Royal Geographical Society, I named it the Murchison Falls.
Of course, we could proceed no farther by canoe, and landed at a deserted village. Our riding oxen had died; and we had to get some natives as porters. My wife was carried on a litter, and I was scarcely able to crawl; but after tremendous difficulties and dangers we reached, following the bank of the Somerset, on April 8, the island of Patooān, within eighteen miles of where we had first struck the river at Karuma. My exploration was, therefore, complete; but our difficulties were not at an end. We were detained for two months at Shooa Morū, practically deserted by everyone except our two personal attendants, and all but starved.
[The real Kamrasi, for the man Baker and his party had seen on their outward journey was only his brother M'Gambi, afterwards came on the scene, took them to Kisoona, and there and at other places detained them practically prisoners during the long and cruel wars with his rivals, Fawooka and Rionga and the King of Uganda. On November 17, Baker escaped with his wife and a small party and marched through the Shooa country and the country of the Madi to the Asua River, only a quarter of a mile from its junction with the Nile. Then they crossed the country of the Bari, and arrived at Gondokoro, whence they sailed down the Nile to Khartoum, which was reached on May 5, 1865, two years and five months after their start from that city.]
I.—Its People, Language and Scenery
Although the tour in Wales upon which this work was founded took place in 1854, and although the book was completed in 1857, it was not published until 1862. It received curt treatment from most of the critics, but the "Spectator" declared that Borrow (see FICTION) had written "the best book about Wales ever published." This verdict has been endorsed by admirers of Wales and of Borrow. Less imaginative than his earlier works, it is more natural and cheerful; it is a faithful record of studies of Welsh scenery and characteristics, and affords many a delightful glimpse of the quaint personality of its author.
In the summer of the year 1854, myself, wife and daughter determined upon going into Wales to pass a few months there. It was my knowledge of Welsh, such as it was, that made me desirous that we should go to Wales. In my boyhood I had been something of a philologist, and had learnt some Welsh, partly from books and partly from a Welsh groom. I was well versed in the compositions of various of the old Welsh bards, especially those of Dafydd ab Gwilym, whom I have always considered as the greatest poetical genius that has appeared in Europe since the revival of literature.
So our little family started for Wales on July 27, and next day we arrived at Chester. Three days later I sent my wife and daughter by train to Llangollen, and on the following morning I left Chester for Llangollen on foot. After passing through Wrexham, I soon reached Rhiwabon, whence my way lay nearly west. A woman passed me going towards Rhiwabon. I pointed to a ridge to the east, and asked its name. The woman shook her head and replied, "Dim Saesneg" (No English).
"This is as it should be," said I to myself; "I now feel I am in Wales." I repeated the question in Welsh.
"Cefn bach," she replied—which signifies the little ridge.
"Diolch iti," I replied, and proceeded on my way.
On arriving at Llangollen I found my wife and daughter at the principal inn. During dinner we had music, for a Welsh harper stationed in the passage played upon his instrument "Codiad yr ehedydd." "Of a surety," said I, "I am in Wales!"
The beautiful valley of the Dee, or Dwy, of which the Llangollen district forms part, is called in the British tongue Glyndyfrdwy. The celebrated Welsh chieftain, generally known as Owen Glendower, was surnamed after the valley, which belonged to him.
Connected with the Dee there is a wonderful Druidical legend to the following effect. The Dee springs from two fountains, high up in Merionethshire, called Dwy Fawr and Dwy Fach, or the great and little Dwy, whose waters pass through those of the lake of Bala without mingling with them, and come out at its northern extremity. These fountains had their names from two individuals, Dwy Fawr and Dwy Fach, who escaped from the Deluge, and the passing of the waters of the two fountains through the lake, without being confounded with its flood, is emblematic of the salvation of the two individuals from the Deluge, of which the lake is a type.
I remained at Llangollen for nearly a month, first of all ascending to Dinas Bran, a ruined stronghold of unknown antiquity, which crowns the top of the mighty hill on the northern side of the valley; then walking more than once over the Berwyn hills; then visiting the abbey of the Vale of the Cross, where lies buried the poet Iolo Goch, the friend of Owen Glendower; then making an expedition on foot to Ruthin.
Before leaving Llangollen I went over the Berwyn again to the valley of Ceiriog, to see the birthplace of Huw Morris, the great Royalist poet, whose pungent satires of King Charles's foes ran like wild fire through Wales. Through a maze of tangled shrubs, in pouring rain, I was led to his chair—a mouldering stone slab forming the seat, and a large slate stone the back, with the poet's initials cut in it. I uncovered, and said in the best Welsh I could command, "Shade of Huw Morris, a Saxon has come to this place to pay that respect to true genius which he is ever ready to pay." I then sat down in the chair, and commenced repeating the verses of Huw Morris. The Welsh folk who were with me listened patiently and approvingly in the rain, for enthusiasm is never scoffed at by the noble, simple-minded, genuine Welsh, whatever treatment it may receive from the coarse-hearted, sensual, selfish Saxon.
On a brilliant Sunday morning in late August, I left Llangollen on foot for Bangor, Snowdon and Anglesey. I walked through Corwen to Cerrig y Drudion, within sight of Snowdon. At the inn, where I spent the night, the landlady remarked that it was odd that the only two people not Welshmen she had ever known who could speak Welsh should be in her house at the same time. The other man, I found, was an Italian of Como, with whom I conversed in his native tongue.
Next morning I started to walk to Bangor, a distance of thirty-four miles. After passing across a stretch of flat country, I reached Pentre Voelas, and soon found myself in a wild hilly region. Presently I arrived at a cottage just inside the door of which sat a good-looking, middle-aged woman, engaged in knitting, the general occupation of Welsh females.
"Good-day," said I to her in Welsh. "Fine weather."
"In truth, sir, it is fine weather for the harvest."
"Are you alone in the house?"
"I am, sir; my husband has gone to his labour."
"Have you any children?"
"Two, sir, but they are out in service."
"What is the name of the river near here?"
"It is called the Conway. You have heard of it, sir?"
"Heard of it! It is one of the famous rivers of the world. One of the great poets of my country calls it the old Conway."
"Is one river older than another, sir?"
"That's a shrewd question. Can you read?"
"I can, sir."
"Have you any books?"
"I have the Bible, sir."
"Will you show it me?"
On opening the book the first words which met my eye were "Gad i my fyned trwy dy dir!" (Let me go through your country. Numbers xx. 22.)
"I may say these words," said I—"let me go through your country."
"No one will hinder you, sir, for you seem a civil gentleman."
"No one has hindered me hitherto. Wherever I have been in Wales I have experienced nothing but kindness."
"What country is yours, sir?"
"England. Did you not know that by my tongue?"
"I did not, sir. I took you for a Cumro of the south."
I departed, and proceeded through a truly magnificent country to the celebrated Vale of Conway. Then I turned westwards to Capel Curig, and from there walked through a bleak moor amidst wild, sterile hills, and down a gloomy valley with enormous rock walls on either hand, to Bethesda and Bangor, where my family awaited me.
II.—On Snowdon's Lofty Summit
On the third morning after our arrival at Bangor, we set out for Snowdon. Snowdon is interesting on various accounts. It is interesting for its picturesque beauty; it is interesting from its connection with Welsh history.
But it is from its connection with romance that Snowdon derives its chief interest. Who, when he thinks of Snowdon, does not associate it with the heroes of romance, Arthur and his knights?
We went through Carnarvon to Llanberis, and there I started with Henrietta, my daughter, to ascend the hill, my wife not deeming herself sufficiently strong to encounter the fatigue of the expedition. For some way the ascent was anything but steep, but towards the summit the path became much harder; at length, however, we stood safe and sound upon the very top of Snowdon.
"Here," said I to Henrietta, "you are on the top crag of Snowdon, which the Welsh consider, and perhaps with justice, to be the most remarkable crag in the world; which is mentioned in many of their old wild romantic tales, and some of the noblest of their poems, amongst others, in the 'Day of Judgment,' by the illustrious Goronwy Owen."
To this harangue Henrietta listened with attention; three or four English, who stood nigh, with grinning scorn, and a Welsh gentleman with much interest.
The Welshman, coming forward, shook me by the hand, exclaiming, "Wyt ti Lydaueg?" (Are you from Brittany?)
"I am not a Llydauan," said I; "I wish I was, or anything but what I am, one of a nation amongst whom any knowledge, save what relates to money-making, is looked upon as a disgrace. I am ashamed to say that I am an Englishman."
My family then returned to Llangollen, whilst I took a trip into Anglesey to visit Llanfair, the birth-place of the great poet, Goronwy Owen, whose works I had read with enthusiasm in my early years. I went on to Holyhead, and ascended the headland. The prospect, on every side, was noble, and in some respects this Pen Santaidd reminded me of Finisterra, the Gallegan promontory which I had ascended some seventeen years before.
Next morning I departed for Beddgelert by way of Carnarvon. After passing by Lake Cwellyn, where I conversed with the Snowdon ranger, an elderly man who is celebrated as the tip-top guide to Snowdon, I reached Beddgelert, and found the company at the hotel there perhaps even more disagreeable than that which I had left behind at Bangor. Beddgelert is the scene of the legend of Llywelyn ab Jorwerth's dog Gelert, a legend which, whether true or fictitious, is singularly beautiful and affecting. On the way to Festiniog next day I entered a refreshment-place, where I was given a temperance drink that was much too strong for me. By mixing it with plenty of water, I made myself a beverage tolerable enough; a poor substitute, however, to a genuine Englishman for his proper drink, the liquor which, according to the Edda, is called by men ale, and by the gods, beer. Between this place and Tan-y-Bwlch I lost my way. I obtained a wonderful view of the Wyddfa towering in sublime grandeur to the west, and of the beautiful but spectral mountain Knicht in the north; to the south the prospect was noble indeed—waters, forests, hoary mountains, and, in the far distance, the sea. But I underwent sore hardships ere I found my way again, and I was feeling much exhausted when I entered the Grapes Inn at Tan-y-Bwlch.
In the parlour was a serious-looking gentleman, with whom, as I sipped my brandy-and-water, I entered into a discourse that soon took a religious turn. He told me that he believed in Divine pre-destination, and that he did not hope to be saved; he was pre-destined to be lost. I disputed the point with him for a considerable time, and left him looking very miserable, perhaps at finding that he was not quite so certain of eternal damnation as he had hitherto supposed.
An hour's walking brought me to Festiniog, the birthplace of Rhys Goch, a celebrated bard, and a partisan of Owen Glendower. Next morning I crossed a wild and cheerless moor that extended for miles and miles, and entered a valley with an enormous hill on my right. Presently meeting four men, I asked the foremost of them its name.
"Arenig Vawr," he replied, or something like it. I asked if anybody lived upon it.
"No," he replied; "too cold for man."
"Fox?" said I.
"No! too cold for fox."
"Crow?" said I.
"No; too cold for crow; crow would be starved upon it." He then looked me in the face, expecting probably that I should smile. I, however, looked at him with all the gravity of a judge, whereupon he also observed the gravity of a judge, and we continued looking at each other with all the gravity of judges till we both simultaneously turned away.
Shortly afterwards I came to a beautiful valley; a more bewitching scene I never beheld. I was now within three miles of Bala, where I spent the night at an excellent inn. The name of the lake of Bala is Llyn Tegid, which signifies Lake of Beauty; and certainly this name was not given for nothing.
Next day, shortly after sunset, I reached my family at Llangollen, and remained there for some weeks, making excursions to Chirk Castle and elsewhere. On October 21 I left my family to make preparations for their return to England, and myself departed for South Wales.
III.—Wanderings in South Wales
I walked first to Llan Rhyadr, visited Sycharth and Llan Silin, where Huw Morris is buried, saw the cataract of the Rhyadr, and crossed the hills to Bala. After remaining a day in this beautiful neighbourhood, I crossed a stupendous pass to Dinas Mawddwy, in the midst of the region once inhabited by the red-haired banditti of Mawddwy, the terror of the greater part of North Wales. From there I passed down a romantic gorge, through which flows the Royal Dyfi, to Mallwyd, where I spent the night.
Next morning I descended the valley of the Dyfi to Machynlleth, a thoroughly Welsh town situated among pleasant green meadows. At Machynlleth, in 1402, Owen Glendower held a parliament, and was formally crowned King of Wales. To Machynlleth came Dafydd Gam, with the view of assassinating Owen, who, however, had him seized and conducted in chains to a prison in the mountains of Sycharth.
On November 2, I left Machynlleth by a steep hill to the south, whence there is a fine view of the Dyfi valley, and set out for the Devil's Bridge. The road was at first exceedingly good, and the scenery beautiful. Afterwards I had to pass over very broken ground, and the people of whom I asked my way were Saxon-haters and uncivil. Night was coming on fast when I reached the inn of Pont Erwyd.
Next day I went on to the Devil's Bridge in the agreeable company of a Durham mining captain, who had come to this country thirty-five years before to help in opening Wales—that is, by mining in Wales in the proper fashion, which means the North-country fashion. Arrived at the Devil's Bridge, I viewed its magnificent scenery, and especially observed the cave of the Wicked Children, the mysterious Plant de Bat, sons of Bat or Bartholomew, who concealed themselves in this recess and plundered the neighbourhood. Finally, they fell upon a great gentleman on the roads by night, and not only robbed, but murdered him. "That job was the ruin of Plant de Bat," an old postman told me, "for the great gentleman's friends hunted after his murderers with dogs, and at length came to the cave, and, going in, found it stocked with riches, and the Plant de Bat sitting upon the riches, not only the boys, but their sister, who was as bad as themselves. So they took out the riches and the Plant de Bat, and the riches they did give to churches and hospitals, and the Plant de Bat they did execute, hanging the boys, and burning the girl."
After a visit to the Minister's Bridge, not far distant, a place very wild and savage, but not comparable in sublimity with the Devil's Bridge, I determined to ascend the celebrated mountain of Plynlimmon, where arise the rivers Rheidol, Severn and Wye. I caused my guide to lead me to the sources of each of the three rivers. That of the Rheidol is a small, beautiful lake, overhung on two sides by frightful crags. The source of the Severn is a little pool some twenty inches long, covered at the bottom with small stones; the source of the Wye is a pool not much larger. The fountain of the Rheidol stands apart from the others, as if, proud of its own beauty, it disdained their homeliness. I drank deeply at all three sources.
Next day I went by Hafod and Spitty Ystwith over a bleak moorland country to the valley of the Teivi, and turned reverently aside to the celebrated monastery of Strata Florida, where is buried Dafydd ab Gwilym, the greatest genius of the Cymbric race. In this neighbourhood I heard a great deal of the exploits of Twm Shone Catti, the famous Welsh robber, who became a country gentleman and a justice of the peace.
From Tregaron, eight miles beyond Strata Florida, I went on to Llan Ddewi Brefi and Lampeter, and crossed over to Llandovery in the fair valley of the Towy. From there I went over the Black Mountains, in mist and growing darkness, to Gutter Vawr, and thence to Swansea. Through a country blackened with industry, I walked to Neath; thence in rainy weather to Merthyr Tydvil, where I went to see the Cyfartha Fawr Ironworks. Here I saw enormous furnaces and heard all kinds of dreadful sounds.
From Merthyr Tydvil I journeyed to Caerfili by Pen-y-Glas; then to Newport; then by Caer Went, once an important Roman station and now a poor, desolate place, to Chepstow. I went to the Wye and drank of the waters at its mouth, even as some time before I had drunk of the waters at its source. Returning to the inn, I got my dinner, and placing my feet against the sides of the grate I drank wine and sang Welsh songs till ten o'clock. Then, shouldering my satchel, I proceeded to the railroad station and took a first-class ticket to London.
The Bible in Spain
I.—The First Journey
In 1835 George Henry Borrow, fresh from a journey in Russia as the Bible Society's agent, set out for Spain to sell and distribute Bibles on the Society's behalf. This mission, in the most fervidly Roman Catholic of all European countries, was one that required rare courage and resourcefulness; and Borrow's task was complicated by the fact that Spain was in a disturbed state owing to the Carlist insurrection. Borrow's journeys in Spain, which were preceded by a tour in Portugal, and followed by a visit to Morocco, lasted in all about four years. In December, 1842, he published "The Bible in Spain"—a work less remarkable as a record of missionary effort than as a vivid narrative of picturesque travel episodes, and a testimony to its author's keen delight in an adventurous life of wanderings in the open air.
I landed at Lisbon on November 12, 1835; and on January 5, 1836, I spurred down the hill of Elvas, on the Portuguese frontier, eager to arrive in old chivalrous romantic Spain. In little more than half an hour we arrived at a brook, whose waters ran vigorously between steep banks. A man who was standing on the side directed me to the ford in the squeaking dialect of Portugal; but whilst I was yet splashing through the water, a voice from the other bank hailed me, in the magnificent language of Spain, in this guise: "Charity, Sir Cavalier, for the love of God bestow an alms upon me, that I may purchase a mouthful of red wine!" In a moment I was on Spanish ground, and, having flung the beggar a small piece of silver, I cried in ecstasy: "Santiago y cierra Espana!" and scoured on my way with more speed than before.
I was now within half a league of Badajoz, where I spent the next three weeks. It was here that I first fell in with those singular people, the Zincali, Gitanos, or Spanish gypsies. My time was chiefly devoted to the gypsies, among whom, from long intercourse with various sections of their race in different parts of the world, I felt myself much more at home than with the silent, reserved men of Spain, with whom a foreigner might mingle for half a century without having half a dozen words addressed to him. So when the fierce gypsy, Antonio Lopez, offered to accompany me as guide on my journey towards Madrid, I accepted his offer. After a few days of travelling in his company I was nearly arrested on suspicion by a national guard, but was saved by my passport. In fact, my appearance was by no means calculated to prepossess people in my favour. Upon my head I wore an old Andalusian hat; a rusty cloak, which had perhaps served half a dozen generations, enwrapped my body. My face was plentifully bespattered with mud, and upon my chin was a beard of a week's growth.
I took leave of Antonio at the summit of the Pass of Mirabete, and descended alone, occasionally admiring one of the finest prospects in the world; before me outstretched lay immense plains, bounded in the distance by huge mountains, whilst at the foot of the hill rolled the Tagus in a deep narrow stream, between lofty banks.
Early in February I reached Madrid. I hoped to obtain permission from the government to print the new Testament in the Castilian language, for circulation in Spain, and lost no time in seeing Mendizabal, the Prime Minister. He was a bitter enemy to the Bible Society; but I pressed upon him so successfully that eventually I obtained a promise that at the expiration of a few months, when he hoped the country would be in a more tranquil state, I should be allowed to print the Scriptures. He told me to call upon him again at the end of three months. Before that time had elapsed, however, he had fallen into disgrace, and his Ministry had been succeeded by another. At the outset, in spite of assistance from the British Minister, I could only get evasions from the new government.
I had nothing to do but wait, and I used to loiter for hours along the delightful banks of the canal that runs parallel with the River Manzanares, listening to the prattle of the narangero, or man who sold oranges and water. He was a fellow of infinite drollery; his knowledge of individuals was curious and extensive, few people passing his stall with whose names, character, and history he was not acquainted.
"Those two boys are the children of Gabiria, comptroller of the Queen's household, and the richest man in Madrid. They are nice boys, and buy much fruit. The old woman who is lying beneath yon tree is the Tia Lucilla; she has committed murders, and as she owes me money, I hope one day to see her executed. This man was of the Walloon guard—Senor Don Benito Mol, how do you do?"
This last-named personage instantly engrossed my attention; he was a bulky old man, with ruddy features, and eyes that had an expression of great eagerness, as if he were expecting the communication of some important tidings. He returned the salutation of the orange-man, and, bowing to me, forthwith produced two scented wash-balls, which he offered for sale in a rough dissonant jargon.
Upon my asking him who he was, the following conversation ensued between us.
"I am a Swiss of Lucerne, Benedict Mol by name, once a soldier in the Walloon guard, and now a soap-boiler, at your service."
"You speak the language of Spain very imperfectly," said I. "How long have you been in the country?"
"Forty-five years," replied Benedict. "But when the guard was broken up I went to Minorca, where I lost the Spanish language without acquiring the Catalan. I will now speak Swiss to you, for, if I am not much mistaken, you are a German man, and understand the speech of Lucerne. I intend shortly to return to Lucerne, and live there like a duke."
"Have you, then, realised a large capital in Spain?" said I, glancing at his hat and the rest of his apparel.
"Not a cuart, not a cuart; these two wash-balls are all that I possess."
"Perhaps you are the son of good parents, and have lands and money in your own country wherewith to support yourself?"
"Not a heller, not a heller; my father was hangman of Lucerne, and when he died his body was seized to pay his debts." When he went back to Lucerne, added Benedict, it would be in a coach drawn by six mules, with treasure, a mighty schatz, which lay in a certain church at Compostella, in Galicia. He had learnt the secret of it from a dying soldier of the Walloon guard, who, with two companions, had buried in the church a great booty they had made in Portugal. It consisted of gold moidores and of a packet of huge diamonds from the Brazils. The whole was contained in a large copper kettle. "It is very easy to find, for the dying man was so exact in his description of the place where it lies that were I once at Compostella, I should have no difficulty in putting my hand upon it. Several times I have been on the point of setting out on the journey, but something has always happened to stop me."
At various times during the next two years I again met Benedict Mol.
When next I called upon the new Prime Minister, Isturitz, I found him well disposed to favour my views, and I obtained an understanding that my Biblical pursuits would be tolerated in Spain. The Minister was in a state of extreme depression, which was indeed well grounded; for within a week there occurred a revolution in which his party, the Moderados, were overthrown by the Nacionals. I watched the fighting from an upper window, in the company of my friend D——, of the "Morning Chronicle." Afterwards I returned to England, for the purpose of consulting with my friends, and planning a Biblical campaign.
II.—Travels in Northern Spain
In November I sailed from the Thames to Cadiz, and reached Madrid by Seville and Cordova. I found that I could commence printing the Scriptures without any further applications to the government. Within three months of my arrival an edition of the New Testament, consisting of 5,000 copies, was published at Madrid. I then prepared to ride forth, Testament in hand, and endeavour to circulate the Word of God amongst the Spaniards.
First, I purchased a horse. He was a black Andalusian stallion of great power and strength, but he was unbroke, savage, and furious. A cargo of Bibles, however, which I hoped occasionally to put on his back, would, I had no doubt, thoroughly tame him. I then engaged a servant, a wandering Greek, named Antonio Buchini; his behaviour was frequently in the highest degree extraordinary, but he served me courageously and faithfully. The state of the surrounding country was not very favourable for setting forth; Cabrera, the Carlist, was within nine leagues of Madrid, with an army nearly 10,000 strong; nevertheless, about the middle of May I bade farewell to my friends, and set out for Salamanca.
A melancholy town is Salamanca; the days of its collegiate glory are long since past, never more to return; a circumstance, however, which is little to be regretted, for what benefit did the world ever derive from scholastic philosophy? The principal bookseller of the town consented to become my agent here, and I, in consequence, deposited in his shop a certain number of New Testaments. I repeated this experiment in all the large towns which I visited and distributed them likewise as I rode along.
The posada where I put up at Salamanca was a good specimen of the old Spanish inn. Opposite to my room lodged a wounded officer; he was attended by three broken soldiers, lame or maimed, and unfit for service; they were quite destitute of money, and the officer himself was poor and had only a few dollars. Brave guests for an inn, thought I; yet, to the honour of Spain be it spoken, it is one of the few countries in Europe where poverty is never insulted nor looked upon with contempt. Even at an inn the poor man is never spurned from the door, and if not harboured, is at least dismissed with fair words, and consigned to the mercy of God and his mother. This is as it should be. I laugh at the bigotry and prejudices of Spain; I abhor the cruelty and ferocity which have cast a stain of eternal infamy on her history; but I will say for the Spaniards that in their social intercourse no people in the world exhibit a juster feeling of what is due to the dignity of human nature, or better understand the behaviour which it behoves a man to adopt towards his fellow beings.
We travelled on by Valladolid, Leon and Astorga, and entered the terrific mountains of Galicia. After a most difficult journey, along precipitous tracks that were reported to be infested by brigands, we reached Coruna, where stands the tomb of Mocre, built by the chivalrous French in commemoration of the fall of their heroic antagonist. Many acquire immortality without seeking it, and die before its first ray has gilded their name; of these was Moore. There is scarcely a Spaniard but has heard of his tomb, and speaks of it with a strange kind of awe.
At the commencement of August I found myself at St. James of Compostella. A beautiful town is St. James, standing on a pleasant level amidst mountains. Time has been when, with the single exception of Rome, it was the most celebrated resort of pilgrims in the world. Its glory, however, as a place of pilgrimage is rapidly passing away.
I was walking late one night alone in the Alameda, when a man dressed in coarse brown garments took off his hat and demanded charity in uncouth tones. "Benedict Mol," said I, "is it possible that I see you at Compostella?"
It was indeed Benedict. He had walked all the way from Madrid, supporting himself by begging.
"What motive could possibly bring you such a distance?" I asked him.
"I come for the schatz—the treasure. Ow, I do not like this country of Galicia at all; all my bones are sore since I entered Galicia."
"And yet you have come to this country in search of treasure?"
"Ow yaw, but the schatz is buried; it is not above ground; there is no money above ground in Galicia. I must dig it up; and when I have dug it up I will purchase a coach with six mules, and ride out of Galicia to Lucerne."
I gave him a dollar, and told him that as for the treasure he had come to seek, probably it only existed in his own imagination.
III.—The Alcalde of Finisterra
After a visit to Pontevedra and Vigo, I returned to Padron, three leagues from Compostella, and decided to hire a guide to Cape Finisterra. It would be difficult to assign any plausible reason for the ardent desire which I entertained to visit this place; but I thought that to convey the Gospel to a place so wild and remote might perhaps be considered an acceptable pilgrimage in the eyes of my Maker.
The first guide I employed deserted me; the second did not appear to know the way, and sought to escape from me; and when I tried to pursue him, my horse bolted and nearly broke my neck. I caught the guide at last. After a very rough journey we reached the village of Finisterra, and wound our way up the flinty sides of the huge bluff head which is called the Cape. Certainly in the whole world there is no bolder coast than the Gallegan shore. There is an air of stern and savage grandeur in everything around, which strangely captivates the imagination. After gazing from the summit of the Cape for nearly an hour we descended to the village. On reaching the house where we had taken up our habitation, I flung myself on a rude and dirty bed, and was soon asleep.
I was suddenly, however, seized roughly by the shoulder and nearly dragged from the bed. I looked up in amazement, and I beheld hanging over me a wild and uncouth figure; it was that of an elderly man, built as strong as a giant, in the habiliments of a fisherman; in his hand was a rusty musket.
MYSELF: Who are you and what do you want? By what authority do you thus presume to interfere with me?
FIGURE: By the authority of the Justicia of Finisterra. Follow me peaceably, Calros, or it will be the worse with you.
"Calros," said I, "what does the person mean?" I thought it, however, most prudent to obey his command, and followed him down the staircase. The shop and the portal were now thronged with the inhabitants of Finisterra, men, women, and children. Through this crowd the figure pushed his way with an air of authority. "It is Calros! It is Calros!" said a hundred voices; "he has come to Finisterra at last, and the justicia have now got hold of him."
At last we reached a house of rather larger size than the rest; my guide having led me into a long, low room, placed me in the middle of the floor, and then hurrying to the door, he endeavoured to repulse the crowd who strove to enter with us. I now looked around the room. It was rather scantily furnished; I could see nothing but some tubs and barrels, the mast of a boat, and a sail or two. Seated upon the tubs were three or four men coarsely dressed, like fishermen or shipwrights. The principal personage was a surly, ill-tempered-looking fellow of about thirty-five, whom I discovered to be the alcalde of Finisterra. After I had looked about me for a minute, the alcalde, giving his whiskers a twist, thus addressed me:
"Who are you, where is your passport, and what brings you to Finisterra?"
MYSELF: I am an Englishman. Here is my passport, and I came to see Finisterra.
This reply seemed to discomfit them for a moment. They looked at each other, then at my passport. At length the alcalde, striking it with his finger, bellowed forth, "This is no Spanish passport; it appears to be written in French."
MYSELF: I have already told you that I am a foreigner. I, of course, carry a foreign passport.
ALCALDE: Then you mean to assert that you are not Calros Rey?
MYSELF: I never heard before of such a king, nor indeed of such a name.
ALCALDE: Hark to the fellow; he has the audacity to say that he has never heard of Calros the pretender, who calls himself king.
MYSELF: If you mean by Calros the pretender Don Carlos, all I can reply is that you can scarcely be serious. You might as well assert that yonder poor fellow, my guide, whom I see you have made prisoner, is his nephew, the infante Don Sebastian.
ALCALDE: See, you have betrayed yourself; that is the very person we suppose him to be.
MYSELF: It is true that they are both hunchbacks. But how can I be like Don Carlos? I have nothing the appearance of a Spaniard, and am nearly a foot taller than the pretender.
ALCALDE: That makes no difference; you, of course, carry many waistcoats about you, by means of which you disguise yourself, and appear tall or low according to your pleasure.
This last was so conclusive an argument that I had of course nothing to reply to it. "Yes, it is Calros; it is Calros," said the crowd at the door.
"It will be as well to have these men shot instantly," continued the alcalde; "if they are not the two pretenders, they are at any rate two of the factious."
"I am by no means certain that they are either one or the other," said a gruff voice. Our glances rested upon the figure who held watch at the door. He had planted the barrel of his musket on the floor, and was leaning his chin against the butt.
"I have been examining this man," he continued, pointing to myself, "and listening whilst he spoke, and it appears to me that after all he may prove an Englishman; he has their very look and voice."
Here the alcalde became violently incensed. "He is no more an Englishman than yourself," he exclaimed; "if he were an Englishman, would he have come in this manner, skulking across the land? Not so I trow. He would have come in a ship."
After a fierce dispute between the alcalde and the guard, it was decided to remove us to Corcuvion, where the head alcalde was to dispose of us as he thought proper.
The head alcalde was a mighty liberal and a worshipper of Jeremy Bentham. "The most universal genius which the world ever produced," he called him. "I am most truly glad to see a countryman of his in these Gothic wildernesses. Stay, I think I see a book in your hand."
MYSELF: The New Testament.
ALCALDE: Why do you carry such a book with you?
MYSELF: One of my principal motives in visiting Finisterra was to carry this book to that wild place.
ALCALDE: Ah, ah! how very singular. Yes, I remember. I have heard that the English highly prize this eccentric book. How very singular that the countrymen of the grand Bentham should set any value upon that old monkish book.
I told him that I had read none of Bentham's writings; but nevertheless I had to thank that philosopher not only for my release, but for hospitable treatment during the rest of my stay in the region of Finisterra.
From Corcuvion I returned to Compostella and Coruna, and then directed my course to Asturias. At Oviedo, I again met Benedict Mol. He had sought to get permission to disinter the treasure, and had not succeeded. He had then tried to reach France, begging by the way. He was in villainous apparel, and nearly barefooted. He promised to quit Spain and return to Lucerne, and I gave him a few dollars.
"A strange man is this Benedict," said my servant Antonio. "A strange life he has led and a strange death he will die—it is written on his countenance. That he will leave Spain I do not believe, or, if he leave it, it will only be to return, for he is bewitched about this same treasure."
Soon afterwards I returned to Madrid. During my northern journey, which occupied a considerable portion of the year 1837, I had accomplished less than I proposed to myself. Something, however, had been effected. The New Testament was now enjoying a quiet sale in the principal towns of the north.
I had, moreover, disposed of a considerable number of Testaments with my own hands.
I spent some months in Madrid translating the New Testament into the Basque and Gypsy languages. During this time the hostility of the priesthood to my labours became very bitter. The Governor of Madrid forbade the sale of Testaments in January, 1838; afterwards all copies of the Gypsy Gospel were confiscated, and in May I was thrown into prison. I went cheerfully enough, knowing that the British Embassy was actively working for my release; and the governor of the prison, one of the greatest rascals in all Spain, greeted me with a most courteous speech in pure sonorous Castilian, bidding me consider myself as a guest rather than a prisoner, and permitting me to roam over every part of the gaol.
What most surprised me with respect to the prisoners was their good behaviour. I call it good when all things are taken into consideration. They had their occasional bursts of wild gaiety, their occasional quarrels, which they were in the habit of settling in a corner with their long knives; but, upon the whole, their conduct was infinitely superior to what might have been expected. Yet this was not the result of coercion, or any particular care which was exercised over them; for perhaps in no part of the world are prisoners so left to themselves and so utterly neglected as in Spain. Yet in this prison of Madrid the ears of the visitor are never shocked with horrid blasphemy and profanity, nor are his eyes outraged and himself insulted. And yet in this prison were some of the most desperate characters in Spain. But gravity and sedateness are the leading characteristics of the Spaniards, and the very robber, except in those moments when he is engaged in his occupation, and then no one is more sanguinary, pitiless, and wolfishly eager for booty, is a being who can be courteous and affable, and who takes pleasure in conducting himself with sobriety and decorum.
After a stay of three weeks in the prison I was released, as I expected, with an apology, and I prepared for another journey. While in prison I had been visited by Benedict Mol, again in Madrid. Soon after my release he came in high spirits to bid me farewell before starting for Compostella to dig up the schatz. He was dressed in new clothes; instead of the ragged staff he had usually borne, he carried a huge bamboo rattan. He had endured terrible privations, he said, in the mountains. But one night he had heard among the rocks a mysterious voice telling him that the way to the treasure lay through Madrid. To Madrid he had come, and the government, hoping for a replenishment of its empty treasury, had given him permission to search for the treasure.
"Well, Benedict," I told him, "I have nothing to say save that I hope you will succeed in your digging."
"Thank you, lieber Herr, thank you!" Here he stopped short and started. "Heiliger Gott! Suppose I should not find the treasure, after all?"
"Very rationally said. It is not too late. Put on your old garments, grasp your ragged staff, and help me to circulate the Gospel."
He mused for a moment, then shook his head. "No, no," he cried; "I must accomplish my destiny! I shall find it—the schatz—it is still there—it must be there!"
He went, and I never saw him more. What I heard, however, was extraordinary enough. The treasure hunt at Compostella was conducted in a public and imposing manner. The bells pealed, the populace thronged from their houses, troops were drawn up in the square. A procession directed its course to the church; at its head was the captain-general and the Swiss; numerous masons brought up the rear. The procession enters the church, they pass through it in solemn march, they find themselves in a vaulted passage. The Swiss looks around. "Dig here!" said he. The masons labour, the floor is broken up—a horrible fetid odour arises....
Enough; no treasure was found, and the unfortunate Swiss was forthwith seized and flung into the horrid prison of Saint James, amidst the execrations of thousands. Soon afterwards he was removed from Saint James, whither I could not ascertain. It was said that he disappeared on the road.
Where in the whole cycle of romance shall we find anything more wild, grotesque and sad than the easily authenticated history of the treasure-digger of Saint James.
A most successful journey, in which I distributed the Gospel freely in the Sagra of Toledo and La Mancha, was interrupted by a serious illness, which compelled me to return to Madrid, and afterwards to visit England for a rest. On December 31, 1838, I entered Spain for the third time. From Cadiz I travelled to Madrid by Seville, and made a number of short journeys to the villages near the capital. The clergy, however, had induced the government to order the confiscation of all Testaments exposed for sale. Prevented from labouring in the villages, I organised a distribution of Testaments in Madrid itself. I then returned to Seville; but even here I was troubled by the government's orders for the seizure of Testaments. I had, however, several hundred copies in my own possession, and I remained in Seville for several months until I had disposed of them. I lived there in extreme retirement; there was nothing to induce me to enter much into society. The Andalusians, in all estimable traits of character, are as far below the other Spaniards as the country which they inhabit is superior in beauty and fertility to the other provinces of Spain.
At the end of July, 1839, I went by steamer down the Guadalquivir to Cadiz, then to Gibraltar, and thence across to Tangier and the land of the Moors. I had a few Spanish Testaments still in my possession, and my object was to circulate them among the Christians of Tangier.
NOTE.—At this point the narrative abruptly ends. Borrow returned from Morocco to England in the spring of 1840.
Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides
I.—Edinburgh, Fifeshire, and Aberdeen
Boswell's first considerable book was a lively description of his tour in Corsica, but his fame rests on his "Life of Dr. Johnson" (see LIVES AND LETTERS), and his "Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson, LL.D." was really the first portion of that great work, and was meant, as he himself said, "to delineate Dr. Johnson's manners and character" more than to give any detailed descriptions of scenery. We have chosen to include it in the travel section of our work, however, as it might be more readily looked for there than under "Johnson" in the department of "Lives and Letters." The journal was published in the autumn of 1785, about nine months after the death of Johnson.
Dr. Johnson had for many years given me hopes that we should go together and visit the Hebrides. In spring, 1773, he talked of coming to Scotland that year with so much firmness that I hoped he was at last in earnest. I knew that if he were once launched from the metropolis he would go forward very well. Luckily, Mr. Justice (now Sir Robert) Chambers conducted Dr. Johnson from London to Newcastle; and Mr. Scott, of University College, Oxford, accompanied him from thence to Edinburgh.
On Saturday, August 14, 1773, late in the evening, I received a note from him, that he had arrived in Boyd's Inn, at the head of the Canongate. I went to him directly. He embraced me cordially, and I exulted in the thought that I had him actually in Caledonia. He was to do me the honour to lodge under my roof. We walked arm-in-arm up the High Street to my house in James's Court. It was a dusky night; but he acknowledged that the breadth of the street, and the loftiness of the buildings on each side, made a noble appearance. My wife had tea ready, which it is well known he delighted to drink at all hours; and he showed much complacency upon finding that the mistress of the house was so attentive to his singular habit. On Sunday, after dinner, Principal Robertson came and drank wine with us, and there was some animated dialogue. During the next two days we walked out that Dr. Johnson might see some of the things which we have to show at Edinburgh, such as Parliament House, where the lords of session now hold their courts, the Advocates' Library, St. Giles's great church, the Royal Infirmary, the Abbey of Holyrood House, and the Palace, where our beautiful Queen Mary lived, and in which David Rizzio was murdered.
We set out from Edinburgh on Wednesday, August 18, crossed the Frith of Forth by boat, touching at the island of Inch Keith, and landed in Fife at Kinghorn, where we took a post-chaise, and had a dreary drive to St. Andrews. We arrived late, and were received at St. Leonard's College by Professor Watson. We were conducted to see St. Andrew, our oldest university, and the seat of our primate in the days of episcopacy. Dr. Johnson's veneration for the hierarchy affected him with a strong indignation while he beheld the ruins of religious magnificence. I happened to ask where John Knox was buried. Dr. Johnson burst out: "I hope in the highway! I have been looking at his reformations."
We left St. Andrews August 20, and drove through Leuchars, Dundee, and Aberbrothick to Montrose. Travelling onwards, we had the Grampian Hills in view, and some good land around us, but void of trees and hedges; and the Doctor observed that it was wonderful to see a land so denuded of timber. Beyond Lawrence Kirk we visited and dined with Lord Monboddo, and after a tedious journey we came to Aberdeen. Next morning Principal Campbell and other college professors called for us, and we went with them and saw Marischal College.
Afterwards we waited on the magistrates in the Town Hall. They had invited us to present Dr. Johnson with the freedom of the town, which Provost Jopp did with a very good grace. Dr. Johnson was much pleased with this mark of attention, and received it very politely. It was striking to hear the numerous company drinking "Dr. Johnson! Dr. Johnson!" and then to see him with his burgess ticket, or diploma, in his hat, which he wore as he walked along the streets, according to the usual custom. We dined with the provost and a large company of professors at the house of Sir Alexander Gordon, Professor of Medicine, but there was little or no conversation.
II.—Through the Macbeth Country
We resumed our journey northwards on the morning of August 24. Having received a polite invitation to Slains Castle, we proceeded thither, and were graciously welcomed. Lady Errol pressed us to stay all night, and ordered the coach to carry us to see the great curiosity on the coast at Dunbui, which is a monstrous cauldron, called by the country people the Pot. Dr. Johnson insisted on taking a boat and sailing into the Pot, and we found caves of considerable depth on each side.
Returning to the castle, Dr. Johnson observed that its situation was the noblest he had ever seen, better than Mount Edgcumbe, reckoned the first in England. About nine, the earl, who had been absent, came home. His agreeable manners and softness of address prevented that constraint which the idea of his being Lord High Constable of Scotland might otherwise have occasioned. He talked very easily and sensibly with his learned guest. We left Slains Castle next morning, and, driving by Banff and Elgin, where the noble ruins of the cathedral were examined by Dr. Johnson with a patient attention, reached Forres on the night of August 26. That afternoon we drove over the very heath where Macbeth met the witches, according to tradition. Dr. Johnson solemnly recited:
How far is't called to Forres? What are these, So withered, and so wild is their attire? They look not like the inhabitants o' the earth, And yet are on't.
From Forres we came to Nairn, and thence to the manse of the minister of Calder, Mr. Kenneth Macaulay, author of the "History of St. Kilda," where we stayed the night, after visiting the old castle, the seat of the Thane of Cawdor. Thence we drove to Fort George, where we dined with the governor, Sir Eyre Coote (afterwards the gallant conqueror of Hyder Ali, and preserver of our Indian Empire), and then got safely to Inverness. Next day we went to Macbeth's Castle. I had a romantic satisfaction in seeing Dr. Johnson actually in it. It perfectly corresponds with Shakespeare's description, which Sir Joshua Reynolds has so happily illustrated in one of his notes on our immortal poet:
This castle has a pleasant seat: the air Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself Unto our gentle senses.
Just as we came out of it a raven perched upon one of the chimney-tops and croaked. Then I repeated:
The raven himself is hoarse, That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan Under my battlements.
On Monday, August 30, we began our equitation. We had three horses for Dr. Johnson, myself, and Joseph, my servant, and one which carried our portmanteaus, and two Highlanders walked along with us. Dr. Johnson rode very well. It was a delightful day. Loch Ness and the road upon the side of it, shaded with birch-trees, pleased us much. The night was spent at Fort Augustus, and the next two days we travelled through a wild country, with prodigious mountains on each side.
III.—In the Misty Hebrides
We came at last to Glenelg, and next morning we got into a boat for Sky, and reached the shore of Armidale. Sir Alexander Macdonald, chief of the Macdonalds in the Isle of Sky, came down to receive us. Armidale is situated on a pretty bay of the narrow sea which flows between the mainland of Scotland and the Isle of Sky. In front there is a grand prospect of the rude mountains Moidart and Knoidart. Dr. Johnson and I were now full of the old Highland spirit, and were dissatisfied at hearing of racked rents and emigration, and finding a chief not surrounded by his clan. We attempted in vain to communicate to him a portion of our enthusiasm.
On September 6 we set out, accompanied by Mr. Donald Macleod as our guide, for Corrichatachin, in the district of Strath. This farm is possessed by Mr. Mackinnon, who received us with a hearty welcome. The company was numerous and cheerful, and we, for the first time, had a specimen of the joyous social manners of the inhabitants of the Highlands. They talked in their own language with fluent vivacity, and sang many Erse songs.
The following day the Rev. Donald Macqueen arrived to take us to the Island of Rasay, in Macgillichallum's carriage. Along with him came, as our pilot, Mr. Malcolm Macleod, one of the Rasay family, celebrated in the year 1745-46. We got into Rasay's carriage, which was a strong open boat. Dr. Johnson sat high on the stern like a magnificent triton.
The approach to Rasay was very pleasing. We saw before us a beautiful bay, well defended by a rocky coast, a good family mansion, a fine verdure about it, with a considerable number of trees, and beyond it hills and mountains in gradation of wildness. A large company came out from the house to meet us as we landed, headed by Rasay himself, whose family has possessed this island above four hundred years.
From Rasay we sailed to Portree, in Sky, and then rode in wretched weather to Kingsburgh. There we were received by Mr. Allan Macdonald and his wife, the celebrated Miss Flora Macdonald. She is a little woman of a genteel appearance, and uncommonly mild and well-bred. Dr. Johnson was rather quiescent, and went early to bed. I slept in the same room with him. Each had a neat bed with tartan curtains. Dr. Johnson's bed was the very bed in which the grandson of the unfortunate King James II. lay on one of the nights after the failure of his rash attempt in 1745-46.
To see Dr. Samuel Johnson lying in that bed in the Isle of Sky, in the house of Miss Flora Macdonald, struck me with such a group of ideas as is not easy for words to describe as they passed through the mind. He smiled, and said: "I have no ambitious thoughts in it." Upon the table I found in the morning a slip of paper on which Dr. Johnson had written with his pencil these words: "Quantum cedat virtutibus aurum" (With virtue weighed, what worthless trash is gold). What the Doctor meant by writing them I could not tell. At breakfast he said he would have given a good deal rather than not have laid in that bed.
Kingsburgh sent us on our way by boat and on horseback to Dunvegan Castle. The great size of the castle, which is built upon a rock close to the sea, while the land around presents nothing but wild, moorish, hilly, and scraggy appearances, gave a rude magnificence to the scene. We were a jovial company, and the laird, surrounded by so many of his clan, was to me a pleasing sight. They listened with wonder and pleasure while Dr. Johnson harangued. The weather having cleared, we set out for Ulinish, the house of Mr. Macleod, the sheriff-substitute of the island. From an old tower near the house is an extensive view of Loch Bracadale, and, at a distance, of the Isles of Barra and South Uist; and on the land side the Cuillin, a prodigious range of mountains, capped with rocky pinnacles, in a strange variety of shapes.
From there we came to Talisker, which is a beautiful place with many well-grown trees, a wide expanse of sea and mountains, and, within a quarter of a mile from the house, no less than fifteen waterfalls. Mr. Donald Maclean, the young laird of Col, was now our guide, and conducted us to Ostig, the residence of Mr. Martin Macpherson, minister of Slate. There were great storms of wind and rain which confined us to the house, but we were fully compensated by Dr. Johnson's conversation.
We then returned to Armidale House, from whence we set sail for Mull on October 3; but encountered during the night a dreadful gale, which compelled the skipper to run his vessel to the Isle of Col for shelter. We were detained in Col by storms till October 14, when we safely crossed to Tobermorie, in the Island of Mull.
Ponies were provided for us, and we rode right across the island, and then were ferried to the Island of Ulva, where we were received by the laird, a very ancient chief, whose family has possessed Ulva for nine hundred years. Next morning we took boat for Inchkenneth, where we were introduced by Col to Sir Allan Maclean, the chief of his clan, and his daughters.
On Tuesday, October 19, we took leave of the young ladies, and of our excellent companion, Col. Sir Allan obligingly undertook to accompany us to Icolmkill, and we proceeded thither in a boat with four stout rowers, passing the great cave Gribon on the coast of Mull, the island of Staffa, on which we could not land on account of the high surge, and Nuns' Island. After a tedious sail, it gave us no small pleasure to perceive a light in the village of Icolmkill; and as we approached the shore, the tower of the cathedral, just discernible in the moonlight, was a picturesque object. When we had landed upon the sacred place, Dr. Johnson and I cordially embraced.
I must own that Icolmkill did not answer my expectations, but Dr. Johnson said it came up to his. We were both disappointed when we were shown what are called the monuments of the kings of Scotland, Ireland, and Denmark, and of a king of France. They are only some gravestones flat on the earth, and we could see no inscription. We set sail at midday for Mull, where we bade adieu to our very kind conductor, Sir Allan Maclean, and crossed in the ferry-boat to Oban, from whence next day we rode to Inverary.
The Rev. John Macaulay, one of the ministers of Inverary, accompanied us to Inverary Castle, where I presented Dr. Johnson to the Duke of Argyll. Dr. Johnson was much struck by the grandeur and elegance of this princely seat. At dinner, the duchess was very attentive to Dr. Johnson, who talked a great deal, and was so entertaining that she placed her chair close to his, leaned upon the back of it, and listened eagerly. Dr. Johnson was all attention to her grace. From Inverary we passed to Rosedow, the beautiful seat of Sir James Colquhoun, on the banks of the Loch Lomond, and after passing a pleasant day boating round the loch and visiting some of the islands, we proceeded to Cameron, the seat of Commissary Smollett, from which we drove in a post-chaise to Glasgow, inspecting by the way Dunbarton Castle.
IV.—In the West of Scotland
During the day we spent in Glasgow, we were received in the college by a number of the professors, who showed all due respect to Dr. Johnson; and Dr. Leechman, Principal of the University, had the satisfaction of telling Dr. Johnson that his name had been gratefully celebrated in the Highlands as the person to whose influence it was chiefly owing that the New Testament was allowed to be translated into the Erse language. On Saturday we set out towards Ayrshire, and on November 2 reached my father's residence, Auchinleck.
My father was not quite a year and a half older than Dr. Johnson. His age, office, and character had long given him an acknowledged claim to great attention in whatever company he was, and he could ill brook any diminution of it. He was as sanguine a Whig and Presbyterian as Dr. Johnson was a Tory and Church of England man; and as he had not much leisure to be informed of Dr. Johnson's great merits by reading his works, he had a partial and unfavourable notion of him, founded on his supposed political tenets, which were so discordant to his own that, instead of speaking of him with that respect to which he was entitled, he used to call him "a Jacobite fellow."
Knowing all this, I should not have ventured to bring them together had not my father, out of kindness to me, desired me to invite Dr. Johnson to his house. All went very smoothly till one day they came into collision. If I recollect right, the contest began while my father was showing him his collection of medals; and Oliver Cromwell's coin unfortunately introduced Charles the First and Toryism. They became exceedingly warm and violent; and in the course of their altercation Whiggism and Presbyterism, Toryism and Episcopacy were terribly buffeted. My father's opinion of Dr. Johnson may be conjectured by the name he afterwards gave him, which was "Ursa Major." However, on leaving Auchinleck, November 8, for Edinburgh, my father, who had the dignified courtsy of an old baron, was very civil to Dr. Johnson, and politely attended him to the post-chaise. We arrived in Edinburgh on Tuesday night, November 9, after an absence of eighty-three days.
My illustrious friend, being now desirous to be again in the great theatre of life and animated exertion, took a place in the coach, which was to set out for London, on Monday, November 22; but I resolved that we should make a little circuit, as I would by no means lose the pleasure of seeing Sam Johnson at the very spot where Ben Jonson visited the learned and poetical Drummond. Accordingly, we drove on the Saturday to Roslin Castle, surveyed the romantic scene around it, and the beautiful Gothic chapel. After that we proceeded to Hawthornden and viewed the caves, and then drove on to Cranston, the seat of Sir John Dalrymple, where we supped, spent the night, and passed on to the inn at Blackshields. There on Monday morning Dr. Johnson joined the coach for London. Dr. Johnson told me on parting that the time he spent in Scotland, the account of which I have now completed, was the pleasantest part of his life.
Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile
I.—The City of the Dog Star
James Bruce was born at the family residence of Kinnaird in the county of Stirling, Scotland, on December 14, 1730. He was educated at Harrow and Edinburgh, and for five years was a wine and spirit merchant in London. In 1762 he went as British Consul to Algiers, and did not return to England again until June, 1774. In the interim, having travelled through Algiers, Tunis, Syria, some of the islands of the Levant, Lower and Upper Egypt, and the African and Arabian coasts of the Red Sea, he made his famous journeys in Abyssinia, during which he discovered the sources of the Blue Nile. On his return to Europe he met with a great reception from Buffon the naturalist, and the Pope at Rome, but was received with coldness in England, where the stories of his adventures were received with incredulity. His book, "Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile in the years 1768-73," did not appear till 1790, seventeen years after his return to Europe. After the publication of his great work, Bruce spent the remainder of his life in improving his Scottish estate. On April 26, 1794, at Kinnaird, when going downstairs to hand a lady guest to her carriage, his foot slipped, and he fell headlong, dying next morning.
In 1762 Lord Halifax gave me the appointment of British Consul at Algiers, as affording me the opportunity of exploring the countries of Barbary, and perhaps of making, later on, a discovery of the sources of the Nile. On arrival at Algiers I studied closely surgery and medicine, modern Greek and Arabic, so as to qualify myself to travel without an interpreter.
I remained in Algiers for three years, and started early in 1768 on my travels through that kingdom and Tunis, Crete and Rhodes, Syria, Lower and Upper Egypt. Then I crossed the desert from Assouan to Cosseir on the Red Sea, explored the Arabian Gulf, and after visiting Jidda, arrived at Masuah [Massowah] on September 19, 1769. Masuah, which means the "Harbour of the Shepherds," is a small island close upon the Abyssinian shore, and the governor is called the naybe. He himself was cruel, avaricious, and a drunkard, but Achmet, his son, became my friend, as I had cured him of an intermittent fever, and on November 10 he carried me, my servants and baggage, from the island of Masuah to Arkeeko, on the mainland, from which point my party started for the province of Tigre, in Abyssinia, on November 15.
For days we travelled across a gravelly plain, and then over mountains, bare and full of terrible precipices with thickly wooded intervening valleys, and on November 22 we descended into the town of Dixan, in the province of Tigre. It is inhabited by Moors and Christians, and the only trade is that of selling children, stolen or made captives in war, who are sent after purchase to Arabia and India. The priests are openly concerned in this infamous practice. We were frequently delayed by demands from local chiefs for toll dues, and did not arrive at Adowa till December 6. This is the residence of the governor of the province of Tigre—Michael Suhul, ras, or prime minister, of Abyssinia. The mansion of the ras is situated on the top of a hill. It resembles a prison rather than a palace, for there were in it 300 people confined in irons, the object being to extract money from them. Some of them had been there for twenty years, and most of them were kept in cages like wild beasts.
On January 17, 1770, we set out on our way to Gondar, and on the following day reached the plain where the ruins of Axum, supposed to be the ancient capital of Abyssinia, are situated. In one square are forty obelisks of one piece of granite. A road is cut in the mountain of red marble, having on the left a parapet wall about five feet in height. At equal distances there are solid pedestals, upon the tops of which stood originally colossal statues of Sirius, Litrator Anubis, or Dog Star. There are 133 of these pedestals, but only two much mutilated figures of the Dog remain. There are also pedestals for figures of the Sphinx. Two magnificent flights of steps several hundred feet long, all of granite, are the only remains of the great Temple.
Within the site of the Temple is a small, mean modern church, very ill kept. In it are what are supposed to be the Ark of the Covenant and the copy of the law which Menilek, the son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, is said in their fabulous history to have been stolen from his father on his return from Jerusalem to Ethiopia. These are reckoned the palladia of the country. Another relic of great importance is a picture of the head of Christ crowned with thorns, said to have been painted by Saint Luke. This relic on occasions of war with pagans and Mohammedans is brought out and carried with the army. Within the outer gate of the church are three small enclosures with octagon pillars in the angles, on the top of which were formerly images of the Dog Star. Upon a stone in the middle of one of these enclosures the kings of the country have been crowned since the days of paganism; and below it is a large oblong slab of freestone, on which there is a Greek inscription, the translation of which is "Of King Ptolemy Euergetes, or the Beneficent."
We left Axum on January 20, and on the same day we saw three travellers cutting three pieces of flesh, thicker and longer than our ordinary beefsteaks, from the higher part of the buttock of a cow. The beast was thrown on the ground, and one man held the head, while two others were busy in cutting out the flesh.
I have been told that my friends have disbelieved this statement. I pledge myself never to retract the fact here advanced, that the Abyssinians do feed in common upon live flesh, and that I myself for several years have been a partaker of that disagreeable and beastly diet.
Travelling pleasantly enough, though finding it difficult to get food from the natives, we came on February 4 to the foot of Debra Toon, one of the highest mountains of the romantic range of Hanza. The toilsome ascent of Lamalmon, an extensive table-land of great fertility, was begun on February 8, and on the 14th we arrived at Gondar, the metropolis of Abyssinia.
II.—Savage Native Practices
Gondar is situated on the flat summit of a hill of considerable height, and consists of 10,000 families in time of peace. The houses are chiefly of clay, with roofs thatched in the form of cones. The king's palace is a square building on the west side of the town, flanked with towers, and originally four stories high, but now only two. The audience chamber is 120 feet long, and the upper windows command a magnificent view of the great lake Tzana. The palace and contiguous buildings are surrounded by a stone wall 30 feet high, 1-1/2 miles in circumference. A little way from Gondar to the north is Koscam, the palace of the iteghe and the king's other wives. Tecla Haimanout was at this time king, and Suhul Michael was ras, or prime minister. They were absent at the time of my arrival.
Petros, an important Greek, who was the only one in Gondar to whom I had recommendations, came in a state of great dread to me, saying that he had seen at Michael's encampment, a few miles from Gondar, the stuffed skin of an intimate friend of his own swinging upon a tree, and drying in the wind beside the tent of the ras. The iteghe and Ozoro Esther, wife of Ras Michael, sent for me to the palace at Koscam to attend, as a medical man, the royal families, because small-pox was then raging in the city and surrounding districts. I saved the life of Ayto Confu, the favourite son of Ozoro Esther, and others; and thereafter became friends of the queen and her suite in the palace.
I rode out on March 8 to meet Ras Michael at Azazo, the scene of a great battle which had been fought with Fasil, a Galla chief, who had broken out in rebellion. The first horrid spectacle exhibited by him consisted of pulling out the eyes of twelve Galla chiefs, who had been taken prisoners. They were then turned out into the fields to be devoured by hyenas. Next day the army of 30,000 men marched in triumph into Gondar. On March 14, I had an interview with the ras, and he said that to prevent my being murdered for my goods and instruments, and being bothered by the monks about religious matters, the king, on his recommendation, had appointed me baalomaal, the commander of the Koccob Horse.
In the course of the campaign between the king and his rebel governors, I joined his majesty's forces, and on May 18, 1770, I found myself at Dara, fourteen miles from the great cataract of the Nile, which I obtained permission to visit. The shum, or head of the people of the district, took me to a bridge, which consisted of one arch of twenty-five feet in breadth, with the extremities firmly based on solid rock on both sides. The Nile is here confined between two rocks, and runs in a deep channel with great, roaring, impetuous velocity. The cataract itself was the most magnificent sight that ever I beheld. Its height is forty feet. The river had been increased by the rains, and fell in one sheet of water half a mile in breadth, with a noise that was truly terrible, and made me for a time perfectly dizzy.
Returning to the king's army, I rode through a country of smoking ruins and awful silence. The miserable natives, though Christians, were being hunted to be sold into slavery to the Turks. I found that the campaign was finished, and that we were to return to Gondar, on reaching which, on May 30, Fasil returned to his allegiance. Having successfully prescribed for Fasil's principal general, the king was so pleased that he promised me any favour. I asked the village of Geesh at the source of the Nile. Whereupon the king said:
"I do give the village of Geesh and its fountains to Yagoube (which was my name) and his posterity for ever, never to appear under another name in the Deftar (land register), and never to be taken from him, or exchanged in peace or war."
On June 5 the king and Michael retired to Tigre; Gusho and Powussen—two of the rebel governors—entered Gondar in triumph, and proclaimed a young man, reputed to be the son of Yasous II., who died in 1753, king under the name of Socinios. I remained at Gondar unmolested until October 28, 1770, when I determined to make an attempt to reach the head of the Nile, and with my followers and instruments marched through the country of the Aroussi, much the most pleasant territory in Abyssinia, being finely shaded with forests of the Acacia Vera, the tree which produces the gum arabic. Below these trees grew wild oats of prodigious height and size. I often made the grain into cakes in remembrance of Scotland.
III.—At the Source of the Nile
After passing the Assar River, going in a south-east direction, we had for the first time a distinct view of the high mountain of Geesh, the long-wished-for end of our dangerous and troublesome journey. This was on November 2, 1770, and on the following day we rode through a marshy plain in which the Nile winds more in the space of four miles than I believe any river in the world. It is not here more than 20 feet broad and one deep. After this, we pushed forward to a terrible range of mountains, in which is situated the village of Geesh, where are the long-expected fountains of the Nile. These mountains are disposed one range behind the other, nearly in the form of arcs, and three concentrate circles, which seems to suggest the idea that they are the Montes Lunae of antiquity, or the Mountains of the Moon, at the foot of which the Nile was said to rise. The highest, Amid-Amid, does not exceed half a mile in height. Crossing the mountains, we had a distinct view of the territory of Sacala, the mountain of Geesh, and the church of St. Michael.
Immediately below us was the Nile itself, now a mere brook, with scarcely water enough in it to turn a mill. I could not satiate myself with the sight, revolving in my mind all those classic prophecies that had given the Nile up to perpetual obscurity and concealment. I ran down the hill towards a little island of green sods, and I stood in rapture over the principal fountain of the Nile, which rises in the middle of it. This was November 4, 1770.
It is easier to imagine than to describe the situation of my mind at that moment, standing on that spot which had baffled the genius, industry and inquiry of both ancients and moderns over a course of nearly 3,000 years. Though a mere private Briton, I triumphed here in my own mind over kings and their armies.
The Agows of Damot pay divine honours to the Nile, sacrificing multitudes of cattle to the spirit which is supposed to reside at its source. From the edge of the cliff at Geesh the ground slopes to the marsh, in whose centre is a hillock, which is the altar on which the religious ceremonies of the Agows are performed. A shallow trench surrounds it, and collects the water which flows from a hole in the middle of the hillock, three feet in diameter and six feet in depth. This is the principal fountain of the Nile.
Ten feet from this spring is a second fountain, about eleven inches in diameter and eight feet deep; and at twenty feet distance there is a third, two feet in diameter and six feet in depth. Both of these are enclosed, like the first, by an altar of turf. The water from all these joins and flows eastward in quantities sufficient to fill a pipe of about two inches in diameter.
I made no fewer than thirty-five observations with the view of determining with the utmost precision the latitude of the fountains of the Nile, and I found the mean result to be 10 deg. 59' 25" north latitude. Equally careful observations proved them to be 36 deg. 55' 30" east longitude. The mercury in the barometer indicated a height above the sea of more than two miles. The Shum of Geesh, whose title is kefla abay, "the Servant of the Nile," told me that the Agows called the river "The Everlasting God, Light of the World, Eye of the World, God of Peace, Saviour, Father of the Universe."
Once a year, on the first appearance of the Dog Star, the kefla abay assembles all the heads of the clans at the principal altar, where a black heifer that never bore a calf is sacrificed. The carcase, which is washed all over with Nile water, is divided among the different tribes, and eaten on the spot, raw, and with Nile water. The bones are burned to ashes, and the head, wrapped in the skin, is carried into a huge cave. On November 9 I traced on foot the whole course of the river to the plain of Guotto, and next day we left Geesh on our return to Gondar, which was reached on the 19th.