Page images
PDF
EPUB

reached the Baikal (in perfect health) on the 123d day after leaving St Petersburgh; having traversed 8000 versts of country. This was at the rate of about 43 miles a-day, which the Quarterly must allow somewhat to exceed any thing hitherto recorded in the annals of pedestrianism.

At first, it was Captain Cochrane's intention to have wintered at Irkutzk, but he saw reason to change his mind, and embarking on the Lena on the 14th of September, he reached Jakutzk on the 16th of October. Here he found 16 degrees of frost by Réaumeur, which obliged him to exchange the nankeen jacket he had hitherto worn for a warmer covering. Quitting Jakutzk on the 30th of October, he held north-eastward, till on the 30th of December, he reached Nijnei Kolyma, in long. 164, where he met the Russian Expedition proceeding to the Pole. The frost now ranged from 35 to 42 of Réaumeur. During this journey Captain C. travelled upwards of 400 miles without meeting a human being.

Leaving Nijnei Kolyma, (or Kovyma, as it is written in some of the maps,) Captain C. proceeded to Tchutski fair, where he gained much satisfactory geographical information respecting the north-east of Asia. He ascertained the existence of the N. E. Cape. "All doubts," he says, " being now solved, not by calculation, but ocular demonstration. Its latitude and longitude are well ascertained, and its mineralogical specimens are now by

me."

Having returned from Kolyma, he set out for the town of Ochotzk, situated on the sea of that name, where he arrived, after a most laborious journey of 75 days. In his last letter, which is dated from Otchozk, he mentions his intention of setting out in a few days for Kamchatka, traversing that peninsula from south to north, till he reach Ijigink; from whence, he says, he will return to Europe through Asia by a different route from that he came. He adds, that he will not go to America, as it is quite unnecessary." He expects to be in St Petersburgh in the fall of next year.

66

So far as yet appears, Capt. Cochrane seems to have acquitted himself well, and deserves to have his name placed on the list of those of his countrymen who have contributed to the stock of geographical science. As for

ourselves, we never entertained any doubt of the termination of Asia at Cape North-East. Many have doubted however, even Russians; and it is gratifying to think that the doubt is now solved, and by one of that country which has done, and is doing, so much for the advancement of geogra phical knowledge.

From what we have learnt, the remote countries through which Captain Cochrane has passed are highly interesting in a geological point of view; but we are not aware how far his education has fitted him for observation in this department of science. It is certain, however, that he acquired an extensive and valuable collection of specimens during his stay at Irkutzk; and it is confidently reported at St Petersburgh, that he intends making a magnificent present of minerals to the Museum of the University of Edinburgh.

Captain Cochrane expresses himself most gratefully towards the Russian government for the truly liberal manner in which he has been treated. Everywhere the authorities vied with each other in shewing him attention. This is as it should be, and we feel pleasure in making it universally known.

Captain C.'s personal habits must have contributeď not a little to lessen the irksomeness of a journey necessarily attended with many and severe hardships. Wherever he went, he seems easily to have accommodated himself to the habits of the people, however rude and disgusting. With the Kalmacks, he eat horse-flesh, elks, and wolves; and with the Tchutski he found as little difficulty in pasturing upon bears, rein-deer, and raw frozen fish ; the last of which, indeed, he calls a great delicacy! Few of our scientific men could stomach these cates. The stoutest hearted of them are too old, or (fortunately for themselves, if not for science,) "have other fish to fry." There is no saying, however, what may happen. If Professor Jameson could meet with a pupil of bodily strength, and zeal for the advancement of science equal to his own, the young man might possibly (after four geological campaigns with the Professor in Lord Reay's country,) be found qualified for discharging the duty of a scientific missionary, even at Tchutzkoy Noss.

B.

ON THE LATE RUMOUR OF A CHANGE OF ADMINISTRATION.

Enter RUMOUR, painted full of Tongues.

Rum. Open your ears; for which of you will stop
The vent of hearing, when loud Rumour speaks?
I, from the orient to the drooping west,
Making the wind my post-horse, still unfold
The acts commenced on this ball of earth:
Upon my tongues continual slanders ride;
The which in every language I pronounce,
Stuffing the ears of men with false reports.

THE great Alarm of the year 1821 having subsided, and the national tranquillity being in some measure restored, we find it to be an imperious duty to publish a short Statement of Facts. A sincere regard for our own character, and forthe peace of the country, alike impel us to the course we are now going to pursue. These are the two objects that have ever been nearest to our heart; and after the late unhappy agitations, we feel that, in our hands, they are both safer than ever. Indeed the most delightful reward which a patriot can receive for his public services, next to the approbation of his own conscience, is that of his country. Rich in both, loaded with years and honours, we can have little more to hope for on this side of the grave. But that posterity may know the facts, without that mixture of fiction which folly and faction ever delight to interweave with the narrative of great public transactions, we willingly devote an afternoon to millions yet unborn, and anticipate, with an unseen smile of solitary satisfaction, the heartfelt gratitude of succeeding generations.

The world will, by this time, be aware that we allude to the late National Distress, consequent on the Rumour that we were about to retire from the Editorship of Blackwood's Magazine.

It is true that we had sent in our resignation. Nor, on the calmest and most impartial consideration of our motives, can we detect in them one feeling or one thought which a philosopher and a philanthropist, such as we are, need blush to own. The truth is, that nature intended us for private rather than for public life; and they who knew us during the first fifty years of our existence, may recollect their astonishment on our accepting the situation of Prime Editor of Great Britain.

"Good God!" they, exclaimed in one voice, "Is it possible that North has accepted the seals of office?" But a man's real character is seldom known even to his most intimate friend. Mine, we frankly confess, was not known to ourselves. But the time came when it was suddenly revealed to us, as in a dream. We felt, that though nature had imbued us with the love of privacy, she had, at the same time, endowed us with the power of publicity; and that precise era in the history of the world having arrived when such a man was necessary to the salvation of his country, and of Europe, we took lodgings in Edinburgh, and made Mr Blackwood the proprietor and publisher of our Magazine.

Of our administration of the affairs of this country, during the last four years, we leave posterity to judge.

But having entered into office on a sudden intimation mysteriously conveyed to us of our destiny, and having remained at the helm during the most tempestuous weather that had ever assailed the Vessel of the State,* we seemed to feel the same intimation to return to our small paternal property near Peebles, and pass the remainder of our life in placid contemplation of that national prosperity so entirely created by ourselves. Nor, in doing so, were we either in want of examples of similar conduct in other first-rate men, nor of arguments in our favour much nearer home. For to omit mention of the numerous kings, statesmen, and warriors, who, in the decline or even prime of life, had retired to some quiet nook of the land, which by their wisdom or valour they had saved, the chalk-stones in the forefinger of our right hand, like those which annoyed Milton, greatly increased in size, and rendered the operation of writing painful in the ex

* Blackwood's Magazine.

treme. Now an amanuensis has ever been our abhorrence. A great greasy gawpus, + squat on his posteriors at your elbow, fixing on you during your intervals of exhaustion, a pair of eyes in their sockets, gravy as the openings of putrid oysters, and then putting down into his scrawl, with red hairy fingers tipped with a circle of earthy horn, your lucubrations, in which the happiness or misery of so large a portion of the Christian population of the world may be involved, is an infliction which we would fain spare even our dearest foe. We never, therefore, shall dictate to any individual. But besides this evil, our rheumatism had attacked us in the tenderest point. We felt the most excruciating pain whenever we sat down ;-just as if it had been on a cushion of cats. If Ebony, or a printer's devil, came in upon us at such moments, we had great difficulty in preventing ourselves from flinging at his head the first article that came to hand. It is impossible for us to express the horror and disgust which such intrusions, at other times so pleasant, then excited in our breast. The world thought us blest -measuring our happiness by our merits,-while, on the contrary, we would have paid handsomely to have got Ballantyne's printing office blown up, and our worthy publisher put to the Apoplexy.

Now there is a mixture of motives in all human conduct. In sending in our resignation, we were partly swayed by the conviction that we had placed our country in a condition in which she might be able to take henceforth care of herself, and partly by those feelings now alluded to, which seemed to us a fundamental objection to our occupying any longer the seat of government. We tendered our resignation on the 24th of November. Then was the moment to have put Mr Blackwood to death. And heaven forgive us, but the idea shot across our brain! Remembering, however, that he had a large and increasing family, and that the lives or the happiness of upwards of twenty thousand subscribers were linked with his, we relented; and instead of inflicting instant death, by the sudden communication of an unconditional resignation in propria persona, we worded it in such a way as to

bring a knowledge of his calamity slowly upon him, and by merciful degrees; so that on finishing the perusal of our letter, he should be able faintly to distinguish whether he had read it on his head or his heels, and to perceive a glimmering of hope through the gloom of despair. The letter was also humanely sealed with black wax, to prepare his mind for something funereal, and delivered to him not by young Mr Steele, in his usual modest and polite style, but by a sauley with an aspect most especially cadaverous, as if sent into the world for the express purpose of being a messenger of evil tidings.

On going into the back shop for the letters to the London post, about four o'clock in the afternoon, it appears that John Lesslie found our worthy publisher extended five feet seven inches upon the floor. The consternation that immediately spread all along Prince's-street, as far as St John's chapel, across the Mound and the Bridges, up the Castlehill, and down Leith Walk, is more easily imagined than described. We had some sort of presentiment of what might happen-and looking from the window of our pensive citadel, with an excellent spy-glass which we purchased some years ago at Whitehaven from the old half-pay naval officer described by Mr Wordsworth in his Lyrical Ballad, The Thorn, we beheld all the people in Edinburgh running about to and fro, like bees on a board when they have lost their queen. We felt in a moment that THE PROPRIETOR was no more. Still watching the scene below, through a tear, we saw Odoherty issue like a gleam of lightning from the menagerie on the Mound, where he had been engaged, we have since understood, in a study for his "Great Picture of the Seven Lions," and disappear in No. 17. While all around were stupified with grief, the Adjutant forced his way to the body of his friend, and raising it up, placed our Publisher on his usual stool at his accustomed desk. The Standard-bearer was not long in ascertaining that the vital spark was by no means extinct, and calling the Odentist, whose presence of inind had whol ly forsaken him, and who was standing in a corner blubbering like a child, the right vein was opened, and our Publisher at last, but with great difficulty was made to bleed freely. He opened

* See Dr Jamieson.

his eyes and seeing himself surrounded by his best friends, gave one long leep groan at the sight of the vast quantity of blood that had been taken From him, and then resumed his wonted benignity and composure.

It was at this interesting moment that we entered the Sanctum Sanctorum; and never shall we forget our Publisher's upbraiding, yet forgiving smile. He stretched out his unbandaged arm; and when we felt that hand so cold and trembling, our heart smote us, and gladly would we have exchanged places with the pale man, whom we had thus brought to the brink of the grave. Then rose a great thought in our heart-never, but with life, to relinquish the editorship. We approached the patient, and whispered this into his ringing ear; and now had sudden joy proved almost as dangerous as that sudden grief. Mr Blackwood asked faintly for a glass of water. We say faintly—and thinking that cold water might not agree well with that state of his stomach, we opened, with Four own hand, the little aumry,* and bringing forth a bottle of our very best Madeira, which had twice seen India in wood, and once in crystal, we handed it to the kindly officious Adjutant, who, first turning up his little finger to ascertain if the fluid was of a proper temperature, administered about a quarter of a pint to the reviving bibliopole, chaunting, at the same time, that well-known hymn,

"Here's a health to jolly Bacchus,

Bacchus, Bacchus,

Here's a health to jolly Bacchus,

Ye ho! ye ho! ye ho!"

In the chorus of which we all joined with faultering voices, that of the Odontist being choked with sobs

"See how it runs down his gizzard,
His gizzard, his gizzard,
See how it runs down his gizzard,

Ye ho! ye ho! ye ho!" Meanwhile the Rumour of our Publisher's death had spread over the whole city. The flag was hoisted halfpole high on the Castle, and minuteguns gave solemnity to the expression of a people's grief. But there is no occasion to describe the effect of the proprietor's supposed death in as detailed a manner as we shall do when that event does actually occur. Odoherty and the Odontist left our

friend under our care in the Sanctum, with orders to keep him quiet :-and shewing themselves on the steps in front of No. 17, the Standard-bearer, in a short and pithy speech of about a dozen words, conveyed to the vast multitude assembled an assurance, "that Ebony, though as white as ivory, was out of pearl.' Some little conception of the shout that then arose may be formed from this simple fact that the repercussion of sound tumbled down several stones, each weighing about two tons, from Lord Melville's Monument in St Andrew's Square; but there were no lives lost, as all the workmen had, of course, joined the other inhabitants assembled before

THE SHOP.

In a few hours the inhabitants had retired to their respective places of abode; then the Publisher was put into his carriage, and accompanied by ourselves, Odoherty, the Odontist, ▲ and Wastle alone, (who were apprehensive that a greater number might incommode the Patriot,) reached Newington just as the family were sitting down to tea. The Adjutant, with that self-recollection, and consideration for others, which so delightfully distinguish his character, had taken means to keep the family in ignorance of all that was passing; and in opposition to the evidence of butter toast and muffins disappearing with an alacrity on the part of our bibliopole, with which Hebe in vain tried to keep pace, the story of his illness could not be expected to gain much credit from those who were now witnessing its miraculous cure, and who, therefore, fortunately for their own feelings, considered the whole as an ingenious fable or fiction of the Odontist.

So great had been our agitation at No. 17, that not one of us all ever thought of burning our letter, which had so nearly proved fatal to the Trade. How it's contents got wind has never been ascertained, and probably never will, for the imprudent and thoughtless man on whom suspicion fell of ha-f ving perused our letter, during the crisis, has since been found dead near the Figgate Whins, under very suspicious circumstances. Be that as it may, the grand secret of our resignation escaped, and reached the ears of the guard of the London Mail, just as the

*Vide Jamieson.

leaders were prancing to get free, and he carried the appalling Rumour southward at the lately increased rate of nine miles per hour, stoppages included. The mail coach arrived at the usual hour on the morning of November the 27th, at the White Horse, FetterLane, London, and though at that hour" the very houses seemed asleep," yet before nine o'clock they were all not only broad awake, but up and dressed and receiving visitors.

The effect produced by the rumour of our resignation on the inhabitants of London, is, we understand, but faintly described in the following short and hurried letter, written on the evening of the day on which the fatal intelligence reached town.

LONDON, Nov. 27, 1821.

I write to you, my dear friend, in a state of the greatest agitation. The most alarming news reached town this morning by the Edinburgh mail. Just as the coach was setting off, a universal wail was heard to ascend from the one end of Princes' Street to the other. The guard inquired what had happened, and was told, that Christopher North was dead. Some said, he had resigned the editorship of Blackwood's Magazine. The journey being timed, he could not stop the coach to ascertain the fact; but no doubt is entertained that the greatest possible calamity has happened in the literary world. In every town through which the coach passed, the distressing intelligence produced the most mournful sensations; and sighs and sobs were the echoes of all places to the direful news.

By some extraordinary reverberation, the woeful tidings, it is said, even outran the mail, notwithstanding the recent improved rate of going; and it is reported, that before the coach reached Newcastle, all the Radical coal-miners had struck work, and were above ground, with clean faces, and bearing green boughs of triumph in their hats. They offered to take the horses out of the coach, and drag it to the inn. Some accidental strangers, who were then in the town, on hearing their joyful tumults, ran to the windows, and supposed that nothing less than Sir Robert Wilson returning from Mr Lambton's, could have caused such exultation. But I cannot dwell on these particulars, which I have learnt from an outside passenger, who came with the coach. I hasten to describe the sensation produced here.

The news being early known, the Royal Exchange was as crowded by eight o'clock as at four in the afternoon.

[ocr errors]

was seen, to use the phrase of a great Scotch money lender, hanging his lip

like a sow playing on a trump. Not a Bull but himself was visible; he alone, the atlas of the Stock Exchange, braved the impending calamity. The Bears were all cock-a-hoop. Never was such gladness seen. Nore. I need not tell you, that the Bears no, not even in the time of the mutiny at the are all to a man Whigs, and of the most inveterate kind; many of them are indeed Radicals. You may therefore picture to yourself their joy at hearing of such an event, as that Mr Christopher North was

dead.

At the opening, the three per cents were at ten less than the close of the preceding day; but it was soon after reported, that an express had reached the Home Department with the important intelligence, tha Mr North was not actually dead, that he had but resigned, although it was feared Mr

Blackwood had fallen a victim to the event; and upon this rumour, stocks rose oneeight per cent, with a tendency to look upward.

In would be in vain to describe the effects of this calamity in other directions. Richardson's shop was in a state of anarchy. He himself was speechless; and two political doctors were seen at his side, using their best art to recover him. Westward, all things wore the most mournful appearance. The new ball and cross, which was to have been placed to-day on St Paul's, was supended. But Waithman's shop was adorned with white ribbons, and boughs of holly, and every thing there indicated jubilee and triumph. Dr Stoddart, of the New Times, closed his shutters, in token of his sorrow, but declared that the event was only a new incitement to perse. verance. I speak not of the Old Times. Every member in the great establishment of the first journal in the solar system was decorated with a cap made of foolscap; and the very devils themselves were allow. ed a pot of porter a-piece, the better to qualify them to cause an illumination as general as when her late Majesty arrived. The Editor of the Courier was seen shedding tears at his window, when he beheld his opposite neighbour, the Morning Chronicle, stringing lamps for the evening-for thew ord "personalities' was the splendid device. But it was in the neighbourhood of Charing Cross that the wound struck deepest and deadliest;-all the public offices were ordered to be washed with Day and Martin's blacking. The Telegraph on the Admiralty was seen most active all day, conveying the most cheering exhortations to the outports, assuring them from time to time, that the news were not true. The Levee at Carlton-palace was put off; a vast crowd assembled in front of Lord Londonderry's house in St James'ssquare. But the generosity of Englishmen sympathizing with his Lordship's feelings,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »