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bability, that the picture which would have been furnished to us, would have been as insignificant as it would have been immense. The determination of the question respecting the river, would indeed have been a great geographical fact gained. It would have been an exchange of so much ignorance for so much knowledge; some time or other that knowledge might have become'available to some practical utility, as perhaps in the way of commerce; though it is perfectly evident froin all that has been seen or reasonably guessed of interior Africa, that ages may pass away before such a state of nature and society can become of any material importance in the economy of European arts and traffic. Meanwhile, on the breakiog up and dissipating of the profound and solemn darkness which has for thousands of years rested on this vast retired mysterious region, the ardent curiosity which had so long looked towards it in vain, might have sunk in some strange undefinable sense of disappointment and disenchant ment on being permitted to gaze at last on veritable tracts of indifferent earth, and of sand, and of marsh; and on some tribes of miserable barbarians, here thinly spread over a hundred miles of pestilential wilderness, and there more numerously assembled, in some city, a distant rival of that magnificent far-famed imperial metropolis of golden-roofed palaces and mansions, which we have not yet been able to forgive the unlucky stroller Adams for having most innocently happened to discover, to be an accumulation of mud huts. It may well be doubted whether, as a mere matter of feeling, this sense of chill and prostration of what had been a fine romantic imaginativeness, would have been compensated by the demonstration of what is so probably the fact, that the river Niger is no other than the piver Zaire. So wayward an essence is this spirit of man!-But it is quite time to leave these speculations, and come to the plain official task of giving a brief account of the book before us.
An Introduction, much compressed, though of great length, and written with the information and intelligence so well known to qualify the person to whoin it bas been attributed,* exhibits a clear rapid view of the principal points still remaining unattained and desirable in the great course of discovery so success. fully prosecuted during the last half cerrtury ;-of the limited information and the speculations respecting the interior of Africa ;-of the theories and conjectures concerning the ultimate direction and termination of the Niger ;-of the strong presumptions in favour of the opinion of its identity with the Zaire; -of the project, the preparation, the instructions, and the flattering prospects, of the expedition to this latter river, and of the disastrous fate to which its careful and costly equip
ment proved to be but a fitting out of a number of able and enterprising men to be sacrificed. With short memoirs of the principal of them this Introduction very appropriately concludes.
At the beginning of it there is a little gratuitous ostentation of its being within the reign of the present King, that the career of discovery has been so zealously pursued; but every reader's sentiment will be in aniinated accordance with the eulogy on the able and zealous' adventurers themselves, such as Cook, Perouse, Park, and Flinders, and with the execration pronounced on the villanous cruelty suffered from an agent of Bonaparte's government, and in all probability with his own sanction, by this last eminently meritorious navigator and explorer.
Our surprising ignorance of Africa, down to this time, forms no compliment, certainly, to the curiosity and enterprise of Europe.
• That great division of the globe of which, while we know that one part of it affords the most ancient and most stupendous monuments of civilised society that exist on the face of the earth, another, and by far the greater portion, exhibits, at this day, to the reproach of the state of geographical science in the nineteenth century, almost a blank on our charts; or what is still worse, large spaces filled up with random sketches of rivers, lakes, and mountains, which have no other existence than that which the fancy of the map-maker has given to them on his paper. So little, indeed, has our knowledge of this great continent kept pace with an increased knowledge of other parts of the world, that it may rather be said to have retrograded.'
This is meant upon a comparison of our knowledge with that apparently possessed by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. T'he Portuguese also, it is asserted, acquired, some ages back, much information of the interior, but it was their
plan to conceal what they discovered, till it has been lost even ' to themselves.' Till the journey of the intrepid and lamented Park, it was a question for debate, like some theme of the schools, whether a great river, known and famous from ancient times, actually flowed to the west, or to the east. The speculation disposed of thus far, instantly acquired an augmented interest in its latter question- What becomes of the river? After the suggestion of its possibly being, after all, no other than the Nile of Egypt, was scientifically set aside, the most plausibility was deemed to attach (perhaps, indeed, because no other plausible explanation could be thought of,) to the theory of Major Rennell, still, it seems, maintained by him, that the Niger stops, stagnates, and is evaporated, in some great central lake, north of the line. Nobody, however, cared to let his imagiDation stop and stagnate there. There was an urgent wish to Vol. X. N.S.
find this dignified and mysterious stream performing a long ulterior course, and coming out at length from its immense deserts, at some point where we might hail its arrival at the ocean --although we were confounded in attempting to conjecture where so important a point should be to which our extensive knowledge of the African coast had bitherto left us strangers. When, at length, the hitherto little-known river of Congo was described by Mr. Maxwell to Park, with a suggestion that there might be the object so long sought in vain, he seized the idea with a sanguine eagerness, which soon became a most confident assurance, in spite of the arguments and invincible opinion of so excellent a geographer as Major Rennell.
The arguments for and against the identity of the rivers, are very clearly stated in this Introduction, not in the spirit of a partisan of a theory, but nevertheless giving, we tbink, a very great preponderance of probability on the affirmative side. Indeed, there seems no one difficulty of very serious magnitude opposed to the opinion. Respecting the supposed great chain of mountains, denominated the Mountains of the Moon, extending across central Africa, it is represented that even the existence of such a chain has been admitted on very defective evidence, but that if it does exist, a chasm made through it, by the mighty and incessant action of water, would be an effect easily credible on the strength of a number of graud instances of the same kiod in different parts of the globe. This uncertainty whether there is any such range of mountains to obstruct the course of the Niger to the southward, and this fair assumption, that if there is, it would not necessarily be an invincible obstruction, seem to give free scope for the largest inferences to be made from the fact that the Zaire, or some main branch of it, does actually come from regions north of the line, as proved by that state of what may be called perpetual flood, which shews that, during the dry season on one side of the line, it is receiving the tribute of the rainy season on the other. The deinonstrative decision of the question remains for some other hardy band of adventurers. If the reports are true of such a band assembling to advance from a station on the western coast, and to proceed to the Niger, with a determination to try the utmost possibility of accompanying it through its regions of mystery, we shall all feel as animated a wish for their success as can comport with a gloomy apprehension that they are destined to fail and to perish. There might seem to be, as respecting Europeans, some peculiar principle of interdiction and perdition in all the elements of nature in the interior of Africa. There never was, probably, so well appointed an expedition of discovery, as that of which this volume !nay be regarded as the monumental record. It is quite mournful to contemplate its
almost total frustration consummated in the death of nearly alt the persons whose accomplishments gave so confident an anticipation of its results. The character of the brave, intelligent, and indefatigable Coinmander, combined with the misfortunes of a life of which so many years were consumed in captivity in, France, inspired a kind of personal iuterest for his success in an enterprise to which he brought an undiminished ardour of spirit, in a body, however, not a little worn and shattered by severe service in hot climates, followed by the vexations of his subsequent lot. There seemed some ground to hope that a compensation was going to be made to talents and energy so long chained in from their most appropriate activity, in a great achievement that would bave had a far more gratifying triumpla than any exploits of professional warfare.
The person who excites the reader's interest and regret in the next degree, is the self-taught enthusiastic naturalist, Cranch. Nothing can well be more striking than the description of the invincible passion with which as a youth, ill educated and in a very humble situation, and in every way destitute of assistance, he had prosecuted a course of observation and collection in natural history, especially in the department of entomology, accompanied with the voracious perusal of whatever books on natural science came within his reach. He mastered the Latin and French languages, so far as to understand them in their application to Zoology. This was accomplished during his apprenticeship to the occupation of a shoe-maker. He went up at the expiration of it to London, professedly to perfect himselt
: in the business, but not, it is stated, without some higher designs and hopes, though indistinctly conceived. There, without an abandonment of his employment, his mind opened itself to the influx of knowledge from all quarters, filled but not satisfied.'
Every museum, auction room, and book stall, every object to which his attention was called, he visited with a rapid and unsatiable curiosity; gleaning information wherever it was to be had, and treasuring it up with systematic care.'
The description of his character and attainments, at that period, as given by a person with whom he there became acquainted, is in the following terms :
Our conversations and philosophical rambles near London, have often called forth such observations and disquisitions from him on the various qualities, attributes, combinations, provisions and arrangements of nature, as marked vast comprehension, as well as the most delicate subtilties of discrimination in an intellect, which seemed indeed to be calculated to grasp magnitude and minutiæ with equal address, and which could at once surprise, delig?.t, and instruct.' But all this was not the command of a loaf or a shilling.
The time came for him to return to his old place of residence on the south-west coast of the island, where he commenced business for himself, but, it seems, with qualifications for it, which soon ceased to cause any alarm to his former fellow-workmen, now his competitors. An improvement in bis circumstances was gained by marriage, of which he availed himself to consign his workshop to bis journeymen,' and devote himself to his favourite pursuit of collecting objects of natural history.
• No difficulties nor dangers impeded his researches. He climbed the most rugged precipices; he was frequently lowered down by the peasants from the summits of the tallest cliffs : he waded through rapid streams; he explored the beds of the muddiest rivers ; he sought the deepest recesses. He frequently wandered for whole weeks from home, and often ventured out to sea for several days together, entirely alone, in the smallest skiffs of the fishermen. No inclemency of weather; no vicissitudes of " storms and sunshine," ever prevented his fatiguing pursuits; the discovery of a new insect amply repaid the most painful exertions.
After a while, the magnitude of his collection drew the attention of better known and patrupized naturalists; and Dr. Leach, of the British Museum, offered him an undefined but extensive appointment, for making additions to the collections of natural history in that grand depository. As might be expected, the journeymen and the business were immediately dismissed, and the shop converted into an auxiliary museum, of whicb, as migbt also be expected, the stores were augmented with a marvellous rapidity. For, besides holding a constant communication with the fishermen of various stations on the coast, and receiving from them baskets of the rubbish which they dredged from the bottom of the sea, he very often, says Dr. Leach, - left Kingsbridge in an open boat, and remained absent for a long time together, during which, he dredged when the tide was full, and examined the shores when it was out. At night he slept in his boat, which he drew on shore; and when the weather was too stormy for mariné excursions, he would leave his boat, and proceed to examine the country and woods, for insects, birds, &c. 'The remarks with which he accompanied the infinity of new objects which he discovered, were invaluable; many of them have been, and the rest shall be hereafter, made public.'
It may well be presumed, that England could not have furnished a more proper man to be appointed on an expedition in which the examination of the natural history of Africa was made hardly a less essential object than the geography of its tracts and rivers. Such a man deserved a more extended and particular memoir than there could fairly be room for in the present work. Perhaps it will be suspected that his merits in natural science have not been our sole inducement to detain our