Page images
PDF
EPUB

becoming the seat of war. Their women are richly adorned with silver, and the island possesses a large number of vessels and negro slaves. The diligence of the men is strongly contrasted with the indolence of the inhabitants of the neighboring coast. Their language is the same as that spoken at Massaua, only with a large admixture of Arabic words.

In consequence of the troubles at Djetta he returned to Massaua, whence he made an excursion to the ruins of Adulis. The remains of this ancient emporium had not been previously visited by any European As Mr. Stuart, the companion of Salt, failed through the mistrust excited by his extreme anxiety to go thither, Dr. Rüppell casually mentioned his desire in connexion with a hunting excursion which he proposed making. His wish was gratified, and the services of Mehemet, the son of the Naib Jahia, were purchased as his companion and protector. On the 29th January, 1832, he left Arkiko, and on the next day arrived at the ruins, which are situated at about the distance of a mile from Afté.

On the north bank of a wide, dry bed of a river that flows from the south-west, lie ruins of dwelling-houses, which had all been constructed of small unhewn lava-stones covering a level space for about 500 paces in a direct line east and west. They are almost entirely destroyed. In the midst of the rubbish stand the relics of a large pile of buildings, which had most probably been a Christian church. Within a space of about sixty feet each way, are many fragments of square columns with from sixteen to twenty flutings; the capitals, which are likewise square, consist of a thick stone nine inches high and one and a half feet square, which has on each side ten grooves and a band rather wider, two inches in thickness; all are of lava. It was not possible to discover the plan of the edifice, or even the number of columns ; of capitals I counted five. No trace could be found of image or inscription, and the inhabitants of the place assured me most positively that they knew of none; notwithstanding the once famous Adulitic inscriptions might perhaps again be brought to light here. South-east from this ruin is a large burial-ground, in which the bones of a Mahomedan saint repose. My attendants betook themselves thither barefoot to perform their devotions, but prohibited my approach, as the spot would be profaned by the footsteps of a Christian. I found its latitude by observations to be 15° 15' 44' N.

• The reader may well feel surprised that the ruins of Adulis should contain so few objects of importance, and that the place itself, as having been a trading city, should lie at such a distance from the shore. I cannot satisfactorily account for its position except by imagining an elevation of the coast to have taken place through volcanic agency; certainly the soil carried down by the stream whose bed is close by,-a stream, too, but rarely full of water, cannot in the course of thirteen centuries have formed a plain of more than three miles from the ruins to the sea shore. The absence of more numerous traces of

VOL. IX.

buildings will excite less surprise if we consider the houses of the port of Massaua, which in the present day maintains the rank once held by Adulis.'-pp. 266-268.

During our author's stay at Dahalak the long-expected caravan from Gondar arrived at Massaua. One of the most considerable merchants from Gondar, named Getana Meriam, an artful and designing man, who seems to have acquired great influence over his fellow-travellers, was introduced to Dr. Rüppell; from him he obtained an account of the political condition of eastern Abyssinia, and also a sketch of its history, which, however, is too long for an extract. Some idea may be formed of the unsettled state of the Abyssinian empire when we say that from the abdication of Teckla Haimanot, 1778, till the year 1833, fourteen different princes have two and twenty times occupied the imperial throne of Gondar. The friendship of Meriam was purchased by the loan of a sum of money, and every arrangement for the journey made in accordance with his advice.

Shortly before quitting Massaua the Banians celebrated a feast called the Avatara. The streets of Masaua (the only place on the Red Sea where the festival is kept up) were paraded with doleful music, in which the ten incarnations of Vishno were set forth. Grotesque dancing was kept up through the whole of the night; all the performers were masqued, having on their heads representations of a tiger, an elephant, a hydra, a seaserpent, a tree laden with fruit, &c. They stopped before the door of every house, and money was contributed by the rich. This performance happens towards the close of the Christian carnival, which in many of its features it closely resembles.

The length to which this article has already extended admonishes us to conclude; when the second volume shall make its appearance we may perhaps avail ourselves of Dr. Rüppell's information to make our readers acquainted with the interior of this interesting country.

315

Art. V. Oliver Cromwell; an Historical Romance. Edited by Horace

Smith, Esq., Author of "Brambletye House.' In three vols. London: Colburn. 1840.

THE character of Oliver Cromwell is one of the unsolved

1 problems in English history. Much has been said and written upon it, yet it is difficult to rest with entire satisfaction on any solution that has been proposed. The insane loyalty which attended the restoration of the Stuarts long prevented any attempt at an equitable analysis of his qualities, and even in more modern times, when a better spirit has presided over our historical literature, the career of the Lord Protector has been too commonly surveyed through the false medium of party associations. The same neglect of historical fidelity as was evidenced by Echard and other of our earlier writers, has in consequence been witnessed in our own times. The result of all this has been an exhibition by ultra writers of two distinct and wholly opposite personages, the one all demon-like, the other a saintly patriot. The facts of history and the philosophy of our common nature have been alike disregarded by both parties, and the cautious and honest inquirer is in consequence perplexed by unnecessary and most distracting difficulties. The number of Cromwell's advocates has hitherto borne no proportion to his assailants. "History,' remarks Dr. Vaughan,

has hardly another man of whom so much has been written, • and so little in a friendly spirit. The present volumes are significant of a momentous change which the political sentiments of our country have for some time past been undergoing. Had it been attempted some few years since to make the CaptainGeneral of the parliament the hero of an historical romance, he would undoubtedly have been depicted in the darkest and most revolting colors of which our nature admits. Such a work would in all probability have basely pandered to the false passions and distorting prejudices which have consigned the memory of some of our most distinguished patriots to unmitigated reproach. Something of this kind is observable even in the Woodstock of Sir Walter Scott, where traits of character are attributed to Cromwell wholly out of keeping with the nature of the man. It was not in his heart to quail before a portrait of the monarch whom he deemed-and justly deemed -the representative and champion of religious intolerance and civil despotism. Whatever other doubts may have harassed the mind of Cromwell, we do not believe he was ever tormented by any apparition of Charles Stuart. We have fallen, however, on happier times, and have in consequence now before us an

counter in Tetbe admon, but had note was an

historical novel in which the hero of Marston Moor and Naseby is represented as one of the most sagacious and magnanimous of an illustrious band of patriots. The theme is a tempting one and we could willingly pursue it, but the space within which our notice of these volumes must be confined warns us to proceed at once to our more immediate object.

The personages introduced are for the most part strictly historical, and the part they act is in literal accordance with the view which contemporary witnesses give us of their character. The nature of the work, which follows closely on the heels of history, precludes any display of skill in the development of the plot. The principal events in which Cromwell acted so distinguished a part are taken up in order, and exhibited with little aid from fiction, from the veritable documents of the period. The work opens at the commencement of the Long Parliament, when the patriot spirits of England were firmly arraying themselves against the tyranny of Charles. Edgar Ardenne, a pupil and friend of Milton, a youth of noble bearing and courteous manners just returned from foreign travel, is introduced at Royston, in altercation with Walter Danforth, the landlord of the White Dragon, respecting the probable dangers he would encounter in prosecuting after nightfall his journey to Huntingdon. Despite the admonitions of his host, Ardenne proceeded towards his father's hall, but had not journeyed far before he was overtaken by a violent storm. It was an autumnal night, and thick darkness had fallen upon the land, when having with difficulty forded the river Cam, he was suddenly confronted by a body of deer-stealers, who, suspecting him to be one of Lord de la Ware's keepers, engaged him in deadly conflict. The noise of their weapons attracted the attention of two or three horsemen passing at some distance, who immediately proceeding to the spot, drove off the marauders, and guided Ardenne to a small inn in the neighborhood. One of the party which had come thus opportunely to his aid was Oliver Cromwell, then unknown to Ardenne, who indeed was but very partially informed of the state of things in his native land. The conversation which took place, couched as it was on the part of Cromwell in all the peculiarities of the Puritan dialect, awakened the astonishment of the young Englishman, and led him to scrutinize, with mingled feelings of interest and contempt, the features of the strange man into whose society he had been so suddenly cast.

Having lodged Ardenne at the Fox, at Bourne, Cromwell proceeded to the house of Colonel Pym, whither he had been journeying when attracted by the noise of our young travellers rencontre with the deer-stealers. The wonted sagacity of the future Protector enabled him at once to read the real character

of the youthful Ardenne, notwithstanding his cavalier bearing an ill suppressed contempt for the Puritan dialect in which Cromwell poured forth the aspirations and confidence of his excited soul. "Thy spirit,' he exclaimed, is of our order, thy ' heart is with us, and thy tongue shall be, yea, and thy sword • likewise. Prompt in action as in thought, he immediately formed the project of bringing in Ardenne for the representation of Huntingdon, then vacant by the death of its late member; and proceeded in company, with Hampden and St. John, to the residence of Milton, 'a fair suburban villa' situated in Aldersgate, to satisfy themselves of the safety and prudence of such a step. The conversation which took place between these illustrious individuals, though not distinguished in the case of Milton more particularly by the higher qualities of his mind, is sufficiently characteristic to present some points of considerable interest to the historical reader.

As the result of their interview with Milton, Ardenne took his seat in the Long Parliament as member for Huntingdon. His father, Sir Henry, was a staunch old royalist, but the son had imbibed the spirit of his tutor, and his character is ably drawn as amongst the most noble and high-minded of the day. Public affairs now moved on with fearful rapidity ; the storm which had long been gathering covered the heavens with blackness, and threatened speedily to smite the inhabitants of the land. The popular leaders emboldened by the success of their earlier measures, began to contemplate a permanent abridgment of the royal prerogative, until the boldness of their schemes alarmed the more timid and prudent of their associates, and gave rise to some appearance of reaction in favor of the king. This led to the Grand Remonstrance, which finally separated Lord Falkland and others from the counsels of the patriots. Had Charles been wise he might have profited by this division, but his madness prompted him to a step which destroyed for ever all hope of an amicable settlement of the existing difference. The attempted arrest of the five members was one of the most insane follies of which tyrant was ever guilty-it unmasked the despot to the eyes of an indignant people, and hastened on the fearful tragedy that was coming. History records that the accused members received information of the king's design, which enabled them to withdraw before his appearance in the house. This is supposed to have been conveyed to them by the Countess of Carlisle, an attendant on the queen, and the following is the use made of the incident by our author.

As the day advanced, the members of the lower house might be. seen hurrying toward St. Stephen's, some mounted, some on foot, but all accompanied by at least one armed retainer; and these were

« PreviousContinue »