« PreviousContinue »
IN COMMEMORATION OF HIS WISIT TO THE MOST EMIN ENT OF
DURING THE PERIOD WHEN SOME OF ITS WENERABLE
THE country to which the reader's attention is directed in the following pages was partly visited by Dr. Shaw in the beginning of the eighteenth century, and is the same portion of the world which first proved attractive to the great Abyssinian traveller. In 1763, or just a century ago, Lord Halifax, on assuming the reins of Government which Lord Chatham had resigned, proposed to Bruce a plan for exploring the classical portions of North Africa. He wished that traveller to be the first in the reign of His Majesty George III, to “set an example by procuring interesting
information, and by making additions to the royal col
lection” of drawings of ancient cities and monuments. As an encouragement, his Lordship pledged himself to be the supporter and patron of the dauntless Scot, promising him substantial reward for services to his country in this field. As an official position was calculated to facilitate the enterprise, his Lordship offered him the post of British Consul at Algiers, giving him, at the same time, full permission to
appoint a vice-consul to attend to the business of the office.
Bruce did not accomplish much in this part of Africa, for this simple reason—he was bent upon solving a mighty problem which had for ages baffled the learned of many countries, and preferred a triumph at the “mysterious"
sources of the Nile.
The prevalence of piracy, the fierce and lawless character of the inhabitants of the Barbary coast, and the fanatical jealousy of their piratic governments, as well as other causes, combined in contributing towards keeping the civilized world in ignorance of the real character of ancient remains which are dispersed throughout a country highly interesting for its association with the chequered history of Carthage, “the ocean's earliest queen"—a country famous also, among other great events, for the struggle with Jugurtha, in which the ambitious tyrants Marius and Sylla were engaged, and for the campaign of Julius Caesar, which terminated in the defeat of the Republican party, headed by Scipio and Cato—a defeat which led to the inauguration
of the Imperial Government of Rome,
After the conquest of a large portion of the North African continent by France, Moslem fanaticism was so far staggered, that a European was able to venture a little distance into the interior, and explore the vestiges of ancient civilization. The one who then made the attempt (and this was in 1834) was Colonel Sir Grenville Temple. His book, however, which really deserves to be better known, has, from some cause or other, scarcely seen the light of day. But neither he, nor Shaw, nor Bruce have achieved much ; and, I may add, even now there are more ruined cities in Numidia, in Africa Proper, in the territories of Tripoli and Pentapolis, which have not been described by the traveller, than those with which the public has been made acquainted. For more information, and for more tangible results, we must wait till encouragement shall again be given to enterprises eminently
It will be observed that in my intercourse with the Arabs (the present “lords of the soil” of classical Africa), with whom I came in contact in these migrations, I made them, wherever it was practicable, the exponents of their moral depravities and of their redeeming qualities. The reader is thus placed in a position to form his own estimate of their real character. Moreover, if his imagination is only sufficiently ardent, he can wander with me, participate in my toils and in my pleasures, in my privations and in my enjoyments, and that with this agreeable difference—he is able to give a degree of reality to the illusion of the one, while he can, at
his option, readily dissipate the other. And with reference