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There is something so natural, and so closely derived from human governments, in the notion of the immediate interference of Providence, that mankind are only weaned from it by centuries of contradiction and discussion. In all cases where crime is alleged, the accused is obliged to prove his innocence by submitting to an ordeal. If he is burnt by red-hot iron, or scalded by boiling oil, he is immediately hurried to the gallows, with a zeal proportioned to the force and perspicuity of the evidence. In the neighbourhood of Sierra Leone, a curious species of pharmaceutical tyranny is resorted to for the purpose of ordeal. The bark of a particular tree, of purgative and emetic qualities, is infused into a large quantity of water, of which the prisoner is to drink about six calabashes quite full. If this judicial and inquisitive drink take a superior direction, and return by the aperture through which it is admitted, all is well; but if the least honourable and elegant of its powers predominate over the other, and it evince a disposition to descend, all opportunity of changing its line of egress is prevented, by the immediate elevation of the accused person to the gibbet.
The desire of penetrating into futurity, and the belief that some persons are capable of doing it, is as difficult to eradicate from the human mind, as is the belief in an immediate Providence ; and consequently, the Africans not only have their ordeal, but their conjurors and magicians, who are appealed to in all the difficulties and uncertainties of life, and who always, of course, preserve their authority, though they are perpetually showing, by the clearest evidence of facts, upon what sort of foundation it rests. But the most singular circumstance in the history of barbarians, is that tendency to form interior societies, comprehending a vast number of members, and rivalling the government in their influence upon public opinion. Such is the Areoy Society at Otaheite, and such the Society of the Purra in Africa. Every person, on entering into this Society, lays aside his former name, and takes a new one. They have a superior, whose commands are received with the most profound veneration. When the Purra comes into a town, which is always at night, it is accompanied with the most horrid screams, howlings, and every kind of awful noise. The inhabitants, who are not members, are obliged to secure themselves within doors. Should any one be discovered without, or peeping to see what was going forwards, he would infallibly be put to death. Mere seclusion of females is not considered by the Society as a sufficient guarantee against their curiosity: but all the time the Purra remains in town, the women are obliged to clap their hands, to show they are not attempting any private indulgence of espionage. Like the Secret Tribunal which formerly existed in Germany, it punishes the guilty and disobedient, in so secret a manner, that the perpetrators are never known, and, from a dread of the Tribunal, not often inquired for. The natives about Sierra Leone speak of the Purra men with horror, and firmly believe that they have all strict and incessant intercourse with the devil. This account of Africa is terminated by a single chapter on Sierra Leone, a subject on which we cannot help regretting that Dr. Winter. bottom has not been a little more diffuse. It would derive a peculiar interest from the present state of St. Domingo, as the perils with which West India property is now threatened, must naturally augment curiosity respecting the possibility of a pacific change of that system, and we should have read with pleasure and instruction the observations of so intelligent and ertertaining a writer as Dr. Winterbottom, who is extensively acquainted with the subjects on which he writes, and has a talent of selecting important matter, and adorning it. Dr. Winterbottom says he has been in Africa some years, and we do not doubt the fact; he might, however, have written this book without giving himself that trouble ; and the only difference between him and a mere compiler is, that he sanction's his quotations by authority, and embellishes them by his ingenuity. The medical volume we have not yet seen, but this first volume may be safely purchased,
DE LA BROCQUIERE, TRAVELS FROM PALESTINE.
The Travels of Bertrandon de la Brocquière, First Esquire-Carver to Philip le
Bon, Duke of Burgundy, during the Years 1432, 1433. Translated from
the French, by Thomas JOHNES, Esq. IN N the year 1432, many great lords in the dominions of Burgundy,
holding offices under Duke Philip le Bon, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Among them was his first esquire-carver, La Brocquière, who, having performed many devout pilgrimages in Palestine, returned sick to Jerusalem, and, during his convalescence, formed the bold scheme of returning to France over land. This led him to traverse the western parts of Asia and Eastern Europe ; and, during the whole journey, except towards the end of it, he passed through the dominions of the Musselmen. The execution of such a journey, even at this day, would not be without difficulty; and it was then thought to be impossible. It was in vain that his companions attempted to dissuade him : he was obstinate; and, setting out, overcame every obstacle ; returned in the course of the year 1433, and presented himself to the Duke in bis Saracen dress, and on the horse which had carried him during the whole of his journey. The Duke, after the fashion of great people, conceiving that the glory of his esquire-carver was his own, caused the work to be printed and published.
The following is a brief extract of this valiant person's peregrinations :-“After performing the customary pilgrimages, we went,” says La Brocquière, " to the mountain where Jesus fasted forty days ; to Jordan, where he was baptized ; to the Church of St. Martha, where
Lazarus was raised from the dead; to Bethlehem, where he was born; to the birthplace of St. John the Baptist; to the house of Zechariah and, lastly, to the holy cross, where the tree grew that formed the real cross.” From Jerusalem the first gentleman.carver betook himself to Mount Sinai, paying pretty handsomely to the Saracens for that privi. lege. These infidels do not appear to have ever prevented the Christian pilgrims from indulging their curiosity and devotion in visiting the most interesting evangelical objects in the Holy Land; but, after charging a good round price for this gratification, contented themselves with occasionally kicking them and spitting upon them. In his way to Mount Sinai, the esquire-carver passed through the Valley of Hebron, where, he tells us, Adam was created : and from thence to Gaza, where they showed him the columns of the building which Samson pulled down, though of the identity of the building the esquire seems to entertain some doubts. At Gaza five of his companions fell sick and returned to Jerusalem. The second day's journey in the desert the carver fell ill also,-returned to Gaza, where he was cured by a Samaritan,-and finding his way back to Jerusalem, hired some pleasant lodgings on Mount Sion.
Before he proceeded on his grand expedition over land, he undertook a little expedition to Nazareth, hearing, first of all, divine service at the Cordeliers, and imploring, at the tomb of our Lady, her protection for his journey. From Jerusalem their first stage was Acre, where they gave up their intended expedition, and repaired to Baruth, whence Sir Samson de Lalaing and the author sallied afresh, under better auspices, to Damascus. He speaks with great pleasure of the valley where Noah built the ark, through which valley he passed on his way to Damascus; upon entering which town he was knocked down by a Saracen for wearing an ugly hat,-as he probably would be in London for the same offence in the year 1807. At Damascus he informs us the Christians are locked up every night,-as they are in English workhouses, night and day, when they happen to be poor. The greatest misfortune attendant upon this Damascene incarceration is the extreme irregularity with which the doors are opened in the morning, their janitor having no certain hour of quitting his bed. At Damascus he saw the place where St. Paul had a vision. “I saw also,” says he, “the stone from which St. George mounted his horse, when he went to combat the dragon. It is two feet square ; and they say that, when formerly the Saracens attempted to carry it away, in spite of all the strength they employed, they could not succeed.” After having seen Damascus, he returns with Sir Samson to Baruth, and communicates his intentions of returning over land to France to his companions. They state to him the astonishing difficulties he will have to overcome in the execution of so extraordinary a project; but the admirable carver, determined to make no bones, and to cut his way through every obstacle, persists in his scheme, and bids them a final adieu. He is determined, however, not to be baffled in his subordinate expedition to Nazareth ; and, having now got rid of his timid companions, accomplishes it with ease. We shall here present our readers with an extract from this part of his journal, requesting them to admire the naïf manner in which he speaks of the vestiges of ecclesiastical history.
“Acre, though in a plain of about four leagues in extent, is surrounded on three sides by mountains, and on the fourth by the sea. I made acquaintance there with a Venetian merchant called Aubert Franc, who received me well, and procured me much useful information respecting my two pilgrimages, by which I profited. With the aid of his advice, I took the road to Nazareth, and, having crossed an extensive plain, came to the fountain, the water of which our Lord changed into wine at the marriage of Archétréclin: it is near a village where St. Peter is said to have been born.
“ Nazareth is another large village, built between two mountains; but the place where the angel Gabriel came to announce to the Virgin Mary that she would be a mother, is in a pitiful state. The church that had been there built is entirely destroyed; and of the houses wherein our Lady was when the angel appeared to her, not the smallest remnant exists.
“From Nazareth I went to Mount Tabor, the place where the transfiguration of our Lord, and many other miracles, took effect. These pasturages attract the Arabs, who come thither with their beasts; and I was forced to engage four additional men as an escort, two of whom were Arabs. The ascent of the mountain is rugged, because there is no road : I performed it on the back of a mule, but it took me two hours. The summit is terminated by an almost circular plain of about two bow-shots in length, and one in width. It was formerly inclosed with walls, the ruins of which, and the ditches, are still visible: within the wall, and around it, were several churches, and one especially, where, although in ruins, full pardon for vice and sin is gained.
“We went to lodge in Samaria, because I wished to see the lake of Tiberias, where it was said St. Peter was accustomed to fish; and by so doing some pardons may be gained, for it was the ember week of September. The Moucre left me to myself the whole day. Samaria is situated on the extremity of a mountain. We entered it at the close of the day, and left it at midnight to visit the lake. The Moucre had proposed this hour to evade the tribute exacted from all who go thither; but the night hindered me from seeing the surrounding country.
“ I went first to Joseph's Well, so called from his being cast into it by his brethren. There is a handsome mosque near it, which I entered with my Moucre, pretending to be a Saracen.
Further on is a stone bridge over the Jordan, called Jacob's Bridge, on account of a house hard by, said to have been the residence of that patriarch. The river flows from a great lake situated at the foot of a mountain, to the north-west, on which Namcardin has a very handsome castle."—(pp. 122–128.)
From Damascus, to which he returns after his expedition to Nazareth, the first carver of Philip le Bon sets out with the caravan for Bursa.
Before he begins upon his journey, he expatiates with much satisfaction upon the admirable method of shoeing horses at Damascus,-a panegyric which certainly gives us the lowest ideas of that art in the reign of Philip le Bon; for it appears that, out of fifty days, his horse was lame for twenty-one, owing to this ingenious method of shoeing. As a mark of gratitude to the leader of the caravan, the esquire presents him with a pot of green ginger, and the caravan proceeds. Before it has advanced one day's journey, the esquire, however, deviates from the road, to pay his devoirs to a miraculous image of our Lady of Serdenay, which always sweats-not ordinary sudorific matter—but an oil of great ecclesiastical efficacy. While travelling with the caravan, he learned to sit cross-legged, got drunk privately, and was nearly murdered by some Saracens, who discovered that he had money. In some parts of Syria, M. de la Brocquière met with an opinion, which must have been extremely favourable to the spirit of proselytism in so very hot a country-an opinion that the infidels have a very bad smell, and that this is only to be removed by baptism. But as the baptism was according to the Greek ritual, by total immersion, Bertrandon seems to have a distant suspicion that this miracle may be resolved into the simple phenomenon of washing. He speaks well of the Turks, and represents them, to our surprise, as a very gay, laughing people. We thought Turkish gravity had been almost proverbial. The natives of the country through which he passed pray (he says) for the conversion of Christians, and especially request that there may be never sent among them again such another terrible man as Godfrey of Boulogne. At Couhongue the caravan broke up; and here he quitted a Mameluke soldier, who had kept him company during the whole of the journey, and to whose courage and fidelity Europe, Philip Le Bon, and Mr. Johnes of Hafod, are principally indebted for the preservation of the first ésquire-carver.
“I bade adieu," he says, "to my Mameluke. This good man, whose name was Mohammed, had done me innumerable services. Hé was very charitable, and never refused alms when asked in the name of God. It was through charity he had been so kind to me; and I must confess that, without his assistance, I could not have performed my journey without incurring the greatest danger, and that, had it not been for his kindness, I should often have been exposed to cold and hunger, and much embarrassed with my horse.
"On taking leave of him, I was desirous of showing my gratitude ; but he would never accept of anything except a piece of our fine European cloth to cover his head, which seemed to please him much. He told ine all the occasions that had come to his knowledge, on which, if it had not been for him, I should have run risks of being assassinated, and warned me to be very circumspect in my connections with the Saracens, for that there were among them some as wicked as the Franks. I write this to recal to my reader's memory that the person who, from his love to God, did me so many and essential kind. nesses, was a man not of our faith.”—(pp. 196, 197.)