« ForrigeFortsæt »
dossiers où ils prennent soin d'inscrire les noms du directeur, du chef de bureau, du sous-chef et du commis que cela regarde. L'un sollicite la construction d'un petit pont; l'autre, la percée d'un chemin vicinal. Plusieurs veulent faire des directeurs, des inspecteurs et des maîtres de poste; quelques-uns, que nous envoient les départemens à tabac, aspirent à porter leurs concitoyens à tous les emplois que les contributions indirectes ont créés à la suite de cette plante, comme contrôleurs spéciaux de culture, garde-magasins, inspecteurs, sous-inspecteurs et chefs de fabrication.'
Under the ancient monarchy of France, all public appointments-those of Judges among the rest--were sold by the Crown.* This monstrous abuse, which Montesquieu pays monarchy the ill compliment of thinking necessary to it, no longer exists;-as our author says, Le Roi vous nomme pour rien, et les Ministres vous destituent gratis.' But if we may believe his statements,--though public officers no longer buy their places, they continue still, as grossly as ever, to sell the duties of them; and for this spirit of cupidity and venality which, according to him, pervades every class of society in France, he thus satisfactorily accounts.
Le dirai-je pourtant? la corruption de nos mœurs administratives a peutêtre une déplorable excuse dans l'exemple des jeux de fortune que nos révolutions leur ont présentés. Il faut en convenir : entre les deux époques de 1789 et de 1815, c'est-à-dire pendant trente ans, des événemens extraordinaires ont aventureusement déplacé toutes les sources des richesses territoriales, commerciales et industrielles. Chacun a pu, au moins une fois, y emplir son broc, comme aux vastes fontaines que le luxe des anniversaries érige à la soif populaire, où ce succès est réservé au plus fort et au plus adroit. Ces continuels spectacles d'opulences improvisées, ces soudaines élévations de fortunes de cinq minutes, ont répandu dans les membres du corps social une fièvre d'or et d'argent qui inégalise et accélère encore ses pulsations. Cette fièvre s'est sourtout attaquée à l'administration qui, toujours exposée aux rappels, aux réformes, aux
By an official account given to Colbert in 1664, it appeared that the number of places in the two departments of Finance and Justice, was upwards of forty-five thousand, of which the salaries amounted to more than eighty millions of livres. These offices were all sold, and the money produced by the sale was part of the revenue. Each of these offices carried with it an exemption from taxes; each new creation, therefore, diminished the permanent resources of the state. The current price of the whole of these offices, at that time, amounted to four hundred and nineteen millions, or about thirty millions Sterling.History of Europe, from the Peace of Utrecht, by Lord John Russell. See this very clever work, p. 213, for the attempt made by Colbert to reform this abuse.
retraites, aux congés illimités et à tous les genres de disgrâces que les ministres ont inventés, cherche à la hâte à se créer des bien-êtres pendant ses courts instans d'activité.'
It is humiliating to be obliged to confess, that the same grasp ing avidity for gain, the same demoralizing spirit of speculation, which is here described as hurrying away all classes in France, has, from causes similar in their operation, become but too much the characteristic of Englishmen. What the Revolution and its sudden changes of property are said to have done in that country, the Bank Restriction Act and its consequences have assuredly effected here. A perpetually fluctuat ing currency has turned commerce into a game of chance; and, from a nation of gamblers, only the morals of a gambler are to be expected.
We shall here close our notice of this work, with the expression of our sincere wish, that France may be half as successful in obtaining the blessings of our form of Government, as she has evidently been in copying its corruptions and defects.
ART. VI. Narrative of Travels and Discoveries in Northern and Central Africa, in the Years 1822, 1823, and 1824, by MAJOR DENHAM, CAPTAIN CLAPPERTON, and the late DocTOR OUDNEY, extending across the Great Desert to the Tenth Degree of Northern Latitude, and from Kouka in Bornou, to Sackatoo, the Capital of the Fellatah Empire. With an Appendix, published by Authority of the Right Honourable Earl Bathurst, one of his Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State, and Dedicated by Permission to his Lordship. By MAJOR DIXON DENHAM, of his Majesty's 17th Regiment of Foot, and CAPTAIN HUGH CLAPPERTON, of the Royal Navy, the Survivors of the Expedition. London, 1826.
THE appearance of this work forms an era in modern dis
covery. We scarcely know, since the time of Marco Polo, with the exception perhaps of Park, any instance in which so much new ground has been gone over by any single mission. Regions have been surveyed, the very existence of which was before unknown-and others, of which only a faint rumour had reached across the immense deserts by which they were enclos→ ed. The tract, too, is one on which Europeans, in an especial sense, have fixed their eyes till now, and pined with vain des sire;' and the present discoveries are the more welcome, as they seem to be presented only as a prelude to the complete exploration of Africa, likely soon to be effected by British en
terprise. On this subject, it seems but fair to acknowledge, that the present Administration have merited well of the cause of discovery. We give them less credit for what they did in the full hey-day of expectation, when the public concurred in every possible effort and sacrifice. But hope was extensively chilled by so many abortive and disastrous attempts; and ultimately, we believe, the national vote would have been, to throw up Africa as a hopeless and ruinous concern. Their adherence to the cause under such discouragements, has made it in the most honourable sense their own, and entitles them to a fair share in the glory of that important success with which it has at last been crowned.
Many circumstances must exempt the work before us from severe criticism as a literary production-which would be ungracious indeed towards those who have returned to us from the gates of death, with so much of important and interesting intelligence. To form a perfect traveller would require a rare union of active and speculative qualities, likely to occur only when men of cultivated minds,-a Volney, a Barrow, or a Humboldt,-have devoted themselves to this pursuit by a spontaneous impulse. The members of the present mission (Major Denham, Mr Clapperton, and Dr Oudney), acted chiefly as instruments in the hands of others. As good British officers, however, they performed arduous duties, boldly and diligently; and they achieved that in which many before them had failed. If the narrative, which seems given simply as it came from their pen, display no very high intellectual power or curious research, it still contains a plain and perspicuous narrative; and often, especially in Major Denham's case, lively and amusing pictures of the objects actually presented to them. We know not if it was advisedly, that they went out unfurnished with any previous ideas respecting the great objects which they were to explore But they certainly seem to have carried out their minds a complete tabula rasa in relation to Africa. This has no doubt one salutary effect,-as the facts are given pure, not coloured or modified with a view to the support of any crude theory. Yet, with a slight tincture of African antiquity, they might have sifted some of the information they received; they might have doubted the recent origin ascribed to cities mentioned eight centuries ago by Edrisi; and they would not have passed over various means and objects of inquiry, from being unable to estimate their value. From the same cause they could of course do nothing to illustrate their own observations, by the lights of earlier inquirers. Major Rennell, too, was no longer ready to come forward, as in the early discoveries of the Association, to link them together, and connect them with the early histories
and descriptions of the Continent. An important desideratum is thus left, which, before closing this article, some attempt will be made to supply, though in a manner, we fear, very inadequate to the importance of the materials now furnished.
Government, ever on the watch for the means of exploring Africa, seems lately to have found a favourable opening at the court of Tripoli. This little state, so beset heretofore with ignorance and bigotry, had felt a glimmering of the light which shines on the European nations. The British, in particular, were favoured and courted, partly owing to the prudent conduct of Mr Warrington, the Consul, whose house had long been an asylum for all whom he chose to protect. Not less favourable to British views was the position of Tripoli in regard to Central Africa. Some recent incursions by her tributary, the Sultan of Fezzan, had spread far and wide the terror of the Tripolitan name. Her troops had obtained a superiority, like that of the Spaniards over the native Americans, from the use of fire-arms; while spears, javelins and arrows were still the most powerful weapons of Bornou and Soudan. A gun, in the heart of Africa, is the object almost of supernatural dread. Major Denham has observed several of the natives, when they saw one rested against a tree, hovering round it on tiptoe, speaking to each other only in whispers, and apparently attempting to sooth it by the most humble supplications. "Could these poor creatures,' says Major Denham, be once made to un.. derstand the real state of an Arab's pouch, with two or three loads of bad powder, and the little dependence to be placed on his firelock, a miserable French piece, of the original value of about twelve shillings, that misses fire at least every other time, how much more justly would they estimate • the Arab's strength!' However, the petty Bashaw of Tripoli, armed with such weapons, is considered by them the most powerful prince existing; and we are assured that it is regarded, in the interior, as matter of astonishment, that he had not compelled all Europe to embrace the Mahometan faith! An invasion from Tripoli is therefore the thing of all others most dreaded by the interior potentates. To offend the Bashaw pears to them the greatest of evils; and his recommendation is a safe passport from one end to the other of the Negro dominions. He assured the English mission that, under such a guarantee, the route from Tripoli to Bornou was as secure as that from London to Edinburgh; and the assertion, so far as man was concerned, was found not to pass the limits of Oriental hyperbole.
The first step was to proceed from Tripoli to Mourzouk, the capital of Fezzan. The Sultan of this little country reigned as
the Viceroy of the Bashaw, whose wishes he professed himself willing to fulfil; but, not having the same liberal spirit, he immediately began that system of delay and evasion which had baffled the mission under Messrs Lyon and Ritchie. As soon, however, as the present gentlemen were satisfied of this unfriendly disposition, they formed the decisive resolution of measuring back their dreary route to Tripoli; and on not receiving full satisfaction there, Major Denham had even set off for England, when he was recalled, and Boo-Khaloom, the leader of a great caravan, assigned as his guide to Bornou. Passing over the return to Mourzouk, we find the whole party, under the guidance of Boo-Khaloom, departing from that capital, to measure their path across those immense deserts which separated them from the regions of which they were in search.
The details of this expedition have made us better acquainted with that singular and complex character, an Arab caravan merchant. The term merchant in Africa, suggests something very different from that quiet, prudent, and diligent personage, who, while his argosies are floating on the ocean, remains seated in a snug apartment, counting the silent growth of cent. per cent. The Arab trader, on the contrary, must accompany his investments to their remotest destination, and through all the perilous and desolate tracts that intervene. He must renounce
every local attachment, every feeling of country. His home is wherever the human foot can wander. His sole delight soon comes to be centered in this roving and irregular life; and even at an advanced age, and after passing through numberless dangers, his mind is often wholly occupied in planning new expeditions. To the character of a wanderer he must add another,passing through regions which own no law but that of the strongest, and through routes every where beset with predatory hordes, he must arm himself and his followers, and must defend as a warrior what he has earned as a merchant. Unhappily he does not often stop here; but, imitating those with whom he contends, learns at last to consider plunder as a cheap, and even honourable mode of replenishing his stores. His staple commodity consisting of slaves, obtained always originally by violence, it becomes an obvious economy to be the captor rather than the purchaser. Provided, in short, he can make up a valuable assortment, he cares not whether it be earned with money or blood. He is equally at home, plundering the defenceless, driving an honest trade, or fighting like a hero on the field of battle. Thief, merchant, pedlar, prince and warrior, he holds himself equally ready, according to circumstances, to act in any of these capacities. His followers, being constantly armed and in movement, become a sort of little standing army,