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the Baron Sigismund von Herberstein, Ambassador from the Court of Germany to the Grand Prince Vasiley Ivanovich, in the years 1517 and 1526. Translated and edited, with Notes and an Introduction, by R. H. Major, Esq., of the British Museum.
2 vols. The Geography of Hudson's Bay. Being the Remarks of Cap
tain W. Coats, in many Voyages to thut Locality, between the years 1727 and 1751. With an Appendix, containing extracts from the Log of Captain Middleton on his Voyage for the Discovery of the North - west Passage, in H.M.S. “ Furnace,” in
1741-2." Edited by John Barrow, Esq., F.R.S., F.S.A. Three Voyages by the North-east, towards Cathay and China, un
dertaken by the Dutch in the years 1594, 1595, and 1596, with their discovery of Spitzbergen, their Residence of ten months in Novaya Zemlya, and their safe return in two open boats. By
Gerrit de Veer. Edited by Charles T. Beke, Esq., Ph. D., F.S.A. The History of the great and mighty Kingdom of China, and the
situation thereof. Compiled by the Padre Juan Gonzalez de Mendoza; and now reprinted from the early translation of R. Parke. Edited by Sir George T. Staunton, Bart. With an Introduction
by R. H. Major, Esq. 2 vols. The World encompassed by Sir Francis Drake: being his nex
Voyage to that to Nombre de Dios. Collated with an unpublishea Manuscript of Francis Fletcher, Chaplain to the Expedition. With Appendices illustrative of the Voyage, and Introduction, by
W. S. W. Vaux, Esq., M.A. The History of the two Tartar Conquerors of China, including
the two Journeys into Tartary of Father Ferdinand Verbiest ; from the French of Père Pierre Joseph d Orleans. To which is added, Father Pereira's Journey into Tartary; from the Dutch of Nicolaas Witsen. Translated and edited by the Earl of Elles
mere. With an Introduction by R. H. Major, Esq. A Collection of Documents on Spitzbergen and Greenland. Edited
by Adam White, Esq., of the British Museum.
HERE is a list of books the very titles of which are the earnest of a singular feast to those who can appreciate the delight of escaping for awhile from the atmosphere of modern fine writing into a region of simple facts simply narrated. Of all the publishing societies, the Hakluyt has performed and is still performing the most deservedly popular service. This society has had the peculiar good fortune of catering for an interest which is at once general, scientific, and antiquarian. Its publications find an appropriate place on the schoolboy's bookshelf beside Gulliver and Crusoe; in the catalogue of the circulating library beside the modern novel of the most "startling interest;" and in the study of the historian or the geographer. Any one of the sixteen books we have undertaken to notice would afford “cream” enough for a highly amusing review article. As it is, we find ourselves suffering under an embarras de richesses. Our space will scarcely suffice for a catalogue raisonné of these works and their contents; and we are in some dread of being compelled to write a dry notice by the mere abundance of interest in our materials. One of the greatest charms of the simple narratives of these “old travellers" is a certain spaciousness and leisurely air about their way of saying things. Without the least pretension to literary art, theirs is in reality the “grand style” of narrative. Their “important facts” stand simply and strikingly in a pleasant wilderness of naïve platitude and commonplace; and Stonehenge, should it ever be brought to London by rail and set up as the central decoration of Trafalgar Square, would not differ more from Stonehenge in the centre of breezy Sarum Plain than these principal facts, condensed in a review article, must differ from the same in their original context. We cannot, however, pretend even to cull the principal facts from a mass like this, where so much is principal. Warning our readers against the injustice of mistaking single bricks for models, or hasty glances for epitomes, we proceed to speak of the Hakluyt Society's publications in order of their issue, reserving our space chiefly for the later volumes, with which the non-subscribing public have had fewer opportunities of making themselves acquainted by means of the Reviews.
The first work of the series is one of the least interesting. If we except some remarks of Hawkins, on the naming of ships, with a history of the christening of the vessel in which he sailed, we can scarcely recommend the work to those who seek mere amusement. It is a curious fact, that Sir Richard was in the habit of distilling pure water from the sea,-a process which most persons, we believe, imagine to be of quite modern invention. “The water so distilled was wholesome and nourishing," we are told. Wholesome it might have been ; but the fact of its having been nourishing must rank in credibility with some others which rest on the same authority,—as, for example, the power of the moon's rays to produce “a furious burning pain, enough to drive one mad;" and the liability of water, under certain circumstances, to spontaneous combustion.
The Select Letters of Columbus are full of interest and value. Before the publication of this volume by the Hakluyt Society, only one of these letters had been translated, and that many years ago in the pages of the Edinburgh Review. No biography of Columbus or history of his discoveries has any thing approaching to the interest of these elaborately written accounts addressed by Columbus to his king and queen, or to persons about them. Perhaps the deepest impression left by the perusal of these letters—after the first overwhelming indignation at the ingratitude with which his services were requited—is admiration for his single-heartedness and the high motives by which he was actuate in his work. The conversion of the Indians and the extension of the realms of knowledge seem to have inspired him to the exclusion of all consideration of personal advantages either of fame or wealth ; and his own nobility throws into deep contrast the grovelling spirits of those by whom he was surrounded. His companions and employers seem to have seen nothing in his great discoveries beyond the prospect of increased wealth and extended dominion. From scores of passages of equal interest we take the following characteristic trait of this great and noble mind :
“They" (the natives of Hispaniola, or San Domingo, “exhibit great love towards all others in preference to themselves; they also give objects of great value for trifles, and content themselves with very little or nothing in return. I, however, forbad that these trifles and articles of no value, such as pieces of dishes, plates, and glass keys, and leather straps, should be given to them, although, if they could obtain them, they imagined themselves to be possessed of the most beautiful trinkets in the world. It even happened that a sailor received for a leather strap as much gold as was worth three golden nobles ; and for things of mere trifling value offered by our men, especially newly-coined blancas, or any gold coins, the Indians would give whatever the seller required. ... Thus they bartered, like idiots, cotton and gold for fragments of bows, glasses, bottles, and jars, which I forbad as being unjust; and myself gave them many beautiful and acceptable articles which I had brought with me, taking nothing for them in return. I did this in order that I might the more easily conciliate them, that they might be led to become Christians.”
The Discovery of the large, rich, and beautiful Empire of Guiana by Sir Walter Raleigh is a work full of amusing matter, and sprinkled plentifully with travellers' wonders. We have accounts of Amazons; of men whose eyes were in their shoulders, whose mouths were in their breasts, and whose hair grew from their backs; of a race who “do use to beat the bones of their lords into powder, and their wives and friends to drinke it all in their several sorts of drinks ;" of poisoned arrows fatal to Europeans, but harmless to natives, &c. The editor of Raleigh's work, Sir Robert H. Schomburgh, has accompanied it with materials of his own, which render the entire volume an excellent and most entertaining biography. Raleigh was a fine writer as well as a fine gentleman and a great adventurer; and this volume abounds in passages of elegant style and vivid description, as, for example:
“ That Cassique that was a stranger had his wife staying at the port where we ankored; and in all my life, I have seldom seen a better favored woman. She was of good stature, with blacke eies, fat of body, of an excellent countenance, hir haire almost as long as hirselfe, tied up againe in pretie knots; and it seemed she stood not in that aw of hir husband as the rest, for she spake and discourst, and dranke among the gentlemen and captaines, and was very pleasant, knowing hir owue comelines and taking great pride therein.
Sir Francis Drake his Voyage is a short memorial of Sir Francis by his friend Thomas Maynard. It does not raise our idea of the personal character of the naval hero, who seems fully to have participated in the thirst for gold so prevalent in and about his age. It is often painful, in going through this collection of travels and voyages of discovery, to find how little interest was created in the minds of those engaged in them by the natural and social wonders, so ney and so many, upon
which they came, compared with that which was awakened by the hope of wealth. Columbus is almost the only person who appears to have been quite free from this disease, though even he-evidently to satisfy his royal employers, who were as sordid as the meanest of their subjects—devotes much time to this subject of goldfinding
The Narratives of Voyages towards the North-west, in search of a passage to Cathay and India, include short notices of many well-known travellers and discoverers in Polar regions. This volume, like several others of the Hakluyt series, is unnecessarily deformed by the ancient orthography. Where the sound was evidently the same, we see no object in preserving the old spelling, which, in this particular case, is so different from the modern mode, as to constitute a serious obstacle to the enjoyment of the narratives to persons unaccustomed to the perusal of early English writings in their original dress. In the present instance this obstacle is the more injurious, inasmuch as the volume is one of very general interest. The most valuable narrative of the collection is that of Captain James, who, like most of his fellowlabourers in Arctic discovery, relates terrific sufferings with an almost amusing absence of self-consciousness. These “marine worthies beyond all names of worthinesse" seem to have regarded all that they saw, and all that befel them, alike as natural phenomena, only worth mentioning in so far as they threw light on the nature of new lands, or tended to unravel the riddle they were attempting to solve. If a freezing saucepan seemed a more apt illustration of the temperature of the climate than a shrivelled body, the former was noted down with due care, and the latter
left to oblivion as a slight accident, and not to the point. Nor are the examples, described in the Hakluyt works, of a more active manhood and hardiness of virtue developed by the dangers and sufferings of Arctic exploration, few. Some Englishmen, whose adventures on the coas of Greenland form part of a later volume, though in danger of perishing from want of fuel, would only appropriate such timber from buildings and old vessels belonging to the company by which they had been sent out, “as mighte well be spared without damnifying of the voyage of next yeare,” which year they seemed to have extremely little chance of surviving to see. “We got together,” says their spokesman, “all the firing that we possibly could make, except we would make spoyle of the shallops and coolers that were there, which might easily have overthrown the next yeare's voyage, to the great hindrance of the worshipfull company, whose servants we being, were every way carefull of their profite.” And so these poor creatures condemned themselves to the scantiest fires and badly cooked food for eight months of a winter, the prospective horrors of which caused them to stand “with eyes of pitie beholding one another.” The Voyage of Master Henry Hudson has a tragical ending, by no means unique as regards the catastrophe of death by cold and starvation, but happily so in the means by which such sufferings were brought about. Hudson had met with an unmitigated scoundrel named Henry Greene, and, from some kind impulse, after rescuing him from destruction, had taken him to his own house, and allowed him to join the crew of the Northern Voyage. This man got up and headed a mutiny, and, with some difficulty, prevailed upon the mutineers to rid themselves of the captain, his son, and such of the mates as were rendered useless by sickness, by casting them adrift in the icy seas in a small shallop, thus condemning them to a lingering but certain death. In the presence of so notable a disgrace to humanity, it is startling to find such a contrast as that of John King, the ship's carpenter, whose conduct was as noble as Greene's was demoniacal. When all the condemned party were in the shallop, this man, who was “hale and hearty," declared
” his determination to share their fate rather than even passively countenance the brutality of the mutineers by remaining in their company. His companions, who had been able unmoved to consign the condemned party to their horrible fate, were touched by King's courage, and begged him to have pity on himself; but his resolution was not to be shaken, and he descended to his place in the shallop, which was then sent adrift, and was never heard of more. The ringleaders of this mutiny soon met with retribution at the hands of a party of savages, by whom they were surprised and massacred.