« PreviousContinue »
It is impossible to pursue any farther the picture “Sometimes," says Mr. Irving, “they would drawn by the venerable Las Casas, noi of what he hunt down a siraggling Indian, and compel hin, by had heard, but of what he had seen-nature and torments, to betray the hiding place of his com humanity revoli at the details. Suffice it to say panions, binding him and driving him before them thal, so intolerable were the toils and sufferings in- as a guide. Wherever they discovered one of flicted upon this weak and unoffending race, that these places of refuge, filled with the aged and the they sunk under them, dissolving as it were from infirm, with treble women and helpless children, the face of the earih. Many killed themselves in they massacred them without mercy! They despair, and even mothers overcame the powerful wished to inspire terror throughout the land, and in instinct of nature, and destroyed the infans at their frighten the whole tribe into submission. They cut breasts, 10 spare them a lite of wretchedness. of the hands of those whom they took roving at Twelve years had not elapsed since the discovery large, and sent them, as they said, to deliver them of the i-land, and several hundred thousands of iis as letters to their friends, demanding their surrender. native inhabitants had perished, miserable victims Numberless were those, says Las Casas, whose to the grasping avarice of the white men." hands were amputated in this manner, and many These pictures are sufficiently shocking; anguish and loss of blood.
of them sunk down and died by the way, through but they do not exhaust the horrors that cover
The conquerors delighted in exercising strange the brief history of this ill-fated people. The and ingenious cruelties. They mingled horrible province or district of Xaragua, which was levity with their bloodthirstiness. They erecied ruled over by a princess, called Anacaona, gibbeis long and low, so that the feet or he sufcelebrated in all the contemporary accounts ferers might reach the ground, and their death be for the grace and dignity of her manners, and
lingering. I bey banged hirieen together, in reve.
rence, says the indignant Las Casas, of our blessed her confiding attachment to the strangers, had Saviour and the iwelve apostles! While their hitherto enjoyed a happy exemption from the victims were suspended, and still living, they hack troubles which distracted the other parts of ed them with their swords, to prove the sirenguka the island, and when visited about ten years of their arm and the edge of their weapons. They before by the brother of Columbus, hari im- wrapped them in dry straw, and sertirg fire to it,
terminated their exisience by the fiercest agony. pressed all the Spaniards with the idea of an
“ These are horrible details; yer a veil is drawn earthly paradise: both from the fertility and over others still more detestable. They are related sweetness of the country, the gentleness of by the venerable Las Casas, who was an eye-ritness its people, and the beauty and grace of the of the scenes he describes. He was yourg at the women. Upon some rumours that the neigh- time, but records them in his advanced years. . Au bouring caciques were assembling for hostile these things.' says he, and of hers revol·ing to purposes, Ovando now marched into this de- almost fear to repeat them, scarce believing myself, voted region with a well-appointed force of or whether I have not dreamt them.' near four hundred men. He was hospitably “The system of Columbus may have borne hard and joyfully received by the princess: and upon the Indians, born and brought up in untasked affected to encourage and join in the festivity freedom; but it was never cruel nor sanguinary. which his presence had excited. He was even He inflicted no wanton massacres nor vindicrise himself engaged in a sportful game with his punishments ; his desire was to cherish and civilise
The Indians, and to render them useful subjects, not officers, when the signal for massacre was to oppress, and persecute, and destroy them. When given—and the place was instantly covered he beheld the desolation that had swept them from with blood! Eighty of the caciques were the land during his suspension from authority, he burnt over slow fires! and thousands of the could not restrain the strong expression of his feel. unarmed and unresisting people butchered, ings: In a letter written to the king after his return without regard to sex or age. “Humanity, The Indians of Hispaniola were and are the riches Mr. Irving very justly observes, “turns with of the island; for it is they who cultivate and make horror from such atrocities, and would fain the bread and the provisions for the Christians, who discredit them: But they are circumstantially dig the gold from the mines, and perform all the and still more minutely recorded by the informed that, since I left this island, (that is in less venerable Las Casas--who was resident in the than three years.) sir parts out of seven of the natives island at the time, and conversant with the are dead, all ihrough ill realment and inhumani's! principal actors in the tragedy.”
some by the sword, others by blows and cruel Sull worse enormities signalised the final usage, and others through hunger. The greater subjugation of the province of Higuey--the part have perished in the mountains and glens, last scene of any attempt to resist the tyran- whither they had fled, from not being able to supa nical power of the invaders. It would be port the labour imposed upon them."*, idle to detail here the progress of that savage
The story now draws to a close. Columbus and most unequal warfare: but it is right that returned to Spain, broken down with age the butcheries perpetrated by the victors and affliction-and after two years spent in should not be forgotten—that men may see unavailing solicitations at the court of the to what incredible excesses civilised beings cold-blooded and ungrateful Ferdinand (his may be tempted by the possession of absolute generous patroness, Isabella, having died imand unquestioned power- and may learn, mediately on his retum), terminated wiin from indisputable memorials, how far the characteristic magnanimity a life of singular abuse of delegated and provincial authority energy, splendour, and endurance. Indepenmay be actually carried. If it be true, as dent of his actual achievements, he was unHomer has alleged, that the day which makes doubtedly a great and remarkable man; anc a man a slave, takes away half his worth—it Mr Irving has summed up his general chara seems to be still more infallibly and fatally acter in a very eloquent and judicious way, true, that the master generally suffers a yet “ His ambition,” he observes," was lofty and larger privation.
noble. He was full of high thoughts, and anxious
to distinguish himself by great achievements. It of glory would have broke upon his mind could he has been said that a mercenary feeling mingled have known that he had indeed discovered a new with his views, and that his stipulations with the continent, equal to the whole of the old world in mag. Spanish Court were selfish and avaricious. The nitude, and separated by two vast oceans from all the charge is inconsiderate and unjust. He aimed at earth his herto known by civilised man! And how dignity and wealth in the same lofty spirit in which would his magnanimous spirit have been consoled, he sought renown; and the gains that promised to amidst the afflictions of age and the cares of penury, arise from his discoveries, he intended to appropriate the neglect of a fickle public, and the injustice of an in the same princely and pious spirit in which they ungratelul king, could he have anticipated the were demanded. "He contemplated works and splendid empires which were to spread over the achievements of benevolence and religion: vast con- beautiful world he had discovered; and the nations, tributions for the relies of the poor of his native and tongues, and languages which were to fill its city; the foundation of churches, where masses lands with his renown, and to revere and bless his should be said for the souls of the departed; and name to the latest posterity!" armies for the recovery of the holy sepulchre in
The appendix to Mr. Irving's work, which Palestine.
** In his testament, he enjoined on his son Diego, occupies the greater part of the last volume, and whoever after him should inherit his estates, contains most of the original matter which whatever dignities and titles might afterwards be his learning and research have enabled him granted by the king, always to sign himself simply to bring to bear on the principal subject, and *the Admiral,' by way of perpetuating in the family constitutes indeed a miscellany of a singularly its real source of greatness.”
"He was devoutly pious ; religion mingled with curious and interesting description. It conthe whole course of his thoughts and actions, and sists, besides very copious and elaborate acshines forth in all his most private and unstudied counts of the family and descendants of Cowritings. Whenever he made any great discovery, lumbus, principally of extracts and critiques he celebrated it by solemn thanks to God. The of the discoveries of earlier or contemporary voice of prayer and melody of praise rose from his navigators—the voyages of the Carthaginians ships when he first beheld the New World, and his first action on landing was to prostrate himself and the Scandinavians,—of Behem, the Pin. upon the earth and return thanksgivings. Every zons, Amerigo Vespucci, and others—with evening, the Salve Regina, and other vesper hymns, some very curious remarks on the travels of were chanted by his crew, and masses were per. Marco Polo, and Mandeville-a dissertation formed in the beautiful groves that bordered the on the ships used by Columbus and his conwild shores of this heathen land. The religion temporaries—on the Atalantis of Plato-the nity and benign composure over his whole demean imaginary island of St. Brandan, and of the
His language was pure and guarded, free Seven Cities—together with remarks on the from all imprecations, oaths, and other irreverent writings of Peter Martyr, Oviedo, Herrera, expressions. But his piety, was darkened by the Las Casas, and the other contemporary chronibigotry of the age. He evidently concurred in the clers of those great discoveries. The whole opinion that all the nations who did not acknowledge drawn up, we think, with singular judgment; that the sternest measures might be used for their diligence, and candour; and presenting the conversion, and the severest punishments inflicted reader, in the most manageable form, with upon their obstinacy in unbelief. In this spirit almost all the collateral information which of bigotry he considered himself justified in making could be brought to elucidate the transactions Spain to have them taught the doctrines of Chris' to which they relate. tianity, and in selling them for slaves if they
Such is the general character of Mr. Irving's pretended to resist his invasions. He was counte. book-and such are parts of its contents. We nanced in these views, no doubt, by !he general do not pretend to give any view whatever of opinion of the age. But it is not the intention of the substance of four large historical volumes; the author to justify Columbus on a point where it and fear that the specimens we have ventured is inexcusable to err. Let it remain a blot on his to exhibit of the author's way of writing are ilustrious name, -and let others derive a lesson
not very well calculated to do justice either
to the occasional force, or the constant variety, He was a man, too, undoubtedly, as all of his style. But for judicious readers they truly great men have been, of an imaginative will probably suffice-and, we trust, will be and sensitive temperament--something, as found not only to warrant the praise we have Mr. Irving has well remarked, even of a vis- felt ourselves called on to bestow, but to inionary—but a visionary of a high and lofty duce many to gratify themselves by the peruorder, controlling his ardent imagination by a sal of the work at large. powerful judgment and great practical sa- Mr. Irving, we believe, was not in England gacity, and deriving not only a noble delight when his work was printed : and we must say
signal accessions of knowledge from this he has been very insufficiently represented vigour and activity of his fancy.
by the corrector of the press. We do not " Yet, with all this fervour of imagination,” as book with so many gross typographical errors.
recollect ever to have seen so handsome a Mr. Irving has strikingly observed, its fondest dreams feil short of the reality. He died in igno. In many places they obscure the sense-and rance of the real grandeur, of his discovery. Until are very frequently painful and offensive. his last breath he entertained the idea that he had It will be absolutely necessary that this be merely opened a new way to the old resorts of opu- looked to in a new impression; and the aulent commerce, and had discovered some of the thor would do well to avail himself of the wild regions of the east. He supposed Hispaniola o be the ancient Ophir which had been visited by same opportunity, to correct some verbal inthe ships of Solomon, and that Cuba and Terra accuracies, and to polish and improve some Firma were but remote parts of Asia. What visions / passages of slovenly writing.
( Iune, 1827.) Memoirs of ZEHIR-ED-DIN MUHAMMED Baber, Emperor of Hindustan, written by himself
, in the Jaghatai Turki, and translated, partly by the late John LEYDEN, Esq. M.D., partly by William Erskine, Esq. With Notes and a Geographical and Historical Introduction : together with a Map of the Countries between the Orus and Jazartes, and a Memoir regarding its Construction, by CHARLES WADDINGTON, Esq., of the East India Company's Engineers. London: 1826.
This is a very curious, and admirably edited Tartars to the Celestial Empire of China. It work. But the strongest impression which , will not do to say, that we want something the perusal of it has left on our minds is the nobler in character, and more exalted in inboundlessness of authentic history; and, if tellect
, than is to be met with among those we might venture to say it, the uselessness murderous Orientals—that there is nothing to of all history which does not relate to our own interest in the contentions of mere force and fraternity of nations, or even bear, in some violence; and that it requires no very fine. way or other, on our own present or future drawn reasoning to explain why we should condition.
turn with disgust from the story, if it had We have here a distinct and faithful account been preserved, of the savage atirays which of some hundreds of battles, sieges, and great have drenched the sands of Africa or ihe rocks military expeditions, and a character of a pro- of New Zealand—through long generations of digious number of eminent individuals,-men murder-with the blood of their brutish popufamous in their day, over wide regions, for lation. This may be true enough of Mada. genius or fortune--poets, conquerors, martyrs gascar or Dahomy; but it does not apply to -founders of cities and dynasties-authors the case before us. The nations of Asia geneof immortal works-ravagers of vast districts rally—at least those composing its great states abounding in wealth and population. Of all-were undoubtedly more polished than those these great personages and events, nobody in of Europe, during all the period that preceded Europe, if we except a score or two of studi, their recent connection. Their warriors were ous Orientalists, has ever heard before; and as brave in the field, their statesmen more it would not, we imagine, be very easy to subtle and politic in the cabinet: In the arts show that we are any better for hearing of of luxury, and all the elegancies of civil life, them now.
A few curious traits, that hap- they were immeasurably superior; in inge. pen to be strikingly in contrast with our own nuity of speculation—in literature—in social manners and habits, may remain on the politeness—the comparison is still in their memory of a reflecting reader-with a gene- favour. ral confused recollection of the dark and gor- It has often occurred to us, indeed, to congeous phantasmagoria. But no one, we may sider what the effect would have been on the fairly say, will think it worth while to digest fate and fortunes of the world, if, in the fouror develope the details of the history; or be teenth, or fifteenth century, when the germs at the pains to become acquainted with the of their present civilisation were first disclosed, leading individuals, and fix in his memory the the nations of Europe had been introduced to series and connection of events. Yet the ef- an intimate and friendly acquaintance with fusion of human blood was as copious—the the great polished communities of the East, display of talent and courage as imposing, and had been thus led to take them for their the perversion of high moral qualities, and ihe masters in intellectual cultivation, and their waste of the means of enjoyment as unspar- models in all the higher pursuits of genius, ing, as in other long-past battles and intrigues polity, and art. The difference in our social and revolutions, over the details of which we and moral condition, it would not perhaps be still pore with the most unwearied atten- easy to estimate: But one result, we conceive, tion ; and to verify the dates or minute cir- would unquestionably have been, to make us cumstances of which, is still regarded as a take the same deep interest in their ancient great exploit in historical research, and among story, which we now feel, for similar reasons, the noblest employments of human learning in that of the sterner barbarians of early Rome, and sagacity:
or the more imaginative clans and colonies It is not perhaps very easy to account for of immortal Greece. The experiment, howthe eagerness with which we still follow the ever, though there seemed ofiener than once fortunes of Miltiades, Alexander, or Cæsar- to be some openings for it, was not made. of the Bruce and the Black Prince, and the Our crusading ancestors were too rude them. interest which yet belongs to the fields of selves to estimate or to feel the value of the Marathon and Pharsalia, of Crecy and Ban- oriental refinement which presented itself to nockburn, compared with the indifference, or their passing gaze, and too entirely occupied rather reluctance, with which we listen to the with war and bigotry, to reflect on its causes details of Asiatic warfare—the conquests that or effects; and the first naval adventurers who transferred to the Moguls the vast sovereign- opened up India to our commerce, were both ties of India, or raised a dynasty of Manchew too few and too far off to communicate to their brethren at home any taste for the splen- unknown to the earlier ages of the world, dours which might have excited their own exalted the arts of peace to a dignity with admiration. By the time that our intercourse which they were never before invested ; and, with those regions was enlarged, our own by the abolition of domestic servitude, for the career of improvement had been prosperously first time extended to the bulk of the populabegun; and our superiority in the art, or at tion those higher capacities and enjoyments least the discipline of war, having given us a which were formerly engrossed by a few. By signal advantage in the conflicts to which the invention of printing, they have made all that extending intercourse immediately led, knowledge, not only accessible, but imperishnaturally increased the aversion and disdain able; and by their improvements in ihe art with which almost all races of men are apt to of war, have effectually secured themselves regard strangers to their blood and dissenters against the overwhelming calamity of barfrom their creed. Since that time the genius barous invasion-the risk of subjugation by of Europe has been steadily progressive, whilst mere numerical or animal force : Whilst the that of Asia has been at least stationary, and alternations of conquest and defeat amongst most probably retrograde ; and the descendants civilised communities, who alone can now be of the feudal and predatory warriors of the formidable to each other, though productive West have at last attained a decided pre- of great local and temporary evils, may be dominancy over those of their elder brothers regarded on the whole as one of the means in the East; to whom, at that period, they of promoting and equalising the general civiliwere unquestionably inferior in elegance and sation. Rome polished and enlightened all ingenuity, and whose hostilities were then the barbarous nations she subdued—and was conducted on the same system with our own. herself polished and enlightened by her conThey: in short, have remained nearly where quest of elegant Greece. If the European they were ; while we, beginning with the im- parts of Russia had been subjected to the doprovement of our governments and military minion of France, there can be no doubt that discipline, have gradually outstripped them the loss of national independence would have in all the lesser and more ornamental attain- been compensated by rapid advances both in ments in which they originally excelled. liberality and refinement; and if, by a still
This extraordinary fact of tħe stationary or more disastrous, though less improbable condegenerate condition of the two oldest and tingency, the Moscovite hordes were ever to greatest families of mankind-those of Asia overrun the fair countries to the south-west and Africa, has always appeared to us a sad of them, it is equally certain that the invaders obstacle in the way of those w believe in would speedily be softened and informed by the general progress of the race, and its con- the union; and be infected more certainly stant advancement towards a state of perfec- than by any other sort of contact, with the tion. Two or three thousand years ago, those arts and the knowledge of the vanquished. vast communities were certainly in a happier All these great advantages, however-this and more prosperous state than they are now; apparently irrepressible impulse to improveand in many of them we know that their most ment—this security against backsliding and powerful and flourishing societies have been decay, seems peculiar to Europe, * and not corrupted and dissolved, not by any accidental capable of being communicated, even by her, or extrinsic disaster, like foreign conquest, to the most docile races of the other quarters pestilence, or elemental devastation, but by of the world: and it is really extremely diffiwhat appeared to be the natural consequences cult to explain, upon what are called philoof that very greatness and refinement which sophical principles, the causes of this superihad marked and rewarded their earlier exer- ority. We should be very glad to ascribe it tions. In Europe, hitherto, the case has cer- to our greater political Freedom :-and no tainly been different: For though darkness doubt, as a secondary cause, this is among the did fall
upon its nations also, after the lights most powerful; as it is to the maintenance of of Roman civilisation were extinguished, it is that freedom that we are indebted for the selfto be remembered that they did not burn out estimation, the feeling of honour, the general of themselves, but were trampled down by equity of the laws, and the substantial sehosts of invading barbarians, and that they curity both from sudden revolution and from blazed out anew, with increased splendour capricious oppression, which distinguish our and power, when the dulness of that superin- portion of the globe. But we cannot bring cumbent mass was at length vivified by their ourselves to regard this freedom as a mere contact, and animated by the fermentation ! accident in our history, that is not itself to be of that leaven which had all along been se- | accounted for, as well as its consequences : cretly working in its recesses. In Europe And when it is said that our greater stability certainly there has been a progress: And the more polished of its present inhabitants have not only regained the place which was held stood that we speak, not of the land, but of the
* When we speak of Europe, it will be under. of old by their illustrious masters of Greece people—and include, therefore, all the settlements and Rome, but have plainly outgone them in and colonies of that favoured race, in whatever the most substantial and exalted of their im- quarter of the globe they may now be established. provements. Far more humane and refined Some situations seem more, and some less, favour. than the Romans-far less giddy and turbulent able to the preservation of the original character.
The Spaniards certainly degenerated in Peru—and and treacherous than the Greeks, they have the Dutch perhaps in Batavia ; --but the English given a security to life and property that was remain, we trust, unimpaired in America.
and prosperity is owing to our greater freedom, 1 of its authors—the substantial advantages of we are immediately tempted to ask, by what honesty and fair dealing over the most ingethat freedom has itself been produced ? In nious systems of trickery and fraud ;-and the same way we might ascribe the superior even-though this is the last and hardest, as mildness and humanity of our manners, the well as the most precious, of all the lessons abated ferocity of our wars, and generally our of reason and experience—that the toleration respect for human life, to the influence of a even of religious errors is not only prudent Religion which teaches that all men are equal and merciful in itself, and most becoming a in the sight of God, and inculcates peace and fallible and erring being, but is the surest charity as the first of our duties. But, besides and speediest way to compose religious differthe startling contrast between the profligacy, ences, and to extinguish that most formidable treachery, and cruelty of the Eastern Empire bigotry, and those most pernicious errors, after its conversion to the true faith, and the which are fed and nourished by persecution. simple and heroic virtues of the heathen re- It is the want of this knowledge, or rather of public, it would still occur to inquire, how it the capacity for attaining it, that constitutes has happened that the nations of European the palpable inferiority of the Eastern races; descent have alone embraced the sublime and, in spite of their fancy, ingenuity, and truths, and adopted into their practice the restless activity, condemns them, it would mild precepts, of Christianity, while the peo- appear irretrievably, to vices and sufferings, ple of the East have uniformly rejected and from which nations in a far ruder condition disclaimed them, as alien to their character are comparatively free. But we are wanderand habits-in spite of all the efforts of the ing too far from the magnificent Baber and apostles, fathers, and martyrs, in the primitive his commentators, -and must now leave these and most effective periods of their preaching? vague and general speculations for the facts How, in short, it has happened that the sensual and details ihat lie before us. and sanguinary creed of Mahomet has super- Zehir-ed-din Muhammed, surnamed Baber, seded the pure and pacific doctrines of Chris- or the Tiger, was one of the descendants of tianity in most of those very regions where it Zengiskhan and of Tamerlane; and though was first revealed to mankind, and first es- inheriting only the small kingdom of Fergtablished by the greatest of existing govern- hana in Bucharia, ultimately extended his ments? The Christian revelation is no doubt dominions by conquest to Delhi and the the most precious of all Heaven's gifts to the greater part of Hindostan; and transmitted to benighted world. But it is plain, that there his famous descendants, Akber and Aurengwas a greater aptitude to embrace and to zebe, the magnificent empire of the Moguls. profit by it in the European than in the Asiatic He was born in 1482, and died in 1530.
A free government, in like manner, is Though passing the greater part of his time unquestionably the most valuable of all human in desperate military expeditions, he was an inventions—the great safeguard of all other educated and accomplished man; an elegant temporal blessings, and the mainspring of all poet; a minute and fastidious critic in all the intellectual and moral improvement :—But niceties and elegances of diction; a curious such a government is not the result of a lucky and exact observer of the statistical phenothought or happy casualty; and could only be mena of every region he entered ; a great ad. established among men who had previously mirer of beautiful prospects and fine flowers; learned both to relish the benefits it secures, and, though a devoted Mahometan in his and to understand the connection between the way, a very resolute and jovial drinker of means it employs and the ends at which it aims. wine. Good-humoured, brave, munificent,
We come then, though a little reluctantly, sagacious, and frank in his character, he to the conclusion, that there is a natural and in- might have been a Henry IV. if his training herent difference in the character and temper- had been in Europe ;-and even as he is, is ament of the European and the Asiatic races less stained, perhaps, by the Asiatic vices of -consisting, perhaps, chiefly in a superior cruelty and perfidy than any other in the list capacity of patient and persevering thought in of her conquerors. The work before us is a the former-and displaying itself, for the most faithful translation of his own account of his part, in a more sober and robust understanding, life and transactions; written, with some conand a more reasonable, principled, and inflexi- siderable blanks, up to the year 1508, in the ble morality. It is this which has led us, at form of a narrative and continued asteronce to temper our political institutions with wards, as a journal, till 1529. It is here prospective checks and suspicious provisions illustrated by the most intelligent, learned, against abuses, and, in our different orders and least pedantic notes we have ever seen and degrees, to submit without impatience to annexed to such a performance; and by two those checks and restrictions ;—to extend our or three introductory dissertations, more clear, reasonings by repeated observation and ex- masterly, and full of instruction than any it periment, to larger and larger conclusions, has ever been our lot to peruse on the history and thus gradually to discover the paramount or geography of the East. The translation importance of discipline and unity of purpose was begun by the late very learned and enin war, and of absolute security to person and terprising Dr. Leyden. It has been comproperty in all peaceful pursuits—the folly of pleted, and the whole of the valuable comall passionate and vindictive assertion of sup- mentary added by Mr. W. Erskine, on the posed rights and pretensions, and the certain solicitation of the Hon. Mountstewart Elphinrecoil of long-continued injustice on the heads stone and Sir John Malcolm, the two indi