« AnteriorContinuar »
the dark, ugly things which stand behind. After all that has been said against him, there remains something truly noble in his conduct, and loveable in his nature; we feel that in his letters he has subjected himself to an ordeal through which no public, and few private men could pass as little scathed as he does; that however much we may be disposed to quiz him for his vanity, or to despise him for his vacillation-however much he may have hesitated about attaching himself to this party or to that one cause there was, the cause of Virtue, to which he was constant ever-one law, the law of conscience, to which he remained obedient even unto death.
It may be well to look a little more closely into the secret of this mysterious attraction which Cicero has held over the world, To say that his temperament was more Greek than Roman might be one solution of the secret; but more remains to be told. It has been remarked, we think by Coleridge, that those natures which have held in fee simple, so to speak, the admiration of the good of all ages, have had in their temperament something epicenesomething of the qualities of the woman combined with those of the man. So of Cicero, it has been well remarked by a German writer, that his temperament had in it more of the woman than of the man. Womanly was his extreme excitability, his sudden and vehement alternations of joy and sorrow, hope and fear, love and loathing; the violent extremes to which these and all his feelings were carried-his dislike verging upon hate, his liking love, his love idolatry, his grief hot, scalding tears; he wẹpt like a child when he went into exile-wept when he heard that Pompey, during the civil war, was shut up in Brundusium by Cæsar-wept when his property was lost no less than when his daughter died. Happy, very happy moments he may often have had seldom happy days. Womanly was his timidity in challenging the opinions of the world-his vulnerable, thinskinned nature when exposed to the light skirmishing of social gossip, his inability to face the heavier artillery of open and deliberate censures; the need he ever felt of pinning himself to some one whom he might look up to and revere; his tendency to give to appearances the precedence over realities-to shut his eyes and unconsciously deceive his judgment on the real motives of his own conduct; his determination always to have the last word, and to mutter half-audible retorts rather than be altogether mute; his curiosity, the interest he took in the tattle of a town, his weakness for indulging in light raillery of others, his insatiable thirst for praise and flattery. Now the object and the upshot of this parallel is, that, just as a woman is and ever will be loveable, not only in spite of, but we had almost said because
of her faults, so the paradox in the character of Cicero is to be explained; for the picture has another side: if he had some of the frailties of woman, he had also some of her virtues; for womanly was that warm loving heart, that trusting guileless nature, that instinctive purity and innocence which kept him free from stain in an age teeming with the grossest crimes, and drowned in the beastly sinks of sensuality.
The position occupied by Cicero as a teacher of philosophy coincides with this view of his character and temperament. For here we find no abstruse and speculative system-maker, no independent exercise of the reasoning faculties, but rather a man who betook himself to Philosophy as to a haven where the stormtossed bark of life might rest. It will be seen from Mr. Forsyth's interesting Biography that the period when Cicero was most absorbed in the composition of his moral treatises was when his need was the sorest, and his perplexities at their height. He was not an original thinker; his receptivity, to use a phrase familiar to writers of the history of philosophy, was vast, his spontaneity small. Still his merits are, we think, very considerable. No ancient philosopher has shown so clearly that the world of the sage and of the citizen are one-that not to an Atlantis, or other fabled spot, must a man betake himself to carry out the principles he has learned in his closet: no; it is in the public forum, by the domestic hearth, that a man's philosophy must stand him in good stead. No man again, as we think Mr. Maurice has remarked, has brought out so strongly as Cicero the idea of Duty, of Moral Obligation, as the great central principle round which all his Ethics revolve. But in this, as in all his moral teaching, we observe the influence of the womanly side of his character. To get at these doctrines he does not mount up the ladder, or erect the scaffolding of argument: he sees them with a kind of instinctive intuition, that intuition possessed by a sex whose intellect is more of the heart than of the head. Cicero's philosophical works may be, and have been, shoved aside by those deep writers who make it their business to map the mind of man, and discover some North-West passage through the ice-bound seas of metaphysics. Still we can never forget that they have commanded the unfeigned homage, and taken firm hold on the heart, and moulded for good the principles and the life of such men as an Erasmus, a Bernard, and an Augustine; so that even in our own enlightened day we think we may adopt the language of Quintilian, and affirm that it is no mean advance in goodness to reverence the master of Roman Philosophy.
ART. IV.―Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile. By John Hanning Speke, Captain H.M. Indian Army, &c. London, 1863.
Itse last under our congratulations on the return of the
N the last July number of the Quarterly Review' we
two intrepid travellers who had accomplished the unparalleled feat of crossing the continent of Africa from Zanzibar to Egypt, and to offer our tribute of sympathy in the apparent success of a great undertaking for the purpose of solving the most ancient and interesting of geographical problems. Although Captain Speke did not pretend that he had visited the remote springs of the Nile, or had traced its waters to their fountain-head, he announced that the great lake which he discovered on his first expedition is undoubtedly the chief reservoir and head water from which the mighty river, swollen by a thousand tributary streams in its long passage to the sea, derives its annual floods. The details of this extraordinary journey, which extended over a period of more than three years, have now been published ; and although scientific geographers may hesitate to fully accept all the conclusions at which Captain Speke has arrived, his Journal, which records the daily life of a traveller in the centre of Africa, and the residence of months among people who had never before seen a European countenance, cannot but be read with the liveliest interest. It is a simple record of struggles made from day to day to accomplish the object which he had at heart; and if there is a little sameness in these difficulties, it must be remembered that it is to the manner in which they were met that the final success of the enterprise is due. It was only from his own diary that the picture of patient energy and manly resolution could have been so well brought out. If it does not possess literary merit, to which its author probably never aspired, it abounds with very extraordinary incidents; and this graphic narrative affords probably a clearer insight into savage life than any more artistic production could have given. Although Captain Speke did not encounter
The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads
or other monsters with which the imagination has sometimes peopled the interior of Africa, he found himself in daily contact with forms of savage life almost equally surprising. He encountered in his journey from Zanzibar to Gondokoro phases of society which exhibited the merely animal nature of man in all its revolting hideousness, while others assumed the
highest form of civilized humanity which probably the African can now attain without receiving an impulse from a higher race. It is not our intention to analyse minutely a work which is now being so widely read, but, postponing for the present some remarks upon the important hydrographical questions which will be revived by this publication, we will trace the course of Captain Speke and his gallant companion from Zanzibar across the African Equator until, triumphant over all difficulties, they reached Gondokoro, and were rejoiced by the sight of European countenances, after having dwelt for nearly three years among the black tribes of intertropical Africa without having had any communication whatever with England or indeed with any portion of the civilized world.
The route taken from Zanzibar was, as far as Kazé, the same as that travelled over by Captains Burton and Speke in their joint expedition to the Tanganyika Lake in 1859. Kazé is the seat of an extensive commerce in ivory, and the residence of many wealthy Arab merchants, who traffic with natives in this commodity, and send it from that emporium to the coast. Here Captain Speke met with the same warm hospitality which is the characteristic of the Arab race in every part of the world. At Kazé the interest of the Journal may be said to commence, for we are thenceforward introduced to a succession of entirely new scenes, new countries, and new characters; the native states passed through having never before been visited by Europeans. However great may be the geographical interest of this exploration, attention will probably be quite as much directed to the characteristics of the remarkable races which have been brought for the first time to our notice; for the ethnography of Africa is almost the only subject which, in its present infant civilisation, is capable of exciting much curiosity. The abundance of everything requisite for the animal enjoyment of man in this region of the globe presents a striking contrast to his moral and social condition. He absolutely revels in the prodigality of nature. It is an unquestionable fact, that the physical wants of the uncivilised African are supplied in far greater profusion and with much less toil than those of the Ryot of India. He is better fed and better lodged; and in those districts where the slave-trade has not rendered his liberty precarious, his state may be favourably contrasted with that of the peasantry of the most flourishing countries in Europe. The picture presented to us of the comfort of a peasant in intertropical Africa might almost excite the envy of our toiling and, unhappily, too often suffering millions. He lives upon the almost spontaneous produce of the soil. Grain, vegetables, milk, butter, honey, and fruits form his ordinary fare.
He can often indulge in the flesh of bullocks, goats, and sheep. Game in vast quantity lies hid in the thickets or roams over the grassy plains. Herds of fine cattle graze on every green hill. The elephant, the zebra, the antelope, the buffalo, and the hippopotamus, afford a variety of animal food; and a beer made from millet, called 'pombé,' is the common beverage of subjects and kings.
The most remarkable, perhaps, of modern African discoveries is that of the existence from 5° south to 5° north latitude of a surpassingly rich zone of fertility, which diminishes, however, in productiveness as it recedes from the Equator. This region might in time become one of the most prosperous and populous in the world. Its climate is as salubrious as its natural beauty is enchanting. It has an elevation which greatly modifies the influence of a tropical sun; its surface is varied by hills and dales; noble rivers flow through it; it possesses vast lakes resembling inland seas; and several of the mountains which rise from this elevated plateau are among the loftiest in the world. The first necessity of mankind, and the sole condition on which all material blessings can be enjoyed, is, however, unhappily wanting. Its population have never yet been able to constitute for themselves a government founded on any other basis but that of slavery and oppression. Society in Eastern Intertropical Africa, therefore, presents-although a certain kind of civilisation has sprung up spontaneously-an aspect but little removed from a state of nature. Roads-the first indication of the material progress of a people-are unknown. There are no bridges but the trunks of trees felled where small streams are to be crossed. Architecture has not advanced beyond the construction of a simple hut. The circulating medium is composed chiefly of cloth and beads; and the nearest approach made to a metallic currency consists of coils of copper wire and old iron hoes. This backwardness in one of the most important conveniences of life is the more remarkable in a country where trade is a passion, and the desire to possess European commodities is displayed with almost childish eagerness. Although the imposing march of the Eastern caravan is unknown in Equatorial Africa, traders have traversed from time immemorial the regions between the Equator and the eastern coast, but no four-footed animal except the ass can be used as a beast of burden. Camels would be well adapted for the purpose, but the paths are so beset with mimosa and thorns, that these animals-so invaluable in long journeys in other parts of Africa and in the East-could not pass through them. It is this want of roads which makes the work of exploration so tedious and expensive in Eastern Africa.