Page images
PDF
EPUB

The journey through the desert is dangerous on account of the Arabs with which it is infested. The caravan of our author, however, met with no tribes that were hostile,-several that were friendly; to whom they paid the accustomed tribute. The caravans are conducted by sheiks or Arab chiefs, who de. fend them from the rapine of other Arabs with great fidelity and courage so long as they are the guides, but immediately as they give up this office, which is usually at the expiration of three years, plunder the very merchants whom perhaps they before protected. The following interesting story is told of an Arab girl :

" A little Arab girl brought a young antelope to sell, which was 66 bought by a Greek merchant for half a piaster. She had bored both " the ears, into each of which she had inserted two small pieces of silk 6 ribbon ; she told the purchaser, that as it could run about and lap “ milk, he might be able to rear it up, and that she should not

have sold it, but she wanted money to buy a ribband, which her 66 mother would not afford her; then almost smothering the little " animal with kisses, she delivered it with tears in her eyes

and away. The merchant ordered it to be killed and dressed for sup.

per. In the close of the evening, the girl came to take the last " farewell of her little pet-knowing that we were to decamp at

day-break. When she was told it was killed, she seemed much “ surprized, saying, it was impossible that any body could be so 56 cruel as to kill such a pretty creature : on its being shown to her 66 with its throat cut, she burst into tears, threw the money in the 66 man's face, and ran away crying.”

ran

Mr. Parsons found Bagdat full of coffee-houses, the number of which is stated to be nine hundred and fifty-five; of these, however, many were shut up in 1772-3, owing to the ravages of the plague on the population. These coffee-houses are in the skirts of the town, and it is not unusual to see in them from two to three hundred persons at a time, some playing at chess, others smoaking and drinking coffee, and others engaged in conversation.

The velocity of the Euphrates he was surprized to find owing to torrents descending from the interior of the country; as, not knowing the distance of Bagdat from the Persian gulf, he had concluded it to proceed from the influx of the tide. Our author went from Bagdat down the Euphrates to Bussora. Bussora, soon after his arrival, was attacked by the arms of the Persian monarch in revenge for the English having removed their trade to this city from Bushcar. The Persians were repulsed in an onset made in the night-time, and many of their soldiers killed ; the mangled heads of whom were the next day publicly exposed to the scorn, derision, and hatred of the Bagdatians. A small squadron of mercantile English, who might have been of the greatest service to the Mussulmans during the siege, with the magnanimity that usually marks our conduct in the East, as soon as they had plunged their allies in distress, fairly turned their backs and fled from them. This, indeed, it may be said in extenuation of their behaviour, was in imitation of an Arabian sheik, who by his perfidy or cowardice had nearly betrayed the city into the hands of the Persians. Baseness is contagious: and experience has shewn that the climate of the East is peculiarly fitted to spread and circulate it among Englishmen. Our author next visited Bushcar and the isles of Baharin, where he saw the pearlfishery, so often described by others, and so confusedly by himself, that it is useless to attempt an account of it. From the Baharin isles he went to Bombay, where the Company's marine was upwards of twenty in number, and these not more than sufficient to protect the coasting-trade from pirates, with which the Indian sea abounds. His next voyage was along the Malabar coast. He accordingly describes the city of Seringapatam, although it is evident he never saw it; and asserts, contrary to the fact, that it is built in the middle of an ex. tensive lake. From the Malabar coast he sailed to Surat, and saw trees of forty yards in circumference, and Banyans cultivating them, that never feed on the flesh of animals. He afterwards returns to Bombay, and thence visits Mocha, Sues, and Cairo. At Cairo, he was witness of the solemnity of cutting the dam of the Nile, and heard the increase of that celebrated

river daily proclaimed by blind men with red flags in their hands. The pyramids too he saw, but leaves the description of these to men of more science than himself, giving his opinion nevertheless, that the sphinx is better worth viewing than any one of them.

Thus end the adventures, if such they can be called, of the Scandaroon factor-marine, who travelled through the most interesting parts of two, quarters of the globe without having rendered the narration of his travels either entertaining or instructive. We cannot indeed conjecture the motive that induced Mr. Barjew of Bristol, to correct the bad grammar and quaint sentences of this work, for the purpose of presenting it to the public; there is nothing in it, that we have observed, that has thrown any additional light on the manners, customs, or literature of the East. Here are no statistical inquiries, no interesting philosophical disquisitions. Even personal adventures, those interesting egotisms, that so often are more pleasing than the most correct and solid information--are not here to be found. The author relates every thing that he has seen, with the cold, dry, and languid manner of the geographer-or with the minuteness of the voyaging trader; and though there are frequent occasions in those regions of Asia Minor, so hallowed by remembrances of the sacred past, in which he might display the softness of his feelings, or the energy of his thought-he slumbers on in his usual didactic style. If indeed the ports he visited are accurately described, and the winds that prevail in them, or the rocks that render them dangerous, pointed out, the author has done as much as his education or habits rendered him capable of performing ; but, we will ask Mr. Barjew, whether these are excellences sufficient to claim the attention of the public? Not, indeed, that this work is so wholly without its merits as to render it totally unworthy of readers : on the contrary, it is better than many of the travels that daily issue from the press. Its merits, however, are of the negative kind, and more than compensated by its barrenness in useful or even pleasing information. It is not so garrulous as the quartos of the Stranger Knight, of so pompous as the nothingness of the Vendue-master, but its matter is trifling, tedious, or useless, and its manner quaint and puerile. It, indeed, throughout resembles a translation from a foreign language, more than an original work in our own; and though we must confess its simplicity to be pleasing, we cannot help wishing, that as it was to be published, Mr. Barjew had rendered it in some sentences less humble. It is true the author possessed an advantage over many other travellers, and at Korna saw the paradise of our first parents. But although it may delight our readers to hear that one of the extraordinary excellences of this seat of happiness is the plenty, excellence, and cheapness of its provisions, we do not give it credit for effecting improvement in writers.

The preface by Mr. Barjew is somewhat assuming in style, but not inelegant : it is, indeed, the best part of the book.

ELEMENTS OF ART : A POEM : IN SIX CANTOS; WITH NOTES

AND A PREFACE, INCLUDING STRICTURES ON THE STATE OF THE ARTS, CRITICISM, PATRONAGE, AND PUBLIC TASTE. BY MARTIN ARCHER SHEE, R. A.-pp. 400. 8vo. price 138. Miller. London. 1809.

If the work, which it is now proposed to consider, had been confined merely to the discussion of such subjects as relate immediately to the practice of the art of Painting, it had been presumption perhaps in any but a professor to question its doctrines : but as there is less novelty in the precepts, which the author has laid down for the study of the art, than in the demands, which he has made on the public in behalf of the artist, an examination of the grounds on which these claims

; as the

are founded, and of the arguments by which they are supported, appears to be more necessary than any inquiry into the merits of the elementary part of the work : and as the justice of these pretensions is to be determined by the general principles, which regulate the conduct of society at large, to which the appeal is made, the skill or science of a professor is not necessary to the investigation.

* To stir with his pebble the slumbering lake of public feeling on the subject of the arts,' as he strangely expresses it, has been the author's principal motive for the publication of his present work, as well as of his former, · The Rhymes on Art;' of which, indeed, as he informs the reader, the "Elements' are to be considered as a continuation

upper stories and finishing of his small didactic lodge,' the name of which he has only altered in compliance with the opinion of some polite critics, who thought the work degraded below its just rank by the poverty of its titular pretensions.' Without entering, therefore, into a particular examination of the structure or contents of the former part of the work, which has been now for some years before the public, and has passed the ordeal of criticism, it will yet be necessary to advert to such parts as relate immediately to the subject proposed for discussion, that the author, as in justice he ought, may have the advantage of the whole of his argument. It is not, indeed, very easy to follow exactly the track of Mr. Shee's reasoning, so wildly is it overrun with the flowers of rhetoric ; but a slight sketch may serve to convey a sufficient idea of it.

Deeply impressed himself with the importance of tle cause, which he has undertaken to advocate, he has exerted all the energies of his mind, and exhausted all the powers of his eloquence, in the attempt to engage the sympathy of the public. No patriot, who should seek to point out to his fellow-countrymen the approach of the greatest danger that could threaten an independent people, could sound the alarm with greater zeal, reproach the apathy of the indolent with more severity,

« PreviousContinue »