Page images


mankind was bound to believe. My audience looked universally serious. Of course they could not help observing that I was so; and when the destinies of so many thousands of Matabele, who seem to be happy only while engaged in war, or in the contemplation of it, are taken into account, the heart must feel heavy. I have observed frequently among that people, that when the subject of war is discussed, when past deeds of valour or those in prospect are rehearsed, they become almost frantic, and exhibit a ferocity bordering on madness, while they conjure up scenes of rapine and blood, in the anticipation of which they revel and luxuriate. When the ebullition is over, they at once resume their wonted equanimity, while others may be seen with faces as grave as if they were in a charnelhouse.

A CHIEF REDEEMED FROM CAPTIVITY. 'In a former communication I had occasion to make reference to Macheng, the paramount chief of the Bamanguato tribe. He is a young man about twenty-six years of age, good-looking, apparently of a mild disposition, and a countenance not wanting in intelligence. He is the son of Khari, the king of the Bamanguato tribe who was killed in an engagement with the Mashona, while Macheng was yet a child. During the irruption of the tribes to the north, occasioned by the overwhelming prowess and power of the bloody Chaka, the despot of the Zulus, the Bamanguato and other Bechuana tribes were scattered to the winds. Macheng, during his minority, with his eldest sister, afterwards one of Sechéle's wives, were under the care of Sechéle, who was at that time the head of but a small portion of the Bakuena. While Sechéle was on one occasion absent from his town in a foray against the Banguaketse, a handful of the Matabele fell upon his undefended town, killed many, destroyed property, and carried away captive youths and women, among whom were Macheng and his eldest sister. The latter, as on one occasion before, escaped by finding her way back through the interminable intricacies of forests ; but young Macheng, a boy of about ten years of age, was destined to be a captive, and continued to be so for sixteen years, and but for my influence with Moselekatse, would have in all probability continued to be so, as others had been, to the end of his days. He was, as stated, placed at my disposal. This was a favour, as I know the truth of what Moselekatse said wben I asked him, not for myself, but another, that it was contrary to the custom of the Matabele to return a royal prisoner to his people. I had wished Sechéle to have the honour of returning Macheng to his people, having felt some delicacy on the subject of interfering myself, not from any fear of Sekhomi, the usurper, but lest I might get involved in a quarrel to which Macheng's restoration might give rise. He had been allowed to remain with me during the whole of the time of my stay, as if he were one of my people.

• He knew that if he was not now delivered through my influence, his bondage was sealed. My assurance that I should not leave him was enough. A lively sense of the prospect of liberty, as well as quick observation, had convinced him that such was my influence with his justly-dreaded master, that I was able to fulfil what I had promised. I had only to give my testimony in reference to his expectations from Sechele, to disabuse his mind, and to appeal to his former decision in giving over Macheng to be at my disposal, and that I should now, with his permission, willingly take Macheng along with me. After a long conversation on this, to me, interesting subject, the thing was settled. Macheng


was called. He entered, I suppose, with bright hopes of the future. He sat down with the usual salutations. Moselekatse sat in his arm-chair, and, half laughing, said, “ Macheng, man of Moffat, you go with your father. We have arranged respecting you. Moffat will take you back to Sechéle. That is my wish as well as his, that you should be in the first instance restored to the chief from whom you were taken in war. When captured, you were a child ; I have reared you to be a man.” Never before did tones so sweet fall on Macheng's ear. The attendants praised the greatness and goodness of their king. He ordered one of his councillors to go to his waggon (a kind of store-house) to bring some clothes. After the ceremony of dressing was over, and Macheng had sat down, he was again presented with a cup of the king's beer, and a fat breast of an ox (the king's portion) ordered for his supper. When I left the presence of the king, and while passing through the room to where my waggon stood, a shout was raised, “There goes Macheng; Moffat is taking Macheng to his people.” On the 11th December, after a very great deal of trouble with oxen which had once been accustomed to the yoke, and others which were untrained, I was able to leave for home, at the same time that Moselekatse was leaving in one of his waggons for a peigbouring town. His object was to spend a season of mirth at an annual festival, which had been deferred till my departure. My journey homewards was not attended with anything beyond what is usual in a wild, uninhabited country. The late rains, which, most providentially for me, had held up, rendered travelling very heavy, from the ground being saturated. More than once I was compelled to pass the night in a quagmire, where the waggon had to be unloaded and conveyed piecemeal to higher ground.


Monthly Retrospect. It is the belief of the west-end that nothing happens in autumn. It is the “ dead season.” Nobody is in town. The shutters of all the houses are closed, and the flunkeys are living on board wages; grass is growing between the pebbles, and everybody is yawning for the "

to recommence. Such is west-end, but we are not west-enders, and are therefore heterodox on this point. Our belief is that the very best things happen in autumn. Politics especially having ceased to be the talk of the English world, and the hard, dry, mill-horse everyday work of the middle classes having become relaxed, people begin to look beyond their narrow circles and accustomed ruts for new impulses to work. It is the time for the development of the higher faculties-thought, feeling, and imagination; the time for the calmest contemplation of God's work on the world; the time for most unfettered intercourse with nature, for freest enjoyment of friends, for happiest and most entire realization of a sense of REST. This is our reading of autumn-to us pre-eminently the season of life, of enjoyment, of partial or entire repose from all irksome labour ; of most welcome refreshment and re-created being. The “ dead season indeed! as if the world contained only pastrycooks, waiters, ladies' maids, and footmen, and the chief end of life was to attend balls, suppers, and routs, give good dinners, and eat recherché suppers !

Autumn is usually chosen for country festivals and demonstrations, why,

[ocr errors]

we can scarcely tell, excepting it must be because people have less hesitation than usual in confessing to the possession of human feelings and sympathies in this season. Do we owe to this circumstance the opening of the Halifax and Stockport Parks? The Halifax Park was opened some time since ; the Stockport Park a few days ago. May we say that the benefactors, Mr. Crossley and Lord Vernon, who have given to the people these great gifts, are greater men than four-fifths of our public rulers and politicians? They certainly, as far as one can judge, give proof of the possession of higher moral qualities. They are not great before the nation, because they possess no special superiority of intellect; or no special power of expressing their thoughts; but in a high sense they are great men. That they regard with more than common affection their less favoured brethren; that they are willing to deny themselves in a considerable degree for their sakes, seeking no published name or wide applause, affords indication of the possession of some of the choicest gifts which it is possible for man to have bestowed upon him. It has been called 'vanity' and worse to build a church, endow a school, or create a fellowship. On the same reasoning, the gift of a public park must be an egregrious exhibition of vainglory. Only a cynic, however, would so argue : we would rather look upon it as an illustration of human love and affection, of which we can scarcely have too many instances. Of its beneficial tendency we have a striking example in the case of Mr. Crossley. His regard for the people of Halifax has induced him to make this and other sacrifices for their welfare: they express their affection for him in their own way—the most delicate and suitable which they could have chosen—by erecting, at their own expense, in the park which he has given them a statue of himself. In the great hotel of Chamouni were inaugurated last year—when we happened to be present—busts of the first two travellers up Mont Blanc. Chamouni designates them her “benefactors ; ” how much more may Mr. Crossley and Lord Vernon be designated the benefactors of Halifax and Stockport ?

Grantham, celebrated for its gingerbread, its spire, and its connexion with Newton, has also done itself an honour, by the erection of a statue to Sir Isaac, on which occasion the representatives of the world of triangles, rhomboids, and conic sections, dined together, and listened to an oration from Lord Brougham on the life and works of Newton. For a speech to a general audience, which must have been chiefly composed of Granthamites, the oration does not seem to have been a very fitting one. Lord Brougham spoke as he wrote some fifteen years ago, when the · Men of Letters and Science' was published—as a philosopher of a philosopher. Of the man Newton little could be said, and the audience must have felt that, in regard to all the more human qualities, the orator who was speaking was greater by an almost infinite degree than he whose life was then being honoured. Newton offers the most remarkable example of how the exclusive cultivation of one power of the mind will almost annihilate all other powers. For twenty years he existed almost without feeling-simply a great living Calculator. Excepting in a few instances, this must be the law. Probably no one has attained to much eminence without, consciously or unconsciously, making sacrifice of half his nature. As the world exists, the exhibition of a marvellous excellence, in any one depart

[ocr errors]

ment of science or literature, seems to be impossible, without allowing a corresponding deficiency in nearly all others. There is a certain quantity of energy, life-power,' or whatever else it may be called, and no more. If a mountain has to be made, a valley must be made with it. The earth that creates the one is dug from the other. There is no absolute addition of quantity, only a different apportionment of the materials. In Newton's case the intellect reached the highest point to which it has ever attained. He who would attempt to follow in his steps must resolve on a sacrifice equal to that which Newton made.

It is the habit of newspaper and other writers to enlarge upon the advancement of the present age. Two very notable illustrations of the progress of society have occurred during the past month-Sir George Grey, the incarnation of finality, and Mr. Henley, the type of Toryism, havem moved! Sir George, who used to launch his little satires upon the possibilities of a penny press when the abolition of the newspaper stamp was under discussion, and who voted so obstinately against Mr. Milner Gibson's bill, has addressed the people in support of cheap newspapers. He advocates their extension, praises their conduct, and says he subscribes to one himself! His speech affords another indication also that the age is changing, and one that is a continual subject of remark in circles where plans of political and other agitation are discussed. We allude to the secondary importance of public meetings. There is far less advice now to go to lectures, and there is a growing indisposition to attend them. It is the most difficult thing in the world to get up'a good public meeting. Hence the advice to read, and the necessity for public societies accommodating themselves to the growing preference of the people to this mode of teaching. We, who bave no hesitation in avowing our attachment to what are termed “advanced principles,' have reason to rejoice rather than otherwise at this change. We have little fear of the people reading too much, and have sufficient confidence in the truth of our convictions to be fully persuaded that the more they read the closer they will come to a knowledge and persuasion of what is right.

But Mr. Henley also is moving-he, one of the rear guard of the old army who fought and conquered nearly half a century ago, under Sir Harry Inglis's banner, has come round to the acknowledgment that a reform in the representation of the people is desirable and necessary. What kind of reform Mr. Henley would like, he does not say. No member or supporter of the present Cabinet has as yet made any declaration on this head, but, 'something must be done,' is an acknowledgment which few expected to receive. For anything, however, that we can see to the contrary wo are likely to be placed in the position of a man who has been voluntarily starving himself, but has at last come to confess that he had better have something to eat. He will not, however, say what he will have, and he angrily rejects everything that is offered him. In such a case the confession is practically worthless, neither the man nor his friends are the better for it; and the chance is that before long both will be held up to ridicule.

The Chinese treaty, for every particular of which the English people have as yet been indebted to foreign sources of information, seems to be everything that one could wish. It is a very good thing procured in a


very bad way. Apart from its general character it is especially remarkable for the closeness with which the negotiators have followed in all the old paths. We have the old and mischievous system of a resident ambassador, the old diplomatic regulations, the old trade laws—just as if we were dealing with any European power. Not content with stipulating that we should have a Resident at the Chinese capital,' we lay down the condition that a Chinaman is to reside in London and conduct business at the Court of St. James's. In other respects the Treaty is the most remarkable that has been made in history; and must lead to a change more extensive than the world has seen since the first preaching of Christianity. There is now no barrier, that cannot be easily overcome, to the preaching of the gospel to every nation.

The work of consolidating our relations with China will devolve upon Christian men and merchants; something also will have to be done by the Missionary Societies. As soon as the path is opened we shall see the most enterprising--such as the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel appointing a missionary exactly fitted for the work, as it has already done in the case of British Colombia, and to secure an able man, has wisely given a much larger salary than usual.

India, however, will be the burden principally of statesmen for some time to come. Its finances are in a most dilapidated condition, and will need the speediest and wisest revision. So that, for years to come, India will be a bone of contention in the House of Commons, and, probably, a source of pecuniary loss to this country. From these and other evils, Mr. Bright would have those who can, escape by emigration. In a bold, but, as it strikes us, a somewhat angry letter, the member for Birmingham unsparingly denounces the class government of England, the oppression, to the poor man, of its rule, and urgently advises him to seek another and a better home. The Times,' having nothing else to say, returns to an old song, and cries ‘un-English,' as though the evils were not un-Englishwhatever that may mean—and the denouncer of them the truest friend of his country, daring to risk any amount of abuse in telling the open truth.

We have been surprised that the third of September should have been allowed to pass without some demonstration in remembrance of Oliver Cromwell's day. There must have been few who allowed it to pass without a thought: there were very many who would have been glad of some opportunity for the expression of their feelings with regard to a man to whom England owes à large proportion of her present greatness, and English people a very large proportion of their present liberty. But no one seemed to think it a duty to take the initiative, and although more than one attempt was made by the press to excite some public demonstration, the day passed as thongh it were not one of the greatest in the calendar of English history.

The newspapers inform us that Baron Humboldt has just completed *Cosmos;' and a day or two ago a paragraph appeared, stating that the Princess Louisa and Prince Alfred had called upon the great writer. It was a fitting thing to do—for royalty of rank to bow before royalty of intellect. May we not hope that the day is not far distant when Princes will not deem it an indignity to pay a similar respect to English Literature ?

« PreviousContinue »