« PreviousContinue »
*He was not,' Burke added, "altogether indifferent to this kind of observance,' and it pleased his friends that the solemn honours accorded to his memory were exactly what would have gratified him if he could have witnessed the scene. When the academicians returned to Somerset House Burke entered the room, and endeavoured to thank them in the name of the family. His eloquent voice was stifled by his feelings, and bursting into tears he withdrew. He had already paid his tribute to the man and the painter. He sent a notice of him to the papers the day after his death, and the brief sketch displays the greatness of style and thought which characterised every sentence that proceeded from Burke.
Reynolds,' says Malone, 'was in stature rather under the middle size; of a florid complexion, and a lively and pleasing aspect, well made, and extremely active.' His numerous portraits of himself have rendered his mild intelligent face familiar to everybody. His only peculiarity of expression was the searching look of the eye with which he scanned strangers, like a person accustomed to read the character in the countenance. His qualities were so admirable that Malone, after describing them, thinks it natural for readers to ask, “Were there no failings?' To this question he answers in the words of Burke, • I do not know a fault or weakness of his that he did not convert into something that bordered on a virtue, instead of pushing it to the confines of a vice.' "Sir Joshua Reynolds,' said Johnson, when pronouncing a eulogy on him to Boswell, “is the most invulnerable man I know; a man with whom, if you should quarrel, you will find the most difficulty how to abuse.' * Northcote, who was never over-lenient in his judgments, acknowledged that Sir Joshua was as free from defects as any man;' and Mrs. Thrale, when writing rhyming characters of her friends in no kindly spirit, was obliged to admit that his general excellence and charm were only alloyed by a single want :
Northcote says that Reynolds expected Burke, Malone, or Boswell, to write bis Life. “I think,' Northcote adds, his chief dependence was on Burke.' This could be only conjecture, for Sir Joshua, who never alluded to his own merits, would certainly not have avowed his expectation that the most illustrious man of that generation would turn aside from his political pursuits to hand him down to posterity. Allan Cunningham improves the remark of Northcote into a heinous charge against Burke. He asserts that Reynolds sought to secure Burke's Service by a donation of four thousand pounds, and that when the donor's ‘pen could no longer sign away thousands, he was neglected or forgotten by persons who had followed or flattered him. That Burke understood ihe legacy to be a retaining fee for a biography, that he took the money and broke the compact, is pure imagination. His language makes it manifest that the idea bad never been intimated to him by Reynolds, nor had ever crossed his own mind. He believed himself to be quite unqualified for the task, and said that to go beyond his obituary notice would require an acquaintance with the details of art which he did not possess. The bequest to him is explained by Sir Joshua's knowle:lge of his embarrassments, and by the pride and gratitude which Sir Joshua felt for the devoted friendship of such a man. The friendship did not cease with the death of the President. He was neither óneglected' por forgotten' by Burke, who cherished his memory with tender affection. There is a second erroneous statement by Allan Cunningham which would seem to give a colour to the improbable notion that Sir Joshua had relied upon his Life being written by one of two or three men who were ignorant of painting. "To them, says, Mr. Cunningham, 'Reynolds had opened up all his knowledge, and for their use he had made memorandums concerning his practice, all calculated to direct the pen and shorten the labour of the biographer.' His memorandums consisted of what Malone describes as a rough sketch of an Academy Discourse, which the President did not live to deliver, and of some scanty notes, for the most part of early date, which he jotted dowu roughly to assist his own memory. In his long leisure, when he would have been glad of any enticing pursuit, he omitted to record the smallest particular for bis biographers, and his apathy would imply that the subject had never occupied
• Of Reynolds all good should be said and no harm,
It nor chills like his kindness, nor glows like his painting.' He did not, we learn from himself, wear his feelings outside. 'I never,' he wrote to his niece Theophila Palmer, ‘was a great professor of love and affection, and therefore I never told you how much I loved you. Nor was he undistinguishing in his intimacies, and the flighty and eccentric Welshwoman was among the last persons he would have selected for his especial regard. But that his heart was not ‘frigid,' though his manners were calm, is demonstrated beyond cavil by the warmth of affection he excited in his friends. He had been dead for five years when Burke put down his thoughts on him for the use of Malone, and as he wrote he blotted the paper with his tears. Malone himself was accustomed to make notes of remarkable sayings and facts. He concluded his memoranda on Feb. 28, 1792, with an imperfect account of the last illness of Reynolds. A blank of three years and a half then occurs in his manuscript, and in August, 1795, he resumed his old habit, with the remark that he had left off the practice in the interval to avoid the pain of reverting to the death of Sir Joshua. No “frigid' heart was ever mourned so acutely and so long. Those who had passed away before him had equally felt the depth and
* Allan Cunningham misunderstood the observation. The cold and cautious nature,' he says, 'of Reynolds rendered him in the opinion of Johnson almost invulnerable.' Johnson, as Boswell expressly states, was speaking of Sir Joshua in a strain of high panegyric; and he called him invulnerable, because he was nearly faultless. To have said that he was ‘invulnerable,' because he was callous and calculating, would have been censure instead of praise.
truth of his attachment. He had been ill in 1764; and Johnson, on hearing of his recovery, wrote to him : 'If I should lose you, I should lose almost the only person whom I call a friend.' Goldsmith told the public that his sole motive in dedicating the Deserted Village' to Reynolds, was 'to indulge his affections.' "The only dedication, Goldsmith continues, 'I ever made was to my brother, because I loved him better than most other men. He is since dead. Permit me to inscribe this poem to you. Cold hand, warm heart,' has passed into a proverb ; and Reynolds is an example that, if often false, it is sometimes signally true. The imputation of Mrs. Thrale, like so many others, entirely fails. Not one serious charge has yet been brought against Sir Joshua, whether in malice or misapprehension, from which he cannot be triumphantly defended ; and we may adopt almost literally the loving couplet of Goldsmith,
Here Reynolds is laid, and to tell you my mind,
Art. V.-The Albert Nyanza; Great Basin of the Nile, and ex
ploration of the Nile Sources. By Samuel White Baker, M.A., F.R.G.S., Gold Medallist of the Royal Geographical Society.
London, 1866. WE
CE hail with pleasure the appearance of this record of
Mr. Baker's expedition in search of the great lake in Equatorial Africa, in the endeavour to reach which he spent nearly four years of his enterprising life. The undertaking involved an almost unparalleled amount of anxiety and difficulty, but it was ultimately crowned with complete success. He fitted out entirely at his own expense a costly expedition, receiving no pecuniary support whatever either from the public or the Government, and it has resulted in some very important additions to our knowledge of Equatorial Africa, and more particularly of the Basin of the Nile. In a former number of the "Quarterly Review,'* we were enabled to refer, but only in a very cursory manner, to the successful labours of this most energetic explorer.
were, and still are, unable to assent to all the conclusions which Mr. Baker drew from his discovery, we must at all events emphatically express our high appreciation of the qualities which enabled him to
* No. 237.
triumph over difficulties which would have daunted most other men, and to accomplish the great object of his exploration. Mr. Baker had not been unknown to fame before this crowning exploit of his adventurous career.
As a sportsman, a traveller, and a geographer, he has gathered laurels in other lands. He has hunted the elephant in Ceylon, pursued the giraffe in Southern Africa, and explored the tributaries of the Blue Nile in Abyssinia. In investigating the phenomena connected with the Nile, he conclusively proved, that however remote the source of the river may be, the annual inundation, and consequently the fertility of Lower Egypt, are chiefly caused by the Blue Nile and the Atbara, which drain the whole of Eastern Abyssinia, and pour their impetuous floods for three months into the great river of Egypt at and below Khartoum. A special interest, however, attaches to the expedition of Mr. Baker in search of the lake of the existence of which he was informed by Captain Speke. He was accompanied in his wanderings by his youthful wife, who cheered and sustained him throughout the whole of his arduous journey. It is almost inconceivable how an European lady, brought up in the midst of refinement, could have survived the hardships and privations inseparable from four years of African travel. To her spirit and perseverance Mr. Baker, nevertheless, attributes his success. Prostrated as he often was by fever, and exhausted by fatigue, he owes his life, he says, to her care, while, weary and footsore, she followed him with unflagging energy but often with faltering steps, until the great object of his expedition had been attained.
It would be impossible within the space to which we restricted to follow Mr. Baker in detail throughout his long wanderings. We can only, therefore, present a slight sketch of his extraordinary journey. It may, however, be mentioned in passing that his contributions to ethnology and natural history are also valuable and important, and the sportsman will find amusement in the animated narratives of the hunting expeditions, by which Mr. Baker was enabled to relieve the tedium of his long residence among savage tribes in the interior of Africa.
In March, 1861, Mr. Baker organised the expedition by which he hoped, he says, to reach the = sources of the Nile,' or at least to verify the discoveries of his precursors in the task of tracing the great river to its fountain-head. Captains Speke and Grant were at that time believed to be on their route to England from the south, supposing that they had succeeded in overcoming the difficulties of crossing Equatorial Africa. Mr. Baker had promised to meet them with supplies at Gondokoro, and he proposed to himself to turn to account any information which they
might communicate, thinking it probable that he might be enabled to complete their explorations should they have been compelled by circumstances to leave them unfinished. To Gondokoro accordingly Mr. Baker proceeded by a tedious boatjourney up the Nile from Khartoum. The country through which he passed he describes as a dismal wilderness of reeds, which exclude from the sight every object which can suggest even the idea of civilisation. There is absolutely nothing living to be seen from the river. Even the hippopotami and crocodiles are concealed by the gigantic rushes which rise on both sides of the stream ; and day after day were passed in threading a labyrinth of marshes penetrated by a sluggish river, itself covered with floating vegetation. The voyage from Khartoum to Gondokoro must have tried the temper alike of man and beast, for the horses, donkeys, and camels turned vicious, and bit and fought with each other in the boats. This portion of the Nile is, Mr. Baker says, perfectly “heart-breaking. The occasional capture of a hippopotamus may perhaps somewhat alleviate the misery of the voyage. Mr. Baker appears to have found this animal especially valuable in a culinary sense. Hippopotamus soup, he says, bears the same relation to turtle soup that real turtle does to mock turtle. By boiling the fat, flesh and skin together, a most sumptuous repast is produced; the thick skin of the hippopotamus assuming the appearance of the green fat of the turtle, but being infinitely superior. After this announcement it is possible that the hippopotamus may hereafter be heard of elsewhere than in the Zoological Gardens. Gondokoro (lat. 4° 55' N.) is merely a station for ivory traders, and is occupied only for about two months in the year. The natives of the country, the Barri tribe, are chiefly remarkable for their ferocity and for the skill with which they construct their poisoned weapons. The most virulent poison is derived from the root of a tree, the milky juice of which yields a resin that is smeared over the arrow. The juice of the euphorbia, boiled to the consistence of tar, is also used. The effect of the poison is to corrode the flesh, which, after severe inflammation, drops off the bone. The arrows are barbed with diabolical ingenuity, being made with pointed heads fitting into sockets, which become detached from the arrows on an attempt being made to withdraw them; thus the barb remains in the wound, and the poison is rapidly absorbed. These people have no hesitation in shooting an arrow at any stranger whom they happen to see. Gondokoro is a depôt for the slave trade, the existence of which still disgraces the government of the Egyptian Viceroy, and Mr. Baker was not unreasonably regarded at Khartoum as a spy of the British Government.