Imatges de pÓgina
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generally to all countries inhabited by black people. The region, however, which extends for several hundred miles along the Nile above Egypt, formed the ancient Ethiopia, a sacred realm, in which the priests placed the most revered objects of their mythology. Here Jove repaired to hold his annual festival; and here was spread the table of the sun, which, when exposed to the rays of that great luminary, was believed of its own accord to take fire and be consumed. Hence, according to some, Egypt derived all the sciences and arts which rendered her illustrious in that early age. Diodorus even asserts that the learned language of Egypt was the same spoken by the vulgar in Ethiopia; but we should much rather believe with Herodotus, that the latter country derived from Egypt all which she possessed of art and civilization. The sovereigns of Ethiopia are said to have received a wild and peculiar homage, in being attended to the tomb by a number of their wives, courtiers, and servants, all eagerly canvassing for this honour,-a practice of savage life still extensively prevalent in pagan Africa. According to Diodorus, this veneration was carried to so singular a pitch, that if the king lost a leg or an arm, each of his courtiers presently severed from himself the same member. The priests, however, whose influence in this realm of superstition was always paramount, appear at one time to have become quite supreme; reducing the sovereign to a state of entire dependence. Lastly, it may be inferred, both from classic and sacred writers, that Ethiopia, in the first century, was governed by a female monarch, who appears to have borne the hereditary name of Candace.

The Greeks settled in Egypt, especially during the wise and able government of the Ptolemies, carried on a considerable navigation along the eastern coast of the Red Sea, which, as they held the continent to be bounded by the Nile, they accounted scarcely African; but upon this subject we must follow modern ideas. Ptolemy Euergetes seems to have conquered part of Abyssinia, forming it into a kingdom, of which Axum was the capital; and fine remains of Grecian architecture still attest the fact of this eity having been a great and civilized metropolis. Every ancient description, however, represents the native inhabitants of these shores as existing in a state of the most extreme barbarity and wretchedness. They are classed by

Diodorus and Strabo, according to the miserable food on which they usually subsisted; some as eaters of fish, of elephants, and of turtles; while others are said to have fed on locusts, on roots, and even on the tender branches of trees. Many sought shelter also in places which had no regular claim to be considered as human habitations. These were either cavities dug out of the rock, with an opening to the north for coolness, or they were formed by twisting together the branches of several large shrubs, and constructing thus a species of shady arbour; while some tribes, still more forlorn, merely climbed the trees to seek safety and shelter among the branches. These representations were once deemed fabulous, and might still have been thought so, had not Bruce and other modern travellers proved the existence of similar rudeness among the Shangalla and other tribes that border on Abyssinia.

The districts now surveyed form the whole of Africa respecting which the Greeks had obtained any precise and determinate knowledge. It comprised a wide extent of shore, but extended a very short distance inland; being bounded on each side by two unknown coasts, which stretched so far that it was not possible to conjecture their termination. Two tempestuous oceans, a desert the most dreary on the face of the earth, and infested by multitudes of huge and ferocious animals, were the barriers that hemmed in so closely the ancient settlers, and could scarcely in any instance be passed with impunity. Yet the principle of curiosity cannot be extinguished in the human breast, and is even rendered more ardent by the greatest obstacles. To lift up a portion of that veil within which the vast mysteries of unknown Libya were shrouded, appeared an achievement rivalling the glories of conquest, and promised to confer immortal renown. The most active and adventurous spirits accordingly, who sought to acquire celebrity by exploring the earth, looked to Africa as affording the grandest theatre of fame and adventure.

Two expeditions of discovery, the earliest known, and perhaps that ever existed, are related by Herodotus. One of the most illustrious of the native kings of Egypt was Necho, whose name ranks second only to that of Sesostris, and who lived about two hundred years before the historian. The habits and prejudices of the ancient Egyptians

were unfavourable to maritime enterprises; yet Necho, endowed with the spirit of a great man, which raised him superior to the age in which he lived, eagerly sought the solution of the grand mystery that involved the form and termination of Africa. He was obliged to emplo, not native, but Phoenician navigators, of whose procee lings Herodotus received an account from the Egyptian priests. Proceeding down the Red Sea, they entered the Indian Ocean; and in a voyage of three years made the complete circuit of the continent, passing through the Pillars of Hercules (Straits of Gibraltar), and up the Mediterranean to Egypt. They related, that in the course of this very long voyage they had repeatedly drawn their boats on land, sowed grain in a favourable place and season, waited till the crop grew and ripened under the influence of a tropical heat, then reaped it, and continued their progress. They added, that in passing the most southern coast of Africa, they were surprised by observing the sun on their right hand, a statement which the historian himself rejects as impossible. Such is all the account transmitted to us of this extraordinary voyage, which has given rise to a learned and voluminous controversy. Rennel in his Geography of Herodotus, Vincent in his Periplus of the Erythrean Sea, and Gosselin in his Geography of the Ancients, have exhausted almost every possible argument; the first in its favour, the two latter to prove that it never did or could take place. To these last it appears impossible that ancient mariners, with their slender resources, creeping in little row-galleys along the coast, steering without the aid of the compass, and unable to venture to any distance from land, could have performed so immense a circuit. All antiquity, they observe, continued to grope in doubt and darkness respecting the form of Africa, which was only fully established several thousand years afterward by the expedition of Gama. On the other side, Major Rennel urges, that, immense as this voyage was, it was entirely along a coast of which the navigators never required to lose sight even for a day; that their small barks were well equipped, and better fitted than ours for coasting navigation; and which, drawing very little water, could be kept quite close to the shore, and even be drawn on land, whenever an emergency made this step indispensable. The

statement, that at the extremity of Africa they saw the sun on the right, that is, to the north of them, a fact which causes Herodotus peremptorily to reject their report,affords the strongest confirmation of it to us, who know that to the south of the equator this must have really taken place, and that his unbelief arose entirely from ignorance of the real figure of the earth.

The other expedition had its origin in the country of the Nasamones, whom we have already mentioned as occupying the district southward of Cyrene. Five young men of distinction formed themselves into an African association, personally to explore what was still unknown in the vast interior of this continent. They passed first the region inhabited by man; then that which was tenanted by wild beasts; lastly, they reached the immeasurable sandy waste. Having laid in a good stock of water and provisions, they travelled many days partly in a western direction, and attained at length one of the oases or verdant islands which bespangle the desert. Here they saw trees laden with agreeable fruit, and had begun to pluck, when there suddenly appeared a band of little black men, who seized carried them as captives. They were led along vast lakes and marshes, to a town situated on a large river flowing from west to east, and inhabited by a nation all of the same size and colour with the strangers, and strongly addicted to the arts of necromancy. It is not said how or by what route they returned; but, since they supplied this relation, they must by some means have reached home. Herodotus concludes this great river to be the Nile flowing from the westward; while Major Rennel conceives it to be the Niger of Park, and the city to be Timbuctoo; but since the late discoveries of Denham and Clapperton, it has appeared more probable that the stream was the Yeou or river of Bornou. The distance from Cyrene thither is not so great; and nowhere but in the Tchad can we find those mighty lakes which make so prominent a figure in the narration. On the whole, it must appear truly wonderful that these efforts, made at so early an era, should have led to discoveries, respecting both the maritime outline and the interior of the continent, which Europeans could not regain for thousands of years, and one of which, at the present day, is still entirely new to us.

The next expedition on record was made under less pleasing auspices. Sataspes, a Persian nobleman, had been condemned by Xerxes to crucifixion, on account of some crime of which he had been guilty; but his mother, by earnest entreaty, obtained a commutation of the sentence into one which she represented as still more severe, —that of sailing round Africa. Under this heavy necessity, Sataspes coasted along the Mediterranean, passed the western point of the continent, and began a southward course. But he who undertook to explore this vast country with no interest in the subject, buoyed up by no gay enthusiasm, and urged only by the fear of death behind, was ill prepared for achieving so mighty an enterprise. Sataspes sailed southward for a considerable space; but when he saw the Atlantic waves beating against the dreary shore of the Sahara, that scene of frequent and terrible shipwreck, it probably appeared to him that any ordinary form of death was preferable to the one which here menaced him. He returned, and presented himself before Xerxes, giving a doleful description of the hardships which he had encountered, declaring that the ship at last stood still of itself, and could by no exertion be made to proceed. That proud monarch, refusing to listen to such an explanation, ordered the original sentence to be immediately executed. Such appears to have been the only African voyage undertaken by the Persians, to whom the sea was an object of aversion, and even of superstitious dread.

Carthage, the greatest maritime and commercial state of antiquity, and which considered Africa and the Atlantic coast as her peculiar domain, must have made several exploratory voyages before she could establish those extensive connexions upon which her trade was founded. Of all such attempts, however, the record of one only remains. It consisted of an expedition on a very large scale, sent out, about 570 years before the Christian era, for the joint purposes of colonization and discovery, under an admiral named Hanno. He carried with him, in sixty large vessels, emigrants of both sexes to the number of thirty thousand. At the distance of two days' sail beyond the Pillars of Hercules, the Carthaginians founded the city of Thymioterium, and afterward, on the wooded promontory of Soloeis, erected a stately temple to Neptune. They then built

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