DR, ARMSTRONG'S NORTH-WEST PASSAGE.*
NOTWTTHSTANDING the numerous publications on Arctic voyages and Arctic regions, including Captain Osborn's lately-noticed account of this identical expedition compiled from the papers of
causes be read with interest. The most staring feature of the book is not of a pleasing kind ; particularly and generally suggesting the question whether anybody at the head of an expedition or any other extensive business ever succeeded in satisfying everybody. Captain M'Clure not only discovered the North-west Passage, and by two routes, but preserved his ship, and, with three exceptions towards the close of the expedition, his crew, for three years, during which he was without the means of communicatmg with any civilized man, much less of gaining any assistance. In that time he sailed over some forty degrees of longitude in the Arctic Polar Sea, where ship had never sailed before, where the charts, limited to a small part of the American coast, were not to be depended upon, and incessant watchfulness, with the lead constantly going, was the only resource amid an iceencumbered sea and a frequently-changing bottom. During the last of the three winters passed in those desolate regions, the thermometer sank lower than it had ever been observed before. In the momentous voyage along the Western and Northern, coast of Baring's (formerly Banks's) Land to the Bay of Mercy, the dangers of the navigation, even according to Dr. Armstrong, were without a parallel.
"There was nothing deserving the name of bay or harbour along any part of this coast, nor any protection or shelter for slups ; and, exposed as it is to all the fury and violence of Westerlyand North-Westerly winds' it stands without a parallel, for the dangers of its navigation, in any part of the world. The appalling evidence we were afforded of the effects of pressure, caused by stormy winds acting on a trackless icy sea, was such as we had not witnessed in any other part of our eventful voyage' and baffles all attempts at describing—mounds being piled together to the height of upwards of 100 feet. Our passage along this part of the coast was a truly terrible one—one which should never be again attempted ; and with a vivid remembrance of the perils and dangers which hourly assailed us, I feel convinced it will never be made again."
Not to rest in generals, take a particular instance of instant danger from the motion of the ice.
"The next object that attracted our attention was a grounded berg piece, as large as that to which we were attached, lying directly in our course astern. Against this, on the next movement of the ice we should immediately have been borne, and inevitable destruction would have attended our coming into contact. Consequently, to weaken, or if possible break up this great mass of ice, became a matter of great import ; and preparations were made for blasting it, although it was then only a few yards from the ship. A charge of twenty-six pounds of powder was placed deep in its substance : on exploding, we were afforded the satisfaction of seeing it fissured directly across, while several of its fragments were thrown on the deck. Some smaller charges were then used with similar results ; and although the mass remained immoveable as a rock, the little damage it had effected rendered it, in our opinion, less formidable.
"At 8.30, the carpenter having repaired the rudder, we were busily engaged in placing it in a safe position slung across the stern, and had just succeeded in doing so when the ice was again observed in motion. "We lay not only helplessly fixed, but absolutely embedded, borne along amidst the appalling commotion of huge masses grinding and crashing each other, still nearing the shore, and approaching the berg, from which we were then not more than a few feet distant. Every man stood firm and silent at his post, with a knapsack at his aide. The Biel I had ordered to be brought on deck, that in the event of the ship being suddenly crushed, they too might have a chance of escape. Nothing was heard but the dismal sound of the ice around us. We slowly but steadily approached the berg, against which our stern-post at length came in contact. The pressure continuing, every timber of the ship's solid framework loudly complained, and we momentarily expected to see her nipped in pieces, or thrown upon the beach. Most fortunately, however, the destructive effect of the blasting, so judiciously had recourse to a few hours previously, then told in our favour : as the mass opened in three places, their fragments separating from each other, diminished the power of resistance, otherwise ourfate would have been at once decided. At the moment of coming in contact, the continuance of thepressure carried away the stream-chain, broke one nine and two six-inch halsers, as if they had been whip-cord, stove in our strong bulwarks, crumpled up the copper as if it had been paper; at the same time it swept the ship's bow towards the beach, elevated her a few feet, and threw her over on the port side eighteen degrees. The direct foroe of the pressure became thereby diminished ; and when in breathless anticipation of being driven on the beach, that catastrophe was averted by the interposition of a merciful Providence. The motion in the ice then suddenly ceased, we having been borne helplessly for a short distance further along-shore in close contact with the broken-up berg.
"At the moment the hals=a-s were carried away, Captain M'Clure gave orders to let them go, that the ship might be thrown on the beach, to afford us shelter during the winter, instead of being crushed and sunk, as we expected. "I can never forget the sensation I experienced during the short period of this terrible candict. Every thither in the ship groaned in the most direful
and ominous language of complaint; the masts shook ; and as I stood on the quarter-deck, the planks beneath my feet vibrated as if in the act of starting up. I put my hand on the capstan, about to spring upon it for safety, when the pressure suddenly ceased."
Through dangers like this, sometimes increased by the darkness of night or the murkiness of fog and snow-drift, or varied by violent gales of wind, did Captain M'Clure bring the old Investigator in safety to the Bay of Mercy, and his crew, after low years' absence, to England. Yet his principal medical officer writes a very ample narrative of the voyage, one of whose primary objects is to depreciate the conduct of has commanding-officer.
• A Personal Nam:lire of the Iliseorery of the North-west Passage; minerals Incidents of Taunt axe Adresitnin during nearly fire years' continuo's Service in the Ara e Ilegions white in search of the .E.rxtton under Sir John Franklin. Ey Alex. Armstrong, M.D., R.N., &e... late Surgeon and Naturalist of H. M .S. Investigator. Published by Hurst and Blackett. The dissatisfaction of Dr. Armstrong is sometimes rather matter of inference than of direct statement In the very first page of his preface he indicates his leaning by the Italics in which he declares his intention "to do justice to every one," and his allusion to "errors" committed : a similes spirit continues to the last. Sometimes it takes an obscure form, as in the remarks (pp. 77, 78,) on the Enterprise, a better sailer, leaving the Investigator on the voyage out ; at other times it is rather small criticism. The main charges are two. First, that the seaman M'Clure, such as we have just seen him, sometimes for two or three hours, or may be longer, neglected opportunities that were visible to the doctor's eye. By this neglect he lost occasions of pushing on ; and by taking up the position in the Bay of Mercy, when, according to Dr. Armstrong, a current was setting Eastward and the sea was open to the East and North, the opportunity was further lost of bringing home the ship, and the crew possibly two years sooner. Secondly, the two winters' detention in the Bay of Mercy involved as a consequence recourse to short allowance. This, it is intimated, was pushed to an extreme, and ruthlessly adhered to in spite of the doctor's medical recommendation, and after the arrival of succour at Dealy Island under Captain Kellett was known. The health of the crew was thus undermined, and but for their providential rescue the destruction of the expedition was certain ; for the physical state of the ship's company was such that they must have perished, whether they had remained on the chance of the Investigator being extricated from the ice, or attempted an escape by means of a sledge-journey. No motive is ascribed or hinted at for this rigid economy as to rations. If the conclusion be true as to its needlessness, (for as to the fact of short commons there is no doubt,) it must apparently have arisen from a resolution in the captain to stick by the ship as long as human nature could stand it.
Upon the smaller questions we make no remaik, except that every man is to be trusted in his own art : in a question of making sail or laying-to, the captain is to be regarded before the doctor. A similar remark may be applied to the large question whether entering the Bay of Mercy or pursuing the voyage was the proper course. Some particular points are obvious. Dr. Armstrong tells us that all along the coast "neither safety nor shelter exists" ; and he is speaking of the navigable season. His pages, if there were no other evidence, abound with proofs of the rapid changes in those seas, and the momentous consequences that must follow to a vessel rashly placed : how a sudden snow-drift or fog envelops everything ; how quickly a gale gets up ; and how momentarily the ice bars the path or closes round the ship, or bears her helplessly., as we have just seen, to all but destruction. These facts are drawn from what may there be called fine, weather observation ; and when the Bay of -Mercy was entered it was the 23d of September, the "severity of an Arctic winter" beginning that year on the 1st of October. To have been wrecked or damaged then must have been certain destruction for all : had these risks been escaped there was certain enclosure in the Polar pack. When there is a choice of courses and the one chosen does not lead to absolute success, it is always open to argument that the other course would have been better. In this case, however, there was great success, though the vessel had finally to be abandoned, and forty or fifty miles left unsoiled over in the completion of the North-west Passage.
As regards the charge about the rations, (for it amounts to charge,) we can offer no opinion. It rests upon quantities and calculations. Rigidness is an error on the safe side, though not so pleasant or popular as good living—for a time.
"They fell all ravenously on their provision, Instead of hoarding it with due precision.
The consequence was easily foreseen—
They ate up all they had, and drank their wine, In spite of all remonstrances; and then,
On what, in fact, next day were they to dine? They hoped the wind would rise, these foolish men,
And carry them to shore : these hopes were fine, But as they had but one oar, and that brittle, It would have been more wise to save their victual."
A carping and not always well-founded criticism extends to other matters besides the expedition and its conduct, giving an acrid spirit to the pages. In every other point of view Dr. Armstrong's Narrative is an able and interesting volume. Many things relating to the hardships of the crew and the peculiar dangers of the navigation, which Captain Osborn, writing from M4C1nre's papers, passed over cursorily or exhibited by single instances, are fully told, and with spirit. Personal adventures in sport or exploration are narrated at length, probably on the originating principle of the book, that of doing justice to every one engaged. Medical observations are freely interspersed, and become a feature towards the close, when insufficient food, severe exertion, the depressing effects of successive Arctic winters, with possibly some mental anxiety, broke down the general health. The most remarkable feature, and indeed that which gives its distinguishing character to the narrative, are the eye and mind of the naturalist. The outward voyage, which Captain Osborn in his account of the expedition cursorily passed over, is given somewhat fully by Dr. Armstrong. It is made interesting, notwithstanding the proverbial triteness of a sea voyage, by the manner in which the author exhibits the natural phenomena continually occurring. In the Polar region, the appearances of nature, vegetable productions and animal life, are a continual theme; and notwithstanding the many narratives of Arctic voyages that hare been written, Dr. Armstrong imparts a freshness
to his pictures by the learned eye with which he looks at the objects, and the clear, solid, and vigorous style with which he presents them. Here are a part sunset on the 1st of August and an apparently total sunset a week later.
" As the sun approached the horizon towards midnight, the aspect of the heavens was truly beautiful, when at twelve o'clock his lower limb partially dipped, and again slowly ascended on his course or rather, our orb revolving on its own axis around him. The sky to the Eastward, at the time, presented a most splendid appearance : a wide belt of refracted light extending along the horizon, resolved into its prismatic colours, imparted a degree of beauty to the heavens I had never before witnessed, and, from the gorgeous and brilliant yet varied tints of Mowing so wonderfully displayed to view, could not possibly be surpassed. The moon, at the time, was rising slowly In the same quarter, but quite obscured by the surpassing brilliancy of the novel and beautiful phenomenon I have mentioned, which can only be seen
in this way in the frigid regions of the North. • "As the sun touched the icy horizon towards midnight, he presented the most splendid appearance I have ever witnessed, and one on which the naked eye could barely for a moment rest, owing to mm dazzling brightness surrounding the disc, It was free from those gorgeous and viuied tints I have previously noticed, and now presented one vast sheet of silvery flame, illumining the horizon with a degree of magnificence to be seen us no other region of the world. It is one of those compensating sights icy regions alone out furnish, as the beautiful effect was entirely produced by the reflection of the sun's rays from its snow-white surface,"
In this walk on the ice, the science of the observer gives clearness to the description, by showing the cause of gorgeous effects.
"Our course lay over hummocky and packed ice, with occasional intervening fields formed within the few previous hours, fiat and even as a board, with here and there marginal lines or boundaries of a few inches high—the abets of pressure from without,. cracking the young floe, and throwing up these little boundaries, thus dividing it into distinct patches or fields. The appearance presented by the little tufts of hoar frost strewn over the surface was very beautiful; some crystallized in the form of spieula, and others larger, of a stellated form, closely_ resembling small feathers, from their well-marked pemuited structure. Far surpassing all in brilliancy and ((piondour, was their power of decomposing the solar ray, and presenting the most rich and gorgeous display of the prismatic colours that I have over beheld; forming a carpet, as it were, studded with gems of the first water, whose (leveling brilliancy was absolutely exhausting to the vision."
In these Arctic voyages the absence of the sun is a great feature. It is not merely the want of his light and life that is depressing, and the monotony which a darkness visible produces : the absence of the sun impedes excursions to any distance, from the difficulty of getting back again, especially if bad weather come on. Thus, not only is exercise with its beneficial effects restricted, but the excitement of exploration or sporting and the substantial gain sometimes resulting from tho latter. The departure and appearance of the great luminary is one of the important natural ocourrences iii these voyages, and it is well recorded by Dr. Armstrong.
"On the 11th of November the sun took his departure : the day wits beautifully clear and serene—one of the few flue days we had lately had, as the weather had been for the most part very, tempestuous. There was scarcely a breath of wind, and the temperature had fallen to 26° below zero. When the last glimpse of the sun was revealed to us as he reached his meridian, he displayed in gorgeous splendour on the margin of the Southern horizon a segment of his upper limb ; and, as if to add greater efi'eot to this his last appearance in these dreary solitudes, his rays were most truthfully reflected on the Western sky, from whence, shedding their prismatic tints on the land beneath, ho imparted an appearance of rare beauty to the scene, where stillness and solitude alone prevailed. Thus commenced the long
Polar night of dreariness and gloom. • • • "Towards noon on the ad of February the appearance of a rich goldentinted sky, forcing its way through a donee bank of haze, which hung over the summit of the Western hills, at once assured us of the proximity of the sun; and at noon our hearts were gladdened by his presence, as he lighted up the dreary regions that had been eighty-three days in darkness. It was delightfully exhilarating to observe the reflection of his rays as they found their way through the chance openings of our housing, and equally/ so to observe our own shadows on the snow-covered waste around us. We hailed his return as an important epoch, hoping never again to lose him for so long a period, and congratulated ourselves that the darkness of an Arctic winter bad nearly passed. The ice was found to have increased 131 inches during the month."
The medical features of the voyage are naturally brought out more fully than in Osborn's lel‘Clure ; possibly the physical effects of scant allowance, monotony, and deferred hope, may have been rather overlooked by the commander in his zeal for the service. The sufferings of the ship's company appear to have been very groat; continuous hunger, in tact, for a long time. To such a degree did it extend, that when any of the crew shot a small bird, (which became the property of the captor,) it was devoured raw and warm. During the second winter at the Bay of Mercy, men practised the plan which was adopted, it is said, by the troops before Sebastopol, and ate their rations raw. This practice, with salted or preserved meat, is not, we believe, so " revolting " as it seems ; and it must retain much of the substance that passes off by cookery, wholesome or not wholesome.
"The allowance of food was so small, and shrunk so much when boiled or cooked, that it merely afforded a few mouthfuls to each, and failed to satisfy the keen craving of the appetite. The consequence was, that the practice of eating the salt beef and pork raw and the preserved meat cold or in a half-frozen state, was almost universally adopted by both officers and men ; and what under other circumstances would appear revolting was then eaten and enjoyed with a degree of avidity and relish which must be experienced to be fully understood, and this the pangs of hunger alone prompted us to do.
"This was made known to Captain M'Clure as I felt satisfied it would contribute much towards the deterioration of health and to the further development of a scorbutic diathesis : but it went on uninterruptedly. The feeling which prompted us to the adoption of the practice appeared to be but little under the control of the will ; and the natural repugnance to raw meat once overcome, it was not easy for hungry men to relinquish this; more satisfactory mode of consuming it "The circumstances in which we were placed appeared in some degree to bare altered man's nature : the rude= were endured with a degree of' manly fortitude, patience, and en unlace, which was most laudable; but all felt that the time had arrived when their own personal wants required to be attended to, and the allowance of food to be carefully and strictly divided. "In the gun-room, each officer took charge in succession of the daily rations as they were issued from the paymaster; which he divided into portions corresponding to our numbers, and these were drawn for by lot. It was generally eaten at one meal, (and that a very scanty one,) unless we could practise sufficient self-denial to save a mouthful of bread for a little weak tea or cocoa morning and evening. We also had an officer of the day' to take charge of the coals, (from eight to twelve pounds,) to see that they were carefully burned at those periods of the day when we could afford to light a fire. "The quantity of oil was also very small, which only enabled us to have lights at certain periods of the day; at other times we had the option of i either walking on deck or sitting n the dark. Under all these circumstances, lamentable as it was to see a body of British officers living in such a state, the amenities and courtesies of the mess-table were ever most strictly observed. Everything that had life was eagerly sought and eaten ; and in the officers' mess, seals, foxes, and lemmings or field-mice, were always a most welcome addition to our fare. "Early in October, (4th,) the ship's company, having keenly experienced the cravings of hunger for a long time but lately with more severity than before, came on the quarter-deck in a body, to ask for more food. To their application Captain M'Clure refused to accede."
The effect of these privations was to induce considerable sickness, originating in scurvy and debility, but taking various forms. Ile consequences of hunger at last had an effect upon the mind. The few who accompanied M'Clure in his sledgejourney to Dealy Island were nearly all placed on the sick-list
upon arrival. Captain Kellett, seeing the sad state in which they had arrived, ordered the medical officers to hold a survey and give a report on their condition. It was generally remarked, how vacant was the stare and how fatuous and inexpressive their countenances when contrasted with healthy men, by those unaccustomed to view such objects as the 'Investigators' then presented ; thus affording truthful evidence of the shock which the intellectual faculties had sustained,. and the mental prostration that ensued after so long a period of complete isolation from the world under such tiling circum
stances. • •
"I cannot conclude these remarks without noticing the noble spirit and patriotic feeling that had animated the ship's company in the almost superhuman exertions hitherto made under the most severe and trying circumstances, such as it has fallen to the lot of but few to encounter. I knew what they had been exposed to and what they had endured ; I had witnessed their courage and daring in many eventful scenes ; I had seen their manly forms gradually shrink under hunger and cold, and had marked their patience and fortitude when suffering from disease ; and certain do I feel that the records of their deeds ought to form one of the brightest pages in the history of our country."
We can readily comprehend that M'Clure was a reserved and self-reliant man, possibly a stern man ; but any other would scarcely have been fitted for the post. In the dangers of those seas, any attempt to take people's opinions, and try to act upon the combination, would have ended the voyage pretty quickly. In these expeditions it is difficult to draw the line 'where resolution becomes obstinacy, and a determination to carry out the duty a self-glorious want of consideration for others. Under the circumstances of this eventful voyage, it is to be regretted that any feelings of disappointment at the men not volunteering to remain by the ship to the number prescribed by Captain Kellett as a condition of not abandoning her, should have induced coolness at departing from the ship.
" The ship was cleaned throughout from stem to stern, and everything left in perfect order, so as to be immediately available for any party whom adverse fate might compel to seek for succour in the Bay of Mercy. At 6.30 p. m., all being mustered at divisions on deck, Captain M'Clure, the senior Lieutenant, and myself, inspected the ship for the last time : a few words, not complimentary, were addressed to the men ; and all were piped to take their places at their respective sledges, then on the ice. "The white ensign of St. George was hoisted at the peak and the pendant at the main, which flaunted gaily in the breeze as we stepped over the side of the ship that had so long been our home, never to visit her again. The earpenters, who remained to batten down the hatches and secure the gangways, were the last to leave—then the Investigator was finally abandoned to her fate. As we stood on the ice and took a last view of our fine old ship, we could not but do so with a grateful recollection, considering how far she had borne us, through what dangers she had carried us, and the safe asylum she had so long afforded us. But while we entertained those feelings which sailors are prone to indulge in for their vessels, we felt that the time had arrived when it became imperative to abandon her; and cense.quently we could feel no regret at leaving a ship where every form of privation had been so long endured."
A very capital map is prefixed to the volume, clearly exhibiting the American Polar region' the course of the expedition and the extent of space traversed in search of Sir John Franklin. The mischief in his case was that attempts at relief were begun almost too late ; a fate the Investigator had narrowly escaped.
HELPS'S SPANISH CONQUEST IN AMERICA.* THE second volume of Mr. Helps's History of the Spanish Conquest in America closed with the capture of Mexico. The third 'continues the series of events in Mexico that followed the conquest, through the various phases of legislation on the great subject of " Encomiendas," up to the law of 106, which gave them a second life ; and narrates the discovery and settlement of Nicaragua and Guatemala, with the conquest of Peru by Pizarro, up to the execution of the Peruvian monarch Atahualpa. The variety of scene is more than equalled by the variety of persons engaged; among whom, Cortes, risen°, Las CURS, Pedro de Alvara o, the successful Indian rebel Enrique, and many other individuals, Indian and Spanish, laic and ecclesiastic, stand out with striking characteristics, and are forcibly portrayed by the writer. Indeed, considering the scale on which Mr. Helps is • The Spanish Conquest in America, and its Relatioa to the History of Starer!, and to the Gorersunent of Colonies. By Arthur Helps. Yuhuue III. Published by Parker and Son., working, and the close packing of matter necessitated by it, the degree of vivid representation which he attains is marvellous. This one volume must have cost years of labour, and it contains just the pith of the labour. It is the work of one who is animated by a genuine interest in his subject, which prompts him to a lavish bestowal of himself on his task, seemingly quite careless of all other reward but that of understanding and helping others to understand a series of historical events of very high importance both for their actual influence on the destinies of the human race and for the lessons of government they unfold. It illustrates the spirit in which Mr. Helps has set about his work, to find, him stating in the preface to this third volume, that he has carefully abstained from even reading modern compilations on the period of history he is studying, being determined to look at facts as they appear from contemporary evidence with his own eyes. The most fruitful result of this spirit on the writer's part is for the casual reader an impression of reality such as very seldom belongs to written history. He feels that he is told of human beings and their actions and relations, not palmed off with abstract conceptions and general phrases • that he is in contact with a man who has really to a wonderful degree succeeded in throwing himself back among the actual life of the sixteenth century in Spanish America, and in understanding the meaning of the things that were then and there done. This impression is perfectly distinct from the conviction of a writer's honesty in the use of documents, which, valuable quality as it is' must be ranked as an inferior or at least subordinate merit. To doubt of this in Mr. Helps, though we have no special means of verifying his appeals to pieces justificatives would be as preposterous as to suppose that the man who will give a thousand pounds to a charity would steal a sovereign out of that same charity's collection-plate. He who gives up his time and his labour to an unrewarded search after truth, and who stamps upon every page of his writings an unmistakeable air of sincerity and candour, may well be presumed incapable of any but the strictest adherence to that lower form of sincerity which consists in not deviating consciously from the evidence in any given case. But that higher sincerity, which is more genius than morals—that profound sense of the reality of the things described and narrated which turns history into drama, and inspires in the reader something of a human sympathy with the fortunes of races and kingdoms—Mr. Helps certainly shows in an uncommon degree.
One very noticeable means by which Mr. Helps manages to pack so much into a little space, As by frequently giving the philosophy of events in the shape of general reflections naturally arising out of the narrative, by which a single instance properly selected serves as a type of a number essentially alike in principle. There is no attempt at keeping up what used to be called the dignity of history. Whatever illustrates is used—and the writer freely comments upon the events he narrates, without any of the usual disguises—he is writing avowedly from the nineteenth century of the sixteenth, and he therefore blends with his narrative such explanations as are needed to put the nineteenth century reader somewhat upon the level of the age to be understood.
The most important portion of this volume, with reference to the main subject of Mr. Helps's inquiry, is that which is concerned. with Mexico after the capture of the city, and which gives in considerable detail the course of legislation with respect to the system of Encomiendas, by which the Indians were assigned, under regulations constantly undergoing modification, to Spanish masters. But, considering that Mr. Helps's main object was to investigate the relations of the conquering and conquered races, we think he has hardly given emphasis enough for the majority of readers to the conclusions derivable from the facts he states. He overestimates the imaginative faculties possessed. by ordinary people, if he supposes that they can picture the condition of the Indians as it was in reality, from a bare statement of the abstract laws under which they were assigned, or even from the indications here and there given of the wretched results of those laws. It is the one defect of this volume which strikes us, that Mr. Helps should not have attempted to present the condition of the native populations more in the form of an imaginative picture than he has done. To some extent he has done this, but not so much as, considering his avowed object, we think he might have effected.
The two books on Nicaragua and Guatemala form admirable monographs on their respective subjects, and are at the same time integrally connected with the general story, natural episodes to the grand epic of Spanish conquest in America. The latter is especially interesting, from the successful attempt of Las Casas and the monks to convert the "Land of war" by peaceable means; the single instance in which the Indians seem to have been treated with real honesty and kindness by the Spaniards. This is ex actly the sort of gleam upon the moral landscape which kindles Mr. Helps's sympathy to its highest glow, and warms his style with a more than wonted fervour. Thus he moralizes the commencement of the enterprise.
"Behind all ostensible efforts of much novelty and magnitude, what silent longings and unutterable expectations lie unnoticed or concealed ! In the crowded theatre, or the cold impatient senate, the voice that is raised for the first time, perhaps for ever afterwards to command an absolute attention, trembles with an the sensibility of genius, whilegreat thoughts and vast as
pirations, hurrying together in the agitated mind, obstruct and confuse the
utterance. We pity with an intense sympathy the struggles of one who is about to be famous. Meanwhile, perhaps, in some dark corner or obscure passage, is the agonized and heart-sick mother, who can hardly think, or hope, or pray—convinced, as far as she is conscious of anything, that her
child ought to succeed, and must succeed, but suffering all the timid anxiety that mature years will ever bring, and with the keenest appreciation of every difficulty and drawback that can prevent success.
"It is a bold figure to illustrate the feeling.s of a monk by those of a mother ; but it may be doubted whether many mothers have suffered a keener agony of apprehensive expectation than Las Cases and his brethren endured at this an(f other similar points of their career. They had the fullest faith in God and the utmost reliance upon Him ; but they knew that Ile acts through secondary means, and how easily, they doubtless thought, might some failure in their own preparation—some unworthiness in themselves— some unfortunate conjunction of political affairs in the Indies—some dreadful wile of the Evil One—frustrate all their long enduring hopes. In an age when private and individual success is made too much of, and success for others too little, it may be difficult for many persons to imagine the intense interest with which these childless men looked forward to the realization of their great religious enterprise—the bringing of the Indians by peaceful means into the fold of Christ."
"The universal triumph of the Spaniards over the Indians is almost unintelligible except on the supposition that the latter were irrationally panic-stricken, or naturally a cowardly and inferior race. But in the following remarks upon the successful insurrection of the Cacique Enrique in Hispaniola, causes are assigned to which great weight is certainly due ; and we must not forget the peculiar condition internally of both Peru and Mexico at the time of the conquest, any more than the singularly exceptional characters of Cort,es and Pizarro, whose audacity was certainly as great as any of the greatest of their other qualities.
"Every thoughtful reader will be struck with the singular phenomenon of this Indian chief maintaining his position for so many years against the S paniards the numbers of the contending parties being so disproportionate. lYhen Hispaniola was first overrun by the Spaniards' their numbers amounted to three hundred, while the natives were to be counted by hundreds of thousands; and now, when there were four thousand Spaniards in the island and only two thousand Indians, a body of fugitives of about three hundred, who generally went together in parties of twelve or fifteen, sufficed to keep the Spanish inhabitants in a state of considerable apprehension, even in their towns. But the arms, and the dogs, and the education, were not now all on one side. Moreover, peace plenty, and large possessions, form the broad highway s of conquest ; and it is not difficult to see how a small band of marauders may devastate, and even subdue, vast and fertile provinces, where the inhabitants are absorbed in gainful pursuits, and where the practice of arms falls into desuetude. But this excuse must not be confined to the Spaniards or the White men only ; and it must be remembered who, when the great struggle in the Indies first began, were the rich and timid proprietors, and who the poor and brave adventurers in arms."
All readers of Spanish history are probably aware of the practice of taking what was called a " residencia " of judges and governors. The original use of the process was as a protection to suitors who were aggrieved ; and it was in fact a court of appeal, in which the conduct of judges and governors during the exercise of their functions could be impeached by aggrieved parties. It subsequently became one of the principal means by which the home administration exercised a check upon its colonial governors. The following remarks upon the practice seem to us very judicious.
"The merits and demerits of this practice of taking a reeidencia admit of much discussion and dispute. It can hardly be doubted that some of the enormous abuses which have grown up in the legal system of modern states could not have been maintained if the suffering suitors had, year after year, possessed such ready means for making thew wrongs known and felt as these residencies afforded. On the other hand, it must be remembered that the even hand of justice may be disturbed by fear as well as by fraud. There is an expression in one of the Spanish jurists which indicates the great objection to which residencias were liable on this head. He says that, during these visitations, the magistrates become timid (Los magistrades so acobardan). And this is but a small part of the danger ; for the cowardice in question, except in the case of very great or very just men, must have been preying upon them from their first entry into office. An apprehension of the weight of calumny to be let loose at some time or other in a residencia must have oppressed and scared them, like an evil phantom sitting by their sides on the seat of judgment, and must have made them apt to think of something else besides justice. The jurist before quoted declares, that in his experience good judges have run more risk than bad judges. A viceroy of Peru, who had doubtless suffered from one of these residentiary visits, compares it to one of the hurricanes known in the New World, which sweeps from the streets and market-places every kind of dust and dirt and refuse, and heaps it upon the devoted heads of those who have to endure the tempest. The good and brave man faced the hurricane, as became his honest consciousness of right, while the cunning, prudent men (` hijos del siglo,' the jurist calls them) were likely to have provided by wrongdoing some shifty covering for themselves.
"One great evil connected with the system of residencias was, that the judge who came to hold the resideneia was attended by a set of harpies, in the shape of clerks, who were prone to take gifts from suitors, and whose interest it was that the proceedings should be prolonged, and that there should be an abundance of writing. Something similar to this, however, is to be seen in all legal proceedings ; and a sound remedy for legal abuses will never be accomplished until it is made the interest of many obscure persons that lawsuits should be swiftly disposed of.
"In the Indies, delay, the natural friend and follower of law' grew to a great height. In the good old times, a residencia would have lasted thirty or fifty days. But there was one resideueia in the New World which dragged out a weary length of twenty years ; and another is recorded which never came to an end.
"It is clear, too, that these residencies must have been singularly subject to chance—to the enmity of the judges who came to take the residencia—to the particular events which had occurred in the colony just before the residencia was held—and to the favour or disfavour which the governor about to suffer resideneia was known to be held in at court."
We must make room for one more extract, peculiarly characteristic of the author of the many wise and nobly generous essays that bear Mr. Helps's name. It is on the history of a cause.
"The history of a cause seems much less interesting than that of one great man, or of a people ; but, could the historian really tell it, it would be the story of all stories, and would enchant a listening world. It seems to abide in dates, and public documents, and resolutions of public assemblies, —in short, in the material husk of events, and forms a narrative which even serious and dutiful readers are very glad to have passed over. Yet the most beautiful part of private life, the silent revolutions in men's souls, the most quiet heroism on earth, are all to be found twined together in one continued tory of a great cause. "Consider the growth of opinion in any one man's mind ; how crudely the opinion is formed at first in his thought; how he is affected by discussion with friends, by controversy with sincere opponents, by some remote analogy in present life or in past history ; how, strange to say, when his mind has apparently. been disengaged from the subject, he finds, all of a sudden, great growth or change of opinion has been going on in him, so that it seems as if he had been thinking while he had been sleeping. Then, if the mind of this man is of deep and fertile soil, how all the beautiful influences of literature, of natural scenery, of science, and of art, enlarge and modify the growing opinion—hardly now to be called by so small a name as an opinion, but a cause; how his thought is modified by chance remarks from his fellows, which were not meant to influence him—those remarks which tell so much upon most of us, because the moral we draw from them is all our own. "Imagine, too, that from some fitness of the season, as in great scientific discoveries, so in the breaking into light of a great cause, the same processes arc going on in many minds, and it seems as if they communicated with each other invisibly nay, we may imagine that all good powers aid this cause' and brave and wise thoughts about it float aloft in the atmosphere of thought, as downy seeds are borne over the fruitful face of the earth. And, if good powers do regard these things, imagine the pity and the sorrow with which they behold the right man taking the wrong aide, and the virtues of a man put into the scale of oppression and of cruelty. "Then consider how the ordinary motives and occurrences of his affect the growth of this great cause ; how it is lapped in the indolence of public and of private men, now strangled by cares, now overpowered by the loud noises of really unimportant events, now oppressed by a vicious conservatism, now fairly conquered by sophistry, so that, like soine great subterranean river, it is forced to descend into the soil, burying itself us the hearts of the few faithful, until, being a divine thing, it emerges clear and beautiful as ever, and unobservant men suppose that it has sprung up amongst, them for the first time.
"Soon it enters on a larger career ; is at one time furthered, at another hindered, by men's vanity ; partakes largely of love, of honour, and ambition ; enters into the intrigues of courts, of senates, of administrations ; is borne out in fleets and armies, and comes forth to conquer or to die."
Nor is the following sentence less characteristic of a writer who seems to feel public wrongs as acutely as most men feel private misfortunes, and to have as bitter a sense of the folly that prevents the world from wise government as most men have of the folly that mars individual happiness. He is speaking of the danger that would have grown upon Europe, had Charles the Fifth really carried out a certain very wise rule about the treatment of the Indians whioh would have maintained the prosperity of Spain and her colonies. "But," he goes on to say, "as the danger was to proceed from good government of distant colonies, and wise internal administration, (so seldom seen to be the true strength of states,) the world might well have felt seoure' even had it known of the salutary determination just adopted by tho Great Junta of Spain in reference to the government of the Indies.?'