« FöregåendeFortsätt »
indeed, been propagated for a long succession of ages; and till the Negro mind receives a new turn, till it becomes cultivated and called forth into action by some such benevolent stimulus as that which is now abroad generally, and especially such as is afforded it by the African Institution of our own country, (an establishment that ought never to be mentioned without reverence, the same obtuseness must necessarily continue, and, by a prolongation of the habit, may perhaps even increase. But let the man who would argue from this single fact, that the race of negroes must be necessarily an inferior species, distinct from all the rest of the world, compare the taste, the talents, the genius, the erudition, that have at different periods blazed forth in different individuals of this despised people, when placed under the fostering providence of kindness and cultivation, with his own, or those of the generality of his own countrymen, and let him blush for the mistake he has made, and the injury he has committed.
Freidig, of Vienna, was an excellent architect, and a capital performer on the violin; Hannibal was not only a colonel of artillery in the Russian service, but deeply skilled in the mathematical and physical sciences; so, too, was Lislet, of the Isle of France, who was in consequence made a member of the French Academy; and Arno, who was honoured with a diploma of doctor of philosophy by the university of Wirtemberg, in 1734. Let us add to these the names of Vasa, and Ignatius Sancho, whose taste and genius have enriched the polite literature of our own country: and, with such examples of negro powers before us, is it possible to do otherwise than adopt the very just observation of a very quaint orator, who has told us that the Negro, like the white man, is still God's image, although carved in ebony ?
“ Nor is it to a few casual individuals among the black tribes, appearing in distant countries, and at distant æras, that we have to look for the clearest proofs of human intelligence. At this moment, scattered like their own oases, their islands of beautiful verdure, over the eastern and western deserts of Africa, multitudes
of little principalities of negroes are still existing,-multitudes that have, of late years, been detected, and are still detecting, whose national virtues would do honour to the most polished states of Europe : while at Timbuctoo, stretching deepest towards the east of these principalities, from the western coast, we meet, if we may credit the accounts we have received, with one of the wealthiest, perhaps one of the most populous and best governed, cities in the world; its sovereign a Negro, its army Negroes, its people Negroes; a city which is the general mart for the commerce of Western Africa, and where trade and manufactures seem to be equally esteemed and protected."
“We know not the antiquity of this kingdom: but there can be no doubt of its having a just claim to a very high origin: and it is possible that, at the very period in which our own ancestors, as described by Julius Cæsar, were naked and smeared over with paint, or merely clothed with the skins of wild beasts, living in huts, and worshipping the misletoe, the black kingdom of Bam
* I follow Mr. Jackson's description, which is added to his “ Account of the Empire of Marocco," as by far the most circumstantial and authoritative we have hitherto received. According to him “the city is situated on a plain, surrounded by a sandy eminence, about twelve miles north of the Nile El Abeade, or Nile of the Blacks; and three days' journey (erhellat) from the confines of Sahara; about twelve miles in circumference, but without walls. The town of Kabra, situated on the banks of the river, is its commercial depôt or port. The king is the sovereign of Bambarra : the name of this potentate, in 1800, was Woolo: he is a black, and a native of the country he governs. His usual place of residence is Jiunie, though he has three palaces in Timbuctoo, which are said to contain an immense quantity of gold.”—The present military appointments are, it seems, entirely from the negroes of Bambarra : the inhabitants are also, for the most part, Negroes, who possess much of the Arab hospitality, and pride themselves in being attentive to strangers. By means of a water-carriage, east and west of Kabra, great facility is given to the trade of Timbuctoo, which is very extensive, as well in European as in Barbary manufactures. The various costumes, indeed, exhibited in the market-places and in the streets, sufficiently indicate this, each individual being habited in the dress of his respective country. There is a perfect toleration in matters of religion, except as to Jews. The police is extolled as surpassing any thing of the kind on this side the Desert : robberies and house-breaking are scarcely known. The government of the city is entrusted to a divan of twelve slemma, or magistrates; and the civil jurisprudence superintended by a learned cadi.
barra, of which Timbuctoo is the capital, was as completely established and flourishing as at the present moment.
“What has produced the difference we now behold? What has kept the Bambareens, like the Chinese, nearly in an invariable state for, perhaps, upwards of two thousand years, and has enabled the rude and painted Britons to become the first people of the world—the most renowned for arts and for arms—for the best virtues of the heart, and the best faculties of the understanding ? Not a difference in the colour of the skin ;-but, first, the peculiar favour of the Almighty; next, a political constitution, which was sighed for, and in some degree prefigured, by Plato and Tully, but regarded as a master-piece, beyond the power of human accomplishment: and, lastly, a fond and fostering cultivation of science, in every ramification and department.
“Amidst the uproar and ruin of the world around us, these are blessings which we still possess; and which we possess almost exclusively.* Let us prize them as they deserve; let us endeavour to be worthy of them. To the great benefit resulting from literature and mental cultivation, the age is, indeed, thoroughly awake; and it is consolatory to turn from the sickening scenes of the continent, and fix the eye in this point of view upon our native spot; to behold the ingenuous minds of multitudes labouring with the desire of useful knowledge; to contemplate the numerous temples that are rising all around us, devoted to taste, to genius, to learning, to the liberal arts; and to mark the generous confederacies by which they are supported and embellished.” Vol. ii. p. 113.
TRANSLATION OF THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.
Dr. Good's peculiar fondness for Hebrew literature, and for the noble specimens of the energy and sublimity of that language contained in the metrical and prophe
* The lecture was delivered in 1812.
tical books of scripture, induced him for several years to devote some part of almost every week to the study and translation of these favourite portions of the Old Testament. The result of his labours on “the Song of Songs” and “the Book of Job” are before the public. But much of his attention was also directed to the Prophecies of Ezekiel, Joel, Zechariah, to the Book of Ecclesiastes, &c. of striking passages in each of which he has left translations. During the years 1819, 1820, and 1821, notwithstanding the occupation of his time in his great works on Nosology and the Study of Medicine, he found leisure to complete a translation of the Book of Proverbs, to prepare a preliminary dissertation to that translation, and a great number of critical, theological, and illustrative notes. The manuscript copy of these, which is now before me, is in some respects incomplete, not having received the finishing touch of the author's hand. The notes would, doubtless, have been considerably modified, and the translation in a few respects a little changed, before he would have allowed them to meet the public eye. Imperfect, however, as the annotations are, they exhibit, like those in some of the author's previous works, an astonishing display of discursive illustration; his ardent mind delighting itself in gliding over the fields of ancient and modern literature, to collect treasures of wisdom, and apply them to the purposes of genuine elucidation.
The translation differs frequently from that of our authorized version; more frequently, however, in appearance than in reality. I observe, too, that in some essential particulars it differs greatly from Dr. Boothroyd's, the only other translation of thə Book of Pro
verbs, with which I have had an opportunity of comparing that of my deceased friend.
In his subdivisions of this inspired collection of aphorisms, Dr. Good, as will be seen, did not deviate much from the most judicious of preceding commentators. But his introductory dissertation contains several valuable remarks on the proverbial sayings of all nations generally, and on those of the Hebrews in particular. It comprehends, moreover, various specimens of the translation which it was intended to precede. I shall, therefore, insert a copious extract, which as it explains the author's view of the book itself, and exhibits his version of several passages, may in some respects conduce to the better understanding of this ancient section of the canonical scriptures.
“What was thus popular among all other parts of the east, was popular, also, and in all ages, among the Hebrews; from whom it is probable that the taste for moral adages was first derived : and in the book of Job they have handed down to us a full proof that the same taste prevailed in the antediluvian days, and a rich store of the moral sayings that were then in vogue. The speeches of the respective interlocutors in this extraordinary poem are in many instances ornamented with citations of this kind, and some of them are composed of whole strings of such citations; to the antiquity of which, and their probable existence before the flood, the speaker frequently appeals for the purpose of giving them a stronger claim to attention.
“ The same tendency to characterize or illustrate passing facts or events by well-known adages of great antiquity and veneration runs through all the books of the Old Testament, and is occasionally to be met