« ElőzőTovább »
plants is almost intolerable, and all who have visited our factories there, ascribe the unwholesomeness of the voyage up the stream, to the vegetable vapour. The beauty of the landscape is the only advantage which these inundations produce. A spacious glassy river, with banks here and there fringed to the very surface by the mangrove tree, that grows down into the water, presents itself to view ; lofty forests of various colours, with openings between, carpeted with green plants, and the most gaudy flowers; animals of various kinds, that stand upon the banks of the river, and, with a sort of wild curiosity, survey the mariners as they pass, contribute to heighten the scene. This is the sketch of an African prospect, which delights the eye, even while it destroys the health.
XIII.-SUNRISE IN THE ANDES. - DESCRIPTION OF
I was on my journey to La Paz a full hour before daybreak, and had an opportunity of beholding at sunrise a scene of magnificence scarcely to be surpassed in the world. High in the blue crystal vault, and immediately before me, as I rode thoughtlessly along, I perceived a brilliant streak, dazzling to look at, and wonderfully contrasted with the shades of night, which still lingered upon the world beneath ; for to us the sun had not yet risen, though the sombre profiles of the nearest cordilleras might be distinctly traced through the departing gloom. Imperceptibly the golden effulgence, blended with a field of white, glistening in vestal purity, and expanding downwards, gradually assumed the appearance of a pyramid of silver of immeasurable base. I stopped in mute amazement, doubtful of what I beheld. Day gently broke, and the tops of distant mountains glittered in the early beams. The sun then rose, or rather rushed, upon the silent world, in a full blazing flood of morning splendour; and at the same moment, the stupendous Illimani, the giant of the Andes, in all the pomp of mountain majesty, burst upon my view. My first feeling was a sense of delight, with an expansion of soul producing positive rapture. Never before did I feel myself endowed with equal energy, or experience such an elevation of sentiment. Never did I feel myself less, so quickly did that sentiment subside into devout rapture. Admiration, reverence, and awe, with a consciousness of human inferiority, were the mingled feelings of my heart, in contemplating this terrestrial manifestation of the glory of God. Here, I exclaimed with fervour, here do I behold the sublime and beautiful exhibited in the great page of nature, by the omnipotence of nature's God. I could scarcely convince myself, that the majestic object, whose solitary grandeur I was contemplating, and which seemed so close upon me, was in reality thirty miles distant.
La Paz is, in respect of situation, one of the most remarkable towns in South America. It lies in a ravine, so deep, narrow, and steep, that it is quite concealed from the view of the traveller, till he suddenly arrives on the very brink of a rugged declivity, without well knowing how he is to descend to a town so close below him, that he fancies he could throw a stone into it from the height where he stands. Suppose yourself travelling along a high table-land, bounded by a huge mountainous rampart, in which towers one of the grandest mountains on the globe, the majestic Illimani. These mountains appear to rise out of the plain on which you are riding, and your expectation is that you must actually arrive at them, for no obstacle is to be seen between you and them. Whilst you are musing how you are to turn or ascend these fearful heights, you arrive unexpectedly at the edge of the plain, and behold a vast gulf at your feet, in the bottom of which appears a town very regularly built, and in which the red-tiled roofs and white fronts of the larger houses contrast strangely with the dingy mud walls of the Indian huts. Through this fairy town may be faintly seen, winding with occasional interruptions, a silver thread, marked with specks of frothy white, which, upon approaching, proves to be a mountain torrent, leaping from rock to rock, and sweeping through the valley. Casting your eye farther round, you perceive squares and patches of every shade of green and yellow, which to a European is perhaps the most striking part of this interesting scene. Corn, and fruit, and vegetables, and crops of every kind, may be seen in all their stages, from the act of sowing to that of gathering in-here a field of barley luxuriantly greenthere another in full maturity, which the Indians are busily reaping next to it a crop just above groundbeyond this a man guiding a pair of oxen yoked to a shapeless stick, the point of which scratches the earth sufficiently for the reception of the seed, which another man is scattering in the furrows—whilst trees, bearing fruit, and at the same time putting forth buds and blossoms, complete the scene of luxuriance. In this charming landscape are seen in reality the beauties of eternal spring. Yet
you have only to raise your eyes from the lap of this fruitful Eden to behold the widest contrast in the realms of nature. Naked and arid rocks rise in mural precipices around; high above these, mountains frown in all the bleakness of sterility; higher still, the tops of others, reposing in the region of eternal snow, glistening with dazzling splendour in the rays of a tropical sun. After a descent of three miles, you reach the bottom of the ravine, and instead of finding La Paz built on a flat, as you supposed when gazing on it from the summit overhanging the abyss, you find it built on hills, with some of its streets extremely steep. . Upon looking up, you behold the huge condor, with his broad expanded wings, soaring over the gulf in which stande this singular place, which, deeply engulfed as it seems, and really is, is still 12,000 feet above the level of the
The torrent which waters the ravine, is a head branch of the mighty Beni, or main stream of the Maranon; and in falls of rain, forces along huge masses of rock, with large grains of gold, a metal in which the district abounds. La Paz is a place of considerable trade; it is said to contain 20,000 inhabitants, and the streets are more crowded than those of perhaps any other town in South America. Merchandise from the Pacific is conveyed hither, whence it is carried by merchants to the towns and villages of the interior.
BELL'S GEOGRAPHY.- Abridged.
I.- EARLY LIFE OF ROBERT BRUCE.
ROBERT BRUCE, the young Earl of Carrick, grandson of that Bruce who had been competitor with Baliol for the crown of Scotland, had a difficult part to act in the struggles of his native country. We find him sometimes joining Wallace in defending the liberties of Scotland, at other times acting the part of a cautious neutral, and at other times arrayed by the side of Edward the oppressor of his country. But these changes may be imputed as much to the difficulties of his situation, as to the versatility of his temper His father held large estates in England, whilst he himself possessed in Scotland the rich domains of Annandale, and the earldom of Carrick. This was too great a stake to be lightly thrown away; and how anxious soever for the liberties of his country, it was also natural that he should wish to preserve his patrimony. Besides, the success of any party headed by Comyn, could not but prove destructive to Bruce's claims to the throne; and therefore he did not scruple to join the banner of England for the purpose of crushing his rival. When Baliol in 1296 resigned his kingdom, and placed his son Edward as a hostage in the hands of the English monarch, John, called the Red Comyn, son of Baliol's sister Marjory, who had married the Earl of Buchan, was by many regarded as next heir to the crown; whilst young Bruce, in right of his grandfather, who had been Baliol's competitor, never lost sight of his own pretensions to the same high dignity. In a personal conference with Comyn, Bruce said, “We both of us lay claim to the crown, but it is certain we cannot both of us be king. Do you then give up your family estates to me, and I will aid
with all my force in the recovery of the throne ; or do you
accept of my family estates upon condition of supporting my claim to the crown.” Comyn professed to accept the latter alternative, and immediately betrayed Bruce's designs to the English King.
Edward, you are aware, considered Scotland at this time as his own. His armies had overrun its soil, and were now in garrison in its towns and castles. English judges administered justice throughout the land, and many of the Scottish nobles were in regular attendance on the English court. Unsuspicious of Comyn's treachery, Bruce had returned to London, when he was warned of his danger by the Earl of Gloucester, who, not daring to write to him, sent him a purse and a pair of spurs. Bruce taking the hint, instantly quitted London for Scotland, and in five days reached his castle of Lochmaben, in Dumfriesshire. This was in February 1306, and the English judges were then holding their assizes in Dumfries. At this court his duty as a crown vassal required his attendance; and Bruce, not yet prepared for an open rupture with the English monarch, accordingly repaired to the county town, where he found. Comyn, whom the same duty, as being also a freeholder within the county, had brought to the same place. Bruce invited his rival to a private interview within the monastery of the Franciscans. As their followers stood outside the convent, and no one was present at the interview, it is not known what passed between them. All we know for certain, is, that they had scarcely met when a quarrel ensued, and Bruce stabbed Comyn with his dagger. As he rushed from the convent, calling for a horse, two of his friends who had stood at the door, inquired what had happened, when Bruce, mounting his horse, said, “I doubt I have slain the Comyn.” “Is that a matter," replied Kirkpatrick,“ to leave to doubt? I will make sure.” So saying, he entered the convent, and dispatched the wounded baron.
This deed of blood cut off all hopes of Bruce's reconciliation with Edward, who was now apprized of his designs, and enraged, moreover, by the murder of a nobleman, who, by betraying Bruce's schemes of revolt, had so recently given a proof of his fidelity to the Eng