Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

|

propose to furnish a few interesting details respecting | made for the maintenance of their mollahs, or religious them as a nation: the only remark necessary to be doctors; but this neglect is common in Mohammedan offered, is that, for the safety and stability of the states. Their mollahs are supported by individual British dominions in India, it has been deemed advi- donation, by salary or occasional gifts, and sometimes sable by the British government in the east to lend by religious foundations. These mollahs form a united assistance to the Afghans in repelling the incursions body, called ulema, into which new members are of their invaders. admitted after a due course of study and strict examination. They are numerous, and often hesitate not to assert their rights by an appeal to arms; in which case they assemble in numbers often amounting to 3000; and although no match for the Afghan warriors in arms, yet they generally gain their point by their spiritual influence over the multitude.

Some writers refer the origin of the Afghans to the Israelites, some to the Egyptians; but the more general opinion is that they are derived from the Hun and Scythian tribes, who in former times were compelled, by migration or conquest, to seek a new abode; and who gradually settled in the mountain districts between Persia and Hindostan ; a country in which they were not likely to be molested, on account of the sterility of the soil and the coldness of the clime. They collected originally in toomans or clans, which continue to the present day. Many of their chiefs are celebrated in oriental history. In the tenth century, the north-eastern part of the empire was conquered by a Khorassan chief; but the Afghans themselves remained independent in their mountain fastnesses. The family of this chief held the king dom for two hundred years; but in 1159 the Afghans reconquered the country, and burned the capital of the usurper. They were afterwards attacked by Jenghis Khan, and the Mongol dynasty long occu= pied the plains, while the Afghans kept to the mountains. From 1405, after the death of Tamerlane, the Afghans enjoyed a long peace till 1506, when they were attacked by Baber. The plains of Afghanistan were as usual conquered; but the Afghans themselves remained secure, by again resorting to the mountains. In 1707 the Afghans became the assailants, conquered Persia, and founded an empire which endured but a brief space; for the celebrated Nadir Shah of Persia overthrew it, conquered the Afghans, and included their kingdom in his own. The and exploits of Nadir have been made the subject of an excellent historical novel, by Mr. Fraser, called the Kužžílbash. On the death of Nadir in 1747, an officer of the Afghan troop in the service of Persia, Ahmed Shah by name, returned to his own country, declared its independence, and founded the present monarchy. After the death of Ahmed the kingdom became a prey to internal dissension. Runjeet Singh seized several of its finest provinces, which he still retains, and defends by means of a large and well-disciplined army, under the management and direction of General Allard*.

The population of Afghanistan includes Afghans, Tartars, Belooches, and Persians, amounting in all to about eight millions; one half of which number, the Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone thinks, includes AFGHANS.

Although situated so near the Hindoos, the Afghans differ altogether from that people. Their features are harsh, and strongly marked. Their faces bronzed by the sun; their hair and beards long and uncut; their rude dresses of skins, all present striking differences between them and their Hindoo neighbours. The arts of life are less cultivated; the luxuries of Hindostan unknown; and justice is administered in a ruder and more primitive manner than among the Hindoos. But rough and unpolished as the Afghans may appear, they possess a proud martial spirit, a devoted attachment to their own wild liberty, a love of sobriety and of hospitality, and a general contempt for indolence and pleasure, which make them appear in a far more favourable light than the weak and treacherous Hindoos. The religion of the Afghans is strictly Mohammedan, but they tolerate other doctrines. No provision is See Saturday Magazine, before quoted.

The chiefs of the Afghan clans are not hereditary. Each chief, or khaun, is generally appointed by the king, but sometimes by the people. He is selected from the oldest family of the tribe, with a certain regard for age, character, and experience. The choice is often difficult, from the number of contending candidates, and generally not accomplished without bloodshed. The meetings of the ooloos, or tribes, are called jeergas: each khaun holds his own jeerga, formed from the principal branches of his clan. Most decisions receive the consent of the whole clan, unless in matters of sudden emergency, when the chief may at once decide. One principal object of these meetings is the administration of justice, founded upon a rude and simple code, and regulated by the Koran. This code is called pooshtoomvullee, the first principle of which is, that all crimes are to be regarded as injuries to the persons only who suffer by them; and the object of the law is either to obtain compensation for the injury to the injured, or to regulate the amount of retaliation on the part of the latter. It is deemed honourable for an individual to redress his wrongs by private revenge; but if he exceed the measure thereof, he is amenable to the state. Among some of the tribes, however, a more justifiable system is gaining ground.

Criminal trials are conducted before a jeerga, at which Mohammedan lawyers, called moollahs, are allowed to plead. The proceedings are opened with prayers: a Pooshtoo verse is then repeated, announcing that, although events are in the hands of Allah, man is allowed to deliberate. Since most crimes consist of acts of violence committed according to the allowed principle of revenge, the act is generally admitted. The jeerga has to decide upon its legality. There are certain grave forms, and a rude, but highly-admired species of eloquence practised, and Mr. Elphinstone says that the decisions are usually impartial, if not just. The mode of compensation is a very odd one; to understand which we must go into a few apparently irrelevant details.

Although polygamy is allowed, yet the females are not subjected to that seclusion which prevails in most Mohammedan states. Hence the female sex is not so much degraded in this country as elsewhere in the east. But to every woman is attached a certain marketable value; and although attachments between the sexes are frequent, yet no man is allowed to marry until he has earned the purchase-money of his mistress. To do this is often attended with delays and difficulties, which impart a romantic cast to the affair, and form the theme of many a wild Afghan tale and song. When a man is sentenced to penal infliction, his sentence is to deliver to the family of the complainant a certain number of young women, who become part and parcel of the property of the injured man, and may be sold as such by him. Twelve is the usual number of young women to be awarded in case of murder, six with portions, and six without; the usual portion amounting to between seven and

eight pounds sterling. For cutting off a hand, an ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE BIBLE FROM THE
ear, or a nose, six women; for breaking a tooth, three
for a wound in the head, one. If the complainant
consent, the defendant may pay the value of the
women in money or goods.

MONUMENTS OF ANTIQUITY. No. XX.
ALTARS AND INCENSE.

We have

THE altar of sacrifice was generally of a cubical
form among the Jews and Egyptians.
already given an engraving* of the form in which
testimony to the great extension of that mighty and
the bloody sacrifice was offered to the deity, bearing
important truth which Natural Religion could never
have discovered, "without shedding of blood, there
is no remission of sin." In this kind of sacrifice a
portion of the blood was necessarily sprinkled upon
the altar; it thus became hallowed, and we find that
it was used in the form of consecration prescribed
for the high priests under the Levitical law.

The Afghans are fond of robust sports and athletic

exercises. They are devotedly attached to hunting in all its forms; some of which are peculiar to themselves. One mode is, to form a large circle, and drive all the game up to a central point, where it is slain. The attum is a violent noisy dance, in which both sexes delight. Playing at marbles, hopping, jumping, &c., are favourite games; and as they delight in feasts and convivial enjoyments, they generally play for a feast, and the loser has to entertain the conqueror. They often pit cocks, quails, and other animals against each other, for a similar stake.

With all the wildness and turbulence of a young and free nation, the Afghans are nevertheless as active in mind as in body. They delight in stories and tales, especially the rude poetry of their warriorchiefs, which celebrates the exploits of the clan. The reading of poetry is a distinct occupation in many of the towns. They possess few works that are more than a century and a half old; and all of them are said to be imitations of the Persian writers. It happens unfortunately that the Afghans regard the Persians as heretics, and will not resort to Persian colleges and schools. Their own schools are numerous, and they teach the rudiments of oriental learning, which is widely diffused. Their language is peculiar: it is called pushtoo.

The Afghans venerate birth and long descent: no man is considered a true Afghan who cannot trace his origin through at least six generations. Hence every man is provided with a long list of ancestors, whose mighty deeds he dwells upon with great complacency. These people are devotedly attached to the pastoral life. One division dwells in houses; another in tents. They shrink from the exercise of trade and manual labour; and regard those who exercise it with contempt. The fixed habitations of the lower orders of Afghans are rudely built with unburnt bricks, and roofed with wood. The palaces of the higher orders are on the Persian model, though inferior: their chief ornaments are all Persian.

The Afghan costume is peculiar. It consists of close tunics, and wide mantles of sheepskin, or coarse woollen cloth, for the lower ranks, and velvet, silk, and fine shawl-cloth for the higher. Boots are everywhere worn; and it is considered as a mark of disrespect to their associates to appear without them. The dress of the ladies consists of jackets and pantaloons, both of velvet, silk, or shawl-cloth. Gold and silver ornaments, as well as precious stones, are not un

common.

Their food is simple, consisting chiefly of pilaus of mutton and broth: their drink is butter-milk or sherbet. They They also use tobacco. Fruit and vegetables are remarkably cheap among them; and in the absence of animal food, the consumption is great among the lower orders. When a sheep is slaughtered it is usual for its owner to make a feast among his neighbours and friends; and the guests are often valued in proportion to their story-telling abilities. The diet of the rich is chiefly an imitation of that of the Persian nobility, where the food, often ornamented with gold and silver leaf, is presented on trays of the same material.

In conclusion, we may observe that the Afghans are so named by the Persians. Their national name is ALKAI, and they will own no other. The Hindoos call them PATANS.

And thou shalt take of the blood that is upon the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon the garments of his sons with him: and he shall be hallowed, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons' garments with him. (Exod. xxix. 21.)

In the Levitical law we find that great importance is ascribed to the actual sprinkling of the blood upon the altar; for that law was designed constantly to remind the chosen people of the blood of that Great Atonement which was to be made once for all on Calvary, to expiate the sins of mankind.

The life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Lev. xvii. 11.)

The burnt offering, or holocaust, was different from the bloody sacrifice; it was not expiatory, but an act of homage or gratitude, as appears from the directions given at the consecration of Aaron.

Thou shalt also take one ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram. And thou shalt slay the ram, and thou shalt take his blood, and sprinkle it round about upon the altar. And thou shalt cut the ram in pieces, and wash the inwards of him, and his legs, and put them unto his pieces, and unto his head. And thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt offering unto the Lord: it is a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the Lord. (Exod. xxix. 15—18.)

The act of homage is clearly distinguished from the act of expiation, in the sacrifice prescribed for rulers who had been guilty of an involuntary crime.

When a ruler hath sinned, and done somewhat through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord his God concerning things which should not be done, and is guilty; or if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, come to his knowledge; he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a male without blemish: and he shall lay his hand upon the head of the goat, and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before the Lord: it is a sin offering. And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out his blood at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering. And he shall burn all his fat upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him. (Lev. iv. 22-26.)

It is of importance to observe that this distinction between the bloody sacrifice and the burnt offering which is so clearly made in the law revealed by Moses; and which so forcibly intimates that the former was the type of some future great and consummating sacrifice, is not found in the ritual of any heathen nation. In the contest between Elijah and the priests of Baal, the latter confounded the two together, for they shed their own blood round about the altar they had erected to their pretended deity, when they found that prayers were of no avail.

See Saturday Magazine, Vol. XIII., p. 149.

[graphic][merged small]

Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. (1 Kings xviii. 25-28.)

The altar of burnt offering differed in shape from the simple sacrificial altar; the latter, as we have seen, was of stone, unwrought by human hands, but the former was commanded by Moses to be made simply of earth.

An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. (Exod. xx. 24.)

The altar of burnt offerings erected by Solomon in the court of the temple was brasen, and of great capacity, but it was insufficient for the great sacrifice which was offered at the solemn dedication of the temple.

Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the Lord, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord. The same day did the king hallow the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord: for there he offered burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings: because the brasen altar that was before the Lord was too little to receive the burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings. (1 Kings viii. 63, 64.)

Differing in many respects from tnose we have described, was the altar of burnt offering, for the construction of which Moses gave the most precise and particular directions, because it was always to accompany the tabernacle.

And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be four square: and the height thereof shall be three cubits. And thou shalt make the horns of it upon the four corners thereof: his horns shall be of the same: and thou shalt overlay it with brass. And thou shalt make his pans to receive his ashes, and his shovels, and his basons, and his fleshhooks, and his fire-pans: all the vessels thereof thou shalt make of brass. And thou shalt make for it a grate of network of brass; and upon the net shalt thou make four brasen rings in the four corners thereof. And thou shalt put it under the compass of the altar beneath, that the net may be even to the midst of the altar. And thou shalt make staves for the altar, staves of shittim wood, and overlay

them with brass. And the staves shall be put into the rings, and the staves shall be upon the two sides of the altar, to bear it. Hollow with boards shalt thou make it: as it was showed thee in the mount, so shall they make it. (Exod. xxvii. 1-8.)

This altar was to be for the burnt offerings of the nation, but that of earth was probably permitted for the use of separate tribes and private families. Indeed, one of the most signal marks of the divine wisdom which dictated the law to Moses, is that he has made provision in his ritual not only for the nomade state of the Israelites, collected into one congregation while wandering in the desert; but also for the very different condition in which they would be when settled in the Promised Land. Utterly inconsistent as the two states of society are, we find that ample directions are given for both conditions of the Jewish polity; it is inconceivable that human reason could have sufficed to accomplish this double task, and we must therefore humbly recognise in it proofs of "the wisdom which cometh from above."

The altar of incense differed from the altar of

burnt offerings in its dimensions and its covering; it
was only one cubit in breadth, and two cubits in
height, and it was overlaid with pure gold instead of
brass. The inferior priests, and in some cases the
heads of families, were permitted to make sacrifices
and offerings, but among both the Egyptians and the
Jews, the privilege of burning incense was reserved
for priests of high rank. The Egyptian priests en-
gaged in this task are generally represented as wearing
a leopard's skin, to which, from various indications
culiar sanctity was attached.
on the monuments, we are led to conclude that pe-
However that may be,
it is perfectly clear from all the records, both pictorial
and historical, that greater importance belonged to
this solemn act of homage, the offering of incense,
than to any other function of the sacerdotal office.
It was on account of the reservation of this privilege
to Aaron, that Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, rebelled
against Moses, and accused him of claiming exclusive
sanctity for himself and his brother.

They rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: and they gathered themselves together. against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them; wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord? (Numbers xvi. 2, 3.)

Moses was struck with consternation at their im

piety, but he finally consented to the test which they had so madly demanded. He permitted them to perform the act of homage which had been expressly

1

I

reserved for Aaron, when the offering of incense was the course of the terrific pestilence which God sent first instituted. The rebellious princes readily ac- to punish the sins of the congregation. This fresh cepted the test, which, from their former familiarity attestation of Aaron's priesthood, and wondrous power with Egyptian customs, they knew to be a distin-granted to the incense as the distinctive cognizance of his sacerdotal office, was an act of omnipotent mercy, since it ever after prevented any attempt to usurp so sacred a function.

guishing characteristic of the priestly office. It is, indeed, sufficiently clear, from the manner in which Moses made the proposal to these men, so obstinately bent on their own destruction, that both he and they regarded the offering of incense to Jehovah, not only as the most honourable office which they could perform, but also as one which, when performed, would at once invest them with a sacerdotal character.

He spake unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, Even to-morrow the Lord will show who are his, and who is holy; and will cause him to come near unto him: even him whom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him. This do; Take you censers, Korah, and all his company; and put fire therein, and put incense in them before the Lord to-morrow: and it shall be that the man whom the Lord doth choose, he shall be holy. (Numbers xvi. 5-7.)

From this part of the narrative it is abundantly evident that the rebellion of Korah and his company was not simply an insurrection against Moses, but a direct act of treason against the Majesty of the Omnipotent. They not only insulted the vicegerent whom Jehovah had selected to lead his chosen people, but they attempted to destroy the entire constitution established amidst the thunderings and lightnings of Sinai, by overthrowing the hereditary priesthood of the sons of Levi. Their audacious efforts were not directed against an isolated part of the system of polity which God had appointed for the Israelites, but against the key-stone of the whole, which, once removed, would precipitate the entire edifice into ruins. It is necessary to take the full view of their crime, to calculate all its bearings and extent, in order to form any accurate notion of their daring impiety. Their fearful punishment need not be related: in the words of the Psalmist,—

The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram. And a fire was kindled in their company; the flame burned up the wicked. (Psalm cvi.

17, 18.)

But the importance of the function of offering incense was still further attested by the ordinance for commemorating this awful event, and perpetuating the remembrance of the dreadful punishment which had overtaken daring rebellion and audacious impiety. This commemoration is, indeed, one of the strongest attestations of the sanctity required for the performance of this act of homage.

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, that he take up the censers out of the burning, and scatter thou the fire yonder; for they are hallowed. The censers of these sinners against their own souls, let them make them broad plates for a covering of the altar: for they offered them before the Lord, therefore they are hallowed: and they shall be a sign unto the children of Israel. And Eleazar the priest took the brasen censers, wherewith they that were burnt had offered; and they were made broad plates for a covering of the altar: to be a memorial unto the children of Israel, that no stranger, which is not of the seed of Aaron, come near to offer incense before the Lord; that he be not as Korah, and as his company: as the Lord said to him by the hand of Moses. (Numbers xxvi. 36-40.)

But even the terrible visitation which they had witnessed was insufficient to quell the spirit of revolt which had spread through the rebellious congregation of Israel. The evil which Korah, Dathan, and Abiram had wrought, lived after them, and brought down new punishments. It is a singular confirmation of what we have previously stated, that the offering of incense on this second occasion was invested with even greater importance than before, for it arrested

Imagination cannot conceive a more awful scene than the one briefly and simply portrayed by the sacred historian, in Numbers xvi. 41-48. The mutinous congregation surrounding the chosen brothers, and threatening their lives;-the pause of mingled awe and terror when the cloud which announced the visible presence of Jehovah settled in its glorious radiance on the tabernacle of the congregation, the sudden and wasting pestilence which instantly struck down fourteen thousand seven hundred of the mutineers,—the trembling haste with which Aaron took fire from the altar and laid on incense, above all, his position when standing on the narrow line which severed the living from the dead, combine to render this one of the most fearfully impressive narratives in Scripture.

Not only was the offering of incense limited to particular persons, but the kind of incense which should be used, and the proportions of the ingredients in its composition, were distinctly specified. It should only be kindled by the sacred fire from the altar; Aaron's two sons, Nadab and Abihu, were destroyed for burning strange fires in their censers. Hence when Isaiah describes the Divine indignation against the national sins of Judah, he represents Jehovah declaring "incense is an abomination to me," for he could use no stronger expression to denote how far the transgressions of the Jews had removed them from the favour of their father and their God, than the rejection of those acts of homage to which the highest importance was given under the Mosaic dispensation.

Among the heathen nations generally, the offering of incense was not restricted to the priests, but it was always regarded as the most solemn act of homage which could be offered to a divinity. Hence in the early persecutions of the Christians, the most common trial to which the martyrs were subjected, was to require them to burn a few grains of incense on the altar of an idol; and the same test appears to have been used when the Syrian kings of the family of the Seleucidæ attempted to force idolatry on the Jews in the time of the Maccabees. But on both occasions there were multitudes found who refused to abjure their true and living faith, but sealed their testimony to the truth of that which they had believed, by their blood. Thus it may be said that there was not a single altar of antiquity on which incense was ever offered, that is not a monument illustrating the truths of the Bible, attesting the Divine origin of Christianity, and proving that it is the only religion which has decisively triumphed over death and the grave.

LET your desires and aversions to the common objects and occurrences in this life be but few and feeble. Make it your daily business to moderate your aversions and desires, and to govern them by reason. This will guard you against many a ruffle of spirit, both of anger and sorrow.WATTS.

If I were to choose the people with whom I would spend my hours of conversation, they should be certainly such as laboured no further than to make themselves readily and clearly apprehended, and would have patience and curiosity to understand me. To have good sense, and ability to express it, are the most essential and necessary qualities in companions. When thoughts rise in us fit to utter among familiar friends, there needs but very little care in clothing them.-STEELE

NEW SOUTH WALES.

DISCOVERY OF AUSTRALIA FELIX, OR THE HAPPY. MAJOR MITCHELL, the Surveyor-General of New South Wales, has recently published a highly-interesting account of discoveries made by him in the course of three journeys into the interior of that interesting country, undertaken by order of the government. The first was in 1831 and 1832, to the north-west, in search of a large river called the "Kindur," which had been described by a runaway convict, as existing in that direction, and by following which towards the S.W., the convict stated he had twice reached the sea. The information, however, turned out to be erroneous, and is supposed to have been a pure invention of the convict for his private ends. Major Mitchell penetrated to the Karaula River, (latitude about 29° S., longitude about 149° E.,) when he was obliged to return, owing to the hostility of the natives. The second expedition was undertaken in 1835, for the purpose of exploring the course of the river Darling, and was performed in a north-western and western direction, until the travellers reached the latitude of about 321 S., and longitude 142 E., when the molestations of the natives again made it advisable to retreat, having, however, followed the course of the river for several hundred miles, and obtained strong presumptive evidence of its junction with the Murray. The third expedition, in 1836, had for its object to trace the Darling into the Murray, and to return up the latter river, towards that part of the colony near Yass Plains. This last expedition was attended with highly-successful results; for although the natives again prevented Major Mitchell from obtaining ocular demonstration of the whole course of the arling, its junction with the Murray was sufficiently ascertained, as well as the junction of the Lachlan with the Murrumbidjee, and that of the latter with the Murray. But this was not all. Instead of returning along the Murray, Major Mitchell took a south-eastern course to the sea, and discovered on the confines of the South Australian province, a beautiful and fertile region, which he describes in terms of enthusiastic admiration, and to which he gave the name of Australia Felix, or the Happy. Having reached the sea between Capes Northumberland and Bridgewater, he returned to the colony by a new track, parallel to the coast, and within the range of mountains called the Austra Alps.

The present limits of the New South Wales territory extend coastwise from about the 32nd to the 34th degree of south latitude, with a breadth not exceeding 200 miles. The portion within which land might be selected was fixed, in 1829, at 34,535 square miles, or about 23,000,000 of acres, of which Major Mitchell states, only 4,400,000 acres have been found worth having, whilst the owners of this appropriated land have been obliged to send their cattle beyond the limits for the sake of pasturage. The soil is good only where trap, limestone, or granite rocks occur, but unfortunately sandstone predominates so much as to cover about six-sevenths of the whole surface of the territory, and there the soil is merely a barren sand,-without turf, and the trees subject to conflagrations, which leave behind them little vegetable matter. The want of water, and of moisture, render the country unfit for agriculture, and until a well-arranged system of roads can be effected, there will be serious impediments in the way of communication between the isolated spots of a better description.

The unproductiveness, upon the whole, of the present Colony, induces Major Mitchell to recommend its extension, together with the formation of additional lines of communication. He proposes that New South Wales should thus be made to reach northward to the tropic of Capricorn, westward to the 145th degree of east longitude, the southern portion having for boundaries the Darling, the Murray, and the sea-coast. Even, however, of this extended territory, one-fourth part only is stated to be available for pasturage or cultivation,-one-third consisting of desert plains, and the remainder of rocky mountains and impassable tracts. The largest portion of good land is, it seems, to be found to the southward of the Murray, which is better supplied with water, the mountains being higher, and the rocks more varied, with a vast extent of open grassy downs. In this quarter lies the region which, says Major Mitchell, "we traversed in two directions, with heavy carts, meeting no other obstruction than the softness of the rich soil; and in returning over flowery plains and green hills, fanned by the breezes of early spring, I named it Australia Felix, the better to distinguish it from the parched deserts of the interior, where we had wandered so unprofitably, and so long."

The boundaries of our author's paradise are not very precisely laid down, but it may be stated to lie between the 36th parallel of south latitude and the sea, and between the 141st and 145th degrees of east longitude. It is, consequently, close to the South Australian Province. It comprises an elevated range of hills, (the Grampians,) the height of which, at one point, was found to reach 4500 feet, from whence many small rivers radiate; and one large river, "the Glenelg," is navigable for a considerable distance, and would be a most valuable means of communication, if the sand which unfortunately at present chokes up its mouth could be removed, so as to effect a free passage into the sea. Lofty timber, some tracts of rich black soil, and in general very fine grassy plains, are among the recommendations of this fertile country.

How far it may be expedient to enlarge the New South Wales colony, as suggested by Major Mitchell, is a question on which opinions may differ; and it may be somewhat premature to consider the best mode of governing a future settlement to the south of the Murray, whilst the eligibility of that district for colonization has only just become known in England. But little doubt can be entertained that the stream of emigration must before long flow into a country so desirable in itself as Australia Felix, and so conveniently situated for profiting by the advancing civilization and prosperity of the South Australian province. Our only immediate anxiety is, that this fair portion of Australia should be preserved from the taint of a convict population; and although Major Mitchell lays so great stress upon the advantages arising from the employment of convicts on public works, he seems, from the tenour of his evidence before the Transportation Committee, to be fully aware of those serious objections on moral grounds, which ought at least to preclude the introduction of convicts into any new settlements. If the plan of the extension of the New South Wales territory were to depend in any degree upon the planting of convicts in new districts, that of itself would be a decisive reason against such a measure.

We subjoin some interesting extracts. The author speaks at times with enthusiasm, but not so much so as to lead us to suspect exaggeration; and his narrative, written at the time, is clear and intelligible throughout. Without an ardent spirit, who could undergo the toils and privations inseparable from such an undertaking?

A GARDEN AT PARAMATTA.

My first day's journey terminated at the residence of my friend, Mr. John Macarthur, near Paramatta. I was received by that gentleman with his usual hospitality, and although not in the enjoyment of the best health, he insisted on accompanying me over his extensive and beautiful garden, where he pointed out to my attention the first olive-tree ever planted in Australia. Here I also saw the cork-tree in full luxuriance-the caper-plant growing amidst rocks -the English oak-the horse-chestnut-broom-magnificent mulberry-trees of thirty-five years' growth, umbrageous and green. Beds of roses, in great variety, were spread around, and filled the air with fragrance, while the climbing species of that beautiful flower was equally pleasing to the eye. I observed convict Greeks (pirates)-"acti fatis"-at work in that garden of the antipodes, training the vines to trellises made after the fashion of those in the Peloponnesus. The state of the orange-trees, flourishing in the form of cones sixteen feet high, and loaded with fruit, was very remarkable, as they had risen from the roots of former trees, which having been reduced to bare poles by a drought of three years' duration, had been cut off, and were now succeeded by these vigorous products of more genial seasons. Mr. Macarthur assured me, that by adopting this plan, many fruit-trees, after suffering from the effects of long-continued drought, might be renovated successfully. The want of moisture in the climate of Australia, may occasionally compel the gardener to resort to such extreme measures for the preservation of his trees: but the orange has hitherto yielded a very profitable and constant return to those who have attended to its cultivation in this colony, The luxuriant growth of the apple and pear in a climate so dry and warm, is a remarkable fact; and when we consider the exuberance of the vine in the few spots where it has as yet been planted, the variety of soil and aspect still unbroken in these southern regions, may well justify the expectation that many a curious or luxurious wine, still unknown, may in time be produced there.

But the garden, to him who sees a home in distant colonies, must ever be an object of peculiar interest; for there

« EdellinenJatka »