« AnteriorContinuar »
ion as to the fallacy of what he calls his system, and what he speaks of as his discovery. In these I am firmly persuaded, not only that there is no merit, but that any attempt to act upon them must be attended with the most pernicious effects.
566 "The scheme to which the venerable names of William Allen and Elizabeth Fry are annexed, disclaims, I observe, all sanction of that system. There are not many names to which a good man would less hesitate to subjoin his name, without inquiry, in any plan of practical benevolence, and it is very likely that I may soon seek to honour myself by such an association; but there are reasons which must withhold me at present from pledging myself even to this slight support of any of Mr. Owen's suggestions, out of the sphere of his own manufactory.
"With every sense of the amiableness of the motives which have led you to take a casual opportunity of trying to do good, and of the honour you do me in every sense, I have the honour to be,
"Sir-Your obliged and faithful servant, F. JEFFERY." ""Tarbert, Sept. 2, 1821."
Disappointment appears to have taken an unpleasant effect on Fitzosborne, for he launches out in the next chapter against the whole community of Political Economists. He next treats us with an account of his heroic efforts to force the circulation of a work, by William Thompson, entitled "The Distribution of Wealth." There follows after this another elaborate chapter, ornamented with a splendid diagram illustrative of the Formation of the Human Character! We have then an account of what took place at the dinner given by his Grace the Duke of Wellington. to the old Ministry, on the promotion of Mr. Canning to the office of Prime Minister. In this chapter the author represents these members as having been engaged in the discussion of most of those principles to which his own chief attention had been dedicated; and we have speeches from nearly the whole of them, in which they declare their views without disguise.
The labours of his other colleagues next engage Fitzosborne's attention, and he affords no inconsiderable space to the proceedings of his friend Hampden. Both Fitzosborne and Hampden retire to Strathfieldsay, to observe the Duke of Wellington, and the company with which he associated; and here Hampden becomes intimate with a clergyman of the name of Bathurst, one of whose great attractions is, that he possesses a beautiful daughter. Hampden and Dr. Bathurst appear to have spent much of their time in the one striving to convert the other to his principles. Hampden, who was a sceptic, seemed however to have the greatest tendency of the two to give way, probably because his antagonist had a daughter by his side.
The third of the missionaries, Charles Bertrand, remains yet to be accounted for, and in being re-introduced into his presence, we find him with his hands quite full, having to deal with a customer of quite a new character. The stranger was no other than a Peruvian missionary, calling himself Vela, belonging, not to a
Christian, but to a native community, called the Children of the Sun, and settled in the most inaccessible part of South America, where their ancestors had remained since the expulsion of Pizarro. It will be seen that the Peruvian was not at a loss for spirit and resolution to give his reasons for the faith that was in him. "I am," he broke out, at the Missionary Society in London, "I am descended from the ancient Incas of Peru. After the treacherous Pizarro had imprisoned and cruelly put to death our king Atahualpa, the kingdom of Peru was torn by dissensions, the government destroyed, and no vestige of order remained. The people, accustomed to look up with reverence to their kings, and happy. under their paternal sway, could neither submit patiently to the yoke of the Spaniards, nor had they sufficient courage to resist. Their only safety was in flight. Nearly all the Children of the Sun were destroyed. One branch only of the imperial family was recognised by a small band of Peruvians by his dress, which he had contrived to conceal during their retreat to the mountains. His name was Pezeula. Nothing could exceed the joy with which the people hailed him, as if preserved by the interposition of the Great Spirit. He collected together his followers, about two hundred in number, and desired them to assemble on an eminence which he pointed out, on the following morning, before the break of day. They met him accordingly, and raised a temporary altar to the sun."
The little band proceeded under his direction, and after traversing mountains and valleys, crossing streams and rivers, enduring the most oppressive fatigues, Pezeula at last chose a spot where he resolved they should remain. It was situated on a summit, which commanded a most glorious prospect of a valley which extended beneath. It was of an oval form, and about twelve miles in circumference, surrounded by small mountains and hills, with an opening on the north and south, through which a river passed, winding through the valley. There was a remarkable variety of scenery on the hills and mountains, presenting a beautiful verdure even to their summits; others were covered with rock projecting through the luxuriant foliage of trees and shrubs; while on others were seen forests of dwarf trees, with so little underwood as to present agreeable walks. From some of the mountains descended cascades, displaying their rainbow hues, and giving animation to the scene. A few small birds poured forth the sweetest melody, and others delighted the eye with their crimson and golden plumage glittering in the sun. The little humming-bird, scarcely bigger than a butterfly, was skipping from spray to spray. The silence of this enchanting scene was interrupted only by the gurgling of a brook issuing from the foot of the hill from which they were descending, the failing of the more distant mountain streams, and the harmony of birds. The valley was covered with a verdure refreshing to the eye. On the brow of the hill the company pitched their tents;
and on the following morning, after they had assembled and paid their adoration to the sun, the Inca addressed them.
In this speech the Inca told them about the manner in which the temples and residences should be arranged. The laws and institutions," continued the Speaker, "handed down by the Chil dren of the Sun, having secured happiness to all before they were overthrown by the Christian barbarians from a distant country, shall be held inviolate, with the exception of some trifling ceremonies which experience has proved to be inconvenient to retain. You have seen with what insatiate desire the Christians amassed gold, and with what remorseless cruelty they deprived our lamented Atahualpa of life for the purpose of plundering his treasures. Let us, then, dispense with the use of gold and silver, and esteem no metal precious but such as ministers to our convenience. Warned by the examples of the jealous and unhappy Spaniards, let us banish every inordinate desire. Our labours will be lightened by the fertility of the soil, but still more by that mutual aid which will convert irksome toil into agreeable employment. Happy in the supply of our simple wants, this peaceful retreat will not be disturbed by rude invaders when our means of enjoyment are such as they know not how to appreciate and never could take from us when they found that we valued truth and virtue, and the altars of our forefathers, far above silver and gold."
Such was the story which Vela had to communicate to his astonished auditors, in addition to which he told them some infinitely more important news regarding himself. He was, in fact, the youngest of the three sons of the present Inca of the flourishing community to which he belonged, and though his father took the most careful precautions for keeping off all foreign communication, still he resolved to give his subjects the full benefit of the civilisations of other communities. For this purpose Vela and his elder brother were sent out of the small dominions of the father to travel in foreign countries, they were to make such observations on manners, customs, arts, sciences, &c., as might be introduced with success into their native country; and also they were not to forget, as a particular portion of their duties, to impart a knowledge of their own principles wherever they were required. I bent my course," says Vela, "towards Lima, where I had not arrived many days when I accidently fell in with a missionary from England, who displayed an extraordinary zeal in propagating a knowledge of the Christian religion, and who, finding my education superior to the natives in that part of South America, redoubled his efforts to bring me over to the faithful. He informed me that he belonged to a peculiar sect of Christians called Baptists, who objected to the baptizing young children, and deferred the ceremony until they had arrived at the age of puberty;-but I could not understand its utility. He was particularly inquisitive as to the country whence I came, and the character of the people
among whom I dwelt; but I resisted his importunities, for the Inca had strictly enjoined his sons not to divulge the place of their retreat before they had crossed the seas. The missionary first began by teaching me the English language. With close application, and by frequenting the society he introduced me to, I was soon enabled to read your most popular works. He urged upon my attention the doctrines of his church; but when I contrasted the conduct of the English with that of the Children of the Sun, and remarked upon the superior happiness enjoyed by the latter, I felt in my turn an anxious desire to impart to them the admirable precepts of our Incas. The missionary told me I was not to judge of his religion by the conduct of the people at Lima, for they came chiefly in pursuit of riches; but that if T would visit England, I should find those whose characters and professions agreed, and would command admiration. I saw it was absolutely necessary to acquire great proficiency in the language, and I continued some time with the missionary, whose own conduct was most exemplary. After I had quitted his house, I spent several months in the different towns in the neighbourhood of Lima, and obtained access to several private collections of English books, the existence of which was generally known. At Lima and the adjacent countries I dwelt about twelve months. I promised him I would go to England, at the same time declaring my intention of making proselytes, The conduct of the people who navigated the vessel, as well as that of the inhabitants where we landed, was no better than at Lima; and I have endeavoured to pursuade many that the religion of the Incas was the most efficacious, divested as it now is of any mysteries."
* Bertrand talked frequently with Vela, and became his Cicerone in conducting him over the lions of London. The conversations which are related as having passed between them are singularly curious. Having accompanied Vela to St. Paul's, Bertrand did not exactly understand the way in which he could easily account for what Vela deemed nothing short of a prodigy; for it was just about the hour of church-time, and the Peruvian could hardly believe his eyes when he saw, in a small corner of the magnificentedifice, the whole congregation absolutely inferior in number to the officiating ministers. They next proceeded to Newgate, where they were so fortunate as to arrive in time to see and hear Mrs. Fry. The foreigner readily acknowledged that he had witnessed an extraordinery and affecting scene; and this condescension appeared to give some hope to Bertrand, and he ventured to ask him, "What think you of a religion that has produced such a character as Mrs. Fry?" "Ask me rather," rejoined the Peruvian, "what I think of a religion that consigns so many of the inhabitants of this country to punishment and loathsome dungeons? All must admire the noble exception which this female presents to the character of your people in general. Never could I have con
ceived that such a disgraceful scene would have been found in Europe. You should adopt the law of the Chinese, who punish the Mandarine for the offences committed in his department, and at the same time allow them a participation in the glory of the good actions that are performed for the virtues and vices of a people are the necessary effects of a good or bad legislation."
When Vela was afterwards induced to witness an execution at the Old Bailey, the best observation which emanated from him was the following-" Were I the Inca of your country, I would insist upon the attendance of all the nobles at a few executions; they would not then long continue deaf to the cries of humanity.' Fitzosborne now returns to Hampshire for the purpose of reminding us of what Hampden is doing with Dr. Bathurst, and it is with no small pleasure he informs us that this colleague, in the meantime by an unexpected death, came in for a peerage, with the appendages of an extensive rent-roll, which however made not the smallest change in his resolutions. He came to London and joined the exertions of Bertrand, who had now induced the Peruvian to share in some select portion of his labours. It chanced that on his arrival the two persons first mentioned were deeply engaged in establishing a model infant-school, and he promised them his assistance. Hampden had at the time, as a distant relation, a Countess of somewhat remarkable, but by no means of singular habits. She was separated from her husband; and her favourite amusement, in the solitude to which she confined herself, was to caress her dogs and feed her parrots, of which animals she kept a vast number. She was known to entertain a strong prejudice against facilitating education to the poorer classes, but Hampden determined to make her give something for the model school. According to an appointment made by him, Bertrand and Vela paid a visit to the Countess on a particular day to explain the nature of the new institution. When they entered they found her fondling a parrot, but with tears also in her eyes, which turned out to be excited by the apprehensions which she had that one of her favourite poodle-dogs was going to die. The gentlemen had not been long in the drawing-room when a servant entered with an elegant basket, with open lattice-work, through which could be seen a light-blue silk lining: the basket was fastened with a silver-lock, and the servant said that it was ordered to be delivered to the Countess herself, with the key. We shall anticipate the author, and state that a beautiful infant was in the basket; a letter was also handed to the Countess which she was required to read first. This epistle is quite a curiosity, as under the pretence of describing a new sort of animal, worthy the curiosity of such a naturalist as the Countess, it gave an admirable burlesque of the treatment of the poorer classes-being a still further supply of grist to Fitzosborne's eternal mill for grinding