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company during three successive months. He came almost every day to my house; and I often visited him at a Mr. Rose’s, a French merchant, where he lodged. As I visited Egypt principally with a view of penetrating into Abyssinia myself, I was, of course, very inquisitive about that country; and this soon caused an intimate acquaintance between us. 1 therefore had sufficient opportunity to investigate his character; which I do not conceive was such as would allow of his advancing an unfounded falsehood. He had, moreover, too much good sense not to know, that in process of time, he might be detected by some future traveller; and besides that, his Greek servant, Michael, who followed him in all his travels, whom I knew for at least ten years afterwards, and with whom I had dealings in a mercantile way, might have contradicted any thing which was absolutely false. Of this Mr. Bruce must have been well aWare. I by no means defend Mr. Bruce in every thing. He had a great share of vanity, which often urged him to colour his narrative too highly. He is not always accurate in mentioning distances, bearings, &c. and by such negligences, he exposes himself to the lash of criticism. He may also be chargeable with other minor faults, from which scarcely any person is exempt; but I can never bring myself to suspect his integrity. When I found in your valuable publication the same feelings on this subject, as my own, I immediately resolved to transmit some observations on it, to you; but not having had, till lately, an opportunity of examining Mr. Salt’s Narrative in lord Valentia’s publication, myself, I have been under the necessity of delaying my communication. . It appears to me that Mr. Salt en tered on his journey with a mind prejudiced against Mr. Bruce, and determined to find fault with him wherever he could. Times and cir
cumstances alter many things, particularly with regard to persons, in the course of thirty five years; the period which elapsed between the travels of Mr. Bruce and those of Mr. Salt, into Abyssina. It cannot, therefore, be wondered at, that lord Valentia’s reception at Dahalack, Massua, and Arkeko, differed from that of Mr. Bruce, who, moreover, had not the advantage of an English ship of war, or of any number of men, besides his own servants, for his protection. The dispositions of all those, more than half barbarous easterns, is such, that whenever they perceive that a person makes inquiries about another, against whom he is prejudiced (which they discover quickly) then they frame such answers as they think will best agree with his Purposes without any regard to simple truth. Thus Mr. Salt was told that Mr. Bruce had never been in any battle; that the battle of Serbraxos was fought two years before he entered Abyssinia; that Mr. Bruce never had any office; nor was any territory given to him. Now, with regard to the first particular, I think I can bring a positive proof to the contrary. Mr. Bruce repeatedly showed me a wound in his arm by a spear, received in one of the battles at Serbraxos; and it was still troublesome, from not having been rightly cured; it even sometimes opened again and discharged matter. With regard to the other assertions, I have no other evidence than the statements of Mr. B. these, however, I think, are entitled to more credit, than the loose hints partly gathered, and partly forced out, from some of the natives. A striking instance of such a forced answer was that given to lord Valentia (not less prejudiced against Mr. Bruce, than Mr. Salt was) by Mr. Carlo Rossetti, from whom, as a European, one would have expect
ed more regard to fact. Lord Valen
tia, on his return through Egypt, [Vide vol. III, page 399, and 400] asked Mr. Carlo Rossetti, of whose abilities he seems to have formed a much higher idea than they deserve, if he knew Mr. Bruce : To which he replied: “He had known him very well, while on his way to the Red Sea; that he had accompanied him in his canja” to Cairo, and had been constantly with him during his residence there; that he had therefore begun to read his book, as soon as he received it, but had never finished it, from finding so many misstatements respecting Ali Beg, all the adventures with whom, were to his knowledge, romances. You may know,” said he, “that Bruce never saw Ali Beg, by the description he gives of the diamonds in his turban; every one will inform you, that no Mameluke ever wore any jewels there; it is contrary to their custom.” “Rossetti was in Italy when Bruce returned; and saw him, as he says, at Venice. He and another gentleman were shown the drawings made in Egypt and Abyssinia; but the latter observed that they were made in the Italian manner, which so extremely offended Bruce, that he refused to exhibit any more.”
From the beginning of the year 1770, to the beginning of 1782, I resided at Cairo, consequently full twelve years; during which period I never remember Mr. Carlo Rossetti to have been out of Egypt, except once, when he went to Cyprus, to settle his accounts with the family of Mr. Zambetti, a deceased partner of his, in trade. But though it be possible that my memory should fail me in this particular, yet I cannot be mistaken in another, viz. that Mr. Bruce never was in Italy at the same time as Mr. Rossetti was there. It is well known, that Mr. Bruce, after his return, staid about three months in Cairo; and then he
embarked at Alexandria for Mars seilles; where he performed quarantine, and from thence he hastened home by way of Paris. How, therefore, could Mr. Rossetti have seen him and his drawings at Venice 3 Mr. Rossetti is no great scholar
or reader. He got in favour with Ali Beg not long before I came into the country, by advancing him money when in distress; and from that incident arose the good will of Ali Beg towards Europeans, which ultimately proved very detrimental to the few French houses at Cairo. For though Rossetti (favoured as the chief provider of goods for Ali Beg) found means to reimburse himself, yet the French merchants were, through him, drawn in, so that they were induced to advance goods on credit te Ali Beg, a thing never done before; by which, at the death of the latter, they lost upwards 100,000 German crowns. Any person but Rossetti might easily have foreseen this calamity. Had Rossetti been a man of penetration, he would not have sent his own brother, Balthasar, to Gedda, to establish a mercantile house there, the moment he heard that Ali Beg's troops, under Mahamed Beg, had entered Mecca, where he deposed the old Sherrife, and appointed Hassan Beg, governour of Gedda. Very little reflection was necessary to foresee, that this state of things could not last long; and so it proved. The news of Mahamed Beg’s success arrived September 12, 1770, and October 15, Mr. Balthasar Rossetti set off for Gedda. He advanced no farther than Suez, where he met Hassan Beg returning in great haste, with fifteen of his men only, having been driven from Gedda by the old Sherrife, who returned as soon as Mahamed Beg had retired, and reestablished every thing on the old
* This could not have been strictly true, no European at that period being allowed to possess any vessel upon the river. Nor could he be always about or with him during his stay, for Mr. Bruce then also lodged at Mr. Rose's, where Mr. Rossetti could only
see him occasionally.
footing. I can, therefore, look upon Mr. Carlo Rossetti in no other light than that of a lucky adventurer. Lord Valentia’s work, and Mr. Salt's narrative contain many instances of mis-statements; particularly in those passages, where the veracity of Mr. Bruce is attacked. I will notice a few only. 1. Vol. II. page 487, Mr. Salt, contradicting Mr. Bruce, makes very light of the difficulties of the ascent of the mountain Taranta. Yet in vol. III, page 12, where he speaks of another rugged and very steep hill, he employs those difficulties as an object of comparison, saying: “In steepness and ruggedness this hill may be comflared to Taranta; though its height is considerably inferiour.” Page 70, speaking again of another very rough hill, he says: “The descent hence is extremely steep, and so much incommoded with loose stones, that we were obliged to dismount from our mules; and, before we reached the bottom, had reason to exclaim, that it was as bad as the descent of Taranta.” 2. Page 159, Mr. Salt calls Mr. Bruce impudent enough to say, that “ the Abyssinians eat raw flesh stripped from the living animal.” To me it does not appear to be a decisive proof that this is never done—that Mr. Salt did not see it at Antalow. It may be done by rustick soldiers, in the provinces, or by epicures at the court of Gondar. There are frequent hints in Mr. Salt's Narrative, which show, that they cannot get it too fresh, and those help to establish Mr. Bruce's statement. Vide page 119, where it is said: “In the present instance the skin was only partly taken off, and a favourite slice of flesh was brought immediately to table, the muscles of which continued to quiver, till the whole was devoured.” Mr. Salt likewise says: “The gross and disgusting scenes which Mr. Bruce describes as following a brinde feast, I firmly believe existed only in his own imagination.” Vide
page 158. Yet the repeated mention by Mr. Salt, of the free and often indecent behaviour, and drunken revels of the Abyssinian ladies and gentlemen, would lead us to suspect, that Mr. Bruce’s account may be too true. [Vide pages 27, 52, 71, 102, 103, 150, and 151; as also page 124, which contains captain Rudland’s report of a feast.] The inference is undeniable that modesty and chastity are not to be reckoned among Abyssinian virtues. Page 207, Mr. Salt says: “We spent the evening in the true Gondar style: the conversation being extremely free.” 3. Page 209. Among other answers received from Hadgee Hamet, to questions asked concerning Mr. Bruce, he says: “He did not well understand Amharick, or Tigré, and did not speak much more Arabick than I [Mr. Salt] do.” Now, with regard to Amharick, I heard him speak it, in the house of Mr. JPini, with a very respectable Armenian, who had known him in Abyssinia, from whence he was just returned. This Armenian said that he spoke Amharick “very well.” With respect to Arabick, I myself was able to judge. He spoke it fluently, through in the Mecca dialect; which differs in a few instances from that spoken at Cairo. He certainly had had opportunities enough to become acquainted with that language, before he went to Abyssinia; for he had been consul at Algiers; he had visited other parts of Barbary; he then travelled in Syria as far as Palmyra; and afterwards through many parts of Egypt and Arabia, till he arrived at Massua. That there should be inaccuracies in Mr. Bruce's description of the antiquities and ruins at Axum, cannot be a subject of surprise. Mr. Bruce had not the protection of a Ras of Tigré; the fear of whom made every one, even the priests, who are not at all well inclined towards Europeans, subservient to Mr. Salt's views. Mr. Bruce traversed that part of the country like a bird of passage, in continual danger from the natives, whose disposition Mr. Salt does not extol [page 99] where he says: “ The lower class of the inhabitants of Axum, seem to be more rude to strangers, and less under authority, than any we observed during our excursion; so that it was not easy to prevent the occurrence of a serious dispute.” Mr. Salt was, through the protection of the Ras's people, enabled to examine the ruins at leisure; he was twice there, and yet he had to correct some things at his second visit. Now, though Mr. Bruce may have been obliged to supply the defects of his hasty sketches of those ruins, which he saw en fiassant only, from hearsay, I think he is entitled to more candour and lenity than Mr. Salt has granted him. Though the latter cannot conceal his constant endeavour to find out something to the prejudice of Mr. Bruce's character; yet he is ready enough to quote his authority when it suits his purpose. Neither is this eagerness to detect errour, the less uncandid, even if it should be proved hereafter that Mr. Bruce was much to blame, for colouring too highly, events in which he was personally concerned; neither is it by any means the less censurable. Mr. Salt left Dixan, which is the first town in Abyssinia, August 14, 1805, and rcturned to the same
place October 31, in the same year, consequently he can only be said to have spent about eleven weeks, travelling included, in one of the frontier provinces of Abyssinia. For some time after his arrival at Antalow he was little better than a prisoner, being totally unable to converse without an interpreter. On the contrary, Mr. Bruce came to Dixan November 22, 1769; and January 17, 1772, he left Sancoho, a frontier town of Abyssinia, on his way to Sennaar. It appears, therefore, that he was full three years in the interiour of that country; and he could converse, at least in Arabick immediately as he entered it. During that time he travelled through many parts; associated with a great variety of persons; was much at court; and had time enough to become acquainted with the manners of the people.
Considering all this, I think the publick will do well to suspend its judgment concerning Mr. Bruce's veracity, till some other unbiassed witness, or even Mr. Salt himself, by a longer residence and further investigation, has been able to gather more ample information than was practicable in so short a time, and under such circumstances as attended his first visit.
I am, Sir, Your most obedient humble servant, : JOHN ANTES.
Bristol, Feb. 6, 1810.
To the Editor of the JMonthly Magazine.
SIR; IN reply to a query in the magazine for September, whether the sun-flower “follows the course of the sun in the day, and in the night time (the stalk untwisting) returns to the east to face the sun next morning,” I beg leave to observe that I believe it to be groundless; having a number of very fine flowers growing in an open garden, not in the least influenced by any surrounding walls or building. They have the finest possible heads of numerous flowers, growing to face all quarters; but my principal attention has been paid to the main flower, and I find it always remains in the situation it first blows in, either north, east, south, or west. Some of the stalks appear twisted, which I consider to arise from the great weight of the head when in full seed; though, while making these remarks, a friend of mine asserted, he had observed the flower changed
its position; but he is the only person I ever heard to believe it whilst I have many observers with myself to the contrary.
Also in observation on chalk becoming flint by a natural process. Whilst in Bedfordshire, this was the subject of conversation; and it was asserted to me as a fact, that on the chalky hills in the neighbourhood of Dunstable, chalk actually became flint, though to the observers by an unknown process and that after removing these flints, yet the fresh chalk replaced the usual guantity of flints, and that this would be the case ad infinitum; by what inherent chymical property in the chalk, aided by the atmosphere, remains to be solved by a more learned person than myself. An insertion of the above in the Monthly Magazine, will oblige a constant reader.
William Julius Mickle, the undoubted author of the song—“There's nae luck about the House.” \
To the Editor of the Universal Magazine.
TO the pages of your miscellany I would confide the following circumstances, respecting the true author of a beautiful ballad, much known, and much admired. I do not think that it will be needful to enter into any prefatory detail, as Mr. Mudford’s letter to me, with my reply, and the accompanying copy of the song, will fully enable your readers to comprehend the cause and the nature of the inquiry which has been instituted, and which, I rejoice to say, has terminated in establishing the claim of my much respected friend, Mr. Mickle, to his own hoIJOlll’S.
I remain, Sir,
Pentonville, Msiril 14, 1810.
Copy of a letter from Mr. Mudford to the Rev. John Sim, A. B. . SIR, THE purport of this letter will, I hope, excuse the liberty I take in addressing you. In your edition of Mr. Mickle's works, you have inserted, at p. 121, the song of “There’s nae luck about the house,” as the production of Mickle; and you have distinguished eight lines as the production of Dr. Beattie. There is a curious literary fact attached to this song, which can be finally settled only by yourself. My friend, Mr. Cromek, who has lately published a volume of Burns's “Reliques,” and whose ardour for Scottish literature is distinguished, had discovered, as he imagined, the