« PreviousContinue »
the archives of the Spanish monarchy were preserved. It was for his work there, unfinished though it was, abruptly terminated when the harvest was barely begun, that his name will be remembered.
and on the following morning he was in the mob at the moment of the famous charge by the Dragoon Guards in front of the palace, when he escaped being cut down by a trooper through the lucky accident of the latter's charger falling at the very moment of The archives of Simancas cover a period his bringing his sabre on Bergenroth's head. of something less than three centuries, from Scientific investigations were now quickly 1350 to 1625. They are peculiarly rich thrown aside for the more stirring life of a from the beginning of the reign of Ferdinand political agitator. Bergenroth was one of and Isabella to the end of this period. The the founders of the Democratic Club, where, total number of the records it is impossible as well as at open-air meetings, he often to estimate. There are, Bergenroth tells spoke; and besides this, he wrote in the us, more than 100,000 Legajos, or bundles, Radical papers." Finally, he was elected a each bundle containing from ten to more member of the Chamber by a Pomeranian than a hundred documents. To the work constituency; but the triumph of the Re- of examining this mass of papers Bergenroth action was at hand, and he never took his set himself as a private student, almost withseat. On the whole, it is clear that he was out resources. The Athenæum journal may treated by the authorities with unusual claim the credit of having assisted him in his leniency. He had before made himself work by publishing in the shape of letters conspicuous for his radical opinions, and some of the first results of his labours. In had once given his superiors an advantage 1861 the Master of the Rolls was looking by absenting himself beyond his term of for a scholar who would undertake a Calenleave. It was not a severe punishment for dar of Simancas State Papers relating to all his offences against the dominant system English history, and on Mr. Brewer's rethat in 1849, after he had absented himself commendation he gave the appointment to from his duties for a year, he was transferred Bergenroth. It was not, we are sure, the from Berlin to the provincial court at Witt- fault of Lord Romilly, that for labours so stock. To this banishment Bergenroth was vast, and involving, as the end too plainly not disposed to submit. After having fur- showed, so much personal risk, one of the ther ingratiated himself with the authorities most ingenious scholars of the day received by assisting in the escape of Dr. Kinkel, he no more, both for allowances and pay, than resolved to seek his fortunes in the New £400 per annum. With untiring patience World. He landed at San Francisco in and perseverance he set himself to overcome September, 1850, nearly dead of yellow the indifference and obstructiveness of the fever. From San Francisco he went to the Spanish authorities, to find the needful diggings. Tired of digging he turned to assistance among a people where the qualihunting, and finally betook himself to occu-fications of even the most ordinary knowlpations which it would not be easy to define, edge and industry were equally rare, and which his own account published in House- finally to make himself master of the almost hold Words does not explain. He con- infinite materials which he had to bring into gregated round him," we are told, a group shape. For the details of this labour the of nondescript fellows, outlaws and adven- reader must go to Mr. Cartwright's "Meturers of all nations, whom he contrived to moir," or rather to Bergenroth, who has fashion into a sort of community," making been very properly permitted to speak for himself their captain. It would probably himself. Few men have shown more indusbe a not unfavourable account of his position try, none, it may be safely affirmed, more at this time of his life to say that he was the ingenuity. To catch in the very hasty exchief of a body of volunteer police. In amination which time allowed the meaning California, however, Bergenroth stayed little more than six months. He returned to Europe, and, for the next six years, supported himself by teaching. In 1857 he came to England, and set himself seriously to the great work of his life, the examination of the original sources of history. A part of the results of the labour of two years in the Record Office appeared in an article on Wat Tyler, published in Sybel's Historical Periodical. But the resources of our English depositaries did not satisfy him, and he turned his eyes to Spain, to Simancas, where
of a document written in a foreign language, in a form of that language more or less archaic, and in the varying hands of three centuries, was no trifling task, but the crowning triumph of Bergenroth's skill was the discovery of the ciphers which had been used in many of the documents. To find without failure the key to system after system which had been contrived at a time when the art was carried to its perfection is a feat of ingenuity that has never been surpassed. He triumphed over the difficulties of elaborating contrived signs, and the still
the concluding passage, a description of which the ghastly simplicity exceeds all that rhetoric could do:
"They enter a room where a large arm-chair
greater difficulties of hieroglyphics that sig-| Another remarkable discovery is the report nified nothing, with which dangerous com- by an eye-witness of the trial and execution munications were plentifully interspersed, of Don Carlos, son of Philip II. We quote just as powder now-a-days is mixed for safe storage with some non-explosive substance. Sometimes he actually decyphered what the original recipients of the letter, with the keys by them, had, as shown by their marginal notes, pronounced to be unintelligible. Early in 1867, Bergenroth returned from visiting England and Germany to his residence in Spain. The next two years were spent in his familiar labours. Towards the close of 1868 he was seized with typhus fever, and after an illness of about two months in all, died at Madrid, whither he had removed in the vain hope of bettering his health, on February 13 in last year. His last letter was addressed to Lord Romilly, and was written from dictation on the 9th of that month. How much knowledge passed away with him it is impossible even to conjecture.
The principal monument of Bergenroth's labour is the Calendar of Simancas State papers referring to the Tudor period, the first part of which was published with an introduction in 1863, and the second in the same way in the summer of 1866. This was his official work; the magnum opus on which his own thoughts were bent was a life of Charles V. He judged the interest of English politics to be subordinate, and the Spanish Court to be the centre of European politics. Putting aside the essays on Wat Tyler's rebellion, a singularly instructive contribution to English history, of which we would gladly speak at length, most of the fragments of Bergenroth's discoveries which Mr. Cartwright gives us in this volume refer to this subject. Anything more sinister and terrible it would be difficult to conceive. Not the house of Thyestes in the realms of legend, not that of the Julian Cæsars in history, shows so full of horrors as does the family of Ferdinand and Isabella. One of the most curious revelations, one put, it would seem by the evidence beyond all doubt, is, one of which we have already spoken (Spectator, September 11, 1869), the true story of the mad Queen Juana.
is placed, surrounded by a great quantity of sawdust. The executioner stands near it with his knife. The Prince is not frightened by that sight. He is seated on the chair. The executioner begs his pardon, and the Prince in a gracious manner gives him his hand to kiss. The executioner ties his legs and arms with 'autas' of Cologne to the legs and arms of the chair; ties a bandage of black silk round his eyes, and places himself, with the knife in his hand, behind the Prince. The Prince says to the confessor [the author of the document], Pray for my soul.' The confessor says the Credo, and the Prince responds in a clear and firm voice. When he pronounced the words unico fijo' - only Son - the executioner puts his knife to his throat, and a stream of blood rushes down on knife, being very sharp, had cut well. The the sawdust. The Prince struggles little; the executioner takes the bandage from the eyes, which are closed. The face is pale, like that of a corpse, but has preserved its natural expression. The executioner unties the corpse, wraps it in a black baize cloth, and puts it in a corner of the room. That done, Antonio Perez flies all at once at the executioner, accusing him of having stolen the diamonds of the Prince. The executioner denies, is searched, and Perez finds, in one of the folds of his dress, the diamonds. The executioner grows pale, and declares that that is witchery. Escovedo is sent to the King, and soon returns with two arquebusiers. The King, die on the spot for the heinous crime of having he says, has ordered that the executioner is to robbed the corpse of a Prince of the blood-royal. The executioner confesses, protests his innocence, is led out by the soldiers into the courtyard, and two detonations of arquebuses are heard."
Since this was written, we have learnt that the authenticity of this document has been questioned by critics in Germany. It is only right to say that Mr. Cartwright points out that Bergenroth expressed no opinion on this point, but gave the contents of the paper as he found it.
THE Bulletin de la Societe d'Acclimatation contains an article on the use of the skins of the Kangaroo for glove-making, which seems to promise a successful result in this respect, and as furnishing a new source of animal food, as these animals thrive well in Europe.
THE herbarium of Von Martius, the Bavarian botanist, containing considerably over 300,000 specimens, is waiting for some university to buy it. His library is to be sold by auction this month.
River, Col. Powell's party navigated a series 190 miles long. From where the Green River joins the Colorado, they passed through a succession of cañons for a distance of 256 miles before they came to the Grand Cañon.
scent of the Colorado in boats. After months of toil and danger, he succeeded in To the south of Salt Lake and the Mor- forcing the passage of these forbidding mon Territory lies a dreary series of pla- gorges, and emerging safely at their further teaux traversed by the Colorado river and end. From his survey it appears that the its tributaries, which bear their burthen of Grand Cañon is 238 miles long, and from waters into the Gulf of California. Though 2,500 to 4,000 feet deep. But though this this region possesses many considerable is the longest, there are other ravines of streams, it is over large areas a kind of des- hardly inferior dimensions. On the Green olate wilderness, for instead of irrigating the ground these streams flow in profound gorges, which serve as natural drains to carry off the water which may fall upon the tablelands. Many fabulous tales have been told of these regions, their natural marvels receiving many amplifications as they came to be rehearsed by Indians, trappers, and adventurous wanderers into the far west. In 1857 the Government of the United States despatched an expedition to explore that little known portion of the Continent, and the report published by the expedition in 1861 gave the first trustworthy and detailed account of the Colorado region. The truth turned out to be almost stranger than the fiction. A vast territory was found to be intersected by ravines leading into the main line of gorges of the Colorado. These ravines, or cañons as they are termed, meander over the table-land as rivers do over alluvial meadows; but they are thousands of feet deep-hundreds of miles long, and so numerous that the country traversed by them is said to be impassable, save to the fowls of the air.
The longest and deepest gorge is the Grand Cañon of the Colorado. Its length was set down by Dr. Newberry as about 300 miles; and its walls were described as rising steeply, sometimes vertically, from the margin of the river which filled the bottom of the ravine, to a height of from 3,000 to 6,000 feet a line of precipice or natural section which has not yet found its equal on any other part of the globe. Attention has lately been again called to this remarkable gorge by the interesting narrative in Mr. Bell's New Tracks in North America,' and by the fuller details, as yet only partially published, obtained by an exploring party under Colonel Powell, of the United States army. By successive travellers and Government expeditions the gorges of the Colorado had been reached here and there. The surveying party of 1857-58 mapped them out and gave many admirable drawings of them, but declared the river not to be navigable above the Black Cañon. Profiting by previous failures, and by all the information which he could receive from Indians and others, Colonel Powell conceived the bold idea of attempting the de
Each cañon has tributary cañons: these again have often also their tributaries. In some places the lateral gorges crowd so closely together where they join the main one, that they are divided by perpendicular walls of rock, which seem so narrow at top as hardly to furnish footing for a man, though in reality large enough to support cathedrals. And these walls shoot 2,000 or 3,000 feet above the river, "while rocks and crags and peaks rise still higher, away back from the river, until they reach an altitude of nearly 5,000 feet." They consist to a large extent of brown, grey, and orange-coloured sandstones, gently inclined or horizontal, beneath which marble and granite in some places have been deeply trenched. In some places the walls are so absolutely vertical, that it is impossible to find a pathway between their base and the water. But where, owing to rapids, some portage was necessary, the explorers usually succeeded in carrying their stores, and sometimes even their boats, along the base of the cliffs.
The water of the Colorado River is red and muddy. It receives some tributary streams of clear water, but others are very turbid, particularly one which the expedition appropriately marked as the Dirty Devil. Moreover, after every heavy shower of rain, "cascades of red mud pour over the walls from the red sandstone above, with a fall of hundreds of feet." We await with interest the detailed report which Colonel Powell will furnish of these features of the river.
Dr. Newberry, who described this territory in the report of the former Exploring Expedition above referred to, declared his opinion that, notwithstanding the stupendous scale on which these cañons or ravines had been formed, they were all nevertheless true river-gorges, excavated by the erosive action of running water. Some geologists, as Dr. Foster of Chicago, in his recent work on the Mississippi Valley, have opposed
this opinion, and have suggested that "the streams drawing their supplies of water form and outline of these chasms were first from a distance, either from melted snow determined by plutonic agency." But Dr. or abundant rainfall in the upper parts of Newberry's explanation has been very gen- their basins, must be maintained in suffierally accepted. He showed that there is cient volume to keep their channels full, nowhere any trace of fracture or disturb- either for the whole, or a good part of the ance, and that when the Cañon is dry its year. 2nd. There must be a considerable rocky bottom shows no mark of dislocation. uniformity in the character of the rock Indeed, when we consider the intricate which the stream has first to cut through. ramifications of these cañons, so precisely It is not necessary that the rock should be similar to the ordinary outlines of a drainage soft, but it should preserve for a long dissystem over a low flat ground, it seems im-tance, and present to the erosive action of possible to conceive of any agency capable the river, the same kind of geological textof producing such ravines save the streams which flow in them.
But if cañons are merely the results of ordinary river erosion, why do they not occur everywhere? To such a question we may reply that river-ravines do occur everywhere, but is is only where the special circumstances which favour the formation of such ravines are most fully developed that they grow into the depth and length of cañons. What then are these special circumstances?
If we watch what takes place along the course of the rivers of this country, we can mark two kinds of erosion distinctly at work. First there is the river, grinding down the sides and bottom of its channel by sweeping along sand and shingle; and, secondly, there is the action of rain, springs, and frosts perpetually loosening the sides of the water-course, and sending the débris into the river which sweeps it away. If the river were not interfered with by these other subaerial agents, it would in time dig out for itself a gorge with more or less precipitous sides. But in proportion as these agents come into play, the ravine-like character passes into that of a valley with sloping sides. Where river erosion predominates we have ravines, where it is modified by rains and springs, but especially by frosts, we have valleys. Many of our rivers run both through gorges and along valleys, the changes in the nature of their banks being determined by corresponding changes in the nature and grouping of the rocks of which these banks consist, and the greater or less facility with which the rocks have been worn away by the one form of denudation or the other. The conditions needful for the formation of cañons, therefore, appear at present to be chiefly these:-1st. The erosive power of the streams must be greatly in excess of that of the other forms of atmospheric denudation. The rainfall must be small, or, at least, so equally distributed over the year as to reduce pluvial action to a minimum. Frosts must be equally rare and unimportant. The main
ure and structure. Hence, horizontal or gently undulating strata, as of sandstone, or limestone, offer the greatest facilities for the erosion of cañons, as we know they do in our own country for the formation of ordinary river-ravines. When once the river has excavated its channel so deep that it cannot quit it, the nature of the rock may vary indefinitely without materially altering the aspect of the cañon. Hence on the Colorado, while the upper and chief part of the cañon has been cut through flat sandstone, limestone, and other strata, the lower portion has been excavated in marble and even in granite. 3rd. The country must be sufficiently elevated above the sea, either originally or by subsequent upheaval, to permit of a considerable declivity in its river-channels. The slope must be sufficient, not merely to let the water run off, but to give rise to currents strong enough to sweep along sand and gravel, and to excavate pot-holes. It is by the ceaseless grinding of such detrital material along the bottom of the river that the ravine is slowly deepened. Geologists, although they have constantly recognized this action, have not, perhaps, been always fully aware of its rapidity and extent, partly, no doubt, from the want of reliable data as to the nature and amount of the detritus pushed by rivers along the bottom of their beds. Messrs. Humphreys and Abbot computed that the Mississippi annually pushes into the Gulf of Mexico 750,000,000 cubic feet of gravel and sand, which would cover a square mile about twenty-seven feet deep." The writer of the present paper was surprised a few years ago to find that the Rhine, after escaping from all its ravines and entering the low country about Bonn, retained force enough to drive along shingle upon its bed. By laying the ear to the bottom of a boat floating down mid-channel, it was easy to hear the grating of the stones as they rolled over each other. Hence we see that a river, which may be perfectly navigable by steamers, may yet have rapidity enough to scour its bed with coarse shingle. The
scour will, of course, be greater in proportion to the narrowing of the breadth of the stream and the increase of the slope.
It is mainly this eroding action which, so far as we know at present, has carved out the cañons of the Colorado. These wonderful ravines, meandering as ordinary rivers do, have sunk inch by inch into the country, retaining their original curves and windings, though continually increasing in depth. Unassisted, or aided but feebly, by the other subaerial agents, which, in such a country as ours, tend to break down the walls of ravines; and undisturbed by the inequalities of surface so characteristic of regions that have been under the influence of glacier-ice, the rivers, probably once much fuller than now, have been allowed to dig out their gorges through the table-lands of the Colorado, and to convert a tract of country, originally, perhaps, green and well-watered, into a dreary desert, intersected by a network of profound impassable ravines. ARCH. GEIKIE.
From The Saturday Review. GOETHE'S CONVERSATIONS WITH CHANCELLOR VON MULLER.*
A NEW record of Goethe's conversation is a literary event indeed, and one of quite a different character from those interminable manipulations which the well-nigh exhausted ores of trivial correspondence and minute biographical detail are still undergoing in Germany. The expectations naturally excited among those who have learned from Eckermann to appreciate the special advantage of the vox viva over the litera scripta, if somewhat moderated upon the appearance of the work, have yet not been found wholly delusive. Chancellor von Müller's reminiscences cannot be described as an appendix to Eckermann's, since, commencing at an earlier period than the latter, they run parallel with them for the greater part of their course. Neither can they be considered in the light of a supplement, for no essential detail is supplied, and no important misrepresentation rectified. The book may rather be regarded as a replica of Eckermann's on a smaller scale, attended
Goethe's Unterhaltungen mit dem Kanzler Friedrich ron Muller. Herausgegeben von C. A. H.
Burkhardt. Stuttgart: Cotta. London: Williams & Norgate.
by the double advantage of confirming the authenticity and elucidating the distinctive traits of the original. As in the successful repetition of an experiment with the spectroscope, the lines reappear, but some are better defined. In some respects, to be noticed presently, it may serve as a corrective of errors arising from the too exclusive contemplation of Goethe under a particular aspect. In the main it is a welcome attestation of the justice of the accepted view, and a salutary admonition to disregard those who, impelled by vanity or the passion for paradox, will in time insist on presenting us with "an entirely new reading of the character." Goethe appeared to Von Müller as he appeared to Eckermann, as he appeared to Zelter, as he appears in his own writings, and more particularly in those portions of the second part of Faust in which he has embodied the maturest conclusions of his wisdom and the final results of his experience. Respecting the qualifications of Chancellor von Müller as a recorder of Goethe's conversation, it is not necessary to say much. His name is already a household word with all students of Goethe, and it is apparent that, while few enjoyed the poet's intimacy to a greater degree, none met him more nearly on a footing of equality, or felt more thoroughly in harmony with the peculiar attributes of his intellect. Any defects must be ascribed, not to a want of discernment in the reporter, but to errors of memory, omission to take notes, or that confusion of impressions which is so often the mortifying residuum of the most intellectual, and, while it lasted, most vividly enjoyed and clearly apprehended, talk.
We have intimated that Goethe may have been considered too exclusively in a particular point of view. It is, indeed, inevitable that the minor features of any character should to some extent be obscured by the more salient ones. Goethe's serenity and self-sufficiency are so imposing in themselves, and claim so large a share of any comprehensive survey of his character, that its elements of frailty and versatility are liable to be overlooked. No observer could have been more remote than Chancellor von Müller from the valet de chambre point of view, but his veneration does not tempt him to dissimulate his hero's occasional ill-humour and caprice. The references to Goethe's attacks of indisposition are also sufficiently numerous to surprise those who have pictured his old age as one of unbroken vigour and unimpaired health. In the main, no doubt, it was marvellously robust, but the interruptions of this desirable condition appear to have been frequent