Page images
PDF
EPUB

adamantine chains ;* so powerful was his mercenary force--s0 firm his position in Ortygia-so completely had the Syracusans been broken in to subjection.

There cannot, Mr. Grote further remarks, be a better test of vigour and ability than the unexampled success with which Dionysius and Agathocles played the game of the despot, and to a certain extent that of the conqueror. Of the two, Dionysius he pronounces the most favoured by fortune. For although both of them profited by one auxiliary acci. dent, which distinguished Syracuse from other Grecian cities, namely, the local speciality of Ortygia--which islet was so fortified as to provide the despot with an almost impregnable stronghold,t and seemed indeed expressly made to be garrisoned as a separate fortress,: apart from, as well as against, the rest of Syracuse, and having full command of the harbour, dooks, naval force, and paval approach ;-yet had Dionysius, in addition to this, several “ peculiar interventions of the gods in his favour, sometimes at the most critical moments ;" such was the interpretation put by bis enemies (and doubtless by his friends also) upon those repeated pestilences which smote the Carthaginian armies with a force far more deadly than the spear of the Syracusan hoplite.

On the whole, if Dionysius succeeded, in the face of obstacles that might have seemed insuperable, in fastening round his free-born, free bred countrymen, as history shows him to have done, I those “adamantine chains" which they were well known to abhor-we may be sure, with Mr. Grote, that his plan of proceeding must have been dexterously chosen, and prosecuted with consummate perseverance and audacity. But we may also be sure that it was nefarious in the extreme. “The machinery of a fraud whereby the people were to be cheated into a temporary submission, as a prelude to the machinery of force whereby sucha submission was to be perpetuated against their consent-was the stock. in-trade of Grecian usurpers. But seldom does it appear prefaced by more impudent calumnies, or worked out with a larger measure of violence and spoliation, than in the case of Dionysius. He was indeed powerfully seconded at the outset by the danger of Syracuse from the Carthaginian arms. But his scheme of usurpation, far from diminishing such danger, tended materially to increase it, by disuniting the city at so critical a moment. Dionysius achieved nothing in his first enterprise for the relief of Gela and Kamarina. He was forced to retire with as much disgrace as those previous generals whom he had so bitterly vituperated ; and apparently even with greater disgrace-since there are strong grounds for believing that he entered into traitorous collusion with the Carthaginians. The salvation of Syracuse, at that moment of peril, arose not from the energy or ability of Dionysius, but from the opportune epidemic which disabled Imilkon in the midst of a victorious career.”

Himilco-to use the common way of spelling his name whom Mr. Grote writes Imilkon-escaped to Carthage with such of his men as pestilence and Dionysius spared, after paying a large sum to the despot for permission to retire on any terms. Anon there arrived, B.C. 392, a new Carthaginian army under Mago. These were forced to re-embark

* Plutarch, Dion, c. 7.

+ Cf. Grote, vol. x. pp. 686-sq; vol. xi. p. 65. I See Grote, XI. 66 sq.

Unnleon

almost as soon as they had disembarked, and to pay the expense of the war. Next, Dionysius defeated the allied towns of Magna Græcia ; and about this time is said* to have received an embassy from the Gauls, fresh from and Aushed with the burning of Rome. His was now

- a name of fear,

Unpleasing in a Grecian ear. Both in Italy and Sicily he was an object of apprehension and mistrust, and to the dominion of both countries he seems at one time to have aspired. We read that, in order to raise money--for he had quite anticipated, ages beforehand, the practical philosophy of Horace's quocunque modo, rem, and of Iago's equivalent “ Put money in thy purse"-he allied himself with the Illyrians, and proposed to them the joint plunder of the temple of Delphi. The enterprise was undertaken, but failed. He consoled himself, however, by plundering several other temples, including that of Proserpina, at Locri ; and as he sailed back with a fair wind, laden, almost to his heart's content, with sacrilegious spoils, he remarked to his friends, no doubt with something like a chuckle in his tones, and a merry twinkle in his eye, “ You see how the immortal gods favour sacrilege." And indeed the example of Dionysius_his long career of success, ending in a quiet death—is among those cited by Cotta, in Cicero,t to refute the doctrine of Balbus as to divine providence, and his vindication of the ways of gods to men.

From no theological stand-point, ancient or modern, but with the calm judgment of a political philosopher, Mr. Grote recognises in Dionysius a man not only of talents to organise, and boldness to make good, a despotism more formidable than anything known to contemporary Greece, but also systematic prudence to keep it unimpaired for nearly forty years. “He maintained carefully those two precautions which Thucydides specifies as the causes of permanence to the Athenian Hippias, under similar circumstances—intimidation over the citizens, and careful organisation, with liberal pay among his mercenaries. He was temperate in indulgences; never led by any of his appetites into the commission of violence.'' This abstinence is justly alleged by the historian s to have contributed materially to prolong his life, since many a Grecian despot perished through desperate feelings of individual vengeance provoked by his outrages. A rationalistic, and not perhaps the less rational, attempt to explain how it came to pass that a tyrant of such dimensions, after a tyranny of such duration, managed at the last to die quietly in his bed.

* Justinus, XX. 5.

+ De Naturâ Deorum, III. 33, 81, 85. 1. Cornel. Nepos, De Regibus, c. ii.

§ Grote, XI. 68.

RECENT PROGRESS IN BRITISH COLUMBIA AND VANCOUVER

ISLAND.*

The impressions received of a new country are invariably more or less influenced by the temperament of the individual, and descriptions are in a similar manner affected by the idiosyncracies of persons. The land and climate may be everything that is desirable, but if there is not safe anchorage à sailor will grumble, and portray the country accordingly. The settler complains because the rich soil of centuries of decaying forests require to be cleared before it can be turned to profit, while the successful gold-finder yearns for the comforts of first-rate hostelries. Thus it is that so many contradictory accounts of British Columbia and Vancouver Island have reached this country. It is impossible to say what particular turns of mind will not find to depreciate. Dr. Wood, for example, who has contributed part of the natural history to Commander Mayne's book, describes many varieties of grouse as abounding both on the island and mainland, but they are so tame, he says, as to afford no sport! The blue grouse, for example, which attains the weight of four pounds and a half, may often be seen perched on the topmost branch of some tall pine-tree, from whence he refuses to move for repeated charges from an ordinary fowling-piece. “ As," however, the doctor adds, " the country becomes cleared, their habits will probably change, and Vancouver Island will be as noticeable for good sport as Scotland." In the mean time, the hungry colonist or prospector may, perchance, rejoice that the grouse will sit still to be blazed away at. Persons of good sense will know how to estimate these different and contradictory accounts at their just value. There can be no doubt as to the future of British Columbia, albeit persons may starve in attempting to reach that country by the Rocky Mountains; there may be rain and frost, mosquitoes and other tormenting dies, isolation and dearth; there are drawbacks of climate in all countries, and there are always trials in newly colonised and unsettled regions; but to some these very drawbacks constitute part of the zest of enterprise and adventure, and only serve to stimulate to new exertions, and further conquests and successes. Of such a stamp were those, no doubt, who first trod the shores of the Disunited States, or penetrated into the dark pine forests of Canada, and of such a stamp will those be who brave the difficulties of British Columbia, and help to found families that will, possibly, be rolling in wealth when the death-knell of prosperity may have sounded for the old countries. Our particular weakness is impatience to see the laud cleared, the inlets navigated, the greedy thirst for gold superseded by the more enduring toils for silver, lead, copper, iron, and other useful metals, known to abound in the rocky districts; the numerous coal mines worked, the traffic in lumber" fully opened (a beginning has, we are happy to find, been successfully made), the inland lakes and prairies settled, the ports filled with shipping, the overland route carried out, and the fertile valley of the Saskatchewan, or Bow River, converted into a line of prosperous stages and halts on the highway from the Atlantic and the Pacific !-a line which our children will live to see traversed from one end to the other by iron rails.

* Four Years in British Columbia and Vancouver Island. An Account of their Forests, Rivers, Coasts, Gold Fields, and Resources for Colonisation. By Commander R. C. Mayne, R.N., F.R.G.S Murray.

In the mean time the manifest advantages held out to colonisation by these new regions, and the movement to which the discovery of gold imparted a sudden and adventitious impulse, has been sufficient to excite not only the rivalry of individuals, but also of nations; and we are indebted to the overbearing cupidity of the Yankees, in attempting to establish their claim to San Juan Island by force, for the exploratory expedition of her Majesty's ship Plumper, Captain G. H. Richards, the Arctic explorer, in command, Commander R. C. Mayne happily acting as lieutenant. We say happily, for he has been at the trouble of placing the vast amount of new and valuable information, obtained by the new surveys effected, within the reach of all. New inlets vying in interest, and possibly of greater future importance than those of Norway, have been discovered, both on the island, and especially on its western coast, previously supposed to be one long line of black, repulsive volcanic cliffs; and on the mainland, where these deep inlets now open the shortest roads to the interior. Dean Inlet, for example, to Fraser Fort, and Fort St. James, in New Caledonia ; Salmon or Belhoula Inlet, to the Cariboo diggings, far up in the interior; Bute Inlet to Alexandria and the Upper Fraser; Jervis Inlet and Howe Sound to Cayoosh, or Lilloettthe probable future capital of the country.

Entering the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which separates Vancouver Island from Washington, and which is from eleven to thirteen miles in width, densely wooded hills rise gradually to a considerable height on the shore of the island to the north ; while on the southern, or Anierican shore, the rugged outline of the Olympian range of snow-clad mountains, varying in elevation from four to seven thousand feet, and in breaks of which peeps of beautiful country may be seen, extend for many miles. The Strait may be said to terminate at the Race Islands, as it there opens into a large expanse of water, which forms a playground for the tides and currents, hitherto pent up among the islands in the comparatively narrow limits and the Gulf of Georgia, to frolic in. Of Neah Bay is a fishery, much frequented by the Indians, of halibut, cod, and other fish, which will, no doubt, Commander Mayne says, prove a source of considerable profit to the colony. It was, he adds, some time doubted by the governor and others, whether the true cod was to be caught on this bank ; but “some years later, when we were here with the Hecate, we settled this in the affirmative, beyond a doubt.”

Eight miles north of the Race Islands, in the harbour of Esquimalt, and three miles northward of that, lies Victoria, the capital of Vancouver Island, and the present seat of government for both that colony and British Columbia. As a harbour, Esquimalt is by far the best in the southern part of the island. We have upon a previous occasion animad. verted upon the neglect which this admirable harbour has met with at the hands of government. Commander Mayne joins in the same recrimination. Each new admiral, he says, that is appointed to the North Pacific station, appears to be more and more impressed with the evident value and importance of Esquimalt as a naval station. Had a floating dock

been built here it would by this time have more than paid for its con. struction, and we should not be dependent, as we are now, upon the American dock at Mare Island, San Francisco, for the repair of our ships of war. Considering, indeed, the uncertain state of our relations with the Disunited States, and more especially with California, such a state of things is more than disgraceful. Had war-which was at one time imminent, whilst this very survey was going on-broken out, the services of the Hecate, a powerful steamer, would have been lost to the country, from the absence of all means of repairing her.

Esquimalt has seen, and is still likely to see, many startling changes. Commander Mayne first made its acquaintance in 1849, when the Inconstant used to fire shot and shell as they liked about the harbour, and send parties ashore to cut as much wood as they needed. Now the said shore was occupied by rows of respectable, well-kept buildings, with pleasant gardens in front of them ; the growth of the present town of Esquimalt is even of still more recent date. It sprang into existence whilst the survey was going on. “Nine years back we had to scramble from the ship's boat on to the most convenient rock : now Jones's landing-place received us; and in the stead of forcing a path over the rocks and through the bush to the Victoria Inlet, whence, if a native should happen to be lounging about in the Indian village of the Songhies, and should see us or hear our shouts and bring a canoe over we might hope to reach Victoria, a broad carriage-road, not of the best, perhaps, and a serviceable bridge, were found connecting Esquimalt Harbour with Victoria."

When Victoria was founded, no one ever dreamt then of the mineral wealth of the valleys that sloped from the Rocky Mountains to the sea, or that in a few years cities would spring up upon shores almost unknown to the civilised world. But, long before the present rush of immigrants to these regions, Victoria, as a port, had been virtually superseded by the adjacent and admirable harbour of Esquimalt. Very possibly, Commander Mayne observes, could the future have been foreseen, Victoria would not have been selected as the chief commercial port of Vancouver Island. But the selection has been made, the town is built, or building, the commerce already attracted. The fact must be regarded as accomplished beyond the possibility of change, and the only thing that can now be done is to connect it with the harbour of Esquimalt, towards which task the natural formation of the country lends itself admirably. But local jealousies unfortunately interpose here. The landholders of Victoria, believing that the elevation of Esquimalt into the harbour of the colony would lower the value of their property, persistently oppose the project of facilitating the connexion of the two. Time will do justice to such a selfish spirit of opposition to an irresistible progress.

The first and most important thing to be done on arriving was, after the determination of the exact spot where the boundary-line of 49 deg. north latitude met the sea, to settle the channel by which it was intended, by the treaty of 1844, that the boundary-line should pass to the Strait of Fuca. The point where this line came down to the sea, in Semiahmoo Bay, was found to differ only eight feet from that fixed upon by the

American commissioners. Thence the Plumper proceeded to Nanaimo · to coal. Commander Mayne says of this place, which has now passed

« EelmineJätka »