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Spring is coming, beauteous Spring!
Coming, coming everywhere.
Spring is coming everywhere!
Coming, coming everywhere.
Spring is coming everywhere!
Coming, coming everywhere.
Spring is coming everywhere!
ON THE RECENT DISCOVERIES OF SPEKE AND BAKER
IN AFRICA, IN CONNECTION WITH THE STATEMENTS OF SWEDENBORG CONCERNING THE AFRICANS.
In a well-known passage of the “Spiritual Diary” ($ 5946) occurs a description of a certain " great region," in the middle of Africa, of so favourable a character that New Churchmen have long regarded any approach of travellers towards it with the deepest interest. For many reasons, the opening up of that hitherto inaccessible locality would be watched by all, who give credence to Swedenborg's statements, with a feeling far beyond curiosity. In connection with these statements a drawing is given, which is indeed a mere sketch, but is sufficient to show that the region referred to is in the form of a rude crescent, with the middle part very much thickened and the horns pointing to the eastward. Now, concerning this region, Swedenborg was informed “ that all there worship the Lord, and that they are instructed by many who have communication with the angels of heaven, that the communication is not by speech with angels, but by an interior preception, and that the persons who have this communication are their instructors, whom they very well know from others. They said also that Europeans are not admitted, and if they come thither, and are unwilling to become servants, they are sent away by a route to B. (a country on the south-east) and sold to the people of it. This they do to be safe from infestation. When some Romish missionaries come thither, who say they are holy men, they are soon examined, and it is perceived that they know nothing of truth, still less perceive anything, so they are either refused admittance, or sent towards Asia like the rest.” The account then continues respecting the Africans in the spiritual world, which some persons seem to have confounded with the statements that apply to the earthly Africans. Omitting this portion of the narrative, then, we have the important facts remaining, that the Africans in that crescent-shaped region worship the Lord, are instructed by means of an inward revelation, or preception given to their wise men, and that they refuse admittance to all foreigners into their country. And here let us consider to how much this amounts. For we must guard against an exaggerated idea of the perfection that is involved in these statements. Swedenborg does not say, either here or elsewhere, that the central Africans are in a very high state of intelligence. But on the the contrary, he tells us that the wiser Africans in the spiritual world knew little respecting the knowledges of the Church, such as representatives and correspondences, although they were delighted to be instructed about them. Now, if this be the case, it is evident that their religious ideas must be of a very general nature, and confined to leading, comprehensive truths. Speaking of these people, the expression he uses is “the best of Africans,” which is merely a comparative expression, and in itself involves no more than that the central Africans are better than those who inhabit the surrounding countries. And with regard to their worshipping the Lord and having inward perception; of course, it is not meant that they worship Him under the Greek name of Jesus Christ; the name they would
give Him, if they named Him at all, would be one of African derivation. But it is quite conceivable that a people like the Africans might worship the Lord without doing so under any particular name, and we must be careful not to imagine conditions to be necessary to them which are so to us only from our forty centuries of civilisation. We are told in another place that the Africans are of a celestial genius, and thus their worship would find expression much more in the language of the heart than in words. Supposing, however, it to be granted that they worship the Lord under some musical African name, what would be the effect of it upon a Christian missionary? Let us imagine, for example, the arrival of the excellent Livingstone in that happy country, and that he had succeeded in obtaining the confidence of the wise men. When they informed him that they perceived interiorly in their minds that So-and-so was the true God, and that He was at the same time a man and had made the world, what would he be able to make of it? Would he not immediately reply, “ Alas ! my poor benighted brethren, What sad idolatry is this ! You must believe that there are three Divine Persons who make up one God, without body, parts, or passions, the second of whom is the Son of the first, born from eternity and without a mother, and you must believe also that the Father required His Son's blood to be shed to prevent Him from condemning the whole human race to hell, and a good life will avail you nothing unless you believe this?" And when the simpleminded people stood aghast at such a doctrine, would he not come home and tell us of a gentle heathen people he had visited who were sunk in superstition and idolatry, for they believed in the actual existence of spirits, worshipped a man, and laughed at the holy mysteries of Christianity, and finish by informing us, as he has done already in one of his works, “that the deep, dark question of what is to become of such must be left where we find it?" It is at least probable, therefore, that no one but an intelligent New Churchman would be able to recognise such features as Swedenborg here describes, even supposing the country discovered, and the confidence of the inhabitants won by the white stranger.
We are further informed—“Spiritual Diary," 5919—“The Africans among whom the revelation exists do not know that the Lord was born a man, but they know that God is a man.” So that they must be ignorant of the most salient features of the Redemption, if not, indeed, ignorant of the whole subject.
There is also given in the same work this further item of information
respecting the situation of the “ best of Africans." The mountains where the good Africans dwell extend from Ethiopia towards the middle.” Pars. vii. p. 39.
We are now to inquire how far the discoveries of Speke and Baker harmonize with these statements from the “ Spiritual Diary.” Captain Speke, as is well known, set out from Zanzibar, on the south-east coast of Africa, and travelled in a northerly direction, passing between the Victoria and Albert Lakes, and skirting the Nile from its source in the former, but missed seeing the Albert Lake, although he ascertained the position of it. Sir S. Baker, on the other hand, started from Egypt, and travelled southwards as far as the Albert Lake, but passed through countries a little more to the eastward of the Nile than those visited by Speke, with the single exception of the farthest limit of his journey, which revealed the important fact that the Nile flows through the north end of the Albert Lake. Having made this discovery he retraced his steps. It is Speke's journey, therefore, which is of the greatest interest to us in pursuing our present inquiry; not merely on account of his being the real discoverer of the Source of the Nile, but from the fact that he passed right through the continent, and visited more than twice as many countries as Baker did. Now, the first point of interest which strikes us as we read the history of his journey is the gradual improvement in the character of the natives up to the central point of it, and then the gradual deterioration of their character. It is that central point which is of principal interest, and we shall therefore begin there. Karagué (pronounced Karragooeh), the country of
) Rumanika, is undoubtedly the place where we are to look for signs of the people mentioned by Swedenborg, if anywhere. Not that any part of the route lies actually through that country, for although the travellers found more difficulty in entering the different countries in proportion as they advanced further towards the interior, they never met with absolute prohibition, such as Swedenborg over and over again describes. We can therefore, at the best, regard Karagué as only the country nearest on the line of travel to the land of expectation itself. In Karagué, which Speke describes as a beautiful country of alternate hills and fertile valleys resembling Devonshire, the travellers were gratuitously supplied with abundant food, a most agreeable change from the system of extortion to which they had been subjected in passing through the countries nearer the coast; they were kindly and honourably entertained by the gentle Rumanika, and they found to their astonishment that they had arrived at a new civilisation, as
distinct from the civilisation of Europe as that of the lands discovered by Cortez and Pizarro. Rumanika's palace they found situated on the shore of a beautiful lake lying snugly within the folds of the hills on the west side of the great Victoria N'yanza. Rumanika himself, a man of noble appearance and gigantic height, impressed them very much. “The first greetings of the king, delivered in good Kisuahili (the coast language), were warm and affecting, and in an instant we both felt and saw we were in the company of men who were as unlike as they could be to the common order of the natives of the surrounding districts. They had fine oval faces, large eyes, and high noses, denoting the best blood of Abyssinia. Having shaken hands in true English style, which is the peculiar custom of the men of this country, the ever-smiling Rumanika begged us to be seated.” And this was only the beginning of a long experience of gentle and upright courtesy. It was here that Captain Grant, the companion of Speke, fell dangerously ill, and was tended by the people of Karagué with constant devotion. On one occasion, Rumanika took his visitors out on a pic-nic. “ The whole scenery was most beautiful. Green and fresh, the slopes of the hills were covered with grass, with small clumps of soft, cloudy-looking acacias growing at a few feet only above the water, and above them, facing over the hills, fine detached trees, and here and there the gigantic medicinal aloe. I landed with all the dignity of a prince, when the royal band struck up a march, and we all moved on to Rumanika's frontier palace, talking away in a very complimentary manner, not unlike the very polite and flowery fashion of educated Orientals." With regard to the religion of these people, Speke tells us that Rumanika had no idea of God, or of a future state. But this statement is not reconcileable with other things he relates, such as Rumanika's telling him that God was displeased at a quarrel which had occurred between him and his brothers about the sovereignty, and also at the report he heard of the manner of Rumanika's election. When Dagara his father died, the three sons were subjected to a test. A small, mystic drum, of only a feather's weight, was placed before them, but no one could raise it except Rumanika, “whom the spirits were inclined towards as the rightful successor." And it seems quite probable that Rumanika did not choose to communicate to his lively guest his full ideas on these subjects, as the latter invariably describes the king as replying to his questions on these points in a laughing manner. It was in this locality that the travellers fell in with a most interesting people. These were the Watusi, a race of