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Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 61, No. 380, June, 1847   By:

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No. CCCLXXX. JUNE, 1847. Vol. LXI.


The circumnavigation of the world is now a matter of ordinary occurrence to our bold mariners: and after a few years it will be a sort of summer excursion to our steamers. We shall have the requisitions of the Travellers' Club more stringent as the sphere of action grows wider; and no man will be eligible who has not paid a visit to Pekin, or sunned himself in Siam.

But a circuit of the globe on terra firma is, we believe, new. Sir George Simpson will have no competitor, that we have ever heard, to claim from him the honour of having first galloped right a head from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Pacific to the British Channel. One or two slight divergencies of some thousand miles down the smooth and sunny bosom of the Pacific, are to be reckoned as mere episodes: but Sir George soon recovers his course, plunges in through the regions of the polar star; defies time, trouble, and Tartary; marches in the track of tribes, of which all but the names have expired; follows the glories of conquerors, whose bones have mingled five hundred years ago with the dust of the desert; gives a flying glance on one side towards the Wall of China, and on the other towards the Arctic Circle; still presses on, till he reaches the confines of the frozen civilisation of the Russian empire; and sweeps along, among bowing governors and prostrate serfs, still but emerging from barbarism until he does homage to the pomp of the Russian court, and finally lands in the soil of freedom, funds, and the income tax.

What the actual object of all this gyration may have been, is not revealed, nor, probably, revealable by a "Governor of the Hudson's Bay territories," who, having the fear of other governors before his eyes, dedicates his two handsome volumes to "The Directors of the Hudson's Bay Company;" but the late negotiations on Oregon, the Russian interest in the new empire rising on the shore of the Northern Pacific, the vigorous efforts of Russia to turn its Siberian world into a place of human habitancy, and the unexpected interest directed to those regions by the discovery of gold deposits which throw the old wealth of the Spanish main into the shade, might be sufficient motives for the curiosity of an individual of intelligence, and for the anxious inquiries of a great company, bordering on two mighty powers in North America, both of them more remarkable for the vigour of their ambition than for the reverence of their hunters and fishers for the jus gentium .

Those volumes, then, will supply a general and a very well conceived estimate of immense tracts of the globe, hitherto but little known to the English public. The view is clear, quick, and discriminative. The countries of which it gives us a new knowledge are probably destined to act with great power on our interests, some as the rivals of our commerce, some as the depôts of our manufactures, and some as the recipients of that overflow of population which Europe is now pouring out from all her fields on the open wilderness of the world.

This spread of emigration to the north is a curious instance of the reflux of the human tide; for, from the north evidently was Europe originally peopled. Japhet was a powerful propeller; and often as he has dwelt in the tents of Shem, he is likely to overwhelm the whole territory of the southern brother once more. The Turk, the Egyptian, the man of Asia Minor, the man of Thrace, will yet be but tribes in that army of the new Xerxes which, pouring from Moscow, and impelled from St Petersburg, will renew the invasions of Genghiz and Tamerlane, and try the civilized strength of the west against the wild courage and countless multitudes of Tartary. Into this strange, but important, and prospectively powerful country, we now follow the traveller. Embarking from Liverpool in the Caledonia, a vessel of 1300 tons and 450 horse power, he was amply prepared to face the perils of the most stormy of all oceans, the Atlantic... Continue reading book >>

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