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An African Letter.
To MRS. G. H. VIRTUE.
Thou better half of Virtue, gentle friend,
Before leaving this branch of my subject, I may notice three interesting epistles penned far beyond the pale of European civilisation. Shortly after the lamented death of Captain Speke the traveller, His Highness Sured Majid, one of the most influential of the African chiefs, addressed a very touching letter of condolence to his father, which was intrusted to Colonel Playfair, the British Consul at Zanzibar, for transmission to England. It was accompanied by the following English translation:
In the name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful. To our distinguished and honoured friend, Mr. Speke, may his glory be perpetuated. May he never cease to be protected from every misfortune, and guarded from every ill afterwards. The reason of our writing this letter is to inquire after your condition. May God avert from us and you every adversity. Secondly, we have heard from the friend of all, Colonel Playfair, consul of the exalted Government, of what has happened to your son, our friend Captain Speke, and our heart is grieved
Queen Pomare V.
not a little. May God bestow upon you resignation, and cause good to arise even out of misfortune. This is the way of the world. Anything that you may desire of us, by the assistance of God we shall perform. Peace is the best conclusion. From your friend Majid, son of Sured, son of Sultan. 4 Regib 1281 (3d December 1864).
In the course of a four years' tour round the world, the vocalists and bell-players, known as the Alleghanians, who visited Edinburgh towards the end of the year 1865, gave several concerts at Otaheite; and on their departure from the capital of the island, they received a letter from Queen Pomare, of which the following is a translation :—
TO THE ALLEGHANIANS.
NOTHING has given me more pleasure than to meet you children of song.
Oh, that you might remain upon
our fair island always!
The last of the three distant epistles already referred to is the celebrated Abyssinian letter to the Queen of England, which Mr. Bernal Osborne declared in the House of Commons was likely to cost the nation the trifling sum of £5,000,000:
Theodoros of Ethiopia.
IN the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, one God in Trinity, chosen by God, King of Kings, Theodoros of Ethiopia, to Her Majesty Victoria, Queen of England.-I hope your Majesty is in good health. By the power of God, I am well. My fathers, the Emperors, having forgotten our Creator, He handed over their kingdom to the Gallas and Turks. But God created me, lifted me out of the dust, and restored this empire to my rule. He endowed me with power, and enabled me to stand in the place of my father. By His power I drove away the Gallas. But for the Turks, I have told them to leave the land of my ancestors. They refuse. I am now going to wrestle with them. Mr. Plowden and my late Grand Chamberlain, the Englishman Bell, used to tell me that there is a great Christian Queen who loves all Christians. When they said to me this, "We are able to make you known to her, and to establish friendship between you," then, in those times, I was very glad. I gave them my love, thinking that I had found your Majesty's good-will. All men are subject to death; and my enemies, thinking to injure me, killed these my friends. But, by the power of God, I have exterminated those enemies, not leaving one alive, although they were of my own family, that I may get, by the power of God, your friendship. I was prevented by the Turks occupying the sea-coast from sending you an embassy when I was in difficulty. Consul Cameron arrived with a letter and presents of friendship. By the power of God, I was very glad hearing of your welfare and being assured of your amity. I have received your presents, and thank you much. I fear that if I send Ambassadors, with presents of amity, by Consul Cameron, they may be arrested by the Turks. And now I wish that you may arrange for the safe passage of my Ambassadors everywhere on the road. I wish to have an
answer to this letter by Consul Cameron, and that he may conduct my embassy in England. See how the Islam oppress the Christian.
The recent death of Mr. Peabody, the American philanthropist, induces me to insert another letter to the Queen, in the shape of that gentleman's reply to Her Majesty's gracious acknowledgment of his munificent gift to the poor of London. The allusions to his prosperous career, and the happiness which he had experienced under Her Majesty's 'benign rule,' are not less felicitous than his well-merited tribute to the Queen's sympathy with the humblest of her subjects; and the concluding reference to the kindly feeling of the Queen of the United Kingdom towards a citizen of the United States,' is very pleasingly expressed :
THE PALACE HOTEL, BUCKINGHAM GATE,
MADAME, I feel sensibly my inability to express in adequate terms the gratification with which I have read the letter which your Majesty has done me the high honour of transmitting by the hands of Earl Russell.
On the occasion which has attracted your Majesty's attention of setting apart a portion of my property to ameliorate the condition and augment the comforts of the poor of London, I have been actuated by a deep sense of gratitude to God, who has blessed me with prosperity, and of attachment to this great country, where,
to the Queen of England.
under your Majesty's benign rule, I have received so much personal kindness, and enjoyed so many years of happiness.
Next to the approval of my own conscience, I shall always prize the assurance which your Majesty's letter conveys to me of the approbation of the Queen of England, whose whole life has attested that her exalted station has in no degree diminished her sympathy with the humblest of her subjects.
The portrait which your Majesty is graciously pleased to bestow on me I shall value as the most precious heirloom that I can leave in the land of my birth, where, together with the letter which your Majesty has addressed to me, it will ever be regarded as an evidence of the kindly feeling of the Queen of the United Kingdom towards a citizen of the United States.
I have the honour to be your Majesty's most obedient servant, GEORGE PEABODY.
To Her Majesty the Queen.
On this side of the Atlantic, however, it is probably more common. to associate our American cousins with a special vein of humour than with delicacy of sentiment. Most of the best humourists of America are said to hail from the West; and if their fun is somewhat coarse, it is certainly less strained and more genuine than that of New England. Thus, while California was the cradle of John Phenix and Mark Twain, the 'Rev. Petroleum Nasby' and 'Artemus Ward' both belonged to the State of Ohio. It