« PredošláPokračovať »
only by myself, but by a great many of those persons who are most interested in the improvement of medical study, for a considerable number of years. I do not know whether anything will come of it this half-century or not; but the thing has to be done. It is not a speculative notion; it lies patent to everybody who is accustomed to teaching, and knows what the necessities of teaching are; and I should very much like to see the first step taken by those who are concerned making up their minds that it has to be done somehow or other.
The last point to which I may advert is one which concerns the action of the profession itself more than anything else. We have arrangements for teaching, we have arrangements for the testing of qualifications, we have marvellous aids and appliances for the treatment of disease in all sorts of ways; but I do not find in London at the present time, in this little place of four or five million inhabitants which supports so many things, any organisation or any arrangement for advancing the science of medicine, considered as a pure science. I am quite aware that there are medical societies of various kinds; I am not ignorant of the lectureships at the College of Physicians and the College of Surgeons; there is the Brown Institute ; and there is the Society for the Advancement of Medicine by Research, but there is no means, so far as I know, by which any person who has the inborn gifts of the investigator and discoverer of new truth, and who desires to devote them to the improvement of medical science, can carry out his intention. In Paris, there is the University of Paris, which gives degrees; but there are also the Sorbonne and the Collége de France, places in which professoriates are established for the express purpose of enabling men who have the power of inves-tigation, the power of advancing knowledge and thereby reacting on practice, to do that which it is their special mission to do. I do not know of anything of the kind in London; and it it should so happen that a Claude Bernard or a Ludwig should turn up in London, I really have not the slightest notion of what we could do with him. We could not turn him to account, and I think we should have to export him to Germany or France. I doubt whether that is a good or a wise condition of things. I do not think it is a condition of things which can exist for any great length of time, now that people are every day becoming more and more awake to the importance of scientific investigation and to the astounding and unexpected manner in which it everywhere reacts upon practical pursuits. I should look upon the establishment of some institution of that kind as a recognition on the part of the medical profession in general, that if their great and beneficent work is to be carried on, they must, like other people who have such work to do, contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the only way in which experience shows that it can be advanced.
T. H. HUXLEY.
A WALK TO COOMASSIE.
As one stands on the bare sandy shores of a tropical country, under a sweltering sun, and views the distant dark and shady forest, there is an almost irresistible inclination to rush into it and hide away from the powerful penetrating rays that almost bear one down, as well as from the bright glare of sea and sparkling sand, so trying to the optics of Europeans.
Nor is it less tempting to flee from the noisy tumult of a surfbound shore, lashed to fury by great Atlantic rollers; for, though pleasing enough at first to watch the snowy wreaths of spray curling up the beach, the great sound becomes alternately monotonous, unpleasant, and detestable, in proportion as the coast malaria and its remedies work upon the nerves and lower the system.
On reaching the summit of any of the several eminences around Cape Coast Castle—one of the chief towns of the Gold Coast Colonya noble forest is displayed to view, the horizon being occasionally broken by clusters of monster trees topping patches of rising ground, whilst, greeting the eye for many a long mile northward is an unbroken wall of green, softened, and eventually shrouded, by hanging
On an afternoon towards the end of October, between the sets of a game of lawn tennis on Connor's Hill—the military sanitarium-I got a first view of the dense forest, then wrapped in mist, shaded by sombre hazy clouds, through which the gun was making vain efforts of a setting show, but only succeeded in diffusing a sallow complexion around, until, on reaching the horizon, it burst into a brilliant red for a brief space before abruptly retiring for the night. Inland to the east and north long dark lines radiating downwards showed that heavy rain was falling, and ominous features here and there in the landscape made it more or less apparent where tornadoes raged. The aspect, so dark and dreary, was not so enchanting at first sight as an intending traveller might wish; yet, with all its imaginary drawbacks, there is a certain charm in penetrating the great primeval forest full of so many quaint ways and customs not to be met with on the beaten tracks of civilisation.
It was at the period of the latter rains' and rather warm-4' N.
lat.—that with a few unarmed Fantee and Crepi carriers and interpreters I started for a walk through the Ashantee country to Coomassie, taking a few necessary tinned stores, a hammock in case of illness, a fox terrier, materials for collecting specimens, animal and vegetable, together with some loads of presents for kings and chiefs ; the latter an absolute necessity--the passport, in fact.
On emerging from Cape Coast the road immediately narrows to a footpath, winding through stunted bush over undulating ground, crested by clumps of large trees, the lower levels being wet, with a covering of tall, sedgy grass, through which many long-tailed humming birds of rich plumage are constantly to be seen flitting, and dragon flies, amongst numerous worthy representatives of their order (Neuroptera) are seen to immense advantage as they hover round the variegated wild flowers that grow there in rich profusion. Native villages
About every half hour their presence is betokened by groves of palm and cocoa-nut trees under which thrive plantain and banana, which constitute the food and wealth of those living in proximity to the coast. As a matter of course, these villages are vastly superior to those further north, many houses being constructed on regular lines, with an upper floor, doors that lock, and framed pictures on the walls. This is in a great measure due to the fact that the boys who travel to the coast towns often remain there as servants, whence they merge into the artisan and skilled labourer, returning after a while to renovate their old villages with plumb-line and square.
Four hours from Cape Coast is the village of Brofu-yedo, the first of a series so named by the Ashantees in the war of 1873-4, meaning
the English are heavy.' Time after time, when the Ashantees recoiled before the invincible advance of Sir Garnet Wolseley's force, they were constrained to use that expression to denote where they were worsted or overwhelmed. North-west from Assayboo branches a small path to Abrakrampa, where the enemy made a prolonged and vigorous attack upon a British garrison. Though unsuccessful, it tended to show the pluck and determination of the Ashantees, who had wandered thus far from their country to beard the white man in his den.
N.N.E. of Assay boo stands Acroful, a large village prettily situated, now as salient a point as a Wesleyan (native) mission station as it was a strategical one during the war. The missionary, who speaks a little English, has a large mission house, and, in addition to his own services, is continually making a circuit of the outlying villages, in conjunction with a brother missionary stationed at Dunquab, a day's march north.
These native gentlemen are hospitable, and delighted to see a white man. They are keen for news, and love to get a newspaper. I gave an old copy of the Times to one of them, who, with great difficulty and much pleasure spelled half through the front advertisement sheet during the evening; he would probably finish the paper in the
course of a week or two, and then he would have not only a feast of conversation on circuit, but a covering for the bare walls and literature for the children, until the ants devoured it. On my asking him how he amused himself generally, he replied that he read sermons, of which his collection was old and odd. Around his bush mansion were some very fine cocoa-nut trees, of which he dashed' me some of the fruit; refreshing it is, too, after a tramp to have a draught of the milk, always cool and sweet.
On leaving Acroful the scene changes from low bush to the great primeval forest in all its glory; gigantic trees, from two to three hundred feet in height, with branchless boles, hold perpetual sway, each one with outstretched arms appearing a very forest in itself. The path threads its way through everlasting shade, which gives the trellised green foliage a sombre hue, ever and anon brightened and intensified by gleams of sunshine peeping through the verdant labyrinth.
Frequent villages are seen on the way to Dunquah and Yankoomassie, both of which are large, the former possessing a missionary and the latter a king, who was the first to relieve me of some of my presents and lighten the carriers' loads.
Native carriers are a terrible nuisance, but they are a necessary evil, for it is the only means of transport in this country. Draught animals won't live; there are no roads for wheeled traffic, neither are there vehicles, so the traveller must perforce pack his goods in small bundles and see them mounted on the heads of native grumblers. First they complain of the weight, then of weather, distance, and chop, as all food on the coast is designated, and very often refuse to budge. But the sight of a whip acts like spurs to a horse they are often effective as persuaders without being used.
A few hours further on lies the pleasant and somewhat populous village of Incran, where resides a genial and autocratic chief. By repute he is wealthy and well-to-do, possessing, amongst other treasures, two looking-glasses, eight umbrellas, a hammock, a real bed, crockery, an armoury of ancient firelocks, two framed pictures of the Prince and Princess of Wales, and a coloured group of Her Majesty the Queen and Royal Family, of which he is very proud. The latter were purchased at a coast town years ago, probably in exchange for a valuable tusk of ivory or parcel of gold dust.
The latter rains' which prevail in the forest at this time of year are by no means pleasant, being cold and heavy, though fortunately of short duration. Generally speaking, a sudden and brilliant flash or two of lightning, accompanied by loud peals of thunder, usher in the storm that breaks immediately overhead ; a whisp or two of cold wind scudding up the path precede the roaring tornado and terminal deluge which are in full swing before there is scarce time to don the oilskin. Forest tornadoes are unique. The most powerful current of
wind, having absorbed the counter currents, gravitates downwards, and thence by wild vagaries through the bush, snatching up an occasional cloud of dead leaves, which are again left to meander back again; saplings sway to each other for support; the strong bend and recover, the weak succumb and are laid at rest, as it were, in the arms of some monster parent. Finally, there is a great gathering of strength, and the mighty current hurls itself with irresistible fury at some worthy monarch, which, with a mighty crash, is borne to its eternal rest in the soft forest bed, there to lie in state, shrouded by lichens, under Nature's green mantle, until a generation's leaves have raised their monument over fallen majesty. Lying across the track such sights are frequently to be seen, rather favouring the theory that the vacuum of a path cut in the bush, small though it be, inducts the motive power that does its direful work.
It is remarkable to observe, too, the effect of multitudinous footmarks which the patives have planted in crossing these fallen trees, in many cases the indentations being clearly defined, as if a model foot had been moulded into the trunk.
Half an hour from Incran the welcome and somewhat unusual sound of running water greets the ear-unusual, because there is nothing but stagnant water along the coast and a paucity of springs inland. The little river Wanquah, here trending east and south, is typical of all the Ashantee rivers, in which stony reaches, tiny cascades, and deep shady pools alternate. Here the natives ply their nets successfully, obtaining an ample supply of fish, which, with plantains, constitute their daily food. Isaac Walton is unknown to them; when they saw me trying a venture with an improvised hook and bamboo cane they expressed their thoughts in unmistakable looks—a fool at one end and worm at the other;' nor were they very far wrong, for my sport was nil, though possibly the bait-parrot’s. leg—had something to do with it.
En route to Mansue the scene presents a striking picture of woodland hills and ravines, threaded by innumerable small streams nestling in huge groves of bamboo, so huge and dark, indeed, that it is like entering a tunnel as the path courses through them. The rains soon find their level in this region; consequently the path is, as a rule, clear. Its edges are lined with such a fringe of wild flora as would gladden the heart of a professional botanist, to whom a large field for investigation is open. Bluebells predominate ; but tulips, lilies, convolvuluses, hyacinths, and forget-me-nots are continually to be seen. Orchids and ferns pursue an upchecked career, the sight of them becoming almost monotonous by reason of their luxuriant growth. Altogether, the solid wall of green foliage on either side of the wayfarer imparts a prison-like aspect—a prison of leaves instead of stone, though not less irksome. Not less striking are the entrances to many of the villages in this district; regular groves of wild laurel and