Monday, November 14, 2011

Blue Nile Discovered

"Custom!" retorted the stranger, "no such thing--damn'd bad custom, if
it is one--don't tell me of customs--'Sbodikins, man, I know the rate of
exchange all over the world, and have drawn bills from Timbuctoo--My
friends in the Strand filed it along with Bruce's from Gondar--talk to
me of premium on a Bank of England post-bill!--What d'ye look at the
bill for?--D'ye think it doubtful--I can change it."

As noted in the Edinburgh Edition of Walter Scott's "Saint Ronan’s Well", Gondar is the capital of Abyssinia, where Scottish travel writer James Bruce journeyed.  Bruce’s discovery of the source of the Blue Nile was made on November 14th, 1770.  For Bruce, the realization of his dearly held objective, brought not joy, but depression, as he relates in his “Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile”.  Perhaps Bruce didn't know what to do next.

‘I was, at that very moment, of what had, for many years, been the principal object of my ambition and wishes: indifference, which from the usual infirmity of human nature, follows, at least for a time, complete enjoyment, had taken place of it.   The marsh and the fountains, in comparison with the rise of many of our rivers, became now a trifling object in my sight.  I remembered that magnificent scene in my own native country, where the Tweed, Clyde, and Annan, rise in one hill; three rivers, as I now thought, not inferior to the Nile in beauty, preferable to it in the cultivation of those countries through which they flow; superior, vastly superior to it in the virtues and qualities of the inhabitants, and in the beauty of the flocks crowding its pastures in peace, without fear of violence from man or beast…Grief, or despondency, now rolling upon me like a torrent…

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