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“ the nations that cover the surface of the earth, there is none “ that can boast of a history so ancient, so authentic, and so “uninterrupted as the Chinese.” It happens, that the reverse of this assertion is true. The learned and judicious De GUIGNES has shown the uncertainty and spuriousness of Chinese history, in a Memoir, that is reviewed in this present Ap. pendix *; and other modern publications of great merit concur in overturning that visionary fabric of historical facts, which the Jesuits have been erecling and varnishing for many years, to amuse and aftonila the public, and to answer their own pur. poses.
M. Pau's charge of barbarity and imbecility against the Chinese, for allowing the castration of such multitudes for the class of eunuchs, is founded on undeniable fact. Our ExJesuit, unable to refute it, employs all his dulcet jargon to soften and diminish the atrocious horror of this practice. He tells us, that the victims suffer little in the operation, which is not so cruel and murtherous as it has been represented, that the number of eunuchs, which formerly was scarcely to be rec. koned, is now 'reduced to what is merely necessary, even to fix thousand (which is not true.)As to the accusation brought against the Chinese, of exposing their children in great numbers, this (supposing the fact untrue) is not the invention of M, Pau; for it is from the Missionaries themselves, that we have the accounts of this horrid custom ; and the Jesuits, who wrote the Lettres edifiantes, have affirmed, in several places, that the Chinese throw their children into the streets, lakes or rivers, where they miserably perifh. Missionary AMIOT does not deny, that of the children thus exposed several perilh ; but he charges nevertheless the account of his Brother-Missionaries with inaccuracy and error. He observes, that the crime under confideration is perpetrated only in the cities by the lowest of the populace,-that the government, not thinking it adviseable to punish it with severity, has, however, taken the most prudent measures to prevent its commiffion ;-that, for this purpose, five carriages set out every day before sun-rise, to take all the children that are exposed, dead or alive, in the different quarters of the city, and that the former are buried with the decent celebration of funeral rites, while the latter are placed in charity-houses under the wiselt regulations, where they are maintained and educated at the expence of the government. It cannot be denied, that this part of the Chinese police, if it be not adapted to prevent the custom of exposing children, is, at least, proper to save the lives of these innocent creatures, and to hinder their parents from putting them to death through,
the despair of poverty. These charitable houses are frequently visited by the magistrates; they are also visited by people of all ranks; and as the Chinese have a peculiar defire of leaving fuccessors to lament them, and to pay to their memories the duties of filial affection and piety, it frequently happens, that pere sons, who have no children, come to these houses, and chuse adoptive ones, whom they bring up as their own, and make them their heirs.
*There is something very singular in the funeral cuftoms observed with respect to such of the exposed children as are found dead. They are laid all together in a kind of sepulchre, where they are covered with a little quick-lime, that there Aesh may be soon consumed.
Once a year, a certain number of Mandarins come in ceremony to the charitable establishment above mentioned, where they are present at the construction of a pile, designed to reduce to alhes what remains of the bodies of the deceased infants. During the whole time that the pile is on fire, it is surrounded by a considerable number of Bonzes, who address prayers to the spirits of the earth, and to those who prefide over generations, beseeching them to thew themselves more favourable than they had formerly been, to these little creatures, when they shall again appear under a new form. When the prayers are finished, the pile consumed, and nothing remains but the athes, the Mandarin deputies make the multitude withdraw, and they themselves depart until the next day, when they return to be present at the ceremony of gathering up the ashes. These are collected, with a repetition of the ceremonies of the preceding day, are put into a fack, and thrown into the river, or the nearest stream. The Bonzes renew their prayers to the spirits of the waters and the spirits that preside over the generations, to grant their aslistance, in order to make the ashes exhale in vapours, and concur, as soon as possible, in the regeneration of some new beings, similar to those of which they are the remains, but happier in a longer and more perfect existence. - Our Milionary having inquired into the reason why these alhes were thrown into the water, instead of being buried in the earth, was told by a fensible and well-informed man what follows: “ The people are made to believe, that the ashes thrown « into the river, being thus more speedily diffolved, than they « would have been if committed to the earth, are sooner ca“ pable of becoming new beings, by rising in the air with the
watery exhalations.-But the true and political reason of “ throwing the ashes into the water, is, that before the inftitu« tion of this ceremony, the government had discovered, that “ a superstitious use was made of these ashes, by employing " them in magical operations and chymical experiments, in
“ order to bring to greater perfection, by the intervention of “ fire, the substances which enter into the composition of mixt “ bodies. It is more especially alleged, that these ashes, mixed *« with the earth of which the China ware is made, render the “ latter more folid, transparent and beautiful, than it would “ otherwise be.” If this remark be true, it may be poible to produce the same effect by the ashes of the bones of young animals.
A very general account of the Chinese government (or ra. ther of the Emperor's manner of governing), as also of the succession to the empire, is the next object of controversy between our Missionary and M. Pau, that we here meet with. This is followed by an account of the climate of Petchely, and a description of the ceremonies observed at the funeral of the Empress-Mother, who died the 2d of March 1777, the 420 year of the reign of Kien-long.
ART. V. Hifoire de l'Homme, consideré dans ses Moeurs, dans ses Usages, et dans la Vie privée, &c.—The History of san, confidered with respe&t to his Morals, Manners, and Customs in private Life. Vol. I. 12 mo. Paris. 1779.
HE encomiums that have been lavished upon hiftory, as
ture, will appear more or less undelerved to those who confider attentively the objects exhibited in almost all oke historical productions known to us, and more especially in modern hiftories. Is it in the recital of wais, revolutions, and conquests, in the exhibition of that uniform circle of viciffitudes and events, that relates to the fall or rise of empires, and is turned round by the main springs of rapacity and ambition, that we shall find the portraiture of human nature ? Is it here that we find man,—the primitive lines of his moral confticution,- the len.timents and manners that are the true ornaments of humanity, and the effufions and exertions of the human heart in the different scenes and relations of private life; in a word, thall we find here the true portrait of man? No certainly: our Author at least thinks as we do." In the midit (says he) of " that immense historical confuence of accumulated facts, “ which form (if I may so express myself) a colossal groupe, “ I look about for MAN, and can scarcely perceive him: I - see nothing of his aspect in private life : his morals and
manners escape my fight: I see him on the throne,- at the “ head of an army, - surrounded with, pomp, triumphal en“ signs, and marks of elevation and grandeur ; and instead of “ being entertained with a history of the human heart, I learn " the hiftory of the four parts of the world."
Our Author proposes to do better : his design is to give the true and complete history of man in all his aspects: the human underítanding, and the human heart, are the objects he proposes to unfold and illustrate in his moral and philosophical history. This bistory is divided into four periods. The first, which takes up entirely this fuft volutre, comprehends 1656 years, beginning with the creation, and ending with the deluge; the fecond, which is to employ the two succeeding volumics, comprehends 1164 years, which elapfed between the deluge and the fiege of Troy; the third period will bring down this history to the birth of Christ ; and the fourth to the present time.
The first volume only has yet appeared, wnich comprehends the first period. Here the birth of the world and of man are related. The origin of language, - the primitive language, agriculture,-population,-inventions,--discoveries,-- means of subsistence, and useful arts, are treated with a circumftantial detail :--the origin of idolatry and fuperftition is unfolded, civilization is described, in its degrees, progress, means and inStruments. We fce here, farther, cities built, nations formed, legilation introduced, subordination and laws established, civil government succeeding anarchy, lands divided, property regulated, commerce increasing, morals, virtues and vices exhibited in all their aspects, whether in private, domestic, or public life, until corruption of manners arose to that height, which drew down upon mankind the chastisement of Heaven in the universal deluge. Such are the principal contents of this first volume, in which the Author foliows the progress of the human mind with attention, describes its efforts and operations, its virtues and vices, with an exact and animated pencil, and Thews himself to be no mean master in the school of moral painters.
A r r.
VI. Lettres Physiques et Morales, sur l'Histoire de la Terre et de l'Homme, &c.
-LETTERS, Philofophical and Moral, concerning the Hittory of the Earth and of Man, addressed to the Quern of Great Britain, .&c. by J. A. De Luc, Citizen of Geneva, Reader to her Majelly, F. R. S. Correspondent Member of the Royal Academies of Sciences at Paris and Montpellier. In Five Volumes 8vo. Hague. 1760. Sold, in London, by Dodney, &c. 11. 101. fewed.
E-have not, in many years, met with a work more
replete with rational entertainment and solid instruction, and which we can more conscientiously recommend to the friends, and also to the enemies, of true philosophy, than the work now before us. It is not the hafty production of a few months, or the result of observations and experiments made
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with precipitation and rapidity; it is the fruit of a long, laborious, and attentive study of nature, carried on, with little interruption, during the space of thirty years; and it bears all the marks of a sagacious and experienced observer, a profound and original thinker, a sound logician, and a good man. It is filled with precious materials relative to the natural world, and to the branch of philofophy of which that world is more peculiarly the object ; and it exhibits rational, extensive, and noble views of the connection of Nature with its AUTHOR, and with the moral and religious system of the universe. As Man is not less the subject of this work than the globe he inhabits, a subject, to extensive and complicated in its relations, could not but open to this ardent, this eagle-eyed inquirer a vast and varied field of observation : so that M. De Luc, who has hitherto been only known as one of the first natural philosophers of our time, affumes here new aspects, ftill more interesting to humanity, namely, those of the moralift, the citizen, the friend of mang-who speaks the language of wisdom to the peasant, the artist, the legislator, and the sovereign, and appreciates with fenfibility, truth, and precision, the genuine sources of human felicity.
So much for the Author and his work in general: and now-a previous word to our Readers. The superficial Reader will here find things beyond his reach, but he may yet pick up many facts, truths, and observations, that will afford him much instruction and entertainment; and there is no Reader, who, with a competent degree of attention, may not comprehend the great and essential lines of our Author's system, with respect to the theory of the earth, and the destination of its principal inhabitant. It is also to be noticed, that there are parts in this Work, which (notwithstanding the peculiar merit of their assemblage) do not cease to be highly interesting, even when detached from the whole.—There is, for example, a rich field of curious objects for the lover of natural history :There are fubtile researches concerning matter and spirit, and their mysterious union, for the metaphysician :- there are important discussions, experiments, and results, for the natural philosopher :--there are useful views of rural and political economy for the true patriot :--and the ministers of religion will meet with judicious and interesting disquisitions, relative to their profession, polity, and the master-science, that connects the theory of this world with a prospect of a better.-In short(permit the metaphor) there is here a rich and varied feaft; and though all palates may not relish, nor every stomach be able io digest the contents of each dish, yet no guest need rise from table without having made a good meal, and many will make an exquifite one.