« AnteriorContinuar »
medal to be of the highest antiquity.–The second medal is of the city of Mitylene, and exhibits the head and the lyre of Apollo. -The third is of the city of Methymna, which contains, on one side, a head armed with a helmet, and, on the other, an unknown animal. The medals of Chio here engraven are common ; one represents a vale, another, two Genii making li. bations, and a third (which is of gold, and much more rare than the others), a fabulous animal.
ART. IV. Memoires concernant l'Histoire, les Sciences, les Arts, les Mæurs, les
Usages, & c.--Memoirs concerning the History, Sciences, Arts, Manners, Cuftoms, &c. of the Chinese. By the Missionaries of Pekin. Vols. V. & VI.
idea of China, and its firs intercourse with Europe. It was not composed at Pekin, but at Paris, by an anonymous writer, and its design is to give the more uninstruct. ed class of Readers such preliminary notions of different epochas of the Chinese empire, of its revolutions, religion, laws and manners, as may enable them to peruse these Memoirs of the Missionaries with intelligence and profit. The second Memoir, which is composed by the Ex-Jesuit Amiot, one of the most learned and celebrated of the Missionaries, is a continuation of the lives or portraits of the more eminent Chinese emperors, empreses, warriors, ministers, and men of letters, which was begun in the third volume of this work. We have 24 of these portraits in the volume before us, though the editors, in their preface, mention only ten. The lines of these portraits are sometimes interesting, sometimes whimsical, gencrally speaking insipid, seldom striking or sublime. They are not unpleasant reading: but there are in these two volumes other objects that have a superior title to our attention. These biographical portraits fill about 400 pages, which is a space rather too great for their importance.
The remainder of this volume consists of some obscrvations on the wines, spirituous liquors, and vinegar of China ; on the dried raisins of Ha-mi, and the territory of that little tributary kingdom ; on certain remedies; on the manner of dying stuff's in China ; on the Apricot tree, and on the Mug-wort, The wine of China is a kind of beer, made of wheat, rice, or rys, into which, when it is boiling, they throw either choice herbs, or spices, or honey, or sugar, or fruits of different kinds, fresh
* For our former accounts of this work, see App. to Reviews, Vols, LV. and LIX.
or dried, from whence the wine derives different names accord. ing to the mixture, and is called quince-wine, cinnamon-wine, raisin-wine, and so forth. The form of the vefsels employed by the Chinese to boil and bake, with the vapour of hot water, and the manner of distilling an aqua vitæ, or gin, from the larger millet, in the northern provinces, and from wild rice or sugar-canes, in the southern, are particularly described by our Author. The dried raisins of Ha mi lead the learned Milionary into a discussion concerning the high antiquity of raisins and raisin-wine in China. There are, at present, a great number of vines in the provinces of Chan-tong, Ho-nan, Chan-fi, and Pe-the-li; and the later Emperors, and particularly the reigning Prince, has ordered the importation of a confiderable quantity from foreign countries, to supply the Chinese with a fufficient quantity of fresh and dried raisins, which they eat with pleasure, and often employ medically. The dried raisins of Ha-mi are the most celebrated : they are of two kinds; the one resembling our currants, and frequently employed in medicine; the other, in high request as a table-delicacy, and superior in flavour to the small grapes in Provence, which are called Pasarilles. Infusions of dried raisins of the first kind are employed in China, as an effe&tual and excellent method of accelerating the eruption of the small-pox, when the weakness of the patient required it: it is also employed to promote perspiration in certain malignant fevers and pleurisies. Under the article of remedies, the Missionary mentions two, one of which is inaccessible almoft, on account of the high price and rarity of the ingredients, consisting of rubies, pearls, emeralds, &c. - the other is attainable, and is said to be effectual in bilious apoplexies; it consists of a pound and a half of spirits (eau de vie forte), aloes, myrrh, and frankincense, of each three drams (gros), and saffron half a dram. We pass over his account of the dyers art as it is practised in China, to mention a word or two of the Apricot-tree, of which there are three kinds in that country, one with double blofsoms, one that bears fruit, and one that is wild. The first of these three kinds is subdivided into four, the millefolia, the pale-yellow, the milk-white, and the common, whose bud appears at first red, and whose flower whitens as it opens and spreads itself. The fruit-bearing apricot-tree is of fix different kinds; that, whose fruit is yellow within, and of an excellent taste,- that, whose fruit is white within, and inferior to the former,-tbat, whose fruit is fleshcoloured, plump, and excellent,--that of the Cho:ui-bing, whose fruit is juicy, and of an exquisite perfume ; and two more of an inferior quality. There are various rules laid down bere for improving the apricot-tree and its fruit; among others, that of grafting it always on a natural stock, i. e, on one of its own
species, and reingrafting on the preceding graft. The wild apricot-tree, of which there are three kinds, is of great use in China; its kernel yields a very good oil, which is used in the demands of the kitchen and the table, in place of oil of olive. The peasants warm their stoves with the remains of the stone and kernel, and afterwards gather their alhes for manure. As the wild apricot-tree is covered with blossoms early in the spring, requires no culture, and grows in the poorest soil, it would be a useful addition to our European orchards.
Vol. VI. The first piece we meet with in this volume is an ample and curious dissertation, concerning the Mufic of the Chinese, both ancient and modern, which is the composition of the indefatigable Misfionary Amiot, and which, together with the Preface, Plates, and Index, fills 254 pages. This Dira course, which has been published apart, with Notes and Illuf. trations by the Abbé Roullier *, and which contains very fingular novelties with respect to the antiquity and perfection of the Chinese Mufic, will deserve a separare article ; and we propose to give it in a future Review. It turns the cables on M. de Guignes, and would make us believe, that the essential parts of music were discovered in China long before the Egyptians or the Greeks knew any thing of the matter. But M. de Guignes is a formidable adversary, being armed with all the offensive and defensive weapons (erudition, judgment and languages) that can enable a literary champion to come forth with dignity and success into this field of controversy. M. Amiot's Piece is, however, curious, profound, and learned : it disco vers an uncommon knowledge of the theory of music, but it is also full of cabalistical erudition, perplexity and mystery. The plates, that serve to illustrate it, are numerous ; and it contains researches that discover a more than Herculean labour in the wilds of ancient Chinese literature.
. This strange piece is followed by an Ejay on Sonorous Stones, which, in all ages, have been the most esteemed inftruments of Chinese Music. The various kinds of these stones are here particularly described"; and this description is not unworthy the attention of the lovers of Natural History.
- The next piece we meet with in this volume, is the Extract of a letter from M. AMiot, dated the 28th of September 1777, and containing Observations on the work of Mr. P** (Pau), intitled, Philosophical Inquiries concerning the Egyptians and the Chinese. This book, which discovers more wit, capacity, eloquence, and felf fufficiency, than erudition and adequate information, has been sharply animadverted on by the Abbé
* The author of a learned and ingenious work, concerning the music of the ancients. APP. Rey. Vol. Ixii.
Groffier, and other writers; and though we are inclined to think that Mr. Pau, in entertaining but a mean opinion of the genius, knowledge, and capacity of the Chinese, has rather taken the right side of the question, yet we cannot in conscience defend him against the charge of temerity and exagge: ration. Father Amiot treats him with little ceremony, and nevertheless does not seem inferior to him in the two qualities now mentioned. They appear to us to be both in the wrong, though Mr. Pau seems to exaggerate on the side of truth. As to Amiot's manner, the Reader may judge of it by the following sample: “ To say (as does Mr. P.) that the Chinese are a " barbarous, gross and ignorant people, without genius, laws, “ sciences, arts, or industry-that they are descendents of the “ Scythians, and received their first civilization, in the twelfth
century, from the Mongu! Tartars, who conquered their “ country, and founded the Dynasty of Yuen, is to affirm an “ absurdity of the groffest kind :- it is just (observes our Mif“ fionary) as if one should say, that the French are naturally “ ftupid, heavy, rough and cruel that they descend in a di“ rect line from the Hurons, and that it is only since they bave “ been scoured and polished by the Americans, whom they “ visited in the neighbourhood of Quebec, that their manners u are become gentle, and that they have begun to cultivate the “ arts and sciences.” This is pleasantly raid, but the parallel is far from being just with respect to the Chinese, who are much nearer the Tartars in vicinity and ignorance, than the French are to the Hurons or Iroquois. So much for our Millionary's witty introduction.
The first objeót of this controversy is the population of China. Pau affirms, that the calculation which makes the inhabitants of China amount to 82 millions, is greatly exaggerated. Amiot is so far from being of this opinion, that he estimates their number at 200 millions. To confirm this estimate, he produces a lift, made in 1743, of all that paid taxes in the respective provinces, that is, of all the heads of families; and, on fumming up their numbers, be finds 28,516,428 families; in which enumeration, says he, women, children, and domeftics are not reckoned. The Chinese reckon, at an average, fix to a family; M. Amiot reduces this computation to five, and on this supposition makes the inhabitants of China amount to 142,582,400 fouls. But in this number the Millionary comprehenas neither the grand mandarins, the inferior ones, nor the lite. rati, nor the military, which amount, according to his calculations, to upwards of seven millions, which added to the enumeration above mentioned, make 149,663,000 fouls. Fifty millions are nevertheless still wanting to make up the 200 millions, at which our Missionary estimates the inhabitants of China. These he finds in the inhabitants of Pikin, which he reckons at two millions, the Mantcheou Tartars, who live among the Chinese, the tradesmen, the persons employed in the filk manufactures, and the populace of the cities, which are not registered. But the computations of M. Amiot are liable to great difficulties, and are certainly arbitrary and uncertain in several respects. He comprehends in his enumeration districts and provinces that belong to Tartary, and not to China ; and he calculates often from registers of the same districts, that are discordant and contradictory. When it is considered, that the enumerations of the inhabitants of China have been different under different dynasties, as all the Emperors did not possess the same extent of territory,- that the wars with the Tartars often obliging the Chinese to withdraw in great numbers towards the fouth, rendered certain provinces more populous at one period than they were at another,-that the numbers of the poor, the straggling labourers, and of those that ply on the rivers, cannot be easily computed, -and that many of the registers are evidently arbitrary; we find ourselves disposed to suspend our determination of the controversy between M. Amiot and M. Pau, relative to the object now under consideration. If population had gone on increasing in China, from the third century before the Christian æra (which was the period of their rising power), the Chinese might have sent into Tartary numerous colonies, which would have peopled that country, and civilized its inhabitants. But this has not been the case; and notwithstanding all the pompous relations of the Millionaries, it is certain, that a bad administration, the extortions and oppressive conduct of civil and military officers,—the revolutions occafioned by the establishment of different dynasties,-famine,-epidemics,-inundations,-wars, - massacres,—and the fall of great ministers, involving their friends and families in ruin, keep population within certain bounds, and hinder it from rising to a pitch that would produce new and fatal revolutions.
which Mm 2
With respect to the astronomy of the Chinese, M. Pau has affirmed, that they were never capable even of composing an almanack; that they did not understand the calculations made for them by the Missionaries; that in the year 1505, they had no idea either of the longitude or of the latitude of their country, and so on. Our Miffionary opposes to this charge of ignorance some scattered facts, which M. Bailli, in his History of Astronomy, has proved insufficient to ascertain the astronomical knowledge of the Chinese ; and he concludes this article with a pompous and unfaithful panegyric on the science of that people. But what shocks us really in a particular manner is, his affirming with impudence (pardon the term), that “ of all