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more extensive the mortality, could effect the object, for which Bonaparte had sent their predecessors. They would most certainly share a similar fate, and if the climate and the fortune of war, would not destroy them in two years, it would in three.

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“Humano capiti cervicem pictor equinam

Jungere si velit, et varias inducere plumas
Undique collatis membris, ut turpiter atrum
“ Desinat in piscem mulier formosa supernè;
“Spectatum admissi risum teneatis, amici?
“Credite, Pisones, isti tabulæ fore librum
“Persimilem, cujus, velut ægri somnia, vanz
'Fingentur species; ut nec pes, nec caput uni
“Reddatur forma."


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suppose a painter to a human head
“ Should join a horse's neck, and widely spread
“ The various plumage of the foather'd kind
“O'er limbs of different beasts, absurdly joined;
“Or if he gave to view a beauteous maid
“ Above the waist with every charm array'd,
“Should a foul fish her lower parts enfold,
“Would you not laugh such pictures to behold?
Such is the book, that, like a sick man's dreams,
Varies all shapes, and mixes all extremes.



THE great wall, which separates China from Tartary, has next to the peculiarity of their language been esteemed the most conclusive evidence of their high antiquity. But this stupendous fabric was, agreeably to their own records, constructed by the commands of Chi-hoang-ti, so late as two hundred years' before Christ, and cannot therefore be alleged to prove a more remote age. Its magnitude, it is true, is astonishingly prodigious, being fifteen hundred miles in extent, and of the breadth of sixty feet; and though it is an irrefragable argument for the populousness of the country, and the tyranny of the government, yet cannot be warped, by any subtlety of reasoning, to cvince their great age, or superior sagacity. Objects are immense or diminutive, as their local situation or comparative position augments or diminishes their importance. And happily for the fame of the great wall, the Chinese are destitute of every monument which might attract notice for its beauty, taste, or stability, or derrogate from the mightiness of this huge memorial of folly, and loss of labour. That it surpasses in bulk any of the works of refined Europe, luxurious Asia, or scientific Egypt, cannot add to its utility or importance; and is worthy of attention, only as it exhibits the power of aggregated labour. As a means of defence it is imbecile and inefficient in its purpose, and shows evident marks of that barbarity, in which the Chinese were pro. bably immersed, at the time it was constructed, for we find that these walls were common as a means of defence, both in Africa and Asia in the earliest periods of their history;* and we like. wise perceive the sturdy Britons using the same method to guard against the irregular incursions of the ferocious Picts; and we may form a reasonable conjecture of the state of the Chinese, at that time, from the known ignorance, imbecility, and want of conduct in the Britons; who though possessed of valour, were totally destitute of auxiliary means to render it effectual;

and too ignorant to devise resources to avert the dangers which . incessantly threatened them.t

From having held at a former period, similar notions of the antiquity and civilization of the Chinese, with the credulous and idle, we are induced to apprehend from this experience, that those who so readily give their assent to hyperbolical and vauge assertions, are too supine to investigate into their foundation, or too timid to exercise their reason. In a conversation some

* See De Pauw's Dissertation.

+ Hume, vol. i p. xi.

time ago with a physician of this city eminent for his talents, and remarkable for his genius, we stated with ingenuousness our sentiments respecting this unique people: that those sentiments were diametrically contrary to those now maintained, is true; but at that period, we had neither read nor reflected much on the topic, but believed upon the authority of fallacious repre. Sentations, what an acquaintance with the subject has impelled us to discard.

The question regarding the great age of China, has been discussed with more attention, because it involves the supposition of their possessing in the sacred archives of state, any science or knowledge, of which other civilized nations are destitute;. and which it has been imagined could only be ascertained in the course of future ages; when Europeans would acquire a knowledge of the language, and the Christian religion be diffused through that immense empire, agrecably to the prophecy of our Lord, of its universal adoption by all the nations of the earth. But the possibility of their having any science or knowledge peculiar to themselves is wholly destroyed by these two circumstances: the extreme superstition and credulity of their inhilo&ophers and literati, if a few trite maxims can constitute the one, and the absence of literature the other; and, secondly, because if they had had possession of such knowledge or science, it is reasonable to infer, from the disposition of the people, and the inflexibility of their customs, that they would never have violated a fundamental lasy, and jarred the prejudices of the vulgar, by the admission of foreigners to the first literary posts, to the exclusion and injury of natives, equally endowed with the requisite qualifications. What inducement could actuate them to so contradictory a scheme, which could not superadd to their reputation, but would indubitably lessen them in the eyes of all civilized nations? To preserve the people in a state of ignorance and degradation, suitable to slavery, might have been a reason worthy of a tyrannic prince, for circumscribing the extension of letters, by the employment of foreigners, who are beheld with a jealousy, and watched with a vigilance, which effectually precludes a frequent or secret correspondence with the natives. -That this was not the motive however is incontrovertibly eviden


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ced; in their endeavours to initiate the Chinese youth in the knowledge and mystery of their language, which is the only requisite attainment for admission to office, and ascension to power.

The necessary qualifications for eligibility to office, likewise demonstrates their profound ignorance, and the total absence of every principle implying science or refinement. The process necessary for the induction of a candidate; is this: being strictly searched by the superintending officers, to prevent the concealment of writings, which would give facility or beauty to their compositions; a theme is given to each, with the requisite implements for writing, and they are shut in separate apartments; within the time limited a discourse must be produced, whose excellence is judged of according to its consonance with these three rules:

That every character be neatly, and accurately formed.

That it be chosen with propriety, and not used by the common fieople.

That the same character is not twice expressed in a similar sense, in the same discourse.*

'What principle of science, degree of judgment, or propriety of language is there manifested in these three absurd rules, which indicate not order and classification of thought, adaptation of parts, nor conception of the sublime? These are the three indispensable requisites in the mere formation of a congruous treatise on any topic, and in these we find them wholly wanting. Nor can it be alleged as an objection against this argument, that the above rules related merely to the diction and not to the sense or method of the discourse; for we are told that these were the only tests by which their excellence was determined, and the authors of them promoted.† Besides these characteristics of their writings, betray too palpably on the outside, the character and disposition of the government, which ordains such literary examinations, to allow the truth of them to be dissembled or doubted. In the neat letters or characters, in their not being in vogue among the vulgar, and in not occurring twice in the same * Barrow, p. 177.

† ib. 178.



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writing, we see distinctly the magnificent, haughty and formal features of the government, and their devoted attention to the external and ornamental trappings of state, more calculated to inspire awe and admiration, than to be productive of utility and happi

If therefore they have the great age ascribed to them, they must at least be allowed to be old in ignorance, and to have spent their age in useless endeavours to inspire the people with notions of their divine power and wisdon; and neglecting the proper means of approximating to these celestial attributes, by cultivating a love of wisdom, promoting the diffusion of happiness, and protecting the people from oppression.

That the Chinese can exhibit no indubitable proof of their antiquity, is itself sufficiently evictive of the fallacy of their claims; for it is very observable, that every other nation can undoubtedly attest their age, by the memorials they have kept of their youth. Yet the Chinese more vehement than any other people on this subject can adduce only fable to sustain asseveration; and as their vanity is more inflated by this circumstance than any other, it might be expected without extravagance, that they would strive to perpetuate, what yielded such extraordinary gratification; for their pretensions are not peculiar to one age or dynasty, but pervade their history from Fo-hi to Kien-long. It may be said on the opposite side that it was needless to preserve or exhibit evidence, of what the superstitious ignorance of the Chinese, induced them to swallow with ayidity, without inquiring into its origin, or doubting of its authenticity; and that it was impossible they could foresee a denial of what they esteemed it a sacrilege to doubt; or not doubting themselves, never apprehended disbelief in others. Yet in reply,


may be emphatically observed, that the scrupulous attention which they devoted to the preservation of more minute circumstances, implies no propensity to disregard less trivial objects; that as knowledge is circumscribed in its bounds, attention to trifles becomes habitual, and that when vanity augments the importance of them, they are kept with sacred care: and if a personage such as their Fo-hi ever had existence, would it not have been as feasible to preserve his slippers, made sacred by the feet of the Son of Heaven, as to save from destruction the jacket of Mahomet?


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