Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

The Sacred class presents crosses, vases, leaden seals, paintings, and inscriptions.

The Asiatic class has many curious monuments, idols, and coins.

Of the Cufic class the cardinal was the first great collector in Europe. The Cufic coins have been published by Adler at Rome, 1782, being the first numismatic work of that nature. Professor Affemani expresses his surprize at the long neglect in which the Cufic monuments have lain, though they be the remains of the Saracens or Arabs, a people who overturned the Persian empire, and contributed to the fall of the Grecian; and who, after spreading their conquests from the Indus to the Pgrenees, cultivated most arts and sciences with distinguilhed fuccess. He adds, that Nani, a Venetian senator, has a great collection of Cufic coins, which have been illustrated by Affemani himself in the Mufeo Cusco Nniano, &c. Padova, 1787. Besides the 101 coins of this class published by Adler, there are 500 more in the Borgian Museum unexplained. To this division also belong a patera, on which the noted temple of the Caaba

appears engraven, an idol of the Druses, a seal, and four gems, all published by Adler in the work above-mentioned; besides twenty other pateræ, some vafes with various figures and Cufic inscriptions, and eighty gems, inscribed plates of lead and other metals, a monumental marble with Cufic letters, a complete astrolabe in fine preservation, and the globe now illustrated. Add Cufic manuscripts, and it will appear that the Borgian Museum is not a little opulent in this uncommon class.

The learned author then proceeds to mention that the globe, about to be described, was constructed by an astronomer named Caissar, or Cæsar, the son of Abi Alcasem Alabraki, at the command of Muhammed Alkamel VI. king of Egypt, in the year of the Hegira 622, or of the Christian æra 1225, as appears from an inscription on it.

Our learned professor then gives us a Dissertation on the Astronomy of the Arabs, a people addicted to this science from very early times. Golius has observed that the Arabian names of Itars are mostly derived from pastoral life, and from the cate tle and focks ever before the eyes of the first inventors. Some names of constellations are given in the book of Job, who, according to our author, and many other writers, was an Arab. But concerning the Arabian astronomy, prior to the age Mohammed their prophet, no authentic intelligence remains.

When the Abbaslides ascended the throne of the east, Arabian science began to flourish. Most of the Greek works in philosophy, mathematics, and medicine, were translated into

the

of

ences.

the Arabic language. In a short time, every city under the power of the Arabs begani not only to boast of schools, colleges, and academies, but of men eminently skilled in the sci

The calif who contributed most to the cultivation of astronomy was Almamon, who began to reign A. D. 813: during his reign several astronomical tables were published, and those of Ptolemy were reduced into a more exact order. We shall not follow our author in his anecdotes of Arabian astronomy and astronomers, but must not omit to mention his defence of the Arabs against Brucker, who, in his Critical Hiftory of Philofophy, aflerts that this nation added nothing to the astronomical observations of the Greeks, but, on the contrary, much depraved them; an opinion before confuted by Andres, in his book De Origine & Progresu omnis Literature, Parmæ, 1782, p. 146, &c. Professor Affemani remarks, that Albatani, or Albategni, alone added considerably to astronomy: j. he established that the fixed stars move towards the east on the poles of the ecliptic, one degree in seventy years; whereas Ptolemy allowed one hundred, and his estimation is far nearer the truth than that of Ptolemy; 2. he discovered the motion of the sun's apogee, which was before thought immoveable ; 3. he corrected the errors of Ptolemy concerning the motion of the planets; 4. as he perceived that Ptolemy's canons differed from the real state of the leavens in his time, he composed new tables. This astronomer flourished A. D. 920. Halley terms him a wonderful author for the time, in the Phil. Tranf. 1693, n. 204. The inventions of the Arabs in the mathematics, and their astronomical observations and instruments, are afterwards illustrated.

But we haften to give the description of the remarkable celeftial globe, which forms the fubject of this treatise, as drawn up by the cardinal Borgia himself.

This globe is composed of a yellow metal, and so divided that one half may be put into the other. It is supported by four feet, of which two, opposite to each other, are quadrants of a vertical circle. The whole height of the machine is nineteen Roman inches and three quarters: the diameter of the globe about a Roman palm. The breadth of the two circles of the horizon and meridian is exactly given in the first plate, which alio presents a smaller view of the whole machine.

The figures of the conítellations are engraven in double lines, between which is drawn a vein of smalto rollo, red cement, or enamel. The stars are indented silver, as are the names of the chief ítars and constellations, and two Cufic inscriptions. Of the smaller stars the names also appear, but without ornament: nor has the horizontal circle, the meridian, or the other circles, any decoration. Yet the whole machine is fo 1kilfully fa6

bricated,

bricated, and with such minute art, that it is worthy of the royal use for which it was designed.

The several constellations are afterwards defcribed, and compared with those of Ptolemy: many of the names are Greek.

This curious work is illustrated with three good plates, presenting a minute and complete view of the several parts of this uncommon globe.

Diffionnaire, Grammaires, & Dialogues Tartares Mantchoux

François, redigés, & publiés avec des Additions considerables, par L. Langlès, Auteur de l' Alphabet Tartare-Mantchou.

4 Vols. 410. Didot. Paris. 1791. THIS work, which at first appears to be of a very confined

nature, and only adapted to the curiosity of a few literati, acquires a general importance from the information that the last and the present emperors of China, themselves Mantchous, have ordered all the best books in the Chinese language to be translated into the Mantchou-Tartaric: and as the latter speech is not written with hieroglyphic characters, like the Chinese, but with an alphabet on the common model, the study of this diale&t will afford a complete key to the Chinese literature.

In giving some account of this publication we shall chiefly follow the Prospectus of M. Langles. The Mantchou, he observes, is now the most learned and perfect of the Tartaric tongues, not excepting the sacred dialect of Tibet, or Tangut: for the latter he regards as a Tartaric speech, as he does the Sanskrit or ancient language of Hindoftan. The Tibetan dialect is celebrated as comprising the facred books of Boudh, or Beddha, founder of Sabeism or Schamanism ; the Sanskrit presents those of Brahma, who only altered the dogmas, and appropriated to himself the ideas of the former : in a word, according to Mr. Langles, Brahma was only a Sabean heretic, and consequently posterior to Boudh, whose sacred impostures may be regarded as the most ancient of all those which now exercise human credulity. But when Mr. L. proceeds to say that Boudh is the Fo of the Chinese, &c. he shews a ftrong propensity to that common error of antiquaries and etymologilts, the reference of all objects to one favourite notion: and when he adds that Boudh is the Woden of the Goths, and the Torus of the Laplanders, he seems ignorant that the latter is only the Thor of the Gothic nations, a very different personage from Woden, and borrowed by the Laplanders from their Norwegian neighbours.

Alike unfortunate, their fate is such,

They prove too little, or they prove too much. Pope. To return from this digression : the formation of the Mantchou dialect is not very ancient, and it pofTeffed no appropriated letters till the time of the fifth ancestor of the present reigning dynasty in China. This prince, who reigned over the Mantchous about the year 1600, ordered some learned men to design characters after those of the Monguls: they only rectified the form of the latter, and added certain signs to express peculiar sounds. The Mongul letters are nearly the same with those of the Ouighours, which are clearly derived from the Stranghels, or ancient Sziac. The successor of this prince ordered, in 1634, a translation of some Chinese works, and the composition of a code of laws for all the people subject to the Mantchou government. In 1641, a man of learning and genius, called Tahai, retouched the letters, and gave them a degree of perfection of which one would not have believed them capable.

Chun-tche, the first Chinese emperor of the Mantchou race, caused continue the tranflation of Chinese books, and compofe dictionaries of both languages.

The celebrated Kan-hi established a tribunal of literati, equally versed in the Chinese, and in the Tartaric: some laboured particularly in the translation of claflical or historical 'works; others were occupied in a general dictionary, which was entitled The Mirror of the Mantchou-Tartaric Language, and in which no labour nor expence was spared.

Old men were interrogated concerning doubtful words; and rewards were proposed to any one who discovered an obsolete expreffion, worthy of a place in the dictionary, which is difpofed in the order of subjects. This work forms twenty-five voluines : and several copies of it are in the library of the French king

Kien-long, who has reigned in China for these fifty-six years, has not shewn less regard than his predecessors to the useful labours of the tribunal of tranflators; and, by the indefatigable cares of many learned men, pensioned more than a century by the above-mentioned sovereigns, there is hardly at present one good work in the Chinese language which has not been translated, with the utmoft skill and attention, into the Mantchou. There numerous and excellent translations form a collection the inore valuable, as it is very difficult even for natives, and almoít impoflible for foreigners, to peruse the originals, written in a hieroglyhic character, the knowledge of which is hardly attainable in a life-time, whereas the Mantchou, which parties of our Curopean languages, has its me"hod and rules, and, in a word, is of clear intelligence. А Itudious person may in five or fix years be in a condition to read with ease all the books written in this language. Since the end of last century, the French missionaries hare, of courie; devoted a particular attention to the Mantchou, which furnishes a long wilhed-for key to the whole treasure of Chinese Jiterature.

thod

The fathers Gerbillon and Domenge long since invited different French literati to study the Mantchou, and fent them the neceffary guides, but of which no use was then made. The former composed in Latin, an excellent grammar, intituled Elementa Lingue Tartarice, printed, but without Tartaric characters, in Thevenot's Collection of Voyages : the latter composed for the use of M. de Fourmont an Eflay upon the Method of learning the Language of the Mantchous, which Mr. L. procured from a gentleman in whose hands the manuscript was But a Mantchou and Latin dictionary by father Verbieit, has as yet escaped his researches.

M. Amyot, who is so well known by his learned labours on the sciences and literature of the Chinese, has not been disheartened by the failure of the attempts of his predecessors. He sent to the minister, charged with the Chinese correspondence, a fyllabary, a grammar, and a dictionary of the Mant. chou language. M. Langlés was desired to examine these manuscripts, in order to form a judgment concerning their utility: The desire of contributing to the progress of learning, and the glory of introducing a learned language into Europe, induced him to an enterprise which might have appeared rash, and he dared to attempt to learn alone the Mantchou, by the allistance of the elementary works which had been entrusted to him.

Upon opening the grammar, instead of an alphabet; he beheld with surprise a syllabary of 1500 groups; but, reflecting that these groups could only be composed of letters, he endeavoured to analife them : and from this operation, not yer undertaken by the Mantchous themselves, there resulted a complete alphabet of twenty-nine letters, most of which have three forms, accordingly as they are placed at the beginning, middle, or end of a word.

These letters, thus fimplified, facilitated the perusal of the Tartaric speech, and it became easy to cause engrave puncheons, which were reducible to a very sınáll number. This enterprise appeared the more useful, as the minister of the royal houshold had just put in order the superb founts of oriental characters belonging to the king's press, which had been bu ried in duit for a century: an event which happened in the year 1787, and which was announced to the public by M. d:

Crit. Rey. N. AR. (IV.) Jan, 1792. Guignea,

« AnteriorContinua »