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the age of sixty-three, with the firmness of a philosopher, and the faith of an enthusiast.
10. In making an impartial estimate of the qualifications which distinguished the prophet of Arabia, it must be acknowledged that the vigor of his mind, and the measure of his intellectual powers, appear to have been extraordinary. At the commencement of his mission, his hopes could rest only on a very precarious foundation. The difficulties which he had to encounter were great. During a considerable time, converts were slowly made, and his prospects of success were far from being such as could animate his efforts, or flatter his hopes. Amidst all these embarrassing circumstances, his enterprising spirit, his steady fortitude, and his patient perseverance, command admiration.
11. But among the distinguishing characteristics of his mind, his extraordinary talent of knowing mankind is the most remarkable. No one had ever more accurately or more successfully studied human nature. No one more exactly knew what suited the ideas and inclinations of men, or more perfectly understood the method of gaining an ascendency over their minds, and of rendering their passions subservient to a great design. An impartial view of the character of this extraordinary man shows that he was formed for every thing that is great, that his ideas were grand and elevated, and his views extensive.
EMPIRE OF CHINA.
1. The antiquity of this vast empire, and the state of its government, laws, manners, and attainments in the arts and sciences, have furnished a most ample field of controversy. Voltaire, Raynal, and other writers of similar principles, bave, for the purpose of discrediting the scriptural account of the origin of mankind, and the received notions of the age of the universe, given to the Chinese empire an immense antiquity, and a character of such high civilization and knowledge of the sciences and arts at that remote period, as to be utterly irreconcilable with the state and progress of man, as described in the books of Moses. On the other hand, it is
At what age did Mahomet die ?
obable that the desire of inralidating those opinions has duced other writers of ability to go to an opposite extreme; undervalue this singular people, and to give too litte weight
any accounts which we have, either of the duration of their npire, the economy of their government and police, or of teir attainments in the arts and sciences. Amidst this conariety of sentiments, we shall endeavor to form such opinion s appears most consonant to the truth.
2. The panegyrists of the Chinese assert that their emire has subsisted above 4000 years, without any material Iteration in its laws, manners, language, or even fashion of ress; in evidence of which they appeal to a series of clipses, marking contemporary events, all accurately calcuited, for 2155 years before the birth of Christ. As it is asy to calculate eclipses backwards from the present day to ny given period of time, it is thus possible to give to a hisory, fictitious from beginning to end, its chronology of real clipses. This proof, therefore, amounts to nothing, unless t were likewise proved that all those eclipses were actually ecorded at the time when they happened; but this neither as been nor can be done ; for it is an allowed fact, that here are no regular historical records beyond the third centu'y before the Christian æra. The present Chinese are utterly gnorant of the motions of the celestial bodies, and cannot calulate eclipses. The series mentioned has therefore in all probability been calculated by some of the Jesuits to ingraciate themselves with the emperors, and flatter the national vanity. The Jesuits have presided in the tribunal of ma. thematics for above 200 years.
3. But if the authentic annals of this empire go back even to the third century before Christ, and record at that time a high state of civilization, we must allow that the Chinese are an ancient and early polished people, and that they have possessed a singular constancy in their government, laws, and manners. Sir William Jones, no bigoted encomiast of this people, allows their great antiquity and early civilization, and, with much apparent probability, traces their origin from the Hindoos. He appeals to the ancient Sanscreet records, which mention a migration from India of the military class termed Chinas, to the countries east from Bengal. The sta
To whom does Sir William Jones trace the origin of the Chinese ?
tianary condition of the arts and sciences in China prores that these have not originated with that people ; and many peculiarities of the manners, institutions, and popular religion of the Chinese, have a near affinity with those of the Hindoos.
4. The government of China is that of an absolute monarchy. The patriarchal system pervades the whole, and binds all the members of this vast empire in the strictest subordination. Every father is absolute in his family, and may inflict any punishment short of death upon his children. The mandarin of the district is absolute, with the power of lífe and death over all its members; but a capital sentence cannot be inflicted without the emperor's approbation. The emperor's power is absolute over all the mandarins, and every subject of the empire. To reconcile the people to this despotic authority, the sovereign alone is entitled to relieve the wants of the poor, and to compensate public calamities, as well as the misfortunes of individuals. He is therefore regarded as the father of his people, and even adored as a benevolent divinity.
5. Another circumstance which conciliates the people to their government is, that all honors in China are conferred according to merit, and that chiefly literary. The civil mandarins, who are the magistrates and judges, are appointed to office according to their measure of knowledge and mental endowments. No office or rank is hereditary, but may be aspired to by the meanest of the people. The penal laws of China are remarkably severe, but their execution may be remitted by the emperor. The judicial tribunals are regulated by a body of written laws of great antiquity, and founded on the basis of universal justice and equity. The emperor's opinion rarely differs from the sentences of those courts. One tribanal judges of the qualification of the mandarins ; another regulates the morals of the people, and the national manners; a third is the tribunal of censors, which reviews the laws, the conduct of the magistrates and judges, and even that of the emperor himself. These tribunals are filled þy an equal number of Chinese and Tartars.
What is the government of China ?--How are honors in China' conferred ?
6. It has been observed, that the sciences have been stationary in this empire for many ages; and they are at this day extremely low, though far beyond the attainments of a barbarous people. The language of China seems to oppose the prosecution of speculative researches. It has no regular inflections, and can with difficulty express abstract ideas. We have remarked the ignorance of the Chinese in mathematics and astronomy. Of physics they have no acquaintance beyond the knowledge of apparent facts. They never ascend to principles, or form theories. Their knowledge of medicine is extremely limited, and is blended with the most contemptible superstition. Of anatomy, they know next to nothing ; and in surgery, they have never ventured to amputate a limb, or to reduce a fracture.
7. The state of the useful and elegant arts has been equally stationary as that of the sciences. They have attained, many years ago, to a certain point of advancement, which they have never gone beyond. The Chinese are said to have manufactured glass for 2000 years, yet at this day it is inferior in transparency to the European, and is not used in their windows. Gunpowder they are reported to have known from time immemorial, but they never employed it in artillery or fire-arms till taught by the Europeans. Printing they are said to have invented in the age of Julius Cæsar; yet they know not the use of moveable types, but print from blocks of wood. When first shown the use of the compass in sailing, they affirmed that they were well acquainted with it, but found no occasion to employ it. The art of painting in China is mere mechanical imitation, without grace, expression, or even accuracy of proportions. Of the rules of perspective they have not the smallest idea. In sculpture, as in the figures of their idols, the Chinese artists seem to delight in distortion and deformity. Their music is not regulated by any principle of science; they have no semi-tones ; and their instruments are imperfect and untunable. The Chinese architecture has variety, lightness, and sometimes elegance, but has no grandeur or symmetrical beauty. | 8. Yet, in some of the arts, the Chinese have attained to great perfection. Agriculture is carried in China to the
What is the state of the sciences in China at this time ?-What arts in China are carried to a great degree of perfection ?
highest pitch of improvement. There is not a spot of waste land in the whole empire, nor any which is not highly cultivated. The emperor himself is the chief of the husband men, and annually holds the plough with his own hands Hence, and from the modes of economizing food, is support ed the astonishing population of 333 millions, or 260 inhabitants to every square mile of the empire. The gardening of the Chinese, and their admirable embellishment of rural na
ture, have of late been the object of imitation in Europe, - but with far inferior success. The manufacture of porcelain is an original invention of this people ; 'and the Europeans, though excelling them in the form and ornament of the uten sils, have never been able to attain to the excellence of the material.
9. The morals of the Chinese have furnished much subject both of encomium and censure. The books of Confucius are said to contain a most admirable system of morality; but the principles of morals have their foundation in human na: ture, and must, in theory, be every where the same. The moral virtues of a people are not to be estimated from the books of their philosophers. It is probable that the manners of the superior classes are, in China, as elsewhere, much influenced by education and example. The morals of the lower classes are said to be beyond measure loose, and their practices most dishonest ; nor are they regulated by any principle but selfish interest, or restrained but by the fear of punishment.
10. The religion of the Chinese is different in the differ ent ranks of society. There is no religion of the state. The emperor and the higher mandarins profess the belief of one Supreme Being, Changli, whom they worship by prayer and thanksgiving, without any mixture of idolatrous prac tices. They respect the Lama of Thibet, as the high-priest or prophet of this religion. A prevalent sect is that of Taosse, who believe in the power of magic, the agency of spirits, and the divining of future events. A third is the sect of Fo, derived from India, whose priests are the Bonzes, and whose fundamental doctrine is, that all things rose out of nothing,
What Chinese writer is said to have a good system of morality What are the morals of the lower classes in China ? What is the it ligion of the emperor and the higher mandarins ?