Obrazy na stronie

and Egypt. It was then Almalkamel, nephew of Saladin. The sultans of Iconia of the third branch of the Seljukians were masters of Biladersoum or Anatolia. The French had at that time seized Conftantinople and the remains of the western empire. The diffenfions of all these sovereigns favoured the conquests of this invader in Asia. In 1213 he invaded the seven provinces of northern China, then called Kitay, the emperor of which, called by the Mongols Alou. Khan, loft both his throne and life on this occasion. The generals of Jenghiz-Khan soon after added Kurje or Correa to his conquests; and he was preparing to add the country of Mangi or Matchin (southern China), then ruled by a distinct monarch, to his dominions, when death arrested him in the midst of his triumphs. His fon Kublai-Khan pursued the enterprise, and was the first sovereign of all China. One hundred years after him Timur-Khan or Tamerlan, who pretended to be issued from him, pushed his conquests still further, and made himself master of Indoftan.

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Examination of Testimonies adduced from antient Astronomy, to prove

the Antiquity of the World; and particularly of Mr. Bailly's second System, founded on an Indian Era pretended to be fixed on real Aftronomical Observations.

We have seen, Sir, the fubterfuges by which some fragments of antient authors have been wrested, in order to prove an indefinite antiquity to the population of the earth ; and I flatter myself to have sufficiently demonstrated the futility and inadmissibility of these forced explications. Inwardly sensible of the weakness of such means, which solely consist in perverting the most evident sense of these traditions, and ashamed of laying much stress on the ridiculous pretensions of those nations who, to prolong their existence, have had recourse to imaginary beings, the favourers of the high antiquity of the world imagined they had at last found triumphant proofs of it in the pretended series of eclipses observed in China. But such astronomers as have attempted to verify them have uniformly agreed, that it was impossible to lay any solid foundation on observations of such early periods. They generally bear no other date but that of a reign : are never so precise as to mark the season of the year, or the place of observation ;-circumstances, however, absolutely necessary to fix the reality of such observations in a country so extensive as China. From the most learned researches they have concluded, that the real observations of the Chinese do not carry us so high as those which the Chaldeans are said, on more authentic testimonies, to have made (a). Besides, evident absurdities intermixed with these pretended observations, such as that of the sun being stationary during ten days, sufficiently shew what little regard is to be had to them. The as yet very narrow science of that nation, which, though it has carefully preserved the degree of knowledge it had once acquired, has been ever very little solicitous of acquiring further perfection, is ill calculated to inspire us with much confidence on these points (b). It is certain that, whether this nation was originally less learned in astronomy, or whether it has lost more of its former knowledge in its frequent revolutions, its principles in this science are less exact, notwithstanding its college of mathematicians, than those of its neighbours the Tartars, and still less so than those of Indoftan.



Reduced to abandon this so little folid support, it is towards these Indians that the partisans of high antiquity have lately turned their attention. Notwithstanding all the respect we may be inclined to pay to the certainly very antique race of the Bramins, we are forced to allow that the fables gravely retailed by them, on their origin and early history, are at least as extravagant as those of other nations who have set up equal pretensions. But it is asserted that astronomical calculations, founded upon real observations, assure to this people a pre-eminent antiquity, the proofs of which are thus rendered indubitable. We have already touched on the recent work of Mr. Bailly on Indian Astronomy, and we have drawn from it important lights in the discussion of several objects. We have seen that this judicious author, abandoning to pure fi&tion the years of the first and second Indian ages, has reduced to reasonable compass those of the third, in order to make it coincide with the duration of the antediluvian times, as gathered from other testimonies. Notwithstanding the propensity so natural to man to support an opinion once advanced, I cannot suppose that a person of his high reputation in science could have the smallest intention ever to measure back his steps, or to retract so formal a declaration, limiting the race of man to a period less than 6000 years before Christ, in order to revive the idea of a burning globe cooling by flow degrees, which, like that of Mr. de Buffon, would require a duration since the time of its being covered with waters, of 30,000, or indeed of 60,000 years. Before I examine the pretended era of 3101 years before Christ of the pre


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