Page images

natives of heat and cold are felt very fenfibly in Africa and Aft at the 30th degree of latitude, and the Reader has only to caft an eye on the account given of the winters in Perfia by M. Buffon, and he will fee that the fun is not always a devouring lion in that Eaftern region.

In the fixteenth, feventeenth and eighteenth letters, we fee the Perfians defcending from the fame Northern mountains with the Scythians; but as the fimplicity and purity of their religious worship, and many other circumftances, diftinguish them from the Phenicians, Phrygians, and the inhabitants of Egypt, Asia Minor, Greece and Italy, M. BAILLY confiders them as the pofterity of an emigration different from that which peopled the countries now mentioned. He was therefore afraid of lofing the trace of his Atlantides among the Perfians; but a man like him is never at a lofs to fill up a chafm. He finds in the ancient archives of the Magi an account of a race of creatures called Dives and Peris by the Perfians, and Ginn by the Arabians (of whom the Greeks made their Dios and the Romans their Divus, and we our Genii), and the traditions, however fabulous, which mention this ideal race as a fuperior clafs of beings, and present them as covered with a veil, contain evidently, if we may believe our Author, the notion of a people that once exifted, and are now no more.

To confirm this farther, M. B. in his eighteenth letter, feeks for the origin of the Perfians beyond the northern borders of Afia; and the worship of fire established in Perfia leads him thither: For how, fays he, fhould this artificial heat, be an object of defire or gratitude in a country, where nature produces an exceffive warmth of climate?' Fire, continues he, is fo far from being neceffary, that it is useless in Perfia, and it would be natural to fly from it there, inftead of adoring it. We have ob ferved above, that this reafoning is more ingenious than folic, and that the winters in Perfia, as defcribed by M. Buffon, render fire neither unneceffary nor ufelefs. But our Author has recourse to other proofs of the derivation of this worship from 1 Northern fource: He obferves that pyr, the Greek word for fire, is a Phrygian term, and that the term which is used to fignify fire in the Swedish Edda (that ancient production of 1 country where fire is indifpenfably neceffary), is fur; and he con cludes from the identity of these two denominations, that it was a Northern people which brought fire and its denomination inte Phrygia, from whence they paffed into Egypt and Greece. Fire was procured, preferved, and adored, in a Northern climate, where it was neceffary and comfortable; its worship defcended from thence into the Southern regions, as the torrents defcend from the mountains. We cannot pretend to clothe this hypothesis with the plaufibility it affumes in the work before us, from


from the learned detail into which our Author enters, and the ingenious combinations he employs to afcertain it; we must therefore refer the Reader to the work, and confine ourfelves to a general sketch of its contents: the number of hiftorico-fabulous relations and anecdotes contained in this and the other letters, is really striking, and discovers the most extensive reading: -We fhall only obferve before we leave this letter, that in the mountains North of Caucafus and of (what he calls) the great line of circumvallation that separates the South from the North of Afia, he finds the origin not only of the Perfians, who brought from thofe frozen climes the worship of fire, but also of the Indians and Chinefe. Befides the proofs deducible from the Hanfcrit, of the Brahmins being ftrangers in India, our Author alleges the fituation of the learned city of Benares (ftrong arguments and weak, all is forced into the fervice!) which is the most Northern city of India, and lies in the neighbourhood of Thibet, from whence the river Brahma runs into the Ganges, and carried perhaps thither the Brahmins with it in time past.

After having led his Reader a wild-goose chace to the foot of mount Caucafus, in order to fhew him the ancestors of the Perfians, he carries him into Tartary,-he fhews him there a chain of mountains, which, forming the limits between Europe and Afia, continue their direction to the Caspian sea, and lead from thence, on right and left, to the high plains of Siberia and Southern Tartary. Here our Author fixes the first refting place the first term of the long journey of the travelling and victorious nation which he is hunting after in the dark, or with the light of mythological, geographical-fabulo-historical tapers, which, together with his own fancy (that resembles a Will with a wifp) are likely to leave the Reader as far from conviction at the end of this entertaining book, as he was, when the paradoxical hypothefis was firft propofed to him.

For a moment, indeed, we thought the hypothefis proved and afcertained, when we faw at the head of the twentieth and twenty-third letters the two following promifing titles-The Difcovery of a loft People-The Discovery of the Country of the Atlantides: but when we read these letters we discovered nothing but wit, amenity, erudition and eloquence,—which amused us abundantly, and that was all-for evidence we have neither feen nor felt. We learn from the first of these letters that Abulghazi, a Khan of the Ufbecs, who reigned at Korafan in the last century, has written a history of his nation, which, amidst a multitude of fables, exhibits an account of the ancient Tartars, their divifion into the Mogul and Turkish empires, and other branches in the neighbourhood of China, as alfo in Bulgaria and Hungary. Thefe Tartars furnish our Author with numerous occafions

Kk 3

occafions of twisting fables to complete his fyftem. He derives ftill more plaufible fuccours from Mr. Pallas *, that able Na turalift, whom Catherine II. fent to obferve the various aspects of Nature in the vast domain of the Ruffian empire. This learned man speaks of the veftiges of an ancient people who were destroyed or extinguished near the banks of the Jenifea in the environs of Krasnojarsk, This he concludes from mines that have been wrought in a remote antiquity in the mountain of Schlangenberg, and from the inftruments of brass and ftone (for they had none of iron) which these ancient Miners employed to cut the rocks and other hard bodies they found in their way. Many of thefe inftruments, fuch as mattocks and wedges of brafs, and hammers of wood, as also knives and daggers of brafs, arrows pointed with the fame metal, and ornaments of various kinds in brafs and gold, have been dug up from the bowels of the earth, and particularly from burial-places in thefe Northern regions. These facts lead our Author by various inductions to an ancient people, who practifed the arts even before the difcovery of iron, which the Mongol Tartars are known to have employed in a very early period.-Our Author acknowledges that the Ruffians of Siberia make no mention of this people:no wonder will he fay) becaufe this people have long fince been deftroyed.If you afk him how he knows that they have been destroyed? He will reafon thus: People that are far enough advanced in the arts to work mines and make inftruments, and ornaments of brafs, muft have previously built houfes and cities; -but as thefe houfes and cities have difappeared, the people must have been deftroyed by fome fatal difafter. Though the Ruffians have no knowledge of this people, yet we are told by M. BAILLY, that tradition has preferved their name, and that they are called by the Northern inhabitants of Siberia Tchauden or Tichoudaki. This is an excellent and fertile word in the hands of our Author; it will difcover to us (fays he) the origin and emigrations of this people, and he has drawn by the ears to his affiftance a learned Straiburgher, called Oberlin, who obferves + that in days of yore the Finlanders were called Tchouden or chaudes, and that there are veftiges of the ancient people of Finland, even in Switzerland and Hungary, as also a conformity between their language and that of the Greeks. Now as the Finianders, ancient defcendants of the Scythians, are the first inhabitants of the North known to us, these little

*This voyage of M. Pallas was published in three volumes folio, in German.

+ In his letter prefixed to the curious work of MR. NILS IDMAN, Paftor at Abo, entitled, Reftaribus concerning the ancient inhabitants of Finland.


facts lead our Author to important conclufions, and shove him Northward for their origin, and Southward for their emigrations. This people was forgotten, because they were only known by their pacific labours, and the exercise of the ufeful arts, while the nations that ravaged and depopulated the earth left deep impreffions of their cruelty and injuftice, and thus continue to live in the memory of mankind. The good Tfchoudi would have been buried, perhaps, in eternal oblivion, had not Pallas (we. mean Mr. Pallas) picked up fome brazen pitch-forks and faces out of a Siberian grave, and were there not in our times a family of rank in Switzerland which (rifum teneatis, amici !) bears the name of TSCHCUDI. Be that as it may M. BAILLY is rejoiced at this discovery of a loft people. He finds the difcovery infinitely curious: He cannot, indeed, tell us yet, whether this be the people that cultivated aftronomy and the fciences in the remoteft periods of Afiatic antiquity, for (fays he, here, lowering, unusually, his tone towards modeft doubting) I warned you, that I could exhibit nothing but under the cover of a veil; he affirms, however, that the Tfchoudes are very ancientthat they are near the latitude he had imagined-that they were not-uninftructed, fince they wrought mines-and that they exist no more. However, as this good people must have had neighbours, and a language, this may offer a handle for obtaining farther information-and as M. BAILLY feems to have had a good deal of time upon his hands, he run ideally about the country comparing the prefent languages together, fifting fables in the hope of getting from them fome grains of truth, and has thus fcraped together materials for his twenty-first letter, which is employed in treating of the Languages of the North, and the Garden of the Hefperides. In the firit of thefe articles M. BAILLY avails himself of the labours, researches and discoveries of Leibnitz, the President de Broffes, and the laborious Court de Gebelin, the latter of whom more especially, by combining the terms of different languages, and reducing words to their pri mitive founds, makes us hope for, nay has promifed us, the difcovery of a primitive and original language, from which all others are derived, Our Author obferves, that if all the alphabets were compofed of the fame number of letters, it would be impoffible to come to any certain conclufion with respect to the time of their formation. But this is not the cafe: the alphabets differ, and the number of letters must be different in different nations, in proportion to their progrefs in knowledge and improvement. He therefore ranges the nations into families, according to their alphabets: and he forms, upon this principle, two great families, one whofe alphabet contained only fixteen letters, and one whofe alphabet contained twenty and upwards. To the first of these families belong the Phenicians Kk 4 in



[ocr errors]

in the time of Cadmus, the Hetrurians, the ancient Greeks and Latins, the Irish, the Teutons, and the Swedes with their Runic: these have one common origin. To the fecond belong the people that spoke the Hanfcrit, or facred language, now almoft forgotten by the Brahmins, and the Zend and the Pelhvi, which are the ancient Perfian. These two families came at different periods from the fame original flock, as appears from the comparison of their languages, and they brought their languages as well as the worship of fire from the North. Our Author goes on to prove by endless genealogies of words, &c. that all the labours of Hercules were performed in the North, and that the garden of the Hefperides was near the Pole; and that the Reader may not afk impertinently, how the golden apples of that celebrated orchard could grow, bloffom and ripen in the icy nations of the North, M. BAILLY ftops his mouth with the new hypothefis of M. de Buffon, which comes in the luckiest poffible moment to remove the difficulty, by letting us know, that the globe was, at firft, fluid fire, and afterwards all genial warmth even in its polar extremities, and that therefore ruddy apples might have grown where now nothing is difcoverable but rocks of ice. It is very unfortunate that the whole discovery of M. BAILLY depends upon the truth of this whimfical and impertinent hypothefis, according to his own confeffion.

The twenty-third letter contains our Author's voyage to— Hell: Its title is Voyage aux enfers: it would not be civil to leave him there, more especially fince he tells us that the fables relative to this region, are of all others the most curious and interefting, and the moft adapted to decide the present question. In imitation therefore of Orpheus, Thefeus, Hercules, Ulyffes, Æneas, and others, down he goes to the fhades. But how come at these infernal regions? For though all nations were agreed that they lay in the bofom of the earth, yet each nation pretended that they were within its domain. The Latins placed them at Baia, near the lake Avernus in Italy-the Greeks in Epirus and Arcadia-and Diodorus Siculus exposed the fraud or folly of thefe pretenfions, and made the accounts of the infernal regions originate in the Egyptian mythology. But Homer knew better, and places them in the country of the Cimmerians, where clouds and darkness, and an eternal night reign. This muft, fays our Author, have been far North of Greece, though the famous bard does not precifely fix the place, and his account was derived from ancient traditions. Numberless etymologies are employed by M. BAILLY to fhove Tartarus and Elyfium towards the Pole, and this letter is fingularly rich in mythologi cal erudition.

But now we come to the grand point, the discovery of the Atlantides and the Atlantis of Plato; this is the fubject of in


« PreviousContinue »