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sent age have, for the most part, embraced more liberal sentiments. They have discovered, that taste and genius are not the exclusive privileges of a Frenchman; and, what is still better, now boldly declare, that liberty, the best of human bleffings, is a happiness which their native country does not enjoy. Mr. Mercier has the honour to be one of this society of true philosophers and real patriots ; on every occasion he checks the literary petulance of his countrymen, and joins bis manly efforts, to cruth the monster despotism, which is gradually, though flowly, expiring under the benevolent and spirited exertions of philosophy.
Of Racine and Boileau, who are still the delight and admiration of the greater number among rhe French, Mr. Mercier will no doubt be thought by his countrymen to have spoken with too much freedom. But in faying of the former, that he was “ Tailleur á la Françoise de tous les rois anciens,” they Ibould recollect that he only speaks after Voltaire;
* Recine observe les portraits
Les croit des courtisans français.' TEMPLE DU Gout. They should consider too, that he acts more confiftently; for he does not, like Voltaire, absurdly exalt him above every author of tragedy, either ancient or modern, after having denied him the power of discrimination and painting of character ; certainly one of the greatest talents a tragic author can possess, But in this perhaps, in their eyes, consists the atrocity of his crime.
Addressing himself to Boileau, he says, “ I can con« sider you only as sometimes a skilful plagiary, and some" times as a pedant, puffed up with Latin authors. You “ are however a good versificator ; be it so; but I would give * all your works for twelve fables of Fontaine, four scenes “ of Corneille, and thirty pages of Bruyere" -“ Tallo “ and Milton, who you did not understand, possessed a genius, " of which
you had not even the shadow." This is harshly said : a decision so dictatorial would have appeared with a better grace, after a minute investigation, and folid reasoning on the subject. A little more of the fuaviter in modo would have conciliated the minds of some, who now exclaim against what they call the blafphemies of Mercier.
Upon the whole we will venture to promise, that the pesusal of " Mon Bonnet de Nuit” will give satisfaction to the reader.
ART. XVI. Tal om Japanska Nationen. & c. A Speech concerning the Japanese ; delivered before the Royal Academy of
Sciences, by C, P, Thunberg, when bé resigned tbe office of President,
Stockholm. THIS great naturalist and traveller, the successor of Linnæus,
has enjoyed superior advantages of observation to any. other person, since the expulsion of the Portuguese from the Japanese islands. The adventurers of that, nation were fo entirely occupied by their thirst of gain, and their eagerness to propogate the catholic faith, that, notwithstanding all their opportunities, they have left nothing, which, by casting a ray of light on the history of man, might have formed fome small counterpoife to the indignation and horror, which are excited by the accounts of their rapacity and bloodshed. Kæmpfer's account is the only one which deserves any notice, and that, notwithstanding the veracity and research of the author, is more calculated to excite curiosity, than to gratify it. The present writer occupied the station of physician to the Dutch factory; and, partiy by means of fonie substantial benefits which his professional skill enabled hiin to conter on the natives ; partly by his eager defire of information ; and partly, no doubt, by the prudence of his conduct; overcame much of their well-grounded jealousy of the Europeans; and, unlike the common run of Oriental adventurers, returned happily to his country, laden with the rich, but innocent, spoils of the East. He has already communicated some of his treasures to the world in his Flora Japonica, and his papers in the Swedish transactions ; in this academical harangue of forty pages, he communicates some of the general results of his observations on the inhabitants, reserving the rest, with the particulars, for a separate and more confiderable publication,
Is this and the following numbers, it is our intention to give rather a translation than an abstract, since readers of all denominations will undoubtedly with for as full information on such a subject as can be obtained. To them we leave it to enquire, whence it happens that a nation so distinguished by good sense, and good morals, so far advanced in the art of government, and in ceconomy, in manufactures, and agriculture, fhould be so far behind in science? Is this owing to their strong aversion to every thing foreign, or to some un • ulaal occurrence in the progress of that fociety?
The empire of Japan, is situated at the very eastern extremity of Asia, entirely cut off from our quarter of the world, and consists of a great multitude of islands of various magnitude. It lies between the 30th and 40th degrees of north latitude ; and so far to the east, that when we in Stockholm reckon four o'clock in the afternoon, the inhabitants are immersed in the deep sleep of midnight, and consequently have fun set and sun rise eight hours earlier.
The Portugueze, who, about two centuries and a half ago, firft discovered it, were accidentally thrown by a storm on the coast, which is in general bordered with hills and cliffs, together with a multitude of unsafe and stormy ports, whence navigation is always dangerous, and sometimes impoffible.
The whole inland part of the country consists of moun. tain's, hills and dales ; so that it is rare to meet with any exa tensive plain. The mountains are of various altitude, more or less continued, more or less covered with wood, sometimes volcanic, but most frequently cultivated quite up to the summit. It may, in general, be justly said of Japan, that the soil is of itself unfruitful, but in consequence of sufficient warmth of climate, plentiful rains, continual manuring, and industry, it is forced into a considerable degree of fertility, and maintains a number of inhabitants, not exceeded by those of any
The natives are well grown, agile, and active, and at the fame time stout limbed, though they do not equal in strength the northern inhabitants of Europe. The men are of moderate stature, seldom tall, and in general thin ; though I have feen some that were sufficiently lo. The colour of the face is commonly yellow, which fometimes varies to brown, and fometimes to white. The inferior fort, who, during their work in summer, have often the upper parts of the body naked, are fun-burnt and browner ; women of distinction, who never go uncovered into the open air, are perfectly white. The eyes of this people, as well as of the Chinese, are well known : they have not the round shape of those of other nations, dut oba long, small, more sunk, and appear more smiling · They are moreover of a dark brown, or rather black colour; and the eyelids form at the larger angle a deep furrow, which gives them their peculiar keen look, and distinguishes them fo ftrikingly from other nations. The eyebrows are also fituated fomewhat higher. The head is in general
and the neck fhort; the hair black, thick and of an oily smoothnefs ; the nose, though not flat, yet fomewhat thick and thort.
The national character confifts in intelligence and prudence, frankness, obedience and politeness, good-nature and civility, curiotity, industry and dexterity, economy and fobriety, hardiO 3
ness, cleanliness, justice and uprightness, honesty, and fidelity; in being mistrustful, superstitious, haughty, resentful, brave, and invincible.
In all its transactions, the nation thews great intelligence, and can by no means be numbered among the favage and uncivilized, but rather is to be placed among the polished. The prefent mode of government, admirable ikill in agriculture, sparing mode of life, way of trading with foreigners, manufactures, &c. afford convincing proofs of their cunning, firmness, and intrepid courage. Here there are no appearances of that vanity, fo common among the Asiatics and Africans, of adorning themselves with fhells, glass beads, and polished metal plates : neither are they fond of the useless European ornaments of gold and silver lace, jewels, &c. but are careful to provide themselves, from the productions of their own country, with neat clothes, well-tasted food, and good weapons.
Neatness and cleanliness is observed, as well with respect to their persons, as clothes, houses, furniture, meat and drink. The bathe and wash themselves, not barely once a week, like our ancestors, but every day, and that in a warm bath, which is prepared in every house, and for travellers in all the inns.
In politeness, obedience, and submission, the Japanese have few equals; submission to the magistrate, and obedience to parents, is implanted in children from their earliest years; and in all ranks they are instructed in this by examples. Inferiors make to their fuperiors deep and respectful, and thew them blind and reverential, obeisance : To their equals they make the politest compliments and falutations. They generally bow the back with the head downwards, and the hands. towards the knees, or below them along the legs as low as the foot, to Thew greater reverence: The deeper this must be, the nearer to the ground do they bow their head. When they speak to a superior, or are spoken to by him, or when they have any thing to deliver to him, they never omit these bows. When an inferior meets a superior, he always continues in this posture till the latter has pafled by. When equals meet each other, they pay one another the same compliment, and pass each other in a posture somewhat bent. Upon entering a house, they fall down on their knees, and bow the head; and when they rise to depart, the same ceremony is repeated. Superstition is perhaps more general and extravagant here, than any where else; which arises from the little knowledge they have in most sciences, and the absurd principles which their priests implant in them. This imperfection appears in their worship, festivals, vows, use of certain medicines, &c.
Their curiosity is excessive ; nothing imported by the Europeans escapes it. They ask for information concerning every article, and their questions continue till they become weari. some. It is the physician, among the traders, that is alone regarded as learned, and particularly during the journey to court, and the residence at Jeddo, the capital of the empire, that he is regarded as the oracle, which they trust can give responses in all things, whether in mathematics, geography, physics, chemistry, pharmacy, zoology, botany, medicine, &c. When the Dutch have their audience of the emperor, council, or governors, they consider, from head to foot, their hats, swords, clothes, buttons, trimming, watches, sticks, rings, shoes, buckles, &c. nay, they must frequently write on paper, or the peculiar fans of the Japanese, in order to fhew them their manner of writing and their letters.
It is highly probable that this people were not always so suspicious. Disturbances or war perhaps introduced the , but the deceits practiced by the Europeans still more excited and increased this vice; which at present, in their trade, at leait with the Dutch and Chinese, exceeds all bounds.
I have often been a witness of the good disposition of the Japanese, even at a time when they have every reason to entertain all possible contempt and hatred, and to use every precaution, on account of the bad conduct and cunning artifices of the Europeans who trade thither. The nation is indeed haughty, but still gentle. By mild measures and civility is may be led and affected, but by menaces it is altogether immoveable.
Honesty and fidelity is observed in all the country ; in few other countries perhaps is theft so rare. Robbery is totally unknown. Theft is feldom heard of: and Europeans, during their journey to court, are so fafe, that they take little care of the goods they carry along with them; though it is other wise not considered as a crime, at least at the Dutch factory, and by the lower people, to steal from the Dutch some of their wares, such as sugar or copper, as they are carried to or from
Cconomy has its peculiar abode in Japan. It is a virtue, admired as well in the emperors palace, as in the meanest cottage. It makes those of small possessions content with their Jittle, and it prevents the abundance of the rich from overAowing in excess and voluptuousness. Hence it happens that what in other countries is called scarcity and famine, is unknown here, and that, in so very populous á state, scarce a person in necessity, or a beggar, should be found. The people 04