Images de page

deny them these talents, because among them, as among ourselves, there are individuals, devoid of all taste, who would prefer an acrostis or an happy conundrum to the most beautiful epic poem ? had curiosity, during the many years that he spent in Turkey, asliduously employed in developing its national character, led the Baron for a moment into one of its Medresses or coļleges, he would have seen its pupils employed in the study of grammar, rhetoric, prosody, logic, metaphysics, morals, philosophy, religion, and polity. He would have found that the ele ments.ot Euclid, and the sublimer parts of the mathematics, formed 4 regular branch in their code of education. He would have found them familiarly acquainted with the philosophy of Aristotle, and all the works of Plato, In their libraries he would have found valuable authors op every subject, whether of abstract science, or of polite literature. He would have found poems, fables, tales, and romances. The fables of Lackman, the tales of Nasraddin, Khodjea, the romances of Leila ve Medjenoun, of Joulouf and Zeuleika, their Medjemouas, or collection of fugi. tive pieces, their Bojians, or miscellaneous poems, possess a fund of entertainment that must please and captivate the most faftidious reader, and whose merit even the Baron mult acknowledge. I might appeal for a proof of their national esprit to their sententious and proverbial Sayings, the superior point and elegance, and beauty of which, to thote of every other nation, he must have felt in their full force, critically acquainted as he is with tþeir language. I might appeal to their Musaphis or professed orators, men, who, to pay their court to the Turkish nobility, undertake to support the spirit of conversation, and furnish the entertainment of the company. Did the Baron ever spend an evening in a circle of these bons vivans, without deriving from them knowledge and information, without being equally charmed with the case, the elegance, the wit and the good sense of their conversation but all this I shall be told is insufficient to the justification of the Turks. Their flow progress in the arts and sciences, their neglect of tactics, navigation, and military discipline, and the prevailing imperfections, and even vices of their government, will still remain incontrovertible truths. I acknowledge it. And the more I know of their aptitude and doçility, for every science they will be at the pains to acquire, the more I lament to find them, in these respects, at the distance of two centüries from every European nation. But it would be a misfortune indeed that the idea of the author of the memoirs should prevail, and that the rank in which họ places them in the social world mould be considered as the standard of their merit; an idea that would almost degrade a nation of savages the most remote from civilized society.'

The errors, in point of history, geography, and chronology, which M. de Peysonnel has detected in the Baron de Tott, are very numerous and important, and fo very obvious, that we wonder how they could have escaped the Baron. We will beg leave, before we dismiss him, to prefent the reader with two or three shortexamples, together with the observations ofour author.

Georgia,' says the Baron de Tott, is rather one of the depen. dencies of Persia than of Turkey; but the prince Heraclitus has availed himself of the troubles which have laid waste the dominions of his sovereign, to enjoy a kind of independence.'

M, de


• M. de Peysonnel has corrected with perfect accuracy the blunders of this passage.

Georgia is divided into two parts: the one, which is bounded by the Black Sea, and includes the kingdom of Imirch and the princi. pality of Mingrelia and Guriel, was ceded to the Turks; the other, which approaches to the Caspian sea, and comprehends the kingdoms of Carduel and Caket, was under the dominion of Perfia. Salo. man, who reigns over the one, and Heraclitus, who governs the other, have equally thrown off the yoke of their respective sovereigas. Buf Heraclitus is become the vassal of Rullia. Saloman preserves his inde. pendence to this day.'

The Baron confounds the death of Sultan Osman with that of Sultan Mahmoud, and his account of their genealogy is equally erroneous. Sultan Mahmoud, who sat upon the Turkish throne for the space of twenty-four years, from 1730 to 1754, and Sultan Osman his brother, were not the sons of Sultan Achmed, but of Mustapha III, the eldest brother and successor of Achmed Mustapha the fourth, who succeded Osman, was the son of Achmed, and cousin german only to Mahmoud and Osman. Achmed had five fons; Mahmoud the eldest, who was poisoned by Osman; Mustapha IV. who succeeded Osman; Bajazet and Ourkman, who died in the seraglio ; and the present reigning Sultan Abdulamid.

Again, Racub Pacha,' says the Baron de Tott, had formerly been Pacha of Cairo, the office of all others the least adapted to his character. The undisciplined state of the Bey-Mameluis, propped up by force, had left him no other resource but corruption for his support, without being the less exposed to acts of violence. He had jutt escaped from the ball of a pistol, fired at him in his own divan, when the grand fignior, Sultan Osman, promoted him to the Vis. rate.

The contradictions and inconsistencies of this passage are too glaring to escape the eyes of one fo well informed upon the subject as M. de Peysonnel.

• Mahmoud was the reigning fulcan, when Racub Pacha was recalled from Cairo, which was prior to his escape from the danger of the pistol. He was afterward's conftituted by this prince Pacha of Aiden, and then of Aleppo; and he officiated in these respective capacities for many years, before he was called to the Visirate by Sultan Olman, the brother and successor of Mahmoưd. I have indisputable evidence to the truth of this account. When my father, who was secretary, and the late M. de Laria, who was interpreter to the French ambassador, were sent to the Ottoman army, to settle the preliminaries of the peace of Belgrade, my father's tent was pitched hear the tent of Racub, who was at this period fecretary for foreign affairs. The weight of the treaty fell to the lot of my father. And she daily intercourse, that must necessarily take place between him and Racub, was the foundation of a friencfhip that feldom fubfifts


between a Türk and a Christian. When Racub fome time after was recalled from Cairo, to so exalted a degree did his regard for my father extend, he made the tour of Smyrna, and pitched his camp in the plains of Hadjelaur, for the sole purpose of paying a visit to my father, who was then at Smyrna in the capacity of consul general of France. To enhance the honour of his visit, he invited my fa. ther to his camp, and gave a superb entertainment to all the nobility of Smyrna. I was present at this rout, and was a witness of the distin. guished attachment of Racub. “ Dostum Coadjeaduch,” said he, embracing my father tenderly; " we are both grown old my friend.” And see, continued he, pointing to his beard, that was prematurely grey,

- how venerable are the beards of those who return from Cairo."

The valuable historical journal of the Tartars, containing their most ancient traditions and all the successive facts down to the present time, undertaken by the ancestors of a family who bave always preserved and carefully continued it, and for which the Baron asserts that he offered ten thousand crowns, is it seems a manuscript of his own invention. M. de Pysonnel bas never heard of such a manuscript; and it is hardly within the bounds of possibility, that a performance so notorious and celebrated (according to the baron) could have escaped the inquisitive attention of M. de Peysonnel, had it any existence but in the baron's imagination.

The bounds which we allot to ourselves will not permit us to present the reader with any further extract from this work. These we have already made, are, we trust, fufficient to excite his curiosity, and to tempt every admirer of the Baron de Tott to be provided with this effectual antidote to his poison. We fufm pected the baron of a little attachment to the wonderful. M. de Peysonnel has confirmed us in our conjecture, and has lopped cff the exuberances of his author's fancy with a faithful and discriminating hand. Had every traveller a commentator of equal skill' and veracity, it would perhaps cure this abandoned spirit, old and inveterate as it is; and, operating in terroreni, make them more cautious of palming upon the world their own wild inventions for historical truths. Commentators in general are, of all writers, the most dull and infipid. M. de Peysonnel has ingeniously contrived that we should feel nothing of this, and his book is as full of entertainment, as if it were a continuous and unbroken performance.


[ocr errors]

Art. XIII. Tal om Japanska Nationen, &'c.
Speech concerning the Japanese'; delivered before the Royal Academy of

Sciences, by C. P. Thunberg, when he resigned the office of President,

THE religion throughout Japan is heathenish, but there are

many different sects, which all however live in the greatest unanimity and concord, without disputes or quarrels. The fpi ritual emperor, Dairi, is like the Pope, head of the church, and has the appointment of the chief priests. Every feet has sepa rate churches and separate idols, which are represented under some determinate, and that often a monstrous shape. They commonly invent a great number of idols, one for almost every trade, like the old Romans; and consequently they have inferior and superior gods. One eternal and almighty God, superior to all the reft, is not indeed unknown to the Japanese, but the knowledge of him is enveloped in much darkness. I have not however seen among any heathens such a large and majestic idol of this god, as in two Japanese temples. In the one there is an image of gilt wood, of such an enormous size that fix men may fit, according to the Japanele fashion, in the palm of his hand, and the breadth between the shoulders is five fathoms. In the other, his infinite power is reprelented by smaller gods, which stand around him on all sides, to the number of 33,333. They have many temples, which are built for the most part without the cities on fome eininence, and in the finest ficuations. There are a number of priests in every temple, although they have but little to do, their business being to keep the temple clean, to light the candles, &c. and offer Aowers consecrated to the idol, and such as they believe to be most acceptable to it. There is no preaching or singing in the temples, but they always stand open for those who may come to pray, or make Tome offering. Strangers are never excluded from the temples, even the Dutch are allowed to visit them; and, when the inns are taken up, they are lodged in them, as actually happened once during my journey to court.

The arms of the Japanese consist of a bow and arrow, sabre, halbert, and musket. The bows are very large, and the arrows long, as in China. When the bows are to be bent and discharged, the troop always refts on one knee, which hinders them making a speedy discharge. In the spring, the troops allemble to practise shooting at a mark. Mulkets are not gene


ral, I only faw them in the hands of persons of distinction, in a separate and elevated part of the audience-room. The barrel is of the common length, but the stock is very short, and, as well as I could observe at a distance, there was a match in the lock, I never saw a gun fired, though I have often heard the report from the Dutch factory. The interpreters informed me, that the stock, which, on account of its Ahortness, cannot be placed against the shoulder, is set against the cheek, an account that is not altogether credible. Cannons are not used in this country, but in Nagasaki, at the imperial guard, there are several, formerly taken from the Portuguese, though ships are not faluted, and indeed scarce any use at all' is made of them. The Japanese have very little skill in managing them, and when they fire them, which is commonly done once in seven years, in order to clean and prove them, the artillery man provides himself with a long pole having a match at the end, which he applies with averted eyes. The sabre is therefore their principal and best weapon, which is universally worn, except by the peasants. They are commonly a yard long, a little crooked and thick in the back. The blades are of an incomparable goodness, and the old ones are in very high esteem. They are far superior to the Spanish blades, to celebrated in Europe. A tolerably thick nail is easily cut in two, without any damage to the edge; and a man, according to the account of the Japanese, may be cleft in two. No blade is sold under fix kobangs, but the fabres often cost 50, 6o, nay, above 100 rix-dollars; they constitute the dearest and most beloved property of the Japanese. The hilt is furnished with a round and firm plate, has no bow, and is sometimes fix inches in length. The hilt is flat, with obtuse edges; it is cut off transversely at the end, and covered with the skin of the thark, which is uneven on its surface; it is imported by the Dutch, and sold very dear; sometimes at 50 or 60 kobangs, each kobang at fix rix-dollars. Befides, filk cord is wrapped round in such a manner that the shagreen may be seen through it; the plates are thicker than a six-dollar; they either are adorned with figures in high relief, or pierced artificially with a number of holes.

The theath is thick and somewhat flat; it is truncated at the end; it is sometimes covered with the finest shagreen, which is varnished; it is sometimes of wood, and painted with a black varnish, or variegated with black and white; one sometimes ebserves a silver ring or two on the sheath. On one of the sides there is a small elevation, perforated with a bole, through which a filk ftring passes, and serves to faften the fabre occasionally, Within the hilt there is also a cavity for receiving a knife of three inches length. A separate fash is never uled, but the fword is stuck in the belt, on the left side, with the edge upwards, which to a European appears ridiculous. All persons in office


« PrécédentContinuer »