thus above 700 years antiquity. We cannot say that the manner and circumftances of inoculation in China are adapted to open points of view that may contribute to the improvement of that practice in Europe. This, therefore, is not one of the Memoirs from which much utility can be drawn: the difference between the climate, the feed, and the manner of living in China and ours, and the dependence of the medical fyftem of that people on the combined authority of aftrology, fuperftition, and idolatry, must render, in general, the methods of cure, and the rules of inoculation observed in China, disgusting to a judicious practitioner among us. However, amidst all the marks of ftupidity and fuperftition, which deform the medical proceedings of the Chinese, there are fome obfervations, facts, and practices, that are not unworthy the attention of an European.

An Account of the Chinese Book called SI-YEN is given in the fourth Memoir. This book treats of the different figns and indications by which the Chinese pretend to diftinguish the kind of death, by the infpection of the corpfe, and, in case of a violent death, the causes that have produced it. The tribunals of juftice, feconded by the medical tribe, have carried these obfervations to a great length;-they will tell you, on the infpection of a perfon who has been ftrangled, whether he fuffered the violent act ftanding, on his knees, or lying at full length, what kind of noose was employed, and fo on, to the minuteft particulars. This book has been fent to all the tribunals of juftice in China; and though its authors have carried too far their confidence in certain figns, yet furgeons and apothecaries, and even fome phyficians, may derive materials from thefe obfervations for improving their acumen in diagnoftics. We were not a little furprized at an incidental discovery we made in reading this Article, viz. the prodigious number of fecret crimes that are committed in China, where public acts of violence and injuftice are faid to be rare.

The most ridiculous object imaginable is exhibited to us in the fifth Article, viz. an Account of the Cong-fou, or Poftures of the Bonzas of Tao-fee. Thefe idle priefts are extravagant enough to imagine that they have found out a remedy for the greatest part of difeafes, by fubjecting the bodies of the patients to the moft abfurd, forced, and whimsical poftures, which furpafs in number and inflexion the complicated and diverfified attitudes of comedians, rope-dancers, and academical models. Twenty of these postures are engraven in the volume before us, and they are whimfical beyond expreffion.

The fixth Article happily draws our attention from these opinions and cuftoms that degrade reafon, and afflict the humanity of the reader, to fix it on the obfervations made in natu


ral philofophy and natural history by the Emperor Kang-hi. We have formerly obferved, in our extracts from this work, that the Emperor Kang-hi was one of the greatest Princes that ever reigned in China: literature, philofophy, politics, jurispru dence, eloquence, hiftory, and poetry, all united their treasures in this eminent man, who became the difciple of a Miffionary, in order to learn aftronomy, and availed himself of every cir cumftance and occafion that could adminifter inftruction. The obfervations before us are those only which are to be found in the fourth part of his works, of which the whole collection amounts to above an hundred volumes. They are no more than fhort reflections on different fubjects; fuch as Petrifications,-Rock-falt,-a certain fort of Pine-tree, whofe leaves all fall in Autumn, and whofe fap is poisonous, on the flying Fox, Earthquakes, Varnish, the Compafs, - preferved Snow-water,-Sounds and Tones,-Nitre, Climates,-Bears of the Mountains,-long Days,-Thermal or bathing Waters, and other objects of Natural Hiftory, which are all treated fuperficially; pretty well, however, for an Emperor, and, above all, for an Emperor of China. What he fays about founds and tones is excellent, fentimental, and not unphilofophical; it is much for him, though not new for us. We are tempted to think that the Miffionary has fometimes given a touch of his pen to the Imperial fentences. Be that as it may, we like prodigioufly this good Emperor Kang-hi: he fays foolish and wife things, vulgar and acute things, tells old wife's tales and curious ftories, all with the fame fimplicity.

[ocr errors]

Thefe obfervations of the Emperor are followed by fome compofitions and receipts used in China, which our Author thinks are unknown, and may be useful in Europe.

After this we meet with an account of the Che-hiang, the name given by the Chinese to the famous animal from which the mufk is taken. This animal is timid and folitary. His fwiftnefs is prodigious: he climbs the fteepeft mountains, and defcends the most dreadful precipices, with the fame eafe and rapidity that a ftag croffes a plain. His hearing is exquifitely acute, and he disappears at the fmalleft noife. His food is wild herbs, and more especially the tender branches of the cedar, to which latter the greatest part of the Naturalifts attribute his perfume. Our Authors give a pretty circumftantial account of this animal. They obferve, among other particularities, that when it is caught, it lies on its back, in order, as the hunters fay, to be thus in the best pofture of defence: thefe hunters, however, acknowledge, that it tears the bag or tumour under the belly, in which the mufk is contained, when it is warmly pursued or caught in a fnare. Our Authors conjecture that the mufk was given by nature to this animal for its defence. As the wolves


and tygers are very fond of his flesh, he ftops their purfuit by tearing the bag of his mufk, and thus filling the air with an odour which they cannot bear. Befides this, and the other means of felf-prefervation given to this animal, it is led by a particular inftinct to conceal whatever may discover its traces; thus it makes a hole in the earth to hide its excrements, and licks the place that has been moiftened with its urine.

The fare, the net and the gun, are the three different me thods of hunting this animal. Its acutenefs of hearing and fwiftness would render this laft method difficult, nay ineffectual, were it not for a circumftance, which our Authors relate, after having (fay they) ufed all precautions to afcertain the fact, and particularly a careful examination of ocular witneffes. The fact is, that one of the hunters plays gay and cheerful airs on the flute, and that the Che-hiang, who is delighted with this mufic, gradually approaches the place from whence the founds come, until he is within fhot. It is added, that the notes of a child are still more alluring and agreeable to this animal, than thofe of the flute.

Our Authors obferve, that the musk differs in goodness, according to the feason of the year, the age of the animal, and the manner of killing it. It is better in the old than in the young, in Autumn than in Spring; it is often adulterated by the people of the country, but if it burns to the end (we suppose by burning, our Authors mean emitting flame) when it is boiled and melted, this is a fign of its purity. Mufk is the bafis of a perfume, which the Chinese call the eternal, which corrects the noxious qualities of the air, and is ufeful in epidemical diforders. The description of a Chinese mushroom yet unknown among the European botanifts, and an account of two vegetables ufed in the Emperor's kitchen, terminate this volume, which we think, with all its defects, one of the beft that has yet ape peared.


Introduction à l' Hiftoire Naturelle et à la Geographie Phyfique de l'ES pagne, &c. An Introduction to the Natural History and Phyfical Geography of Spain, written originally in Spanish by MR. WIL LIAM BOWLES, and tranflated into French by the Vifcount de Flavigny. Paris. [Conclufion of the Article.].



N our laft Appendix, we gave a circumftantial character of this valuable work, with a variety of extracts, and we shall now proceed to a conclufion of the Article.

Among the more popular parts of this performance, we meet with a defcription of the ancient fimplicity and contentment

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

that reign among the inhabitants of Bifcay, of the beauty of their country, and the innocence of their manners: this is a digreffion from the main defign of Mr. Bowles's work ;—it is alfo of the poetic caft, like certain pictures of the golden age; we shall therefore confine our attention at present to fome points of natural hiftory and philofophy, which are our Author's principal objects in this work.

One of the objects that moft deferves the attention of Naturalifts, is the famous mine of Sal Gemma in Andalufia, in the neighbourhood of Cordova. The fingularity of this mine confifts in its differing totally, by its fituation, from the other great falt-mines, especially thofe of Poland, which run a vast depth under ground. This mine, on the contrary, is a towering rock, an enormous mafs of folid falt, which rifes about four or five hundred feet from the ground, without crevices, openings or ftrata. It is a league in circumference, according to the eftimate of our Author; and its height is equal to that of the neighbouring mountains. As its depth under ground is not known, it is not poffible to fay on what foundations it refts. This prodigious mountain of salt, unmixed with any other substance, is, according to MR. BOWLES, the only one of its kind in Europe. This is fpeaking modeftly: for we never heard of any thing like it in any part of the world. The wonder it excites will still increase, if it be true, as MR. BowLES affirms, that neither the rains that have fallen upon it fince its formation, nor a river which washes its bafe, and whofe waters are strongly impregnated with it, have diminifhed its fize in any degree. This latter fact would require more proofs, than a fimple affirmation; as it does not appear that our Author has taken the exact dimenfions of this mountain in different periods of its existence. As to the reason of the fact, MR. BOWLES attributes it to the agency of nature, and its reproducing power, under the direction of the Creator, which forms anew as many falts as man confumes or it deftroys. This folution will not please those Naturalifts, who are not only defirous of learning what nature does, but are alfo curious to know how he does it.

MR. BOWLES tells us farther, that the waters of the river which washes the borders of this mountain are falt, and become more fo the more it rains; and that the fish die in it: but he alfo informs us, that this inconvenience does not extend above three leagues from the mountain, beyond which these waters are abfolutely deprived both of the faline tafte and faline particles. Our Author employed all the efforts of the alembic to see if he could find the smallest grain of falt in the water at this distance, but to no purpose: from hence he concludes, that the falts are decompounded intirely by the motion, and are resolved into earth and water. This conclufion is fomewhat too hafty. All that re


fults from the obfervations and experiments of our Author, is, that the water of the river, at a diftance of three leagues from the mountain, is not fo impregnated with falt as at the place where it receives the faline particles: no more-and until Mr. Bowles has proved, that during the course of these three leagues, the falts, which have disappeared, have not been depofed, nor formed into new combinations, nor affected by quantities of fresh water running into the river by ftreams, rivulets, canals or torrents, his conclufion with respect to their decompofition cannot be admitted. Had he mixed with these waters, at the distance abovementioned, a folution of filver, this would have been the fureft method of deciding the queftion. If he made, in effect, this experiment, he has not thought proper to mention it. The other reasons alleged by our Author in favour of the decompofition in question, are fo weak and inconclufive, that we shall pafs them over in filence.

There is alfo perhaps too much precipitation in the conclufion our Author deduces from another fact, which cannot be denied, because he was an ocular witness of it, and because it is publicly known in Spain: The fact is, the decomposition of faltpetre by the means of the fal gemme of Cordova alone. This decompofition is fo afcertained, that, according to MR. BOWLES, the Goldfmiths of Madrid employ no other aqua fortis than that which is drawn from faltpetre by this process. From this our Author concludes, that if, after a proper chymical inquiry, no vitriolic acid is found in the gem-falt of Cordova, the feparation or difengagement of the nitrous acid of faltpetre by the intervention of this falt, would overturn all that famous theory concerning the nature of the three acids, which is the great mafter-key of chymiftry. We fhall not, at prefent, enter into a refutation of this conclufion: this is not our bufinefs, though we, by no means, think the observation of MR. BOWLES either juft or unanswerable. The theory of the three acids is nothing more than a series of facts, well afcertained, not relative to the nature but to the combinatory action of acids; and these facts, in fimilar cafes, can never be destroyed by other facts, because nature never varies, but always produces the fame effects in the fame circumstances. New experiments may difcover unknown circumftances, which fhew, that cafes and facts, which we confidered as fimilar, are not really fo. But we have no occasion even for this reafoning in the prefent cafe. It is fufficient to observe, that nitre wants no more than a certain degree of heat and divifion in order to its decompofition, and the feparation or difengagement of its acid in clofed veffels; and that by mixing with this falt any kind of earth, even an earth abfolutely deftitute of the vitriolic acid, the nitrous acid may be extracted from it. The decompofition, therefore, of which MR. BOWLES speaks,

[ocr errors]


« VorigeDoorgaan »