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New Annals of Gallantry,
J U L Y,
Philosophical Rhapsodies. Fragments of Akbur of Berlis. Cona
taining Reflections on the Laws, Manners, Customer and Relis gions, of certain Afiatic, Afric, and European Nationsar Cole letted and now first published. By Richard Jofeph Salivan, Esq. In three Volumes. 8vo. 155. in Boards.' Becket.
HE following fragments were written by a native of
Affyria, who, in very early youth, was removed to the continent of Europe, and thence to England. During his refidence in England with a friend of his father's, he became in structed in its language, and in the principles of its religion. He then travelled; and in various countries threw together the reflections which appear in the following sheett.'.**
This is the account of the editor, and we'ought not to dift trust it; but whether Akbur really existed, or fome European author has indulged his fancy, and wandered in idea'under this guise, is of little consequence: the work itself is out object, and merits our recommendation: The author is 'a candid and intelligent traveller, a ' friend of his fellow-creatures, and a zealous advocate for the offices of humanity.' 'He travels, not to describe buildings, prospects, or the the various ornaments of differing fancy, but to examine the manners and customs, to delineate the human heart, and to feel it under different disguises, but still poffefsing the same generous propensities, the same virtues, and the same weaknesses. "His mind is eni lightened, and his sentiments liberal : indeed his liberality sometimes degenerates, a little into fcepticism; but we find nothing to reprehend, for we discover it only by the terrors which he seems to feel when on holy ground, and the restraint frequently visible when his enquiries have brought him to the verge of the sanctuary. His language is clear, simple, and unornamented'; and, in general, we think thefe Philosophical Rhapsodies, unconnected in form, rather than in fubitance, furnith a pleasing and rational entertainment. Voi, LX. July, 1785.
This mental travelling, this, 'review of the minds and manners, is highly useful. It divests us of that unsocial pride, which raifes our own imaginary rank; for virtues and vices are nearly, the same in all countries; benevolence is always amiable, and a narrow selfishness defpicable, from the hovels of the Hottentot to the caverns of Lapland." It expands the mind, since it nows that happiness and misery are more equal. ly diffused than we thould suspect, from a first and tranfient view; and it teaches us to respect the of others, when they are found not to be more gross and numerous than our own.
The first question, which necessarily occurs to the mental traveller; is the origin of the different nations, and the varieties of the human, race. These questions are involved with each other; for, if the whole world did not proceed from one pair, no origin is necessary, or at leasl none can be determined. This is a subject which has not yet been decided, and the road to investigation is shut up, till some liberal theologian shall clearly show, that the Mosaic account of the creation is not to be understood in 'a literal or an universal sense. The first men for piety and learning, whom we have conversed with, have agreed that it is not so; and indeed, the account of the early ages seems to have been chiefly designed to preserve the Jewish genealogies. It is difficult to find one precepts, either of morality or religion, except the punishment inficted on the murderer, necessary to the conduct of our lives, not to add, that the whole is related in the uncertain mz de of tradition. We chiefly mean to refer to the ages, before the flood; and Mould not have hazarded this opinion, if we had not known that it was supported by the best authorities. Our author dwells chiefly on the different races of men, and on those tribes, in appearance, most remote from them, viz. the white men on the ifthmus of Darien, and the Albinoes of Africa. But, in fa&, there are no two species of the same genus, in the whole of animated nature, more
diftinct than the wooly-headed African, and the copper-coloured American. To talk of the effects of climate is abfurd : it niay infuence the height, the strength, and from thence the manners; but it would never enlarge the lip, Aatten the nose, or bend the knees. Besides, we know of no effect of climate beyond what may be produced by the degree and duration of heat and cold, by the effects of moisture more or less combined with them. Yet in America there are parts as swampy, as the banks of the Gambia, and deserts as dry and torrid as those of Ethiopia. Akbur does not decide; bui he acts a little un.
fairly; he leads his reader to determine, without seeming to biass him.
Those who have examined the different races of mankind, the great families which have contributed to people the earth, must have been struck with the extensive settlements of the Tartars. Perhaps they are the most numerous family that we are yet acquainted with; for it is not easy to limit their appearance. They are said to be the descendents of Japhet; but that is little to the present purpose. Akbur, with justice, exainines them at the beginning of his travels, and sets out from the North. He is soon attracted by the Grand Lama, and the Dala Lama, and gives an entertaining account of that religion; but this was in general well known. The vait hordes, with which Scythia has peopled Europe and Afia excites the following just and natural reflections.
• From the prodigious number of people which the regions of Scythia have sent forth, one would imagine that polygamy was beneficial to a communiry; and that no connection of the sexes could be more favourable to population. The fact, however, has been doubted, and apparently, with good reason ; for al. though a plurality of wives has been much more universally allowed than the simple state of monogamy, as will more fully appear hereafter, there yet seem to be natural as well as political confiderations which speak forcibly against it. An equal proportion of the sexes is generally allowed to be the confequence of a man's being confined to a single wife ; whereas, a great majority on the female fide is observable in those countries where his appetites are unrestrained. Of this, both India and China, together with the nations of which we are now treating, afford fufficient proof. Among these people, the women far outnumber the men ; nor is the reason alligned, a bad one. It is observed by naturalists, that the Offspring of every animal partakes in general of the sex of that parent which has the itrongest and most vigorous constitution, and that the women in India and China' have less exhausted constitutions than the men, must readily be admitted. A variety of attraction must enervate even the most robuft man. The seraglio, 'therefore, cannot but be hurtful to the male propagation. In fupport of this opinion, we find, that in Europe, where polygamy is exploded, the proportion of males and females is nearly equal. I do not exactly recollect the calculation ; but I believe it is as 106 to 108. Europe, then, can boast of being in the truest and most eligible fate of nature; for woman being formed for man, and nature not allowing of those adventitious claims of riches and distinction which first introduced a plurality of wives, the division, by her rules, should be as equal as possible ; each fhould possess his mate, the poor as well as the wealthy. More. over the monopoly of beauty is a monopoly of the most injuri. B 2