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that hollow space, left dry its ancient bed, which forms, at present, our continents.
The proofs and development of this system ;-the history of the earth since this grand revolution ;--the examination of M. BUFFON's epochas, as far as they relate to the origin of the planets, and the refrigeration of the earth ;--a curious analysis of the phenomena of beat;-a confideration of the Mosaic account of the creation and deluge, and a demonstration of their conformity with the true theory of the earth, -are the interesting subjects that occupy. the remainder of this filth volume :--and we propose to give some account of them in a subsequent Review.
l'Art.---Observations concerning Mufic, and more especially the
1779 THIS is a very ingenious performance. The Author appears
to be both a musician and a philosopher, and his knowledge is accompanied with evident marks of genius and taste. It deserves to be compared with the excellent treatise of Mr. HARRIS, on Music, Painting, and Poetry, in which that very learned and judicious writer allows to the first but a very small degree of perfection, when considered as a mimetic or invitative art, and makes its genuine charm and efficacy consist in exciting directly by founds, modified in a certain manner, a variety of affcctions in the mind. Our Author adopts this principle, and illustrates it by a variety of oblervations and examples, that are curious and entertaining. He shews, that imitation is, by no means, essential to music; and that it is extremely imperfect in this fine art: he confiders mufie, as a natural and univerlal language, entirely distinct from speech, that acts immediately on the senses, though the mind, by reAection and fancy, discovers, in its founds, several relations and analogies to different objects and effects in the natural world. He obferves, that in the fabat mater, which commonly paffes for a powerful expression of grief, there is not a single note that imitates the natural or inarticulate cry of pallion.
The object and effect of music is pleasure, and pleasure is felt by the person who fings, even on the most sorrowful occasions. As inarticulate founds have no precise fignification, they cannot excite any ideas, but such as correspond with certain lensations and affections, and even these they excite in a vague and confufed manner, if they are not determined by the union of music with poetry, or speech. Our Author coniiders at great length the four principal characters of music, viz the tender-the graceful- the chearful--and the bold. He allo treats
of melody and harmony, composition and execution, in a masterly manner. This volume, however, is but the first part of his work, and the second will certainly be desired with im. patience by those who peruse the first.
VIII. Voyage dans les N'ers de l'Inde, fait par Ordre du Roi, &c. - Ao Ac.
count of a Voyage made in the Indian Seas, by the King's Order, on occasion of the Passage of Venus over the Sun's Disk, the 6th of June 1761, and the 3d of June 1769. By M. Lɛ GENTIL, Member of the Royal Academy of Sciences. Vol. 1. 410. 707 pages, with xv Plates. Paris. 1779. Price 13 livres. IOS.
HE learned and inquisitive Author of this instructive and
entertaining work did not obtain the principal end he propose to himself by this voyage to the East-Indies. rived too late in India for the pasage of Venus, that was to take place in 1;61: and though, with a patience, that seems peculiar to the votaries of astronomy, he waited till the year 1769 for another passage, an untimely cloud, of a momentary dura tion, disappointed his hopes a second time. These philosophie cal disasters did not, however, render his voyage fruitless. The ingenious traveller turned his attention toward other objcets, that might tend to the improvement of various useful branches of knowledge. And there are, in effect, several observations relative to natural philofophy, geography, history, civil infti. tutions, and manners, in the work before us, that will be read with pleasure.
This First Volume contains two parts, and a supplement or appendix. In the first part, our Author describes the customs, manners, and religion of the Indians, on the coast of Coromandel, and this description is accompanied with various remarks on the wars and commerce that are carried on in that part of this strange world. This is followed by a view of the astronomical principles of the Brahmins. The Author thews their conformity with the astronomy of the ancient Chaldeans, and endeavours to throw light upon the cloudy chronology of that nation. He makes also several remarks on the confusion that reigns in the denominations frequently given to the inha. bitants of the coasts of Malabar and Coromandel, and from which even the geographical maps and charts are not exempted. As to the religious ceremonies and doctrines of the Brahmins, we cannot say that his accounts of them are masterly. Holwel and Anquetil discover a much more accurate and more extensive knowledge of these objects. M. Le Gentil examines the accounts that have been given of the conquests of the Macedonian hero in India, and places them vastly below the exploits and victories of Gengis-Kan, Tamerlane, and Aureng-Zeb.
His account of the beauty of the Indian climate, the fertility of the soil, the voluptuous propensity of the inhabitants, and the spirit of sensuality, which reigns in those regions, and diffuses itself through the veins of the Europeans who frequent them, are described in vivid colours by our Author. Even the Indian sparrows do not escape his attention; and the things he relates of these lascivious animals, would heighten, with some new and glowing tints, Buffon's lively picture of their indelicate amours. It is very singular, that in such a climate, and amidst the indolence and laziness that nourish the sensual passions, the conjugal fidelity of the Indian women (especially those of more diitinguished castes or families) is so remarkable and exemplary, as our Author represents it. Religion, reigning customs, nay, even certain superstitions, which seizing upon the passions, have generally a firmer hold upon the mind, than the pure dictates of a rational religion, may perhaps contribute to this phenomenon. It is, nevertheless, an object of reproach to those who live under a more temperate sky, and who are furnihed with superior means of knowledge and virtue,
From this object, our Author proceeds to the tyranny which the Moguls exercise over the voluptuous and effeminate Indians, who surpass them in number nearly in the proportion of fifty to one. This oppression is rendered more grievous by the dislenfions which reign among the Mogul princes, more especially since the time that the Europeans have intermeddled in ihese diffenfions. He considers the Europeans as more or less, and sooner or later, the dupes of these princes, who have recourse to them for succour; he condemns the plan of M. Dupleix, who aimed at nothing less than the reduction of India under the French dominion, as a plan of ruin and devastation for the former, and as detrimental even to the true commercial - interest of the latter. The only way (says he) to master India, would be to have a flourishing kingdom at Madagascar, which, by its proximity, would not only be empowered to conquer, but also to preserve the conquest. This puts us in mind of the old proverb, When the sky falls we shall catch larks.
We refer the Reader to M. LE GENTIL's work for his account of the theology of the Indians, which is rather circumftantial, than remarkable for new discoveries. His descriptions of their sacred edifices, illustrated with plates, are curious. What is most curious of all is his notion, that the Egyptians are descendants of a Chinese colony in India, which is not only turning the tables on M. Des Guignes, but also on the authors of the Religious Ceremonies, who affirm, that the Brahmins derived their origin from an Egyptian colony. We shall be glad to hear, in the following part of our Author's work, upon
what records, traditions, or circumstances, he founds his conjecture, that the Egyptians originate from a Chinese colony, which traded on the coast of Coromandel, fettled at, the place now called, Negapatnam, and carried their commercial enterprises as far as the coasts of the Red Sea.
The astronomical part of this volume is undoubtedly executed beft: the Author has discovered great sagacity, industry, and knowledge, in his inquiries concerning the state of aftronomy among the Indians of the coast of Coromandel. He had great difficulties to surmount in these researches, as the knov: ledge of that people is exprefled in verses or allegorical symbols, and the explication of the characters is often dificult, and doubtful, on account of the incapacity of the interpreters. The curiofity of M. LE GENTIL was excited by the accounts he had heard, at Pondicherry, of the astronomy of the Tamoult Indians; and nothing could equal his furprise, when he saw the facility with which one of these Indians calculated, in his presence, an eclipse of the moon (which he had proposed to him) with all the preliminary elements of that phenomenon, in three quarters of an hour. It is very singular (as our Author observes) that notwithstanding the capacity which the Brahmins seem to have for astronomical calculations, that science has not acquired among them any degree of improvement, nor made one progressive step during the course of seventeen centuries. It is still more surprising, that the Brahmins do not seem to look upon it as farther improveable by obfervations and experiments. This circumstance, which takes place throughout the Eaft, has been mentioned by M, Bailli, who concluded from it, that the eastern nations were not the inventors of astronomy,-for whoever invents, is capable of improving, and is disposed to improve. The astronomy of the Brahmins is confined to the following five articles,--the use of the gnomon; the length of the year; the precesion of the equinoxes; the division of the Zodiac into twenty-seven constellations; and the calculation of the eclipses of the sun and moon. It appears from our Author's account of che tropical year of the Brahimins, and their calculations of the preceffion of the equinoxes, that the Indians had a more accurate knowledge of the length of the year, than that which has been transmitted to us by Ptolemy and Hipparchus ; and our Author concludes from hence, that they were acquainted with the motion of precession, which the Greek philosophers only began to fufpect or conjecture 128 years before the Christian æra. M. LE GENTIL also thews (and this is a discovery, at least, to us that the ages of the world, of which the Brames or Brahmins speak, are no more than a revolution of the heavens, or the period of the motion of the stars in longitude, which is a period of 3
24,000 years, supposing the motion of precession to be 54 annually.
The astronomical tables and observations, that take up the rest of this volume, are learned and curious, and contain a rich variety of materials for the improvement of that science. The Memoir concerning the conformity between the astronomy of the modern Brahmins and that of the ancient Chaldeans, was read to the academy of sciences in the year 1777. It unfolds the result of our Author's inquiries into the astronomical knowledge of these two nations, and concludes the first part of this Volume.
The second Part contains a great number of observations relative to astronomy and natural philofophy, made principally at Pondicherry. It begins with a description of the Author's observatory, of the instruments he used in making them, and the methods he employed to verify them. This is really a valuable collection for the astronomers, as it not only contains accurate observations, but also the results which they furnish, either for improving tables, or determining the longitudes of the different places in which they have been made. Our Author's observations on the horizontal refractions on the fea-coafts, and his Table of Refractions from the horizon to the height of 90 degrees, are both curious and useful; such also are his obrero vations on the simple pendulum, and on the comet that appeared in 1769. These are followed by a journal of the temperature of the climate of Pondicherry, and of the variations in the seasons, as also by a description of the environs of that place, of its foil, and the different productions of the country, together with several interesting experiments on the waters that are in the neighbourhood of that city. The Supplement, which terminates this volume, contains the relation of several short voyages on the Indian seas, as also interesting remarks on the navigation from the Manila Isands to Pondicherry by the streights of Malacca, followed by a Memoir concerning the winds in general, the trade-winds, and the course that navigators ought to hold in the voyage to India after they have doubled the Cape of Good Hope. The most experienced mariners will receive fatisfaction, perhaps instruction, from this part of M. LE GENTIL’s Work, which must be a valuable present to all who have at heart the improvement of navigation,