图书图片
PDF
ePub

and the microscope was known in the time of Augustus. Empedocles and Cicero had some idea of attraction?. Plutarch frequently speaks of the infinite divisibility of matter; and some have supposed", that even the Newtonian system of fluidity and centrifugal force was not unknown to the Egyptians.

.III. If, in later ages, the moderns are obliged to Arabia for arithmetic and algebra, and to the Moors for astronomy and geography; they are indebted entirely to ancient Greece for every species of elegant literature. For in the Latin poetical writers, there is scarcely one single original thought. To the ancients, too, how much are we indebted for the useful arts. Arachne invented the distaff; Pamphyla the art of using cotton; a Phrygian lady needle-work; and Praxiteles looking-glasses. The Tyrians discovered scarlet and purple dyes; and the Sidonian ladies first practised embroidery. Phidon in-, vented scales and weights; Prometheus first taught the art of striking fire from flints and steel; an Egyptian made the first lamp; Anacharsis the first pair of bellows; Pseusippus the first cask; a Spaniard the first sieve; a Scythian the first anchor; and Ericthonius invented chariots, and harness for horses. Archytas invented the screw and pulley; Perdix the saw; Dædalus the axe,

There was a mirror invented by Hostius, which made a man's finger look as large as his arm.

De Natur. Deor. ii. 45.-Shakespeare, too, uses it in Newton's sense.Timon of Athens, iv. sc. 3.

Whitehurst's Enquiry, p. 18.

the whimble, and the wedge; his grandson the lathe; and Anacharsis the potter's wheel. Ctesibes invented the pump, a water-clock, and other hydraulic instruments; and Nicias discovered the art of fulling. Rhæcus and Theodorus of Samos invented the forging of iron statues, and of casting copper ones. Cybele, the daughter of Menos, king of Phygia, invented the tabor, the cymbal, and the flageolet; and Castor and Pollux, reducing motion to a science, gave rise to the art of dancing: while Gargaris, king of the Curetes, first taught the method of taking honey from bees.

The list of our obligations might be considerably extended. But though we are indebted to the ancients for many important hints, the moderns have, assuredly, been far more successful in the study of nature; and the exercise of the useful arts. There is no necessity to allude to the ancients having no linen for shirts ; no windmills, or watermills ; and no spectacles: it is sufficient to observe, that if we except the art of painting, sculpture, poetry, and music, we are as far beyond them in every species of knowledge, as the French are beyond the Hungarians, Spaniards, and Portuguese.

In fact, the moderns excel the ancients in all the sciences; in most of the arts; in government; in commerce; in manners; and in facility of intercourse: but they have less mental and bodily vigour; less simplicity;. and less admiration and enthusiasm for genius.

IV.

The art of gardening was known to the Greeks and Carthaginians, who were exceedingly attached to flowers.

The Britons were ignorant of this luxury, till it was taught them by the Romans. In the time of Agricola ?, however, they had made great progress; and had reared several species of flowers and fruits ; having found their soil sufficiently rich and various, for almost every European fruit, except the vine and olive. The Dutch were late in deriving profit or pleasure from this pursuit. The taste, once imbibed, however, soon became so captivating, that they named many of their flowers after distinguished statesmen; while a single Semper Augustus sold for 4600 florins 3! Of the various sorts of tulip and gilliflowers, more than two hundred have derived their names from eminent men and beautiful women. The history of the Tulipomania, indeed, furnishes the most amusing article in the history of human folly ;-450 guineas having been offered, in 1771, for a hyacinth, and refused! The

· The Talmud of the Jews mentions nine orders of angels; among these the first order has the delegated power of bestowing life; by the fifth the Deity sends the elements; and by the influence of the seventh are elicited herbs and plants. I shall take this opportunity of noting a remarkable error among the scholiasts, annotators, and mythologists. Many, and indeed most of these writers insist, that the Floralia were instituted in honour of a courtezan! But that Flora was a respectable goddess is evident from the circumstance related by Cicero ; who says, (Orat. in Verr. 5. 14.) that it was the duty of the ædile to exhibit sacred games to Ceres; and to conciliate the mother Flora. Besides, Varro informs us, that Tatius, king of the Sabines, offered vows to Flora, previous to his war with Romulus. There appear, therefore, to have been two species of floral ceremonies. One, a mere festival, like our May-day; the other, of a chaster kind. The former were called Florales Ludi ; from Flora, a courtezan : the latter Floralia, from Flora, goddess of flowers, when the Romans prayed for a blessing on the trees and grass.

2 Tacit. in Vit. Agricol. c. 12. .3 In 1814 the emperor of Austria gave 5,000 francs, (208). 6s. Od.) for one plant of the cycas circinalis, a species of evergreen palm.

Chinese, too, are accustomed to give a large price for the montan; hence that flower is not unfrequently called the paleangkin, signifying“ an hundred ounces of gold.”

v. The gardens of Persia are said to vie in beauty and luxuriance with any in the universe; and to them the Persians devote their principal attention. When Mirza Abul Hassan was ambassador to the British court, one of his greatest satisfactions arose from occasionally walking, unattended, in Kensington gardens. Sir John Malcolm says, that when he was in that country, (A. D. 1800), grapes were sold at less than an halfpenny a pound; while, in some provinces, fruit had scarcely a nominal value.

The Assamese are said to have a decided taste for planting: while the Japanese 1. and the resident Tartars of the Crimea derive their principal sustenance and amusement from their gardens. Those of Fez, in the empire of Morocco, have summer-houses in them? In these they may be said to live, from the beginning of April to the latter end of September. The Indians of Mexico, in the time of Cortez, were passionately fond of flowers; and the gardens, which that commander found at Huaxtepec, were so extensive and beautiful, as he informed Charles V, that they surpassed every thing of the kind, he had seen even in Europe. While an ambassador, to the court of Montezuma, could present no offering, which would be more highly esteemed, than a bouquet;

i Golownin's Narrative of his Captivity in Japan, vol. i. p. 282.

Vid. Treausurie of Auncient and Moderne Times, booke vi. c. I. p. 521.

and so partial are the ladies of Lima, that nearly eight hundred pounds worth of flowers are sold in the great square, upon an average, every day.

If a Cingalese possess a garden, he wants but little more. Two jack trees, a palm-tree or two, and six or eight cocoas, furnish him with enough to make him content; and his chief enjoyment is to recline under their shade. Of the jack tree, says Thunberg, may be prepared no less than fifteen different dishes. The peasantry of Java have, in many districts, gardens attached to their cottages; which are exempt from contributions of every kind. In the regency of Kedu, they are so extensive, as to constitute one-tenth of the district. These gardens the cotters plant, not only with vegetables, but fruit; and no small delight do they experience in sitting under the shade, with their families around them. Some of these cottages are so luxuriantly embowered with foliage of evergreens, that they cannot be discerned, till a traveller stands at the very door. And so beautiful do these groups make the country, that an elegant, as well as an enlightened, governor of that country asserts, that the clumps, which diversify the most skilfully arranged park, can bear no comparison with them in picturesque effect. During the Dutch occupation of this island, most of the vegetables and fruits sold, in the “ land of friends,"—the vegetable market of Batavia,—were reared by manumitted slaves ; who, upon receiving their freedom, were accustomed to hire a small quantity of land from their former masters. In consequence of which Batavia.was supplied more plentifully with fruits, than any city in Europe.

· Raffles' Hist. Java, i.p. 82.

« 上一页继续 »