網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

mixed, the defection from their nature was not só entire, but there still appeared marvellous qualities among them, as was manifest in those, who followed Alexander in India. How did they attend his army and survey his order! how did they cast themselves into the same forms for march or for combat! what an imitation was there of all his discipline! the ancient true remains of a warlike disposition, and of that constitution, which they enjoyed, while they were yet a monarchy.

To proceed to Italy : at the first appearance of these wild philosophers, there were some of the least mixed who vouchsafed to converse with mankind; which is evident from the name of Fauns *, a fando, or speaking. Such was he, who coming out of the woods in hatred to tyranny, encouraged the Roman army to proceed against the Hetruscans, who would have restored Tarquin. But here, as in all the western parts of the world, there was a great and memorable era, in which they began to be silent. This we may place something near the time of Aristotle, when the number, vanity, and folly of human philosophers increased, by which men's heads became too much puzzled to receive the simpler wisdom of these ancient Sylvans; the questions of that academy were too numerous to be consistent with their ease to answer : and too intricate, extravagant, idle, or pernicious, to be any other than a derision and scorn unto them. From this period, if we ever hear of their giving answers, it is only when caught, bound, and constrained, in like manner as was that ancient Grecian prophet, Proteus.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Accordingly we read in Sylla's * time of such a philosopher taken near Dyrrachium, who would not be persuaded to give them a lecture by all they could say to him, and only showed his power in sounds by neighing like a horse.

But a more successful attempt was made in Augustus's reign by the inquisitive genius of the great Virgil ; whom, together with Varus, the commentators suppose to have been the true persons, who are related in the sixth Bucolick to have caught a philosopher, and doubtless a genuine one of the race of the old Silenus. To prevail upon him to be communicative (of the importance of which Virgil was well aware) they not only tied him fast, but allured him likewise by a courteous present of a comely maiden called Egle, which made him sing both merrily and instructively. In this song we have thelr doctrine of the creation, the same in all probability as was taught so many ages before in the great pygmæan empire, and several hieroglyphical fables under which they couched or embellished their morals. For which reason I look upon this Bucolick as an inestimable treasure of the most ancient science.

In the reign of Constantine we hear of another taken in a net, and brought to Alexandria, round whom the people flocked to hear his wisdom; but as Ammianus Marcellinus reporteth, he proved a dumb philosopher; and only instructed by action.

The last we shall speak of, who seemech to be of the true race, is said by St. Jerome to have met St. Anthony † in a desert ; who inquiring the way of

• Vid. Plutarch. in Vit. Syllæ.

+ Vit. St. Ant.

him, him, he showed his understanding and courtesy by pointing, but would not answer, for he was a dumb philosopher also.

These are all the notices, which I am at present able to gather, of the appearance of so great and learned a people on your side of the world. But if we return to their ancient native seats, Africa and India, we shall there find, even in modern times, many traces of their original conduct and valour.

In Africa (as we read among the indefatigable Mr. Purchas's collections) a body of them, whose leader was inflamed with love for a woman, by martial power and stratagem won a fort from the Portuguese.

But I must leave all others at present to celebrate the praise of two of their unparalleled monarchs in India. The one was Perimal the magnificent, a prince most learned and communicative; to whom in Malabar their excess of zeal dedicated a temple, raised on seven hundred pillars, not inferiour in Maffæus's * opinion to those of Agrippa in the Pantheon. The other, Hanimant the Marvellous, his relation and successor, whose knowledge was so great, as made his followers doubt if even that wise species could arrive at such perfection: and therefore they rather imagined him and his race a sort of gods formed into apes. His was the tooth which the Portuguese took in Bisnagar 1559, for which the Indians offered, according to Linschotten t, the immense sum of seven hundred thousand ducats. Nor let me quit this head without mentioning with all due respect Orang Outang the great, the last of this

[ocr errors][merged small]

line; whose unhappy chance it was to fall into the hands of Europeans. Oran Outang, whose value was not known to us, for he was a mute philosopher: Oran Outang, by whose dissection the learned Dr. Tyson * has added a confirmation to this system, from the resemblance between the homo sylvestris, and our human body, in those organs by which the rational soul is exerted.

We must now descend to consider this people as sunk into the bruta natura by their continual commerce with beasts. Yet even at this time, what experiments do they not afford us, of relieving some from the spleen, and others from imposthumes, by occasioning laughter at proper seasons ! with what readiness do they enter into the imitation of whatever is remarkable in human life! and what surprising relations have le Comte † and others given of their appetites, actions, conceptions, affections, varieties of imaginations, and abilitics capable of pursuing them! If under their present low circumstances of birth and breeding, and in so short a term of life as is now allotted them, they so far exceed all beasts, and equal many men; what prodigies may we not conceive of those, who were nati melioribus annis, those primitive, longeval, and antediluvian mantigers, who first taught science to the world ?

This account, which is entirely my own, I am proud to imagine has traced knowledge from a fountain correspondent to several opinions of the ancients, though hitherto undiscovered both by them and the more ingenious moderns. And now what shall I say to mankind in the thought of this great discovery? • Dr. Tyson's Anatomy of a Pigmy, 4to. + Father le Comte, a jesuit, in the account of his travels. VOL. XVII.

what

what, but that they should abate of their pride, and consider that the authors of our knowledge are among the beasts ? that these, who were our elder brothers by a day in the creation, whose kingdom (like that in the scheme of Plato) was governed by philosophers, who fourished with learning in Æthiopia and India, are now undistinguished, and known only by the same appellation as the man-tiger and the monkey?

As to speech, I make no question, that there are remains of the first and less corrupted race in their native deserts, who yet have the power of it. But the vulgar reason given by the Spaniards, “ that they “ will not speak for fear of being set to work,” is alone a sufficient one, considering how exceedingly all other learned persons affect their ease. A second is, that these observant creatures, having been eyewitnesses of the cruelty with which that nation treated their brother Indians, find it necessary not to show themselves to be men, that they may be protected not only from work, but from cruelty also. Thirdly, they could at best take no delight to converse with the Spaniards, whose grave and sullen temper is so averse to that natural and open cheerfulness, which is generally observed to accompany all true knowledge.

But now were it possible, that any way could be found to draw forth their latent qualities, I cannot but think it would be highly serviceable to the learned world, both in respect of recovering past knowledge, and promoting the future. Might there not be found certain gentle and artful methods, whereby to endear us to them? Is there no nation in the world, whose natural turn is adapted to engage their society, and win them by a sweet similitude of manners ? Is there

no

« 上一頁繼續 »