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and in which the Natural Hiftory of the different Kinds of Stones to which the Name of Bafaltes has been given, at different Times, is expofed and illuftrated.
We learn from Pliny, that the Egyptians found in Ethiopia a ftone, which they called Bafa'tes, from its having the colour and hardness of iron,-that the ftatue of Memnon was of the fame ftone, and that a coloffal ftatue of the Nile, placed in the temple of Peace at Rome, was the largest mafs of bafaltes, then known. M. DESMAREST proves, that it is from these indications alone, that we must proceed in our researches concerning the bafaltes of the ancients. If the ftatues above-mentioned were to be found, the queftion would foon be decided. Father Hardouin tells us, that the ftatue of the Nile was still in the capitol, when he wrote;-but he mistook this ftatue for a copy of it, done in marble of Carrara. Qur Academician, however, after an attentive examination of feveral ancient remains, found two ftones, which might both be confidered as the bafaltes of the ancients-the one a kind of black fcherl, or cockle, called gabbro in Italy; a blackish, hard stone, crystallized in plates, and fometimes mixed with veins of granit, quartz, and felt fpar;the other of a greenish grey colour, refembling the bafalteslava, which M. DESMAREST has demonftrated to be the production of Volcanos. He does not determine whether the ancients confounded together thefe two ftones: and nothing but a voyage into Egypt can decide this matter.
After these researches, we meet with fomething of more importance. Our Academician gives a hiftory of the foreign fubftances that are met with in the productions of Volcanos: these substances have been carried along with the lava, fometimes in their natural state, fometimes with more or less alterations. The void fpaces in the lava are often obferved to be filled by infiltrations, which fometimes, alfo, change the fubftance of the lava itself.. Our Academician defcribes these different fubftances, which are found in the lava, and all their various properties and characters.-He ranges them into four claffes, of which the quartz and the gabbro form the two firfe; the two laft confift of calcarcous fubftances, and the fragments of zeolite and alum earths, that are contained in the lava. All that relates to the qualities of thefe fubftances, is treated here in the moft circumftantial detail, in the compafs of fifty pages.
M. DESMAREST maintains, that all thefe fubftances derive their origin from the firft or primitive bodies, whofe fufion formed the lava, or which were carried along with it. If this be true,
* The reader will pardon this term, which is expreffive and wanted.
it follows, of confequence, that when the productions of a Volcano, taken from a current of lava, contain gabbro, quartz, zeolite or calcareous fubftances, the matter, which furnished this lava, muft contain them likewife: and this M. DESMAREST has obferved to be always the cafe. In the granits of Auvergne, there is a mixture of gabbro, and the fame mixture is found in the currents of lava of the volcano there. In another district, the granits are without gabbro, and fo alfo are the currents of lava there. The ancient lavas of Vefuvius contain foreign fubftances, which are not obfervable in the modern ones, be cause the modern lava is, according to our Academician, only the product of the fufion of the ancient. The hiftorical account of his obfervations in France and Italy, relative to the nature and origin of the fubftances contained in the lava, fills near forty pages of this ample memoir, and is worthy of the attention of the connoiffeurs in natural hiftory.
The clafs of ANALYSIS contains a memoir concerning partial differences;-that of GEOGRAPHY two memoirs, one on the longitude and latitude of Pondicherry, and another on the map of Mefopotamia;-that of MECHANICS, a memoir on the arching of bridges, and one on the spinning of filk. The eulogies of Meffrs. Morand and Heriffant, two very eminent men in chirurgery and phyfic, are prefixed to the memoirs of this
L'EZOUR VEDAM, ou Ancien Commentaire du Vedam, contenant l'Expofition des Opinions Religieufes et Philofophiques des Indiens, &c. i. e. The EZOUR VEDAM, or an Ancient Commentary on the Vedam, containing the Religious and Philofophical Opinions of the Indians, tranflated from the Samfcretam, or Hanfkrit ‡. By a Brahmin. Revifed and published with Preliminary Remarks, Notes, and 11luftrations. 2 Vols. 12mo. Paris, and Yverdun. 1779.
S the Indians are not communicative, nor the Europeans, who frequent their country, eagerly bent on any pursuits of a literary kind, we know little of the philofophical and religious opinions of thefe Afiatics. The relations of Rogers, however interefting, have only for their object the popular religion of India: the accounts of Dow and Holwell contain, indeed, the moft ingenious explications of the Indian tables, which they allegorize into a pure and rational feries of theological doctrines; but thefe explications are deftitute of fufficient authority they feem to have been the inventions of certain
What is here called Samfcretam, is the language of the Vedam, which is known to the Brahmins alone, and which our Authors call the Samfkortam, Samfkroutam, Sankrit, and Hanfkrit-all thefe different manners of writing the fame word.
Brahmins, who were ashamed of their abfurd mythology; and they are contradicted by the commentaries and explications of others. It is only a tranflation of the canonical books of Indians (of which, many extol the wifdom and antiquity, without knowing much about them) that can fix our ideas on this fubject.
For the tranflation of the work here announced, the public is indebted to the Baron de Sainte Croix, of the Royal Academy of Infcriptions. It was made by a Brahmin of Benares, who was a correfpondent of that academy; it was found among the papers of Mr. Barthelemy, fecond member of the council of Pondicherry; and a copy of it was brought from India by Mr. Modave, who made a prefent of it to M. DE VOLTAIRE; and in the year 1761, the latter fent it to the king's library. The manufcript, however, was not complete; but M. de Sainte Croix fupplied the chapters, which are wanting, from another copy of the fame tranflation, made by M. Anquetil du Perron, from one in the poffeffion of the nephew of M. Barthelemy. All this is related at length in the preface of the learned editor.
This preface is followed by fome preliminary obfervations, in which M. De Sainte Croix, tracing up to its origin the religion of the Indians, finds in it feveral lines of refemblance with that of the Egyptians, many of whom he carries into India about the end of the 16th century, before Chrift, upon the teftimony of Jofephus, without, however, quoting the paffage. The learned Baron relates afterwards the progrefs and viciffitudes of this religion, takes notice of its refemblance with that which Zoroafter taught the Perfians, particularly in, the province of Ariana, from whence, and from the neighbouring countries, he reprefents the Samaneans (a kind of magi or philofophers which fome have erroneously confounded with the Bahmins) as fpreading themselves in India, and teaching new doctrines. Before their arrival, the Brahmins, fays our Author, were in the highest period of their glory; they were the only oracles of India; and their principal refidence was on the banks of the Ganges, and in the adjacent mountains; while the Samaneans were fettled towards the Indus.-By this account, one would be led to conclude, that the Indians had a religious doctrine before that which had been taught them by the Samaneans: but this is not conformable with what the Brahmins fay themselves, viz. that they derived all their knowledge from the Samaneans, before whofe arrival it would, in effect, be difficult to prove that the Brahmins were the religious teachers of the Indians.
The most celebrated and ancient of the Samanean doctors was Boutta (Boudda, or Budda), who was born 683 years before Chrift. His difciples honoured him as a God, and his doctrine,
which confifted chiefly in the Tranfinigration of Souls, and in the Worship of Cows, was adopted not only in India, but also in Japan, China, Siam, and Tártáry. It was propagated, áccording to our Editor, in Thibet, in the eighth century, and fucceeded, there, the ancient religion of Zamolxis *. The Samaneans or Buddifts, were entirely deftroyed in India by the jealous rage of the Brahmins, whofe abfurd practices and fables they affected to treat with contempt; but feveral of their books are ftill refpectfully preferved on the coaft of Malabar; and, moreover, we are told, that feveral of the Brahmin-orders have adopted their manner of living, and openly profess the greatest part of their doctrines.
Our Author, or rather Editor, renders it more than probable, that the Indians derived a great part of their knowledge, and even of their fables, from the Jews (whofe captivity and difperfion may have led many of them to India, in the time of Budda), from the Greeks, who went afterwards there with Alexander, and alfo from the Chriftians, who fettled in India, in the early ages of the church. They alfo availed themselves of the opportunity of acquiring knowledge from commercial travellers; but from whatever fources they derived information, it was ftill disfigured by their exceffive fuperftition.
With refpect to the work itfelf, it is a commentary on the Vedam, or facred books of law and religion, which were written by the Samaneans, in the Samfcretan language, and which but a fmall number, even of the Brahmins, underftand at this day. M. DE SAINTE CROIX gives us an idea of four Vedams, from Indian memoirs and relations: He fpeaks alfo of the Pouranams, which were religious books of an inferior order, and which fome of the Brahmins reject, as others do the Vedams, The Baga Vedam, which contains the doctrine of the Indians concerning the Deity, happiness, a contemplative life, the hiftory of the creation, prefervation, and deftruction of the univerfe, the origin of inferior gods, men, giants, &c. is one of the Pouranams. After thefe, come the Schafters or Shafta, whofe antiquity has been greatly cried up in Europe, but which must be posterior to the Vedams, of which they are no more than the explication. Now M. De Sainte Croix places the publication of the Vedams in the tenth century of the Chriftian
Budda was high priest; and our Editor thinks, that the grand Lamas, which the people of Thibet always kept up, even after their adopting the Indian religion, were his reprefentatives and fucceffors. But M. de Guignes thinks, that it was from the Indian pontiff, that the people of Thibet took the thought of erecting one among themselves, when their religious voyages into India were rendered difficult and dangerous, by the arrival of the Mahometans in the northern parts of that country.
zra, and that of the Pouranams in the fifteenth. All these books contain the most fublime and elevated ideas of the Supreme Being, mingled with the moft abfurd fables, the groffeft materialism, and the most monftrous fancies. As to the EzoUR Vedam, now before us, M. Voltaire pretended, that it was more ancient than the age of Alexander the Great; but the Editor refutes this opinion, by an argument to which there is no reply, viz. that mention is made, in this book, of the Mahometans and Moors.
After thefe preliminary obfervations, we find the translation of the EZOUR VEDAM. This work is a dialogue between a man plunged in the thickest darkness of idolatry, called Biache, and Chumontou, a philofopher of the Canigueuls or Eclectics, who were attached to no fect, but took from each the doctrines that pleased them moft. The former gives an account of Indian paganifm, in all its popular doctrines ;-the latter fhews their abfurdity, combats idolatry, and gives his own opinions concerning the unity of God, the creation, the nature of the foul, the worship that is worthy of the Supreme Being, and the duties of every rank and ftation in life; and his doctrine feems to be entirely conformable to the Samanean fyftem. His work contains eight books, divided into different chapters, in which he treats of the creation of the world, the Vedams, the different Caftes, of the production of beings, the different states of life, of hell, of fin, of good works, of meditation, of paradife, of the different incarnations of the gods, of giants, and of the foul.
There is a strange mixture of enormous abfurdity and rational theology in this work, from which we shall extract fome paffages. After having heard Biache's account of the origin of the worship of Lingam, which furpaffes, in indecent ftupidity, almost all the fables of Grecian theology, Chumontou treats the story with the warmest expreffions of contempt and indignation. He, moreover, cenfures feverely the invention of the Pouranams, of the incarnations of Vifchnou, and condemns thofe, who confer the name of God upon Brahma, Vifchnou, Chiven, or Gonetho, or worship them as fuch. He alfo combats the diftinction of the Caftes, which raife certain orders of men fo much above others, and obferves, on this occafion, that Adimo is the name of the first man, whom God formed, and that from him proceeded all thofe whom Biache falfely looked upon as Deities. He repeats to this latter the prayer, which thofe (whom he erroneously looks upon as Gods) addrefs to the Supreme Being, and this prayer is, indeed, remarkable enough to deferve a place here. It is as follows: "O God Creator, O God Preferver of all things-thou haft formed me from nothing, that I might employ the life thou haft bestowed upon Kk4