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To the MONTHLY REVIEWERS, He attention and judgment with which you select the most Review, entitle you to public approbation ; and particularly your care to exhibit whatever immediately intereits the general economy of life. In this view I consider your extracts and remarks in the last month on Dr. Ingen housz's experiments upon vegetables, from which you take occasion to communicate the danger of confinement in a close room containing a large quantity of fragrant flowers. As I imagine your Review is more generally read than any other periodical performance in Europe, I doubt not but your communication will extensively diffuse a proper fufpicion of this fragrant and insidi. ous poison, and thereby obviate future injuries from the same cause; but I was not a little surprised, when you mentioned this as a cause of danger “ bitherto un/u/peerd.” ".
Though I am of opinion, that Dr. Ingenhousz has more clearly explained this deleterious quality in fragrant flowers, it has, I believe, been long suspected, though not elucidated with that accuracy which the discoveries of Dr. Priestley have since enabled experimenta alists to do. About ten years ago I intimated my opinion, in the History of Tea, that its fragrance was deleterious, founded upon experiments, and confirmed by experience; and instanced iwo examples of death in tea brokers, who in order to ascertain the respective qualities of teas, finell at them forcibly, and thus inspiré their effluvia; one of these persons died paralytic, and the other apople&tic.
Lucretius, in his oth Book, speaks very fully of the deleterious ef. fects of effluvia from different substances, and his ideas are so applicable to the present subject, that I beg leave to transcribe them here:
Arboribus primum certis gravis umbra tributa eft
Floris odore hominem tetro consueta necare. In the Acta Curioforum, as well as in some of the earlier Philoso. phical Transactions, I think I recollect having seen accounts of some examples of fatality from exposure to fragrant flowers in confined rooms. All the early navigators to the Welt Indies notice the dele. terious effluvium of the Manchiseel tree, though they vary respecting its virulence. I do not therefore address you as claiming the merie of a discovery, but to confirm the fufpicions which you have already frogested, as several cases have been related to me of persons who bave loft their lives by this exposure, and more than one instance where the fame fatal consequences have happened from Deeping in a field of beans in blossom. London, June 12, 1780.
Join Coakley LETTSOM, Ci's favour is received, and Mall be farther nosiced in our Dext.
Α Ρ Ρ Ε Ν DI X
VOLUME the SixTYSECOND.
ART. 1. Memoire dans lequel on examine les Fondemens de l'Ancienne Hiftoire
Chinoise, & ou l'on fait voir que les Miffionaires se font appuyés fur divers Pasages corrompus d'Auteurs Chinois pour établir ’l Ancienneté de la Nation.-- An Inquiry into the Foundations of the ANCIENT History of China, in which it is proved, that the Missionaries have employed several corrupted Passages of the Chinese Authors to ascertain the Antiquity of that Nation. By M. De GUIGNES, Member of the Royal Academy of Inscriptions, &c.
HIS Piece is the summary of a more ample and extensive
fittings of the Royal Academy, and it contains an examination of the proofs that have been employed to ascertain the Chinese chronology; ift, in the writings of the Miffionaries; and 2dly, in the annals of China, themselves. In a former Memoir, M. DE GUIGNES, by an attentive discussion of some parts of the ancient history of China, had shewn how uncertain that history is : and as several Missionaries had endeavoured to answer his objections, he returns to the subject in the present Memoir, and illuitrates and confirms, by new accessions of evidence, what he had formerly maintained.
One of the first particulars we observe in this Memoir, is, the learned Freret employing a passage of Meng-tse, a classical author among the Chinese, and looking upon it as one of the strongest proofs of the authenticity of the Chinese chronology; while it is evident, that this paffage does not exist in Meng-tse, but was a note of a commentator, who lived near twelve hundred
years after * Father Noel, in his translation of the works
Meng-tse lived in the ivth century before the Christian ara, and his Commentator in the xiith censury after. APP, REV. Vol. lxii,
of Meng-tse, inserted into the text the notes of the modern commentator, without either distinguishing them as they are distinguished in the Chinese work, or informing the public that he had taken this liberty: and as M. FreREt did not underftand the Chinese language, and was therefore obliged to lean upon the authority, and follow the lights (often worse than ambiguous), of the Miffionaries, he built his confident affertion of the antiquity of the Chinese chronology on Father Noel's translation, and alleged, for proof, a falle quotation, without knowing it.-The reader need not be surprised at this instance of credulity in an unbeliever, though implicit faith in a monkish miffionary be rather a curious phenomenon in such a man as M. FRERET.-Be that as it may, Father Noel's translation is full of additions of this kind, which cannot be distinguished by a French reader from the Chinese text; but our learned author, by consulting the original, discovered the error of M. FRERET, whose hypothesis, and all the labour it cost him, vanish into air in consequence of this discovery. - Father Couplet, in his translation of the works of Confucius, has followed, says our author, the fame method ; if we depend upon the authority of these translations, we shall find, indeed, in them a multitude of passages, that prove the antiquity of the Chinese chronologybut the misfortune is, that these passages do not exist in the originals,
We learn farther, in this curious Memoir, that Father de Mailla, in the celebrated Chinese annals, that are published from his tranNation, is guilty of the fame inconsiderate way of proving, and that his references to passages in the Chinese books are inaccurate, and fallacious, in a very high degree. M. DE GUIG ES gives an instance of this, which is really striking: De Mailla, in order to prove that the Chinese have not fixed, at random, the duration of the reigns of their ancient kings, tells us, that the Chou-bing, a book of the first authority in China, mentions pofitively the duration of the reigns of ten kings of the second Dynally ;-he even indicates the chapter, where this is to be found. -Happily for Father Maila, few critics are capable of examining the original; but, unhappily for him, our Author is one of the few, and assures us, that is the chapter, to which the Rev. Father refers us, there are only three princes mentioned, together with the years in which they governed, and that the greatest part of the others are not even named. Thus the mistakes and tricks of the Millionaries, and the conjectures and imaginations of other authors, make a confiderable part of that hillory of China, which a certain set of philosophers set up as a regulator of the chronology of other histories.
The champions of Chinese history have availed themselves much of astronomical observations to support the credit of its ancient chronology; but the contradictions and ambiguity that reign in the accounts of these observations, render the conclufions, drawn from them, very uncertain.-Father Amiot, in a work sent to the king's library, in 1769, affirms, that the conjunction of five planets, which happened under Tchuen-hio, is a fictitious epocha,--that it is not mentioned in any work really authentic, or worthy of credit, and that, consequently, it cannot be employed to ascertain the Chinese chronology. But, as if this Rev. Father had forgot himself, he, in another work, sent to France in 1775, and lately published, contiders the fame conjunction as a 'demonstration of the authenticity of the Chinese chronology, and fixes its epocha at the 28th of February of the year 2449, before Christ. · How he came to change his opinion, our Author cannot tell: nor can we imagine, how historians, that were unworthy of credit in 1769, should command our assent in 1775. Beside, if we attend to the reports of the other Millionaries, some of them will be found rejecting this chronology, others adopting it, and all of them calculating it in different ways.
Who shall decide when Doctors disagree? - Similar doubts are excited by similar contradictions with respect to the eclipse of Tchong-kang. Father De Premare, in one of his publications, throws a profufion of ridicule upon the astronomers, by whom it was calculated; and yet we find this fime Fatlier represented in the Lettres Edifiantes, as maintaining the credit of this eclipse. Our Author also shews the interruption, the disorder, and inaccuracy, that have always reigned in the Chinese cycle of fixty (designed, at first, to form a period of fixty days, and which was long after applied to a period of fixty years), and of consequence, the fallacy of those calculations, which M. FRERET and the Millionaries have founded upon it.
M. DE GUIGNES, after having evinced the precipitation of the Missionaries, and shewn the errors and contradictions into which they have been betrayed by their enthusiastical admiration of the Chinese history, goes a ttep farther, and undertakes to examine that history, with his own eyes, in order to see in what it consists, and on what foundations its credit rests. For this purpose, he examines the history of the Dynasty of Hia, the first of the imperial Dynasties, which had seventeen emperors, during the space of 440 years, and which began about the year 2207 before Jesus Christ. The Chou-king (says he) which the Chinese consider as the basis of their history, and the purest source of instruction, gives very little information with respect to that ancient Dynafty;-it mentions only four of the
seventeen emperors, that modern writers suppose to have belonged to it, without even taking notice of the duration of each reign : it contains abundance of reflections and maxims relative to government, but few or no events. The history of the second Dynasty is not more circumstantial : of twenty-fix emperors, that it is supposed to have contained, the Chou-king mentions only eight, and of these only three, the duration of whose reigns is specified.
It is pretended, that so early as the reign of Yoa, 2357 years before Christ, the Chinese made aftronomical observations, in countries far distant from the capital of their empire - that they had a complete year of 365 days and a quarter, and that they undertook immense works, to change the course of certain rivers and all this when i at a time when they were learning the first elements of agriculture, and only beginning to emerge from a state of barbarism! This, indeed, is not likely: unless we follow M. Bailli's hypothesis, according to which it is possible, that when the great northern Colossus of erudition and philosophy (erected who knows when or where?) was broken into pieces (who knows how?), some splinters of astronomy might have been carried into China, even in its rude and uncivilized ftate.
Nor does the Chinese history, according to our Author, derive more confiderable riches from the works of Meng-tse, who occasionally speaks of some of the ancient princes, the fame
are mentioned in the Chou-king :-Confucius, in the little treatises that have been collected by his disciples, mentions no other; so that, from these different works, which are anterior to the general confagration of the Chinese books (and about which fome doubts might perhaps be easily excited), it is impossible to draw a solid body of history.- How then did Se-matsien, about 97 years before Christ, compose one, and from what fource did he take the names of all these ancient emperors? It is true, indeed, he does no more than merely indicate them, and begins to mark the dates only at the year 841 before Chrift, so that the two first imperial Dynasties are without date, which is a strange manner of fixing chronology.--Be that as it maySe-ma tsien is the father of Chinese history; but, even in China, he has the reputation of a story-telier, is accused of having employed the tables invented by the Bonzes; and, in general, his history is little efteen.ed by the Millionaries. Father Sibaud, whole works have been lately printed at Paris, under the name of a Chinese called Ko, fays, that Se-ma-tsien designed to flatter the vanity of the emperor of China, by compofing a history, in such a manner, that the ambassadors from the weitern nations of Alia thould not be able to dispute with that