Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

but the Chinese confider him as a native of India, the Brábmans insist, that he was born in a foreft near Gayá, and many reasons may lead us to suspect, that his religion was carried from the weft and the fouth to those eastern and northern countries, in which it prevails. On the whole we meet with few or no traces in Scythia of Indian rites and fuperstitions, or of that poetical mythology, with which the Sanscrit poems are decorated ; and we may allow the Tartars to have adored the Sun with more reason than any fouthern people, without admitting them to have been the sole original inventors of that universal folly: we may even doubt the originality of their veneration for the four elements, which forms a principal part of the ritual introduced by Zer'ATUSHT, a native of Rai in Perfia, born in the reign of GUSHTASP, whose fon Pash'uTen is believed by the Párji's to have resided long in Tartary at a place called Cangidiz, where a magnificent palace is said to have been -built by the father of Cyrus, and where the Persian prince, who was a zealot in the new faith, would naturally have disseminated its tenets "among the neighbouring Tartars. :. Of any Philosophy, except natural Ethicks, which the rudest society requires and experience "teaches, we find no more vestiges in Asiatick Scythia than in ancient Arabia ; nor would the

[merged small][ocr errors]

name of a Philosopher and a Scytbian have been ever connected, if ÁNACHARSIS had not visited Athens and Lydia for that instruction, which his birthplace could not have afforded him: but ANACHARSIS was the son of a Grecian woman, who had taught him her language, and he soon learned to despise his own. He was unquestionably a man of a sound understanding and fine parts; and, among the lively sayings, which gained him the reputation of a wit even in Greece, it is related by DioceNES LAERTIUS, that, when an Athenian reproached him with being a Scythian, he answered : ' my country ' is, indeed, a disgrace to me, but thou art a

disgrace to thy country.'. What his country was, in regard to manners and civil duties, we may

learn from his fate in it ; for when, on his return from Athens, he attempted to reform it by introducing the wise laws of his friend Solon, he was killed on a hunting party with an arrow shot by his own brother, a Scythian Chieftain. Such was the philosophy of M. BAILLY's Atlantes, the first and most enlightened of nations! We are assured, however, by the learned author of the Dabistàn, that the Tartars under CHÈNGIZ and his descendants were lovers of truth; and would not even preserve their lives by a violation of it: De GUIGNES ascribes the same veracity, the parent of all virtues, to the Huns; and STRABO, who might only mean to lash the Greeks by praising Barbarians, as HORACE extolled the wandering Scythians merely to satirize his luxurious countrymen, informs us, that the nations of Scythia deserved the praise due to wisdom, heroick friendship, and justice ; and this praise we may readily allow them on his authority, without supposing them to have been the

preceptors of mankind.

As to the laws of ZAMOLXIs, concerning whom we know as little as of the Scythian DeuCALION, or of ABARIS the Hyperborean, and to whose story even HERODOTUS gave no credit, I lament, for many reasons, that, if ever they existed, they have not been preserved : it is certain, that a system of laws, called Yásác, has been celebrated in Tartary since the time of Chengiz, who is said to have republished them in his empire, as his institutions were afterwards adopted and enforced by Taimu'r; but they seem to have been a common, or traditionary, law, and were probably not reduced into writing, till Chengiz had conquered a nation, who were able to write.

III. Had the religious opinions and allegorical fables of the Hindus been actually borrowed from Scythia, travellers must have discovered in that country some ancient monuments of them, such as pieces of grotesque sculpture, images of

the Gods and Avatárs, and inscriptions on pillars or in caverns, analogous to those, which remain in every part of the western peninsula, or to those, which

many of us have seen in Babàr and at Banáras; but (except a few detached idols) the only great monuments of Tartarian antiquity are a line of ramparts on the west and east of the Cafpian, ascribed indeed by ignorant Muselmans to Yájúj and Májúj, or Gog and Magog, that is to the Scythians, but manifestly raised by a very different nation in order to stop their predatory inroads through the passes of Caucasus. The Chinese wall was built or finished, on a similar construction and for a similar purpose, by an Emperor, who died only two hundred and ten years before the beginning of our era ; and the other mounds were very probably constructed by the old Persians, though, like many

works of unknown origin, they are given to SECANder, not the Macedonian, but a more ancient Hero fupposed by some to have been Jemshid. It is related, that pyramids and tombs have been found in Tátáristàn, or western Scythia, and fome remnants of edifices in the lake Saisan ; that vestiges of a deserted city have been recently discovered by the Russians near the Caspian fea, and the Mountain of Eagles; and that golden ornaments and utenfils, figures of elks and other quadrupeds in metal, weapons of

copper, will

various kinds, and even implements for mining, but made of copper instead of iron, have been dug up in the country of the Tshúdès ; whence M. Bailly infers, with great reason, the high antiquity of that people : but the high antiquity of the Tartars, and their establishment in that country near four thousand years ago, no man disputes; we are inquiring into their ancient religion and philosophy, which neither ornaments of gold, nor tools of

prove to have had an affinity with the religious rites and the sciences of India. The golden utensils might poflibly have been fabricated by the Tartars themselves; but it is possible too, that they were carried from Rome or from China, whence occasional embassies were sent to the Kings of Eighùr. Towards the end of the tenth century the Chinese Emperor dispatched an ambassador to a Prince, named ERSLA'N, which, in the Turkish of Constantinople, signifies a lion, who resided near the Golden Mountain in the same station, perhaps, where the Romans had been received in the middle of the sixth century; the Chinese on his return home reported the Eigbùris to be a grave people, with fair complexions, diligent workmen, and ingenious artificers not only in gold, silver, and iron, but in jafper and fine stones ; and the Romans had before described their magnificent reception in a rich palace

« ZurückWeiter »