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the Athenians in particular, according to Plato,* that they were but child:en in antiquity, is very true with respect to arts and sciences, the invention of which they have falsely ascribed to chimerical persons, much posterior to the deluge. The Holy Scripture informs us,f that before that epocha, God had discovered to mankind the art of tilling and cultivating the ground; of feeding their flocks and cattle, when their habitation was in tents; of spinning wool and flax, and weaving it into stuffs and linen; of forging and polishing iron and brass, and rendering them subservient to numberless uses that are necessary and convenient for life and society.
We learn from the same Scriptures, that very soon after the deluge, human industry had made several discoveries very worthy of admiration; as, 1. The art of spinning gold thread, and of interweaving it with stuffs. 2. That of beating gold, and with light thin leaves of it gilding wood and other materials. 3. The secret of cast ing metals; as brass, silver, or gold; and of making all sorts of figures with them, in imitation of nature; of representing any kind of different objects; and of making an infinite variety of vessels of those metals, for use and ornament. 4. The art of painting, or carving upon wood, stone, or marble: and, 5. to name no more, that of dying their silks and stuffs, and giving them the most exquisite and beautiful colours.
As it was in Asia that men first settled after the deluge, it is easy to conceive that Asia must have been the cradle, as it were, of arts and sciences, the remembrance of which had been preserved by tradition; and which were afterwards revived again, and restored by means of men's wants and necessities.
SECTION I. Architecture.
The building of the tower of Babel, and shortly after, of those famous cities Babylon and Nineveh, which have been looked upon as prodigies; the grandeur and magnificence of the palaces of the kings and noblemen, divided into sundry halls and apartments, and adorned with every thing that either decency or conveniency could require; the regularity and symmetry of the pillars and vaulted roofs, raised and multiplied one upon another; the noble gates of their cities; the breadth and thickness of their ramparts; the height and strength of their towers; the convenience of their quays on the banks of the great rivers; and the boldness of the bridges thrown over them: all these things, I say, with many other works of the like nature, show to what a pitch of perfection architecture was car. ried in those ancient times.
I know not, however, whether in those ages this art rose to that degree of perfection, which it afterwards attained in Greece and Italy; or whether those vast structures in Asia and Egypt, so much boasted of by the ancients, were as remarkable for their beauty and regularity, as they were for their magnitude and extent. We hear of five orders in architecture, the Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite; but we never hear of an Asiatic or Egyptian order; which gives us reason to doubt whether the symmetry, measures, and proportions of pillars, pilasters, and other ornaments in architecture, were exactly observed in those ancient structures.
* In Timæo, p. 22.
SECTION II. Music.
It is no wonder, if, in a country like Asia, addicted to pleasure, to luxury, and to voluptuousness, music, which gives the chief zest to such enjoyments, was in high esteem, and cultivated with great application. The very names of the principal styles of ancient music, which the modern has still preserved, namely, the Doric, Phrygian, Lydian, Ionian, and Æolian, sufficiently indicate the place where it had its origin; or at least, where it was improved and brought to perfection. We learn from Holy Scripture,* that in Laban's time instrumental music was much in use in the country where he dwelt, that is, in Mesopotamia; since, among the other reproaches he makes to his son-in-law Jacob, he complains, that, by his precipitate flight, he had put it out of his power to conduci him and his family with mirth and with songs, with tabret and with harp. Amongst the booty that Cyrus ordered to be set apart for his uncle Cyaxares,t mention is made of two female musicians, very skilful in their profession, who accompanied a lady of Susa, and were taken prisoners with her.
To determine to what degree of perfection music was carried by the ancients, is a question which very much puzzles the learned. It is the harder to be decided, because, to determine justly upon it, it seems necessary we should have several pieces of music composed by the ancients, with their notes, that we might examine it both with our eyes and our ears. But, unhappily, it is not with music in this respect as with ancient sculpture and poetry, of which we have so many noble monuments remaining; whereas, on the contrary, we have not any one piece of their composition in the other science, by which we can form a certain judgment, and determine whether the music of the ancients was as perfect as ours.
It is generally allowed, that the ancients were acquainted with the triple symphony, that is, the hạrmony of voices, that of instru. ments, and that of voices and instruments in concert. It is also agreed, that they excelled in what relates to the rhyth
What is meant by rhythrnus, is the assemblage or union of yarious times in music, which are joined together with a certain order, and in certain proportions. To understand this definition, it
+ Gen xxxi. 27.
† Cyrop. 1. iv. B. 113.
| Mourvuggous dúo vrás xgatiotas
is to be observed, that the music we are here speaking of was al. ways set and sung to the words of certain verses, in which the syllables were distinguished into long and short; that the short syllable was pronounced as quick again as the long; that therefore the former was reckoned to make up but one time, whilst the latter made up two; and consequently the sound which answered to this, was to continue twice as long as the sound which answered to the other; or, which is the same thing, it was to consist of two times, or mea. sures, whilst the other comprehended but one; that the verses which were sung consisted of a certain number of feet formed by the different combination of these long and short syllables; and that the rhythmus of the song regularly followed the march of these feet. As these feet, of what nature or extent soever, were always divided into equal or unequal parts, of which the former was called ägors, elevation or raising; and the latter biois, depression or falling so the rhythmus of the song, which answered to every one of those feet, was divided into two parts equally or unequally, by what we now call a beat, and a rest or intermission. The scrupulous regard the ancients had to the quantity of their syllables in their vocal music, made their rhythmus much more perfect than ours: for our poetry is not formed upon the measure of long and short syllables; but nevertheless a skilful musician amongst us, may in some sort express, by the length, of their sounds, the quantity of every syllable. This account of the rhythmus of the ancients I have copied from one of the dissertations of Monsieur Burette; which I have done for the beneht of young students, to whom this little explanation may be of great use for the understanding of several passages in ancient authors. I now return to my subject.
The principal point in dispute among the learned, concerning the music of the ancients, is to know whether they understood music in several parts, that is, a composition consisting of several parts, and in which all those different parts form each by itself a complete piece, and at the same time have an harmonious connexion, as in our counter-point whether simple or compounded.
If the reader be curious to know more concerning this matter, and whatever else relates to the music of the ancients, I refer him to the learned dissertations of the above-mentioned M. Burette, inserted in the 3d, 4th, and 5th volumes of the Memoirs of the Royal Academy des Belles Lettres; which show the profound erudition and exquisite taste of that writer.
SECTION III. Physic. We likewise discover in those early times the origin of physic, the beginnings of which, as of all other arts and sciences, were very rude and imperfect. Herodotus,* and after him Strabo, observe, that it was a general custom among the Babylonians to expose their
* Herod. I. 1. c. 197. Strabo, l. xvi. p. 746.
sick persons to the view of passengers, in order to learn of them, whether they had been afflicted with the same distemper, and by what remedies they had been cured. From hence several people have pretended that physic is nothing else but a conjectural and experimental science, entirely resulting from observations made upon the nature of different diseases, and upon such things as are conducive or prejudicial to health. It must be confessed, that experience will go a great way; but that alone is not sufficient. The famous Hippocrates made great use of it in his practice, but he did not entirely rely upon it. The custom in those days* was, for all persons that had been sick, and were cured, to put up a tablet in the temple of Æsculapius, wherein they gave an account of the remedies that had restored them to their health. That celebrated physician caused all these inscriptions and memorials to be copied out, and derived great advantage from them.
Physic was, even in the time of the Trojan war, in great use and esteein.t Æsculapius, who flourished at that time, is reckoned the inventor of that art, and had even then brought it to great perfection by his profound knowledge in botany, by his great skill in medicinal preparations and chirurgical operations; for in those days these several branches were not separated from one another, but were all included together under one profession.
The two sons of Æsculapius, Podalirius and Machaon, who commanded a certain number of troops at the siege of Troy, were no less excellent physicians than brave officers; and rendered as much service to the Grecian army by their skill in medicine, as they did by their courage and conduct in their military capacity. Nor did Achilles himself,) nor even Alexander the Great, in after times, think the knowledge of this science improper for a general,
or beneath his dignity. On the contrary, he learned it himself of Chiron, the centaur, and afterwards instructed his friend Patroclus in it, who did not disdain to exercise the art, in healing the wound of Eurypylus. This wound he healed by the application of a certain root, which immediately assuaged the pain and stopped the bleeding Botany, or that part of physic which treats of herbs and plants, was very much known, and almost the only - branch of the science used in those early times. Virgil, speaking of a celebrated physician,l! who was instructed in his art by Apollo himself, seems to confine that profession to the knowledge of simples : Scire potestates herbarum usumque medendi maluit. It was nature herself that offered those innocent and salutary remedies, and seemed to invite mankind to make use of them. Their gardens, T fields, and woods, supplied them gratuitously with an infinite plenty and variety. As yet no use was made of minerals**, treacles, and other compositions, since discovered by closer and more inquisitive researches into nature.
† Diod. I. v. p. 341. I Hom. Iliad. Plut in Alex. p. 668 W Æn. I. xii. v. 396. ** Id. l. xxiv. c. 1.
* Plin. 1. xxix. c. 1. Strab. 1. viii.
374. 1. x. y. 821-847. Txvi. c. 1.
1 Plin. 1
Pliny says,* that physic, which had been brought by Æsculapius into great reputation about the time of the Trojan war, was soon after neglected and lost, and lay in a manner buried in darkness till the time of the Peloponnesian war, when it was revived by Hippocrates, and restored to its ancient honour and credit. This may be true with respect to Greece; but in Persia we find it to have been always cultivated, and consequently held in great reputation. The great Cyrus,t as is observed by Xenophon, never failed to take a certain number of excellent physicians along with him in the army, rewarding them very liberally, and treating them with particular regard. He farther remarks, that in this, Cyrus only followed a custom that had been anciently established among their generals: and he also informs us, that the younger Cyrus acted in the same manner. I
It must nevertheless be acknowledged, that it was Hippocrates, who carried this science to its highest perfection. And though it be certain that several improvements and new discoveries have been made since his time, yet is he still looked upon by the ablest physicians, as the first and chief master of that art, and as the person whose writings ought to be the chief study of those that would distinguish themselves in that profession.
Men thus qualified, who, to the study of the most celebrated physicians, as well ancient as modern, as also to the knowledge they have acquired of the virtues of simples, the principles of natural philosophy, and the constitution and contexture of human bodies, have added a long practice and experience, together with their own serious reflections; such men as these, in a well-ordered state, deserve to be highly rewarded and distinguished, as the Holy Spirit itself signifies to us in the sacred writings: The skill of the physician shall lift up his head ; and in the sight of great men he shall be in admiration ;! since all their labours, lucubrations, and watchings, are devoted to the people's health, which of all human blessings is the dearest and most valuable. And yet this blessing is what mankind are the least careful to preserve. They do not only destroy it by riot and excess, but through a blind credulity they foolishly intrust it with persons of no credit or experience,ll who impose upon them by their impudence and presumption, or seduce them by their tlattering assurances of infallible recovery.
SECTION IV. Astronomy. However desirous the Grecians were to be esteemed the authors and inventors of all arts and sciences, they could never absolutely deny the Babylonians the honour of having laid the foundations of
* Lib. xxix. c. 9. † Cyrop. I. i. p. 29, and I. viii. p. 212. De expéd. Cyra ï. p. 311.
0 Ecclus. xxxviii. 3. Il Palàm est, ut quisque inter istos loquendo polleat, imperatorem illicò vitæ nostræ ne cisque fieri-Aded blanda est sperandi pro se cuique dulce do. Plin. l. xxix. c. 1