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This we would conclude from reasoning alone ; and it is confirmed by the following letter, that was communicated to me by an ingenious gentleman, to whom the literary world is much indebted for many valuable essays.
The letter was written near twenty years ago, by a gentleman who is now no more; and I print it the more readily at the present time, in the hope that it may fall into the hands of some of the gentlemen who are to go with lord Macartney, on his embassy to China ; and may probably suggest to them some subjects of enquiry that might otherwise escape them, among the vast diversity of new objects that must necessarily solicit their attention.
“ I have lately met in company Whang-At-Ting, the Chinese, who is now in London ; of whom, if you have not received any account, you may perhaps like to hear some particulars. He is a young man of twenty-two, and an inhabitant of Canton, where having received from Chit-qua, the Chinese figure maker, a favourable account of his reception in England, two or three years ago, he determined to make the voyage likewise, partly from curiosity, and a desire of improving himself in science, and partly with a view of procuring some advantages in trade, in which he and his elder brother are engaged, He arrived here in August, and already pronounces and understands our language very tolerably, but he writes it in a very excellent hand, which he acquired with ease by using the copy books recommended by Mr Locke, in which the copies are printed in red ink, and are to be traced over by the learner with
black ink. He has a great thirst after knowledge, and seems to conceive readily what is communicated to him; and he seruples no pains that will further his improvement. The gentleman at whose house. I met him, having, among other Chinese things, a drawing or print representing a naked man, like that in our old sheet almanacks, with straight lines drawn to different parts of his body, he was asked what this meant ; to which he replied, that it. was for the use of the younger practitioners in physic, in order to shew them to wlrat part of the body the cauterizing pin. should be applied, to remove a disorder in other corresponding parts. For the Chinese practitioners attribute very great powers to the actual cautery, and have frequent recourse to it, And he himself showed a scar, by the side of the first joint in his thumb, where he was cauterized · for a pain in his head.
“ As we Europeans have little knowledge of the Chinese language, it will perhaps entertain you, as it did us, to hear his interpretation of the Chinese characters, upon a stick of Indian ink that was hewn him, especially as it conveys some idea of the peculiarities of their language, and thews. how they supply their want of connecting particles, by a repetition of the leading word. You are probably aware: that they have not an alphabet like other nations ; but that their language consists entirely of a great number of different characters, forming so many complète words, and which in writing are placed one under another in a perpendicular column. I will en.. deavour, therefore, to give you, in separate columns
the characters themselves, the sounds of them (as
Ke Thing Chat Hard
Great Koong Black Tbong Use t. Rendered into good English it would run thus :
“ In shape it is square, and it is hard and black ; and though it is ugly in appearance, yet it is of great use." Londen, Feb. 18. 1775.
The circumstance that I would most wish to know is, whether in oral exprefsion a mode of phraseology similar to the above translation be adopted, which I scarcely think possible. If it be not, then it must happen that in China the written language is a thing totally different from the oral, and that of course the reader must be obliged, as he goes along, to translate it, as it were, from the written into the oral language. Some elucidations on this subject would prove very interesting.
* The Chinese characters are omitted for want of types of that kind.
+ There are several remarks would have occurred respecting the form of the original Chinese characters, could I have inserted them, but these
ON TASTE IN ARCHITECTURE.
Continued from yol. x. p. 273.
To the Editor of the Bee. We are informed by Vitruvius, that, even in the age : of Augustus, the chaste models of Phidias began to be disfigured by meretricious ornaments ; and that the decline of virtue was suddenly followed by the decline of taste. After the reign of Trajan, we look. in vain for elegant simplicity in Roman architecture: every thing in the Roman'empire exhibited the marks of corruption, and we need only look at a Roman denarius of the Antonines, to discern the rapidity with which the fine arts hastened to decline, after the lofs of liberty. The great characters of the Augustan age had either been bred under the common. wealth, or received their education from citizens who felt the glory and emulation that arise from politi. cal importance. Architecture was now in the hands of rude soldiers, effeminate courtiers, or dispirited slaves. The beautiful forms of nature, and the majestic copies of nature, at Athens, were no longer copied ; but bulk and tawdry decoration were substituted in the place of decorous simplicity. After the translation of the seat of empire to Byzantium, the oriental forms of building were mingled with the Grecian, and at last terminated in the cumbrous dome and preposterous spire. After the complete destruction of the Roman empire, and the introduc
tion of feudal laws and manners by the barbarians, nothing can be traced but dungeons for barons, and wooden churches for temples, until, after tñe formation of regular monarchies in Europe, and the prevalence of munificence among monks, architects and various artists were invited from the east, to erect those stupendous churches, the architecture of which is denominated Gothic, which appears to be only a spurious mode of Grecian architecture, that gradually deviated until the total extinction of all resemblance to the ancient. This total dereliction of the Grecian forms, does not appear until the middle of the twelth century, though the due proportions had been long neglected, and the gloomy cloister had been for centuries substituted for the spacious and airy. portico and colonnade.
During the space of more than four centuries, this new mode of architecture continued to supplant the decayed temples of the ancients, with improving lightness and elegance ; while the castles of the nobility being necessarily destined for defence, were con, structed with unabated clumsiness and barbarity*. It is not my purpose to enter into
discussion concerning that mode of architecture which is indis. criminately called Gothic, and which has lately been: subjected to the remarks of a very sensible and entertaining writer in this miscellany ; nor am I disposed to deny that this form is well adapted to the solemnity of religious worship; or that, with its magnis ficent windows, and light carvings and embroidery, admitting through stained glass a rich and glorious illumi
* See the accurate history of ancient castles, by Mr Edward King, in the transactioas of the Antiquarian Society at London.