« السابقةمتابعة »
cataracts fall from the rock without deafening the neighbouring inhabitants.
The reader will here find no regions curfed with irremediable barrennefs, or bleft with fpontaneous fecundity; no perpetual gloom or unceasing funfhine nor are the nations here defcribed either devoid of all fenfe of humanity, or confummate in all private and focial virtues: here are no Hottentots without religion, polity, or articulate language; no Chinese perfectly polite, and completely fkilled in all fciences: he will difcover what will always be difcovered by a diligent and impartial inquirer, that wherever human nature is to be found, there is a mixture of vice and virtue, a conteft of paffion and reason; and that the Creator doth not appear partial in his diftributions, but has balanced in moft countries their particular inconveniencies by particular favours.
In his account of the miffion, where his veracity is moft to be fufpected, he neither exaggerates over- . much the merits of the jefuits, if we confider the partial regard paid by the Portuguese to their countrymen, by the jefuits to their fociety, and by the papifts to their church, nor aggravates the vices of the Abyffinians; but if the reader will not be fatisfied with a popish account of a popish miffion, he may have recourfe to the Hiftory of the Church of Abyffinia, written by Dr. Geddes, in which he will find the actions and fufferings of the miffionaries placed in a different light, though the fame in which Mr. Le Grand, with all his zeal for the Roman church, appears to have feen them.
This learned differtator, however valuable for his industry and erudition, is yet more to be esteemed for having dared fo freely, in the midft of France, to declare his difapprobation of the patriarch Oviedo's fanguinary zeal, who was continually importuning the Portuguese to beat up their drums for miffionaries who might preach the gospel with fwords in their hands, and propagate by defolation and flaughter the true worship of the God of peace.
It is not eafy to forbear reflecting with how little reason these men profefs themselves the followers of JESUS, who left this great characteristick to his difciples, that they should be known by loving one another, by univerfal and unbounded charity and benevolence.
Let us fuppofe an inhabitant of fome remote and fuperior region, yet unfkilled in the ways of men, having read and confidered the precepts of the gofpel, and the example of our Saviour, to come down in fearch of the true church, if he would not enquire after it among the cruel, the infolent, and the oppreffive; among thofe who are continually grafping at dominion over fouls as well as bodies; among those who are employed in procuring to themselves impunity for the most enormous villanies, and studying methods of destroying their fellow-creatures, not for their crimes but their errors? If he would not expect to meet benevolence, engage in maffacres, or to find mercy in a court of inquifition, he would not look for the true church in the church of Rome.
Mr. Le Grand has given in one differtation an example of great moderation, in deviating from the Ff2 temper
temper of his religion; but in the others has left proofs, that learning and honefty are often too weak to oppofe prejudice. He has made no fcruple of preferring the teftimony of father Du Bernat to the writings of all the Portuguese jefuits, to whom he allows great zeal, but little learning, without giving any other reason than that his favourite was a FrenchThis is writing only to Frenchmen and to papifts a proteftant would be defirous to know, why he muft imagine that father Du Bernat had a cooler head or more knowledge, and why one man, whose account is fingular, is not more likely to be mistaken than many agreeing in the fame account.
If the Portuguese were biaffed by any particular views, another bias equally powerful may have deflected the Frenchman from the truth; for they evidently write with contrary defigns: the Portuguese, to make their miffion feem more neceffary, endeavoured to place in the ftrongeft light the differences between the Abyffinian and Roman church; but the great Ludolfus, laying hold on the advantage, reduced thefe later writers to prove their conformity.
Upon the whole, the controverfy feems of no great importance to thofe who believe the Holy Scriptures fufficient to teach the way of falvation; but, of whatever moment it may be thought, there are not proofs fufficient to decide it.
His difcourfes on indifferent fubjects will divert as well as inftruct; and if either in thefe, or in the relation of father Lobo, any argument fhall appear unconvincing, or defcription obfcure, they are defects incident to all mankind, which however are
not too rafhly to be imputed to the authors, being fometimes perhaps more juftly chargeable on the tranflator.
In this tranflation (if it may be fo called) great liberties have been taken, which, whether juftifiable or not, fhall be fairly confeffed, and let the judicious part of mankind pardon or condemn them. In the first part the greateft freedom has been ufed, in reducing the narration into a narrow compafs; fo that it is by no means a tranflation, but an epitome, in which, whether every thing either ufeful or entertaining be comprised, the compiler is leaft qualified to determine.
In the account of Abyffinia, and the continuation, the authors have been followed with more exactnefs; and as few paffages appeared either infignificant or tedious, few have been either fhortened or omitted.
The differtations are the only part in which an exact tranflation has been attempted; and even in thofe, abftracts are fometimes given inftead of literal quotations, particularly in the firft; and fometimes other parts have been contracted.
Several memorials and letters, which are printed at the end of the differtations to fecure the credit of the foregoing narrative, are entirely left out.
It is hoped that after this confeffion, whoever fhall compare this attempt with the original, if he fhall find no proofs of fraud or partiality, will candidly overlook any failure of
HOUGH criticifin has been cultivated in every age of learning, by men of great abilities and extenfive knowledge, till the rules of writing are become rather burthenfome than inftructive to the mind; though almoft every fpecies of compofition has been the fubject of particular treatifes, and given birth to definitions, distinctions, precepts, and illuftrations; yet no critic of note, that has fallen within my obfervation, has hitherto thought fepulchral infcriptions worthy of a minute examination, or pointed out with proper accuracy their beauties and defects.
The reafons of this neglect it is ufelefs to enquire, and perhaps impofiible to difcover; it might be justly expected that this kind of writing would have been the favourite topic of criticism, and that felflove might have produced fome regard for it, in thofe authors that have crowded libraries with elaborate differtations upon Homer; fince to afford a fubject for heroick poems is the privilege of very few, but every man may expect to be recorded in an epitaph, and therefore finds fome intereft in pro