Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

worship two stars in the milky way. The one is called Neu lang, the other Chih neu-an excellent husband and wife removed from earth to a place in the heavens. Th, ladies worship Chih neu in order to obtain skill in needle work.'-p. 14.

Under the seventh radical urh, 'two,' and the character

力 2 woo, 'five,' X S.C. R. H., we have some exams ples of the superstitious notions which attach to all the odd numbers, 3, 5, 7, 9.

cor Five,"--Te woo, 56 the fifth,” also a surname; woo-tsze, “ five times ;" woo hing, “ the five elements," namely, sharey, ho, muh, kin, too,“ water, fire, wood, metal, eartb ;” woo lun, “ the five relations ;" keun chin, foo tsze, heung te, foo fóo, pang yew, “ a prince and minister, a father and son, elder and younger brothers, busband and wife, friends ;”. woo chang, “ the five constant virtues ;” jin, e, le, che, sin,“ benevolence, justice, propriety, knowledge, truth;" woo tseo, " five ranks of nobility," which are denominated kung, how, puh, tsze, nan. Kung is the highest. Woo fang the four points of the compass and centre," namely, tung, nan, se, pih, chung, “ east, south, west, north, centre ;" woo wei, 6 the five tastes ;" swan, tëen, koo, la, hëen, sour, sweet, bitter, acrid, salt,” woo sih, “ the five colours ; ts'hing, hwang, chih, pih, kih, “ azure, yellow, carnation, white, black;" woo ts'hang, " the five viscera ;" kan, sin, fei,

liver, heart, lungs, kidneys, and stomach.” The points of the compass, tastes, colours, &c. are supposed to have a certain relation to the five elements. Urh woo yen tsze," two five eyes,” is an expression which denotes obscure or imperfect visions. Shih woo yay yue san wo0, “ the fifteenth night of the moon is called third fifth.” Five they call chung shoo, “ middle number.” According to Shwo wăn the seal character represents, by the two horizontal strokes, the heavens and earth, between which the yin and the

yang are blended.'

P.

49. We shall extract a part of the explanations given under the character Fuh, the idol deity.

shin, pe,

The author of Ching-tsze-thung states that the religion of Fuh entered China during the seventh year of the reign of the Emperor Ming, of the dynasty Han, about A. D. 50. The compilers of Kang-hi's Dictionary deny this, and say that some of the sha-mun, or priests of Fuh, came to China during the dynasty Tsin. Che-kwang, the first emperor of that dynasty, who reigned about 250 years before Christ, imprisoned those priests on account of their being foreigners ;. but, it is said, a golden man broke open the prison doors at night. In the time of Woo-te, (B. C. 150 years,) an image of Fuh was obtained, and the Fuh seang,

images of Füh,” of the present day, are according to that model. They allow, however, that it was during the reign of the Emperor Ming that the religion of Fuh entered China more effectually, and the occasion of it was a dream of the emperor's, in which he saw a golden man fly about the palace. Confucius said " there are sages among the peo

[ocr errors]

ple of the west.” This sentence has been erroneously quoted as bearing direct testimony to Fúh.Kang-hi.

These extracts will be sufficient to show how very superior this dictionary is to that of De Guignes ; they are, indeed, not to be named together; in the one we have merely the common signification, in Latin and French, of about one third part of the characters, many

of them ill selected; in the other we have numerous examples under each character to show its various applications, and these examples are drawn from the best authorities in the language, ancient and modern.

Mr. Morrison, we find, has also published a Grammar of the Chinese Language at Serampore; of this we have not been able to obtain a copy, though the edition has been for some time in London; but we understand that it is well adapted to the use of a learner, being short and comprehensive. Why are the works of these learned and indefatigable missionaries not advertised in the daily papers like other books, that the nations of Europe may know what rapid advances have been made of late years in oriental literature by our countrymen, the neglect of which had so long been their reproach? In France and in Germany the study of the Chinese language has recently been renewed; yet we verily believe that, were it not for our Journal, these countries would remain in ignorance of the lead which England has taken in this pursuit. Russia too, who has long kept up a commercial intercourse with the northern parts of China, on the frontiers of the two empires, is at length cultivating a taste for Chinese literature. By a treaty made in the reign of Elizabeth, six young Russians are allowed to study the language in Pekin; but either from their having been ill

chosen, or, which is more likely, from the counteraction of the Chinese, none of them have hitherto made any progress in the language or the literature of that nation. Mr. Kaminsky, however, has recently returned to Petersburg with a considerable stock of information and materials; and the Emperor Alexander, with the liberality worthy of a great sovereign, has ordered to be published at his own expense, and in the best possible manner, a Dictionary of the Chinese, the Mantchoo, and the Mongul languages, with explanations in Russian, and we trust in Latin also, for

the benefit of other European nations: and we are happy to add that young Davis, whose name we have before had occasion to mention, has transmitted home the translation of a Chinese drama, which we trust will not be withheld. from the public. The Orphan of the House of Tchao is the solitary specimen of this kind of composition known to Europeans, and, if we may judge of the taste of the Jesuits from theirother labours, there is no reason to suppose it to have been selected as the best of Chinese productions in that way; yet it was not thought unworthy the task of remodelling by Voltaire, nor was his Orphan of China deemed unfit to be translated into English by Murphy

ART. IV.-The Works of William Mason, A. M. Precentor of York and Rector of Aston.

4 vols. 8vo. 1816. WE

collecting and publishing the posthumous remains of distin guished men, much the largest portion of these volumes should have lain in the bureau of Mr. Mason's executors, or among the papers of his correspondents, fifteen years after his decease. The temporary suppression of so much new and curious matter cannot be imputed to indifference for the memory of a man who still survives in the breast of several affectionate friends : but indolence and procrastination are very compatible, at least with certain degrees of pious regard to the manes of departed genius. We are equally at a loss with respect to the person to whose attention the public is indebted for the collection now before us. A much greater de sideratum is the author's life, of which nothing but slight and inaccurate sketches have ever been written; while the authentic particulars, out of which it ought to be compiled, are now passing fast into oblivion.

William Mason, however, was born at Kingston-upon-Hull, February 23d, 1725, and imbibed the first elements of classical literature at the grammar school of that town. In the year 1741 he was admitted of. St. John's College, Cambridge, where he had the fortune of being under the tuition of Mr. Powell and Mr. Balguy, two young men highly distinguished at that time in the university, and afterwards in the religious and learned world. By their introduction he became known to Mr. afterwards Dr. Hurd, the late Bishop of Worcester, while his own merit had previously attracted the notice of Dr. Heberden.

To the first of these friends the earliest blossom of his Muse was presented in the following lines, which have been transcribed from a copy in the hand writing of Dr. Balguy, and bear indubitable marks of authenticity. They are also authenticated by an improved and expanded copy in this collection. * Lines written by Mr. Mason while Undergraduate of St. John's College;

Cambridge.
Say, Memory, can thy retrospective power
In all its boasted elegance explore

Such scenes as Granta's shade supplies ?

Oh! seize the glories as they rise ;
Seize them, till age, with all her wintry train,
Snows o'er my head and freezes every vein,

Oh! then the long lost raptures roll
And dart delight through all my soul.
Bid this mild summer of my life rebloom,
Bid every shade embrown and cloister gloom.

[ocr errors]

Qne.

Instruct the limpid thought to flow,

Like winding Camus, sweetly slow;
And oh! that grove where, free from vulgar views,
My soul held converse with her darling Muse;

Then, goddess, gild the finished scene

With gentle Powell's placid mien,
Then round bis form let groups of graces throng,
And Reason lead slow Diffidence along ;

Let hoary Judgment, sober guest,

Bring Candour in her lilied vest,
And universal Science, soaring high,

Bear on his plume the vestal Modesty.'
In January, 1745, he took the degree of A. B. and having no
near prospect of a fellowship in his own college, was thankful to
accept the recommendation of Dr. Heberden, which procured for
him the same situation in Pembroke Hall. For this disappoint-
ment in his own society there were probably more reasons than
He complains of the governing powers of his day, as

scorning those, Perchance too much, who woo the thriftless muse.' But the constitution of that society is unfortunately so fettered by local and even family claims, as frequently to exclude the greatest proficients even in abstract science. Cambridge, indeed, though honoured by the education of almost all the greatest poets of our country, has not been very propitious to the votaries of the Muse. Spenser, Milton, Dryden, Cowley, Otway, and Gray, though none of them above eleemosynary assistance, were dismissed by their respective societies, if not without an acknowledgment, at least without the reward of their genius. Pembroke Hall, however, brought our young poet into contact with a congenial but more powerful mind, to whose controlling and corrective hand he was indebted for the retrenchment of those wild luxuriances with which his earlier compositions were everrun : this was Mr. Gray, whose long friendship and faithful services Mason lived to repay in an edition of his work so judiciously selected and so elegantly arranged, as to put to shame every subsequent attempt of the same nature. By this time the name of Mason was beginning to be distinguished. The school of Pope had expired with himself; and the latter years of the reign of George II. were no less remarkable for the absence of great poets, than for the rapid declension which had taken place in architecture and painting. The field was therefore open to two young men of real genius, and yet both alike neglected, to avail themselves of the advantage which they possessed, one from his obstinate addiction to ancient literature, and the other from the indolence of his temper and the independence of his circumstances. Smart, who might have rivalled either of his contemporaries, was

33

[ocr errors]

oppressed by want and enervated by profligacy, while the splendour of Goldsmith's genius had not yet burst forth from the fogs of his native country. The peculiar situation, however, of the two friends (a situation in which poets have been rarely placed) was at once favourable and injurious to their fame. On the one hand, it prevented them from undertaking, or it tempted them to abandon any great original work. On the other, it removed the necessity of their appearing before the public in undress-it enabled them to finish their short and exquisite performances with elaborate exactness; and in consequence they were always received as rare, and therefore as welcome visitants. It was not many years before the patronage of Lord Holderness placed the younger, and certainly the inferior, bard in a situation of complete independence; and henceforward, to the close of his days, the Muse's visits to Mason, though frequent, seem to have been short, and divided with those of many rivals. The cure of a country parish, to which he was conscientiously attentive; the elegant amusements of music, painting, and landscape gardening, and, what is most to be regretted, the bustle and rancour of politics, left too little space in his easy, but occupied life, for a pursuit which seems to require other stimuli than that of inspiration, and to be repressed by every competitor less delicate and more boisterous than itself.

Mason appears to have had the seeds of true taste, as well as of poetry, sown in his constitution; he was moreover born with the temper of a whig, and having been placed in times and in a situs ation favourable to the exercise of these propensities, he gave the tein to all. He understood with exquisite skill all those combinations of natural appearances which constitute the picturesque; he studied scientifically the principles of painting, and he was one of the most successful of those who painted, in nature's own colours,

water, plants, and ground. There was a fitness and felicity in his preferments which was truly enviable ; for, while his parsonage at Aston contributed health, leisure, and a scene for the English Garden, the Precentorship of York not only afforded him a temporary residence in the second city of the kingdom, but it supplied a delightful occupation to his musical attainments by superintending and regulating the choir of a noble cathedral. Above all

, thata temper naturally petulent and irritable might not settle into morbid composure from the want of exercise, he fell on evil days and evil tongues'-on all the strife and debate occasioned by the American war in his middle age, and the still greater agitation of the French Revolution in his declining years. Mason was not of a tempér to contemplate what he deemed the fall of liberty in one country, or its origin in another, with tranquillity and in silence. In the American war he associated himself with a powerful and factious party

« AnteriorContinuar »