Изображения страниц

with it. Without en ering into the discussion, we only observe that M. de Saussure, in his travels *, mentions an etymology of the river Rhone, which has the recommendation of great simplicity; and which would, if admissible in other respects, exclude the necessity of the present author's disquisition.

In the country of Gex, is a river called London ; and in the Bugey, half a mile from Ambroney, we find a lordship of Douwes, as also an antient seignory of Mont-Bretton. These names seem to indicate some intercourse between England and the Bugey : but it will not perhaps ever be determined, with any degree of precision, at what period of time a connection between the two countries subsisted; of what nature it was; whether (as we are disposed to think) those appellations point to English settlements in France; or whether it ought to be inferred from them that the Gauls peopled our island, and founded the cities of London and Dover. The author is decidedly of the latter opinion. If he be right, what becomes of poor King Lud?

The writer justly observes (II. 127) that some primitive language must have existed, from whicli, if it were knowıt, all the western languages at least might be derived. On this subject, Sir William Jones has given some admirable hints in his remarks on the Sanscrit language, which he seems to have considered as the most antient idiom of the world.

In his preface, the present author ascribes to our globe a date far transcending that which has been affixed to it by Moses'; whose authority he rather depreciates. This does not surprise us,– considering the present state of cpinion in his country. He is much deceived when he supposes (Arant.propos, p. 281 that, in the antient Hindu writings, no mention is made of the deluge. It is ascertained beyond a doubt that the first Puri contains an account of the flood. (Sce. Asiatic Researches, IV. P. 10, et seq. Calcutta edit.) Sir W. Jones has also (Asiata Res. I. p. 230) translated from the Bhagavat a very curious and memorable passage concerning Vairaswata and his Ark

[ocr errors]

Art. XVIII. Relation d'une insigne Imposture Littéraire ; i... Ac

count of a singular Literary Imposture, discovered in Sicily in
1794. By Dr. Hager. Translated from the German. 4to.
PP. 87. Erlang. 5799. London, White.
The author of this pamphlet, who is known in the literary

world by his Disseration on the Affinity between the Buna garians and the Laplanders, was employed by his Sicilian * See M. Rev. App. to vols. xxii. and xxiii. N. S.


[ocr errors]

Majesty to decide on the authenticity of some Arabic MSS. deposited in the Abbey of St. Martin, near Palermo. From these MSS. six volumes 4to. entitled • The Diplomatic Code of Sicily under the Government of the Arabs,” and one in folio, « On the Council of Egypt,” or the Norman Code, had been presented to the public; and these works were held in the highest esteem, as supplying a vacancy in the history of Sicily when under the Moorish yoke.

In the year 1782, Mohammed Ben Osman, ambassador from Morocco to Naples, visited the monastery of St. Martin to inspect the Arabic MSS. which they possessed; and was accompanied by Joseph Vella, a Maltese priest. Don Luis Moncada had been long desirous of completing the history of his coun. try; and Vella, thinking to make his fortune, gave out that the Morocco ambassador had discovered, among the MSS. at St. Martin, the correspondence between the Saracen Governor of Sicily and his African masters, for more than two centuries. On this report, Monsignor Airoldi, Archbishop of Heracka, zealous for the literary honour of Sicily, became the patron of Vella, who was afterward Abbé de St. Pancrace, in Sicily; and the above-mentioned work was announced in 1786, and six volumes were printed in 1792, with a promise of two more. Dr. HAGER, from his inspection of it, pronounces the MS. of St. Martin to be a gross forgery; and he detai:s his reasons in a very satisfactory manner :-manifesting, in this investigation, much Oriental erudition and critical acumen. It appears that this literary forgery has spred very widely, having been translated into several languages, and been incorporated into the general history of Sicily, as genuine matter.

A curiosity, however, more interesting to literati of all na. tions, was one of the lost books of Livy, in Arabic, which this same Vella pretended to have received from the Grand Master of Malta. This MS. is likewise declared by Dr. HAGER to be an imposture. His Sicilian Majesty's librarian, Don Pasquala Bassi, considered this discovery as authentic; and the Countess Dowager Spencer, then at Naples, wished to have become a purchaser of this precious manuscript. It was pretended, there, that the Chevalier Favray had found it on the cornice of Santa Sophia at Constantinople, and presented it to the Grand Master of Malta. Such a story was ridiculously incredible, as those who have visited the Musulman capital will readily allow.


ART. XIX. Voyage dans la Haute et Basse Egypte, &c. i.e. Travels

through Upper and Lower Egypt, undertaken by Order of the Antient Government, and containing a Variety of Miscellaneous Observations. By C. S. SONNINI, formerly an Officer of Eno gineers in the French Navy, and a Member of several Scientific: and Literary Societies. With a Collection of 40 Plates, from : Designs taken on the Spot, under the Inspection of the Author.

8vo.3 Vols. and 4to. Vol. of Plates. Paris. 1799. Imported .

by De Boffe, London. THOUGH the French expedition in to. Egypt appears now to be

totally defeated, yet important consequences may be expected from that attempt. The résidence of an European army in that country, for so long a time, among which were a. number of men eminent for polished manners and extensive learning; and who were powerfully. impelled by the spirit of liberty, or the love of innovation, to effect 'as great a change as their opportunities would admit in the habits and principles of the people ;, must have been operative on a nation, of whiciz the civilization was but just sufficient to create a susceptibility of improvement. We may expect, therefore, in every succeed ing year, to witness the fruit of those seeds which have been sown by France in the plains of Egypt; and there cannot be much doubt that this once conspicuous country, so long for gotten or despised, will rise again into the notice of the world. Whether the effects resulting from this source will be extensive or contracted, permanent or temporary, advantageous or prejudicial, time only can determine. Under these circumstances, however, such a work as that which is now before us cannot fail to be interesting ; particularly when we are given to understand, that the reports of M. SONNINI had a considerable influence in forming the romantic expedition of the enterprizing Bonaparte. Philosophic and even political cui riosity seeks, with avidity, for every point of information respecting a country, which has so lately been, and perlups as present is, the theatre of very important transactions; and which, in future, may probably occupy a more elevated place in the scale of nations. He who can throw light on the natural or moral history of a people so circumstanced may be assisted of fixing public attention, even though his talents should be moderate, and his information scanty.

The author of these volumes, impressed with this truth, his Brought forwards at a juncture thus favorable his quoti of information, and added it to the common stock. We have not here indeed the fruit of very recent labours; for the travels of. M. SONNINI were performed in 1778: but we have the observations of an ingenious and cultivated mind, on a country 5 App. Rev, VOL. XXIX. Rr


[ocr errors]

s interesting, from the high ranky

whifh it once helt in the history of the world a country too, which has been precluded, by the habits, and reclusencss of its people, from the possibility of frequent or rapid changes in morals or ia manners; and on which, therefore, observations of even twenty years' date cannot be obsoletc.

M. Sonnini undertook this journey beneath the auspices of the ola Fréuchi government. - He held, under the monarchy, the office of Engineer in tlre French Navy, an office which required a scientific head and a cultivated understanding. From such a man, we should have wished to see an accurate map of the country througli which tie travelled. He, however, has not given one, but has annexeit to his work the cominon map of Egypt by D'Anville; thougli he himself seems not to be well satisfied with this, and accounts for his not having given a niore correct one by his want of time.

Though M. SONNINI was employed under the old gorernmeut, he seems to retain no very strong attachment to the cause of monarchy. His principles and sentiments, as far as they appear in this work, are perfectly and enthusiastically republican : but they are not often obtruded on the reader; for they occur only in cases in which the train of thought

Faturally led to political observation. His reprehension of the abuses which existed under the old system is indeed, when it

does occur, severe and pointed ; and in some cases it seems to result rather from the feeling of personal experience, than cool and disinterested observation. He is also as free from superstitious adherence to any theological creed, as from attachment toda throne -- Were we to declare an opinion on the subject, we should class him among those "strong spirits" of the present day, who look with equal indifference on ALL systems of religious faith. Yet, whatever may be the political or religious sopinions of the writer, we are conviticed that the reader of

these volumes will find him a cheerful and entertaining companion, if not a very profound and philosophic instructor. ba M. Sonnis does not abruptly hurry his readers, as he did

mot hurry himself, from the gay scenes of the south of France, a to the treary deserts of Egypt. His first volume brings the

reader and him acquainted in an easy and agreeable tour 2 through Genoa, Sicily, Malta, &c. which he visited in his

way. from Touton to Alexandria. 0.1 It was a favorite opinion- of Buffon, the particular friend of our author, that the Mediterranean was originally but a small lake, which was increased to its present extent by the influx of the waters of the Euxine through the Bosphorus; and by that of the ocean, when it made an irruption through a por

tion of land which once joined Gibraltar to the coast of Africa. As e corollary from this hypothesis, he believed that all the islands which are now found in the Mediterranean were, previously to this increase of the embryo lake, attached to the con tinent. At the instance of his friend, M. SONNINI sounded the Streight between Sicily and Malta in a variety of places as he passed'; and, in the shallowness of the water between those islands, he conceives that he found a corroboration of Buffon's hypothesis,

In his account of Malta, the author charges our countryman Brydone with misrepresentation or mistake :

Brydone,' says he has amused himself with telling tales, re specting the knights of Malta, somewhat similar to those of which poor Madame Montagne, at Palermo, is the subject. On my arrival I found the public mind violently exasperated against him, and there was but too much ground for it. The truth is, he describes the man. ner of life of the clievaliers; without having been in intimaey with a single one, during the whole time of his residence in the island: bis picture, and thia is not the only occasion on which the same reproach may be addressed to him, is- far from being a likeness ; and when he speaks of the mode of duelling between the knights, of the crosses painted on the wall opposite to the spot where one of them has been killed, of the punishments incurred by such as refuse à challenge t, they are so many errors escaped from his pen, deceived, undoubtedly, by lying reports, and too inconsiderately adopted. For mý own part, I found the utmost politeness of behaviour, and the kindest at. tentions in the society of the members of the order with whom I had any connection, and I recollect with gratitude the warm reception and the cordial çivilities which I met with from several of them, and particularly, from citizen Dolomieux, whom the sciences have ranked in the number of their most respected and most illustrious partisans.

He is not more indulgent to M, Savary, whom hé'scruples not to charge with having written his letters on Upper Egypt without having set foot in the country. To those parts of that elegant work which relate to Lower Egypt, however, he pays the well-deserved tribute of applause. *** From Malta, the writer passed to the isle of Candia, and thence to Alexandria. . His observations on the former he reserves for his Travels through Greece, with which he promises shortly to oblige the public.

After having described the dangers of navigation on the coast of Egypt, and particularly in approaching Alexandria, the author, gives an account of that city in its modern state. The

* A translation of M. SONNINI's work, executed by Henry Hunter, D. D. in 3 Vols. 8vo. price 1!. 75. (sold by Stockdale) has just appeared. From this version, we shall copy our extracts. Tour through Sicily and Malta, vol. i. p. 363, &c. R2


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »