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THOUGHTS

ON THE

STRUCTURE

OF THIS GLOBE.

LETTER II.

Analyfis and Refutation of Mr. Bailly's firft Syftem of the Origin of Nations, and all Population derived from the Poles, deduced from antient Annals.

IN my laft letter I have fhewn you, Sir, the most authentic monuments of history concurring with general tradition, and the relation of the Jewish legislator, the first known hiftorian, to establish the reality of an univerfal deluge. The refult of the comparison, and of an estimation certainly not partial, of antient chronologies fixes that event to an epoch which cannot be removed beyond 3500 years before the Chriftian æra. Strong indications and testiDd 2 monies

monies of much greater weight than thofe chronologies concur to prove that this date prefented by Mr. Bailly in his laft work as the most probable, is yet too high by feveral centuries. But I ought not to pass under filence a prior fyftem of this fame author better adapted to the generality of readers, and of course better known, of which I have hitherto had occafion to fpeak only in a curfory manner. Though his last work feems amply to contradict and invalidate his first pretenfions, yet whatever has fallen from fo celebrated a pen certainly deferves to be confidered in the difcuffion which I have undertaken. Shortly after the publication of the famous epochs of nature by Mr. de Buffon, Mr. Bailly, who both by the fire of genius and by feducing eloquence was well calculated to be the disciple and emulator of that celebrated naturalist, undertook to support his fyftem by the testimony of history. Notwithstanding the pretended certificates of nature herself, invoked by the former with all the authority of an infallible interpreter, he felt how much the direct contrary depofitions of hiftory might invalidate thofe affertions, if these could not be conciliated with, or reduced to be at least somewhat lefs unfavourable to, the fyftem. In this effay, those fame antique traditions to which I have ventured to appeal as proofs of that great revolution operated by the deluge being of no very high antiquity, seem under his ingenious pen to concur in throwing it not only beyond all exifting annals, but beyond all calculable date. They will, according to him, confirm that conftant and imperceptibly flow refrigeration of the earth, and that first residence of man under the

5

poles

poles in times far antecedent to allà iftory, and even to the establishment of all nations now known, contended for by his mafter; they would in fact exclude, though not an antient prevalence of waters upon the earth, yet fuch a general deluge as is generally understood. It is clear, that according to Mr. de Buffon the reign of waters must have preceded the birth of man feveral thousand years, and that fince that epoch they never could have covered the entire earth. If Mr. Bailly does not openly deny a deluge pofterior to the existence of the human race, which he cannot but own a prominent feature in all these traditions, he fufficiently infinuates that it is only to be understood of the inundation of an ifland the firft dwelling of men; or even that this fo general idea arose only (the ice having in length of time intercepted all communication with it) from the fuppofition of those men who had already fettled on the continent, that it was really loft and sunk in the waters. I fhall not diffemble, Sir, that I have fome reafon to dread a conteft with fuch an antagonist, combating with my own arms in fupport of a system which, in your country in particular, and in all countries amongst those who think it a mark of wisdom to reject all antient opinions under the name of old prejudices, has received fo much weight from the authority and impofing eloquence of the French Pliny; but I trust in the goodness of my cause. I hope to prove from Mr. Bailly himself, that all that I have advanced in my first letter is ftrictly. conformable to the only true and natural fenfe of thofe paffages in antient authors, which we have both quoted; and notwithstanding the opinions

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opinions of feveral modern naturalifts, I hope hereafter to demonftrate, that my thefis is neither weakened nor contradicted by the real physical monuments of nature.

Mr. Bailly, in his enquiries into the state of antient astronomy, had obferved that several antient nations, as the Egyptians, Chaldeans, Indians and Chinese, though feated at great distances from each other, poffeffed several astronomical formulæ common to them all. He also found feveral learned periods equally established amongst them, and particularly that of fix hundred years, which he also remarked to be in use amongst the Tartars, amongst whom he supposes a still more profound knowledge of aftronomy than was even poffeffed by any of these other nations. It appeared also, that all these people employed these rules and formulæ in the fame manner as feveral of our workmen make use of certain mechanical or geometrical rules without any knowledge of the principles on which they are founded. For so many ages the learning of all these nations has been stationary in this respect; they neither invented nor dived further; they only traditionally preserved what had been handed down to them. From thence Mr. Bailly concludes that these people were not inventors of this science, but fimply and blindly followed what they had learnt from some more antient and more learned nation. The conclusion seems perfectly just ; and Mr. Bailly, with all the ardour natural to him, fet himself to search into the archives of antiquity, to find the traces of this learned antient nation, firft in

ftru&tor

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ftructor of all others, whofe memory feemed to him to be lost. Plato furnishes him with the first intelligence of it. That philofopher, from the traditions of the Egyptian priests, speaks of an island funk in the sea, and of a loft people, which he calls Atlantis and Atlantides. Mr. Bailly feizes this idea with that enthusiasm which. belongs to heated genius, and pursues it with that rare ingenuity which he had received from nature. He feeks the origin and follows all the footsteps of this pretended nation with incredible zeal. By the help of great erudition he opens to himself a road through furrounding difficulties, which, by the charms of style, and a thoufand ingenious remarks, he has every where ftrewed with the most agreeable flowers. An analysis muft neceffarily be dry; let us however try, through all this erudition and these flowers of eloquence, to follow closely the thread of this new labyrinth. However lefs agreeable, in order to form a right judgment, it will not be improper to follow his reasonings ftript of all those adventitious ornaments with which he has environed them. We fhall fee confirmed many of those traditions which I have already occafionally cited with fe-. veral others which I had not mentioned: this will make this extract rather long; but it is necessary to examine those first sources from which we have both of us drawn..

According to Plato, a learned priest of Egypt informed: Solon, that in the temples of Sais in Lower Egypt were preferved the records of 8000 years fince the deluge, and that 9000 had elapfed

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