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vations fhew at least the falfity of these affertions. Cham and his defcendants, who travelled fouthward, were probably not ignorant of its principles; but as Egypt, excepting Libya, was the laft fettled country of his inheritance, obfervations could not have been made there fo foon as in Chaldea: nor do we find in antiquity any fuch continued feries of obfervations certified amongst them.

(b) Page 262.

Little strels can be laid on the antient knowledge of the Chinese in aftronomy, as facts prove that they are yet at this day very little advanced in it. In the beginning of this century the whole tribunal of mathematicians were incapable of calculating an eclipfe with any degree of precifion. The then emperor caufed their chief to be beheaded, and found it neceffary to recall the jefuits, lately expelled and fill refident at Macao, to compile their almanacks; an object of great importance to a nation fo addicted to judicial aftrology. As fince the extinction of that order few learned miffionaries go into China, the prefent reigning emperor fent orders to Canton in 1778 to ask artists of various kinds, but particularly aftronomers, from all the European nations.

Mr. Playfair obferves, that it is recorded in the Chinese annals, that in the reign of Chong-tang the mathematicians Hi and Ho were punished, according to a law of the emperor Yu, for not having predicted an eclipse of the fun, which happened in the year 2159 before Chrift. But though this eclipfe, which did not exceed one digit at Pekin, is there faid to have alarmed the whole nation, and to have occafioned the death of its principal mathematicians; yet their fucceffors, uncorrected by this severity, totally neglected recording any other eclipfe for the space of 1312 years, as the next mentioned dates no higher than 776 years before Chrift. From this we may reasonably infer, that the former pretended obfervations and records. are fpurious. As this obfervation of an eclipfe correfponds with the era of the first olympiad, and nearly with that of Nabonaffar, periods when the science of aftronomy was much perfectioned, it is not improbable that

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the Chinese, receiving new lights from the more weftern parts of Afia, might about the fame time begin to record a more perfect feries of celeftial obfervations. At that time northern China was ftill in a divided state, and its fouthern provinces yet barbarous. 400 years after it all its original records were deftroyed; and when again endeavoured to be restored by fucceeding men of learning, it is probable they would have recourfe to their neighbours for fuch obfervations as might tend to give order to the fcattered remnants of history and science.

(c) Page 267.

Certain it is now from the recent researches made by the authors of the Differtations relating to the antiquities of Afia, that it was in this very year 499 after Chrift, that the date of the prefent Indian age was fixed. In that year their most celebrated aftronomer found by observations, that the vernal equinox coincided with the origin of their ecliptic. Imagining, in confequence of their theory, that it must have had the fame pofition 3,600 years before, he thence, according to their aftrological ideas of regulating all fublunary things by the pofition of the heavens, determined that epoch as the undoubted era of the Caliyuga. From that fuppofition alone it is now fo fixed by the Hindus. Such are the grounds on which Mr. Bailly has thought proper to affert the actual obfervations of the Indians carried fo far back as the year 3101 before Chrift: for this purpose he filled a whole quarto volume with retrograde calculations, which he had been at the pains of making, both on the Indian formulæ, and according to the rules of our aftronomy. The almoft perfect agreement of their refults fhews indeed the very near approach to truth of the rules and tables of the Hindus, though they are perfectly ignorant of their principles, and even of the figure of the earth. Nearly the fame rules, with the fame ignorance of principles, have been preserved in Tartary and in China. This laborious work of Mr. Bailly fhews with what induftry infidels catch at the flendereft threads to invalidate the authority of fcripture. In order to raise the age of the world fince the deluge, beyond the reach of even the Septuagint verfion, he

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has, in defiance of his own favourite Indian authority, added their interval of 400 years between their third and fourth age to the fum of the prefent age. It should feem, that a fimilar motive has engaged him to prolong the former age by thofe fame 400 years. From the above-mentioned differtations it appears, that the origin of Indian hiftory cannot be carried higher than about 2029 years before Chrift, and that the appearance of Buddha must be at fartheft dated 1027 years before our era.

THOUGHTS

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Remarks on the Monuments of Nature alleged as Proofs of the Anti-" quity of the Earth.-Reflections on the System of Mr. de Buffon, and of divers other modern Philofophers.

UNDER the fpecious pretext of the obfcurity and uncer

tainty of antient story, and confounding in their fcepticism particular and isolated facts, invented by the intereft of priests or imagined by the vanity of this or that people, with those great events which belong to the whole human race, and whofe effential and fundamental points are attested by all nations, feveral perfons think they have a right to reject all hiftorical teftimony. It is Nature alone, say they, who must be interrogated on her age. A confiderable number of modern naturalifts affirm, that the veftiges and monuments of that Nature,

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Nature, much more authentic than the dubious records of hiftory, loudly proclaim a much higher antiquity. In vain do the traditions: of all nations affert the event of an univerfal deluge, whofe date is not very far removed; in vain do they disclose the cradle and infancy of the most antient nations, and the firft population of more than three parts of the earth as yet recent: against all these teftimonies they set the irrefragable authority of that book whofe characters are manifeft to their fagacity. This globe has, no doubt, fay they, undergone many revolutions; but that recent deluge of which fo many nations speak was neither general, nor worthy to be ranked amongst the great epochs of nature, the latest of which must at leaft be removed 100 centuries before our times. That deluge recorded in our fcriptures Mr. de Buffon terms the particular and casual inundation of Armenia, equally partial and local as those spoken of by the Greeks and Egyptians. It must be allowed that, was the voice of nature clear and precife, an undoubted preference would be due to it above traditions, which, however univerfal, are tinctured by great confufion and many variable circumftances. But nothing as yet clearly indicates the authenticity of that voice; it is the versatile language of its pretended interpreters, always in contradiction with one another, and often with themselves, which I hear. Avowing the rapid progreffes of natural philofophy in many parts, I have yet ftrong reafons to doubt whether it is fufficiently advanced to pronounce without appeal on the whole fyftem and order of nature. Many very celebrated naturalifts agree, however, in maintaining that

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