Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. VIII - The History of British India, vol. 2
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
CHAP. VIII - James Mill, The History of British India, vol. 2 
The History of British India in 6 vols. (3rd edition) (London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1826). Vol. 2.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
We come now to the arts, necessary or ornamental, BOOK II. Chap. 8 known to the Hindus. As the pleasures, to which the arts are subservient, form one of the grounds of preference between the rude and civilized condition of man, the improvement of the arts may be taken as one of the surest indications of the progress of society.
Of the Hindus, it may, first of all, be observed, that they little courted the pleasures derived from the arts, whatever skill they had attained in them. The houses, even of the great, were mean, and almost destitute of furniture;1 their food was simple and common; and their dress had no distinction BOOK II. Chap. 8.(which concerns the present purpose) beyond certain degrees of fineness in the texture.
If we desire to ascertain the arts which man would first practise, in his progress upwards from the lowest barbarism, we must inquire what are the most urgent of his wants. Unless the spontaneous productions of the soil supplied him with food, the means of ensnaring, or killing the animals fit for his use, by clubs or stones, and afterwards by his bow and arrows, would first engage his attention. How to shelter himself from the inclemency of the weather would be his second consideration; and where cavities of the earth or hollow trees supplied not his wants, the rude construction of a hut would be one of his earliest operations. A covering for his person would probably be the next of the accommodations which his feelings prompt him to provide. At first he contents himself with the skin of an animal; but it is surprising at how early a period he becomes acquainted with the means of fabricating cloth.1 Weaving, therefore, and architecture, are among the first of the complicated arts which are practised among barbarians; and experience proves that they may be carried, at a very early period of society, to a high state of perfection. It has been remarked, too, that one of the earliest propensities which springs up in the breast of a savage is a love of ornaments, of glittering trinkets, of bits of shining metals, or coloured stones, with which to decorate his person. The art, accordingly, of fetching out the brilliancy of the precious stones and metals, and fashioning them into ornamentsBOOK II.Chap. 8. for the person; the art, in fine, of jewellery, appears at an early period in the progress of a rude people.
These three, architecture, weaving, and jewellery, are the only arts for which the Hindus have been celebrated; and even these, with the exception of weaving, remained in a low state of improvement.
In a few places in Hindustan are found the remains of ancient buildings, which have attracted the attention of Europeans; and have, where there existed a predisposition to wonder and admire, been regarded as proofs of a high civilization. “The entry,” says Dr. Robertson, “to the Pagoda of Chillambrum, is by a stately gate under a pyramid 122 feet in height, built with large stones above forty feet long, and more than five feet square, and all covered with plates of copper, adorned with an immense variety of figures neatly executed. The whole structure extends 1332 feet in one direction, and 936 in another. Some of the ornamental parts are finished with an elegance entitled to the admiration of the most ingenious artists.”1 The only article of precise information which we obtain from this passage is the great size of the building. As for the vague terms of general eulogy, bestowed upon the ornaments, they are almost entirely without significance—the loose and exaggerated expressions, at second hand, of the surprise of the early travellers at meeting with an object, which they were not prepared to expect. Another structure still more remarkable than that of Chillambrum, the Pagoda of Seringham, situated in an island of the river Cavery, is thus described by Mr. Orme. “It is composed of seven square inclosures, BOOK II. Chap. 8.one within the other, the walls of which are twenty-five feet high, and four thick. These inclosures are 350 feet distant from one another, and each has four large gates with a high tower; which are placed, one in the middle of each side of the inclosure, and opposite to the four cardinal points. The outward wall is near four miles in circumference, and its gateway to the south is ornamented with pillars, several of which are single stones thirty-three feet long, and nearly five in diameter; and those which form the roof are still larger; in the inmost inclosures are the chapels.”1. In this nothing is described as worthy of regard except the magnitude of the dimensions.
The cave of Elephanta, not far from Bombay, is another work which, from its magnitude, has given birth to the supposition of high civilization among the Hindus. It is a cavity in the side of a mountain, about half way between its base and summit, of the space of nearly 120 feet square. Pieces of the rock, as is usual in mining, have been left at certain distances supporting the superincumbent matter; and the sight of the whole upon the entrance, is grand and striking. It had been applied at an early period to religious purposes, when the pillars were probably fashioned into the sort of regular form they now present, and the figures, with which great part of the inside is covered, were sculptured on the stone.2
Antecedently to the dawn of taste, it is by magnitudeBOOK II. Chap. 8. alone that, in building, nations can exhibit BOOK II. Chap. 8.magnificence, and it is almost uniformly in honour of the gods, that this species of grandeur is first attempted. Experience alone could have made us comprehend, at how low a stage in the progress of the arts, surprising structures can be erected. The Mexicans were even ignorant of iron. They were unacquainted with the use of scaffolds and cranes. They had no beasts of burden. They were without sledges and carts. They were under the necessity of breaking their stones with flints, and polished them by rubbing one against another. Yet they accomplished works, which, in magnitude and symmetry, vie with any thing of which Hindustan has to boast. “The great temple,” says Clavigero, “occupied the centre of the city. Within the enclosure of the wall, which encompassed it in a square form, the conqueror Cortez affirms that a town of 500 houses might have stood. The wall, built of stone and lime, was very thick, eight feet high, crowned with battlements, in the form of niches, and ornamented with many stone figures in the shape of serpents. It had four gates to the four cardinal points. Over each of the four gates was an arsenal, filled with a vast quantity of offensive and defensive weapons, where the troops went, when it was necessary, to be supplied with arms. The space within the walls was curiously paved with such smooth and polished stones that the horses of the Spaniards could not move upon them without slipping and tumbling down. In the middle was raised an immense solid building of greater length than breadth, covered with square equal pieces of pavement. The building consisted of five bodies, nearly equal in height, but different in length and breadth; the highest being narrowest. The firstBOOK II. Chap. 8. body, or basis of the building, was more than fifty perches long from east to west, and about forty-three in breadth from north to south. The second body was about a perch less in length and breadth than the first; and the rest in proportion. The stairs, which were upon the south side, were made of large well-formed stones, and consisted of 114 steps, each a foot high. Upon the fifth body (the top) was a plain, which we shall call the upper area, which was about forty-three perches long, and thirty-four broad, and was as well paved as the great area below. At the eastern extremity of this plain were raised two towers to the height of fifty-six feet. These were properly the sanctuaries, where, upon an altar of stone five feet high, were placed the tutelary idols.”1 The Tlascalans, as a rampart against the Mexican troops, erected a wall, “six miles in length, between two mountains; eight feet in height, besides the breast-work; and eighteen feet in thickness.”2
Garcilasso de la Vega informs us, that “the Incas, who were kings of Peru, erected many wonderful and stately edifices; their castles, temples, and royal palaces,” says he, “their gardens, store-houses, and other fabrics, were buildings of great magnificence, as is apparent by the ruins of them. The work of greatest ostentation, and which evidences most the power and majesty of the Incas, was the fortress of Cozco, whose greatness is incredible to any who have not seen it, and such as have viewed it with great attention cannot but admire it, and believe that such a work was raised by enchantment, or the help of spirits, being that which surpasses the art BOOK II. Chap. 8.and power of man. For the stones are so many and so great which are laid in the three first rounds, being rather rocks than stones, as passes all understanding, how, and in what manner, they were hewn from the quarry, or brought from thence, for they had no instruments of iron or steel, wherewith to cut or fashion them: nor less wonderful is it to think, how they could be carried to the building; for they had neither carts nor oxen to draw them with; and if they had, the weight was so vast as no cart could bear, or oxen draw; then to think that they drew them with great ropes, over hills and dales, and difficult ways, by the mere force of men’s arms, is alike incredible; for many of them were brought ten, twelve, and fifteen leagues off.—But to proceed further in our imagination of this matter, and consider how it was possible for the people to fit and join such vast machines of stones together, and cement them so close, that the point of a knife can scarce pass between them, is a thing above all admiration, and some of them are so artificially joined, that the crevices are scarce discernible between them: Then to consider that to square and fit these stones one to the other, they were to be raised and lifted up and removed often, until they were brought to their just size and proportion; but how this was done by men who had no use of the rule and square, nor knew how to make cranes or pulleys, and cramps, and other engines, to raise and lower them as they had occasion, is beyond imagination.”1
Whatever allowance any preconceptions of theBOOK II. Chap. 8. reader may lead him to make for exaggeration, which we may believe to be considerable, in the above descriptions, enough undoubtedly appears to prove, that no high attainments, in civilization and the arts, are implied in the accomplishment of very arduous and surprising works in architecture; and it will be allowed that such comparisons between the attainments of different nations, are the only means of forming a precise judgment of the indications of civilization which they present. The Gothic cathedrals reared in modern Europe, which remain among the most stupendous monuments of architecture in that quarter of the globe, were constructed, many of them at least, at comparatively a very low stage of civilization and science. To allude to Nineveh and Babylon, is to bring to the recollection of the historical reader, the celebrated works of architecture, in temples, walls, palaces, bridges, which distinguished those ancient cities. Yet it is demonstrated, that no high degree of improvement was attained by the people that erected them. The pyramids of Egypt, vast as their dimensions, and surprising their durability, afford intrinsic evidence of the rudeness of the period at which they were reared.1 According to BOOK II. Chap. 8.Strabo, the sepulchre of Belus, at Babylon, was a pyramid of one stadium in height. It appears to have been built of different bodies, or stages, one rising above another, exactly in the manner of the great temple at Mexico. A tower, says Herodotus, a stadium both in length and breadth, is reared at the base; and upon this is erected another tower, and again another upon that, to the number of eight towers in all.1
Sonnerat informs us, “that the architecture of the Hindus is very rude; and their structures in honour of their deities are venerable only from their magnitude.”2 “Mail-cotay,” says Dr. Buchanan, “is one of the most celebrated places of Hindu worship, both as having been honoured with the actual presence of an avatara, or incarnation of Vishnu, who founded one of the temples; and also as being one of the principal seats of the Sri Vaishnavam Brahmans, andBOOK II. Chap. 8. having possessed very large revenues. The large temple is a square building of great dimensions, and entirely surrounded by a colonade; but it is a mean piece of architecture, at least outwardly. The columns are very rude, and only about six feet high. Above the entablature, in place of a balustrade, is a clumsy mass of brick and plaster, much higher than the columns, and excavated with numerous niches, in which are huddled together many thousand images, composed of the same materials, and most rudely formed. The temple itself is alleged to be of wonderful antiquity, and to have been not only built by a god, but to be dedicated to Krishna on the very spot where that avatara performed some of his great works.”1 Of the celebrated pagodas at Congeveram, the same author remarks, that “they are great stone buildings, very clumsily executed, both in their joinings and carvings, and totally devoid of elegance or grandeur, although they are wonderfully crowded with what are meant as ornaments.”2
BOOK II. Chap. 8. Wonderful monuments of the architecture of rude nations are almost every where to be found. Mr. Bryant, speaking of the first rude inhabitants of Sicily, the Cyclopes, who were also called Lestrygons and Lamii, says, “They erected many temples, and likewise high towers upon the sea-coast; and founded many cities. The ruins of some of them are still extant; and have been taken notice of by Fazellus, who speaks of them as exhibiting a most magnificent appearance. They consist of stones which are of great size. Fazellus, speaking of the bay, near Segesta, and of an hill which overlooked the bay, mentions wonderful ruins upon its summit, and gives an ample description of their extent and appearance.”1 The old traveller, Knox, after describing the passion of the Ceylonese, for constructing temples and monuments, of enormous magnitude, in honour of their gods, drily adds; “As if they had been born solely to hew rocks and great stones, and lay them up in heaps:”2 the unsophisticated decision of a sound understanding, on operations which the affectation of taste, and antiquarian credulity, have magnified into proofs of the highest civilization.
Of one very necessary and important part ofBOOK II. Chap. 8. architecture, the Hindus were entirely ignorant. They knew not the construction of arches, till they first learned it from their Moslem conquerors. In the description of the superb temple at Seringham, we have already seen1 that no better expedient was known than great flat stones for the roof. “On the south branch of the river” Cavery, at Seringapatam, says Dr. Buchanan, “a bridge has been erected, which serves also as an aqueduct, to convey from the upper part of the river a large canal of water into the town and island. The rudeness of this bridge will show the small progress that the arts have made in Mysore. Square pillars of granite are cut from the rock, of a sufficient height to rise above the water at the highest floods. These are placed upright in rows, as long as the intended width of the bridge, and distant about ten feet from each other. They are secured at the bottom by being let into the solid rock, and their tops being cut to a level, a long stone is laid upon each row. Above these longitudinal stones, others are placed contiguous to each other, and stretching from row to row, in the direction of the length of the bridge.”2 The celebrated bridge over the Euphrates, at Babylon, was constructed on similar principles, and the president Goguet remarks, “that the Babylonians were not the only people who were ignorant of the art of turning an arch. This secret,” he adds, “as far as I can find, was unknown BOOK II. Chap. 8.to all the people of remote antiquity.”1 Though the ancient inhabitants, however, of Persia, were ignorant of this useful and ingenious art, the modern Persians are admirably skilled in it: the roofs of the houses are almost all vaulted; and the builders are peculiarly dexterous in constructing them.2
Of the exquisite degree of perfection to which the Hindus have carried the productions of the loom, it would be idle to offer any description; as there are few objects with which the inhabitants of Europe are better acquainted. Whatever may have been the attainments, in this art, of other nations of antiquity, the Egyptians, for example, whose fine linen was so eminently prized, the manufacture of no modernBOOK II. Chap. 8. nation can, in delicacy and fineness, vie with the textures of Hindustan. It is observed at the same time, by intelligent travellers, that this is the only art which the original inhabitants of that country have carried to any considerable degree of perfection.1
To the skill of the Hindus, in this art, several causes contributed. It is one of the first to which the necessities of man conduct him;2 it is one of those which experience proves to arrive early at high perfection; and it is an art to which the circumstances of the Hindu were in a singular manner adapted. His climate and soil conspired to furnish him with the most exquisite material for his art, the finest cotton which the earth produces. It is a sedentary occupation, and thus in harmony with his predominant inclination. It requires patience, of which he has an inexhaustible fund; it requires little bodily exertion, of which he is always exceedingly sparing; and the finer the production, the more slender the force which he is called upon to apply. But this is not all. The weak and delicate frame of the Hindu is accompanied with an acuteness of external sense, particularly of touch, which is altogether unrivalled, and the flexibility of his fingers is equally remarkable. The hand of the Hindu, therefore, constitutes an organ, adapted to the BOOK II. Chap. 8.finer operations of the loom in a degree, which is almost, or altogether, peculiar to himself.1
Yet the Hindus possessed not this single art in so great a degree of perfection, compared with rude nations, as, even on that ground, to lay a foundation for very high pretensions. “In Mexico,” says Clavigero, “manufactures of various kinds of cloth were common every where; it was one of those arts which almost every person learned. Of cotton they made large webs, and as delicate and fine as those of Holland, which were with much reason highly esteemed in Europe. A few years after the conquest, a sacerdotal habit of the Mexicans was brought to Rome, which, as Boturini affirms, was uncommonly admired on account of its fineness. They wove these cloths with different figures and colours, representing different animals and flowers.”2 When the Goths first broke into the Roman empire they possessed fringed carpets and linen garments of so fine a quality as greatly surprised the Greeks and Romans, and have been thought worthy of minute description by Eunapius andBOOK II. Chap. 8. Zosimus.1 “Pliny, speaking of a carpet for covering such beds as the ancients made use of at table, says, that this piece of furniture, which was produced from the looms of Babylon, amounted to eighty-one thousand sestertia.”2 This proves the fineness to which that BOOK II. Chap. 8.species of manufacture was then wrought, and the excellence which the Babylonians, who yet could not construct an arch, had attained in the art. The Asiatic nations seem to have excelled, from the earliest ages, in the manufactures of the loom. It is by Pliny recorded, as the opinion of his age and nation, that of the art of weaving cotton Semiramis is to be revered as the inventress. The city Arachne, celebrated by the Greeks and Romans, as the place where weaving was first invented, and where it was carried to the highest perfection, is represented by Mr. Bryant as the same with Erech or Barsippa, and situated on the Euphrates, in the territory of Babylon.1 One of the accomplishments of the goddess of wisdom herself, (so early was the date) was her unrivalled excellence in the art of weaving; and Arachne, according to the poets, was a virgin, who, daring to vie with Minerva in her favourite art, was changed into a spider forBOOK II. Chap. 8. her presumption.1
That ingenuity is in its infancy among the Hindus, is shewn by the rudeness still observable in the instruments of this their favourite art. The Hindu loom with all its appurtenances, is coarse and ill-fashioned, to a degree hardly less surprising than the fineness of the commodity which it is the instrument of producing. It consists of little else than a few sticks or pieces of wood, nearly in the state in which nature produced them, connected together by the rudest contrivances. There is not so much as an expedient for rolling up the warp. It is stretched out at the full length of the web; which makes the house of the weaver insufficient to contain him. He is therefore obliged to work continually in the open air; and every return of inclement weather interrupts him.2
Among the arts of the Hindus, that of printing and dyeing their cloths has been celebrated; and the beauty and brilliancy, as well as durability, of the colours they produce, is worthy of particular praise. This has never been supposed to be one of the circumstances on which any certain inference with regard to civilization could be founded. It has been generally allowed that a great, if not the greatest part of the excellence which appears in the colours of the Hindu BOOK II. Chap. 8. cloths, is owing to the superior quality of the colouring matters, with which their happy climate and soil supply them.1 Add to this that dyeing is an early art. “It must have made,” says Goguet, “a very rapid progress in the earliest times in some countries. Moses speaks of stuffs dyed sky-blue, purple, and double-scarlet; he also speaks of the skins of sheep dyed orange and violet.”2 The purple, so highly admired by the ancients, they represented as the invention of Hercules, thus tracing back its origin even to the fabulous times. In durability it appears not that any thing could surpass the colours of the ancients. “We never,” says Goguet, “find them complain that the colour of their stuffs was subject to alter or change. Plutarch tells us, in the life of Alexander, that the conqueror found among the treasures of the kings of Persia, a prodigious quantity of purple stuffs, which, for one hundred and eighty years which they had been kept, preserved all their lustre, and all their primitive freshness. We find in Herodotus, that certain people, on the borders of the Caspian Sea, imprinted on their stuffs designs, either of animals or flowers, whose colour never changed, and lasted as long even as the wool of which their cloaths were made.”3
We shall next consider the progress of the HindusBOOK II. Chap. 8. in agriculture, which, though the most important of all the useful arts, is not the first invented, nor the first which arrives at perfection. It is allowed on all hands that the agriculture of Hindustan is rude; but the progress of agriculture depends so much upon the laws relating to landed property, that the state of this art may continue very low, in a country where other arts are carried to a high degree of perfection.
A Hindu field, in the highest state of cultivation, is described to be only so far changed by the plough, as to afford a scanty supply of mould for covering the seed; while the useless and hurtful vegetation is so far from being eradicated, that, where burning precedes not, which for a short time smooths the surface, the grasses and shrubs, which have bid defiance to the plough, cover a large proportion of the surface.
BOOK II. Chap. 8.Nothing can exceed the rudeness and inefficiency of the Hindu implements of agriculture. The plough consists of a few pieces of wood, put together with less adaptation to the end in view, than has been elsewhere found among some of the rudest nations. It has no contrivance for turning over the mould; and the share, having neither width nor depth, is incapable of stirring the soil. The operation of ploughing is described by the expressive term scratching. Several ploughs follow one another, all to deepen the same furrow; a second ploughing of the same sort is performed across the first; and very often a third, and a fourth, in different directions, before so much as an appearance of mould is obtained for the seed.1
The instrument employed as a harrow is described as literally a branch of a tree; in some places as a log of wood, performing the office partly of a roller, partly of a harrow; and in others as a thing resembling a ladder of about eighteen feet in length, drawn by four bullocks, and guided by two men, who stand upon the instrument to increase its weight.2 The hackery, which answers the purpose of cart or waggon, is a vehicle with two wheels, which are not three feet in diameter, and are not unfrequently solid pieces of wood, with only a hole in the middle for the axle tree. The body of the machine is composed of two bamboos, meeting together at an angle between the necks of the two bullocks, by which the vehicle is drawn, and united by a few crossing bars of the same useful material. It is supported at the angle by a bar which passes over the necks of the two animals; and cruelly galls them. To lessen the friction betweenBOOK II. Chap. 8. the wheel and axis, and save either his wretched cattle, or his own ears, the simple expedient of greasing his wheels, never suggested itself to the mind of a ryot of Hindustan.1 Even this wretched vehicle can seldom be employed for the purposes of husbandry, from the almost total want of roads. It is in back loads that the carriage of almost all the commodities of the country is performed; and in many places the manure is conveyed to the fields in baskets on the backs of the women.2
Every thing which savours of ingenuity; even the most natural results of common observation and good sense, are foreign to the agriculture of the Hindus. The advantages arising from the observation of the fittest season for sowing are almost entirely neglected. No attention was ever paid in Hindustan to the varieties of the grains; so as to select the best seed, or that fittest for particular situations. For restoring BOOK II. Chap. 8.fruitfulness to a field that is exhausted, no other expedient is known, than suspending its cultivation; when the weeds, with which it is always plentifully stored, usurp undivided dominion. Any such refinement as a fallow, or a rotation of crops, is far beyond the reach of a Hindu. The most irrational practice that ever found existence in the agriculture of any nation, is general in India, that of sowing various species of seeds, mustard, flax, barley, wheat, millet, maize, and many others, which ripen at different intervals, all indiscriminately on the same spot. As soon as the earliest of the crops is mature, the reapers are sent into the field, who pick out the stalks of the plant which is ripe, and tread down the rest with their feet. This operation is repeated as each part of the product arrives at maturity, till the whole is separated from the ground.
Though, during the dry season, there is an almost total failure of vegetables for the support of cattle; of which every year many are lost by famine, and the remainder reduced to the most deplorable state of emaciation and weakness; none but the most imperfect means were ever imagined by the Hindu of saving part of the produce of the prolific season, to supply the wants of the barren one. Hay is a commodity which it would not always be convenient to make; but various kinds of pulse and millet might be produced at all seasons, and would afford the most important relief to the cattle when the pasture grounds are bare. The horses themselves are often preserved alive by the grooms picking up the roots of the grass with a knife from the ditches and tanks.1
The only circumstance to captivate the fancy ofBOOK II. Chap. 8. those Europeans, who were on the look-out for subjects of praise, was the contrivance for irrigation. Reservoirs or excavations, known in India by the name of tanks, were so contrived as to collect a large body of water in the rainy season, whence it was drawn off in the season of drought for the refreshment of the fields. These tanks appear to have been at all times a principal concern of the government; and when it is considered that almost the whole revenue of the sovereign depended in each year upon the produce of the soil, and that the decay of the tanks ensured the decay of revenue, it is no wonder that of such care and wisdom as the government any where displayed, a large portion should appear to BOOK II. Chap. 8.have been bestowed upon the tanks. In certain places much care and labour have been employed. But those authors were strangely mistaken who looked upon this as a proof of refined agriculture and great civilization. It is only in a small number of instances, where the whole power of an extensive government, and that almost always Mahomedan, had been applied to the works of irrigation, that they are found on a considerable scale, or in any but the rudest state. In a country in which, without artificial watering, the crops would always be lost, the ingenuity of sinking a hole in the ground, to reserve a supply of water, need not be considered as great.1
To separate the grain from the straw, the ancientBOOK II. Chap. 8. method of treading with oxen has, in Hindustan, given way to no improvement; and for the most part the corn is still ground in handmills by the women.1
Of the arts which at an early stage of society acquire the greatest excellence, one, as we have already observed, is that of preparing brilliant trinkets for the ornament of the person. The Hindus cut the precious stones, polish them to a high degree of brilliancy, BOOK II. Chap. 8.and set them neatly in gold and silver. It remains to be ascertained how much of civilization this faculty implies. So early as the time of Moses, the art of forming jewels had attained great perfection among the Jews. In the ephod of Aaron, and in the breast-plate of judgment, were precious stones set in gold, with the names of the twelve tribes engraved on them. The account of these jewels in the book of Exodus, suggests ideas of considerable magnificence.1 Clavigero informs us, that the ancient Mexicans “set gems in gold and silver, and made most curious jewellery of great value. In short,” says that author, “these sorts of works were so admirably finished, that even the Spanish soldiers all stung as they were with the same wretched thirst for gold, valued the workmanship above the materials.”2
When Europeans have compared the extreme imperfectionBOOK II. Chap. 8., the scantiness and rudeness of the tools by which the Hindu artist performs his task, with the neatness and in some cases the celerity of the execution, they have frequently drawn an inference, the very reverse of that which the circumstances implied. This sort of faculty is no mark of high civilization. A dexterity in the use of its own imperfect tools is a common attribute of a rude society.
Acosta, speaking of some remarkable instances of this species of talent in the natives of Mexico and Peru, says, “Hereby we may judge, if they have any understanding, or be brutish; for my part, I think they pass us in those things whereunto they apply themselves.”1 Mr. Forster himself, whose admiration was excited by the dexterity of the Hindus, affords an instance in the rude person of a Russian peasant, which might have suggested to him an appropriate conclusion. “At the distance,” says he, “of a few miles from Choperskoy, the driver of the carriage alarmed me by a report of the hinder axle being shattered; an accident which gave me an opportunity BOOK II. Chap. 8.of observing the dexterity of a Russian carpenter in the use of the axe. Without the help of any other tool, except a narrow chisel, to cut a space in the centre of it for receiving an iron bar which supports the axle, and to pierce holes for the linch pins, he reduced in two hours a piece of gross timber to the requisite form, and his charge was one shilling.”1
But while dexterity in the use of imperfect tools is not a proof of civilization; a great want of ingenuity and completeness in instruments and machinery is a strong indication of the reverse; nor would itBOOK II. Chap. 8. be easy to point out any single circumstance, which may be taken as a better index of the degree in which the benefits of civilization are any where enjoyed than the state of the tools and machinery of the artists. All European visitors have been vehemently struck with the rudeness of the tools, and machinery used by the people of Hindustan.1 Sonnerat, one of those travellers who have surveyed the state of the arts in that country, with the greatest attention and the most enlightened eyes, informs us, that with his hands, and two or three tools, the Hindu artisan has to perform that kind of task about which with us a hundred tools would be employed.2 “When the rudeness of the tools,” says Mr. Forster, “with the simplicity of the process, is examined, the degree of delicacy which the artizans have acquired in their several professions must challenge a high admiration.”3 Fryer, speaking of the mode in which coral is cut, says, “The tools of the workmen were more to be wondered at than his art; his hands and feet BOOK II. Chap. 8.being all the vice, and the other tools unshapen bits of iron.”1
In the mode in which the Hindu artisans, of almost all descriptions, performed their work, is observed a circumstance, generally found among a rude people, and no where else. The carpenter, the blacksmith, the brazier, even the goldsmith and jeweller, not to speak of others, produce not their manufacture, as in a refined state of the arts, in houses and workshops of their own, where the accommodations requisite for them can best be combined: they repair for each job, with their little budget of tools, to the house of the man who employs them, and there perform the service for which they are called.2
With regard to the fine arts, a short sketch will suffice. Hardly by any panegyrist is it pretended that the sculpture, the painting, the music of theBOOK II. Chap. 8. Hindus are in a state beyond that in which they appear in early stages of society. The merely mechanical part, that for which the principal requisites are time and patience, the natural produce of rude ages when labour is of little value, is often executed with great neatness; and surprises by the idea of the difficulty overcome. In the province of genius and taste, nothing but indications of rudeness appear. The productions are not merely void of attraction: they are unnatural, offensive, and not unfrequently disgusting. “The Hindus of this day,” says Mr. Foster, “have a slender knowledge of the rules of proportion, and none of perspective. They are just imitators, and correct workmen, but they possess merely the glimmerings of genius.”1 “The style and taste of the Indians,” says Paulini, “are indeed extremely wretched; but they possess a wonderful aptitude for imitating the arts and inventions of the Europeans, as soon as the method has been pointed out to them.”2 Major Rennel himself informs us, that the imitative or fine arts were not carried to the height even of the Egyptians, much less of the Greeks and Romans, by the Hindus; that like the Chinese they made great progress in some of the useful arts, but scarcely any in those of taste.3
“In India,” says Sonnerat, “as well as among all the people of the East, the arts have made little or no progress. All the statues we see in their temples are badly designed and worse executed.”4 We have the testimony of Mr. Hodges, which to this point at least is a high testimony, that the sculpture in the BOOK II. Chap. 8.pagodas of Hindustan is all very rude.1 In the description of a temple of Siva, at Hullybedu in Mysore, Dr. Buchanan says, “Its walls contain a very ample delineation of Hindu mythology; which, in the representation of human or animal forms, is as destitute of elegance as usual; but some of the foliages possess great neatness. It much exceeds any Hindu building that I have seen elsewhere.”2
Whatever exaggeration we may suppose in the accounts which the historians of Mexico and Peru have given us of the works of sculpture in the new world, the description of them will not permit us to conclude that they were many degrees inferior to the productions of Hindustan. Clavigero says, “The Mexicans were more successful in sculpture than in painting. They learned to express in their statues all the attitudes and postures of which the human body is capable; they observed the proportions exactly; and could, when necessary, execute the most delicate and minute strokes with the chisel. The works which they executed by casting of metals were in still more esteem. The miracles they produced of this kind would not be credible, if, besides the testimony of those who saw them, curiosities in numbers of this nature, had not been sent from Mexico toBOOK II. Chap. 8. Europe.”1
The progress was similar, as we might presume, in the sister art of painting. The Hindus copy with great exactness, even from nature. By consequence they draw portraits, both of individuals and of groups, with a minute likeness; but peculiarly devoid of grace and expression. Their inability to exhibit the simplest creations of the fancy, is strongly expressed by Dr. Tennant, who says, “The laborious exactness with which they imitate every feather of a bird, or the smallest fibre on the leaf of a plant, renders them valuable assistants in drawing specimens of natural history; but farther than this they cannot advance one step. If your bird is to be placed on a rock, or upon the branch of a tree, the draughtsman is at a stand; the object is not before him; and his imagination can supply nothing.”2 In one remarkable circumstance their painting resembles that of all BOOK II. Chap. 8.other nations who have made but a small progress in the arts. They are entirely without a knowledge of perspective, and by consequence of all those finer and nobler parts of the art of painting, which have perspective for their requisite basis.1
It is anomalous and somewhat surprising that theBOOK II. Chap. 8. music of the Hindus should be so devoid of all excellence. As music is, in its origin, the imitation of the tones of passion; and is most naturally employed for the expression of passion, in rude ages, when the power of expressing it by articulate language is the most imperfect; simple melodies, and these often highly expressive and affecting, are natural to uncultivated tribes. It was in the earliest stage of civilization, that Orpheus is fabled to have possessed the power of working miracles by his lyre. Yet all Europeans, even those who are the most disposed to eulogize the attainments of the Hindus, unite in describing the music of that people, as unpleasing, and void both of expression and art. Dr. Tennant, who founds his testimony both on his own, and other people’s observation, says: “If we are to judge merely from the number of instruments, and the frequency with which they apply them, the Hindoos might be regarded as considerable proficients in music, yet has the testimony of all strangers deemed it equally imperfect as the other arts. Their warlike instruments are rude, noisy, and inartificial: and in BOOK II. Chap. 8.temples, those employed for the purposes of religion are managed apparently on the same principle; for, in their idea, the most pleasant and harmonious is that which make the loudest noise.”1 After a description of the extreme rudeness of the instruments of music of the people of Sumbhulpoor, Mr. Motte says, “the Rajah’s band always put me in mind of a number of children coming from a country fair.”2
As the talent of the Hindus for accurate imitation,BOOK II. Chap. 8. both in the manual and in some of the refined arts, has excited much attention; and been sometimes regarded, as no mean proof of ingenuity and mental culture, it is necessary to remark, that there are few things by which the rude state of society is more uniformly characterized. It is in reality the natural precursor of the age of invention; and disappears, or at least ceases to make a conspicuous figure, when the nobler faculty of creation comes into play. Garcilasso de la Vega, who quotes Blas Valera, in his support, tells us that the Peruvian Indians, “if they do but see a thing, will imitate it so exactly, without being taught, that they become better artists and mechanics than the Spaniards themselves.”1
BOOK II. Chap. 8.Sir William Jones, in pompous terms, remarks: “The Hindus are said to have boasted of three inventions, all of which indeed are admirable; the method of instructing by apologues; the decimal scale; and the game of chess, on which they have some curious treatises.”1 As the game of chess is a species of art, the account of it seems to belong to this place; and as it has been rated high among the proofs of the supposed civilization of the Hindus, we must see what it really imports. Though there is no evidence that the Hindus invented the game, except their own pretensions, which as evidence are of very little value, it is by no means improbable. The invention of ingenious games is a feat most commonly displayed by nations in their rude condition. It is prior to the birth of industry, that men have the strongest need for games, to relieve them from the pain of idleness: at that period they are most addicted to gaming; bestow upon it the greatest portion of time; and most intensely fix upon it all their faculties. It is, in fact, the natural occupation and resource of a rude mind, whenever destitute of the motives to industry. The valuable and intelligentBOOK II. Chap. 8. historian of Chili observes of a tribe, but a few removes from the savage state; “If what the celebrated Leibnitz asserts is true, that men have never discovered greater talents than in the invention of the different kinds of games, the Araucanians may justly claim the merit of not being in this respect inferior to other nations. Their games are very numerous, and for the most part very ingenious; they are divided into the sedentary and gymnastic. It is a curious fact, and worthy of notice, that among the first is the game of chess, which they call comican, and which has been known to them from time immemorial. The game of quechu, which they esteem highly, has a great affinity to that of backgammon, but instead of dice they make use of triangular pieces of bone marked with points, which they throw with a little hoop or circle, supported by two pegs.”1
BOOK II. Chap. 8.Though the Hindus knew the art of making a species of rude glass, which was manufactured into trinkets and ornaments for the women, they had never possessed sufficient ingenuity to apply it to the many useful purposes to which it is so admirably adapted. In few climates is glass in windows more conducive to comfort than that of Hindustan; yet the Hindus had never learnt to afford this accommodation to themselves. Of its adaptation to optical purposes they were so ignorant, that they were astonished and confounded at the effects of a common spy-glass. They are unable to construct furnaces sufficiently powerful to melt either European glass, or cast iron.1
In almost every manufacture, and certainly as aBOOK II. Chap. 8. manufacturing people in general, the Hindus are inferior to the Chinese. Yet Sir William Jones says of that latter people; “Their mechanical arts have nothing in them characteristic of a particular family; nothing which any set of men, in a country so highly favoured by nature, might not have discovered and improved.”1 The partialities, which it was so much his nature to feel, prevented him from perceiving how much less entitled to any kind of admiration were the arts of another people, whom he had adopted it as a business to eulogize.
“The buildings are all base of mud, one story high, except in Surat, where there are some of stone. The Emperor’s own houses are of stone, handsome and uniform. The great men build not, for want of inheritance; but, as far as I have yet seen, live in tents, or houses worse than our cottages.” Sir T. Roe’s Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Churchill, i. 803.
It is curious to observe how Plato traces this progress. He is endeavouring to account for the origin of society. Ιθι ὸη (η ν ὁεγω) τψ λογψ εξ αρΧης ποιωμεν πολιν’ ποιησει δ’αντην, ὡς εοικεν, ἡ ἡμετερα Χρεια. Πιως [Editor: illegible character]ἶ λλλα μ[Editor: illegible character]ν πρωιη γε κμ μεγιςη τωι χρειων, ὴ της τροφης πα ρασκευη, ὶευτερα ὶη οικησεως, τριτη εσθητος και των τοι[Editor: illegible character]των. Εςι ταντα. ζερε ὶη(ην ὶ’ εγω) πως ή πολις αρκε σει επι τοσαυ την παρασκευην; αλλοτι, γεωργος μεν ἑις ὁ ἶε οικο ῖεομος αλλος δε τις ὺφαντης. Plat. de Repub, lib. ii. p. 599.
Robertson’s Histor. Disquis. concerning India, p. 225.
[1.]Orme’s Hist, of Milit. Transac. of Indostan, i. 178.
[2.]The cave of Elephanta is not the only subterranean temple of the Hindus, exhibiting on a large scale the effects of human labour. In the isle of Salsette, in the same vicinity, is a pagoda of a similar kind, and but little inferior to it in any remarkable circumstance. The pagodas of Ellore, about eighteen miles from Aurungabad, are not of the size of those of Elephanta and Salsette, but they surprise by their number, and by the idea of the labour which they cost. See a minute description of them by Anquetil Duperron, Zendavesta, Disc. Prelim. p. ccxxxiii. The seven pagodas, as they are called at Mavalepuram, near Sadras, on the Coromandel coast, is another work of the same description; and several others might be mentioned. Dr. Tennant, who has risen higher above travellers’ prejudices in regard to the Hindus, than most of his countrymen, says, “Their caves in Elephanta and Salsette are standing monuments of the original gloomy state of their superstition, and the imperfection of their arts, particularly that of architecture.” Indian Recreations, i. 6. The extraordinary cavern, the temple of Pusa, near Chas-chou-fou, in China, which was visited by lord Macartney, and full of living priests, vies in wonderful circumstances with the cave of Elephanta. See Barrow’s Life of Lord Macartney, Journal, ii. 374. “However these gigantic statues, and others of similar form, in the caves of Elora and Salsette may astonish a common observer, the man of taste looks in vain for proportion of form, and expression of countenance.” Forbes’ Oriental Memoirs, i. 423. “I must not omit the striking resemblance between these excavations (Elephanta, &c.) and the sculptured grottos in Egypt,” &c. “I have often been struck with the idea that there may be some affinity between the written mountains in Arabia, and the excavated mountains in Hindustan.” Ibid. i. 448, 449. It is difficult to say how much of the wonderful in these excavations may be the mere work of nature: “Left Sullo, and travelled through a country beautiful beyond imagination, with all possible diversities of rock; sometimes towering up like ruined castles, spires, pyramids, &c. We passed one place so like a ruined Gothic abbey, that we halted a little, before we could satisfy ourselves that the niches, windows, ruined staircaise, &c. were all natural rock. A faithful description of this place would certainly be deemed a fiction.” Mungo Park’s last Mission to Africa, p. 75. “Between the city of Canton, and first pagoda, on the bank of the river, is a series,” says Mr. Barrow, “of stone quarries, which appear not to have been worked for many years. The regular and formal manner in which the stones have been cut away; exhibiting lengthened streets of houses with quadrangular chambers, in the sides of which are square holes at equal distances, as if intended for the reception of beams; the smoothness and perfect perpendicularity of the sides, and the number of detached pillars that are scattered over the plain, would justify a similar mistake to that of Mr. Addison’s doctor of one of the German universities, whom he found at Chateau d’Un in France, carefully measuring the free-stone quarries at that place, which he conceived to be the venerable remains of vast subterranean palaces of great antiquity.” Barrow’s Travels in China, p. 599. The conclusions of many of our countrymen in Hindustan will bear comparison with that of the German doctor in France. It is not a bad idea of Forster, the German commentator upon the travels of P. Paulini, that the forming caverns into temples must naturally have been the practice when men as yet had their principal abodes in caverns. Voyage aux Indes Orien. par le P. Paulini, iii. 115. Volney says, “Those labyrinths, temples, and pyramids, by their huge and heavy structure, attest much less the genius of a nation, opulent and friendly to the arts, than the servitude of a people, who were slaves to the caprice of their monarch.” Travels in Egypt, &c. i. 282.
Clavigero, Hist. of Mexico, book vi sect. 10.
Ibid. book vii. sect. 26.
Royal Commentaries of Peru, by the Inca Garcilasso de la Vega, book vii. ch. xxviii. Acosta likewise says, (see his Natural and Moral History of the Indies, book vi. ch. xiv.) that of these stones he measured one, at Tiagunaco, which was thirty-eight feet long, eighteen broad, and six in thickness; and that the stones in that building were not so large as those in the fortress at Cuzco. He adds, “And that which is most strange, these stones, being not cut, nor squared to join, but contrariwise, very unequal one with another in form and greatness, yet did they join them together without cement, after an incredible manner.” Acosta tells us, however, (Ibid.) that they were entirely unacquainted with the construction of arches. Humboldt, who could have no national partialities on the subject, is almost as lofty in his praises of the remains of the ancient architecture of the Mexicans and Peruvians. “An Mexique et au Perou,” says he, Tableaux de la Nature, i. 168, “on trouve partout dans les plaines elevées des moutagnes, des traces d’une grande civilization. Nous avons vu, à une hauteur de seize à dix-huit cent toises des ruines de palais et de bains.” The ruins which he saw of a palace of immense size, are mentioned at p. 158.
“Let us now speak,” says the President Goguet, Origin of Laws, part iii. book ii. ch. i. “of the bridge of Babylon, which the ancients have placed in the number of the most marvellous works of the East. It was near 100 fathoms in length, and almost four in breadth, &c..... While we do justice to the skill of the Babylonians, in conducting these works, we cannot help remarking the bad taste, which, at all times, reigned in the works of the eastern nations. The bridge of Babylon furnishes a striking instance of it. This edifice was absolutely without grace, or any air of majesty..... Finally, this bridge was not arched” The first chiefs in Iceland built no inconsiderable houses. Ingulph’s palace was 135 feet in length. Mallet. Introd. Hist. Denmark, vol. i. ch. xiii.
Herodot. Clio, 181. Major Rennel, who was obliged to trust to Mr. Beloe’s translation, was puzzled with the expression, “a tower of the solid depth and height of one stadium;” justly pronounces it incredible, and says, “Surely Herodotus wrote breadth and length, and not breadth and height,” (Geog. of Herodot. p. 359, 360,) which is precisely the fact, the words of Herodotus being και το μηχος και το ενρος The word ςερεος, too, here translated solid, as if the tower was a mere mass of brick-work, without any internal vacuity, by no means implies a fact so very improbable. Στερος means strong, firmly built, &c. This resemblance has been noticed by Humboldt (Essai Polit. sur la Nonv. Espagne,) p. 170, also that between the pyramids of Egypt, and the vast pyramids of which the remains are to be found in Mexico, p. 187. The palace of Montezuma bore a striking resemblance to that of the Emperor of China, p. 190.
Voyage de Sonuerat, liv. iii. ch. viii.
Buchanan’s Journey through Mysore, &c. ii. 70.
Id. Ib. i. 13. Sir James Mackintosh ingeniously remarks, that among the innumerable figures of men and monsters of all sorts exhibited at Elora, you perceive about one in ten thousand that has some faint rudiments of grace, those lucky hits, the offspring of chance, rather than design, which offord copies to a rude people, and enable them to make gradual improvements. “Rude nations,” (says Dr. Ferguson, Hist. of the Roman Republic, i. 18, ed. 8vo.) “sometimes execute works of great magnificence, for the purposes of superstition or war; but seldom works of mere convenience or cleanliness.” Yet the common sewers of Rome, the most magnificent that ever were constructed, are assigned to the age of the elder Tarquin. Polybius tells us, that the city of Ecbatana, in Media, which contained one of the palaces of the Persian kings, far excelled all other cities in the world, πγκτῳ και τ[Editor: illegible character] της θατασκενης πολυτελειΆ μεγα τι παρα τας αλλας δοκενηνοΧεναθ πολεις. With regard to the palace itself, he was afraid, he said, to describe its magnitude and magnificence, lest he should not be believed. It was seven stadia in circumference; and though all the wood employed in it was cedar or cypress, every part of it, pillars, cornices, beams, every thing was covered with plates of silver or gold, so that no where was a bit of wood visible; and it was roofed with silver tiles. Polyb. Hist. lib. x. 24.
Bryant’s Ancient Mythology, book v. p. 211. From p. 187 to 213, an ample and instructive collection will be found of instances to prove the passion of rude nations for erecting great buildings; and the degree of perfection in art which their works display. Priam’s palace, according to Homer, was a magnificent building. That remarkable structure, the labyrinth of Crete, was produced in a very early age. Mr. Ward assures us, “that of the Hindu temples none appear to be distinguished for the elegance of their architecture: they are not the work of a people sunk in barbarism; neither will they bear any comparison with the temples of the Greeks and Romans.” He adds, “We learn from the Ain Akb✓ree, however, that the entire revenues of Orissa, for twelve years, were expended in erecting a temple to the sun.” Introd. p. ix.
Knox’s Hist. of Ceylon, London, 1681.
See above, p. 3, 4. “Their knowledge of mechanical powers,” says Mr. Orme, “is so very confined, that we are left to admire, without being able to account for, the manner in which they have erected their capital pagodas. It does not appear that they had ever made a bridge of arches over any of their rivers, before the Mahomedans came amongst them.” Hist. of Mil. Trans. of Indostan, i. 7.
Buchanan’s Journey through Mysore, &c. i. 61.
Goguet, Origin of Laws, part iii. book ii. ch. i. He says, “it even appears to me demonstrated, that the Egyptians had not much more knowledge of architecture, of sculpture, and of the fine arts in general, than the Peruvians and Mexicans. For example, neither the one nor the other knew the secret of building vaults. What remains of foundery or sculpture, is equally clumsy and incorrect. I think this observation absolutely essential.” Origin of Laws, part iii. dissert. iii. Clavigero, however, asserts that the Mexicans did know the art of constructing arches and vaults, as appears, he says, from their baths, from the remains of the royal palaces of Tezcuco, and other buildings, and also from several paintings. Hist. Mex. book vii. sect. 53.
Chardin, Voy. en Perse, iii. 116. ed. 4to. Amsterd. 1735. On est frappé [à Ispahan] de l’elegante architecture des ponts; l’Europe n’offre rien qui leur soit comparable pour la commodité des gens de pied, pour la facilité de leur passage, pour les faire jouir sans trouble, le jour, de la vue de la riviere et de ses environs, et, le soir, de la fraicheur de l’air, Olivier, Voyage, &c. v. 180. La sculpture est nulle en Perse. . . . . . . . Mais l’architecture, plus simple, plus elegante, mieux ordonnée que chez les Turcs, est tout-a-fait adaptée au climat. Les plafonds et les domes sont d’une recherche, d’un fini, d’un precieux, d’une richesse qui etonne. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Les Persans ont poussé fort loin l’art de faire les voῦtes. . . . . Les toits de leurs maisons sont voῦtés, leur planchers le sont aussi. Ib. v. 298, 299. The skill in architecture of the Turks, a very rude people, is well known. “Perhaps I am in the wrong, but some Turkish mosques in Constantinople please me better than St. Sophia. — That of Validé Sultan is the largest of all, built entirely of marble; the most prodigious, and I think the most beautiful structure I ever saw. Between friends, St. Paul’s Church would make a pitiful figure near it.” Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montague, Works, ii. 249, 250.
“No art in Hindustan is carried to the same degree of perfection as in Europe, except some articles in which the cheapness of labour gives them an advantage, as in the case of the fine muslins at Dacca.” Tennant’s Indian Recreations, i. 104. The people are in a state of gross rudeness, Buchanan informs us, “in every part of Bengal, where arts have not been introduced by foreigners; the only one that has been carried to tolerable perfection is that of weaving.” Journey through Mysore, &c. ii. 285.
Mr. Park tells us that the art of spinning, weaving, and dyein cotton, are familiar to the Africans. Travels, p. 17.
“A people,” says Mr. Orme, “born under a sun too sultry to admit the exercises and fatigues necessary to form a robust nation, will naturally, from the weakness of their bodies, (especially if they have few wants) endeavour to obtain their scanty livelihood by the easiest labours. It is from hence, perhaps, that the manufactures of cloth are so multiplied in Indostan. Spinning and weaving are the slightest tasks which a man can be set to, and the numbers that do nothing else in this country are exceeding.” He adds; “The hand of an Indian cookwench shall be more delicate than that of an European beauty; the skin and features of a porter shall be softer than those of a professed petit-maitre. The women wind off the raw silk from the pod of the worm. A single pod of raw silk is divided into twenty different degrees of fineness; and so exquisite is the feeling of these women, that whilst the thread is running through their fingers so swiftly, that their eye can be of no assistance, they will break it off exactly as the assortments change, at once from the first to the twentieth, from the nineteenth to the second. The women likewise spin the thread designed for the cloths, and then deliver it up to the men, who have fingers to model it as exquisitely as these have prepared it.” Orme, on the Gov. and People of Indostan, p. 409 to 413.
Clavigero, Hist. of Mexico, book vii. sect. 57.
See Gibbon (Hist. of the Decl. and Fall of the Rom. Emp. iv. 364), who says, “Yet it must be presumed, that they (the carpets and garments) were the manufactures of the provinces; which the barbarians had acquired as the spoils of war; or as the gifts or merchandise of peace.” But had they been the manufactures of the provinces, the Romans must have known them familiarly for what they were; and could never have been so much surprised with their own manufactures, transferred by plunder, gift, or sale to the barbarians, (of none of which operations, had they existed, could they have been altogether ignorant) as to make their historians think it necessary to place a minute description of them in their works.
Goguet, Origin of Laws, part iii. book vi. ch. i. art. 2. That diligent and judicious writer says, “Of all the arts of which we have to speak in this second part, there are none which appear to have been more or better cultivated than those which concern clothing. We see taste and magnificence shine equally in the description Moses gives of the habits of the high priest and the vails of the tabernacle. The tissue of all these works was of linen, goat’s hair, wool, and byssus. The richest colours, gold, embroidery, and precious stones, united to embellish it.” Ib. part ii. book ii. ch. ii. The following lofty description of the tissues of Babylon, by Dr. Gillies, (see the description of Babylon, in his History of the World) is not surpassed by the most strained panegyrics upon the weaving of the Hindus. “During the latter part of Nebuchadnezzer’s reign, and the twenty-six years that intervened between his death and the conquest of his capital by Cyrus, Babylon appears not only to have been the seat of an imperial court, and station for a vast garrison, but the staple of the greatest commerce that perhaps was ever carried on by one city. Its precious manufactures under its hereditary sacerdotal government remounted, as we have seen, to immemorial antiquity. The Babylonians continued thenceforward to be clothed with the produce of their own industry. Their bodies were covered with fine linen, descending to their feet: their mitras or turbans were also of linen, plaited with much art; they wore woollen tunicks, above which a short white cloak repelled the rays of the sun. Their houses were solid, lofty, and separated, from a regard to health and safety, at due distances from each other: within them the floors glowed with double and triple carpets of the brightest colours; and the walls were adorned with those beautiful tissues called Sindones, whose fine, yet firm texture was employed as the fittest cloathing for eastern kings. The looms of Babylon, and of the neighbouring Borsippa, a town owing its prosperity to manufactures wholly, supplied to all countries round, the finest veils or hangings, and every article of dress or farniture composed of cotton, of linen, or of wool.”
Bryant’s Ancient Mythology, iii. 425. It was from this city the spider (Arachne) for its curious web, was said to have derived its name. The poet Nonnus thus celebrates its manufactures:
Ovid. We learn from Plato, that, when any fine production of the loom among the Greeks was represented as of the most exquisite fineness and beauty, it was compared to those of the Persians; την ζωνυ τ[Editor: illegible character] χι θονισχ[Editor: illegible character] ειναι μεν ἁαια [Editor: illegible character]ιΠερσιχαι Των πολντελων. Hippias Min. 255.
Orme, on the Government and People of Indostan, p. 409, &c. Tennant’s Indian Recrentions, p. 301. “The apparatus of the weaver is very simple; two rollers placed in four pieces of wood fixed in the earth; two sticks which traverse the warp, and are supported at each of the extremities, one by two strings tied to the tree under which the loom is placed, and the other by two other strings tied to the workman’s feet, which gives him a facility of removing the threads of the warp to throw the woof.” Sonnerat, Voyag. liv. iii. ch. viii.
“Perhaps their painted cloths are more indebted to the brilliancy of the colours, and the goodness of the water, than any skill of the artist, for that admiration with which they have been viewed.” Tennant’s Indian Recreations, i. 299. Chardin, who tells us how admirable the Persians are in the art of dyeing, adds that their excellence in this respect is principally owing to the exquisiteness of their colouring matters. Voyages en Perse, iii. 116.
Goguet, Origin of Laws, part ii. book ii. ch. ii. art. 1.
Ibid. “The linen manufactured by the Colchians was in high repute Some of it was curiously painted with figures of animals and flowers; and afterwards dyed like the linen of the Indians. And Herodotus tells us, that the whole was so deeply tinctured, that no washing could efface the colours. They accordingly exported it to various marts, as it was every where greatly sought after.” Bryant’s Anc. Mythol. v. 109. Herodotus, however, represents the people of whom he speaks, as in a state of great barbarity; μιξιν τε τ[Editor: illegible character]των των ανθρωπων ειναν εμφαανεα, καταπερ τοισι προβατοισι. Clio. cciii. The Chinese dye scarlet more exquisitely than any other nation. Lord Macartney says it arises “from their indefatigable care and pains, in washing, purifying, and grinding their colouring matters.” See Lord Macartney’s Journal, Barrow’s Life of Lord Macartney, ii. 516. The same expenditure of time and patience, commodities generally abounding in a rude state of society, are the true causes of both the fine dyeing and the fine weaving of the Hindus. Both Hindus and Chinese are indebted for all elegance of pattern to their European visitors.—Pour se qui est des arts mechaniques, celui ou les Persans excellent le plus, et ou ils nous surpassent peut-ètre, cest la teinture. Ils donnent à leurs étoffes des coulours plus vives, plus solides qu’on ne fait en Europe. Ils impriment cellos de coton et celles de soie avec une netteté et une tenacité surprenantes, soit qu’ils emploient des couleurs, soit qu’ils procédent avec des fuilles d’or et d’argent. Olivier, Voyage, &c. v. 303. Mr. Park informs us, that the negroes of Africa have carried the art of dyeing to great perfection. Travels in Africa, p. 281: see also his last Mission, p. 10. The arts in which the Hindus have any pretensions to skill are the very arts in which so rude a people as the Turks most excel. “Presque tous les arts sont dans l’enfance, ou sont ignorés chez eux, si nous en exceptons la teinture, la fabrication de diverses étoffes, celle des lames de sabre ct de couteau. Voyages dans l’Empire Ottoman, &c. par G. A. Olivier, i. 26.
“You frequently see a field, after one ploughing, appear as green as before; only a few scratches are perceptible, here and there, more resembling the digging of a mole, than the work of a plough.” Tennant’s Ind. Recr. ii. 78.
Ibid. 124, 275.
Tennant’s Ind. Recr. ii. 75. “You cannot, by any argument, prevail upon the listless owner to save his ears, his cattle, or his cart, by lubricating it with oil. Neither his industry, his invention, nor his purse, would admit of this, even though you could remove what is generally insurmountable—his veneration for ancient usage. If his forefathers drove a screeching hackery, posterity will not dare to violate the sanctity of custom by departing from their example. This is one instance of a thousand in which the inveterate prejudices of the Asiatics stand in the way of their improvement, and bid defiance equally to the exertions of the active, and the hopes of the benevolent.” Ibid. 76. This characteristic mark of a rude people, a blind opposition to innovation, is displayed by persons among ourselves, as if it was the highest mark of wisdom and virtue.—The waggon wheels are one piece of solid timber like a millstone. Tavernier, in Harris, i. 815.
Into Oude are imported a variety of articles of commerce from the northern mountains, gold, copper, lead, musk, cow-tails, honey, pomegranate seeds, grapes, dried ginger, pepper, red-wood, tincar, civet, zedoary, wax, woollen cloths, wooden ware, and various species of hawks, amber, rock-salt, assafœtida, glass toys. What is carried back is earthen ware. All this commerce is carried upon the backs of men, or horses and goats. Ayeen Akberry, ii. 33. Buchanan’s Journey, i. 205, 434. Capt. Hardwicke, Asiat. Res. vi. 330.
For this sketch of Hindu agriculture, the chief authorities are, a short treatise, entitled “Remarks on the Agriculture, &c. of Bengal;” Tennant’s Indian Recreations, particularly the second volume; and Dr. Buchanan’s Journey through Mysore, Canara, and Malabar. After describing the wretched state of agriculture in the neighbourhood of Seringapatam, Dr. Buchanan says; “I am afraid, however, that the reader, in perusing the foregoing accounts, will have formed an opinion of the native agriculture still more favourable than it deserves. I have been obliged to use the English words ploughings, weedings, and hoeings, to express operations somewhat similar, that are performed by the natives; and the frequent repetition of these, mentioned in the accounts taken from the cultivators, might induce the reader to imagine that the ground was well wrought, and kept remarkably clean. Quite the reverse, however, is the truth. Owing to the extreme imperfection of their implements, and want of strength in their cattle, a field, after six or eight ploughings, has numerous small bushes remaining as upright in it as before the labour, while the plough has not penetrated above three inches deep, and has turned over no part of the soil. ∗ ∗ ∗ The plough has neither coulter nor mould-board, to divide and to turn over the soil; and the handle gives the ploughman very little power to command its direction. The other instruments are equally imperfect, and are more rudely formed than it was possible for my draughtsman to represent.” Buchanan’s Journey through Mysore, &c. i. 126. In another place he says, “In every field there is more grass than corn. Notwithstanding the many ploughings, the fields are full of grass roots.” Ibid. p. 345. See also p. 15. Agriculture was almost universal among the American tribes. “Throughout all America, we scarcely meet with any nation of hunters, which does not practise some species of cultivation.” Robertson’s America, ii. 117. The agriculture of the Peruvians was apparently superior to that of the Hindus. Ibid. iii. 341.
Frezier (see his Voyage to the South Sea, p, 213, London edition, 1718) says, “The ancient Indians were extraordinary industrious in conveying the water of the rivers to their dwellings: there are still to be seen in many places aqueducts of earth and of dry stones, carried on and turned off very ingeniously along the sides of hills, with an infinite number of windings, which shows that those people, as unpolished as they were, very well understood the art of levelling.” There is something indicative of no little art in the floating gardens and fields which were on the lake of Mexico. (See the Description in Clavigero, Hist. Mex. book vii. sect. 27.) The cultivation of their fields, considering it was done by human, without the aid of animal labour, was remarkable, and their produce surprising. (Ibid. sect. 28.) The following passage from Garcilasso de la Vega deserves to be quoted as a monument of the labours of the Peruvians in agriculture: “They drained all wet moors and fens, for in that art they were excellent, as is apparent by their works which remain unto this day: And also they were very ingenious in making aqueducts for carrying water into dry and scorched lands.” (He explains how careful they were to water both their corn lands and pasture.) ∗ ∗ ∗ “After they had made a provision of water, the next thing was to dress, and cultivate and clear their fields of bushes and trees; and that they might with most advantage receive the water, they made them in a quadrangular form; those lands which were good on the side of hills, they levelled by certain alleys or walks which they made. To make these alleys they raised three walls of friezed stone, one before, and one of each side, somewhat inclining inwards, so that they may more securely bear and keep up the weight of the earth, which is pressed and rammed down by them, until it be raised to the height of the wall. Then next to this walk they made another, something shorter and less, kept up in the same manner with its wall; until at length they came to take in the whole hill, levelling it by degrees in fashion of a ladder, one alley above the other. Where the ground was stony, they gathered up the stones, and covered the barren soil with fresh earth to make their levels, that so no part of the ground might be lost. The first quadrangles were the largest, and as spacious as the situation of the place could bear, some being of that length and brendth as were capable to receive a hundred, some two hundred, or three hundred bushels of seed. Those of the second row were made narrower and shorter. ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ In some parts they brought the channels of water from fifteen or twenty leagues distance, though it were only to improve a slip of a few acres of land, which was esteemed good corn ground.” Royal Commentaries of Peru, part i. book v. ch. i. The Mercurio Peruano describes extensive works for irrigation among the Peruvians, of which the vestiges are still to be seen. Mercur. Peruana, viii. 38. Acosta tells us, (Nat. and Mor. Hist. book iii. ch. xviii.) “The Indians do draw from these floods, that run from the mountains to the valleys and plains, many and great brooks to water their lands, which they usually do with such industry, as there are no better in Murcia, nor at Millan itself, the which is also the greatest and only wealth of the plains of Peru, and of many other parts of the Indies.”
Sonnerat, Voyag. liv. iii. ch. viii; Tennant’s Ind. Recr. i. 302. The country of the Seiks, a people confessedly barbarous, a well-informed author, Francklin, in his Memoirs of George Thomas, p. 65, 66, informs us, is highly cultivated, and their arts and manufactures are on a level with those of any other part of India. Les Tartares du Daghestan ont une coutume qu’ils observent soigneusement; sçavoir, que personne ne peut se marier chez eux, avant que d’avoir, planté en uu endroit marqué cent arbres fruitiers; ensorte qu’on trouve partout dans les montaignes du Daghestan de grandes forets d’arbres fruitiers. (Hist. Geneal. de Turtars, p. 313.) Zoroaster made the duties of agriculture part of his religion. “To sow grain with purity, is to fulfil the whole extent of the law of the Mazdeiesnans.” (Anquetil Zendav. ii. 610.) The Heruli, and Lombards, in their native wilds, cultivated flax, “which supposes,” says Gibbon, “property, agriculture, manufactures, and commerce.” (Gibbon, vii. 276.)
Exod. ch. xxviii. “I look upon engraving on fine stones,” says Goguet, (Origin of Laws, part ii. book ii. ch. ii. art. 3) “as the most remarkable evidence of the rapid progress of the arts in some countries. This work supposes a number of discoveries, much knowledge, and much experience.” He adds in a note, “It must be agreed, that the ancient Peruvians, whose monarchy had not subsisted above three hundred and fifty years, understood perfectly well the working of precious stones. (Hist. Gen. des Voyages, xiii. 578.)” Ibid.
Claverigo, Hist. of Mexico, book vii. sect. 51. Even the most rude of the American tribes seem not to have been without some knowledge of the art of working the precious stones. M. de la Condamine, speaking of the green stones, found in some places bordering on the Amazons River in South America, says (Voyage dans l’Interieur de l’Amerique Meridionale, p. 138), “La verité est qu’elles ne different, ni en couleur, in en dureté, du Jade Oriental; elles resistent a la lime, et on n’imagine pas par quel artifice les anciens Americains ont pu les tailler, et leur donner diverses figures d’ammaux, sans fer ni acier."—In the same place, he mentions another phenomenon of the art of the ancient Americans. “Ce sont,” says he, “des Emeraudes arroudies, polies, et percées de deux trous coniques, diametralement opposés sur un axe common, telles qu’on en trouve encore aujourd’hui au Perou sur les bords de la Riviere de St. Jago, dans la province d’Esmeraldas, a quarante lieues de Quito, avec divers autres monumens de l’industrie de ses anciens habitans.” The Persians of the present day are eminent lapidaries. Chardin, Voy. en Perse, iii. 115.—Olivier says, “Ils taillent assez bien les pierres precieuses, et les montent avec assez de gout. Olivier, Voy. &c. v. 304, &c. “At this place I had an opportunity of seeing their mode of smelting gold. Isaaco had purchased some gold in coming through Konkodoo, and here he had made it into a large ring. The smith made a crucible of common red clay, and dried it in the sun. Into this he put the gold, without any flux or mixture whatever. He then put charcoal under it and over it; and blowing the fire with the common bellows of the country, soon produced such a heat as to bring the gold into a state of fusion. He then made a small furrow in the ground, into which he poured the melted gold. When it was cold he took it up, and, heating it again soon hammered it into a square bar. Then heating it again he twisted it by means of two pair of pincers into a sort of screw, and, lengthening out the ends, turned them up, so as to perform a massy and precious ring.” Mungo Park’s Last Mission to Africa, p. 78.
Acosta, Nat. and Mor. Hist. of the Indies, book vi. chap. viii.
Forster’s Travels, ii. 282.—Les habitans de Kamschatka, d’une stupidité sans egale à certains égards, sont à d’autres d’une industrie merveilleuse. S’agit-il de se faire des vêtemens? leur addresse en ce genre, dit leur Historien, surpasse celle des Européens. Helvetius, de l’Homme, i. 304.—"In general, the ingenuity of all their (the Otaheitans’) works, considering the tools they possess, is marvellous. Their cloth, clubs, fishing implements, canoes, houses, all display great skill; their mourning dresses, their war head-dress and breast-plates, show remarkable taste; their adjustment of the different parts, the exact symmetry, the nicety of the joining, are admirable: and it is astonishing how they can, with such ease and quickness, drill holes in a pearl-shell with a shark’s tooth, and so fine as not to admit the point of a common pin.” Missionary Voyage, p. 330. Observe the same remarkable coincidence in patience, rudeness of tools, and neatness of execution, in the following description by Robertson of the state of the arts in Mexico. “The functions of the mason, the weaver, the goldsmith, the painter, and of several other crafts, were carried on by different persons. Each was regularly instructed in his calling. To it alone his industry was confined; and, by assiduous application to one object, together with the persevering patience peculiar to Americans, their artisans attained to a degree of neatness and perfection in work, far beyond what could have been expected from the rude tools which they employed. Their various productions were brought into commerce; and by the exchange of them in the stated markets held in the cities, not only were their mutual wants supplied, in such orderly intercourse as characterizes an improved state of society, but their industry was daily rendered persevering and inventive.” Robertson’s Hist. of America, iii. 286. Voltaire has a passage on this subject which shows philosophical discernment. “Il-y-a dans l’homme un instinct de mechanique que nous voyons produire tous les jours de très grands effets, dans des hommes fort grossiers. On voit des machines inventées par les habitans des montagnes du Tirol et des Vosges, qui etonnent les savans.” Voltaire, Essai sur les Mœurs et l’Esprit des Nations, Introd. p. 32.
Crauford’s Sketches, p. 328, 1st ed.
Sonnerat, Voy. liv. iii. chap. viii. “The Indian carpenter knows no other tools than the plane, the chisel, the wimple, a hammer, and a kind of hatchet. The earth serves him for a bench, and his foot for a holdfast. He is a month in performing what our workman will do in three days. Even after instruction he will not adopt our method of sawing. Placing his wood between two beams fixed in the ground, and sitting on a bench, a man employs three days, with one saw, to make a plank, which would cost our people an hour’s work.” Ibid. Among the Birmans the state of the more necessary and useful arts seems to be fully as much advanced as among the Hindus: in not a few cases more so. (See Mr. Syme’s Embassy to Ava.) The waggons more neat and commodious than the clumsy gauries or carts of India.
Forster’s Travels, i. 25. “Their artificers,” says Stavorinus, “work with so little apparatus, and so few instruments, that an European would be astonished at their neatness and expedition. Stavorinus, Voy. p. 412. See to the same purpose, Tennant, Indian Recreations, i. 301, 302, 303.
Fryer’s Travels, let. iii. chap. iii. They cut diamonds, he says, with a mill turned by men, the string reaching, in manner of our cutler’s wheels, to lesser that are in a flat press, where under steel wheels diamonds are fastened, and with its own bort are worn into what cut the artist pleases. Ibid.
The blacksmith goes from place to place carrying his tools with him. Beside his forge and his little furnace, a stone serves for an anvil, and his whole apparatus consists of a pair of pincers, a hammer, a mallet, and a file. They have not attained the art of polishing gold and silver, or of working gold in different colours. The goldsmith goes about with his tools, like the blacksmith. Sonnerat, Voy. hv. iii. chap. viii. The workmen in gold and silver are frequently only little boys, who sit every day in the bazaar or market waiting till they are called, when they go to your house, with their implements in a little basket, consisting of a very small anvil, a hammer, a pair of bellows, a few files, and a pair of pincers; a chaffing dish, or pan of embers, is then given to him with a model of what is to be made, and the material. He then sets about his work in the open air, and performs it with dispatch and ingenuity. Other tradesmen go to your home in the same manner, the shoemaker and tailor. Stavorinus, Voy. p. 412. It is remarkable how exactly this description of the state of the arts among the Hindus tallies with that among the Persians. Chardin informs us that every where in Persia, the artisans of all descriptions go to work in the houses of those who employ them—that they perform their work with the poorest apparatus, and, comparing the tools with the work, to a surprising degree of perfection. Chardin, Voy. en Perse, iii. 98.
Forster’s Travels, i. 80.
Bartolomeo’s Travels, book i. chap. vii.
Rennel’s Memoir, p. xxii.
Sonnerat, Voy. liv. iii. ch. viii.
Hodges’ Travels in India. Mr. Hodges says, “I am concerned I cannot pay so high a compliment to the art of sculpture among the Hindoos as is usually paid by many ingenious authors who write on the religion of Bramah. Considering these works, as I do, with the eyes of an artist, they are only to be paralleled with the rude essays of the ingenious Indians, I have met with in Otaheite, and on other islands in the South Seas:” p. 26. He adds in the next page, that in point of carving, that is, the mere mechanical part, the ornaments in the Hindu temples are often beautiful. In another passage, too, p. 151, he speaks again of the same mechanical nicety, the peculiar sharpness of the cut in Hindu carvings. See to the same purpose, Tennant’s Indian Recr. i. 299.
Buchanan, Journey through Mysore, &c. iii. 391.
Clavigero, Hist. Mex. book vii. sect. 50. He adds, “The works of gold and silver sent in presents from the conqueror Cortez to Charles V. filled the goldsmiths of Europe with astonishment, who, as several authors of that period attest, declared that they were altogether inimitable. The Mexican founders made, both of gold and silver, the most perfect images of natural bodies. They made a fish in this manner, which had its scales, alternately, the one of silver and the other of gold, a parrot with a moveable head, tongue, and wings, and an ape with a moveable head and feet, having a spindle in its hand in the attitude of spinning.” Ibid. Garcilasso tells us, “that the Peruvians framed many figures of men and women, of birds of the air, and fishes of the sea; likewise of fierce animals, such as tigers, lions and bears, foxes, dogs, cats; in short, all creatures whatsoever known amongst them, they cast and moulded into true and natural figures of the same shape and form of those creatures which they represented. They counterfeited the plants and wall-flowers so well, that being on the walls they seemed to be natural; the creatures which were shaped on the walls, such as lizards, butterflies, snakes, and serpents, some crawling up and some down, were so artificially done, that they seemed natural, and wanted nothing but motion.” (Book vi. Chap. i.)
Tennant’s Ind. Rec. i. 299.
Dr. Tennant, at the place cited above, supports his own authority, by quoting the following passage of Sonnerat: “La peinture chez les Indiens est, et sera toujours, dans l’enfance; ils trouvent admirable un tableau chargé de rouge et de bleu, et dont les personages sont vêtus d’or. Ils n’entendent point le clair obscur, n’arrondissent jamais les objets, et ne savent pas les mettre en perspective; en un mot, leurs meilleures peintures ne sont que de mauvaises enlumineures.” (Voyages aux Indes, i. 99.) The Indian pictures, says Mandelsloe, are more remarkable for their diversity of colours, than any exactness of proportion. Harris’ Collect. of Voy. i. How exactly does this correspond with the description which Chardin gives us of the state of the same art among the Persians? En Perse les arts, tant liberaux que mechaniques, sont en general prêsque tous rudes et bruts, en comparaison de la perfection ou l’Europe les a portés...... Ils entendent for mal le dessein, ne sachant rien faire au naturel; et ils n’ont aucune connoissance de la perspective....... Pour ce que de la platte-peinture, il est vrai que es visages qu’ils representent sont assez ressemblans; ils les tirent d’ordinaire de profil, parce que ce sont ceux qu’ils font le plus aisément; ils les font aussi de trois quarts: mais pour les visages en plain ou de front, ils y reussissent fort mal, n’entendant pas à y donner les ombres. Ils ne sauroient former une attitude et une posture............. Leur pinceau est fin et delicat, et leur peinture vive et eclatante. Il faut attribuer à l’air du pays la beauté des couleurs. Voy, en Perse, iii. 284. La peinture est encore au berceau: les Persans n’ont fait aucun progrès dans cet art...... En general, leur manière de faire ressemble un peu à celle des Chinois: leur dessin est tres incorrect; ils ne connaissent pas la perspective: ils ne savent pas employer les ombres...... Cependant on voit sortir de leurs mains des ouvrages assez jolis; ils peignent assez bien les fleurs et les oiseaux de fantaisie; ils reussissent dans les arabesques; ils emploient tres bien l’or; ils font de tres beaux vernix..........Les couleurs que les Persans emploient, et qu’ils font eux-mêmes, ont tout l’éclat, toute la solidité, qu’on peut desirer. Ce sont eux qui nous ont fait connaître l’outremir. (Olivier, Voyage, v. 301.) It is remarkable to find the state of the fine arts in China so exactly the same. “Quoique les Chinois ayent une passion extraordinaire pour tous les ouvrages de peinture, et que leurs temples en soient ornez, on ne peut rien voire neanmoins de plus borné et de moins regulier. Ils ne scavent point menager les ombres d’un tableau, ni meler ou adoucir les couleurs........Ils ne sont pas plus heureux dans a sculpture, et ils n’y observent ni ordre, ni proportions. (Le Gentil. Voyage, ii. 111.) The painting of the Mexicans seems to have had the same perfections and imperfections with that of these eastern nations. The colours, Robertson (iii. 278) informs us, were remarkably bright, but laid on without any art, and without any regard to light and shade, or the rules of perspective. Clavigero, though the skill of the Mexicans in painting is not one of the points for which he most highly admires them, says, “We have seen, among the ancient paintings, many portraits of the kings of Mexico, in which, besides the singular beauty of the colours, the proportions were most accurately observed.” (Hist. Mex. book vii. sect. 49.) “Les Mexicains,” says Humboldt, “ont conservé un goῦt particulier pour la peinture et pour l’art de sculpter en pierre et en bois. On est étonné de voir ce qu’ils executent avec un mauvais couteau, et sur les bois les plus durs...... Ils montrent beaucoup d’aptitude pour l’exercise des arts d’imitation; ils en deploient une plus grande encore pour les arts purement mecaniques. Cette aptitude deviendra un jour tres precieuse, &c.” Humboldt, Essai Politique sur le Royaume de la Nouvelle Espagne, p. 9.
Indian Rec. i. 300.—Ces peuples n’ont aucune idee des accords. Leur chant commence par un bourdonnement sourd et fort has, apres lequel ils eclatent. Anquetil Duperron, Voyage aux Indes Orientales, Zendavesta, i. xxvi. Even Sonnerat himself informs us, that their music is bad, and their songs destitute of harmony. Voyages aux Indes, liv. iii. chap. viii.
Motte’s Journey to Orissa, (Asiat. An. Regist. i. Miscellaneous Tracts, p. 77.) “Their ideas of music, if we may judge from their practice, are barbarous.” Orme’s Hist. Milit. Trans. i. 3. The following passage from Garcilasso de la Vega is an important document in the history of music. It exhibits more nakedly the fact respecting its origin, than, perhaps, any other written monument; and it proves at the same time the power of expression which the art had attained. “In music,” says he, “the Peruvians arrived to a certain harmony in which the Indians of Colla did more particularly excel, having been the inventors of a certain pipe made of canes glued together, every one of which having a different note of higher and lower, in the manner of organs, made a pleasing music by the dissonancy of sounds, the treble tenor, and basse, exactly corresponding, and answering to each other; with these pipes they often played in concert.... They had also other pipes, which were flutes with four or five stops, like the pipes of shepherds; with these they played not in concert, but singly, and tuned them to sonnets, which they composed in metre, the subject of which was love, and the passions which arise from the favours or displeasures of a mistress..... Every song was set to its proper tune; for two songs of different subjects could not correspond with the same air, by reason that the music which the gallant made on his flute was designed to express the satisfaction or discontent of his mind, which were not so intelligible, perhaps by the words, as by the melancholy or cheerfulness of the tune which he played. A certain Spaniard, one night late, encountered an Indian woman in the streets of Cozco, and would have brought her back to his lodgings; but she cried out, ‘For God’s sake, sir, let me go, for that pipe which you hear in yonder tower calls me with great passion, and I cannot refuse the summons; for love constrains me to go, that I may be his wife, and he my husband.’ The songs which they composed of their wars, and grand achievements, were never set to the airs of their flute, being too grave and serious be intermixed with the pleasures and softness of love; for these were only sung at their principal festivals when they commemorated their victories and triumphs.” Royal Comment. book ii. ch. xiv. “The accounts of twenty-two centuries ago represent the Indians as a people who stood very high in point of civilization: but to judge from their ancient monuments, they had not carried the imitative arts to any thing like the degree of perfection attained by the Greeks and Romans; or even by the Egyptians. Both the Hindoos and the Chinese appear to have carried the arts just to the point requisite for useful purposes; but never to have approached the summit of perfection, as it respects taste or boldness of design.” Rennel’s Memoir, Introd. p. xxii. Our latest informants are the most intelligent. Mr. Ward (Introd. p. lxii.) assures us, “whatever may have been the case in other countries, idolatry in this has certainly not contributed to carry the arts of painting or sculpture to any perfection. The Abbé Dubois (p. 463) observes, “that the ornamental arts, such as painting, instrumental music, and the like, are extremely low in estimation. Hardly any but the low tribe of the Mushiers exercise the first of these; and music is nearly confined to the barbers and Pariahs; instrumental music wholly so. The small encouragement these two arts receive is, no doubt, owing to the little progress they have made. In painting, nothing can be seen but mere daubing, set off with bright colours and extravagant glare. And though all Hindus are great lovers of music, introducing it into all their civil and religious ceremonies, yet I can vouch that it is still in its infancy.”
Royal Comment. part ii. book ii. chap. xxx. Frezier (Voyage to the South Sea, p. 263) says of the same people, “They have a genius for arts, and are good at imitating what they see, but very poor at invention.”
See the Discourse, Asiatic Researches, i. 429. “Invented apologues!” as well might he tell us they invented language. And the “decimal scale!“ as if they were the only nation that had ten fingers! or, as if most nations had not been led, by the simple and very natural process of counting by the fingers, to denominate and distinguish numbers by comparison with that sum! The Scandinavians, Mallet informs us, counted up the unities to twelve, and denominated higher numbers by comparison with twelve, which, he justly remarks, is preferable to ten, as being more divisible into fractions. Mallet, Introd. Hist. Denmark, vol. i. chap. xiii. The Swedes and Icelanders, as well as Scotch, retain a memorial of this in their great hundred. From Mr. Park we learn that some of the negro tribes in Africa counted only five, the number of fingers on one of the hands, and then doubled; thus, instead of six, they said five and one; seven, five and two, &c. Park’s Travels in Africa, p. 17.
Molina, Civil Hist. of Chili, book ii. chap. x. The Persians claim the invention of this game; and as their game is radically different from that of the Hindus, it is probable they are both inventions. See Chardin, Voy. en Perse, iii. 62. Gibbon, vii. 276, marks a fact in the narrative of Paul Diaconus, expressive of the manners of the Heruli: Dum ad tabulam luderet, while he played at draughts, says Gibbon; but he might as well have said chess; for the word as much expresses the one as the other: And we know that, among the Scandinavians, a game very closely resembling chess was known. The ancient chronicles of the Scandinavians frequently present us with young warrions endeavouring to acquire the good opinion of their mistresses by boasting of their accomplishments, such as their skill at chess, their dexterity in swimming and skating, their talents in poetry, and their knowing all the stars by their names. Mallet, Introd. Hist. Denmark, chap. xiii. Mr. Barrow informs us that the chess of the Chinese is totally different from that both of the Hindus and Persians. Travels in China, p. 158. It has been therefore probably, in each of those cases, a separate invention. The idea that chess was invented by the Hindus was, we believe, first started by Hyde (de Relig. Vet. Pers. ii. 1.), and thereafter it has been taken for granted. The curious reader may see an interesting description of a game at chess by four Brahmens, in Moor’s Hist. of Capt. Little’s Detachment, p. 139. That there are books in India containing the doctrine of chess proves nothing. There are books in Ice-landic, on the art of poetry, but the Icelanders were not the inventors of poetry.
“Buchanan’s Journey through Mysore, &c. iii. 370. Dr. Tennant says; “Before the arrival of the Europeans, there was not a house in all India furnished with glass windows; even at present, when glass is so common here, I believe none of the natives have availed themselves of so obvious a remedy. Glass is considered by the Europeans as an indispensable requisite in the construction of every Bungalow at the upper stations: they have even introduced the use of it into the camp. Several officers carry, on their march, a frame of glass, which they fix in the windward door of their tents, during the hot winds, should the service call them into the field at that season.” Indian Recreations, i. 325. See, too, Voyage aux Indes, par le P. Paulini, ii. 403, 404. The Jews first discovered the art of making glass. Taciti Hist. lib. v. cap. vii.; Plin. lib. v. cap. xix; also lib. xxxvi. cap. xxvi.; Strabo, lib. xvi.; Josephus, Wars of the Jews, ii. 19. The Hindus seem to be considerably behind the perfection which the Japanese have attained in the useful arts. “As to all sorts of handicrafts,” says Kæmpfer, “either curious or useful, they are so far from having occasion for masters, that they rather exceed all other nations in ingenuity and neatness of workmanship, particularly in brass, gold, silver, copper. What skill they have in working and tempering of iron, is evident by the goodness and neatness of their arms. No nation in the East is so dextrous and ingenious, in making, carving, graving, gilding of servaas, which is a particular kind of a precious, blackish metal, made artificially of a mixture of copper with a little gold. They weave silken stuff so fine, so neat and equal, that they are inimitable even to the Chinese.” Kæmpfer, Hist. of Japan, Appendix, p. 62.
Works of Sir W. Jones, Discourse on the Chinese.