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America in Plato, give the honour of it to the Carthagenians, and quote this anecdote from a book of Aristotle which he never wrote.
Hornius pretends to discover some conformity between the Hebrew language and that of the Caribs. Father Lafiteau, the jesuit, has not failed to follow up so fine an opening. The Mexicans, when greatly afflicted, tore their garments; certain people of Asia formerly did the same, and of course they are the ancestors of the Mexicans. It might be added, that the natives of Languedoc are very fond of dancing; and that as in their rejoicings the Hurons dance also, the Languedocians are descended from the Hurons, or the Hurons from the Languedocians.
The authors of a tremendous Universal History, pretend that all the Americans are descended from the Tartars. They assure us that this opinion is general among the learned, but they do not say whether it is so among the learned who reflect. According to them, some descendents of Noah could find nothing better to do, than to go and settle in the delicious country of Kamtschatka, in the north of Siberia.
This family being destitute of occupation, resolved to visit Canada either by means of ships, or by marching pleasantly across some slip of connecting land, which has not been discovered in our own times. They then began to busy themselves in propagation, until the fine country of Canada soon becoming inadequate to the support of so numerous a population, they went to people Mexico, Peru, Chili; while certain of their great grand-daughters were in due time brought to bed of giants in the Straits of Magellan.
As ferocious animals are found in some of the warm countries of America, these authors pretend, that the Christopher Columbuses of Kamtschatka took them into Canada for their amusement, and carefully confined themselves to those kinds which are no longer to be found in the ancient hemisphere.
But the Kamtschatkans have not alone peopled the new world; they have been charitably assisted by the Mantchou Tartars, by the Huns, by the Chinese, and by the inhabitants of Japan.
The Mantehou Tartars are incontestably the ancestors of the Peruvians, for Mango Capac was the first inca of Peru. Mango resmbles Manco; Manco sounds like Mancu: Mancu approaches Mantchu, and Mantchou is very close to the latter. Nothing can be better demonstrated.
As for the Huns, they built in Hungary a town called Cunadi. Now, changing Cu into Ca, we have Canadi, from which Canada manifestly derives its
A plant resembling the Ginseng of the Chinese, grows in Canada, which the Chinese transplanted into the latter even before they were masters of the part of Tartary where it is indigenous. Moreover, the Chinese are such great navigators, they formerly sent fleets to America without maintaining the least correspondence with their colonies.
With respect to the Japanese, they are the nearest neighbours of America, which, as they are distant only about twelve hundred leagues, they have doubtless visited in their time, although latterly they have neglected repeating the voyage.
Thus is history written in our own days. What shall we say to these, and many other systems which resemble them? Nothing.
Of all those who boast of having leagues with the devil, to the possessed alone it is of no use to reply. If a man says to you, “ I am possessed,” you
should believe it on his word. They are not obliged to do very extraordinary things; and when they do them, it is more than can fairly be demanded. What can we answer to a man who rolls his eyes, twists his mouth, and tells
that he has the devil within him? Every one feels what he feels; and as the world was formerly full of possessed persons, we may still meet with them. If they take measures to conquer the world, we give them property and they become more moderate; but for a poor demoniac, who is content with a few convulsions and does no harm to any one, it is not right to make him injurious. If you dispute with him, you will infallibly have the worst of it." He will tell you, “ The devil entered me to-day under such a form; from that time I have had a supernatural colic, which all the apothecaries in the world cannot assuage.” There is certainly no other part to be taken with this man than to exorcise or abandon him to the devil.
It is a great pity that there are no longer possessed magicians or astrologers. We can conceive the cause of all these mysteries. An hundred years ago all the nobility then lived in their castles; the winter evenings are long, and they would have died of ennui without these noble amusements. There was scarcely a castle which a fairy did not visit on certain marked days, like the fairy Melusina at the castle of Lusignan. The great huntsman, a tall black man, hunted with a pack of black dogs in the forest of Fontainbleau. The devil twisted marshal Fabert's neck. Every village had its sorcerer or sorceress; every prince had his astrologer; all the ladies had their fortunes told; the possessed ran about the fields; it was who had seen the devil or could see him ; all these things were inexhaustible subjects of conversation which kept minds in exercise. In the present day we insipidly play at cards, and we have lost by being undeceived.
FORMERLY, if you had one friend at Constantinople and another at Moscow, you would have been obliged to wait for their return before you could obtain any intelligence concerning them. At present, without either of you leaving your apartments, you may familiarly converse through the medium of a sheet of paper. You may even dispatch to them by the post, one of Arnault's sovereign remedies for apoplexy, which would be received much more infalliby, probably, than it would cure. one of
your friends has occasion for a supply of money at Petersburgh, and the other at Smyrna;.
the post will completely and rapidly effect your busi
Your mistress is at Bordeaux, while you are with your regiment before Prague; she gives you regular accounts of the constancy of her affections; you know from her all the news of the city, except her own infidelities.
In short, the post is the grand connecting link of all transactions, of all negociations. Those who are absent, by its means become present; it is the consolation of life.
France, where this beautiful invention was revived, even in our period of barbarism, has hereby conferred the most important service on all Europe. She has also never in any instance herself marred and tainted so valuable a benefit; and never has any minister who superintended the department of the post opened the letters of any individual, except when it was absolutely necessary that he should know their contents.* It is not thus, we are told, in other countries. It is asserted, that in Germany private letters, passing through the territories of five or six different governments, have been read just the same number of times, and that at last the seal has been so nearly destroyed, that it became necessary to substitute a new one.
Mr. Craggs, secretary of state in England, would never permit any person in his office to open private letters; he said that to do so was a breach of public faith, and that no man ought to possess himself of a secret that was not voluntarily confided to him; that it is often a greater crime to steal a man's thoughts than his gold; and that such treachery is proportionally more disgraceful, as it may be committed without danger, and without even the possibility of conviction.
To bewilder the eagerness of curiosity and defeat the vigilance of malice, a method was at first invented of writing a part of the contents of letters in cyphers; but the part written in the ordinary hand in this case
* This we apprehend is speaking by the card. Heaven defend us from the honour of the French post.-T.
sometimes served as a key to the rest. This inconvenience led to perfecting the art of cyphers, which is called stenography.'
Against these enigmatical productions was brought the art of decyphering; but this art was exceedingly defective and inefficient. The only advantage derived from it was exciting the belief in weak and ill-informed minds, that their letters had been decyphered, and all the pleasure it afforded consisted in giving such persons pain. According to the law of probabilities, in a wellconstructed cypher there would be two, three, or even four hundred chances against one, that in each mark the decipherer would not discover the syllable of which it was the representative.
The number of chances increases in proportion to the complication of the cyphers; and decyphering is utterly impossible when the system is arranged with any ingenuity.
Those who boast that they can decypher a letter, without being at all acquainted with the subject of which it treats, and without any preliminary assistance, are greater charlatans than those who boast, if any such are to be found, of understanding a language which they never learned.
With respect to those who in a free and easy way send you by post a tragedy, in good round hand, with blank' leaves, on which you are requested kindly to make your
observations, or who in the same way regale you with a first volume of metaphysical researches, to be speedily followed by a second, we may just whisper in their ear, that a little more discretion would do no harm, and even that there are some countries where they would run some risk by thus informing the administration of the day, that there are such things in the world as bad poets and bad metaphysicians.
POWER-OMNIPOTENCE. I PRESUME every reader of this article to be convinced that the world is formed with intelligence, and that a slight knowledge of astronomy and anatomy is