Page images
PDF
EPUB

por el aguja, que les ès medianera entre la piedra è la estrella, è les muestra por

do

vayan, tambien en los malos tiempos, como en los buenos--otro si, los que han de anconsejar al Rey deben siempre guiar por la justicia. —And as mariners guide themselves in the dark night by the needle, which is the medium (medianera) between the magnet and the star, in like manner ought those who have to counsel the king always to guide themselves by justice.'

Now it is obvious that the monarch would not have availed himself of the happy comparison of the office of a faithful counsellor to the magnetic needle, if that instrument had not been generally in use, at the period when he wrote; but how long before that period it had been known, and applied to the purposes of navigation, it may be difficult, perhaps impossible, to ascertain. There were in those times no philosophical journals, no literary gazettes, no reviews to communicate such intelligence to the world; and we are indebted for the little information which has come down to us, to incidental notices by authors not writing expressly on the subject. Thus Guyot de Provins, who is supposed to have lived about the year 1180, evidently alludes to the magnetic needle in the following

verses:

• Mais celle estoile ne se muet,
Un art font, que mentir ne puet,
Par la vertu de la mariniere,
Une pierre laide et bruniere,
Ou li fers volontiers se joint,
Ont si esgardent le droite point,
Puis qu'une aguille ont touchié,
Et en un festu l'ont couchie
En l'eue le mettent, sans plus,
Et le festus la tienneut desus :
Puis se tourne la pointe toute,

Contre le estoile,' &c. Jacobus Vitriacus, bishop of Ptolemais, who died at Rome in 1244, and who composed his Historia Orientalis between 1220 and 1230, after his return from the Holy land, says,— Valde necessarius est acus navigantibus in mari.' He had himself made more than one voyage by sea. And Vicentio of Beauvais (Vicentius Bellovacius) observes, in his Speculum Doctrinale, Cum enim vias suas ad portum dirigere nesciunt, cacumen acus ad adamantem lapidem fricatum; per transversum in festuca parva infigunt, et vasi pleno aquæ immittunt.' Bellovacius died in 1266; how long before his death the above was written we know not. In another passage he seems to hint that the Arabians were the inventors; but this is very improbable: had they possessed the compass when they traded so largely to China in the ninth and succeeding centuries,

they

they would not (as they did) have crept along the shores of the bay of Bengal, of Cambodia, and Cochin-china; besides, the name they gave to it (el bossolo) leaves little doubt of the source from which it was derived. The route pursued by Marco Polo from the head of the Yellow Sea to the Persian Gulph affords a strong argument against any knowledge of the compass by the Chinese in the thirteenth century; to say nothing of his silence concerning this wonderful instrument, while be so minutely and accurately describes the four-masted vessels on which he and his retinue embarked.

Many other authorities might be quoted to shew that the maguetic needle was in common use among the mariners of Europe before the middle of the thirteenth century. It was indeed then a rude and simple instrument, being only an iron needle magnetized, and stuck into a bit of wood, floating in a vessel of water; in which inartificial and inconvenient form it seems to have remained till about the beginning of the fourteenth century, when Flavio Gioia, of Amalphi, made the great improvement of suspending the needle on a centre, and enclosing it in a box. The advantages of this were so great, that it was universally adopted, and the instrument in its old and simple form laid aside and forgotten : hence Gioia, in aftertimes, came to be considered as the inventor of the mariner's compass, of which he was only the improver. The Biographia Britannica mistakes the period of Gioia's death for that of his birth; he lived in the reign of Charles of Anjou, who died king of Naples in 1509. It was in compliment to this sovereign (for Amalphi is in the dominions of Naples) that Gioia distinguished the north point by a fleur-de-lis. This was one of the circumstances by which the French, in later days, endeavoured to prove that the mariner's compass was a French discovery: but to what discoveries will not our ingenious and ambitious neighbours lay claim, after their late attempts to appropriate that of the steamengine, and still more recently that of Mr. Seppings's most important improvement in the construction of ships of war!

That Marco Polo would have mentioned the mariner's compass, if it had been in use in China, we think highly probable; and his silence respecting gunpowder may be considered as at least a negative proof that this also was unknown to the Chinese in the time of Kublai-khan. Be this as it may, there is positive proof that the use of cunnon was unknown, otherwise our travellers would not have been employed by the emperor to construct machines to batter the walls of Sa-Yan-Fu. (p. 489.). There is nothing in the history of these people, nor in their · Dictionary of Arts and Sciences,' that bears any allusion to their knowledge of cannon before the invasion, of Gengis Khan, when in the year 1219) mention is made of ho-pao, or fire-tubes, the present name of cannon, which are said to kill men and to set fire to inflammable substances; they are said

too

VOL. XXI. NO, XLI.

N

too to have been used by the Tartars, not by the Chinese, and were probably nothing more than the enormous rockets known in India at the period of the Mahommedan invasion. It is clear that Roger Bacon, who died in 1294, was acquainted with the composition, and even with some of the effects of gunpowder, for it is recorded in those of his works which have come down to us. It would, however, be difficult to connect his discovery with the application of it to the purpose of war, by a people apparently unacquainted with the labours of the English friar. The Moors, or Arabs, in Spain, appear to have used gunpowder and cannon as early as 1912. In the Cronica de España by Abu Abdalla, it is said that, el Rey de Granada, Abul-Walid, llevo consigo al sitio de Baza una gruessa máquina, que, cargada con mixtos de azufre, y dandole fuego, despedia con estuendo globos contra el Alcazar de aquella ciudad.' And in 1331 when the king of Granada laid siege to Alicant, he battered its walls with iron bullets, discharged by fire from machines: this novel mode of warfare, adds the annalist, inspired great terror,-- y puso en aquel tiempo grande terror una nueva invencion de combate, que, entre las otras máquinas que el Rey de Granada tenia para combatir los muros, llevava pellotas de hierro que se lanzaban con fuego.'*

It is stated in the Cronica de Don Alonzo el Onceno, cap. 273, that when Alonzo XI. king of Castile, besieged Algeziras in 1342-3, the Moorish garrison, in defending the place lanzaban muchos truenos contra la hueste en que lanzaban pellas de fierro muy grandes.' That the truenos (literally thunders) were a species of cannou, and fired with powder, is clear from the following passage in the same Chronicle,– Los Moros que estaban en su hueste cerca de Gibraltar, des que oyeron el ruido de los truenos, e vieron las afumadas que facian en Algecira, cuidaron que los Cristianos combatian la ciudad.' Mariana mentions the circumstance of the inhabitants defending themselves by 'tiros con polvora que lanzaban piedras;' and adds that this was the first instance he had found of any mention of the use of such arms.'-vol. vi. p. 54. The celebrated battle of Crecy was fought by Edward III. in 1346; and Hume, on the authority of Villani, says that the English had cannon, but not the French; it is, however, worthy of remark that, although Villani was a contemporary, yet he composed his history in Italy, and therefore could only speak from hearsay ; whereas Froissart, also a contemporary, residing in France, and almost an eye-witness, makes no mention of cannon, although he describes the battle very particularly; and Thomas of Walsingham, who wrote more than three centuries before Hument and who not only gives a very detailed ac

* Zurita, Aun. de Aragon, t. ii. lib. 7. cap. 15. f. 99. v. + Ypodigma Neustriæ.

count

count of the battle, but even specifies by name the arms and weapons used by the English-gladios, lanceas, secures, et sagittas makes not the slightest mention of the bombarde, nor of the pallotole di ferro che suettaruno.* The French were beaten by the English as completely at Crecy as they were at Waterloo, and their national vanity might have spread the report of the English owing their victory to the advantage of cannon, with as little foundation in fact, as they ascribed their defeat at Waterloo to the entrenchments and fortifications of Mont St. Jean.

In vindicating our traveller from the charge of not mentioning what did not exist in China when he was there, we have been tempted to lay before the public some facts, which, though probably known to those who are much read in the early literature of Spain, may yet be new to such of our readers as are not familiar with that noble language, or have not access to the sources from which we have drawn our information.t For this we look to their usual indulgence, though we feel at the same time that au apology is necessary for the digression to which it has led us.

To return to our traveller. With all the apparent improbabilities, defects, and inconsistencies of the narrative there is still enough in it to convince the most sceptical of its general accuracy; while the numerous descriptions and incidents afford, as Mr. Marsden justly observes, unobtrusive proofs of genuineness; among others may be enumerated, the state in which the bodies of persons destroyed by the hot wind of the desert are found—the manufacture of inebriating liquor from the infusion of dates—the tradition prevailing in Budakshan, of the descent of its princes from Alexander of Macedon—the gigantic figures of idols in a recumbent posture -the description of the bos grunniens, or yak of Tartary—the figures of dragons in Kataian or Chinese ornament—the periodical residence of the emperors in Tartary during the summer months — the commencement of the Kataian year in February—the ceremony of prostration before the emperor or his tablet by word of command—the ascent to the top of Adam's Peak, in Ceylon, being effected by the assistance of iron chains—the burning of coal, beforementioned, and a great variety of other matters utterly unknown at the time, but which have since been found to be perfectly correct. These indeed are now familiar to most readers : but all the other subjects of which the author treats, and which are not so generally known, are elucidated and explained by the erudition and research of Mr. Marsden; who has added, by his edition of Marco Polo, another treasure to the stock of oriental literature worthy of his distinguished reputation as a linguist and a geographer, and highly meriting a place on the shelf of every library, public and private.

* Villani, tom. ii. lib. 12. p. 280.
† Campany, Quest. Crit.
N 2

ART.

ART. X.-1. The Case stated between the Public Libraries and

the Booksellers. 2. Address to the Parliament of Greut Britain, on the Claims of

Authors to their own Copyright. By a Member of the Uni

versity of Cambridge (Richard Duppa, Esq. LL.B.) 3. Reasons for a further Amendment of the Act 54 Geo. III. .

c. 156. being an Act to amend the Copyright Act of Queen

Anne. By Sir Egerton Brydges, Bart. M. P. 1817. 4. A summary Statement of the great Grievances imposed on

Authors and Publishers, and the Injury done to Literature, by

the late Copyright Act. By Sir Egerton Brydges, Bart. M.P. 5. A Vindication of the pending Bill for the Amendment of the

Copyright Act, from ihe Misrepresentations und unjust Comments of the Syndics of the University Library at Cambridge.

By Sir Egerton Brydges, Bart. M.P. 0. A l'indication of the Right of the Universities of the United

Kingdom to a Copy of every new Publication. By Edward Christian, of Gray's Inn, Esq. Barrister at Law, Professor of the Laws of England in the University of Cambridge, and Chief

Justice of the Isle of Ely. 1818. 7. Inquiries and Observations respecting the University Librury.

By Basil Montagu, Esq. A.M. 8. Inquiries concerning the proposed Alteration of the Law of

Copyright, as it affects Authors and the Universities. By Basil

Montagu, Esq. THERE existed no law for the delivery of books to certain

public libraries till the second year after the Restoration, when such an enactment grew out of a law passed for restraining the press. By that law, no person was permitted to print any book till it had been previously licensed. Law-books were to be inspected by the Chancellor, or Chief Justice, or Chief Baron; books on history or state-affairs, by the Secretary of State; books ou heraldry, by the Earl Marshal; and the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Bishop of London, was to examine all works in divinity, physic, philosophy, science, or art! The act proceeded to reduce and limit the number of printing-presses: no man, from that time, might become a master-printer till those who then existed should have been reduced to twenty; and the master letter-founders were to be four. Both master-printers and letter-founders were to be nominated and allowed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Londou; and no man might keep two presses unless he had been master of the Stationers' Company. Messengers were authorized, by warrants from the king, the secretary of state, or the master and wardens of the Stationers' Company, to enter at what time they should

« PreviousContinue »