Page images

the original proposition with which I set out, viz. that a colony of priests, professing the Brahmin religion, and educated in the great school of Babylon, actually emigrated, in the most early period, from Asia, with the Japhetic tribes who established themselves in Europe. To state precisely the exact æra of that migration is impossible at this distance of time; but, from the evident mixture of the leading principles and peculiar rites of the Sabian idolatry with those of the pure patriarchal theology, it must have happened after the period in which Belus and his descendants, the great corruptors of the Noachic system of faith, had introduced those idolatries among their subjects of the Greater Asia.

The Indians, at that time, formed a distinguished part of the Persian empire; for we have seen that their first dynasty, commencing under an iniquitous prince, named Bali, destroyed by the bursting of a marble pillar at the very moment he was blaspheming his Maker, sate on the throne of Persia before the whole nation crossed the Indus, never to return. This general migration probably took place immediately after that fatal event, which so forcibly points to us, under the veil of Eastern mythology, the destruction of Babel, and the consequent dispersion. The Hebrew chronology places the dispersion, or, at least, the birth of Peleg, (at which period the Scriptures assert that event to have taken place,) in the 101st year after the flood; but, as that period seems too early in postdiluvian annals for so great an increase of the human species to have taken place, as must be supposed on the hypothesis of a vast empire formed, and Asia overflowing with numbers, and as we may without impiety embrace a system of chronology less perplexing to that hy pothesis, so many learned men have adopted the Samaritan chronoLogy, which computes that event to have taken place about the 400th year after the flood. By this rational mode of computation, a variety of difficulties, otherwise scarcely surmountable, are got over. The remembrance of the grand dissolution might by that time have grown more faint in their minds, and their horrors so far abated, that they may, with less outrage to probability, be supposed capable of erecting a tower to brave the power of the Deity, who, in his wrath, had deluged the former guilty world; and the earth itself, by the powerful action of the sun and winds during this extended interval, better prepared in every region to receive the swarming multitudes that were now descending from the overcharged plains of Shinar and all the mountainous regions of Asia to the abodes destined for them by Providence. In adopting this, which appears to me the more plausible system, I would by no means be understood to intimate that no partial migration towards the countries nearer the castern limits of the world, previously to the grand dispersion, might have taken place: on the contrary, I am very much inclined to believe that Noah himself, who lived 350 years after the flood, attended by the more virtuous of his descendants, disgusted with the increasing idolatries of Shinar, did actually retire from that polluted plain, and lay the foundation of the great empires of India and China, as contended for by Raleigh and Shuckford; though their hypothesis of the ark, resting on the Indian Caucasus, cannot, consistently with the sacred writings, be maintained

D 4

[ocr errors]

maintained. One of my principal inducements for this belief is, that the pious patriarch is by this means removed from all participation in the counsels of that nefarious race, who, after the signal deliverance of their great ancestor from a watery grave, dared, by that erection of Babel, so atrociously to insult the power and providence of the Most High. But this subject, and others connected with it, will be hereafter discussed more at large in their proper place, the Indian History; and are here only noticed as preparatory to future stric tures in this volume on the Institutes of Menu, which, in the main, may be considered as the work of that primæval legislator.

The sum, therefore, of the preceding remarks is, that the great outlines of the Brahmin creed of faith, consisting of an heterogeneous mixture of the principles of the true and false religion, were formed in the school of Chaldæa before they left Shinar: that after the dispersion, pursuing the decrees of Providence in the peopling of the world, they migrated from Persia, and the country in its neighbourhood, to regions still nearer the rising sun; bearing with them, across the Indus, the new-formed code of religious and political laws, afterwards enlarged, purified, and accommodated to their situ ation in a different region; a region in which innumerable ablutions and other local superstitions were indispensable: that they were still divided into many sects bearing the name of Brahma, Veeshnu, Seeva, and Buddha; and that Thibet, the highest and most northern region of India, was peopled with Brahmins of the sect of the lastmentioned holy personage, who appears from indubitable evidence to be the Mercury of the west: that these priests spread themselves widely through the northern regions of Asia, even to Siberia itself; and, gradually mingling with the great body of the Celtic tribes who pur sued their journey to the extremity of Europe, finally established the Druid, that is, Brahmin, system of superstition in ancient Britain.

This, I contend, was the first Oriental colony settled in these islands. In the course of ages, their extensive commerce led hither Phœnician colonies in quest of that tin which they exchanged for the fine linen and rich gems of India. The Phoenicians, whose ancestors were educated in the same original school with the Brahmins, suffered not the ardour of Asiatic superstition to subside, but engrafted upon it the worship of the Tyrian Hercules, and other rites of that ancient nation. How astonishingly great that commerce was, and of what nature those rites were, are points which will be amply discussed in the Dissertation that follows.'

In the second dissertation, Mr. Maurice sets himself to prove that the Tyrian Hercules is probably the same personage with the Indian Belus; and who first, according to the antients, ex- . plored the British islands for tin; and hence the name of Belerium was given to the western extremity of Cornwall.Here the writer takes a general retrospective survey of the sciences and commerce of the Phoenicians, of their trade to Spain, and of the vast riches obtained from mines in that country; of their communication thence to the British islands; with an


account of the tin-mines of Cornwall and the tin trade, during - those most antient periods.-This we shall copy entire, as one of the best written portions of the work:

This valuable article of commerce owes its name to an Oriental word intended to denote the appearance which it bore to those Asiatic traders who first explored for tin the mines of the Cassiterides and Cornwall: for, when brought in its crude state from those mines, it is of a dark colour, and, when washed, resembles slime or mud. Pliny and other ancient naturalists denominate it plumbum album, white lead, and, in truth, lead and silver are said by the chemist to enter largely into the composition of this ore. We read of no other country that anciently produced tin, at least, in such abundance and purity as the British isles, nor of any people who extensively traded in it, except the Phoenicians; and that trade must have commenced early indeed, since it is enumerated among other metals that passed through the purifying fire in the Pentateuch of Moses *, which cannot be dated less than 1400 years before Christ. It is also mentioned by Homer t, who had too accurate a knowledge of the progressive improvement of mankind in arts and sciences to assign any discoveries to an improper age. But, when those mines are well examined, they exhibit internal testimony of the remote, I had almost said the incalculable, period at which they have been wrought; for, in digging to the depth of fifty fathoms, the miners frequently meet with large timbers still entire. These are vulgarly supposed to have been deposited there by the waters of the deluge: but that idea tends to violate M. de Luc's rational hypothesis, which supposes that deluge to have been effected by the sinking down of the antient continents; and, without going quite so far back in the annals of time, we may reasonably enough conclude them to have been left there by Phoenician workmen, the props and pillars of the exhausted mines, especially when we read, in the same author, that pick-axes, brass nails, and other utensils, are found, at the greatest depths, intermixed with those timbers 1.

Tin is in itself so beautiful a metal, forms such elegant domestic utensils, the most elegant next to silver, and in the various processes it undergoes by fire makes so considerable an ingredient in other ma nufactures, that the solicitude of all nations, and especially those ad. dicted to commerce, to obtain it is by no means to be wondered at, The great use indeed of tin and the preparations made from it in the various branches of trade and manufactures, particularly in painting, gilding, and pottery, as well as in the science of chemistry, and anciently in that of medicine, though, from its poisonous qualities, generally and justly rejected by the modern practitioner, is too well known to be here insisted on. The Tyrians themselves are supposed, by solutions of this metal, to have greatly enhanced and fixed the beautiful colour of their purple dye f, and our own manufactured broad-cloth is affirmed to owe its decided superiority in the markets

Numb. chap. xxxi. v. 22. + Homer's Il. lib. ii. v. 25.'
See Childrey's Natural Histoy, p. 8.'
See Pryce's Mineralogia Cornubiensis, p. 17.'


of Europe to its being dyed in the grain, as it is called, in liquids, where this metal has formed a principal ingredient.

There is a very clear and particular account given in the Philosophical Transactions of the method of obtaining and preparing this metal in the mines of Cornwall, which, though too full of technical phrases, known only on the spot, to be inserted at length, may yet be acceptable to the mercantile reader, in the abridgement which is here presented to him.

The ore is only to be obtained by the most elaborate exertions of the miner, The veins descend to very great depths, sometimes to the distance of sixty feet from the surface, and it is often found imbedded in rocks, scarcely penetrable by the tools of the workmen. It is also a labour of extreme hazard, from the arsenic with which tin is strongly impregnated; and sulphureous damps and malignant vapours, exhaled around him, often interrupt his progress through those regions of darkness and peril. Superstition has added to the terrors of the scene, for to use the express words of my author, "The labourers tell stories of sprights of small people, as they call them; and, that when the damp arises from the subterraneous vaults, they hear strange noises, horrid knockings, and fearful hammerings. These damps render many lame, and kill others outright, without any visible hurt upon them *."

The ore is differently denominated as it is found in its more pure or mixed state, That which is called boll is properly the mine-tin, as it is obtained from the load, or vein, and it is usually dug up in grains or chrystals of a black colour, the blacker the richer, and in lumps of various magnitude, Shodt-tin is that which is mixed with stony and earthy matter, found in masses of much larger size, and in the immediate vicinity of the vein. The stream-tin ore is a name given to particles of the mineral, broken off from the load, running through high mountainous regions, by the waters of the deluge (say the miners,) or by other impetuous floods, and carried by the violence of the stream into deep valleys at a great distance. There, collected into heaps, they have, in different places, formed strata of considerable depth and breadth, and lie intermixed with the gravel and clay which was torn away with them from their original bed. The fragments are found in the form of small pyramids, of various planes, and are of different sizes, from the bigness of a walnut to the finest sand, Of this sort, principally, well washed, stamped, and purified by repeated fusion, is made the finest grain tin, and its superiority to the metal dug from the mine arises from its being free from the mundic, and other mineral substances, which generally impregnate and contaminate the latter.


Having discussed the various kinds of this metal in its original state, we come to their mode of preparing, or, as the miners call it, dressing, the tin. When the ore is dug out and landed, and the larger masses are broken by men appointed to that duty, it is brought, on horses, to the stamping-mills; where, being placed in a great wooden

Dr. Morret on the Cornish mines, in Philosophical Transactions Abridged, vol. ii. p. 572.'


receiver, called the coffer, it is ground to small sand by massy iron weights, fastened to the ends of strong beams of timber. These timbers are called lifters, are made of heart of oak, eight or nine feet in length, and, being raised up and depressed by means of a waterwheel, are precipitated down with prodigious force on the matter to be pulverized. The ore, thus reduced to powder, is, by an ingenious process, particularly described in the paper referred to, washed out of the coffer into a long and deep trench, cut in the floor, called, the launder, stopped only with turf at one end, through which the water gradually ooses away, while the ore itself, purged of its impurities, subsides and settles at the bottom. The sand and gravelly particles, which, being lighter than the ore, remain uppermost, being removed, the ore is repeatedly washed and cleansed, and in the end is sent to the smelting, or, as with more propriety they term it, the burning house. There, being as repeatedly subjected to the fire to free it from the mundie and other foreign substances, still intimately adhering to the ore, and afterwards, passing through the more intense heat of the refining-fire, where all its remaining dross is skimmed off, the burning mass is poured into moulds, holding exactly three hundred and twenty pounds weight; and, being left to cool, it is, in that state, called block-tin. Before they are quite cold, the blocks are stamped with the house-mark of the smelters, a pelican, a plume of feathers, or some such device, in proof of the genuineness of the metal; they are then weighed, numbered, and sent to the nearest town that has the privilege of coining to be assayed, and to receive the farther impression of the dutchy seal, which bears a lion rampant, the arms of Richard Earl of Cornwall, without which impression it cannot be come an article of merchandize, domestic or foreign. This is called the coinage of the tin, and every one hundred weight of tin thus coined, by ancient usage, pays a duty of four shillings to the Duke, producing a vast, though of necessity a varying, income to the heirapparent of the British crown; an income, however, that must constantly increase, as new channels for the exportation of this useful article are discovered, or the old ones enlarged by the merchants of England, in their private or collective capacity; a circumstance which proves the obligation of the present illustrious possessor of its revenues, to the laudable exertions of the present enlightened Court of East-India Directors, to revive that important branch of ancient commerce with Asia.

The towns appointed for the coinage of tin were anciently only four in number, situated in those districts of the county which were considered most convenient for the tinners, by name Leskard, Lestwithiel, Truro, and Helston. The nearest of these, however, was found too far distant from the tinners on its western extremity; and, for their accommodation, Charles the Second added Penzance. To one or other of these places the tin is brought on the four great quarterly festivals of the year, and so great has the consumption increased, that though, when Carew wrote his volume, the total annual amount of the tin sold did not exceed 40,000l. it has of late years risen to near 200,000l.-Gough's new edition of Camden, p. io.

• The

« EelmineJätka »