Sivut kuvina

to personify and deify these powers and operations, but lacking the imaginative genius and fine taste of the Greeks, their mythological personages are outrageous, and their theories shapeless monsters. No creator of the world is known or imagined, who, like Brahm, lives in space, ineffable, formless; but the first man, Pwanku, had a herculean task given him, no less a work than to mould the chaos which produced him, and chisel out the earth that was to contain him. One legend is, “that the dual powers were fixed when the primeval chaos separated. Chaos is bubbling turbid water, which inclosed and mingled with the dual powers, like a chick in ovo, but when their offspring Pwanku appeared, their distinctiveness and operations were apparent. Pwan means a basin, referring to the shell of the egg; ku means solid, to secure, intending to show how the first man Pwanku was hatched from the chaos by the dual powers, and then settled and exhibited the arrangement of the causes which produced him.” The Rationalists have penetrated furthest into the Daedalian mys. tery of this cosmogony, and they go on to show what Pwanku did, and how he did it. They picture him holding a chisel and mallet in his hands, splitting and fashioning vast masses of granite floating confusedly in space. Behind the openings his powerful hand has made, are seen the sun, moon, and stars, monuments of his stupendous labors; and at his right hand, inseparable companions of his toils, but whose generation is left in obscurity, stand the dragon, the phoenix, and the tortoise, and sometimes the unicorn, divine types and progenitors with himself of the animal creation. His efforts were continued eighteen thousand years, and by small degrees he and his work increased ; the heavens rose, the earth spread out and thickened, and Pwanku grew in stature, each of them six feet every day, till, his labors done, he died for the benefit of his handywork. His nead became mountains, his breath wind and clouds, and his voice thunder; his limbs were changed into the four poles, his veins into rivers, his sinews into the undulations of the earth’s surface, and his flesh into fields; his beard, like Berenice's hair, was turned into stars, his skin and hair into herbs and trees; and his teeth, bones, and marrow, into metals, rocks, and precious stones; his dropping sweat increased to rain, and lastly (nascitur ridiculus mus) the insects which stuck to his body were transformed into people!


Pwanku Chiselling out the Heavens.

Such was Pwanku, and these were his works. But these grotesque myths afford none of the pleasing images and personifications of Greek fable or Egyptian symbols; they fatigue without entertaining, and only illustrate the childish imagination of their authors. Pwanku was succeeded by three rulers of monstrous forms called the Celestial, Terrestrial, and Human sovereigns, impersonations of a trinity of powers, whose traces and influences run through Chinese philosophy, religion, and politics; their acts and characters are detailed with the utmost gravity, and more than Methusalean longevity allowed them to complete their plans. Their reigns continued eighteen thousand years (more or less according to the author quoted), during which time good government commenced, men learned to eat and drink, the sexes united, sleep was invented, and other improvements adopted. One would think, if the subjects of these wonderful beings were as longlived, great perfection might have been attained in these and other useful arts; but the mysterious tortoise, companion of Pwankur on whose carapace was written in tadpole-headed characters, the history of the anterior world, did not survive, and their record has not come down. After them flourished two other monarchs, one of them called Yu-chau, which means having a nest, and the other Sui-jin, or match-man ; whether the former invented nests for the abodes of his subjects, such as the Indians on the Oronoco have, is not stated; but the latter brought down fire from heaven for them to cook with, and became a second, or rather the first, Prometheus. One thing is observable in these fictions, characteristic of the Chinese at the present day: there is no hierarchy of gods brought in to rule and inhabit the world they made, no conclave on Mt. Olympus, nor judgment of the mortal soul by Osiris; no transfer of human love and hate, passions and hopes, to the powers above; but all is ascribed to disembodied agencies, and their works are represented as moving on in quiet order; there were boards, and academies, and observatories to take note of the heavenly bodies; the whole state was perfect in all its parts, it was as easy to rule the nation as it was to “turn the thumb in the palm of the hand.” There is no religion in this cosmogony, and there is no imagination; all is impassible, passionless, uninteresting. It may, perhaps, be considered in itself as sensible as the Greek mythology, if any one looks for sense in such figments, but it has not, as their's has, been explained in sublime poetry, shadowed forth in gorgeous ritual and magnificent festivals, represented in exquisite sculptures, nor preserved in faultless, imposing fanes and temples, all full of ideal creations; and for this reason, it appears more in its true colors, and when compared with their's, “loses discountenanced and like folly shows,”—at least to us, who can examine both, and compare them with the truth. Chinese mythological history ends with the appearance of



Fuhhí, and their chronology should not be charged with the long periods antecedent, varying from forty-five to five hundred thousand years, for the people themselves do not believe this duration. These periods are, however, a mere twinkling compared with the kulpas of the Hindus, whose highest era, called the Unspeakably Inexpressible, requires 4,456,448 cyphers following a unit to represent it. If the epoch of the reign of Fuhhí can be settled, or even ascertained with any probability by comparison with the history of other nations, or with existing remains, it would tend not a little to settle some disputed chronological points in other countries; but the isolation of the Chinese throughout their whole existence, makes it nearly impossible to weave in the events of their history with those of other nations, by comparing and verifying them with Biblical, Egyptian, or Persian annals. Perhaps further investigations in the vast regions of eastern and central Asia may bring to light corroborative testimony as striking and unexpected as the explorations in Mosul and Thebes. The accession of Fuhhí is placed in the Chinese annals, B. c. 2852, or eight years after the death of Enos, 1152 years after the creation, and 508 before the deluge, according to the common received chronology of Usher. The weight of evidence which the later chronological examinations of Hales has brought to bear against the common period of 4004 years prior to the Advent, is such as to cast great doubt over its authenticity, and lead to the adoption of a longer period in order to explain many events, and afford time for many occurrences, which otherwise would be crowded into too narrow a space. Chinese chronology, if it be allowed the least credit, strongly corroborates the results of Dr. Hales’ researches, and particularly so in the date of Fuhhí's accession. This is not the place to discuss the respective claims of the two eras, but by reckoning as he does, the creation to be 5411 years, and the deluge 3155 years, before the Advent, we bring the commencement of ancient Chinese history, 303 years subsequent to the deluge, 47 before the death of Noah, and about three centuries before the confusion of tongues. If we suppose that the antediluvians possessed a knowledge of the geography of the world, and that Noah, regarding himself as the monarch of the whole, divided it among his descendants before his death, there is nothing improbable in the further supposition that the progenitors of the black-haired race, and others of the house and lineage of Shem, found their way from the valley of the Euphrates across the defiles and steppes of central Asia, to the fertile plains of China before the end of the third diluvian century. Whether the surface of the world was the same after the cataclysm as before, matters very little ; there was ample time for the multiplication of the species with the blessing promised them by God, sufficient to form colonies, if there was time enough to increase to such a multitude as conspired to build the tower of Babel. Fuhhí and his seven successors are stated to have reigned 747 years, averaging 93 each. Those who follow Usher consider these monarchs, if they ever had an existence, to be Chinese travesties of the eight antediluvian patriarchs; and Marquis d'Urban has gone so far as to write what he calls the Antediluvian History of China, collecting all the notices history affords of their acts. The common chronology brings the deluge about thirteen years after the accession of Yau, and the death of Shun the last of the eight, B. c. 2205, or 25 years after the confusion of tongues. According to Hales, the last epoch is 112 years before the call of Abraham, and these eight Chinese monarchs are therefore contemporaries of the patriarchs who lived between Shem and Abraham, commencing with Salah, and ending with Nahor. The duration of their reigns, moreover, is such as would bear the same proportion to ages of five hundred years, which their contemporaries lived, as the present average of twenty and twenty-five years does to a life of sixty. Supposing that the descendants of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, knowing from their fathers and grandfather, that the void world was before them, began to colonize almost as soon as they began to form families, three centuries would not be too long a time for some of them to settle in China, perhaps offsetting from Elam and Asshur, and other descendants of Shem in Persia. The capital of Fuhhí, placed near Kaifung fu in Honan, slightly indicates, it may be thought, their route through central Asia and the pass Kiayi in Kansuh, and then down the Yellow river to the Great Plain. But these observations are only by the way, as is also the suggestion that teaching of fishing and grazing, the regulation of times and seasons, cultivation of music, and establishment of government, &c., compare well enough with the duties that might reasonably be supposed to belong to the founder of a colony, and subsequently ascribed to him as his own inventions.

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