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plication to maritime affairs; and to their discovery of the Cape of Good Hope, Great Britain is at this day indebted for her Indian commerce.
The first adventurers contented themselves with short voyages, creeping along the coast of Africa, discovering cape after cape; but by making a gradual progress southward, they, in the year 1497, at length discovered and doubled the extreme cape of that continent, which opened a pallage by sea to the eastern ocean, and all those countries knowo by the names of India, China, and Japan.
While the Portuguese were intent upon a passage to India by the east, Columbus, a nutive of Genoa, conceived a project of failing thither by the weft. His proposal being condemned by his countrymen as chimerical and absurd, he laid his scheme fucceffively before the courts of France, England, and Portugal, where he had no better success. Such repeated disappointments would have broken the spirit of any man but Columbus. The expedition required expence, and he had nothing to defray it. Spain was now his only resource; and there, after eight years' attendance, he at length succeeded, through the intereft of queen Isabella. This princess was prevailed upon to patronise him by the representation of Juan Perez, guardian of the monastery of Rabida.' He was a man of confiderable learning, and of some credit with queen Isabella ; and being warmly attached to Columbus, from his perfonal acquaintance with bim and knowledge of his merit, he had entered into an accurate examination of that great man's project, in conjunction with a physician settled in his neighbourhood, who was eminent for his skill in mathematical knowledge. This investigation completely satisfied them of the solidity of the principles on which Columbus founded his opinion, and of the probability of success in executing the plan which he proposed. Perez, therefore, fo ftrongly recommended it to queen Ilabella, that she warmly entered into the scheme, and even generously offered, to the honour of her sex, to pledge her own jewels, in order to raise as much money as might be required in making preparations for the voyage. But Santangel, another friend and patron of Columbus, immediately engaged to advance the fom that was requisite, that the queen might not be reduced to the necessity of having recourse to that expedient.
Columbus now set fail, anno 1492, with a fleet of three ships, upon one of the most adventurous attempts ever undertaken by man, and in the fate of which the inhabitants of two worlds were interelied. In this voyage he had a thousand difficulties to contend with ; and his failors, who were often discontented, at length began to infift upon his return, threatening, in case of refusal, to throw him overboard ; but the firmness of the commander, and the discovery of land after a passage of 33 days, put an end to the commotion. From the appearance of the natives, he found to his furprise that this could not be the Indies he was in quest of, and that he bad accidentally discovered a new world, of which the reader will find a more circumftantial account in that part of the following work which treats of America.
Europe now began to emerge out of that darkness in which she had been funk fince the subversion of the Roman empire. These discoveries, from which such wealth was destined to flow to the commercial na. tions of Europe, were accompanied and succeeded by others of
A. D. unspeakable benefit to mankind. The invention of printing, the
1440. revival of learning, arts, and sciences, and, lastly, the happy reformation in religion, all distinguish the 15th and 16th centuries as the first æra of modern hiftory. It was in these ages that the powers of Ewrope were formed into one great political system, in which each took station, wherein it has since remained, with leis variation than could have been expected after the shocks occasioned by so many internal revolutions, and so many foreign wars, of which we Mall give some account in the history of each particular ftate, in the following work. The great events which happened then have not hitherto exhausted their force. The political principles and maxims then established still continue to operate ; and the ideas concerning the balance of power, then introduced or rendered general, still influence, in some degree, the councils of European nations.
Of all the kingdoms of Europe, Great Britain has for a long time enjoyed the greatest degree of prosperity and glory. She ought, therefore, to be the more attentive to preserve so brilliant a pre-eminence. A great empire cannot be continued in a happy fituation, but by wisdom and moderation. Without entering into the labyrinth of political disputes, it will be acknowledged that the unhappy contest of Great Britain with the American colonies, and especially the unsuccessful war against the new republic of France, have plunged her into difficulties ; her national debt has been profusely augmented ; and her taxes enormoully increased.
OF THE ORIGIN AND PROGRESS OF RELIGION.
DEITY is an awful objedt, and has ever roused the attention of mankind; but they, being incapable of elevating their ideas to all the sublimity of his perfections, have too often brought down his perfections to the level of their own ideas. This is more particularly true with regard to those nations whose religion had no other foundation but the natural feelings, and more often the irregular paflions of the human heart, and who had received no light from heaven respecting this important object. In deducing the history of religion, therefore, we must make the same diftinction which we have hitherto observed in tracing the progrels of arts, sciences, and civilisation among mankind. We must separate what is human from what is divine,—what had its origin from particular revelations, from what is the effect of general laws, and of the unallified operations of the human mind.
Agreeably to this diftin&tion, we find, that, in the first ages of the world, the religion of the eastern nations was pure and luminous. It arosu from a divine fource, and was not then disfigured by human fancies or caprice. In time, however, these began to have their intluence; the ray of tradition was obscured : and among those tribes which teparated at the greatest distance, and in the smallest numbers, from the more improved 10cities of men, it was altogether obliterated.
In this situation a particular people were selected by God himself to be the depositories of his law and worship ; but the rest of mankind were left to form hypotheses upen these subjects, which were more or lets
perfect, according to an infinity of circumstances which cannot properly be reduced under any general heads.
The moft common religion of antiquity--that which prevailed the longeft, and extended the widest—was POLYTHEISM, or the doctrine of a plurality of gods. The rage of system, the ambition of reducing all the phænomena of the moral world to a few general principles, has occafioned many imperfect accounts, both of the origin and nature of this species of worship. For, without entering into a minute detail, it is impossible to give an adequate idea of the subject : and what is said upon it in general must always be liable to many exceptions.
One thing, however, may be oblerved, that the polytheism of the ancients feems neither to have been the fruit of philosophical fpeculations, nor of disfigured traditions concerning the nature of the Divinity. It seems to have arisen during the rudeft ages of society, while the rational powers were feeble, and while mankind were under the tyranny of imagination and passion. It was built, therefore, solely upon sentiment. As each tribe of men had their heroes, fo likewise they had their gods. Those heroes who led them forth to combat, who presided in their councils, whose image was engraven on their fancy, whose exploits were imprinted on their memory, even after death enjoyed an existence in the imagination of their followers. The force of blood, of friendship, of affection, among rude nations, is what we cannot easily conceive : but the power of imagination over the senses is what all men have in fome degree experienced. Combine these two causes, and it will not appear strange that the image of departed heroes should have been seen by their companions animating the battle, taking vengeance on their enemies, and performing, in a word, the same functions which they performed when alive. An appearance so unnatural would not excite terror among men unacquainted with evil spirits, and who had not learned to fear any thing but their enemies. On the contrary, it confirmed their courage, flattered their vanity; and the testimony of those who had seen it, supported by the extreme credulity and romantic cast of those who had not, gained an universal assent among all the members of their fociety. A small, degree of reflection, however, would be sufficient to convince them, that, as their own heroes existed after death, the same might also be the case with those of their enemies. Two orders of gods, therefore, would be established ;-the propitious and the hoftile; the gods who were to be loved, and those who were to be feared. But time, which wears off the impressions of tradition, and the frequent invasions by which the nations of antiquity were ravaged, desolated, or transplanted, made them lose the names and confound the characters of these two orders of divinities, and form various systems of religion, which, though warped by a thousand particular circumstances, gave no Imall indications of their first texture and original materials. For, in general, the gods of the ancients gave abundant proof of human infirmity. They were subject to all the passions of men; they partook even of their partial affections; and, in many instances, discovered their preference of one race or nation to all others. They did not eat and drink the same substances with men ; but they lived on nectar and ambrosia : they had a particular pleasure in smelling the steam of the facrifices; and they made love with an ardour unknown in northern climates. The rites by which they were worshipped naturally resulted from their cha. racter. The most enlightened among the Greeks entertained nearly the
the poems of Hesiod and Homer; and Anaxagoras, who flourished before Christ 430 years, was the first, even in Greece, that publicly announced the existence of one Creator and Governor of the universe.
It must be observed, however, that the religion of the ancients was not much connected either with their private behaviour, or with their political arrangements. If we except a few fanatical societies, whose principles do not fall within our plan, the greater part of mankind were extremely tolerant in their principles. They had their own gods, who watched over them; their neighbours, they imagined, also had theirs : and there was soom enough in the universe for both to live together in good fellowship, without interfering or joftling with each other.
The introduction of Christianity, by inculcating the unity of God, by announcing the purity of his character, and by explaining the tervice he requires of men, produced a total alteration in the religious tentiments and belief of the civilised part of mankind, among whom it rapidly made its way by the sublimity of its doctrine and precepts. It required not the aid of human power; it sustained itselt by the truth and wisdom by which it was characterised : but in time it became corrupted by the introduction of worldly maxims, of maxims very inconsistent with the precepts of its divine author, and by the ambition of the clergy,
The management of whatever related to the church being naturally conferred on those who had established it, firft occafioned the elevation and then the domination of the clergy, and the exorbitant claims of the bishop of Rome over all the members of the Christian world. It is im. pollible to describe, within our narrow limits, all the concomitant caufes, Tome of which were extremely delicate, by which this species of universal monarchy was established. The bishops of Rome, by being removed from the control of the Roman emperors, then residing in Conftantinople; by borrowing, with little variation, the religious ceremonies and rites established among the heathen world, and otherwise working on the credulous minds of the barbarians by whom that empire began to be difmembered ; and by availing themselves of every circumstance which fortune threw in their way; slowly erected the fabric of their antichristian power, at first an object of veneration, and afterwards of terror, to all temporal princes. The causes of its happy diffolution are more palpable, and operated with greater activity. The most efficacious were the invention of printing, the rapid improvement of arts, government, and commerce, which, after many ages of barbarity, made their way into Europe. The scandalous lives of those who called themselves the minijters of Jesus Chrift," their ignorance and tyranny, the desire natural to lovereigns of delivering themselves from a foreign yoke, the opportunity of applying to national objects the immense wealth which had been diverted to the service of the church in every kingdom of Europe, conspired with the ardour of the firit reformers, and hastened the progress of the Reformation. The unreasonableness of the claims of the church of Rome was demonstrated; many of her doctrines were proved to be equally unscriptural and irrational; and some of her ablurd mummeries and superititions were exposed both by argument and ridicule. The services of the reformers in this respect give them a just claim to our vencration ; but, involved as they had themselves been in the darkness of fuperstition, it was not to be expected that they should be able wholly to free themselves from errors ; they still retained an attachment to some absurd doctrines, and preserved too much of the intolerant spirit of the church from which they had separatcd themselves. With all their defects, they are entitled
to our admiration and esteem; and the reformation, begun by Luther in Germany, in the year 1517, and which took place in England, A. D. 1534, was an event highly favourable to the civil as well as to the religious rights of mankind.
We shall now proceed to the main part of our work, beginning with EUROPE,
EUROPE, though the least extensive quarter of the globe (containing, according to Zimmermann, 2,627,574 square miles, whereas the habitable parts of the world, in the other quarters, are estimated at 36,666,806 square miles), is, in many respects, that which most deserves our attention. Here the human mind has made the greatest progress towards improvement; and here the arts, whether of utility or ornament, the sciences both military and civil, have been carried to the greatest perfection. If we except the earliest ages of the world, it is in Europe that we find the greateft variety of character, government, and manners; and from its history we derive the greatest number of facts and memorials, either for our entertainment or instruction,
Geography discovers to us two circumstances with regard to Europe, which perhaps have had a confiderable tendency in giving it the fuperiority over the rest of the world; first, the happy temperature of its climate, no part of it lying within the torrid zone;' and secondly, the great variety of its surface. The effect of a moderate climate, both on plants and animals, is well known from experience. The immense num- . 1 ber of mountains, rivers, seas, &c. which divide the different countries of Europe from each other, is likewise extremely commodious for its inhabitants. These natural boundaries check the progress of conqueft or despotism, which has always been so rapid in the extensive plains of Africa and the East: the seas and rivers facilitate the intercourse and commerce between different nations; and even the barren rocks and mountains are more favourable for exciting human industry and invention, than the natural unsolicited luxuriancy of more fertile soils. There is no part of Europe so diversified in its surface, so interrupted by natural boundaries or divisions, as Greece ; and we have seen that it was there the human mind began to know and to avail itself of its strength ;' and that many of the arts, subservient to utility or pleasure, were invented, or at least greatly improved. What Greece therefore is with regard to Europe, Europe itself is with regard to the rest of the globe. The analogy may even be carried farther; and it is well deserving our attention. As ancient Greece (for we do not speak of Greece as it is at present, under the despotic government of the Turks) was distinguilhed, above all the rest of Europe, for the equity of its laws, and the freedom of its political constitutions,- fo has Europe in general been remarkable for smaller deviations, at least from the laws of nature and equality, than have been admitted in the other quarters of the world. Though most of the European governments are monarchical, we may discover, on due examination, that there are a thousand little springs, which check the force and foften the rigour of monarchy. In propor.