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At these words, the Seydre, who was of Persia, where the people are of the sect of Ali, began to smile; but a tumult arose in the Coffee-house, from the variety of strangers assembled, who were of as many different religions; and among the rest Abyssinian Christians, Cophts, Tartarian-Lamas, Arabian Ishmaelites, and Guebres, or worshippers of fire. All these disputed on the Nature of GOD, and on the worship he required, every one maintaining that the true religion existed no where but in his own country.

There was in the Coffee-louse a man of letters from China, a disciple of Confucius, who was travelling for his improvement. He sat in a corner of the room, drinking tea, and listening to all that was said without speaking a word. The Turkish Custom-house Officer turning to him, cried aloud:

My good Chinese, who remainest silent, you know that many religions have made their way “ into China. The merchants of your country who “ had occasion here for my services have told me

so, and assured me that the Religion of Mahomet " is the best. Like themdo justice to the truth: "what is your opinion of GOD, and of the Reli“ gion of his Prophet?” This produced a profound silence in the Coffee-room. The disciple of Confucius, drawing back his hand into the large sleeve of his robe, and crossing them on his breast, retired into himself, and in a gentle and deliberate accent thus spake:

“ Gentlemen, if I may be permitted to say so, it “is ambition which in every case hinders men to agree:

you will give me a patient hearing, F


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"shall produce an instance of which is still fresh " in my memory. When I left China, on my voy

age to Surat, I embarked on board an English ship which had sailed round the world. On our

passage, we cast anchor on the eastern Coast of “ Sumatra. Towards noon, having gone ashore in

company with several persons belonging to the “ vessel, we went and sat down on the shore of the

sea, near a little village, under the shade of some

cocoa-trees, where men of different countries “ were enjoying their repose. A blind man came and

joined the company: he had lost his sight by too “ close a contemplation of the Sun. He had been “ actuated by the wild ambition of comprehending “ the nature of that luminary, in order to appro"priate his light to himself. He had tried all the « methods which optics, chemistry, and even ne

cromancy can supply, to shut up one of his rays “in a bottle; not being able to succeed, he said: The light of the Sun is not a fluid, for it cannot be

agitated by the wind; it is not a solid, for the parts of it cannot be separated; it is not fire, for it is not extinguishable in water; it is not a

spirit, as it is visible: it is not a body, for we cannot handle it; it is not even a moving power, for it agitates not the lightest bodies : it is therefore nothing at all. Finally, by persevering efforts, “ in contemplating the Sun, and reasoning on his

light, he at length lost his eye-sight, and what “ is worse, his reason. He believed that it was

not his vision, but the Sun which had no exist"ence in the Universe. He had a negro to lead " him about, who having seated his master under


" the

" the shade of a cocoa-tree, picked up one of it's nuts that lay on the ground, and set " about making a lamp of the shell, a wick of the

outer husk, and squeezed a little oil from the "kernel to put into his lamp. While the black " man was thus employing himself, his blind mas“ ter said to him with a sigh: Is there then no such

thing as light in the world? Yes, that of the Sun, “ replied the Negro. What is it you call the Sun, “resumed the blind man? I cannot tell, answered “ the African, all I know is, that his rising is the "commencement of my labours, and his setting termination of them. His light interests me less than that of my lamp which illuminates my cottage ; with

oui it I should not be able to serve you during the night. Then, holding out his little cocoa-shell, " said: There is my Sun. At this part of the con“ versation a man of the village, who walked on “ crutches, fell a laughing; and believing that the “blind man had been so from his birth, said to “hini: Know that the Sun is a globe of fire which rises every day out of the Ocean, and sets every " night toward the West, in the mountains of Sumatra. You would see this yourself, as we all do, had you the blessing of sight. Here a fisherman “ interposed, and said to the cripple: It is perceive that you have never travelled far beyond the limits of your village.

If you had legs, " and could have made the tour of Sumatra, you

must have known that the Sun docs not set in it's mountains: but he issus every morning out of the

Sea, and dips into it again every evening to cool himself; this is what I see every day along the coasts of the island.« An inhabitant of the

" Peninsula

casy to

« Peninsula of India then said to the fisherman : “ How is it possible for a man of common sense too “ believe that the Sun is a globe of fire, and that

he every day issues from the Ocean, and plunges' “ into it at night without extinguishing him< self? Learn then that the Sun is a Denta or “ Divinity of my Country, that he rides every day

through the Heavens in a chariot, turning round " the golden mountain of Merowa; that when he “ undergoes an eclipse, it is owing to his being “swallowed up by the serpents Ragon and Kétou, “ from which he is delivered only by the prayers “ of the Indians on the banks of the Ganges. It " is a very ridiculous ambition for an inhabitant “ of Sumatra to pretend that he shines only on “ the horizon of his Island; it could have entered “ into the head only of a man whose navigation “ has been limited to the paddling of a canoe.” " A Lascar, the master of a trading vessel that

lay at anchor, then spoke to this purpose : “ It is an ambition still more ridiculous to ima.

gine, that the Sun prefers India to all coun“ tries of the world. I have ļavigated through “ the Red Sea, along the coasts of Arabia, to

Madagascar, to the Moluccas, and to the Phillip

pine Islands; the Sun enlightens all those coun"s tries as well as India,; Ile does not turn rồund

a mountain; but rises in the Islands of Japan, " which are for that reason called Jepon or Ge

puen, birth of the Sun, and he sets very får to '« the West, behind the Islands of England. I am “ very sure of it, for I have heard it related by

my grandfather, when I was a child, and he had " sailed to the very extremities of the Ocean. He


" went.'

“ was going to proceed, when an English seaman " of our ship's company interrupted him thus :"> “There is no country where the course of the Sun “is better known than in England: be assured " then that he no where rises or sets. He is inces“santly making the circuit of the Globe; and I “ am perfectly sure of it, for we have just perform“ed the same round, and met him wherever we

“ Then taking a ratan from the hand “ of one of his auditors, he traced a circle on the “sand, endeavouring to explain to them the course “ of the Sun from tropic to tropic; but not being “ able to make it out, he appealed to the testi

mony of the pilot of his ship, for the truth of every thing he would have said. This pilot was

a wise man, who had heard the whole dispute “ without interposing a single word; but when he

perceived that all the company kept silence to “ hear him, he spoke to this effect: “ Each of

you is trying to mislead others, and is himself “ misled. The Sun does not turn round the Earth, “it is the Earth which turns round him, present

ing in succession, every twenty-four hours, the “ Islands of Japan, the Phillipines, the Moluccas, “Sumatra, Africa, Europe, England, and a great

many other countries. The Sun shines not for one Mountain only, one Island, one Horison, one

Sea, nor even for one Glohe; but he is at the “ centre of the Universe, from whence he illuminates, together with the Earth, five other Planets which likewise revolve around him, and of

which some are much greater than our Globe, " and at much greater distance than it is froin


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