Gambar halaman

great Author of our nature, who has ceated man free, and assigned i to him the earth, that he might cultivate his possession with the sweat of his brow; but still should enjoy his liberty.

The Cochin-Chinese are gentle, hospitable, frugal, and industrious. There is not a beggar in the country; and robbery and murder, absolutely unknown. .A stranger may wander over the kingdom, from one end to another, (the capital excepted) without meeting the slightest insult: he will be every where received with a most eager curiosity, but at the same time with great benevolence. I have here remarked a custom singular indeed, but expressive of their goodness of heart. A CochinChinese traveller, who has not money sufficient to defray his expences at an inn, enters the first house of the- town or village he arrives at: no body inquires his business; he speaks to none,- but waits in silence the hour of dinner; so soon as the rice is served up, he modestly approaches, places himself at table aleng with the family, eats, drinks, and departs without pronouncing a single word, or any person's putting to him ,a single question: it was enough they saw he was a man, a brother in distress; they asked no further information.

The six first kings, founders of this monarchy, governed the nation as a lather governs his family; they establisiSed the laws of nature alone; they themselves paid the first' obedience to them. Chiefs of tn immense familv of labourers, they gave the first example of labour; they honoured and encouraged agri

culture, as the most useful and honourable employment of mankind. They required from their subjects only a small annual free-gift, to defray the expence of their defensive war against their Tonquinese enemies.

, This imposition was regulated by way of poll-tax, with the greatest equity. Every man, able to labour the ground, paid in to the magistrate, on account of the prince, a small sum proportioned to the strength of his constitution, and the vigour of his arm: and nothing more. It was under their reign, that this nation multiplied so surprisingly, in consequence of the plenty furnished by the culture of their fields. Whilst they reigned, the treaties entered into, on the banks of the river which separates Tonquin from Cochin-China, between the chiefs of their family' and those who followed them in their retreat, were most religiously observed. It is to this reciprocal fidelity that Cochin-China owes its present flourishing state, with regard to power, population, and agriculture. Their successor, who now reigns, inherits their goodness of heart, but has the weakness to suffer himself to be governed by his slaves. These have acquired the art of separating the interest of the prince from that of his people. They have inspired him with the thirst after personal riches. The. vast quantity of gold which they have dug from the ^ mines, during this reign, has already proved detrimental to industry and agriculture. In the palace it has been productive of luxury and corruption, its never - failing attendants.

This prince has been insensiblyled to despise the simple habitations of his ancestors. He has -built a superb palace, a league in circumference) surrounded by a wall of brick, on the model of that of Pekin. Sixteen hundred pieces of cannon, mounted around the palace, announce to the people the approaching loss of their liberties and rights.

He found a necessity too for a winter palace, a summer palace, and an autumn palace; The old taxes were by no means sufficient to defray these expences; they were augmented; and new impositions devised, which, being no longer voluntary contributions, could not be levied but by force, and tyrannical oppression. His courtiers, who found their interest in the corruption of their prince, have given him the title of King of Heaven: Vous Tfo'i, hearing himself often so stiled, at length thought he might assume i,t— "Why," addressing himself one day to me, "don't you come oftener to "pay your court to the King of "Heaven?"

These designing sycophants, who guard every avenue to the royal ear, have had the address to over-awe the ordinary administration of justice; and, taking advantage of exemption from punishment, have pillaged the labourers, and filled the provinces with oppression and distress.

All along the high roads I have seen whole villages newly abandoned by their inhabitants, harassed by fruitless toil, and never-ending exactions; and their fields, in consequence, falling back to their first uncultivated state.

In the midst of all this growing disorder, the prince, whose mind

has been surprized by fawning flatterers, aud who alone is ignorant ot the villany of those around him, still prcserv'es a respect for the manners of his ancestors; he does not, indeed, like his forefathers, give an example of personal labour, but still his desire is to, protect agriculture.

I have seep him, at the commencement of the new year, preside, with all the simplicity of his predecessors, at the general assembly of the nation, which is annually held on that day, in the open field, in order to renew the reciprocal oath for observation of the primordial contract, which established him father of the people, at the same time that they invested him alone with the power, the noblest indeed of all, of making hts people happy.

When he speaks of his subjects, he calls them still by. no other name than that of his children. I have seen him too assist, like a simple individual, in the annual assembly of his family, according to the aneient usage of the nation; an assembly where the most aged always preside, without rfcgard to the dignities of those of younger years. This, however,.seemed to me only a formality venerable from custom; for what is man, where the Kijig of Heaven appears.

Corruption, it is true, has not yet infected the general body of the people; they still preserve their primitive manners: it is hitherto confined to the palace, and'the capital; its source, however, is too elevated to prevent its poisoned streams from flowing to the plains. It is from the great that the corruption of a people ever derives its origin.

B 4 When

When it (hall have infected every rank; when the foundation of agriculture, liberty, and property, already attacked by the great, shall bs overthrown; when the profession of the farmer shall become the most contemptible, and the least lucrative, what must be the fate of agriculture? Without a flourishing agriculture, what must be the fate of those multitudes, fostered under its wing?—what must be the fate of prince and people? It will resemble that of the nation who possessed the country before them ; perhaps that of the savages, who yielded it to that nation: of them there are no remains, but the ruins of an immense wall, near the capital, which appears to have been part of a great city: it is of brick, and of a form very different from what is to be seen in the other countries of Asia: no history, however, no tradition, has preserved the memory of the builders.

Upon the whole I conclude, from the general corruption which threatens the manners of the CochinChinese, that agriculture is on thedecline; and that, whatever efforts they may make to support it, it has now passed its meridian, and must infallibly degenerate.

Some account of the origin and founders of the feel of Anabaptists,

and of ]ohn Boccold their kings from Dr. Robertsons history of the

Reign of the Emperor Charles V.

WPILE Francis waited for an opportunity to renew a war, which had hitherto proved so fatal to himself and his subjects, a transaction of a very singular nature was carried on in Germany.

Among many beneficial and salutary effects of which the reformation was the immediate cause, it was attended, as must be the cafe, in all actions and events wherein men are concerned, with some consequences of an opposite nature. When the human mind is rouzed by grand objects, and agitated by strong passions, its operations acquire such force, that they are apt to become irregular, and extravagant. Upon any great revolution in religion, such irregularities abound most, at that particular period, when men, having thrown off the authority of their ancient principles, do not yet fully comprehend the nature, or feel the obligation of those new ones which they have embraced. The mind, in that situation, pushing forward with the boldness which prompted it to reject established opinions, and not guided by a clear knowledge of the system substituted in their place, disdains all restraint, and runs into wild notions, that often lead to scandalous or immoral conduct. Thus, in the first ages of the Christian church, many of the new con. verts, having renounced their ancient creeds, and being but imperfectly acquainted with the doctrines and precepts of Christianity, broached the most extravagant opinions, equal. ly subversive of piety and virtue; all which errors disappeared or were exploded when the knowledge of religion increased, and came to be more generally diffused. In like manner, soon after Luther's appearance, the rashness or ignorance of some of his disciples led them to publish absurd and pernicious renets, which being proposed' to men extremely illiterate, but fond of novelty, and at a time when their

minds were turned wholly towards religious speculations, gained too easy credit and authority among them. To these causes must be imputed the extravagancies of Muncef, in the year one thousand five hundred and twenty-five, as well as the rapid progress which they made among the peasants; but though the insurrection excited by that fanatic was soon suppressed, several of his followers lurked in different places, and endeavoured privately to propagate his opinions.

In those proviuces of Upper Germany, which had already been so cruelly wafted by their enthusiastic rage, the magistrates watched their motions with such severe attention, that many of them found it necessary to retire into other countries, fome were punished, others driven »to exile, and their errors were entirely rooted out. But in the Netherlands and Westphalia, where the pernicious tendency of their opinions was more unknown, and guarded against with less care, they got admittance inio several towns, and spread the infection of their principles, she most remarkable of their religious tenets related to the sacrament of baptism, which, as they contended, ought to be administered only to persons grown op to years of understanding, and should be performed not by sprinkling them with water, but by dipping them in it: for this reason they condemned the baptism of infants, and re-baptizing all whom they admitted into their society, the sect came to be distinguished by the name of Anabaptists. To this peculiar notion concerning baptism, which has the appearance of being founded on the practice of the church in the apostolic age, and

contains nothing inconsistent with the peace and order of human society, they added other principles of a most 'enthusiastic, as well as dangerous nature. They maintained, that, among Christians, who had the precepts of the gospel to direct, and the Spirit of God to guide them, the office of magistracy was not only unnecessary, out an unlawful encroachment on their spiritual liberty; that the distinctions occasioned by birth, or rank, or wealth, being contrary to the spirit of the gospel, which considers all men as equal, should be entirely abolished; that all Christians, throwing their possessions into one common stock, should live together in that state of equality which becomes members of the fame family; that as neither the laws of nature, nor the precepts of the New Testament, had placed any restraint upon men with regard to the number of wives which they might marry, they should use that liberty which God himself had granted to the patriarchs.

Such opinions, propagated and maintained with enthusiastic zeal and boldness, were not long in pro- , ducing the violent effects natural to them. Two Anabaptist prophets, John Matthias, a baker of Haerlcm, and John Boccold, or Beiikels, a journeyman taylor of Leyden, possessed with the rage of making proselytes, fixed their residence at Munster, an imperial city in Westphalia, of the first rank, under the sovereignty of its bishop, but governed by its owa senate and consuls. As neither of these fanaticks wanted the talents necessary for such an undertaking, great resolution, the appearance of sanctity, bold pretensions to inspiration}

titude to pillage the churches, and

ration, and a confident and plaufible manner of discoursing, they loon gained manv, converts. Among these were Rothmarf, who had first preached the Protestant doctrine in Munster, and Cnipperdoling, a citizen of good birth and considerable eminence. Emboldened by the countenance of such disciples, they openly taught their opinions; a>id not satisfied with that liberty, they made several attempts, though without success, to seize the town, in order to get their tenets established by public authority. At last, having secretly called in their associates from the neighbouring country, they suddenly took possession of the arsenal and senatehouse in the night-time, and running through the streets with drawn swords, and horrible howlings, ■ cried out alternately, " Repent, and be "baptized," and " Depart, ye un"godly." The senators, the canons, the nobility, together with the more sober citizens, whether Papists or Protestants, terrified at their threats and outcries, fled in confusion, and left the city under the dominion of a frantic multitude, consisting chiefly of strangers. Nothing now remaining to over-awe or controul them, they set about modelling the government according to their own wild ideas; and though at first they, shewed so much reverence for the ancient constitution, as to elect senators of their own sect, and to appoint Cnipperdoling and another proselyte consuls, this was nothing' more than form; and all their proceedings were directed by Matthias, who in the stile, and with the authority of a prophet, tittered his commands, which it was instant death to disobey. Having begun with eneoun^ing the raul

deface their ornaments; he enjoined them to destroy all books, except the bible, as useless or impious; he appointed the estates of such as fled to be confiscated, and sold to the inhabitants of the adjacent country; he ordered every man to bring forth his gold, silver, and precious effects, and to lay them at his feet; the wealth, amassed by these means, he deposited in a pub-' lie treasuryj and named deacons to dispense it for the common use of all. The members of his commonwealth being thus brought to a perfect equality, he commanded all of them to eat at tables prepared in public, and even prescribed the dishes wiich were to be served up each day. Having finished, his plan of reformation, his next care was to provide for the defence of the city; and he took measures for that purpose with a prudence which savoured nothing of fanaticism. He collected vast magazines of every kind; he repaired and extended the fortifications, obliged every person without distinction to work in his turn; he formed such as were capable of bearing arms into regular bodies, and endeavoured to add the vigour of discipline to the impetuosity of enthusiasm. He sent emissaries to the Anabaptists in the Low Countries, inviting them to assemble at Munster, which he dignified with the name vof MountSion, that from thence they wight set out to reduce all the nations of the earth under their dominion. He himself was unwearied in attending to every thing necessary for the security or increase of the sect ; animating his disciples by his own example to refuse no labour, as well as to repine at no hardship; and their enthusiastic


« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »