LONDON: Printed for the AUTHOR; AND Sold by J. NEWBERY and W. BRISTOW, in St. Paul's Church-yard; J. LEAKE and W. FREDERICK, at Bath; B. COLLINS, at Salisbury; and A. M. SMART and Co. at Reading. MDCCLXII.


LETTER I. To Mr. **** Merchant in London.


YOURS of the 13th instant, covering two bills, one on Messrs. R. and D. value 478 l. 10 s. and the other on Mr. ****, value 285 l. duly came to hand, the former of which met with honour, but the other has been trifled with, and I am afraid vill be returned protested.

The bearer of this is my friend, therefore let him be yours. He is a native of Honan in China, and one who did me signal services when he was a mandarine, and I a factor at Canton. By fre­quently conversing with English there, he has learned the language, though intirely a stranger to their manners and customs. I am told he is a phi­losopher, [Page 2] I am sure he is an honest man; that to you will be his best recommendation, next to the consideration of his being the friend of, Sir,

Yours, &c.

LETTER II. Lond. From Lien Chi Altangi to ****, Merchant in Amsterdam.

Friend of my heart,

MAY the wings of peace rest upon thy dwelling, and the shield of conscience preserve thee from vice and misery: for all thy favours accept my gra­titude and esteem, the only tributes a poor philo­sophic wanderer can return; sure fortune is re­solved to make me unhappy, when she gives others a power of testifying their friendship by actions, and leaves me only words to express the sincerity of mine.

I am perfectly sensible of the delicacy by which you endeavour to lessen your own merit and my obligations. By calling your late instances of friend­ship only a return for former favours, you would induce me to impute to your justice what I owe to your generosity.

The services I did you at Canton, justice, hu­manity, and my office bade me perform; those you have done me since my arrival at Amsterdam, no laws obliged you to, no justice required, even half your favours would have been greater than my most sanguine expectations.

The sum of money therefore which you private­ly conveyed into my baggage, when I was leaving [Page 3] Holland, and which I was ignorant of till my ar­rival in London, I must beg leave to return. You have been bred a merchant, and I a scholar; You consequently love money better than I. You can find pleasure in superfluity, I am perfectly con­tented with what is sufficient; take therefore what is yours, it may give you some pleasure, even though you have no occasion to use it; my happiness it cannot improve, for I have already all that I want.

My passage by sea from Rotterdam to England, was more painful to me than all the journies I ever made on land. I have traversed the immeasurable wilds of Mogul Tartary; felt all the rigours of Siberian skies; I have had my repose an hundred times disturbed by invading savages, and have seen without shrinking the desart sands rise like a troub­led ocean all around me; against these calamities I was armed with resolution; but in my passage to England, though nothing occurred that gave the mariners any uneasiness, yet to one who was never at sea before, all was a subject of astonishment and terror. To find the land disappear, to see our ship mount the waves quick as an arrow from the Tar­tar bow, to hear the wind howling through the cordage, to feel a sickness which depresses even the spirits of the brave; these were unexpected dis­tresses, and consequently assaulted me unprepared to receive them.

You men of Europe think nothing of a voyage by sea. With us of China, a man who has been from sight of land is regarded upon his return with admiration. I have known some provinces where there is not even a name for the ocean. What a strange people therefore am I got amongst, who have founded an empire on this unstable element, [Page 4] who build cities upon billows that rise higher than the mountains of Tipartala, and make the deep more formidable than the wildest tempest.

Such accounts as these, I must confess, were my first motives for seeing England. These induced me to undertake a journey of seven hundred pain­ful days, in order to examine its opulence, build­ings, sciences, arts and manufactures on the spot. Judge then how great is my disappointment on en­tering London, to see no signs of that opulence so much talked of abroad; wherever I turn, I am presented with a gloomy solemnity in the houses, the streets and the inhabitants; none of that beau­tiful gilding which makes a principal ornament in Chinese architecture. The streets of Nankin are sometimes strewed with gold leaf; very different are those of London: in the midst of their pavements, a great lazy puddle moves muddily along; heavy laden machines with wheels of unweildy thickness crowd up every passage; so that a stranger, instead of finding time for observation, is often happy if he has time to escape from being crushed to pieces.

The houses borrow very few ornaments from ar­chitecture; their chief decoration seems to be a paltry piece of painting, hung out at their doors or windows, at once a proof of their indigence and vanity. Their vanity, in each having one of those pictures exposed to public view; and their indigence, in being unable to get them better paint­ed In this respect, the fancy of their painters is also deplorable. Could you believe it? I have seen five black lions and three blue boars in less than a circuit of half a mile; and yet you know that ani­mals of these colours are no where to be found ex­cept in the wild imaginations of Europe.

[Page 5]From these circumstances in their buildings, and from the dismal looks of the inhabitants, I am in­duced to conclude that the nation is actually poor; and that like the Persians, they make a splendid figure every where but at home. The proverb of Xixofou is, that a man's riches may be seen in his eyes; if we judge of the English by this rule, there is not a poorer nation under the sun.

I have been here but two days, so will not be hasty in my decisions; such letters as I shall write to Fipsihi in Moscow, I beg you'll endeavour to forward with all diligence; I shall send them open, in order that you may take copies or translations, as you are equally versed in the Dutch and Chinese languages. Dear friend, think of my absence with regret, as I sincerely regret yours; even while I write, I lament our separation. Farewell.

LETTER III. From Lien Chi Altangi, to the care of Fipsihi, resi­dent in Moscow; to be forwarded by the Russian caravan to Fum Hoam, first president of the ceremo­nial academy at Pekin in China.

THINK not, O thou guide of my youth, that absence can impair my respect, or interposing trackless desarts blot your reverend figure from my memory. The farther I travel I feel the pain of separation with stronger force, those ties that bind me to my native country, and you, are still unbroken. By every remove, I only drag a greater length of chain.

Could I find aught worth transmitting from so remote a region as this to which I have wandered, [Page 6] I should gladly send it; but instead of this, you must be contented with a renewal of my former professions, and an imperfect account of a people with whom I am as yet but superficially acquaint­ed. The remarks of a man who has been but three days in the country can only be those obvious circumstances which force themselves upon the ima­gination: I consider myself here as a newly created Being introduced into a new world; every object strikes with wonder and surprise. The imagina­tion still unsated, seems the only active principle of the mind. The most trifling occurrences give pleasure, till the gloss of novelty is worn away. When I have ceased to wonder, I may possibly grow wise; I may then call the reasoning principle to my aid, and compare those objects with each other, which were before examined without reflection.

Behold me then in London, gazing at the stran­gers, and they at me; it seems they find some­what absurd in my figure; and had I been never from home it is possible I might find an infinite fund of ridicule in theirs; but by long travelling I am taught to laugh at folly alone, and to find nothing truly ridiculous but villainy and vice.

When I had just quitted my native country, and crossed the Chinese wall, I fancied every deviation from the customs and manners of China was a de­parting from nature: I smiled at the blue lips and red foreheads of the Tonguese; and could hardly contain when I saw the Daures dress their heads with horns. The Ostiacs powdered with red earth; and the Calmuck beauties tricked out in all the finery of sheep-skin appeared highly ridiculous; but I soon perceived that the ridicule lay not in them but in me; that I falsely condemned others [Page 7] of absurdity, because they happened to differ from a standard originally founded in prejudice or par­tiality.

I find no pleasure therefore in taxing the Eng­lish with departing from nature in their external appearance, which is all I yet know of their cha­racter; it is possible they only endeavour to im­prove her simple plan, since every extravagance in dress proceeds from a desire of becoming more beautiful than nature made us; and this is so harm­less a vanity that I not only pardon but approve it: A desire to be more excellent than others is what actually makes us so, and as thousands find a live­lihood in society by such appetites, none but the ignorant inveigh against them.

You are not insensible, most reverend Fum Hoam, what numberless trades, even among the Chinese, subsist by the harmless pride of each other. Your nose-borers, feet-swathers, tooth-stainers, eye brow pluckers, would all want bread, should their neigh­bours want vanity. These vanities, however, em­ploy much fewer hands in China than in England; and a fine gentleman, or a fine lady, here dressed up to the fashion, seems scarcely to have a single limb that does not suffer some distortions from art.

To make a fine gentleman, several trades are required, but chiefly a barber: you have undoubt­edly heard of the Jewish champion, whose strength lay in his hair: one would think that the English were for placing all wisdom there: To appear wise, nothing more is requisite here than for a man to borrow hair from the heads of all his neighbours, and clap it like a bush on his own: the distributors [Page 8] of law and physic stick on such quantities, that it is almost impossible, even in idea, to distinguish between the head and the hair.

Those whom I have been now describing, affect the gravity of the lion: those I am going to de­scribe more resemble the pert vivacity of smaller animals. The barber, who is still master of the ceremonies, cuts their hair close to the crown; and then with a composition of meal and hog's lard, plaisters the whole in such a manner, as to make it impossible to distinguish whether the patient wears a cap or a plaister; but to make the picture more perfectly striking, conceive the tail of some beast, a greyhound's tail, or a pig's tail for instance, ap­pended to the back of the head, and reaching down to that place where tails in other animals are generally seen to begin; thus betailed and bepow­dered, the man of taste fancies he improves in beauty, dresses up his hard-featured face in smiles, and attempts to look hideously tender. Thus equipped, he is qualified to make love, and hopes for success more from the powder on the outside of his head, than the sentiments within.

Yet when I consider what sort of a creature the fine lady is, to whom he is supposed to pay his ad­dresse [...], it is not strange to find him thus equipped in order to please. She is herself every whit as fond of powder, and tails, and hog's lard as he: to speak my secret sentiments, most reverend Fum, the ladies here are horridly ugly; I can hardly en­dure the sight of them; they no way resemble the beauties of China: the Europeans have a quite different idea of beauty from us; when I reflect on the small footed perfections of an Eastern beau­ty, how is it possible I should have eyes for a wo­man [Page 9] whose feet are ten inches long. I shall never forget the beauties of my native city of Nangfew. How very broad their faces; how very short their noses; how very little their eyes; how very thin their lips; how very black their teeth; the snow on the tops of Bao is not fairer than their cheeks; and their eye-brows are small as the line by the pencil of Quamsi. Here a lady with such perfec­tions would be frightful; Dutch and Chinese beau­ties indeed have some resemblance, but English wo­men are entirely different; red cheeks, big eyes, and teeth of a most odious whiteness, are not only seen here, but wished for; and then they have such masculine feet, as actually serve some for walking!

Yet uncivil as nature has been, they seem re­solved to outdo her in unkindness; they use white powder, blue powder, and black powder for their hair, and a red powder for the face on some parti­cular occasions.

They like to have the face of various colours, as among the Tartars of Koreki, frequently stick­ing on, with spittle, little black patches on every part of it, except on the tip of the nose, which I have never seen with a patch. You'll have a bet­ter idea of their manner of placing these spots, when I have finished a map of an English face patch'd up to the fashion, which shall shortly be sent to encrease your curious collection of paint­ings, medals, and monsters.

But what surprizes more than all the rest, is, what I have just now been credibly informed by one of this country; "Most ladies here, says he, have two faces; one face to sleep in, and another to shew in company: the first is generally reserv'd [Page 10] for the husband and family at home, the other put on to please strangers abroad; the family face is often indifferent enough, but the out-door one [...]oks something better; this is always made at the toilet, where the looking-glass, and toad-eater sit in council and settle the complexion of the day."

I can't ascertain the truth of this remark; how­ever, it is actually certain, that they wear more cloaths within doors than without; and I have seen a lady who seem'd to shudder at a breeze in her own apartment, appear half naked in the streets. Farewell.

LETTER IV. To the same.

THE English seem as silent as the Japonese, yet vainer than the inhabitants of Siam. Upon my arrival I attributed that reserve to modesty, which I now find has its origin in pride. Con­descend to address them first, and you are sure of their acquaintance; stoop to flattery, and you con­ciliate their friendship and esteem. They bear hunger, cold, fatigue, and all the miseries of life without shrinking; danger only calls forth their fortitude; they even exult in calamity; but con­tempt is what they cannot bear. An Englishman fears contempt more than death; he often flies to death as a refuge from its pressure; and dies when he fancies the world has ceased to esteem him.

Pride seems the source not only of their national vices, but of their national virtues also. An Eng­lishman is taught to love his king as his friend, [Page 11] but to acknowledge no other master than the laws which himself has contributed to enact. He de­spises those nations, who, that one may be free, are all content to be slaves; who first lift a ty­rant into terror, and then shrink under his power as if delegated from heaven. Liberty is echoed in all their assemblies, and thousands might be found ready to offer up their lives for the sound, though perhaps not one of all the number understands its meaning. The lowest mechanic however looks upon it as his duty to be a watchful guardian of his country's freedom, and often uses a language that might seem haughty, even in the mouth of the great emperor who traces his ancestry to the moon.

A few days ago, passing by one of their prisons, I could not avoid stopping, in order to listen to a dialogue which I thought might afford me some entertainment. The conversation was carried on between a debtor through the grate of his prison, a porter, who had stopped to rest his burthen, and a soldier at the window. The subject was upon a threatened invasion from France, and each seemed extreamly anxious to rescue his country from the impending danger. "For my part, cries the prisoner, the greatest of my apprehensions is for our freedom; if the French should conquer, what would become of English liberty. My dear Friends, liberty is the Englishman's prerogotive; we must pre­serve that at the expence of our lives, of that the French shall never deprive us; it is not to be expected that men who are slaves themselves would preserve our freedom should they happen to conquer: Ay, slaves, cries the porter, they are all slaves, fit only to carry burthens every one of them. Before I would stoop to slavery, may this be my poison (and he [Page 12] held the goblet in his hand) may this be my poi­son—but I would sooner list for a soldier."

The soldier taking the goblet from his friend, with much awe fervently cried out, It is not so much our liberties as our religion that would suffer by such a change: Ay, our religion, my lads. May the De­vil sink me into flames, (such was the solemnity of his adjuration) if the French should come over, but our religion would be utterly undone. So saying, in­stead of a libation, he applied the goblet to his lips, and confirmed his sentiments with a ceremony of the most persevering devotion.

In short, every man here pretends to be a poli­tician; even the fair sex are sometimes found to mix the severity of national altercation, with the blandishments of love, and often become con­querors by more weapons of destruction than their eyes.

This universal passion for politics is gratified by Daily Gazettes, as with us at China. But as in ours, the emperor endeavours to instruct his peo­ple, in theirs the people endeavour to instruct the administration. You must not, however, imagine, that they who compile these papers have any ac­tual knowledge of the politics, or the government of a state; they only collect their materials from the oracle of some coffee-house, which oracle has himself gathered them the night before from a beau at a gaming-table, who has pillaged his know­ledge from a great man's porter, who has had his information from the great man's gentleman, who has invented the whole story for his own amusement the night preceding.

[Page 13]The English in general seem fonder of gaining the esteem than the love of those they converse with: this gives a formality to their amusements; their gayest conversations have something too wise for innocent relaxation; though in company you are seldom disgusted with the absurdity of a fool; you are seldom lifted into rapture by those strokes of vivacity which give instant, though not perma­nent pleasure.

What they want, however, in gaiety, they make up in politeness. You smile at hearing me praise the English for their politeness: you who have heard very different accounts from the missionaries at Pekin, who have seen such a different behaviour in their merchants and seamen at home. But I must still repeat it, the English seem more polite than any of their neighbours: their great art in this respect lies in endeavouring, while they oblige, to lessen the force of the favour. Other coun­tries are fond of obliging a stranger; but seem de­sirous that he should be sensible of the obligation. The English confer their kindness with an ap­pearance of indifference, and give away benefits with an air as if they despised them.

Walking a few days ago between an English and a Frenchman into the suburbs of the city, we were overtaken by a heavy shower of rain. I was un­prepared; but they had each large coats, which defended them from what seemed to me a perfect inundation. The Englishman seeing me shrink from the weather, accosted me thus: "Psha, man, what dost shrink at? here, take this coat; I don't want it; I find it no way useful to me; I had as lief be without it." The Frenchman began to shew his politeness in turn. "My dear friend," [Page 14] cries he, "why wont you oblige me by making use of my coat; you see how well it defends me from the rain; I should not chuse to part with it to others, but to such a friend as you, I could even part with my skin to do him service."

From such minute instances as these, most reve­rend Fum Hoam, I am sensible your sagacity will collect instruction. The volume of nature is the book of knowledge; and he becomes most wise who makes the most judicious selection. Farewell.

LETTER V. To the same.

I Have already informed you of the singular pas­sion of this nation for politics. An English­man not satisfied with finding by his own prospe­rity the contending powers of Europe properly balanced, desires also to know the precise value of every weight in either scale. To gratify this curiosity, a leaf of political instruction is served up every morning with tea: When our politician has feasted upon this, he repairs to a coffee-house, in order to ruminate upon what he has read, and encrease his collection; from thence he proceeds to the ordinary, enquires what news, and treasur­ing up every acquisition there, hunts about all the evening in quest of more, and carefully adds it to the rest. Thus at night he retires home, full of the important advices of the day. When lo! awaking next morning, he finds the instructions of yester­day a collection of absurdity or palpable falshood. This, one would think, a mortifying repulse in the [Page 15] pursuit of wisdom; yet our politician no way dis­couraged, hunts on, in order to collect fresh ma­terials, and in order to be again disappointed.

I have often admired the commercial spirit which prevails over Europe; have been surprised to see them carry on a traffic with productions, that an Asiatic stranger would deem entirely useless. It is a proverb in China, that an European suffers not even his spittle to be lost; the maxim, however, is not sufficiently strong; since they sell even their Lies to great advantage. Every nation drives a considerable trade in this commodity with their neighbours.

An English dealer in this way, for instance, has only to ascend to his work-house, and manufac­ture a turbulent speech averred to be spoken in the senate; or a report supposed to be dropt at court; a piece of scandal that strikes at a popular Man­darine; or a secret treaty between two neighbour­ing powers. When finished, these goods are bal­ed up, and consigned to a factor abroad, who sends in return two battles, three sieges, and a shrewd letter filled with dashes — blanks and stars **** of great importance.

Thus you perceive, that a single gazette is the joint manufacture of Europe; and he who would peruse it with a philosophical eye, might perceive in every paragraph something characte­ristick of the nation to which it belongs. A map does not exhibit a more distinct view of the boun­daries and situation of every country, than its news does a picture of the genius, and the mo­rals of its inhabitants. The superstition and er­roneous delicacy of Italy, the formality of Spain, [Page 16] the cruelty of Portugal, the fears of Austria, the confidence of Prussia, the levity of France, the a­varice of Holland, the pride of England, the ab­surdity of Ireland, and the national partiality of Scotland, are all conspicuous in every page.

But, perhaps, you may find more satisfaction in a real news paper, than in my description of one; I therefore send a specimen, which may serve to exhibit the manner of their being writ­ten, and distinguish the characters of the various nations which are united in its composition.

NAPLES. We have lately dug up here a cu­rious Etruscan monument, broke in two in the raising. The characters are scarce visible; but Nugosi, the learned antiquary, supposes it to have been erected in honour of Picus, a Latin King, as one of the lines may be plainly dinstinguished to begin with a P. It is hoped this discovery will produce something valuable, as the literati of our twelve academies are deeply engaged in the dis­quisition.

PISA. Since father Fudgi, prior of St. Gilbert's, has gone to reside at Rome, no miracles have been performed at the shrine of St. Gilbert; the de­vout begin to grow uneasy, and some begin actu­ally to fear that St. Gilbert has forsaken them with the reverend father.

LUCCA. The administrators of our serene re­public, have frequent conferences upon the part they shall take in the present commotions of Eu­rope. Some are for sending a body of their troops, consisting of one company of foot, and six horse­men, to make a diversion in favour of the em­press-queen; [Page 17] others are as strenuous asserters of the Prussian interest: what turn these debates may take, time only can discover. However, cer­tain it is, we shall be able to bring into the field at the opening of the next campaign, seventy-five armed men, a commander in chief, and two drum­mers of great experience.

SPAIN. Yesterday the new king shewed himself to his subjects, and after having staid half an hour in his balcony, retired to the royal apartment. The night concluded on this extraordinary occa­sion with illuminations, and other demonstrations of joy.

The queen is more beautiful than the rising sun, and reckoned one of the first wits in Europe: she had a glorious opportunity of displaying the readi­ness of her mention, and her skill in repartee lately at court. The duke of Lerma, coming up to her with a low bow and a smile, and presenting a nose­gay set with diamonds, Madam, cries he, I am your most obedient humble servant. Oh, Sir, replies the queen, without any prompter, or the least he­sitation, I'm very proud of the very great honour you do me. Upon which she made a low curtesy, and all the courtiers fell a laughing at the readiness and the smartness of her reply.

LISBON. Yesterday we had an auto da fe, at which were burned three young women accused of heresy, one of them of exquisite beauty; two Jews, and an old woman, convicted of being a witch: One of the friars, who attended this last, reports, that he saw the devil fly out of her at the stake in the shape of a flame of fire. The popu­lace [Page 18] behaved on this occasion with great good hu­mour, joy, and sincere devotion.

Our merciful Sovereign has been for some time past recovered of his fright: though so atrocious an attempt deserved to exterminate half the nation, yet he has been graciously pleased to spare the lives of his subjects, and not above five hundred have been broke upon the wheel, or otherwise ex­ecuted upon this horrid occasion.

VIENNA. We have received certain advices that a party of twenty thousand Austrians, having at­tacked a much superior body of Prussians, put them all to flight, and took the rest prisoners of war.

BERLIN. We have received certain advices that a party of twenty thousand Prussians, having at­tacked a much superior body of Austrians, put them to flight, and took a great number of pri­soners, with their military chest, cannon, and bag­gage.

Though we have not succeeded this campaign to our wishes; yet, when we think of him who com­mands us, we rest in security: while we sleep, our king is watchful for our safety.

PARIS. We shall soon strike a signal blow. We have seventeen flat-bottom'd boats at Havre. The people are in excellent spirits, and our ministers make no difficulty of raising the supplies.

We are all undone; the people are discontented to the last degree; the ministers are obliged to [Page 19] [...]ave recourse to the most rigorous methods to raise [...]he expences of the war.

Our distresses are great; but madam Pompa­ [...]our continues to supply our king, who is now [...]rowing old, with a fresh lady every night. His [...]ealth, thank heaven, is still pretty well; nor is [...]e in the least unfit, as was reported, for any kind [...]f royal exercitation. He was so frighted at the [...]ffair of Damien, that his physicians were appre­ [...]ensive lest his reason should suffer, but that wretch's tortures soon composed the kingly terrors [...]f his breast.

ENGLAND. Wanted an usher to an academy. N. B. He must be able to read, dress hair, and must have had the small pox.

DUBLIN. We hear that there is a benevolent subscription on foot among the nobility and gentry of this kingdom, who are great patrons of merit, [...]n order to assist Black and All Black, in his con­ [...]est with the Padderen mare.

We hear from Germany that prince Ferdinand has gained a complete victory, and taken twelve kettle drums, five standards; and four waggons of ammunition prisoners of war.

EDINBURGH. We are positive when we say that Saunders M'Gregor, who was lately executed for horse-stealing, is not a Scotchman, but born in Carrickfergus. Farewell.

LETTER VI. Fum Hoam, first president of the ceremonial academy at Pekin, to Lien Chi Altangi, the discontented wanderer; by the way of Moscow.

WHETHER sporting on the flowery banks of the river Irtis, or scaling the steepy moun­tains of Douchenour: Whether traversing the black deserts of Kobi, or giving lessons of polite­ness to the savage inhabitants of Europe. In whatever country, whatever climate, and what­ever circumstances, all hail! May Tien, the uni­versal soul, take you under his protection, and in­spire you with a superior portion of himself.

How long, my friend, shall an enthusiasm for knowlege continue to obstruct your happiness, and tear you from all the connexions that make life pleasing? How long will you continue to rove from climate to climate, circled by thousands, and yet without a friend, feeling all the inconvenien­cies of a croud, and all the anxiety of being alone.

I know you will reply, that the refined pleasure of growing every day wiser, is a sufficient recom­pence for every inconvenience. I know you will talk of the vulgar satisfaction of soliciting happi­ness from sensual enjoyment only; and probably enlarge upon the exquisite raptures of sentimental bliss. Yet, believe me, friend, you are deceived; all our pleasures, though seemingly never so re­mote from sense, derive their origin from some one of the senses. The most exquisite demonstration in mathematics, or the most pleasing disquisition in metaphysics, if it does not ultimately tend to [Page 21] [...]ncrease some sensual satisfaction, is delightful only [...]o fools, or to men who have by long habit con­ [...]racted a false idea of pleasure; and he who sepa­ [...]ates sensual and sentimental enjoyments, seeking [...]appiness from mind alone, is in fact as wretched [...]s the naked inhabitant of the forest, who places [...]ll happiness in the first, regardless of the latter. There are two extremes in this respect; the sa­ [...]age who swallows down the draught of pleasure without staying to reflect on his happiness, and [...]he sage who passeth the cup while he reflects on [...]he conveniencies of drinking.

IT is with an heart full of sorrow, my dear Al­tangi, that I must inform you that what the world calls happiness must now be yours no longer. Our great emperor's displeasure at your leaving China, contrary to the rules of our government, and the immemorial custom of the empire, has produced the most terrible effects. Your wife, daughter, and the rest of your family have been seized by his order, and appropriated to his use; all except your son are now the peculiar property of him who possesses all; him I have hidden from the officers employed for this purpose; and even at the hazard of my life I have concealed him. The youth seems obstinately bent on finding you out, where­ever you are; he is determined to face every dan­ger that opposes his pursuit. Though yet but fifteen, all his father's virtues and obstinacy sparkle in his eyes, and mark him as one destined to no mediocrity of fortune.

You see, my dearest friend, what imprudence has brought thee to; from opulence, a tender fa­mily, surrounding friends, and your master's esteem, it has reduced thee to want, persecution; [Page 22] and still worse, to our mighty monarch's displea­sure. Want of prudence is too frequently the want of virtue; nor is there on earth a more pow­erful advocate for vice than poverty. As I shall endeavour to guard thee from the one, so guard thyself from the other; and still think of me with affection and esteem. Farewell.

LETTER VII. From Lien Chi Altangi, to Fum Hoam, first president of the Ceremonial Academy at Pekin, in China.
The Editor thinks proper to acquaint the reader, that the greatest part of the following letter seems to him to be little more than a rhapsody of sentences bor­rowed from Confucius, the Chinese philosopher.

A Wife, a daughter carried into captivity to ex­piate my offence, a son scarce yet arrived at maturity, resolving to encounter every danger in the pious pursuit of one who has undone him, these indeed are circumstances of distress; tho' my tears were more precious than the gem of Gol­conda, yet would they fall upon such an occasion.

But I submit to the stroke of heaven, I hold the volume of Confucius in my hand, and as I read grow humble and patient, and wise. We should feel sorrow, says he, but not sink under its oppres­sion; the heart of a wise man should resemble a mirrour, which reflects every object without be­ing sullied by any. The wheel of fortune turns incessantly round, and who can say within himself I shall to day be uppermost. We should hold the immutable mean that lies between insensibility and [Page 23] anguish; our attempts should be not to extinguish nature, but to repress it; not to stand unmoved at distress, but endeavour to turn every disaster to our own advantage. Our greatest glory is, not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

I fancy myself at present, O thou reverend dis­ciple of Tao, more than a match for all that can happen; the chief business of my life has been to procure wisdom, and the chief object of that wis­dom was to be happy. My attendance on your lectures, my conferences with the missionaries of Europe, and all my subsequent adventures upon quitting China, were calculated to encrease the sphere of my happiness, not my curiosity. Let European travellers cross seas and deserts merely to measure the height of a mountain, to describe the cataract of a river, or tell the commodities which every country may produce; merchants or geographers, perhaps, may find profit by such dis­coveries, but what advantage can accrue to a phi­losopher from such accounts, who is desirous of understanding the human heart, who seeks to know the men of every country, who desires to discover those differences which result from cli­mate, religion, education, prejudice, and partia­lity.

I should think my time very ill bestowed, were the only fruits of my adventures to consist in being able to tell, that a tradesman of London lives in an house three times as high as that of our great Em­peror. That the ladies wear longer cloaths than the men, that the priests are dressed in colours which we are taught to detest, and that their sol­diers wear scarlet, which is with us the symbol of peace and innocence. How many travellers are [Page 24] there, who confine their relations to such minute and useless particulars; for one who enters into the genius of those nations with whom he has conversed, who discloses their morals, their opi­nions, the ideas which they entertain of religious worship, the intrigues of their ministers, and their skill in sciences. There are twenty, who only mention some idle particulars, which can be of no real use to a true philosopher. All their remarks tend, neither to make themselves nor others more happy; they no way contribute to control their passions, to bear adversity, to inspire true virtue, or raise a detestation of vice.

Men may be very learned, and yet very miser­able; it is easy to be a deep geometrician, or a sublime astronomer, but very difficult to be a good man; I esteem, therefore, the traveller who in­structs the heart, but despise him who only indul­ges the imagination; a man who leaves home to mend himself and others is a philosopher; but he who goes from country to country, guided by the blind impulse of curiosity, is only a vagabond. From Zerdusht down to him of Tyanea, I honour all those great names who endeavoured to unite the world by their travels; such men grew wiser as well as better, the farther they departed from home, and seemed like rivers, whose streams are not only encreased, but refined, as they travel from their source.

For my own part, my greatest glory is, that tra­velling has not more steeled my constitution against all the vicissitudes of climate, and all the depres­sions of fatigue, than it has my mind against the accidents of fortune, or the accesses of despair. Farewell.

LETTER VIII. From Lien Chi Altangi, to Fum Hoam, first presi­dent of the Ceremonial Academy at Pekin, in China.

HOW insupportable! oh thou possessor of hea­venly wisdom, would be this separation, this immeasurable distance from my friends, were I not able thus to delineate my heart upon paper, and to send thee daily a map of my mind.

I am every day better reconciled to the peo­ple among whom I reside, and begin to fancy that in time I shall find them more opulent, more charitable, and more hospitable than I at first ima­gined. I begin to learn somewhat of their man­ners and customs, and to see reasons for several de­viations which they make from us, from whom all other nations derive their politeness as well as their original.

In spite of taste, in spite of prejudice, I now begin to think their women tolerable; I can now look on a languishing blue eye without disgust, and pardon a set of teeth, even though whiter than ivory. I now begin to fancy there is no uni­versal standard for beauty. The truth is, the manners of the ladies in this city are so very open, and so vastly engaging, that I am inclined to pass over the more glaring defects of their persons, since compensated by the more solid, yet latent beauties of the mind; what tho' they want black teeth, or are deprived of the allurements of feet no bigger than their thumbs, yet still they have souls, my friend, such souls, so free, so pressing, so hospitable, and so engaging—I have received [Page 26] more invitations in the streets of London from the sex in one night, than I have met with at Pekin in twelve revolutions of the moon.

Every evening as I return home from my usual solitary excursions, I am met by several of those well disposed daughters of hospitality, at different times and in different streets, richly dressed, and with minds not less noble than their appearance. You know that nature has indulged me with a person by no means agreeable; yet are they too generous to object to my homely appearance; they feel no repugnance at my broad face and flat nose; they perceive me to be a stranger, and that alone is a sufficient recommendation. They even seem to think it their duty to do the honours of the country by every act of complaisance in their pow­er. One takes me under the arm, and in a man­ner forces me along; another catches me round the neck, and desires to partake in this office of hospitality; while a third kinder still, invites me to refresh my spirits with wine. Wine is in Eng­land reserved only for the rich, yet here even wine is given away to the stranger!

A few nights ago, one of those generous crea­tures, dressed all in white, and flaunting like a meteor by my side, forcibly attended me home to my own apartment. She seemed charmed with the elegance of the furniture, and the convenience of my situation. And well indeed she might, for I have hired an apartment for not less than two shillings of their money every week. But her ci­vility did not rest here; for at parting, being de­sirous to know the hour, and perceiving my watch out of order, she kindly took it to be repaired by a relation of her own, which you may imagine will [Page 27] save some expence, and she assures me that it will cost her nothing. I shall have it back in a few days when mended, and am preparing a proper speech expressive of my gratitude on the occa­sion: Celestial excellence, I intend to say, happy I am in having found out, after many painful adventures, a land of innocence, and a people of humanity: I may rove into other climes, and converse with nations yet unknown, but where shall I meet a soul of such purity as that which resides in thy breast! Sure thou hast been nurtured by the bill of the Shin Shin, or suck'd the breasts of the provident Gin Hiung. The melody of thy voice could rob the Chong Fou of her whelps, or inveigle the Boh that lives in the midst of the waters. Thy servant shall ever retain a sense of thy favours; and one day b [...]ast of thy virtue, sincerity, and truth, among the daughters of China. Adieu.

LETTER IX. To the same.

I Have been deceived! she whom I fancied a daughter of Paradise has proved to be one of the infamous disciples of Han! I have lost a trifle, I have gained the consolation of having discovered a deceiver. I once more, therefore, relax into my former indifference with regard to the English ladies, they once more begin to appear disagree­able in my eyes: Thus is my whole time passed in forming conclusions which the next minute's ex­perience may probably destroy; the present mo­ment becomes a comment on the past, and I im­prove rather in humility than wisdom.

[Page 28]Their laws and religion forbid the English to keep more than one woman, I therefore conclud­ed that prostitutes were banished from society; I was deceived; every man here keeps as many wives as he can maintain; the laws are cemented with blood, praised and disregarded. The very Chi­nese, whose religion allows him two wives, takes not half the liberties of the English in this parti­cular. Their laws may be compared to the books of the Sybils, they are held in great veneration, but seldom read, or seldomer understood; even those who pretend to be their guardians dispute about the meaning of many of them, and confess their ignorance of others. The law therefore which commands them to have but one wife, is strictly observed only by those for whom one is more than sufficient, or by such as have not money to buy two. As for the rest, they violate it public­ly, and some glory in its violation. They seem to think like the Persians, that they give evident marks of manhood by encreasing their seraglio. A mandarine therefore here generally keeps four wives, a gentleman three, and a stage-player two. As for the magistrates, the country justices and squires, they are employed first in debauching young virgins, and then punishing the transgres­sion.

From such a picture you will be apt to con­clude, that he who employs four ladies for his amusement, has four times as much constitution to spare as he who is contented with one; that a Mandarin is much cleverer than a gentleman, and a gentleman than a player, and yet it is quite the reverse; a Mandarine is frequently supported on spindle shanks, appears emaciated by luxury, and is obliged to have recourse to variety, merely from [Page 29] the weakness, not the vigour of his constitution, the number of his wives being the most equivocal symptom of his virility.

Beside the country squire, there is also another set of men, whose whole employment consists in corrupting beauty; these the silly part of the fair sex call amiable; the more sensible part of them, however, give them the title of abominable. You will probably demand what are the talents of a man thus caressed by the majority of the oppo­site sex; what talents, or what beauty is he possessed of superior to the rest of his fellows. To answer you directly, he has neither talents nor beauty, but then he is possessed of impudence and assiduity. With assiduity and impudence, men of all ages, and all figures, may commence admirers. I have even been told of some who made profes­sions of expiring for love, when all the world could perceive they were going to die of old age: and what is more surprising still, such batter'd beaus are generally most infamously successful.

A fellow of this kind employs three hours every morning in dressing his head, by which is under­stood only his hair.

He is a professed admirer, not of any particular lady, but of the whole sex.

He is to suppose every lady has caught cold every night, which gives him an opportunity of calling to see how she does the next morning.

He is upon all occasions to shew himself in very great pain for the ladies; if a lady drops even a pin, he is to fly in order to present it.

[Page 30]He never speaks to a lady without advancing his mouth to her ear, by which he frequently addresses more senses than one.

Upon proper occasions he looks excessively ten­der. This is performed by laying his hand up­on his heart, shutting his eyes, and showing his teeth.

He is excessively fond of dancing a minuet with the ladies, by which is only meant walking round the floor eight or ten times with his hat on, affect­ing great gravity, and sometimes looking tenderly on his partner.

He never affronts any man himself, and never resents an affront from another.

He has an infinite variety of small talk upon all occasions, and laughs when he has nothing more to say.

Such is the killing creature who prostrates him­self to the sex till he has undone them; all whose submissions are the effects of design, and who to please the ladies almost becomes himself a lady.

LETTER X. To the same.

I HAVE hitherto given you no account of my journey from China to Europe, of my travels through countries, where nature sports in prime­val rudeness, where she pours forth her wonders in solitude; countries, from whence the rigorous [Page 31] climate, the sweeping inundation, the drifted de­sart, the howling forest, and mountains of im­measurable height banish the husbandman, and spread extensive desolation; countries where the brown Tartar wanders for a precarious subsistence, with an heart that never felt pity, himself more hi­deous than the wilderness he makes.

You will easily conceive the fatigue of crossing vast tracts of land, either desolate, or still more dangerous by its inhabitants. The retreat of men, who seem driven from society, in order to make war upon all the human race; nominally professing a subjection to Moscovy or China, but without any resemblance to the countries on which they de­pend.

After I had crossed the great wall, the first ob­ject that presented were the remains of desolated cities, and all the magnificence of venerable ruin. There were to be seen temples of beautiful struc­ture, statues wrought by the hand of a master, and around a country of luxuriant plenty; but not one single inhabitant to reap the bounties of na­ture. These were prospects that might humble the pride of kings, and repress human vanity. I ask'd my guide the cause of such desolation. These countries, says he, were once the dominions of a Tartar prince; and these ruins the seat of arts, elegance, and ease. This prince waged an unsuc­cessful war with one of the emperors of China; he was conquered, his cities plundered, and all his subjects carried into captivity. Such are the effects of the ambition of Kings! Ten Dervises, says the Indian proverb, shall sleep in peace upon a single carpet, while two kings shall quarrel though they have kingdoms to divide them. Sure, my friend, [Page 32] the cruelty and the pride of man have made more desarts than nature ever made! she is kind, but man is ungrateful!

Proceeding in my journey through this pensive scene of desolated beauty, in a few days I arrived among the Daures, a nation still dependent on China. Xaixigar is their principal city, which, compared with those of Europe, scarcely deserves the name. The governors and other officers, who are sent yearly from Pekin, abuse their authority, and often take the wives and daughters of the in­habitants to themselves. The Daures accustomed to base submission, feel no resentment at those in­juries, or stifle what they feel. Custom and ne­cessity teach even barbarians the same art of dissi­mulation that ambition and intrigue inspire in the breasts of the polite. Upon beholding such unli­censed stretches of power, alas, thought I, how little does our wise and good emperor know of these intolerable exactions! these provinces are too distant for complaint, and too insignificant to ex­pect redress. The more distant the government, the honester should be the governor to whom it is entrusted; for hope of impunity is a strong induce­ment to violation.

The religion of the Daures is more absurd than even that of the sectaries of Fohi. How would you be surprized, O sage disciple and follower of Confucius! you who believe one eternal intelli­gent cause of all, should you be present at the bar­barous ceremonies of this infatuated people. How would you deplore the blindness and folly of mankind. His boasted reason seems only to light him astray, and brutal instinct more regularly points out the path to happiness. Could you [Page 33] think it? they adore a wicked divinity; they fear him and they worship him; they imagine him a malicious being, ready to injure and ready to be appeased. The men and women assemble at mid­night in a hut, which serves for a temple. A priest stretches himself on the ground, and all the people pour forth the most horrid cries, while drums and timbrels swell the infernal concert. After this dissonance, miscalled music, has conti­nued about two hours, the priest rises from the ground, assumes an air of inspiration, grows big with the inspiring daemon, and pretends to a skill in futurity.

In every country, my friend, the bonzes, the brachmans, and the priests deceive the people; all reformations begin from the laity; the priests point us out the way to heaven with their fingers, but stand still themselves, nor seem to travel to­wards the country in view.

The customs of this people correspond to their religion; they keep their dead for three days on the same bed where the person died; after which they bury him in a grave moderately deep, but with the head still uncovered. Here for several days they present him different sorts of meats; which, when they perceive he does not consume, they fill up the grave, and desist from desiring him to eat for the future. How, how can mankind be guilty of such strange absurdity; to entreat a dead body already putrid to partake of the banquet? Where, I again repeat it, is human reason! not only some men, but whole nations, seem divested of its illumination. Here we observe a whole country adoring a divinity through fear, and at­tempting to feed the dead. These are their most [Page 34] serious and most religious occupations: are these men rational, or are not the apes of Borneo more wise?

Certain I am, O thou instructor of my youth! that without philosophers, without some few vir­tuous men, who seem to be of a different nature from the rest of mankind, without such as these the worship of a wicked divinity would surely be established over every part of the earth. Fear guides more to their duty than gratitude: for one man who is virtuous from the love of virtue; from the obligation which he thinks he lies under to the giver of all; there are ten thousand who are good only from their apprehensions of punishment. Could these last be persuaded, as the Epicureans were, that heaven had no thunders in store for the villain, they would no longer continue to acknow­ledge subordination, or thank that being who gave them existence. Adieu.

LETTER XI. To the same.

FROM such a picture of nature in primeval sim­plicity, tell me, my much respected friend, are you in love with fatigue and solitude? Do you sigh for the severe frugality of the wandering Tar­tar, or regret being born amidst the luxury and dissimulation of the polite? Rather tell me, has not every kind of life vices peculiarly its own? Is it not a truth, that refined countries have more vices, but those not so terrible, barbarous nations few, and they of the most hideous complexion? Per­fidy and fraud are the vices of civilized nations, cr [...]dulity and violence those of the inhabitants [Page 35] of the desert. Does the luxury of the one produce half the evils of the inhumanity of the other? Certainly those philosophers, who de­claim against luxury have but little understood its benefits; they seem insensible, that to luxury we owe not only the greatest part of our knowledge, but even of our virtues.

It may sound fine in the mouth of a declaimer when he talks of subduing our appetites, of teach­ing every sense to be content with a bare sufficien­cy, and of supplying only the wants of nature; but is there not more satisfaction in indulging those appetites, if with innocence and safety, than in restraining them? Am not I better pleased in en­joyment than in the sullen satisfaction of thinking that I can live without enjoyment? The more va­rious our artificial necessities, the wider is our circle of pleasure; for all pleasure consists in obviating necessities as they rise; luxury, therefore, as it en­creases our wants, encreases our capacity for hap­piness.

Examine the history of any country remarkable for opulence and wisdom, you will find they would never have been wise had they not been first lux­urious; you will find poets, philosophers, and even patriots, marching in luxury's train. The reason is obvious; we then only are curious after knowledge when we find it connected with sensual happiness. The senses ever point out the way, and reflection comments upon the discovery. In­form a native of the desert of Kobi, of the exact measure of the parallax of the moon, he finds no satisfaction at all in the information; he wonders how any could take such pains, and lay out such treasures in order to solve so useless a difficulty; [Page 36] but connect it with his happiness, by shewing that it improves navigation, that by such an investiga­tion he may have a warmer coat, a better gun, or a finer knife, and he is instantly in raptures at so great an improvement. In short, we only desire to know what we desire to possess; and whatever we may talk against it, luxury adds the spur to cu­riosity, and gives us a desire of becoming more wife.

But not our knowledge only, but our virtues are improved by luxury. Observe the brown sa­vage of Thibet, to whom the fruits of the spread­ing pomegranate supply food, and its branches an habitation. Such a character has few vices I grant, but those he has are of the most hideous nature, ra­pine and cruelty are scarce crimes in his eye, neither pity nor tenderness, which enoble every virtue, have any place in his heart; he hates his enemies, and kills those he subdues. On the other hand, the polite Chinese and civilized European seem even to love their enemies. I have just now seen an instance where the English have succoured those enemies whom their own countrymen actually re­fused to relieve.

The greater the luxuries of every country, the more closely, politically speaking, is that country united. Luxury is the child of society alone, the luxurious man stands in need of a thousand diffe­rent artists to furnish out his happiness; it is more likely, therefore, that he should be a good citizen who is connected by motives of self-interest with so many, than the abstemious man who is united to none.

[Page 37]In whatsoever light therefore we consider luxury, whether as employing a number of hands naturally too feeble for more laborious employment, as finding a variety of occupation for others who might be to­tally idle, or as furnishing out new inlets to happi­ness, without encroaching on mutual property, in whatever light we regard it, we shall have reason to stand up in its defence, and the sentiment of Confucius still remains unshaken; that we should en­joy as many of the luxuries of life as are consistent with our own safety, and the prosperity of others, and that he who finds out a new pleasure is one of the most use­ful members of society.

LETTER XII. To the same.

FROM the funeral solemnities of the Daures, who think themselves the politest people in the world, I must make a transition to the funeral so­lemnities of the English, who think themselves as polite as they. The numberless ceremonies which are used here when a person is sick, appear to me so many evident marks of fear and apprehension. Ask an Englishman, however, whether he is afraid of death, and he boldly answers in the negative; but observe his behaviour in circumstances of ap­proaching sickness, and you will find his actions give his assertions the lie.

The Chinese are very sincere in this respect; they hate to die, and they confess their terrors: a great part of their life is spent in preparing things proper for their funeral; a poor artizan shall spend [Page 38] half his income in providing himself a tomb twenty years before he wants it; and denies himself the necessaries of life, that he may be amply provided for when he shall want them no more.

But people of distinction in England really de­serve pity, for they die in circumstances of the most extreme distress. It is an established rule, never to let a man know that he is dying: physicians are sent for, the clergy are called, and every thing passes in silent solemnity round the sick bed; the patient is in agonies, looks round for pity, yet not a single creature will say that he is dying. If he is possessed of fortune, his relations entreat him to make his will, as it may restore the tranquillity of his mind. He is desired to undergo the rites of the church, for decency requires it. His friends take their leave only because they don't care to see him in pain. It short, an hundred stratagems are used to make him do what he might have been induced to perform only by being told; Sir, you are past all hopes, and had as good think decently of dying.

Besides all this, the chamber is darkened, the whole house ecchoes to the cries of the wife, the lamentations of the children, the grief of the ser­vants, and the sighs of friends. The bed is sur­rounded with priests and doctors in black, and only flambeaux emit a yellow gloom. Where is the man, how intrepid soever, that would not shrink at such a hideous solemnity? For fear of af­frighting their expiring friends, the English prac­tise all that can fill them with terror. Strange ef­fect of human prejudice thus to torture merely from mistaken tenderness!

[Page 39]You see, my friend, what contradictions there are in the tempers of those islanders; when prompted by ambition, revenge, or disappointment, they meet death with the utmost resolution; the very man who in his bed would have trembled at the aspect of a doctor, shall go with intrepidity to attack a bastion, or deliberately nooze himself up in his gar­ters.

The passion of the Europeans for magnificent interments, is equally strong with that of the Chi­nese. When a tradesman dies, his frightful face is painted up by an undertaker, and placed in a proper situation to receive company; this is called lying in state. To this disagreeable spectacle all the idlers in town flock, and learn to loath the wretch dead, whom they despised when living. In this manner you see some who would have re­fused a shilling to save the life of their dearest friend, bestow thousands on adorning their putrid corpse. I have been told of a fellow, who grown rich by the price of blood, left it in his will that he should lie in state, and thus unknowingly gib­beted himself into infamy, when he might have otherwise quietly retired into oblivion.

When the person is buried, the next care is to make his epitaph; they are generally reckoned best which flatter most; such Relations therefore as have received most benefits from the defunct, discharge this friendly office; and generally flatter in pro­portion to their joy. When we read those monu­mental histories of the dead, it may be justly said, that all men are equal in the dust; for they all ap­pear equally remarkable for being the most sincere Christians, the most benevolent neighbours, and [Page 40] the honestest men of their time. To go through an European cemetery, one would be apt to won­der how mankind could have so basely degenerated from such excellent ancestors; every tomb pre­tends to claim your reverence and regret; some are praised for piety in those inscriptions who ne­ver entered the temple until they were dead; some are praised for being excellent poets, who were ne­ver mentioned, except for their dulness, when liv­ing: others for sublime orators, who were never noted except for their impudence; and others still for military atchievements, who were never in any other skirmishes but with the watch. Some even make epitaphs for themselves, and bespeak the rea­ders good will. It were indeed to be wished, that every man would early learn in this manner to make his own; that he would draw it up in terms as flattering as possible; and that he would make it the employment of his whole life to deserve it!

I have not yet been in a place called Westmin­ster Abbey, but soon intend to visit it. There I am told I shall see justice done to deceased merit; none, I am told, are permitted to be buried there, but such as have adorned as well as improved man­kind. There no intruders by the influence of friends or fortune, presume to mix their unhallow­ed ashes with philosophers, heroes, and poets. Nothing but true merit has a place in that awful sanctuary: the guardianship of the tombs is com­mitted to several reverend priests, who are never guilty for a superior reward of taking down the names of good men, to make room for others of equivocal character, nor ever prophane the sacred walls with pageants, that posterity cannot know, or shall blush to own.

[Page 41]I always was of opinion, that sepulchral honours of this kind should be considered as a national con­cern, and not trusted to the care of the priests of any country, how respectable soever; but from the conduct of the reverend personages, whose dis­interested patriotism I shall shortly be able to dis­cover, I am taught to retract my former sentiments. It is true, the Spartans and the Persians made a fine political use of sepulchral vanity; they per­mitted none to be thus interred, who had not fal­len in the vindication of their country; a monu­ment thus became a real mark of distinction, it nerved the heroe's arm with tenfold vigour; and he fought without fear, who only fought for a grave. Farewell.

LETTER XIII. From the same.

I AM just returned from Westminster-abbey, the place of sepulture for the philosophers, heroes, and kings of England. What a gloom do monu­mental inscriptions and all the venerable remains of deceased merit inspire! Imagine a temple marked with the hand of antiquity, solemn as religious awe, adorned with all the magnificence of barba­rous profusion, dim windows, fretted pillars, long colonades, and dark cielings. Think then, what were my sensations at being introduced to such a scene. I stood in the midst of the temple, and threw my eyes round on the walls filled with the statues, the inscriptions, and the monuments of the dead.

[Page 42]Alas, I said to myself, how does pride attend the puny child of dust even to the grave! Even humble as I am, I possess more consequence in the present scene than the greatest heroe of them all; they have toiled for an hour to gain a transient immortality, and are at length retired to the grave, where they have no attendant but the worm, none to flatter but the epitaph.

As I was indulging such reflections, a gentle­man dressed in black, perceiving me to be a stranger, came up, entered into conversation, and politely offered to be my instructor and guide through the temple. If any monument, said he, should particularly excite your curiosity, I shall endeavour to satisfy your demands. I accepted with thanks the gentleman's offer, adding, that ‘"I was come to observe the policy, the wisdom, and the justice of the English, in conferring re­wards upon deceased merit. If adulation like this, continued I, be properly conducted, as it can no ways injure those who are flattered, so it may be a glorious incentive to those who are now capable of enjoying it. It is the duty of every good government to turn this monumental pride to its own advantage to become strong in the aggregate from the weakness of the indivi­dual. If none but the truly great have a place in this awful repository, a temple like this will give the finest lessons of morality, and be a strong incentive to true ambition. I am told, that none have a place here but characters of the most dis­tinguished merit."’ The man in black seemed impatient at my observations, so I discontinued my remarks, and we walked on together to take a view of every particular monument in order as it lay.

[Page 43]As the eye is naturally caught by the finest ob­jects, I could not avoid being particularly curious about one monument which appeared more beau­tiful than the rest; that, said I to my guide, I take to be the tomb of some very great man. By the peculiar excellence of the workman­ship, and the magnificence of the design, this must be a trophy raised to the memory of some king who has saved his country from ruin, or law-giver, who has reduced his fellow-citizens from anarchy into just subjection——It is not requisite, replied my companion smiling, to have such qualifications in order to have a very fine monument here. More humble abilities will suffice. What, I suppose then, the gaining two or three battles, or the taking half a score towns, is thought a sufficient qualification? Gaining battles, or taking towns, replied the man in black, may be of service; but a gentleman may have a very fine mo­nument here without ever seeing a battle or a siege. This then is the monument of some poet, I presume, of one whose wit has gained him immortality? No, sir, replied my guide, the gentleman who lies here ne­ver made verses; and as for wit, he despised it in others, because he had none himself. Pray tell me then in a word, said I peevishly, what is the great man who lies here particularly remarkable for? Remark­able, sir! said my companion; why, sir, the gen­tleman that lies here is remarkable, very remark­able—for a tomb in Westminster-abbey. But, head of my Ancestors! how has he got here? I fancy he could never bribe the guardians of the temple to give him a place: Should he not be ashamed to be seen a­mong company, where even moderate merit would look like infamy? I suppose, replied the man in black, the gentleman was rich, and his friends, as is usual [Page 44] in such a case, told him he was great. He readily believed them; the guardians of the temple, as they got by the self-delusion, were ready to believe him too; so he paid his money for a fine monu­ment; and the workman, as you see, has made him one the most beautiful Think not, how­ever, that this gentleman is singular in his desire of being buried among the great, there are several others in the temple, who, hated and shunned by the great while alive, have come here, fully resolv­ed to keep them company now they are dead.

As we walked along to a particular part of the temple, there, says the gentleman, pointing with his finger, that is the poets corner; there you see the monuments of Shakespear, and Milton, and Prior, and Drayton. Drayton, I replied, I never heard of him before, but I have been told of one Pope, is he there? It is time enough, replied my guide, these hundred years, he is not long dead, people have not done hating him yet. Strange, cried I, can any be found to hate a man, whose life was wholly spent in entertaining and instructing his fellow creatures! Yes, says my guide, they hate him for that very reason. There are a set of men called answerers of books, who take upon them to watch the republic of letters, and distri­bute reputation by the sheet; they somewhat re­semble the eunuchs in a seraglio, who are inca­pable of giving pleasure themselves, and hinder those that would. These answerers have no other employment but to cry out Dunce, and Scribbler, to praise the dead, and revile the living, to grant a man of confessed abilities some small share of me­rit, to applaud twenty blockheads in order to gain the reputation of candour, and to revile the moral [Page 45] character of the man whose writings they cannot injure Such wretches are kept in pay by some mer­cenary bookseller, or more frequently, the book­seller himself takes this dirty work off their hands, as all that is required is to be very abusive and very dull; every Poet of any genius is sure to find such enemies, he feels, though he seems to despise their malice, they make him miserable here, and in the pursuit of empty fame, at last he gains solid anxi­ety.

Has this been the case with every poet I see here? cried I—Yes, with every mother's son of them, replied he, except he happened to be born a man­darine. If he has much money, he may buy re­putation from your book answerers, as well as a monument from the guardians of the temple.

But are there not some men of distinguished taste, as in China, who are willing to patronize men of me­rit and soften the rancour of malevolent dulness?

I own there are many, replied the man in black, but, alas! Sir, the book answerers croud about them, and call themselves the writers of books; and the patron is too indolent, to distinguish; thus poets are kept at a distance, while their enemies eat up all their rewards at the mandarine's table.

Leaving this part of the temple, we made up to an iron gate, through which my companion told me we were to pass in order to see the monuments of the kings. Accordingly I marched up without further ceremony, and was going to enter, when a person who held the gate in his hand, told me I must pay first. I was surprised at such a demand; [Page 46] and asked the man whether the people of England kept a shew? Whether the paltry sum he demand­ed was not a national reproach? Whether it was not more to the honour of the country to let their magnificence or their antiquities be openly seen, than thus meanly to tax a curiosity which tended to their own honour? As for your questions, re­plied the gate-keeper, to be sure they may be very right, because I don't understand them, but as for that there three-pence, I farm it from one, who rents it from another, who hires it from a third, who leases it from the guardians of the temple, and we all must live. I expected upon paying here to see something extraordinary, since what I had seen for nothing filled me with so much sur­prize; but in this I was disappointed; there was little more within than black coffins, rusty armour, tatter'd standards, and some few slovenly figures in wax. I was sorry I had paid, but I comforted myself by considering it would be my last pay­ment. A person attended us, who, without once blushing, told an hundred lies, he talked of a lady who died by pricking her finger, of a king with a golden head, and twenty such pieces of ab­surdity; Look ye there, gentlemen, says he, point­ing to an old oak chair, there's a curiosity for ye; in that chair the kings of England were crowned, you see also a stone underneath, and that stone is Jacob's pillow. I could see no curiosity either in the oak chair or the stone; could I, indeed, be­hold one of the old kings of England seated in this, or Jacob's head laid upon the other, there might be something curious in the sight; but in the present case, there was no more reason for my surprize than if I should pick a stone from their streets, and call [Page 47] it a curiosity, merely because one of their kings hap­pened to tread upon it as he passed in a procession.

From hence our conductor led us through seve­ral dark walks and winding ways, uttering lies, talking to himself, and flourishing a wand which he held in his hand. He reminded me of the black magicians of Kobi. After we had been almost fa­tigued with a variety of objects, he, at last, de­sired me to consider attentively a certain suit of ar­mour, which seemed to shew nothing remarkable. This armour, said he, belonged to general Monk. Very surprising, that a general should wear armour. And pray, added he, observe this cap, this is ge­neral Monk's cap. Very strange, indeed, very strange, that a general should have a cap also! Pray friend, what might this cap have cost originally? That, Sir, says he, I don't know, but this cap is all the wages I have for my trouble. A very small recompence, truly, said I. Not so very small, replied he, for every gentleman puts some money into it, and I spend the money. What, more money! still more money! Every gentleman gives something, sir. I'll give thee nothing, returned I; the guardians of the temple should pay you your wages, friend, and not permit you to squeeze thus from every spectator. When we pay our money at the door to see a shew, we never give more as we are going out. Sure the guardians of the temple can never think they get enough. Shew me the gate; if I stay longer, I may probably meet with more of those ecclesiastical beggars.

Thus leaving the temple precipitately, I return­ed to my lodgings, in order to ruminate over what [Page 48] was great, and to despise what was mean in thy occurrences of the day.

LETTER XIV. From the same.

I WAS some days ago agreeably surprised by a message from a lady of distinction, who sent me word, that she most passionately desired the pleasure of my acquaintance; and, with the ut­most impatience, expected an interview. I will not deny, my dear Fum Hoam, but that my vanity was raised at such an invitation, I flattered myself that she had seen me in some public place, and had conceived an affection for my person, which thus induced her to deviate from the usual decorums of the sex. My imagination painted her in all the bloom of youth and beauty. I fancied her attend­ed by the loves and graces, and I set out with the most pleasing expectations of seeing the con­quest I had made.

When I was introduced into her apartment, my expectations were quickly at an end; I perceived a little shrivelled figure indolently reclined on a sofa, who nodded by way of approbation at my approach. This, as I was afterwards informed, was the lady herself, a woman equally distinguish­ed for rank, politeness, taste, and understanding. As I was dressed after the fashion of Europe, she had taken me for an Englishman, and consequently saluted me in her ordinary manner; but when the [Page 49] footman informed her grace that I was the gentle­man from China, she instantly lifted herself from the couch, while her eyes sparkled with unusual vivacity. ‘"Bless me! can this be the gentleman that was born so far from home? What an unusual share of somethingness in his whole appearance. Lord how I am charmed with the outlandish cut of his face; how bewitching the exotic breadth of his forehead. I would give the world to see him in his own country dress. Pray turn about, Sir, and let me see you be­hind. There! there's a travell'd air for you. You that attend there, bring up a plate of beef cut into small pieces; I have a violent passion to see him eat. Pray, Sir, have you got your chop-sticks about you? It will be so pretty to see the meat carried to the mouth with a jerk. Pray speak a little Chinese: I have learned some of the language myself. Lord, have you no­thing pretty from China about you; something that one does not know what to do with? I have got twenty things from China that are of no use in the world. Look at those jars, they are of the right pea-green: these are the furni­ture."’ Dear madam, said I, those, though they may appear fine in your eyes, are but paltry to a Chi­nese; but, as they are useful utensils, it is proper they should have a place in every apartment. Useful! Sir, replied the lady; sure you mistake, they are of no use in the world. What! are they not filled with an infusion of tea as in China? replied I. Quite empty and useless upon my honour, Sir. Then they are the most cumbrous and clumsy furniture in the world, as nothing is truly elegant but what unites use with beauty. I protest, says the lady, I shall begin to suspect thee of being an actual barbarian. I sup­pose [Page 50] also you hold my two beautiful pagods in con­tempt. What! cried I, has Fohi spread his gross superstitions here also? Pagods of all kinds are my aversion. A Chinese, a traveller, and want taste! it surprises me. Pray, sir, examine the beauties of that Chinese temple which you see at the end of the garden. Is there any thing in China more beauti­ful? Where I stand I see nothing, madam, at the end of the garden that may not as well be called an Egyp­tian pyramid as a Chinese temple; for that little build­ing in vi [...]w is as like the one as t'other. What! Sir, is not that a Chinese temple? you must surely be mistaken. Mr. Freeze, who designed it, calls it one, and nobody disputes his pretensions to taste. I now found it vain to contradict the lady in any thing she thought fit to advance: so was resolved rather to act the disciple than the instructor. She took me through several rooms all furnished, as she told me, in the Chinese manner; sprawling dragons, squatting pagods, and clumsy manda­rines, were stuck upon every shelf: In turning round one must have used caution not to demolish a part of the precarious furniture.

In a house like this, thought I, one must live conti­nually upon the watch; the inhabitant must resemble a knight in an enchanted castle, who expects to meet an adventure at every turning. But, Madam, said I, do no accidents ever happen to all this finery? Man, Sir, replied the lady, is born to misfortunes, and it is but fit I should have a share. Three weeks ago a careless servant snapp'd off the head of a favourite mandarine: I had scarce done griev­ing for that, when a monkey broke a beautiful jar; this I took the more to heart, as the injury was done me by a friend: however, I survived the ca­lamity; when yesterday crash went half a dozen [Page 51] dragons upon the marble hearth stone; and yet I live; I survive it all: you can't conceive what com­fort I find under afflictions from philosophy. There is Seneca, and Bolingbroke, and some others, who guide me through life, and teach me to support its calamities.—I could not but smile at a woman who makes her own misfortunes, and then deplores the miseries of her situation. Wherefore, tired of act­ing with dissimulation, and willing to indulge my meditations in solitude, I took leave just as the servant was bringing in a plate of beef, pursuant to the directions of his mistress. Adieu.

LETTER XV. From the same.

THE better sort here pretend to the utmost compassion for animals of every kind; to hear them speak, a stranger would be apt to imagine they could hardly hurt the gnat that stung 'em; they seem so tender, and so full of pity, that one would take them for the harmless friends of the whole creation; the protectors of the meanest in­sect or reptile that was privileged with existence. And yet would you believe it, I have seen the very men who have thus boasted of their tenderness; at the same time devouring the flesh of six different animals tossed up in a fricassee. Strange contra­riety of conduct; they pity and they eat the ob­jects of their compassion. The lion roars with terror over its captive; the tyger sends forth its hideous shriek to intimidate its prey; no creature shews any fondness for its short-lived prisoner, ex­cept a man and a cat.

[Page 52]Man was born to live with innocence and sim­plicity, but he has deviated from nature; he was born to share the bounties of heaven, but he has monopolized them; he was born to govern the brute creation, but he is become their tyrant. If an epicure now should happen to surfeit on his last night's feast, twenty animals the next day are to undergo the most exquisite tortures in order to provoke his appetite to another guilty meal. Hail, O ye simple, honest bramins of the east, ye inof­fensive friends of all that were born to happiness as well as you: you never sought a short-lived plea­sure from the miseries of other creatures. You never studied the tormenting arts of ingenious re­finement; you never surfeited upon a guilty meal. How much more purified and refined are all your sensations than ours: you distinguish every element with the utmost precision; a stream untasted be­fore is new luxury, a change of air is a new ban­quet, too refined for western imaginations to con­ceive.

Though the Europeans do not hold the trans­migration of souls, yet one of their doctors has, with great force of argument, and great plausibi­lity of reasoning, endeavoured to prove that the bodies of animals are the habitations of daemons and wicked spirits, which are obliged to reside in these prisons till the resurrection pronounces their everlasting punishment; but are previously con­demned to suffer all the pains and hardships inflict­ed upon them by man, or by each other here. If this be the case, it may frequently happen, that while we whip pigs to death, or boil live lob­sters, we are putting some old acquaintance, some near relation, to excruciating tortures, and are [Page 53] serving him up to the very same table where he was once the most welcome companion.

"Kabul, says the Zendavesta, was born on the rushy banks or the river Mawra; his possessions were great, and his luxuries kept pace with the affluence of his fortune; he hated the harmless bramins, and despised their holy religion; every day his table was deck'd out with the flesh of an hundred different animals, and his cooks had an hundred different ways of dressing it, to solicit even satiety.

"Notwithstanding all his eating, he did not ar­rive at old age, he died of a surfeit, caused by intemperance: upon this, his soul was carried off, in order to take its trial before a select assem­bly of the souls of those animals which his glut­tony had caused to be slain, and who were now appointed his judges.

"He trembled before a tribunal, to every member of which, he had formerly acted as an unmerciful tyrant; he sought for pity, but found none dispo­sed to grant it. Does he not remember, cries the angry boar, to what agonies I was put, not to sa­tisfy his hunger, but his vanity? I was first hunt­ed to death, and my flesh scarce thought worthy of coming once to his table. Were my advice fol­lowed, he should do penance in the shape of an hog, which in life he most resembled.

"I am rather, cries a sheep upon the bench, for having him suffer under the appearance of a lamb, we may then send him through four or five trans­migrations in the space of a month. Were my [Page 54] voice of any weight in the assembly, cries a calf, he should rather assume such a form as mine: I was bled every day, in order to make my flesh white, and at last killed without mercy. Would it not be wiser, cries a hen, to cram him in the shape of a fowl, and then smother him in his own blood as I was served? The majority of the as­sembly were pleased with this punishment, and were going to condemn him without further delay when the ox rose up to give his opinion: I am informed, says this counsellor, that the prisoner at the bar has left a wife with child behind him. By my know­ledge in divination I foresee that this child will be a son, decrepid, feeble, sickly, a plague to him­self and all about him. What say you then, my companions, if we condemn the father to animate the body of his own son; and by this means make him feel in himself those miseries his intemperance must otherwise have entailed upon his posterity. The whole court applauded the ingenuity of his torture, they thanked him for his advice. Kabul was driven once more to revisit the earth; and his soul in the body of his own son, passed a period of thirty years, loaded with misery, anxiety, and dis­ease."

LETTER XVI. From the same.

I Know not whether I am more obliged to the Chinese missionaries for the instruction I have received from them, or prejudiced by the falshoods they have made me believe. By them I was told that the Pope was universally allowed to be a man, [Page 55] and placed at the head of the church; in England, however, they plainly prove him to be an whore in man's cloaths, and often burn him in effigy as an impostor. A thousand books have been written on either side of the question; priests are eternally disputing against each other; and those mouths that want argument are filled with abuse. Which party must I believe, or shall I give credit to nei­ther? When I survey the absurdities and falsehoods with which the books of the Europeans are filled, I thank heaven for having been born in China, and that I have sagacity enough to detect imposture.

The Europeans reproach us with false history and fabulous chronology; how should they blush to see their own books, many of which are written by the doctors of their religion filled with the most monstrous fables, and attested with the utmost so­lemnity. The bounds of a letter, do not permit me to mention all the absurdities of this kind, which in my reading I have met with. I shall confine my­self to the accounts which some of their lettered men give of the persons of some of the inhabitants on our globe. And not satisfied with the most solemn asseverations, they sometimes pretend to have been eye witnesses of what they describe.

A christian doctor in one of his principal per­formances * says, that it was not impossible for a whole nation to have but one eye in the middle of the forehead. He is not satisfied with leaving it in doubt; but in another work assures us, that the fact was certain, and that he himself was an eye-witness of it. When, says he, I took a journey [Page 56] into Ethiopia in company with several other servants of Christ, in order to preach the gospel there; I beheld in the southern provinces of that country a nation which had only one eye in the midst of their foreheads.

You will, no doubt, be surprized, reverend Fum, with this author's effrontery; but alas he is not alone in this story; he has only borrowed it from several others who wrote before him. So­linus creates another nation of Cyclops, the Ari­maspians who inhabit those countries that border on the Caspian sea. This author goes on to tell us of a people of India, who have but one leg and one eye, and yet are extremely active, run with great swiftness, and live by hunting. These peo­ple we scarce know how to pity or admire; but the men whom Pliny calls Cynamolci, who have got the heads of dogs really deserve our compassion. Instead of language they express their sentiments by barking. Solinus confirms what Pliny mentions; and Simon Mayole, a French bishop, talks of them as of particular and familiar acquaintances, After passing the desarts of Egypt, says he, we meet with the Kunokephaloi, who inhabit those regions that bor­der on Ethiopia; they live by hunting; they cannot speak, but whistle; their chins resemble a serpent's head; their hands are armed with long sharp claws; their breast resembles that of a greyhound; and they excel in swiftness and agility. Would you think it, my friend, that these odd kind of people are, not­withstanding their figure, excessively delicate; not even an alderman's wife, or Chinese mandarine, can excel them in this particular. These people, continues our faithful bishop, never refuse wine; love roast and boiled meat; they are particularly curi­ous in having their meat well dressed, and spurn at it [Page 57] if in the least tainted. When the Ptolemies reigned in Egypt (says he a little farther on) those men with dog's heads taught Grammar and Music. For men who had no voices to teach music, and who could not speak to teach grammar, is, I confess a little ex­traordinary. Did ever the disciples of Fohi broach any thing more ridiculous?

Hitherto we have seen men with heads strangely deformed, and with dog's heads; but what would you say if you heard of men without any heads at all? Pomponius Mela, Solinus, and Aulus Gellius, describe them to our hand: "The Blemiae have a nose, eyes, and mouth on their breasts; or, as others will have it, placed on their shoulders."

One would think that these authors had an an­tipathy to the human form, and were resolved to make a new figure of their own: but let us do them justice; though they sometimes deprive us of a leg, an arm, an head, or some such trifling part of the body, they often as liberally bestow upon us something that we wanted before. Simon May­ole seems our particular friend in this respect: if he has denied heads to one part of mankind, he has given tails to another. He describes many of the English of his time, which is not more than an hundred years ago, as having tails. His own words are as follow. In England there are some fa­milies which have tails, as a punishment for deriding an Augustin Friar sent by St. Gregory, and who preach­ed in Dorsetshire. They sewed the tails of different animals to his cloaths; but soon they found those tails entailed on them and their posterity for ever. It is certain, the author had some ground for this de­scription; many of the English wear tails to their [Page 58] wigs to this very day, as a mark, I suppose, of the antiquity of their families, and perhaps as a symbol of those tails with which they were for­merly distinguished by nature.

You see, my friend, there is nothing so ridicu­lous that has not at some time been said by some philosopher. The writers of books in Europe seem to think themselves authorised to say what they please; and an ingenious philosopher among them * has openly asserted, that he would under­take to persuade the whole republic of readers to believe that the sun was neither the cause of light nor heat; if he could only get six philosophers on his side. Farewell.

LETTER XVII. From the same.

WERE an Asiatic politician to read the trea­ties of peace and friendship that have been annually making for more than an hundred years among the inhabitants of Europe, he would pro­bably be surpriz'd how it should ever happen that christian princes could quarrel among each other. Their compacts for peace are drawn up with the utmost precision, and ratified with the greatest so­lemnity; to these each party promises a sincere and inviolable obedience, and all wears the appearance of open friendship and unreserved reconciliation.

Yet, notwithstanding those treaties, the people of Europe are almost continually at war. There [Page 59] is nothing more easy than to break a treaty ratified in all the usual forms, and yet neither party be the aggressor. One side, for instance, breaks a trifling article by mistake; the opposite party upon this makes a small but premeditated reprisal; this brings on a return of greater from the other; both sides complain of injuries and infractions; war is declar'd; they beat, are beaten; some two or three hundred thousand men are killed, they grow tired, leave off just where they began; and so sit cooly down to make new treaties.

The English and French seem to place them­selves foremost among the champion states of Eu­rope. Though parted by a narrow sea, yet are they entirely of opposite characters; and from their vicinity are taught to fear and admire each other. They are at present engaged in a very de­structive war, have already spilled much blood, are excessively irritated; and all upon account of one side's desiring to wear greater quantities of furs than the other.

The pretext of the war is about some lands a thousand leagues off; a country cold, desolate, and hideous; a country belonging to a people who were in possession for time immemorial. The sa­vages of Canada claim a property in the country in dispute; they have all the pretensions which long possession can confer. Here they had reigned for ages without rivals in dominion, and knew no enemies but the prowling bear or insidious tyger; their native forests produced all the necessaries of life, and they found ample luxury in the enjoy­ment. In this manner they might have continued to live to eternity, had not the English been in­formed [Page 60] that those countries produced furs in great abundance. From that moment the country be­came an object of desire; it was found that furs were things very much wanted in England; the ladies edged some of their cloaths with furs, and muffs were worn both by gentlemen and la­dies. In short, furs were found indispensably necessary for the happiness of the state: and the king was consequently petitioned to grant not only the country of Canada, but all the savages belong­ing to it to the subjects of England, in order to have the people supplied with proper quantities of this necessary commodity.

So very reasonable a request was immediately complied with, and large colonies were sent abroad to procure furs, and take possession. The French who were equally in want of furs (for they were as fond of muffs and tippets as the English) made the very same request to their monarch, and met with the same gracious reception from their king, who gene­rously granted what was not his to give. Wherever the French landed, they called the country their own; and the English took possession wherever they came upon the same equitable pretensions. The harm­less savages made no opposition; and could the in­truders have agreed together, they might peace­ably have shared this desolate country between them. But they quarrelled about the boundaries of their settlements, about grounds and rivers to which nei­ther side could shew any other right than that of power, and which neither could occupy but by usurpation. Such is the contest, that no honest man can heartily wish success to either party.

The war has continued for some time with va­rious success. At first the French seemed victo­rious; [Page 61] but the English have of late dispossessed them of the whole country in dispute. Think not, however, that success on one side is the har­binger of peace: on the contrary, both parties must be heartily tired to effect even a temporary reconciliation. It should seem the business of the victorious party to offer terms of peace; but there are many in England, who, encouraged by success, are for still protracting the war.

The best English politicians, however, are sen­sible, that to keep their present conquests, would be rather a burthen than an advantage to them, rather a diminution of their strength than an en­crease of power. It is in the politic as in the hu­man constitution; if the limbs grow too large for the body, their size, instead of improving, will diminish the vigour of the whole. The colonies should always bear an exact proportion to the mo­ther country; when they grow populous, they grow powerful, and by becoming powerful, they become independent also; thus subordination is destroyed, and a country swallowed up in the ex­tent of its own dominions. The Turkish empire would be more formidable, were it less extensive. Were it not for those countries, which it can nei­ther command, nor give entirely away, which it is obliged to protect, but from which it has no power to exact obedience.

Yet, obvious as these truths are, there are many Englishmen who are for transplanting new colo­nies into this late acquisition, for peopling the de­sarts of America with the refuse of their country­men, and (as they express it) with the waste of an exuberant nation. But who are those unhappy [Page 62] creatures who are to be thus drained away? Not the sickly, for they are unwelcome guests abroad as well as at home; nor the idle, for they would starve as well behind the Appalachian mountains as in the streets of London. This refuse is com­posed of the laborious and enterprising, of such men as can be serviceable to their country at home, of men who ought to be regarded as the sinews of the people, and cherished with every degree of political indulgence. And what are the commo­dities which this colony, when established, are to produce in return? Why raw silk, hemp, and to­bacco. England, therefore, must make an ex­change of her best and bravest subjects for raw silk, hemp, and tobacco; her hardy veterans and honest tradesmen, must be truck'd for a box of snuff or a silk petticoat. Strange absurdity! Sure the politics of the Daures are not more strange, who sell their religion, their wives, and their liberty for a glass bead, or a paltry penknife. Farewell.

LETTER XVIII. From the same.

THE English love their wives with much pas­sion, the Hollanders with much prudence. The English when they give their hands, frequent­ly give their hearts; the Dutch give the hand, but keep the heart wisely in their own possession. The English love with violence, and expect vio­lent love in return; the Dutch are satisfied with the slightest acknowledgments, for they give little [Page 63] away. The English expend many of the matri­monial comforts in the first year; the Dutch fru­gally husband out their pleasures, and are always constant because they are always indifferent.

There seems very little difference between a Dutch bridegroom and a Dutch husband. Both are equally possessed of the same cool unexpecting serenity; they can see neither Elysium nor Para­dise behind the curtain; and Yiffrow is not more a goddess on the wedding night, than after twenty years matrimonial acquaintance. On the other hand, many of the English marry, in order to have one happy month in their lives; they seem inca­pable of looking beyond that period; they unite in hopes of finding rapture, and disappointed in that, disdain ever to accept of happiness. From hence we see open hatred ensue; or what is worse, concealed disgust under the appearance of fulsome endearment. Much formality, great civility, and studied compliments are exhibited in public; cross looks, sulky silence, or open recrimination, fill up their hours of private entertainment.

Hence I am taught, whenever I see a new mar­ried couple more than ordinarily fond before faces, to consider them as attempting to impose upon the company or themselves, either hating each other heartily, or consuming that stock of love in the beginning of their course, which should serve them through their whole journey. Neither side should expect those instances of kindness which are inconsistent with true freedom or happiness to bestow. Love, when founded in the heart, will shew itself in a thousand unpremeditated sallies of fondness; but every cool deliberate exhibition of [Page 64] the passion, only argues little understanding, or great insincerity.

Choang was the fondest husband, and Hansi the most endearing wife in all the kingdom of Korea: they were a pattern of conjugal bliss; the inhabi­tants of the country around saw, and envied their felicity; wherever Choang came, Hansi was sure to follow; and in all the pleasures of Hansi, Choang was admitted a partner. They walked hand in hand wherever they appeared, shewing every mark of mutual satisfaction, embracing, kissing, their mouths were for ever joined, and to speak in the language of anatomy, it was with them one perpe­tual anastomosis.

Their love was so great, that it was thought no­thing could interrupt their mutual peace; when an accident happened, which, in some measure, di­minished the husband's assurance of his wife's fide­lity; for love so refined as his, was subject to a thousand little disquietudes.

Happening to go one day alone among the tombs that lay at some distance from his house, he there perceived a lady dressed in the deepest mourning, (being cloathed all over in white) fanning the wet clay that was raised over one of the graves with a large fan, which she held in her hand. Choang, who had early been taught wisdom in the school of Lao, was unable to assign a cause for her pre­sent employment; and coming up, civilly demand­ed the reason. Alas, replied the lady, her eyes bathed in tears; how is it possible to survive the loss of my husband, who lies buried in this grave; he was the best of men, the tenderest of husbands; [Page 65] with his dying breath he bid me never marry again till the earth over his grave should be dry; and here you see me steadily resolving to obey his will, and endeavouring to dry it with my fan. I have employed two whole days in fulfilling his com­mands, and am determined not to marry till they are punctually obeyed, even though his grave should take up four days in drying.

Choang, who was struck with the widow's beauty, could not, however, avoid smiling at her haste to be married; but, concealing the cause of his mirth, civilly invited her home; adding, that he had a wife who might be capable of giving her some consolation. As soon as he and his guest were returned, he imparted to Hansi in private what he had seen, and could not avoid expressing his uneasiness, that such might be his own case if his dearest wife should one day happen to survive him.

It is impossible to describe Hansi's resentment at so unkind a suspicion. As her passion for him was not only great, but extremely delicate, she em­ployed tears, anger, frowns, and exclamations, to chide his suspicions; the widow herself was in­veighed against; and Hansi declared she was re­solved never to sleep under the same roof with a wretch, who, like her, could be guilty of such barefac'd inconstancy. The night was cold and stormy; however, the stranger was obliged to seek another lodging, for Choang was not disposed to resist, and Hansi would have her way.

The widow had scarce been gone an hour, when an old disciple of Choang's, whom he had [Page 66] not seen for many years, came to pay him a visit. He was received with the utmost ceremony, placed in the most honourable seat at supper, and the wine began to circulate with great freedom. Choang and Hansi exhibited open marks of mutual tenderness, and unfeigned reconciliation: nothing could equal their apparent happiness; so fond an husband, so obedient a wife, few could behold with­out regretting their own infelicity. When, lo! their happiness was at once disturbed by a most fatal accident. Choang fell lifeless in an apo­plectic fit upon the floor. Every method was used, but in vain, for his recovery. Hansi was at first inconsolable for his death: after some hours, however, she found spirits to read his last will. The ensuing day she began to moralize and talk wisdom; the next day she was able to comfort the young disciple; and, on the third, to shorten a long story, they both agreed to be married.

There was now no longer mourning in the a­partments; the body of Choang was now thrust into an old coffin, and placed in one of the mean­est rooms, there to lie unattended until the time prescribed by law for his interment. In the mean time Hansi, and the young disciple, were ar­rayed in the most magnificent habits; the bride wore in her nose a jewel of immense price, and her lover was dressed in all the finery of his former master, together with a pair of artificial whisk­ers that reached down to his toes. The hour of their nuptials was arrived; the whole family sympathized with their approaching happiness; the apartments were brightened up with lights that diffused the most exquisite perfume, and a lustre [Page 67] more bright than noon day. The lady expected her youthful lover in an inner apartment with impatience; when his servant approaching with terror in his countenance, informed her, that his master was fallen into a fit, which would certain­ly be mortal, unless the heart of a man lately dead, could be obtained, and applied to his breast She scarce waited to hear the end of his story, when, tucking up her cloaths, she ran with a mattock in her hand to the coffin, where Choang lay, re­solving to apply the heart of her dead husband as a cure for the living. She therefore struck the lid with the utmost violence. In a few blows the coffin flew open, when the body, which, to all appearance had been dead, began to move. Terrified at the sight, Hansi dropped the mattock, and Choang walked out, astonished at his own situation, his wife's unusual magnifi­cence, and her more amazing surprize. He went among the apartments, unable to conceive the cause of so much splendor. He was not long in suspense before his domestics informed him of every trans­action since he first became insensible. He could scarce believe what they told him, and went in pursuit of Hansi herself, in order to receive more certain information, or to reproach her infidelity. But she prevented his reproaches: he found her weltering in blood; for she had stabbed herself to the heart, being unable to survive her shame and disappointment.

Choang, being a philosopher, was too wise to make any loud lamentations; he thought it best to bear his loss with serenity; so, mending up the old coffin where he had lain himself, he placed his faithless spouse in his room; and, unwilling that so many nuptial preparations should be expended [Page 68] in vain, he the same night married the widow with the large fan.

As they both were apprised of the foibles of each other before hand, they knew how to excuse them after marriage. They lived together for many years in great tranquillity, and not expect­ing rapture, made a shift to find contentment. Farewell.

LETTER XIX. To the same.

THE gentleman dressed in black, who was my companion through Westminster Abbey, came yesterday to pay me a visit; and after drinking tea, we both resolved to take a walk together, in order to enjoy the freshness of the country, which now begins to resume its verdure. Before we got out of the suburbs, however, we were stopped in one of the streets by a crowd of people, gathered in a circle round a man and his wife, who seemed too loud and too angry to be understood. The people were highly pleased with the dispute, which upon enquiry we found to be between Dr. Cacafogo an apothecary, and his wife. The doctor, it seems, coming unexpectedly into his wife's apartment, found a gentleman there in circumstances not in the least equivocal.

The doctor, who was a person of nice honour, resolving to revenge the flagrant insult, immediate­ly [Page 69] flew to the chimney-piece, and taking down a rusty blunderbuss, drew the trigger upon the de­filer of his bed; the delinquent would certainly have been shot through the head, but that the piece had not been charged for many years. The gallant made a shift to escape through the window, but the lady still remained; and as she well knew her husband's temper, undertook to manage the quarrel without a second. He was furious, and she loud; their noise had gathered all the mob who charitably assembled on the occasion, not to prevent, but to enjoy the quarrel.

Alas, said I to my companion, what will become of this unhappy creature thus caught in adultery! Believe me, I pity her from my heart; her hus­band, I suppose, will shew her no mercy. Will they burn her as in India, or behead her as in Persia; will they load her with stripes as in Turkey, or keep her in perpetual imprisonment, as with us in China! Prythee, what is the wife's punishment in England for such offences? When a lady is thus caught trip­ping, replied my companion, they never punish her, but the husband. You surely jest, interrupt­ed I; I am a foreigner, and you would abuse my ignorance! I am really serious, returned he; Dr. Cacafogo has caught his wife in the act; but as he had no witnesses, his small testimony goes for no­thing; the consequence therefore of his discovery will be, that she may be packed off to live among her relations, and the doctor must be obliged to allow her a separate maintenance. Amazing, cried I! is it not enough that she is permitted to live se­parate from the object she derests, but must he give her money to keep her in spirits too? That he must, says my guide; and be called a cuckold [Page 70] by all his neighbours into the bargain. The men will laugh at him, the ladies will pity him; and all that his warmest friends can say in his favour, will be, that the poor good soul has never had any harm in him. I want patience, interrupted I; what! are there no private chastisements for the wife; no schools of penitence to shew her her folly; no rods for such delinquents? Psha, man, replied he smil­ing; if every delinquent among us were to be treated in your manner, one half of the kingdom would flog the other.

I must confess, my dear Fum, that if I were an English husband, of all things I would take care not to be jealous, nor busily pry into these secrets my wife was pleased to keep from me. Should I detect her infidelity, what is the consequence? If I calmly pocket the abuse, I am laughed at by her and her gallant; if I talk my griefs aloud like a tragedy heroe, I am laughed at by the whole world. The course then I'd take would be, whenever I went out, to tell my wife where I was going, lest I should unexpectedly meet her abroad in company with some dear deceiver. When­ever I returned, I would use a peculiar rap at the door, and give four loud hems as I walked deli­berately up the stair-case. I would never inquisi­tively peep under her bed, or look behind the curtains. And even though I knew the captain was there, I would calmly take a dish of my wife's cool tea, and talk of the army with reverence.

Of all nations, the Russians seem to me to be­have most wisely in such circumstances. The wife promises her husband never to let him see her trans­gressions of this nature; and he as punctually pro­mises, [Page 71] whenever she is so detected, without the least anger, to beat her without mercy: so they both know what each has to expect; the lady transgresses, is beaten, taken again into favour, and all goes on as before.

When a Russian young lady, therefore, is to be married, her father, with a cudgel in his hand, asks the bridegroom, whether he chuses this virgin for his bride? to which the other replies in the affirmative. Upon this, the father turning the lady three times round, and giving her three strokes with his cudgel on the back; my dear, cries he, these are the last blows you are ever to receive from your tend [...]r father, I resign my authority, and my cudgel to your husband; he knows better than me the use of either. The bridegroom knows decorums too well to accept of the cudgel abruptly; he as­sures the father that the lady will never want it, and that he would not for the world make any use of it. But the father, who knows what the lady may want better than he, insists upon his accep­tance. Upon this, there follows a scene of Russian politeness, while one refuses, and the other offers the cudgel. The whole, however, ends with the bridegroom's taking it, upon which the lady drops a courtesy in token of obedience, and the ceremony proceeds as usual.

There is something excessively fair and open in this method of courtship. By this, both sides are prepared for all the matrimonial adventures that are to follow. Marriage has been compared to a game of skill for life; it is generous thus in both parties to declare they are sharpers in the begin­ning. In England, I am told both sides use every [Page 72] art to conceal their defects from each other before marriage, and the rest of their lives may be re­garded as doing penance for their former dissimu­lation. Farewell.

LETTER XX. From the same.

THE republic of letters is a very common ex­pression among the Europeans; and yet when applied to the learned of Europe, is the most ab­surd that can be imagined, since nothing is more unlike a republic than the society which goes by that name. From this expression one would be apt to imagine, that the learned were united into a single body, joining their interests, and concurring in the same design. From this one might be apt to compare them to our literary societies in China, where each acknowledges a just subordination; and all contribute to build the temple of science, without attempting from ignorance or envy to ob­struct each other.

But very different is the state of learning here; every member of this fancied republic is desirous of governing, and none willing to obey; each looks upon his fellow as a rival, not an assistant in the same pursuit. They calumniate, they injure, they despise, they ridicule each other: if one man writes a book that pleases, others shall write books to shew that he might have given still greater plea­sure, or should not have pleased. If one happens to hit upon something new, there are numbers ready to assure the publick that all this was no no­velty [Page 73] to them or the learned; that Cardanus or Brunus, or some other author too dull to be ge­nerally read, had anticipated the discovery. Thus, instead of uniting like the members of a common­wealth, they are divided into almost as many factions as there are men; and their jarring constitution, instead of being stiled a republic of letters, should be entituled, an anarchy of literature.

It is true, there are some of superior abilities who reverence and esteem each other; but their mutual admiration is not sufficient to shield off the contempt of the crowd. The wise are but few, and they praise with a feeble voice; the vulgar are many, and roar in reproaches. The truly great seldom unite in societies, have few meetings, no cabals; the dunces hunt in full cry till they have run down a reputation, and then snarl and fight with each other about dividing the spoil. Here you may see the compilers, and the book-answer­ers of every month, when they have cut up some respectable name, most frequently reproaching each other with stupidity and dullness: resembling the wolves of the Russian forest, who prey upon venison, or horse-flesh when they can get it; but in cases of necessity, lying in wait to devour each other. While they have new books to cut up, they make a hearty meal; but if this resource should unhap­pily fail, then it is that critics eat up critics, and compilers rob from compilations.

Confucius observes that it is the duty of the learned to unite society more closely, and to persuade men to become citizens of the world; but the authors I refer to, are not only for disuniting society, but kingdoms also; if the [Page 74] English are at war with France, the dunces of France think it their duty to be at war with those of England. Thus Freron, one of their first rate scriblers, thinks proper to characterise all the Eng­lish writers in the gross. Their whole merit, says he, ‘'consists in exaggeration, and often in extra­vagance; correct their pieces as you please, there still remains a leaven which corrupts the whole. They sometimes discover genius, but not the smallest share of taste, England is not a soil for the plants of genius to thrive in.'’ This is open enough, with not the least adulation in the picture; but hear what a Frenchman of acknowledged abi­lities says upon the same subject, ‘'I am at a loss to determine in what we excel the English, or where they excel us; when I compare the merits of both in any one species of literary composition, so many reputable and pleasing writers present themselves from either country, that my judgment rests in suspense: I am pleased with the disqui­sition, without finding the object of my enquiry.'’

But lest you should think the French alone are faulty in this respect, hear how an English journalist delivers his sentiments of them. ‘'We are amazed, says he, to find so many works translated from the French, while we have such numbers neglected of our own. In our opinion, notwithstanding their fame throughout the rest of Europe, the French are the most contemptible reasoners (we had al­most said writers) that can be imagined. How­ever, nevertheless, excepting, &c.'’ Another English writer, Shaftsbury, if I remember, on the contrary, says, that the French authors are pleas­ing and judicious, more clear, more methodical, and entertaining than those of his own country.

[Page 75]From these opposite pictures, you perceive that the good authors of either country praise, and the bad revile each other; and yet, perhaps, you'll be surprized that indifferent writers should thus be the most apt to censure, as they have the most to ap­prehend from recrimination; you may, perhaps, imagine that such as are possessed of fame themselves should be most ready to declare their opinions, since what they say, might pass for decision. But the truth happens to be, that the great are solicitous only of raising their own reputations, while the op­posite class, alas ! are solicitous of bringing every reputation down to a level with their own.

But let us acquit them of malice and envy; a critic is often guided by the same motives that direct his author. The author endeavours to persuade us, that he has written a good book: the critic is equally sollicitous to shew that he could write a better, had he thought proper. A critic is a being possessed of all the vanity, but not the ge­nius, of a scholar, incapable, from his native weakness, of lifting himself from the ground, he applies to contiguous merit for support, makes the sportive sallies of another's imagination his serious employment, pretends to take our feel­ings under his care, teaches where to condemn, where to lay the emphasis of praise, and may with as much justice be called a man of taste, as the Chinese who measures his wisdom by the length of his nails.

If then a book, spirited or humourous, happens to appear in the republic of letters, several cri­tics are in waiting to bid the public not to laugh at a single line of it, for themselves had read it; and they know what is most proper to excite laugh­ter. [Page 76] Other critics contradict the fulminations of this tribunal, call them all spiders, and assure the public, that they ought to laugh without restraint. Another set are in the mean time quietly employed in writing notes to the book, intended to shew the particular passages to be laughed at; when these are out, others still there are who write notes upon notes. Thus a single new book em­ploys not only the paper-makers, the printers, the press-men, the book-binders, the hawkers, but twenty critics, and as many compilers. In short, the body of the learned may be compared to a Persian army, where there are many pioneers, several sutlers, numberless servants, women and children in abundance, and but few soldiers.


LETTER XXI. To the same.

THE English are as fond of seeing plays ac­ted as the Chinese; but there is a vast dif­ference in the manner of conducting them. We play our pieces in the open air, the English theirs under cover; we act by day-light, they by the blaze of torches. One of our plays continues eight or ten days successively; an English piece seldom takes up above four hours in the repre­sentation.

My companion in black, with whom I am now beginning to contract an intimacy, introduced me a few nights ago to the play-house, where we [Page 77] placed ourselves conveniently at the foot of the stage. As the curtain was not drawn before my arrival, I had an opportunity of observing the be­haviour of the spectators, and indulging those re­flections which novelty generally inspires.

The rich in general were placed in the lowest seats, and the poor rose above them in degrees proportioned to their poverty. The order of pre­cedence seemed here inverted; those who were undermost all the day, now enjoyed a temporary eminence, and became masters of the ceremonies. It was they who called for the music, indulging every noisy freedom, and testifying all the in­solence of beggary in exaltation.

They who held the middle region seemed not so riotous as those above them, nor yet so tame as those below; to judge by their looks, many of them seem'd strangers there as well as myself, They were chiefly employed during this period of expectation in eating oranges, reading the story of the play, or making assignations.

Those who sat in the lowest rows, which are called the pit, seemed to consider themselves as judges of the merit of the poet and the perform­ers; they were assembled partly to be amused, and partly to shew their taste; appearing to labour under that restraint which an affectation of su­perior discernment generally produces. My com­panion, however, informed me, that not one in an hundred of them knew even the first principles of criticism; that they assumed the right of being censors because there was none to contradict their pretensions; and that every man who now called [Page 78] himself a connoisseur, became such to all intents and purposes.

Those who sat in the boxes appeared in the most unhappy situation of all. The rest of the audience came merely for their own amusement; these rather to furnish out a part of the entertain­ment themselves. I could not avoid considering them as acting parts in dumb shew, not a curtesy or nod, that was not the result of art; not a look nor a smile that was not designed for murder. Gentlemen and ladies ogled each other through spectacles; for my companion observed, that blind­ness was of late become fashionable, all affected indifference and ease, while their hearts at the same time burned for conquest. Upon the whole, the lights, the music, the ladies in their gayest dres­ses, the men with chearfulness and expectation in their looks, all conspired to make a most agree­able picture, and to fill an heart that sympathises at human happiness with an expressible serenity.

The expected time for the play to begin at last arrived, the curtain was drawn, and the actors came on. A woman, who personated a queen, came in curtesying to the audience, who clap­ped their hands upon her appearance. Clapping of hands is, it seems, the manner of applauding in England: the manner is absurd; but every coun­try, you know, has its peculiar absurdities. I was equally surprised, however, at the submission of the actress, who should have considered herself as a queen, as at the little discernment of the audience who gave her such marks of applause before she attempted to deserve them. Prelimi­naries between her and the audience being thus [Page 79] adjusted, the dialogue was supported between her and a most hopeful youth, who acted the part of her confidant. They both appeared in extreme dis­tress, for it seems the queen had lost a child some fifteen years before, and still kept its dear resem­blance next her heart, while her kind companion bore a part in her sorrows.

Her lamentations grew loud. Comfort is offered, but she detests the very sound. She bids them preach comfort to the winds. Upon this her hus­band comes in, who, seeing the queen so much afflicted, can himself hardly refrain from tears or avoid partaking in the soft distress. After thus grieving through three scenes, the curtain dropped for the first act.

Truly, said I to my companion, these kings and queens are very much disturbed at no very great misfortune; certain I am were people of humbler stations to act in this manner, they would be thought divested of common sense. I had scarce finished this observation, when the curtain rose, and the king came on in a violent passion. His wife had, it seems, refused his proffered tenderness, had spurned his royal embrace; and he seemed resolved not to survive her fierce disdain. After he had thus fretted, and the queen had fretted through the second act, the curtain was let down once more.

Now, says my companion, you perceive the king to be a man of spirit, he feels at every pore; one of your phlegmatic sons of clay would have given the queen her own way, and let her come to her­self by degrees; but the king is for immediate [Page 80] tenderness, or instant death: death and tenderness are leading passions of every modern buskin'd he­roe; this moment they embrace, and the next stab, mixing daggers and kisses in every period.

I was going to second his remarks, when my attention was engrossed by a new object; a man came in balancing a straw upon his nose, and the audience were clapping their hands in all the raptures of applause. To what purpose, cried I, does this unmeaning figure make his appearance; is he a part of the plot? Unmeaning do you call him, replied my friend in black; this is one of the most important characters of the whole play; nothing pleases the people more than the seeing a straw balanced; there is a great deal of mean­ing in the straw; there is something suited to every apprehension in the sight; and a fellow pos­sessed of talents like these is sure of making his fortune.

The third act now began with an actor, who came to inform us that he was the villain of the play, and intended to shew strange things before all was over. He was joined by another, who seem'd as much disposed for mischief as he; their intri­gues continued through this whole division. If that be a villain, said I, he must be a very stupid one, to tell his secrets without being ask'd; such soliloquies of late are never admitted in China.

The noise of clapping interrupted me once more; a child of six years old was learning to dance on the stage, which gave the ladies and manda­rines infinite satisfaction. I am sorry, said I, to see the pretty creature so early learning so very bad [Page 81] a trade. Dancing being, I presume, as contempti­ble here as it is in China. Quite the reverse, inter­rupted my companion; dancing is a very reputable and genteel employment here; men have a greater chance for encouragement from the merit of their heels than their heads. One who jumps up and flourishes his toes three times before he comes to the ground, may have three hundred a year; he who flourishes them four times, gets four hun­dred; but he who arrives at five is inestimable, and may demand what salary he thinks proper. The female dancers too are valued for this sort of jumping and crossing; and 'tis a cant word among them, that she deserves most who shews highest. But the fourth act is begun, let us be attentive.

In the fourth act the queen finds her long lost child, now grown up into a youth of smart parts and great qualifications; wherefore she wisely con­siders that the crown will fit his head better than that of her husband, whom she knows to be a driveler. The king discovers her design, and here comes on the deep distress; he loves the queen, and he loves the kingdom; he resolves there­fore, in order to possess both, that her son must die. The queen exclaims at his barbarity; is fran­tic with rage, and at length overcome with sorrow, falls into a sit; upon which the curtain drops, and the act is concluded.

Observe the art of the poet, cries my companion; when the queen can say no more, she falls into a fit. While thus her eyes are shut, while she is supported in the arms of Abigail, what horrors do we not fan­cy, we feel it in every nerve; take my word for it, that fits are the true aposiopesis of modern tragedy.

[Page 82]The fifth act began, and a busy piece it was. Scenes shifting, trumpets sounding, mobs halloo­ing, carpets spreading, guards bustling from one door to another; gods, daemons, daggers, racks and ratsbane. But whether the king was killed, or the queen was drowned, or the son was poison­ed, I have absolutely forgotten.

When the play was over, I could not avoid ob­serving, that the persons of the drama appeared in as much distress in the first act as the last: how is it possible, said I, to sympathize with them through five long acts; pity is but a short-lived passion; I hate to hear an actor mouthing trifles, neither startings, strainings, nor attitudes affect me unless there be cause: after I have been once or twice deceived by those unmeaning alarms, my heart sleeps in peace, probably unaffected by the prin­cipal distress. There should be one great passion aimed at by the actor as well as the poet, all the rest should be subordinate, and only contribute to make that the greater; if the actor therefore ex­claims upon every occasion in the tones of despair, he attempts to move us too soon; he anticipates the blow, he ceases to affect though he gains our applause.

I scarce perceived that the audience were almost all departed; wherefore, mixing with the crowd, my companion and I got into the street; where essaying an hundred obstacles from coach wheels and palanquin poles, like birds in their flight through the branches of a forest, after various turnings, we both at length got home in safety.


LETTER XXII. From the same.

THE letter which came by the way of Smyrna, and which you sent me unopened, was from my son. As I have permitted you to take copies of all those I send to China, you might have made no ceremony in opening those directed to me. Either in joy or sorrow, my friend should parti­cipate in my feelings. It would give pleasure to see a good man pleased at my success; it would give almost equal pleasure to see him sympathise at my disappoint­ment.

Every account I receive from the east seems to come loaded with some new affliction. My wife and daughter were taken from me, and yet I sustained the loss with intrepidity; my son is made a slave among barbarians, which was the only blow that could have reached my heart: yes, I will indulge the transports of nature for a little, in order to shew I can overcome them in the end. True magnanimity consists not in NEVER falling, but in RISING every time we fall.

When our mighty emperor had published his displeasure at my departure, and seized upon all that was mine, my son was privately secreted from his resentment. Under the protection and guar­dianship of Fum Hoam, the best and the wisest of all the inhabitants of China; he was for some [Page 84] time instructed in the learning of the missionaries, and the wisdom of the east. But hearing of my adventures, and incited by filial piety, he was re­solved to follow my fortunes, and share my distress.

He passed the confines of China in disguise; hir­ed himself as a camel-driver to a caravan that was crossing the desarts of Thibet, and was within one day's journey of the river Laur, which di­vides that country from India; when a body of wandering Tartars falling unexpectedly upon the caravan, plundered it, and made those who es­caped their first fury slaves. By those he was led into the extensive and desolate regions that border on the shores of the Aral lake.

Here he lived by hunting; and was obliged to supply every day a certain proportion of the spoil to regale his savage masters; his learning, his vir­tues, and even his beauty were qualifications that no way served to recommend him; they knew no merit but that of providing large quantities of milk and raw flesh; and were sensible of no hap­piness but that of rioting on the undressed meal.

Some merchants from Mesched, however, com­ing to trade with the Tartars, for slaves, he was sold among the number, and led into the kingdom of Persia, where he is now detained. He is there obliged to watch the looks of a voluptuous and cruel master, a man fond of pleasure yet incapable of refinement, whom many years service in war has taught pride, but not bravery.

That treasure which I still kept within my bo­som, my child, my all that was left to me, is now [Page 85] a slave.* Good heavens, why was this! why have I been introduced into this mortal apartment, to be a spectator of my own misfortunes, and the misfortunes of my fellow creatures! wherever I turn, what a labyrinth of doubt, error, and dis­appointment appears: why was I brought into being; for what purposes made; from whence have I come; whither stray'd; or to what regions am I hastening? Reason cannot resolve. It lends a ray to shew the horrors of my prison, but not a light to guide me to escape them. Ye boasted revelations of the earth, how little do you aid the enquiry.

How am I surprized at the inconsistency of the magi; their two principles of good and evil affright me. The Indian who bathes his visage in urine, and calls it piety, strikes me with astonish­ment. The christian who believes in three gods is highly absurd. The Jews who pretend that deity is pleased with the effusion of blood, are not less displeasing. I am equally surprized that rational beings can come from the extremities of the earth, in order to kiss a stone, or scatter peb­bles. How contrary to reason are those; and yet all pretend to teach me to be happy.

Surely all men are blind and ignorant of truth. Mankind wanders, unknowing his way from morn­ing till the evening. Where shall we turn after happiness; or is it wisest to desist from the pursuit? Like reptiles in a corner of some stupendous pa­lace, we peep from our holes; look about us, won­der at all we see, but are ignorant of the great [Page 86] architect's design: O for a revelation of himself, for a plan of his universal system: O for the rea­sons of our creation; or why we were created to be thus unhappy. If we are to experience no other felicity but what this life affords, then are we miserable indeed. If we are born only to look about us, repine and die; then has heaven been guilty of injustice. If this life terminates my existence, I despise the blessings of providence, and the wisdom of the giver. If this life be my all, let the following epitaph be written on the tomb of Altangi. By my father's crimes I received this. By my own crimes I bequeath it to posterity!

LETTER XXIII. To the same.

YET while I sometimes lament the cause of humanity, and the depravity of human na­ture, there now and then appear gleams of greatness that serve to relieve the eye oppressed with the hideous prospect, and resemble those cul­tivated spots that are sometimes found in the midst of an Asiatic wilderness. I see many superior ex­cellencies among the English, which it is not in the power of all their follies to hide: I see virtues, which in other countries are known only to a few, practised here by every rank of people.

I know not whether it proceeds from their su­perior opulence that the English are more charita­ble than the rest of mankind; whether by being possessed of all the conveniencies of life themselves, [Page 87] they have more leisure to perceive the uneasy situ­ation of the distressed; whatever be the motive, they are not only the most charitable of any other nation, but most judicious in distinguishing the properest objects of compassion.

In other countries the giver is generally influ­enced by the immediate impulse of pity; his gene­rosity is exerted as much to relieve his own uneasy sensations, as to comfort the object in distress: in England benefactions are of a more general nature; some men of fortune and universal benevolence pro­pose the proper objects; the wants and the merits of the petitioners are canvassed by the people; nei­ther passion nor pity find a place in the cool dis­cussion; and charity is then only exerted when it has received the approbation of reason.

A late instance of this finely directed benevolence forces itself so strongly on my imagination, that it in a manner reconciles me to pleasure, and once more makes me the universal friend of man.

The English and French have not only political reasons to induce them to mutual hatred▪ but often the more prevailing motive of private interest to widen the breach; a war between other countries is carried on collectively, army fights against army, and a man's own private resentment is lost in that of the community; but in England and France the indi­viduals of each country plunder each other at sea without redress, and consequently feel that animosity against each other which passengers do at a robber. They have for some time carried on an expensive war; and several captives have been taken on both sides. Those made prisoners by the French have [Page 88] been used with cruelty, and guarded with unneces­sary caution. Those taken by the English, being much more numerous, were confined in the ordinary manner; and, not being released by their country­men, began to feel all these inconveniencies which arise from want of covering and long confinement.

Their countrymen were informed of their de­plorable situation; but they, more intent on an­noying their enemies than relieving their friends, refused the least assistance. The English now saw thousands of their fellow creatures starving in every prison, forsaken by those whose duty it was to pro­tect them, labouring with disease, and without cloaths to keep off the severity of the season. Na­tional benevolence prevailed over national animosi­ty: Their prisoners were indeed enemies, but they were enemies in distress; they ceased to be hateful, when they no longer continued to be formidable: forgetting therefore their national hatred, the men who were brave enough to conquer, were gene­rous enough to forgive: and they, whom all the world seemed to have disclaimed, at last found pity and redress from those they attempted to subdue. A subscription was opened, ample charities collect­ed, proper necessaries procured, and the poor gay sons of a merry nation were once more taught to resume their former gaiety.

When I cast my eye over the list of those who contributed on this occasion, I find the names al­most entirely English, scarce one foreigner appears among the number. It was for Englishmen alone to be capable of such exalted virtue. I own, I cannot look over this catalogue of good men and philosophers without thinking better of myself, be­cause [Page 89] it makes me entertain a more favourable opi­nion of mankind: I am particularly struck with one who writes these words upon the paper that enclosed his benefaction. The mite of an Englishman, a citizen of the world, to Frenchmen, prisoners of war, and naked. I only wish that he may find as much plea­sure from his virtues, as I have done in reflecting upon them, that alone will amply reward him. Such a one, my friend, is an honour to human na­ture; he makes no private distinctions of party; all that are stampt with the divine image of their cre­ator are friends to him; he is a native of the world; and the emperor of China may be proud that he has such a countryman.

To rejoice at the destruction of our enemies, is a foible grafted upon human nature, and we must be permitted to indulge it: the true way of aton­ing for such an ill founded pleasure, is thus to turn our triumph into an act of benevolence, and to tes­tify our own joy by endeavouring to banish anxiety from others.

Hamti, the best and wisest emperor that ever filled the throne, after having gained three signal victories over the Tartars, who had invaded his dominions, returned to Nankin in order to enjoy the glory of his conquest. After he had rested for some days, the people, who are naturally fond of processions, impatiently expected the triumphal en­try, which emperors upon such occasions were ac­customed to make. Their murmurs came to the emperor's ear. He loved his people, and was will­ing to do all in his power to satisfy their just de­sires. He therefore assured them, that he intend­ed, upon the next feast of the Lanthorns, to exhi­bit [Page 90] one of the most glorious triumphs that had ever been seen in China.

The people were in raptures at his condescen­sion; and, on the appointed day, assembled at the gates of the palace with the most eager expecta­tions. Here they waited for some time without see­ing any of those preparations which usually precede a pageant. The lanthorn, with ten thousand ta­pers, was not yet brought forth; the fire-works, which usually covered the city walls, were not yet lighted; the people once more began to murmur at this delay; when in the midst of their impati­ence, the palace gates flew open, and the emperor himself appeared, not in splendour or magnificence, but in an ordinary habit, followed by the blind, the maimed, and the strangers of the city, all in new cloaths, and each carrying in his hand money enough to supply his necessities for the year. The people were at first amazed, but soon perceived the wisdom of their king, who taught them, that to make one man happy was more truly great than having ten thousand captives groaning at the wheels of his chariot. Adieu.

LETTER XXIV. To the same.

WHatever may be the merits of the English in other sciences, they seem peculiarly excel­lent in the art of healing. There is scarcely a dis­order incident to humanity, against which they are not possessed with a most infallible antidote. The professors of other arts confess the inevitable intri­cacy [Page 91] of things; talk with doubt, and decide with hesitation; but doubting is entirely unknown in medicine; the advertising professors here delight in cases of difficulty; be the disorder never so despe­rate or radical, you will find numbers in every street, who, by leveling a pill at the part affected, promise a certain cure without loss of time, know­ledge of a bedfellow, or hindrance of business.

When I consider the assiduity of this profession, their benevolence amazes me. They not only in general give their medicines for half value, but use the most persuasive remonstrances to induce the sick to come and be cured. Sure there must be some­thing strangely obstinate in an English patient, who refuses so much health upon such easy terms; does he take a pride in being bloated with a dropsy? Does he find pleasure in the alternations of an inter­mittent fever? Or feel as much satisfaction in nursing up his gout, as he found pleasure in ac­quiring it? He must, otherwise he would never re­ject such repeated assurances of instant relief. What can be more convincing than the manner in which the sick are invited to be well? The doctor first begs the most earnest attention of the public to what he is going to propose; he solemnly affirms the pill was never found to want success; he produces a list of those who have been rescued from the grave by taking it. Yet, notwithstanding all this, there are many here who now and then think proper to be sick; only sick did I say? There are some who even think proper to die! Yes, by the head of Confucius they die; though they might have pur­chased the health-restoring specific for half a crown at every corner.

[Page 92]I am amazed, my dear Fum Hoam, that these doctors who know what an obstinate set of people they have to deal with, have never thought of at­tempting to revive the dead. When the living are found to reject their prescriptions, they ought in conscience to apply to the dead, from whom they can expect no such mortifying repulses; they would find in the dead the most complying patients ima­ginable; and what gratitude might they not expect from the patient's son, now no longer an heir, and his wife, now no longer a widow.

Think not, my friend, that there is any thing chimerical in such an attempt; they already per­form cures equally strange: What can be more truly astonishing than to see old age restored to youth, and vigour to the most feeble constitutions; yet this is performed here every day; a simple elec­tuary effects these wonders, even without the bun­gling ceremonies of having the patient boiled up in a kettle, or ground down in a mill.

Few physicians here go through the ordinary courses of education, but receive all their know­ledge of medicine by immediate inspiration from heaven. Some are thus inspired even in the womb; and what is very remarkable, understand their pro­fession as well at three years old as at threescore. Others have spent a great part of their lives uncon­scious of any latent excellence, till a bankruptcy, or a residence in goal, have called their miraculous powers into exertion. And others still there are indebted to their superlative ignorance alone for success. The more ignorant the practitioner, the less capable is he thought of deceiving. The peo­ple here judge, as they do in the east; where it is [Page 93] thought absolutely requisite that a man should be an ideot before he pretend to be either a conjuror or a doctor.

When a physician by inspiration is sent for, he never perplexes the patient by previous examina­tion; he asks very few questions, and those only for form sake. He knows every disorder by intui­tion. He administers the pill or drop for every distemper; nor is more inquisitive than the farrier while he drenches an horse. If the patient lives, then has he one more to add to the surviving list; if he dies, then it may be justly said of the patient's disorder, that as it was not cured, the disorder was incurable.

LETTER XXV. From the same.

I WAS some days ago in company with a po­litician, who very pathetically declaimed upon the miserable situation of his country: he assured me, that the whole political machine was moving in a wrong track, and that scarce even abilities like his own could ever set it right again. ‘"What have we, said he, to do with the wars on the continent; we are a commercial nation; we have only to cultivate commerce like our neigh­bours the Dutch; it is our business to encrease trade by settling new colonies: riches are the strength of a nation; and for the rest, our ships, our ships alone will protect us."’ I found it vain to oppose my feeble arguments to those of a man who thought himself wise enough to di­rect [Page 94] even the ministry; I fancied, however, that I saw with more certainty, because I reasoned without prejudice: I therefore begged leave, in­stead of argument, to relate a short history. He gave me a smile at once of condescention and con­tempt, and I proceeded as follows to describe, THE RISE AND DECLENSION OF THE KING­DOM OF LAO.

Northward of China, and in one of the double­ings of the great wall, the fruitful province of Lao enjoyed its liberty and a peculiar government of its own As the inhabitants were on all sides surrounded by the wall, they feared no sudden in­vasion from the Tartars; and being each possessed of property, they were zealous in its defence.

The natural consequences of security and af­fluence in any country is a love of pleasure; when the wants of nature are supplied, we seek after the conveniencies; when possessed of these, we desire the luxuries of life; and when every lux­ury is provided, it is then ambition takes up the man, and leaves him still something to wish for: the inhabitants of the country from primitive sim­plicity soon began to aim at elegance, and from elegance proceeded to refinement. It was now found absolutely requisite, for the good of the state, that the people should be divided: formerly the same hand that was employed in tilling the ground, or in dressing up the manufactures, was also in time of need a soldier; but the custom was now changed; for it was perceived, that a man bred up from childhood to the arts either of peace or of war, became more eminent by this means in his respective profession. The inhabi­tants [Page 95] were therefore now distinguished into arti­zans and soldiers; and while those improved the luxuries of life, these watched for the security of the people.

A country possessed of freedom has always two sorts of enemies to fear: foreign foes who attack its existence from without, and internal miscre­ants who betray its liberties within. The in­habitants of Lao were to guard against both. A country of artizans were most likely to preserve internal liberty; and a nation of soldiers were fit­test to repel a foreign invasion. Hence naturally a­rose a division of opinion between the artizans and the soldiers of the kingdom. The artizans ever com­plaining, that freedom was threatned by an armed internal force, were for disbanding the soldiers, and insisted that their walls, their walls alone were sufficient to repel the most formidable invasion: the warriors, on the contrary, represented the power of the neighbouring kings, the combina­tions formed against their state, and the weakness of the wall which every earthquake might over­turn. While this altercation continued, the king­dom might be justly said to enjoy its greatest share of vigour: every order in the state, by being watchful over each other, contributed to diffuse happiness equally, and ballanced the state. The arts of peace flourished, nor were those of war neglected; the neighbouring powers, who had nothing to apprehend from the ambition of men whom they only saw solicitous not for riches but freedom, were contented to traffick with them: they sent their goods to be manufactured in Lao, and paid a large price for them upon their return.

[Page 96]By these means this people at length became moderately rich, and their opulence naturally invi­ted the invader: a Tartar prince led an immense army against them, and they as bravely stood up in their own defence; they were still inspired with a love of their country; they fought the barbarous enemy with fortitude, and gained a com­plete victory.

From this moment, which they regarded as the completion of their glory, historians date their down-fall. They had risen in strength by a love of their country, and fell by indulging ambition. The country possessed by the invading Tartars, seemed to them a prize that would not only ren­der them more formidable for the future, but which would encrease their opulence for the present; it was unanimously resolved, therefore, both by soldiers and artizans, that those desolate regions should be peopled by colonies from Lao. When a trading nation begins to act the conqueror, it is then perfectly undone: it subsists in some measure by the support of its neighbours; while they continue to regard it without envy or ap­prehension, trade may flourish; but when once it presumes to assert as its right what it only enjoyed as a favour, each country reclaims that part of commerce which it has power to take back, and turns it into some other channel more honourable, though perhaps less convenient.

Every neighbour now began to regard with jealous eyes this ambitious common-wealth, and forbade their subjects any future intercourse with them. The inhabitants of Lao, however, still pur­sued the same ambitious maxims; it was from [Page 97] their colonies alone they expected riches; and riches, said they, are strength, and strength is security. Numberless were the migrations of the desperate and enterprizing of this country to people the desolate dominions lately possessed by the Tartar; between these colonies and the mother country, a very advantageous traffic was at first carried on, the republic sent their colonies large quantities of the manufactures of the coun­try, and they in return provided the republic with an equivalent in ivory and ginseng. By this means the inhabitants became immensely rich, and this pro­duced an equal degree of voluptuousness; for men who have much money will always find some fantastical modes of enjoyment. How shall I mark the steps by which they declined! Every colony in process of time spreads over the whole country where it first was planted. As it grows more po­pulous, it becomes more polite; and those manu­factures for which it was in the beginning obliged to others, it learns to dress up itself: such was the case with the colonies of Lao; they in less than a century became a powerful and a polite people, and the more polite they grew, the less advan­tageous was the commerce which still subsisted between them and others. By this means the mother country being abridged in its commerce grew poorer but not less luxurious. Their for­mer wealth had introduced luxury; and where­ever luxury once fixes, no art can either lessen or remove it Their commerce with their neigh­bours was totally destroyed; and that with their colonies was every day naturally and neces­sarily declining; they still, however, preserved the insolence of wealth, without a power to support it, and persevered in being luxurious while con­temptible [Page 98] from poverty. In short, the state re­sembled one of those bodies bloated with disease, whose bulk is only a symptom of its wretchedness. Their former opulence only rendered them more impotent, as those individuals who are reduced from riches to poverty, are of all men the most unfortunate and helpless They had imagined, because their colonies tended to make them rich upon the first acquisition, they would still con­tinue to do so; they now found however, that on themselves alone they should have depended for support; that colonies ever afford but temporary affluence, and when cultivated and polite are no longer useful. From such a concurrence of cir­cumstances they soon became contemptible. The emperor Honti invaded them with a powerful army. Historians do not say whether their colonies were too remote to lend assistance, or else were desirous of shaking off their dependance: But certain it is, they scarce made any resistance; their walls were now found but a weak defence; and they at length were obliged to acknowledge subjection to the empire of China.

Happy, very happy might they have been, had they known when to bound their riches and their glory. Had they known that extending empire is often diminishing power, that countries are ever strongest which are internally powerful; that co­lonies by draining away the brave and enter­prizing, leave the country in the hands of the timid and the avaricious; that walls give lit­tle protection, unless manned with resolution; that too much commerce may injure a nation as well as too little; and that there is a wide dif­ference between a conquering and a flourishing empire. Adieu.

LETTER XXV. From the same.

THO' fond of many acquaintances, I desire an intimacy only with a few. The man in black whom I have often mentioned, is one whose friend­ship I cou'd wish to acquire, because he possesses my esteem. His manners it is true, are tinctured with some strange inconsistencies; and he may be justly termed an humourist in a nation of humourists. Tho' he is generous even to profusion, he af­fects to be thought a prodigy of parsimony and prudence; though his conversation be replete with the most sordid and selfish maxims, his heart is dilated with the most unbounded love. I have known him profess himself a man-hater, while his cheek was glowing with compassion; and while his looks were softened into pity, I have heard him use the language of the most unbounded ill nature. Some affect humanity and tenderness, others boast of having such dispositions from nature; but he is the only man I ever knew who seemed ashamed of his natural benevolence. He takes as much pains to hide his feelings as any hypocrite would to conceal his indifference; but on every un­guarded moment the mask drops off, and reveals him to the most superficial observer.

In one of our late excursions into the coun­try, happening to discourse upon the provision that was made for the poor in England, he seemed amazed how any of his countrymen could be so foolishly weak as to relieve occasional objects of [Page 100] charity, when the laws had made such ample provision for their support. In every parish house, says he, the poor are supplied with food, cloaths, fire, and a bed to lie on; they want no more, I desire no more my self; yet still they seem dis­contented. I'm surprized at the inactivity of our magistrates, in not taking up such vagrants who are only a weight upon the industrious; I'm surprized that the people are found to relieve them, when they must be at the same time sensible that it, in some measure, encourages idleness, ex­travagance, and imposture. Were I to advise any man for whom I had the least regard, I would caution him by all means not to be imposed upon by their false pretences: let me assure you, Sir, they are impostors, every one of them; and ra­ther merit a prison than relief.

He was proceeding in this strain earnestly, to dissuade me from an imprudence of which I am seldom guilty; when an old man who still had about him the remnants of tattered finery, im­plored our compassion. He assured us that he was no common beggar, but forced into the shame­ful profession, to support a dying wife and five hungry children. Being prepossessed against such falshoods, his story had not the least influence upon me; but it was quite otherwise with the man in black; I could see it visibly operate upon his countenance, and effectually interrupt his ha­rangue. I could easily perceive that his heart burned to relieve the five starving children, but he seemed ashamed to discover his weakness to me. While he thus hesitated between compassion and pride, I pretended to look another way, and he seized this opportunity of giving the poor [Page 101] petitioner a piece of silver, bidding him at the same time, in order that I should hear, go work for his bread, and not teize passengers with such impertinent falsehoods for the future.

As he had fancied himself quite unperceived, he continued, as we proceeded, to rail against beggars with as much animosity as before; he threw in some episodes on his own amazing pru­dence and oeconomy, with his profound skill in discovering impostors; he explained the man­ner in which he would deal with beggars were he a magistrate, hinted at enlarging some of the prisons for their reception, and told two stories of ladies that were robbed by beggarmen. He was beginning a third to the same purpose, when a sailor with a wooden leg once more crossed our walks, desiring our pity, and blessing our limbs. I was for going on without taking any notice, but my friend looking wishfully upon the poor petitioner, bid me stop, and he would shew me with how much ease he could at any time detect an impostor.

He now therefore assumed a look of importance, and in an angry tone began to examine the sailor, demanding in what engagement he was thus dis­abled and rendered unfit for service. The sailor replied in a tone as angrily as he, that he had been an officer on board a private ship of war, and that he had lost his leg abroad in defence of those who did nothing at home. At this reply, all my friend's importance vanished in a moment; he had not a single question more to ask; he now only studied what method he should take to re­lieve him unobserved. He had however no easy [Page 102] part to act, as he was obliged to preserve the appear­ance of ill nature before me, and yet relieve him­self by relieving the sailor. Casting therefore a fu­rious look upon some bundles of chips which the fellow carried in a string at his back, my friend de­manded how he sold his matches; but not waiting for a reply, desired, in a surly tone, to have a shil­ling's worth. The sailor seemed at first surprised at his demand, but soon recollecting himself, and presenting his whole bundle, Here, master, says he, take all my cargo, and a blessing into the bargain.

It is impossible to describe with what an air of triumph my friend marched off with his new pur­chase, he assured me that he was firmly of opi­nion that those fellows must have stolen their goods, who could thus afford to sell them for half value; he informed me of several different uses to which those chips might be applied; he expatiated largely upon the savings that would re­sult from lighting candles with a match instead of thrusting them into the fire. He averred, that he would as soon have parted with a tooth as his money to those vagabonds, unless for some valuable consideration. I cannot tell how long this pane­gyric upon frugality and matches might have con­tinued, had not his attention been called off by another object more distressful than either of the former. A woman in rags, with one child in her arms, and another on her back, was attempting to sing ballads, but with such a mournful voice that it was difficult to determine whether she was singing or crying. A wretch, who, in the deep­est distress still aimed at good humour, was an object my friend was by no means capable of with­standing: his vivacity, and his discourse were in­stantly [Page 103] interrupted; upon this occasion his very dis­simulation had forsaken him. Even, in my pre­sence, he immediately applied his hands to his poc­kets, in order to relieve her; but guess his confu­sion, when he found he had already given away all the money he carried about him to former objects. The misery painted in the woman's visage, was not half so strongly expressed as the agony in his. He continued to search for some time, but to no purpose, till, at length, recollecting himself, with a face of ineffable good-nature, as he had no mo­ney, he put into her hands his shilling's worth of matches.

LETTER XXVI. To the same.

AS there appeared something reluctantly good in the character of my companion, I must own it surprized me what could be his motives for thus concealing virtues which others take such pains to display. I was unable to repress my desire of knowing the history of a man who thus seemed to act under continual restraint, and whose benevo­lence was rather the effect of appetite than reason.

It was not however till after repeated solicitations he thought proper to gratify my curiosity.

"If you are fond, says he, of hearing hair breadth 'scapes, my history must certainly please; for I have been for twenty years upon the very verge of starving, without ever being starved.

[Page 104]My father, the younger son of a good family, was possessed of a small living in the church. His education was above his fortune, and his ge­nerosity greater than his education. Poor as he was, he had his flatterers still poorer than him­self; for every dinner he gave them, they re­turned him an equivalent in praise; and this was all he wanted; the same ambition that ac­tuates a monarch at the head of an army, influ­enced my father at the head of his table: he told the story of the ivy-tree, and that was laughed at; he repeated the jest of the two scho­lars and one pair of breeches, and the company laughed at that; but the story of Taffy in the sedan chair was sure to set the table in a roar; thus his pleasure encreased in proportion to the pleasure he gave; he loved all the world, and he fancied all the world loved him.

As his fortune was but small, he lived up to the very extent of it; he had no intentions of leaving his children money, for that was dross; he was resolved they should have learning; for learning, he used to observe, was better than sil­ver or gold. For this purpose he undertook to instruct us himself; and took as much pains to form our morals, as to improve our understand­ing. We were told that universal benevolence was what first cemented society; we were taught to consider all the wants of mankind as our own; to regard the human face divine with affection and esteem; he wound us up to be mere ma­chines of pity, and rendered us incapable of withstanding the slightest impulse made either by real or fictitious distress; in a word, we were perfectly instructed in the art of giving [Page 105] away thousands, before we were taught the more necessary qualifications of getting a farthing.

I cannot avoid imagining, that, thus refined by his lessons out of all my suspicion, and divest­ed of even all the little cunning which nature had given me, I resembled, upon my first en­trance into the busy and insidious world, one of those gladiators who were exposed without ar­mour in the amphitheatre at Rome. My father, however, who had only seen the world on one side, seemed to triumph in my superior discern­ment; though my whole stock of wisdom con­sisted in being able to talk like himself upon sub­jects that once were useful, because they were then topics of the busy world; but that now were utterly useless, because connected with the busy world no longer.

The first opportunity he had of finding his expectations disappointed, was at the very mid­dling figure I made in the university: he had flattered himself that he should soon see me ris­ing into the foremost rank in literary reputation, but was mortified to find me utterly unnoticed and unknown. His disappointment might have been partly ascribed to his having over-rated my talents, and partly to my dislike of mathematical reasonings at a time, when my imagination and memory yet unsatisfied, were more eager after new objects, than desirous of reasoning upon those I knew. This did not, however, please my tutors, who observed, indeed, that I was a little dull; but at the same time allowed, that I seemed to be very good natured, and had no harm in me.

[Page 106]After I had resided at college seven years, my father died, and left me—his blessing. Thus shoved from shore without ill-nature to protect, or cunning to guide, or proper stores to subsist me in so dangerous a voyage, I was obliged to embark in the wide world at twenty-two But, in order to settle in life, my friends advised (for they always advise when they begin to despise us) they advised me, I say, to go into orders.

To be obliged to wear a long wig, when I liked a short one, or a black coat, when I ge­nerally dressed in brown, I thought was such a restraint upon my liberty, that I absolutely re­jected the proposal. A priest in England, is not the same mortified creature with a bonze in Chi­na; with us, not he that fasts best, but eats best, is reckoned the best liver; yet I rejected a life of luxury, indolence, and ease, from no no other consideration but that boyish one of dress. So that my friends were now perfectly satisfied I was undone; and yet they thought it a pity for one who had not the least harm in him, and was so very good-natured.

Poverty naturally begets dependance, and I was admitted as flatterer to a great man. At first I was surprised, that the situation of a flatterer at a great man's table could be thought disagree­able; there was no great trouble in listening attentively when his lordship spoke, and laugh­ing when he looked round for applause. This even good-manners might have obliged me to perform. I found, however, too soon, that his lordship was a greater dunce than myself; and from that very moment my power of flattery was [Page 107] at an end. I now rather aimed at setting him right, than at receiving his absurdities with submission: to flatter those we do not know is an easy task; but to flatter our intimate acquaintances, all whose foibles are strongly in our eye, is drudgery insupportable. Every time I now opened my lips in praise, my falshood went to my consci­ence; his lordship soon perceived me to be unfit for service; I was therefore discharged; my pa­tron at the same time being graciously pleased to observe, that he believed I was tolerably good-natured, and had not the least harm in me.

Disappointed in ambition I had recourse to love. A young lady, who lived with her aunt, and was possessed of a pretty fortune in her own disposal, had given me, as I fancied, some rea­sons to expect success. The symptoms by which I was guided were striking; she had always laughed with me at her aukward acquaintance, and at her aunt among the number; she always observed, that a man of sense would make a better husband than a fool, and I as constantly applied the observation in my own favour. She continually talked in my company of friendship and the beauties of the mind, and spoke of Mr. Shrimp my rival's high-heel'd shoes with detesta­tion. These were circumstances which I thought strongly in my favour; so after resolving, and re-resolving, I had courage enough to tell her my mind. Miss heard my proposal with sere­nity, seeming at the same time to study the fi­gures of her fan. Out at last it came. There was but one small objection to complete our happiness, which was no more, than—that [Page 108] she was married three months before to Mr▪ Shrimp with high-heel'd shoes! By way of con­solation however she observed, that tho' I was disappointed in her, my addresses to her aunt would probably kindle her into sensibility; as the old lady always allowed me to be very good natu­red, and not to have the least share of harm in me.

Yet still I had friends, numerous friends, and to them I was resolved to apply. O friendship! thou fond soother of the human breast, to thee we fly in every calamity; to thee the wretched seek for succour; on thee the care-tired son of misery fondly relies; from thy kind assistance the unfortunate always hopes relief, and may be ever sure of——disappointment! My first appli­cation was to a city scrivener, who had fre­quently offered to lend me money when he knew I did not want it. I informed him, that now was the time to put his friendship to the test; that I wanted to borrow a couple of hundreds for a certain occasion, and was resolved to take it up from him. And pray, Sir, cried my friend, do you want all this money? Indeed I never want­ed it more, returned I. I am sorry for that, cries the scrivener, with all my heart; for they who want money when they come to borrow, will al­ways want money when they should come to pay.

From him I flew with indignation to one of the best friends I had in the world, and made the same request. Indeed, Mr. Dry-bone, cries my friend, I always thought it would come to this. You know, sir, I would not advise you but for your own good; but your conduct has hitherto been ridiculous in the highest degree, and some of your acquaintance always thought [Page 109] you a very silly fellow; let me see, you want two hundred pounds; do you want only two hundred, sir, exactly? To confess a truth, re­turned I, I shall want three hundred; but then I have another friend from whom I can borrow the rest. Why then, replied my friend, if you would take my advice; and you know I should not presume to advise you but for your own good, I would recommend it to you to borrow the whole sum from that other friend; and then one note will serve for all, you know.

Poverty now began to come fast upon me, yet instead of growing more provident or cau­tious as I grew poor, I became every day more indolent and simple. A friend was arrested for fifty pounds, I was unable to extricate him ex­cept by becoming his bail. When at liberty he fled from his creditors, and left me to take his place. In prison I expected greater satisfactions than I had enjoyed at large. I hoped to con­verse with men in this new world simple and be­lieving like myself, but I found them as cunning and as cautious as those in the world I had left behind. They spunged up my money whilst it last­ed, borrowed my coals and never paid them, and cheated me when I played at cribbage. All this was done because they believed me to be very good-natured, and knew that I had no harm in me.

Upon my first entrance into this mansion, which is to some the abode of despair, I felt no sensations different from those I experienced a­broad. I was now on one side the door, and those who were unconfined were on the other; this was all the difference between us. At first [Page 110] indeed I felt some uneasiness, in considering how I should be able to provide this week for the wants of the week ensuing; but after some time, if I found myself sure of eating one day, I ne­ver troubled my head how I was to be supplied another. I seized every precarious meal with the utmost good humour, indulged no rants of spleen at my situation, never called down heaven and all the stars to behold me dining upon an half­penny-worth of radishes; my very companions were taught to believe that I liked sallad better than mutton. I contented myself with thinking, that all my life I should either eat white bread or brown; considered that all that happened was best, laughed when I was not in pain, took the world as it went, and read Tacitus often, for want of more books and company.

How long I might have continued in this tor­pid state of simplicity I cannot tell, had I not been rouzed by seeing an old acquaintance, whom I knew to be a prudent blockhead pre­ferred to a place in the government. I now found that I had pursued a wrong track, and that the true way of being able to relieve others, was first to aim at independance myself. My immediate care, therefore, was to leave my pre­sent habitation, and make an entire reformation in my conduct and behaviour. For a free, open, undesigning deportment, I put on that of close­ness, prudence and oeconomy. One of the most heroic actions I ever performed, and for which I shall praise myself as long as I live, was the re­fusing half a crown to an old acquaintance, at the time when he wanted it, and I had it to spare; for this alone I deserve to be decreed an ovation.

[Page 111]I now therefore pursued a course of uninter­rupted frugality, seldom wanted a dinner, and was consequently invited to twenty. I soon be­gan to get the character of a saving hunks that had money; and insensibly grew into esteem. Neighbours have asked my advice in the disposal of their daughters, and I have always taken care not to give any. I have contracted a friendship with an alderman, only by observing, that if we take a farthing from a thousand pound it will be a thousand pound no longer. I have been invited to a pawnbroker's table, by pretending to hate gravy; and am now actually upon treaty of marriage with a rich widow, for only having observed that the bread was rising. If ever I am asked a question, whether I know it or not, instead of answering, I only smile and look wise. If a charity is proposed, I go about with the hat, but put nothing in myself. If a wretch solicits my pity, I observe that the world is filled with impostors, and take a certain method of not be­ing deceived by never relieving. In short, I now find the truest way of Ending esteem even from the indigent, is to give away nothing, and thus have much in our power to give."

LETTER XXVII. To the same.

LATELY in company with my friend in black, whose conversation is now both my amusement and instruction, I could not avoid observing the great numbers of old bachelors and maiden ladies [Page 112] with which this city seems to be over-run. Sure marriage, said I, is not sufficiently encouraged, or we should never behold such crowds of battered beaux and decayed coquets still attempting to drive a trade they been have so long unfit for, and swarming upon the gaiety of the age. I behold an old bachelor in the most contemptible light, as an animal that lives upon the common stock without contributing his share: he is a beast of prey, and the laws should make use of as many stratagems and as much force to drive the reluctant savage into the toils as the Indians when they hunt the hyena or the rhinoceros. The mob should be per­mitted to halloo after him, boys might play tricks on him with impunity, every well-bred company should laugh at him, and if, when turned of sixty, he offered to make love his mistress might spit in his face, or, what would be perhaps a greater punishment, should fairly grant him the favour.

As for old maids, continued I, they should not be treated with so much severity, because I suppose none would be so if they could. No lady in her senses would chuse to make a subordinate figure at christenings and lyings-in, when she might be the principal herself; nor curry favour with a sister-in-law, when she might command an husband, nor toil in preparing custards, when she might lie abed and give directions how they ought to be made, nor stifle all her sensations in demure formality, when she might with matrimonial freedom shake her acquaintance by the hand, and wink at a dou­ble entendre. No lady could be so very silly as to live single, if she could help it. I consider an un­married lady declining into the vale of years, as one of those charming countries bordering on Chi­na [Page 113] that lies waste for want of proper inhabitants. We are not to accuse the country, but the igno­rance of its neighbours, who are insensible of its beauties, though at liberty to enter and cultivate the soil.

Indeed, Sir, replied my companion, you are very little acquainted with the English ladies to think they are old maids against their will. I dare venture to affirm that you can hardly select one of them all, but has had frequent offers of marriage, which, either pride or avarice has not made her reject. Instead of thinking it a dis­grace, they take every occasion to boast of their former cruelty; a soldier does not exult more when he counts over the wounds he has received, than a female veteran when she relates the wounds she has formerly given: exhaustless when she begins a narrative of the former death-dealing power of her eyes. She tells of the knight in gold lace who died with a single frown, and never rose again till—he was mar­ried to his maid: Of the squire, who being cru­elly denied, in a rage, flew to the window, and lifting up the sash, threw himself in an agony— into his arm chair: Of the parson, who crossed in love, resolutely swallowed opium, which ba­nished the stings of despised love by—making him sleep. In short, she talks over her former losses with pleasure, and, like some tradesmen, finds consolation in the many bankruptcies she has suffered.

For this reason, whenever I see a superannuat­ed beauty still unmarried, I tacitly accuse her either of pride, avarice, coquetry, or affecta­tion. [Page 114] There's Miss Jenny Tinderbox, I once remember her to have had some beauty, and a moderate fortune. Her elder sister happened to marry a man of quality, and this seem­ed as a statute of virginity against poor Jane. Because there was one lucky hit in the family, she was resolved not to disgrace it by introducing a tradesman; by thus rejecting her equals, and neglected or despised by her superiors, she now acts in the capacity of tutoress to her sister's children, and undergoes the drudgery of three servants without receiving the wages of one.

Miss Squeeze was a pawnbroker's daughter; her father had early taught her that money was a very good thing, and left her a moderate for­tune at his death. She was so perfectly sensible of the value of what she had got, that she was resolved never to part with a farthing without an equality on the part of her suitor; she thus refused several offers made her by people who wanted to better themselves, as the saying is; and grew old and ill-natured, without ever con­sidering that she should have made an abatement in her pretensions, from her face being pale, and marked with the small-pox.

Lady Betty Tempest on the contrary had beauty, with fortune and family. But, fond of conquest, she passed from triumph to triumph; she had read plays and romances, and there had learned that a plain man of common sense was no better than a fool; such she refused, and sighed only for the gay, giddy, inconstant and thought­less; after she had thus rejected hundreds who liked her, and sighed for hundreds who despised [Page 115] her, she found herself insensibly deserted: at pre­sent she is company only for her aunts and cousins, and sometimes makes one in a country-dance, with only one of the chairs for a partner, casts off round a joint-stool, and sets to a corner cupboard. In a word, she is treated with civil contempt from every quarter, and placed, like a piece of old fashioned lumber, merely to fill up a corner.

But Sophronia, the sagacious Sophronia; how shall I mention her? She was taught to love Greek, and hate the men from her very infancy: she has rejected fine gentlemen because they were not pedants, and pedants because they were not fine gentlemen; her exquisite sensibi­lity has taught her to discover every fault in every lover, and her inflexible justice has prevented her pardoning them; thus she rejected several offers, till the wrinkles of age had overtaken her; and now, without one good feature in her face, she talks incessantly of the beauties of the mind.


LETTER XXVIII. From the same.

WERE we to estimate the learning of the English by the number of books that are every day published among them, perhaps no coun­try, not even China itself, could equal them in this particular. I have reckoned not less than twenty-three new books published in one day; which upon computation, makes eight thousand [Page 116] three hundred and ninety-five in one year. Most of these are not confined to one single science, but embrace the whole circle. History, politics, poe­try, mathematics, metaphysics, and the philosophy of nature are all comprized in a manual not larger than that in which our children are taught the letters. If then we suppose the learned of England to read but an eighth part of the works which daily come from the press (and sure none can pretend to learning upon less-easy terms) at this rate every scholar will read a thousand books in one year. From such a calculation you may con­jecture what an amazing fund of literature a man must be possessed of, who thus reads three new books every day, not one of which but contains all the good things that ever were said or written.

And yet I know not how it happens, but the English are not in reality so learned as would seem from this calculation. We meet but few who know all arts and sciences to perfection; whether it is that the generality are incapable of such exten­sive knowledge, or that the authors of those books are not adequate instructors. In China, the em­peror himself takes cognisance of all the doctors in the kingdom who profess authorship. In Eng­land, every man may be an author that can write; for they have by law a liberty not only of saying what they please, but of being also as dull as they please.

Yesterday, I testified my surprize to the man in black, where writers could be found in suf­ficient number to throw off the books I daily saw crowding from the press. I at first imagi­ned, that their learned seminaries might take this [Page 117] method of instructing the world. But to obviate this objection, my companion assured me, that the doctors of colleges never wrote, and that some of them had actually forgot their reading; but if you desire, continued he, to see a collection of authors, I fancy I can introduce you this evening to a club, which assembles every Saturday at seven, at the sign of the Broom near Islington, to talk over the business of the last, and the entertain­ment of the week ensuing. I accepted his in­vitation, we walked together, and entered the house some time before the usual hour for the company assembling.

My friend took this opportunity of letting me into the characters of the principal members of the club, not even the host excepted, who, it seems, was once an author himself, but preferred by a bookseller to this situation as a reward for his former services.

The first person, said he, of our society, is doctor Nonentity, a metaphysician. Most peo­ple think him a profound scholar; but as he seldom speaks, I cannot be positive in that par­ticular; he generally spreads himself before the fire, sucks his pipe, talks little, drinks much, and is reckoned very good company. I'm told he writes indexes to perfection, he makes essays on the origin of evil, philosophical enquiries upon any subject, and draws up an answer to any book upon twenty-four hours warning. You may distinguish him from the rest of the com­pany by his long grey wig, and the blue hand­kerchief round his neck.

[Page 118]The next to him in merit and esteem is Tim Syllabub, a drole creature; he sometimes shines as a star of the first magnitude among the choice spirits of the age; he is reckoned equally excel­lent at a rebus, a riddle, a baudy song, and an hymn for the tabernacle. You will know him by his shabby finery, his powdered wig, dirty shirt, and broken silk stockings.

After him succeeds Mr. Tibs, a very useful hand; he writes receipts for the bite of a mad dog, and throws off an eastern tale to perfection; he understands the business of an author as well as any man; for no bookseller alive can cheat him; you may distinguish him by the peculiar clumsiness of his figure and the coarseness of his coat: however, though it be coarse, (as he fre­quently tells the company) he has paid for it.

Lawyer Squint is the politician of the society; he makes speeches for parliament, writes ad­dresses to his fellow subjects, and letters to noble commanders; he gives the history of every new play, and finds seasonable thoughts upon every oc­casion.—My companion was proceeding in his description, when the host came running in with terror on his countenance to tell us, that the door was beset with bailiffs. If that be the case then, says my companion, we had as good be going; for I am positive we shall not see one of the company this night. Wherefore disappointed we were both obliged to return home, he to en­joy the oddities which compose his character alone, and I to write as usual to my friend the occur­rences of the day. Adieu.

LETTER XXIX. From the same.

BY my last advices from Moscow, I find the ca­ravan has not yet departed for China: I still continue to write, expecting that you may receive a large number of my letters at once. In them you will find rather a minute detail of English peculia­rities, than a general picture of their manners or disposition. Happy it were for mankind if all tra­vellers would thus, instead of characterising a peo­ple in general terms, lead us into a detail of those minute circumstances which first influenced their opinion: the genius of a country should be investi­gated with a kind of experimental enquiry: by this means we should have more precise and just no­tions of foreign nations, and detect travellers them­selves when they happened to form wrong conclu­sions.

My friend and I repeated our visit to the club of authors; where, upon our entrance, we found the members all assembled and engaged in a loud de­bate.

The poet, in shabby finery, holding a manu­script in his hand, was earnestly endeavouring to persuade the company to hear him read the first book of an heroic poem, which he had composed the day before. But against this, all the members very warmly objected. They knew no reason why any member of the club should be indulged with a particular hearing, when many of them had pub­lished whole volumes which had never been looked [Page 120] in. They insisted that the law should be observed, where reading in company was expresly noticed. It was in vain that the plaintiff pleaded the peculiar merit of his piece; he spoke to an assembly insensi­ble to all his remonstrances; the book of laws was opened, and read by the secretary, where it was ex­presly enacted, ‘"That whatsoever poet, speech­maker, critic, or historian, should presume to engage the company by reading his own works, he was to lay down sixpence previous to open­ing the manuscript, and should be charged one shilling an hour while he continued reading; the said shilling to be equally distributed among the company as a recompence for their trouble."’

Our poet seemed at first to shrink at the penalty, hesitating for some time whether he should deposit the fine, or shut up the poem; but looking round, and perceiving two strangers in the room, his love of fame out-weighed his prudence, and laying down the sum by law established, he insisted on his prerogative.

A profound silence ensuing, he began by ex­plaining his design. "Gentlemen, says he, the present piece is not one of your common epic poems, which come from the press like paper kites in summer; there are none of your Turnuses or Dido's in it; it is an heroical description of nature. I only beg you'll endeavour to make your souls unison with mine, and hear with the same enthusi­asm with which I have written. The poem begins with the description of an author's bed-chamber: the picture was sketched in my own apartment; for you must know, gentlemen, that I am myself the heroe. Then putting himself into the attitude of [Page 121] an orator, with all the emphasis of voice and ac­tion, he proceeded.

"Where the Red Lion flaring o'er the way,
Invites each passing stranger that can pay;
Where Calvert's butt, and Parson's black champaign,
Regale the drabs and bloods of Drury lane;
There in a lonely room, from bailiffs snug,
The muse found Scroggen stretch'd beneath a rug,
A window patch'd with paper lent a ray,
That dimly shew'd the state in which he lay;
The sanded floor that grits beneath the tread;
The humid wall with paltry pictures spread:
The royal game of goose was there in view,
And the twelve rules the royal martyr drew;
The seasons fram'd with listing found a place,
And brave prince William shew'd his lamp-black face:
The morn was cold, he views with keen desire
The rusty grate unconscious of a fire:
With beer and milk arrears the frieze was scor'd,
And five crack'd tea cups dress'd the chimney board.
A night-cap deck'd his brows instead of bay,
A cap by night—a stocking all the day!

With this last line he seemed so much elated, that he was unable to proceed:

"There gentle­men, cries he, there is a description for you; Rablais's bed-chamber is but a fool to it:

A cap by night—a stocking all the day!

There is sound and sense, and truth, and nature in the trifling compass of ten little syllables."

He was too much employed in self-admiration to observe the company: who by nods, winks, shrugs, [Page 122] and stifled laughter, testified every mark of con­tempt. He turned severally to each for their opi­nion, and found all however ready to applaud. One swore it was inimitable; another said it was damn'd fine; and a third cried out in rapture Ca­rissimo. At last addressing himself to the president, and pray, Mr. Squint, says he, let us have your opinion. Mine, answered the president, (taking the manuscript out of the author's hands) may this glass suffocate me, but I think it equal to any thing I have seen; and I fancy, (continued he doubling up the poem, and forcing it into the au­thor's pocket) that you will get great honour when it comes out; so I shall beg leave to put it in. We will not intrude upon your good-nature, in desir­ing to hear more of it at present; ex ungue Hercu­lem, we are satisfied, perfectly satisfied. The au­thor made two or three attempts to pull it out a second time, and the president made as many to prevent him. Thus though with reluctance he was at last obliged to sit down, contented with the commendations for which he had paid.

When this tempest of poetry and praise was blown over, one of the company changed the sub­ject, by wondering how any man could be so dull as to write poetry at present, since prose itself would hardly pay. Would you think it, gentle­men, continued he, I have actually written last week sixteen prayers, twelve bawdy jests, and three ser­mons, all at the rate of sixpence a-piece; and what is still more extraordinary, the bookseller has lost by the bargain. Such sermons would once have gain'd me a prebend's stall; but now alas we have neither piety, taste, nor humour among us. Positively if this season does not turn out better [Page 123] than it has begun, unless the ministry commit some blunders to furnish us with a new topic of abuse, I shall resume my old business of working at the press, instead of finding it employment.

The whole club seem to join in condemning the season, as one of the worst that had come for some time; a gentleman particularly observed that the nobility were never known to subscribe worse than at present. "I know not how it happens, said he, though I follow them up as close as possible, yet I can hardly get a single subscription in a week. The houses of the great are as inaccessible as a frontier garrison at mid-night. I never see a no­bleman's door half opened that some surly porter or footman does not stand full in the breach. I was yesterday to wait with a subscription proposal upon my lord Squash the creolian. I had posted myself at his door the whole morning, and just as he was getting into his coach, thrust my proposal snugg into his hand folded up in the form of a let­ter from myself. He just glanced at the superscrip­tion, and, not knowing the hand, consigned it to his valet de chambre; this respectable personage treated it as his master, and put it into the hands of the porter. The porter grasped my proposal frowning; and, measuring my figure from top to toe, put it back into my own hands unopened.

"To the devil I pitch all the nobility, cries a little man, in a peculiar accent, I am sure they have of late used me most scurvily. You must know, gentlemen, some time ago, upon the ar­rival of a certain noble duke from his travels, I set myself down, and vamped up a fine flaunting, po­etical panegyric, which I had written in such a [Page 124] strain, that I fancied it would have even wheedled milk from a mouse. In this I represented the whole kingdom welcoming his grace to his native soil, not forgetting the loss France and Italy would sustain in their arts by his departure. I expected to touch for a bank bill at least; so folding up my verses in gilt paper, I gave my last half crown to a genteel servant to be the bearer. My letter was safely conveyed to his grace, and the servant after four hours absence, during which time I led the life of a fiend, returned with a letter four times as big as mine. Guess my extasy at the prospect of so fine a return. I eagerly took the pacquet into my hands, that trembled to receive it. I kept it some time unopened before me, brooding over the expected treasure it contained; when opening it, as I hope to be saved, gentlemen, his grace had sent me in payment for my poem no Bank bills, but six copies of verse, each longer than mine, ad­dressed to him upon the same occasion."

"A nobleman, cries a member, who had hither­to been silent, is created as much for the confusion of us authors as the catch-pole. I'll tell you a story, gentlemen, which is as true as that this pipe is made of clay. When I was delivered of my first book, I owed my taylor for a suit of cloaths, but that is nothing new, you know, and may be any man's case as well as mine. Well, owing him for a suit of cloaths, and hearing that my book took very well, he sent for his money, and insisted upon being paid immediately: though I was at that time rich in fame, for my book run like wild-fire, yet I was very short in money, and being unable to satisfy his demand, prudently resolved to keep my chamber, preferring a prison of my own chus­ing [Page 125] at home, to one of my taylor's chusing abroad. In vain the bailiffs used all their arts to decoy me from my citadel, in vain they sent to let me know that a gentleman wanted to speak with me at the next tavern, in vain they came with an urgent message from my aunt in the country; in vain I was told that a particular friend was at the point death, and desired to take his last farewell; I was deaf, insensible, rock, adamant, the bailiffs could make no impression on my hard heart, for I effec­tually kept my liberty by never stirring out of the room.

"This was very well for a fortnight; when one morning I received a most splendid message from the earl of Doomsday, importing, that he had read my book, and was in raptures with every line of it; he impatiently longed to see the author, and had some designs which might turn out greatly to my advantage. I paused upon the contents of this message, and found there could be no deceit, for the card was gilt at the edges, and the bearer, I was told, had quite the looks of a gentleman. Witness ye powers, how my heart triumphed at my own importance; I saw a long perspective of feli­city before me, I applauded the taste of the times, which never saw genius forsaken; I had prepared a set introductory speech for the occasion, five glar­ing compliments for his lordship, and two more modest for myself. The next morning, therefore, in order to be punctual to my appointment. I took coach, and ordered the fellow to drive to the street and house mentioned in his lordship's ad­dress. I had the precaution to pull up the win­dows as I went along to keep off the busy part of mankind, and, big with expectation, fancied the [Page 126] coach never went fast enough. At length, however, the wish'd for moment of its stopping arrived, this for some time I impatiently expected, and letting down the door in a transport, in order to take a previous view of his lordship's magnificent palace and situation, I found poison to my sight! I found myself, not in an elegant street, but a paltry lane, not at a nobleman's door, but the door of a spunging-house; I found the coachman had all this while been driving me to jail, and I saw the bailiff with a devil's face, coming out to secure me.

To a philosopher, no circumstance, however trifling, is too minute; he finds instruction and entertainment in occurrences, which are passed over by the rest of mankind as low, trite, and in­different; it is from the number of these particu­lars, which, to many, appear insignificant, that he is at last enabled to form general conclusions; this, therefore, must be my excuse for sending so far as China accounts of manners and follies, which, though minute in their own nature, serve more truly to characterise this people than histories of their public treaties, courts, ministers, negotia­tions, and ambassadors. Adieu.

LETTER XXX. From the same.

THE English have not yet brought the art of gardening to the same perfection with the Chinese, but have lately begun to imitate them; nature is now followed with greater assiduity than [Page 127] formerly; the trees are suffered to shoot out into the utmost luxuriance; the streams, no longer forced from their native beds, are permitted to wind along the vallies: spontaneous flowers take place of the finished parterre, and the enamel­led meadow of the shaven green.

Yet still the English are far behind us in this charming art; their designers have not yet at­tained a power of uniting instruction with beauty. An European will scarcely conceive my meaning, when I say that there is scarce a garden in China which does not contain some fine moral, couch'd under the general design, where one is not taught wisdom as he walks, and feels the force of some no­ble truth, or delicate precept resulting from the dis­position of the groves, streams or grotto's. Per­mit me to illustrate what I mean by a description of my gardens at Quamsi. My heart still hovers round those scenes of former happiness with plea­sure; and I find satisfaction in enjoying them at this distance, though but in imagination.

You descended from the house between two groves of trees, planted in such a manner, that they were impenetrable to the eye; while on each hand the way was adorned with all that was beautiful in porcelaine, statuary, and painting. This passage from the house opened into an area surrounded with rocks, flowers, trees and shrubs, but all so disposed as if each was the sponta­neous production of nature. As you proceeded forward on this lawn, to your right and left-hand were two gates, opposite each other, of very dif­ferent [Page 128] architecture and design; and before you lay a temple built rather with minute elegance than ostentation.

The right-hand gate was planned with the ut­most simplicity, or rather rudeness; ivy clasp'd round the pillars, the baleful cyprus hung over it; time seemed to have destroyed all the smoothness and regularity of the stone: two champions with lifted clubs appeared in the act of guarding its access; dragons and serpents were seen in the most hideous attitudes, to deter the spectator from approaching; and the perspective view that lay behind seemed dark and gloomy to the last de­gree; the stranger was tempted to enter only from the motto: PERVIA VIRTUTI.

The opposite gate was formed in a very dif­ferent manner; the architecture was light, ele­gant, and inviting; flowers hung in wreaths round the pillars; all was finished in the most exact and masterly manner; the very stone of which it was built still preserved its polish; nymphs, wrought by the hand of a master, in the most alluring attitudes, beckoned the stranger to ap­proach; while all that lay behind, as far as the eye could reach, seemed gay, luxuriant, and ca­pable of affording endless pleasure. The motto itself contributed to invite him; for over the gate was written these words, FACILIS DESCEN­SUS.

By this time I fancy you begin to perceive that the gloomy gate was designed to represent the road to virtue; the opposite, the more agreeable pas­sage to vice. It is but natural to suppose, that [Page 129] the spectator was always tempted to enter by the gate which offered him so many allurements; I always in these cases left him to his choice; but generally found that he took to the left, which promised most entertainment.

Immediately upon his entering the gate of vice, the trees and flowers were disposed in such a manner as to make the most pleasing impression; but as he walked farther on he insensibly found the garden assume the air of a wilderness, the landskips began to darken, the paths grew more intricate, he appeared to go downwards, fright­ful rocks seemed to hang over his head, gloomy caverns, unexpected precipices, awful ruins, heaps of unburied bones, and terrifying sounds, caused by unseen waters, began to take place of what at first appeared so lovely; it was in vain to at­tempt returning, the labyrinth was too much per­plexed for any but myself to find the way back. In short, when sufficiently impressed with the horrors of what he saw, and the imprudence of his choice, I brought him by an hidden door, a shorter way back into the area from whence at first he had strayed.

The gloomy gate now presented itself before the stranger; and though there seemed little in its appearance to tempt his curiosity, yet encouraged by the motto, he generally proceeded. The dark­ness of the entrance, the frightful figures that seemed to obstruct his way, the trees of a mourn­ful green, conspired at first to disgust him: as he went forward, however, all began to open and wear a more pleasing appearance, beautiful cascades, beds of flowers, trees loaded with fruit [Page 130] or blossoms, and unexpected brooks, improved the scene: he now found that he was ascending, and, as he proceeded, all nature grew more beautiful, the prospect widened as he went higher, even the air itself seemed to become more pure. Thus pleased, and happy from unexpected beauties, I at last led him to an arbour, from whence he could view the garden and the whole country around, and where be might own, that the road to Virtue terminated in Happiness.

Though from this description you may imagine, that a vast tract of ground was necessary to ex­hibit such a pleasing variety in, yet be assured, that I have seen several gardens in England take up ten times the space which mine did, without half the beauty. A very small extent of ground is enough for an elegant taste; the greater room is required if magnificence is in view. There is no spot, tho' ever so little, which a skilful de­signer might not thus improve, so as to convey a delicate allegory, and impress the mind with truths the most useful and necessary. Adieu.

LETTER XXXI. From the same.

IN a late excursion with my friend into the country, a gentleman with a blue ribbon tied round his shoulder, and in a chariot drawn by six horses passed swiftly by us, attended with a numerous train of captains, lacquies, and coaches filled with women. When we were recovered [Page 131] from the dust raised by his cavalcade, and could continue our discourse without danger of suffoca­tion, I observed to my companion, that all this state and equipage which he seemed to despise, would in China be regarded with the utmost re­verence, because such distinctions were always the reward of merit; the greatness of a Man­darine's retinue being a most certain mark of the superiority of his abilities or virtue.

The gentleman who has now passed us, replied my companion, has no claims from his own merit to distinction; he is possessed neither of abilities nor virtue; it is enough for him that one of his ancestors was possessed of these qualities two hun­dred years before him. There was a time, in­deed, when his family deserved their titles, but they are long since degenerated, and his ancestors for more than a century have been more and more solicitous to keep up the breed of their dogs and horses than that of their children. This very nobleman, simple as he seems, is descended from a race of statesmen and heroes; but un­luckily his great grandfather marrying a cook maid, and she having a trifling passion for his lordship's groom, they some-how crossed the strain, and produced an heir, who took after his mo­ther in his great love to good eating, and his father in a violent affection for horse flesh. These passions have for some generations passed on from father to son, and are now become the charac­teristics of the family, his present lordship being equally remarkable for his kitchen and his stable.

But such a nobleman, cried I, deserves our pity thus placed in so high a sphe [...]e of life, which [Page 132] only the more exposes to contempt. A king may confer titles, but it is personal merit alone that insures respect. I suppose, added I, that such men who are so very unfit to fill up their dig­nity, are despised by their equals, neglected by their inferiors, and condemned to live among in­voluntary dependants in irksome solitude?

You are still under a mistake, replied my com­panion, for though this nobleman is a stranger to generosity; though he takes twenty opportunities in a day of letting his guests know how much he despises them; though he is possessed neither of taste, wit, nor wisdom; though incapable of im­proving others by his conversation, and never known to enrich any by his bounty, yet for all this, his company is eagerly sought after: he is a lord, and that is as much as most people desire in a companion. Quality and title have such allurements, that hundreds are ready to give up all their own importance, to cringe, to flatter, to look little, and to pall every pleasure in constraint, merely to be among the great, though without the least hopes of improving their understanding or sharing their generosity: they might be happy among their equals, but those are despised for company, where they are despised in turn. You saw what a crowd of humble cousins, card-ruined beaus, and captains on half pay, were willing to make up this great man's retinue down to his country seat. Not one of all these that could not lead a more comfortable life at home in their little lodging of three shil­lings a week, with their lukewarm dinner, served up between two pewter plates from a cook's shop. Yet poor devils, they are willing to undergo the impertinence and pride of their entertainer, mere­ly [Page 133] to be thought to live among the great: they are willing to pass the summer in bondage, though conscious they are taken down only to approve his lordship's taste upon every occasion, to tag all his stupid observations with a very true, to praise his stable, and descant upon his claret and cookery.

The pitiful humiliations of the gentlemen you are now describing, said I, puts me in mind of a custom among the Tartars of Koreki, not en­tirely dissimilar to this we are now considering.* The Russians, who trade with them carry thither a kind of mushrooms, which they exchange for furrs of squirrels, ermins, sables, and foxes. These mushrooms the rich Tartars lay up in large quan­tities for the winter; and when a nobleman makes a mushroom feast, all the neighbours around are invited. The mushrooms are prepared by boiling, by which the water acquires an intoxi­cating quality, and is a sort of drink which the Tartars prize beyond all other. When the no­bility and ladies are assembled, and the ceremo­nies usual between people of distinction over, the mushroom broth goes freely round; they laugh, talk double entendre, grow fuddled, and become excellent company. The poorer sort, who love mushroom broth to distraction as well as the rich, but cannot afford it at the first hand, post themselves on these occasions round the huts of the rich, and watch the opportunity of the ladies and gentlemen as they come down to pass their liquor, and holding a wooden bowl, catch the delicious fluid, very little altered by filtration, [Page 134] being still strongly tinctured with the intoxicating quality. Of this they drink with the utmost satis­faction, and thus they get as drunk and as jovial as their betters.

Happy nobility, cries my companion, who can fear no diminution of respect, unless by being seized with a strangury; and who when most drunk are most useful; though we have not this custom among us, I foresee, that if it were introduced, we might have many a toad-eater in England ready to drink from the wooden bowl on these occasions, and to praise the flavour of his lord­ship's liquor: As we have different classes of gen­try, who knows but we might see a lord holding the bowl to a minister, a knight holding it to his lordship, and a simple 'squire drinking it double distilled from the loins of knighthood. For my part, I shall never for the future hear a great man's flatterers haranguing in his praise that I shall not fancy I behold the wooden bowl; for I can see no reason why a man, who can live easi­ly and happily at home, should bear the drudgery of decorum and the impertinence of his enter­tainer, unless intoxicated with a passion for all that was quality; unless he thought that what­ever came from the great was delicious, and had the tincture of the mushroom in it. Adieu.

LETTER XXXII. From the same.

I AM disgusted, O Fum Hoam, even to sickness disgusted. Is it possible to bear the presump­tion [Page 135] of those islanders, when they pretend to in­struct me in the ceremonies of China! They lay it down as a maxim, that every person who comes from thence must express himself in meta­phor; swear by Alla, rail against wine, and be­have, and talk and write like a Turk or Persian. They make no distinction between our elegant manners, and the voluptuous barbarities of our eastern neighbours. Where-ever I come, I raise either diffidence or astonishment; some fancy me no Chinese, because I am formed more like a man than a monster; and others wonder to find one born five thousand miles from England, en­dued with common sense. Strange, say they, that a man who has received his education at such a distance from London, should have common sense; to be born out of England, and yet have common sense! impossible! He must be some Englishman in disguise; his very visage has no­thing of the true exotic barbarity.

I yesterday received an invitation from a lady of distinction, who it seems had collected all her knowledge of eastern manners from fictions every day propagated here, under the titles of eastern tales, and oriental histories: she received me very politely, but seemed to wonder that I neglected bringing opium and a tobacco box; when chairs were drawn for the rest of the company, I was assigned my place on a cushion on the floor. It was in vain that I protested the Chinese used chairs as in Europe; she understood decorums too well to entertain me with the ordinary civilities.

I had scarce been seated according to her di­rections, when the footman was ordered to pin [Page 136] a napkin under my chin; this I protested against, as being no way Chinese; however, the whole company, who it seems were a club of connoisseurs, gave it unanimously against me, and the napkin was pinned accordingly.

It was impossible to be angry with people, who seemed to err only from an excess of politeness, and I sat contented, expecting their importunities were now at an end; but as soon as ever dinner was served, the lady demanded whether I was for a plate of Bear's claws, or a slice of Birds nests? As these were dishes with which I was utterly unacquainted, I was desirous of eating only what I knew, and therefore begged to be helped from a piece of beef that lay on the side table: my request at once disconcerted the whole com­pany. A Chinese eat beef! that could never be! there was no local propriety in Chinese beef, whatever there might be in Chinese pheasant. Sir, said my entertainer, I think I have some rea­sons to fancy myself a judge of these matters: in short, the Chinese never eat beef; so that I must be permitted to recommend the Pilaw, there was never better dressed at Pekin; the saffron and rice are well boiled, and the spices in per­fection.

I had no sooner begun to eat what was laid before me, than I found the whole company as much astonished as before; it seems I made no use of my chop-sticks. A grave gentleman, whom I take to be an author, harangued very learnedly (as the company seemed to think) upon the use which was made of them in China: he entered into a long argument with himself about their [Page 137] first introduction, without once appealing to me, who might be supposed best capable of silencing the enquiry. As the gentleman therefore took my silence for a mark of his own superior saga­city, he was resolved to pursue the triumph: he talked of our cities, mountains, and animals, as familiarly as if he had been born in Quamsi, but as erroneously as if a native of the moon; he attempted to prove that I had nothing of the the true Chinese cut in my visage; shewed that my cheek bones should have been higher, and my forehead broader; in short, he almost rea­soned me out of my country, and effectually per­suaded the rest of the company to be of his opinion.

I was going to expose his mistakes, when it was insisted that I had nothing of the true eas­tern manner in my delivery. This gentleman's conversation (says one of the ladies, who was a great reader) is like our own, mere chit chat and common sense; there is nothing like sense in the true eastern style, where nothing more is required but sublimity. Oh for an history of Aboulfaouris, the grand voyager, of genii, magi­cians, rocks, bags of bullets, giants, and enchan­ters, where all is great, obscure, magnificent, and unintelligible! I have written many a sheet of eastern tale myself, interrupts the author, and I defy the severest critic to say but that I have stuck close to the true manner. I have compared a lady's chin to the snow upon the mountains of Bomek; a soldier's sword, to the clouds that ob­scure the face of heaven If riches are mentioned, I compare them to the flocks that graze the ver­dant Tefflis; if poverty, to the mists that veil [Page 138] the brow of mount Baku. I have used thee and thou upon all occasions, I have described fallen stars, and splitting mountains, not forgetting the little Houries who make a very pretty figure in every description. But you shall hear how I generally begin, "Eben-ben-bolo, who was the son of Ban, was born on the foggy summits of Ben­derabassi. His beard was whiter than the feathers which veil the breast of the Penguin; his eyes were like the eyes of doves, when washed by the dews of the morning; his hair, which hung like the willow weeping over the glassy stream, was so beautiful that it seem'd to reflect its own bright­ness; and his feet were as the feet of a wild deer which fleeth to the tops of the mountains." There, there, is the true eastern taste for you; every advance made towards sense, is only a devi­ation from found. Eastern tales should always be sonorous, lofty, musical and unmeaning.

I could not avoid smiling to hear a native of England attempt to instruct me in the true eastern idiom, and after he had look'd round some time for applause, I presumed to ask him whether he had ever travelled into the east; to which he replied in the negative: I demanded whether he understood Chinese or Arabic, to which also he answered as before. Then how, Sir, said I, can you pretend to determine upon the eastern stile, who are entirely unacquainted with the eastern writings? Take, Sir, the word of one who is professed [...]y a Chinese, and who is actually acquainted with the Arabian writers, that what is palm'd upon you daily for an imitation of eastern writing, no ways resembles their manner, either in senti­ment or diction. In the east, similes are seldom [Page 139] used, and metaphors almost wholly unknown; but in China particularly, the very reverse of what you allude to, takes place; a cool phleg­matic method of writing prevails there. The writers of that country, ever more assiduous to instruct than to please, address rather the judg­ment than the fancy. Unlike, many authors of Europe, who have no consideration of the reader's time, they generally leave more to be understood than they express.

Besides, Sir, you must not expect from an inha­bitant of China the same ignorance, the same unlettered simplicity, that you find in a Turk, Persian, or native of Peru. The Chinese are ver­sed in the sciences as well as you, and are masters of several arts unknown to the people of Europe. Many of them are instructed not only in their own national learning, but are perfectly well ac­quainted with the languages and learning of the west. If my word in such a case, is not to be taken, consult your own travellers on this head, who affirm, that the scholars of Pekin and Siam sustain theological theses in Latin, The college of Masprend, which is but a league from Siam (says one of your travellers*) came in a body to salute our am­bassador. Nothing gave me more sincere pleasure than to behold a number of priests venerable both from age and modesty, followed by a number of youths of all nations, Chinese, Japonese, Tonquinese, of Cochin China, Pegu and Siam, all willing to pay their re [...]pects in the most polite manner imaginable. A Cochin Chinese made an excellent Latin oration upon [Page 140] this occasion: he was succeeded, and even out-done, by a student of Tonquin, who was as well skilled in the western learning as any scholar of Paris. Now, Sir, if youths, who never stirred from home, are so perfectly skilled in your laws and learning, surely more must be expected from one like me, who have travelled so many thousand miles, who have conversed familiarly for several years with the English factors established at Canton, and the missionaries sent us from every part of Europe. The unaffected of every country nearly resemble each other, and a page of our Confucius and of your Tillotson have scarce any material difference. Paltry affectation, strained allusions, and disgust­ing finery, are easily attained by those who chuse to wear them; they are but too frequently the badges of ignorance, or of stupidity whenever it would endeavour to please.

I was proceeding in my discourse, when, look­ing round, I perceived the company no way at­tentive to what I attempted, with so much earnest­ness, to enforce. One lady was whispering her that sat next, another was studying the merits of a fan, a third began to yawn, and the author himself fell fast asleep: I thought it, therefore, high time to make a retreat, nor did the company seem to shew any regret at my preparations for departure; even the lady who had invited me, with the most mortifying insensibility, saw me seize my hat and rise from my cushion; nor was I in­vited to repeat my visit, because it was found that I aimed at appearing rather a reasonable crea­ture, than an outlandish ideot. Adieu.

LETTER XXXIII. To the same.

THE polite arts are in this country subject to as many revolutions as its laws or politics; not only the objects of fancy and dress, but even of delicacy and taste are directed by the capricious influence of fashion. I am told there has been a time when poetry was universally encouraged by the great, when men of the first rank not only pa­tronized the poet, but produced the finest models for his imitation; it was then that the English sent forth those glowing rhapsodies, which we have so often read over together with rapture; poems big with all the sublimity of Mentius, and supported by reasoning as strong as that of Zimpo.

The nobility are ever fond of wisdom, but they also are fond of having it without study; to read poetry required thought, and the English nobility were not fond of thinking; they soon therefore placed their affections upon music, because in this they might indulge an happy vacancy, and yet still have pretensions to delicacy and taste as before. They soon brought their numerous dependents into an approbation of their pleasures; who in turn led their thousand imitators to feel or feign a simili­tude of passion. Colonies of singers were now im­ported from abroad at a vast expence, and it was expected the English would soon be able to set ex­amples to Europe; all these expectations however were soon dissipated; in spite of the zeal which fired the great, the ignorant vulgar refused to be taught to sing; refused to undergo the ceremonies [Page 142] which were to initiate them in the singing frater­nity; thus the colony from abroad dwindled by degrees; for they were of themselves unfortunately incapable of propagating the breed.

Music having thus lost its splendour, Painting is now become the sole object of fashionable care; the title of connoisseur in that art is at present the safest passport into every fashionable society; a well timed shrug, an admiring attitude, and one or two exotic tones of exclamation are sufficient qua­lifications for men of low circumstances to curry favour; even some of the young nobility are them­selves early instructed in handling the pencil, while their happy parents, big with expectation, foresee the walls of every apartment covered with the ma­nufactures of their posterity.

But many of the English are not content with giving all their time to this art at home; some young men of distinction are found to travel thro' Europe with no other intent than that of under­standing and collecting pictures; studying seals, and describing statues; on they travel from this cabinet of curiosities to that gallery of pictures, waste the prime of life in wonder, skilful in pic­tures, ignorant in men; yet impossible to be re­claimed, because their follies take shelter under the names of delicacy and taste.

It is true, Painting should have due encourage­ment; as the painter can undoubtedly fit up our apartments in a much more elegant manner than the upholsterer; but I should think a man of fashion makes but an indifferent exchange, who lays out all that time in furnishing his house which [Page 143] he should have employed in the furniture of his head; a person who shews no other symptoms of taste than his cabinet or gallery, might as well boast to me of the furniture of his kitchen.

I know no other motive but vanity that induces the great to testify such an inordinate passion for pictures; after the piece is bought, and gazed at eight or ten days successively, the purchaser's plea­sure must surely be over; all the satisfaction he can then have, is to shew it to others; he may be con­sidered as the guardian of a treasure of which he makes no manner of use; his gallery is furnished not for himself, but the connoisseur, who is gene­rally some humble flatterer, ready to feign a rap­ture he does not feel; and as necessary to the hap­piness of a picture-buyer, as gazers are to the mag­nificence of an Asiatic procession.

I have enclosed a letter from a youth of dis­tinction, on his travels, to his father in England; in which he appears addicted to no vice, seems obedient to his governor, of a good natural dispo­sition, and fond of improvement,; but at the same time early taught to regard cabinets and galleries as the only proper schools of improvement, and to consider a skill in pictures as the properest know­ledge for a man of quality.

"My lord,

We have been but two days at Antwerp; wherefore I have sat down as soon as possible to give you some account of what we have seen since our arrival, desirous of letting no opportu­nity pass without writing to so good a father. Im­mediately upon alighting from our Rotterdam ma­chine, [Page 144] my governor, who is immoderately fond of paintings, and at the same time an excellent judge, would let no time pass till we paid our respects to the church of the virgin-mother, which contains treasure beyond estimation. We took an infinity of pains in knowing its exact dimensions, and differed half a foot in our calculation; so I leave that to some succeeding information. I really believe my governor and I could have lived and died there There is scarce a pillar in the whole church that is not adorned by a Reubens, a Vander Meuy­len, a Vandyke, or a Woverman. What atti­tudes, carnations, and draperies! I am almost in­duced to pity the English who have none of those exquisite pieces among them. As we were willing to let slip no opportunity of doing business, we immediately after went to wait on Mr. Hogendorp, whom you have so frequently commended for his judicious collection. His cameas are indeed be­yond price; his intaglio's not so good. He shewed us one of an officiating flamen, which he thought to be an antique; but my governor, who is not to be deceived in these particulars, soon found it to be an arrant cinque cento. I could not, however, suf­ficiently admire the genius of Mr. Hogendorp, who has been able to collect from all parts of the world a thousand things which no body knows the use of. Except your lordship and my governor, I do not know any body I admire so much. He is indeed a surprizing genius. The next morning early, as we were resolved to take the whole day before us, we sent our compliments to Mr. Van Sprokcken, desiring to see his gallery, which re­quest he very politely complied with. His gallery measures fifty feet by twenty, and is well filled; but what surprized me most of all, was to see an [Page 145] holy family just like your lordship's, which this in­genious gentleman assures me is the true original. I own this gave me inexpressible uneasiness, and I fear it will to your lordship, as I had flattered my­self that the only original was in your lordship [...]s possession; I would advise you, however, to take yours down till its merit can be ascertained, my governor assuring me, that he intends to write a long dissertation to prove its originality. One might study in this city for ages, and still find something new: we went from this to view the cardinal's statues, which are really very fine; there were three spintria executed in a very masterly manner, all arm in arm: the torse which I heard you talk so much of, is at last discovered to be a Hercules spinning, and not a Cleopatra bathing, as your lordship had conjectured: there has been a treatise written to prove it.

My lord Firmly is certainly a Goth; a Vandal, no taste in the world for painting. I wonder how any call him a man of taste; passing through the streets of Antwerp a few days ago, and observing the nakedness of the inhabitants, he was so bar­barous as to observe, that he thought the best method the Flemings could take was to sell their pictures, and buy cloaths. Ah, Coglione! We shall go to-morrow to Mr. Carwarden's cabinet, and the next day we shall see the curiosities col­lected by Van Ran, and the day after we shall pay a visit to Mount Calvary, and after that— but I find my paper finished; so with the most sincere wishes to your lordship's happiness, and with hopes after having seen Italy, that centre of pleasure, to [Page 146] return home worthy the care and expence which has been generously laid out in my improvement.

I remain, my Lord, Yours, &c.

LETTER XXXIV. From Hingpo, a slave in Persia, to Aliangi, a travelling philosopher of China, by the way of Moscow.

FORTUNE has made me the slave of ano­ther, but nature and incli [...]tion render me entirely subservient to you; a [...]yrant commands my body, but you are master of my heart. And yet let not thy inflexible nature condemn me when I confess that I find my soul shrink with my cir­cumstances. I feel my mind not less than my body, bend beneath the rigours of servitude, the master whom I serve grows every day more for­midable. In spite of reason which should teach me to despise him, his hideous image fills even my dreams with horror.

A few days ago a christian slave, who wrought in the gardens, happening to enter an arbour where the tyrant was entertaining the ladies of his Haram with coffee, the unhappy captive was in­stantly stabbed to the heart for his intrusion. I have been preferred to his place, which tho' less laborious than my former station, is yet more un­grateful, as it brings me nearer him whose pre­sence [Page 147] excites sensations at once of disgust and ap­prehension.

Into what a state of misery are the modern Per­sians fallen! A nation once famous for setting the world an example of freedom, is now become a land of tyrants, and a den of slaves. The houseless Tartar of Kamkatska, who enjoys his herbs and his fish in unmolested freedom, may be envied, if compared to the thousands who pine here in hopeless servitude, and curse the day that gave them being. Is this just dealing, heaven! to ren­der millions wretched to swell up the happiness of a few; cannot the powerful of this earth be happy without our sighs and tears; must every luxury of the great be woven from the calamities of the poor! It must, it must surely be, that this jarring discordant life is but the prelude to some future harmony; the soul attuned to virtue here, shall go from hence to fill up the universal choir where Tien presides in person, where there shall be no tyrants to frown, no shackles to bind, nor no whips to threaten, where I shall once more meet my father with rapture, and give a loose to filial piety, where I shall hang on his neck, and hear the wisdom of his lips, and thank him for all the happiness to which he has introduced me.

The wretch whom fortune has made my mas­ter, has lately purchased several slaves of both sexes; among the rest I hear a christian cap­tive talked of with admiration. The eunuch who bought her, and who is accustomed to sur­vey beauty with indifference, speaks of her with emotion! Her pride, however, astonishes her at­tendant slaves not less than her beauty; it is re­ported [Page 148] that she refuses the warmest solicitations of her haughty lord; he has even offered to make her one of his four wives upon changing her re­ligion, and conforming to his. It is probable she cannot refuse such extraordinary offers, and her delay is perhaps intended to enhance her favours.

I have just now seen her, she inadvertently approached the place without a veil, where I sat writing. She seemed to regard the heavens alone with fixed attention; there her most ardent gaze was directed. Genius of the sun! what un­expected softness! what animated grace! her beauty seemed the transparent covering of virtue. Celestial beings could not wear a look of more perfection while sorrow humanized her form, and mixed my admiration with pity. I rose from the bank on which I sat, and she retired; happy that none observed us, for such an interview might have been fatal.

I have regarded, till now, the opulence and the power of my tyrant, without envy; I saw him with a mind incapable of enjoying the gifts of fortune, and consequently regarded him as one loaded, rather than enriched with its favours. But at present, when I think that so much beauty is reserved only for him, that so many charms shall be lavished on a wretch incapable of feeling the greatness of the blessing, I own I feel a reluctance to which I have hitherto been a stranger.

But let not my father impute those uneasy sen­sations to so trifling a cause as love. No, never let it be thought that your son, and the pupil of [Page 149] the wise Fum Hoam could stoop to so degrading a passion. I am only displeased at seeing so much excellence so unjustly disposed of.

The uneasiness which I feel is not for myself, but for the beautiful christian. When I reflect on the barbarity of him for whom she is designed, I pity, indeed I pity her. When I think that she must only share one heart, who deserves to command a thousand, excuse me, if I feel an emo­tion, which universal benevolence extorts from me. As I am convinced, that you take a pleasure in those sallies of humanity, and are particularly pleased with compassion, I could not avoid discovering the sensibility with which I felt this beautiful stranger's distress. I have for a while forgot in hers, the the miseries of my own hopeless situation. Our tyrant grows every day more severe, and love which softens all other mind into tenderness, seems only to have encreased his severity. Adieu.

LETTER XXXV. From the same.

THE whole Haram is filled with a tumultu­ous joy; Zelis, the beautiful captive, has con­sented to embrace the religion of Mahomet, and become one of the wives of the fastidious Persian. It is impossible to describe the transport that sits on every face on this occasion. Music and feast­ing fill every apartment, the most miserable slave seems to forget his chains, and sympathizes with the happiness of Mostadad. The herb we tread [Page 150] beneath our feet is not made more for our use, than every slave around him for their imperious master; mere machines of obedience they wait with silent assiduity, feel his pains, and rejoice in his exultation. Heavens! how much is requi­site to make one man happy!

Twelve of the most beautiful slaves, and I among the number, have got orders to prepare for carrying him in triumph to the bridal apart­ment. The blaze of perfumed torches are to imitate the day; the dancers and singers are hired at a vast expense. The nuptials are to be celebrated on the approaching feast of Barboura, when an hundred taels in gold are to be distri­buted among the barren wives, in order to pray for fertility from the approaching union.

What will not riches procure! an hundred domestics, who curse the tyrant in their souls, are commanded to wear a face of joy, and they are joyful. An hundred flatterers are ordered to at­tend, and they fill his ears with praise. Beauty, all commanding beauty, sues for admittance, and scarcely receives an answer; even love itself seems to wait upon fortune, or though the passion be only feigned, yet it wears every appearance of sincerity; and what greater pleasure can even true sincerity confer, or what would the rich have more?

Nothing can exceed the intended magnificence of the bridegroom, but the costly dresses of the bride, six eunuchs in the most sumptuous ha­bits are to conduct him to the nuptial couch, and wait his orders. Six ladies, in all the mag­nificence [Page 151] of Persia, are directed to undress the bride. Their business is to assist to encourage her, to divert her of every encumbering part of her dress, all but the last covering, which, by an artful complication of ribbons, is purposely made difficult to unloose, and with which she is to part reluctantly even to the joyful possessor of her beauty.

Mostadad, O my father, is no philosopher; and yet he seems perfectly contented with his ignorance. Possessed of numberless slaves, camels, and women, he desires no greater possession. He never opened the page of Mentius, and yet all the slaves tell me that he is happy.

Forgive the weakness of my nature, if I some­times feel my heart rebellious to the dictates of wisdom, and eager for happiness like his. Yet why wish for his wealth with his ignorance; to be like him, incapable of sentimental pleasures, incapable of feeling the happiness of making others happy, incapable of teaching the beautiful Zelis philosophy.

What, shall I in a transport of passion give up the golden mean, the universal harmony, the un­changing essence for the possession of an hundted camels; as many slaves, thirty-five beautiful horses, and seventy-three fine women: first blast me to the centre! Degrade me beneath the most de­graded! Pare my nails, ye powers of heaven! ere I would stoop to such an exchange. What, part with philosophy, which teaches me to suppress my passions instead of gratifying them, which teaches me even to divest my soul of passion, which [Page 152] teaches serenity in the midst of tortures; phi­losophy, by which even now I am so very serene, and so very much at ease, to be persuaded to part with it for any other enjoyment! Never, never, even though persuasion spoke in the accents of Zelis!

A female slave informs me that the bride is to be arrayed in a tissue of silver, and her hair adorned with the largest pearls of Ormus; but why teize you with particulars, in which we both are so little concerned; the pain I feel in separa­tion throws a gloom over my mind, which in this scene of universal joy I fear may be attributed to some other cause; how wretched are those who are like me, denied even the last resource of misery, their tears. Adieu.

LETTER XXXVI. From the same.

I Begin to have doubts whether wisdom be alone sufficient to make us happy. Whether every step we make in refinement is not an inlet into new disquietudes. A mind too vigorous and ac­tive, serves only to consume the body to which it is joined, as the richest jewels are soonest found to wear their settings.

When we rise in knowledge as the prospect widens, the objects of our regard become more obscure, and the unlettered peasant, whose views are only directed to the narrow sphere around him, beholds nature with a finer relish, and tastes her blessings with a keener appetite than [Page 153] the philosopher, whose mind attempts to grasp an universal system.

As I was some days ago pursuing this subject among a circle of my fellow slaves, an ancient Guebre of the number, equally remarkable for his piety and wisdom, seemed touched with my con­versation, and desired to illustrate what I had been saying with an allegory taken from the Zendavesta of Zoroaster; by this we shall be taught, says he, that they who travel in pursuit of wisdom, walk only in a circle; and after all their labour, at last return to their pristine ignorance; and in this also we shall see that enthusiastic confidence, or unsatisfying doubts terminate all our enquiries.

In early times, before myriads of nations co­vered the earth, the whole human race lived to­gether in one valley. The simple inhabitants, sur­rounded on every side by lofty mountains, knew no other world but the little spot to which they were confined. They fancied the heavens bent down to meet the mountain tops, and formed an impenetrable wall to surround them. None had ever yet ventured to climb the steepy cliff, in or­der to explore those regions that lay beyond it; they knew the nature of the skies only from a tra­dition, which mentioned their being made of adamant; traditions make up the reasonings of the simple, and serve to silence every enquiry.

In this sequestered vale, bless'd with all the spontaneous productions of nature, the honey'd blossom, the refreshing breeze, the gliding brook, and golden fruitage, the simple inhabitants seemed happy in themselves, in each other; they desired [Page 154] no greater pleasures, for they knew of none great­er; ambition, pride and envy, were vices unknown among them; and from this peculiar simplicity of its possessors, the country was called the valley of ignorance.

At length, however, an unhappy youth more aspiring than the rest undertook to climb the mountain's side, and examine the summits which were hitherto deemed inaccessible. The inhabi­tants from below, gazed with wonder at his in­trepidity, some applauded his courage, others censured his folly, still however he proceeded towards the place where the earth and heavens seemed to unite, and at length arrived at the wish'd for height with extreme labour and assiduity.

His first surprize was to find the skies, not as he expected within his reach, but still as far off as before; his amazement encreased when he saw a wide extended region lying on the opposite side of the mountain, but it rose to astonishment when he beheld a country at a distance more beautiful and alluring than even that he had just left behind.

As he continued to gaze with wonder, a genius, with a look of infinite modesty, approaching, of­fered to be his guide and instructor. The distant country which you so much admire, says the An­gelic being, is called the Land of Certainty, in that charming retreat, sentiment contributes to refine every sensual banquet; the inhabitants are blessed with every solid enjoyment, and still more blessed in a perfect consciousness of their own felicity: ignorance in that country is wholly unknown, [Page 155] all there is satisfaction without allay, for every pleasure first undergoes the examination of reason. As for me I am called the genius of Demon­stration, and am stationed here in order to con­duct every adventurer to that land of happi­ness thro' those intervening regions you see over-hung with fogs and darkness, and horrid with forests, cataracts, caverns, and various other shapes of danger. But follow me, and in time I may lead you to that distant desirable land of tranquillity.

The intrepid traveller immediately put himself under the direction of the genius, and both jour­neying on together with a slow but agreeable pace, deceived the tediousness of the way by conversation. The beginning of the journey seemed to promise true satisfaction, but as they proceeded forward, the skies became more gloomy and the way more in­tricate, they often inadvertently approached the brow of some frightful precipice, or the brink of a torrent, and were obliged to measure back their former way; the gloom encreasing as they proceed­ed, their pace became more slow; they paused at every step, frequently stumbled, and their distrust and timidity encreased. The genius of Demonstra­tion, now, therefore advised his pupil to grope upon hands and feet, as a method though more slow, yet less liable to error.

In this manner they attempted to pursue their journey for some time, when they were overtaken by another genius, who, with a precipitate pace seem'd travelling the same way. He was instantly known by the other to be the genius of Probability. He wore two wide extended wings at his back, [Page 156] which incessantly waved, without increasing the rapidity of his motion; his countenance betrayed a confidence that the ignorant might mistake for sincerity, and he had but one eye, which was fixed in the middle of his forehead.

Servant of Hormizda, cried he, approaching the mortal pilgrim, if thou art travelling to the Land of Certainty, how is it possible to arrive there un­der the guidance of a genius, who proceeds forward so slowly, and is so little acquainted with the way; follow me, we shall soon perform the journey to where every pleasure awaits our ar­rival.

The peremptory tone in which this genius spoke, and the speed with which he moved forward, in­duced the traveller to change his conductor, and leaving his modest companion behind, he proceed­ed forward with his more confident director, seeming not a little pleased at the encreased velocity of his motion.

But soon he found reasons to repeat. When­ever a torrent crossed their way, his guide taught him to despise the obstacle by plunging him in; whenever a precipice presented, he was directed to fling himself forward. Thus each moment miraculously escaping; his repeated escapes only served to encrease his guide's temerity. He led him therefore forward, amidst infinite difficulties, till they arrived at the borders of an ocean which appeared unnavigable from the black mists that lay upon its surface. It's unquiet waves were of the darkest hue, and gave a lively representation of the various agitations of the human mind.

[Page 157]The genius of Probability now confessed his temerity, own'd his being an improper guide to the Land of Certainty, a country where no mortal had ever been permitted to arrive; but at the same time offered to supply the traveller with another conductor, who should carry him to the Land of Confiden [...]e, a region where the inhabi­tants lived with the utmost tranquillity, and tast­ed almost as much satisfaction as if in the Land of Certainty. Not waiting for a reply, he stamp'd three times on the ground, and called forth the Daemon of Error, a gloomy fiend of the servants of Arimanes. The yawn­ing earth gave up the reluctant savage, who seemed unable to bear the light of the day. His stature was enormous, his colour black and hideous, his aspect betrayed a thousand varying passions, and he spread forth pinions that were fitted for the most rapid slight The traveller at first was shocked at the spectre; but finding him obedient to superior power, he assumed his former tranquillity.

I have called you to duty, cries the genius to the daemon, to bear on your back a son of mor­tality over the Ocean of Doubts into the Land of Confidence: I expect you'll perform your commis­sion with punctuality. And as for you, continued the genius, addressing the traveller, when once I have bound this fillet round your eyes, let no voice of persuasion, nor threats the most terrifying, persuade you to unbind it in order to look round; keep the fillet fast, look not at the ocean below, and you may certainly expect to arrive at a region of pleasure.

[Page 158]Thus saying, and the traveller's eyes being covered, the daemon muttering curses, raised him on his back, and instantly up-borne by his strong pinions, directed his flight among the clouds. Neither the loudest thunder, nor the most angry tempest, could persuade the traveller to unbind his eyes. The daemon directed his flight down­wards, and skimmed the surface of the ocean; a thousand voices, some with loud invective, others in the sarcastic tones of contempt, vain­ly endeavoured to persuade him to look round; but he still continued to keep his eyes covered, and would in all probability have arrived at the happy land, had not flattery effected what other means could not perform. For now he heard himself welcomed on every side to the promised land, and an universal shout of joy was sent forth at his safe arrival; the wearied traveller, desirous of seeing the long wished-for country, at length pulled the fillet from his eyes, and ventured to look round him. But he had unloosed the band too soon; he was not yet above half way over. The daemon, who was still hovering in the air, and had pro­duced those sounds only in order to deceive, was now freed from his commission; wherefore throw­ing the astonished traveller from his back, the unhappy youth fell headlong into the subjacent Ocean of Doubts, from whence he never after was seen to rise.

LETTER XXXVII. From Lien Chi Altangi, to Fum Hoam, first president of the Ceremonial Academy at Pekin, in China.

WHEN Parmenio, the Grecian, had done something which excited an universal shout from the surrounding multitude, he was instantly struck with the doubt, that what had their appro­bation must certainly be wrong; and turning to a philosopher who stood near him, Pray sir, says he, pardon me; I fear I have been guilty of some ab­surdity.

You know that I am not less than him a despiser of the multitude; you know that I equally detest flattery to the great; yet so many circum­stances have concurred to give a lustre to the lat­ter part of the present English monarch's reign, that I cannot withhold my contribution of praise; I cannot avoid the acknowledging the crowd for once just, in their unanimous approba­tion.

Yet think not that battles gained, dominion extended, or enemies brought to submission, are the virtues which at present claim my admiration. Were the reigning monarch only famous for his victories, I should regard his character with in­difference; the boast of heroism in this enlightened age is justly regarded as a qualification of a very subordinate rank, and mankind now begin to look with becoming horror on these foes to man; [Page 160] the virtue in this aged monarch which I have at present in view, is one of a much more exalted nature, is one of the most difficult of attainment, is the least praised of all kingly virtues, and yet deserves the greatest praise; the virtue I mean is JUSTICE; a strict administration of justice, with­out severity and without favour.

Of all virtues this is the most difficult to be practised by a king who has a power to pardon. All men, even tyrants themselves, lean to mercy when unbiassed by passions or interest, the heart naturally persuades to forgiveness and pursuing the dictates of this pleasing deceiver, we are led to prefer our private satisfaction to public utility; what a thorough love for the public, what a strong command over the passions, what a finely conducted judgment must he possess who opposes the dictates of reason to those of his heart, and prefers the future interest of his people to his own immediate satisfaction.

If still to a man's own natural biass for ten­derness, we add the numerous solicitations made by a criminal's friends for mercy; if we survey a king not only opposing his own feelings, but re­luctantly refusing those he regards, and this to sa­tisfy the public, whose cries he may never hear, whose gratitude he may never receive, this surely is true greatness! Let us fancy ourselves for a moment in this just old man's place, surrounded by numbers, all soliciting the same favour, a favour that nature disposes us to grant, where the inducements to pity are laid before us in the strongest light, suppliants at our feet, some ready to resent a refusal, none opposing a com­pliance; [Page 161] let us, I say, suppose ourselves in such a situation, and I fancy we should find ourselves more apt to act the character of good natured men than of upright magistrates.

What contributes to raise justice above all other kingly virtues is, that it is seldom attended with a due share of applause, and those who practise it must be influenced by greater motives than empty fame; the people are generally well pleas­ed with a remission of punishment, and all that wears the appearance of humanity; it is the wise alone who are capable of discerning that impar­tial justice is the truest mercy: they know it to be difficult very difficult at once to compassionate, and yet condemn an object that pleads for tender­ness.

I have been led into this common-place train of thought by a late striking instance in this coun­try of the impartiality of justice, and of the king's inflexible resolution of inflicting punishment where it was justly due. A man of the first quality in a fit either of passion, melancholy, or madness, mur­dered his servant; it was expected that his station in life would have lessened the ignominy of his punish­ment; however, he was arraigned, condemned, and underwent the same degrading death with the meanest malefactor. It was well considered that virtue alone is true nobility; and that he whose actions sink him even beneath the vulgar, has no right to those distinctions which should be the rewards only of merit; it was perhaps considered that crimes were more heinous among the higher classes of people, as necessity exposes them to fewer temptations.

[Page 162]Over all the east, even China not excepted, a person of the same quality guilty of such a crime, might, by giving up a share of his for­tune to the judge, buy off his sentence; there are several countries even in Europe, where the ser­vant is entirely the property of his master; if a slave kills his lord, he dies by the most excrucia­ting tortures; but if the circumstances are re­versed, a small fine buys off the punishment of the offender. Happy the country where all are equal, and where those who sit as judges have too much integrity to receive a bribe, and too much honour to pity from a similitude of the prisoner's title or circumstances with their own. Such is England; yet think not that it was always equally famed for this strict impartiality. There was a time even here when titles softned the ri­gours of the law, when dignified wretches were suffered to live, and continue for years an equal disgrace to justice and nobility.

To this day in a neighbouring country, the great are often most scandalously pardoned for the most scandalous offences. A person is still alive among them who has more than once deserved the most ignominious severity of justice. His be­ing of the blood royal, however, was thought a sufficient attonement for his being a disgrace to humanity. This remarkable personage took pleasure in shooting at the passengers below, from the top of his palace; and in this most princely amusement he usually spent some time every day. He was at length arraigned by the friends of a person whom in this manner he had killed, was found guilty of the charge, and condemned to die. His merciful monarch pardoned him in considera­tion [Page 163] of his rank and quality. The unrepenting criminal soon after renewed his usual entertain­ment, and in the same manner killed another man. He was a second time condemned; and strange to think, a second time received his majesty's par­don! Would you believe it? A third time the very same man was guilty of the very same offence; a third time therefore the laws of his country found him guilty—I wish for the honour of humanity I could suppress the rest!—A third time he was pardoned! Will you not think such a story too extraordinary for belief, will you not think me describing the savage inhabitants of Congo; alas, the story is but too true, and the country where it was transacted, regards itself as the politest in Europe! Adieu.

LETTER XXXVIII. From Lien Chi Altangi to ***, Merchant in Amster­dam,

CEremonies are different in every country, but true politeness is every where the same. Cere­monies, which take up so much of our attention, are only artificial helps which ignorance assumes, in order to imitate politeness, which is the result of good sense and good-nature. A person possessed of those qualities, though he had never seen a court, is truly agreeable; and if without them, would continue a clown, though he had been all his life a gentleman usher.

[Page 164]How would a Chinese, bred up in the formali­ties of an eastern court, be regarded, should he carry all his good manners beyond the Great Wall? How would an Englishman, skilled in all the deco­rums of western good breeding, appear at an eastern entertainment? Would he not be reckoned more fantastically savage than even his unbred footman!

Ceremony resembles that base coin which cir­culates through a country by the royal mandate; it serves every purpose of real money at home, but is entirely useless if carried abroad; a person who should attempt to circulate his native trash in another country, would be thought either ri­diculous or culpable. He is truly well bred who knows when to value and when to despise those national peculiarities which are regarded by some with so much observance, a traveller of taste at once perceives that the wise are polite all the world over; but that fools are polite only at home.

I have now before me two very fashionable let­ters upon the same subject, both written by ladies of distinction; one of whom leads the fashion in England, and the other sets the ceremonies of China: they are both regarded in their respec­tive countries by all the beau monde, as standards of taste, and models of true politeness, and both give us a true idea of what they imagine elegant in their admirers; which of them understands true politeness or whether either, you shall be at liberty to determine: the English lady writes thus to her female confidant.

AS I live, my dear Charlotte, I believe the co­lonel will carry it at last; he is a most irre­sistable fellow, that's flat. So well dress [...]d, so neat, so sprightly, and plays about one so agree­ably, that I vow, he has as much spirits as the marquis of Monkeyman's Italian greyhound. I I first saw him at Renelagh; he shines there; he's nothing without Renelagh, and Renelagh nothing without him. The next day he sent a card, and compliments, desiring to wait on mamma and me to the music subscription. He looked all the time with such irresistable impudence, that positively he had something in his face gave me as much plea­sure as a pair-royal of naturals in my own hand. He waited on mamma and me the next morning to know how we got home: you must know the insidious devil makes love to us both. Rap went the footman at the door; bounce went my heart; I thought he would have rattled the house down. Chariot drove up to the window, with his footmen in the prettiest liveries: he has infinite taste, that's flat. Mamma had spent all the morn­ing at her head; but for my part, I was in an un­dress to receive him; quite easy, mind that; no way disturbed at his approach: mamma pretended to be as degagee as I, and yet I saw her blush in spite of her. Positively he is a most killing devil! We did nothing but laugh all the time he staid with us; I never heard so many very good things before: at first he mistook mamma for my sister; at which she laughed: then he mistook my natu­ral complection for paint; at which I laugh'd: and then he shewed us a picture in the lid of his snuff-box, at which we all laughed. He plays picquet so very ill, and is so very fond of cards, [Page 166] and loses with such a grace, that positively he has won me; I have got a cool hundred, but have lost my heart. I need not tell you that he is only a colonel of the train-bands.

I am, dear Charlotte, Yours for ever, BELINDA.

The Chinese lady addresses her confidant, a poor relation of the family, upon the same oc­casion; in which she seems to understand de­corums even better than the western beauty. You who have resided so long in China will readily ac­knowledge the picture to be taken from nature; and, by being acquainted with the Chinese customs, will better apprehend the lady's meaning.


PAPA insists upon one, two, three, four hundred taels from the colonel my lover, be­fore he parts with a lock of my hair. Ho, how I wish the dear creature may be able to produce the money, and pay papa my fortune. The colonel is reckoned the politest man in all Shensi. The first visit he paid at our house; mercy, what stooping, and cringing, and stopping, and figet­ing, and going back, and creeping forward, there was between him and papa, one would have thought he had got the seventeen books of cere­monies all by heart. When he was come into the hall he flourished his hands three times in a very graceful manner. Papa, who would not be out-done, flourished his four times; upon this the colonel began again, and both thus con­tinued flourishing for some minutes in the politest manner imaginable. I was posted in the usual [Page 167] place behind the screen, where I saw the whole ceremony through a slit. Of this the colonel was sensible, for papa informed him. I would have given the world to have shewn him my little shoes, but had no opportunity. It was the first time I had ever the happiness of seeing any man but papa, and I vow my dear Yaya, I thought my three souls would have actually have fled from my lips. Ho, but he looked most charmingly, he is reckoned the best shaped man in the whole province, for he is very fat, and very short; but even those natural advantages are improved by his dress, which is fashionable past description. His head was close shaven, all but the crown, and the hair of that was braided into a most beautiful tail, that reaching down to his heels, was terminated by a bunch of yellow roses. Upon his first entering the room, I could easily perceive he had been highly perfumed with assafoetida. But then his looks, his looks, my dear Yaya▪ were irresistible. He kept his eyes stedfastly fixed on the wall during the whole ceremony, and I sincerely believe no accident could have discomposed his gravity, or drawn his eyes away. After a polite silence of two hours, he gallantly begged to have the singing women introduced, purely for my amusement. After one of them had for some time entertained us with her voice, the colonel and she retired for some minutes together. I thought they would never have come back; I must own he is a most agreeable creature. Upon his return, they again renewed the concert, and he continued to gaze upon the wall as usual, when, in less than half an hour more! Ho, but he retired out of the room with another. He is indeed a most agree­able creature.

[Page 168]When he came to take his leave, the whole ceremony began afresh; papa would see him to the door, but the colonel swore he would rather see the earth turned upside down than permit him to stir a single step, and papa was at last obliged to comply. As soon as he was got to the door, papa went out to see him on horse­back; here they continued half an hour bowing and cringing, before one would mount or the other go in, but the colonel was at last victorious. He had scarce gone an hundred paces from the house when papa running out halloo'd after him, A good journey. Upon which the colonel re­turned, and would see papa into his house be­fore ever he would depart. He was no sooner got home than he sent me a very fine present of duck eggs painted of twenty different colours. His generosity I own has won me. I have ever since been trying over the eight letters of good fortune, and have great hopes. All I have to ap­prehend is that after he has married me, and that I am carried to his house close shut up in my chair, when he comes to have the first sight of my face, he may shut me up a second time and send me back to papa. However I shall appear as fine as possible; Mamma, and I have been to buy the cloaths for my wedding. I am to have a new song whang in my hair, the beak of which will reach down to my nose; the milaner from whom we bought that and our ribbons cheated us as if she had no conscience, and so to quiet mine I cheated her. All this is fair you know. I remain, my dear Yaya,

Your ever faithful, YAOUA.

LETTER XXXIX. From the same.

YOU have always testified the highest esteem for the English poets, and thought them not inferior to the Greeks, Romans, or even the Chi­nese in the art. But it is now thought even by the English themselves that the race of their poets is extinct, every day produces some pathe­tic exclamation upon the decadence of taste and genius. Pegasus, say they, has slipped the bridle from his mouth, and our modern bards attempt to direct his flight by catching him by the tail.

Yet, my friend, it is only among the ignorant that such discourses prevail, men of true discern­ment can see several poets still among the English, some of whom equal if not surpass their predeces­sors. The ignorant term that alone poetry which is couched in a certain number of syllables in every line, where a vapid thought is drawn out into a number of verses of equal length, and perhaps pointed with rhymes at the end. But glowing sentiment, striking imagery, concise expression, na­tural description, and modulated periods are full sufficient entirely to fill up my idea of this art, and make way to every passion.

If my idea of poetry therefore be just, the En­glish are not at present so destitute of poetical merit as they seem to imagine. I can see several poets in disguise among them; men furnished with that strength of soul, sublimity of sentiment, and gran­dour of expression, which constitutes the character. [Page 170] Many of the writers of their modern odes, sonnets, tragedies or rebusses, it is true, deserve not the name, though they have done nothing but clink rhymes and measure syllables for years together; their Johnson's and Smollet's are truly poets; tho' for aught I know they never made a single verse in their whole lives.

In every incipient language the poet and the prose writer are very distinct in their qualifications; the poet ever proceeds first, treading unbeaten paths, enriching his native funds, and employed in new adventures. The other follows with more cautious steps, and though slow in his motions, treasures up every useful or pleasing discovery. But when once all the extent and the force of the language is known, the poet then seems to rest from his labour, and is at length overtaken by his assiduous pursuer. Both characters are then blended into one, the historian and orator catch all the poet's fire, and leave him no real mark of distinction except the iteration of numbers regu­larly returning. Thus in the decline of ancient European learning, Seneca, though he wrote in prose, is as much a poet as Lucan, and Longinus, though but a critic, more sublime than Apollonius.

From this then it appears that poetry is not dis­continued, but altered among the English at pre­sent; the outward form seems different from what it was, but poetry still continues internally the same; the only question remains whether the me­tric feet used by the good writers of the last age, or the prosaic numbers employed by the good writers of this, be preferable. And here the prac­tice of the last age appears to me superior; they [Page 171] submitted to the restraint of numbers and similar sounds; and this restraint, instead of diminishing, augmented the force of their sentiment and stile. Fancy restrained may be compared to a fountain which plays highest by diminishing the aperture. Of the truth of this maxim in every language, every fine writer is perfectly sensible from his own experience, and yet to explain the reason would be perhaps as difficult as to make a frigid genius profit by the discovery.

There is still another reason in favour of the practice of the last age, to be drawn from the va­riety of modulation. The musical period in prose is confined to a very few changes; the numbers in verse are capable of infinite variation. I speak not now from the practice of modern verse writ­ers, few of whom have any idea of musical variety, but run on in the same monotonous flow through the whole poem; but rather from the example of their former poets, who were tolerable masters of this variety, and also from a capacity in the lan­guage of still admitting various unanticipated music.

Several rules have been drawn up for varying the poetic measure, and critics have elaborately talked of accents and syllables, but good sense and a fine ear which rules can never teach, are what alone can in such a case determine. The raptur­ous flowings of joy, or the interruptions of indig­nation, require accents placed entirely different, and a structure consonant to the emotions they would express. Changing passions, and numbers changing with those passions make the whole se­cret of western as well as eastern poetry. In a word, the great faults of the modern professed En­glish [Page 172] poets are, that they seem to want numbers which should vary with the passion, and are more employed in describing to the imagination than striking at the heart. Adieu.

LETTER XL. To the same.

SOME time since I sent thee, oh holy disciple of Confucius, an account of the grand abbey or mausoleum of the kings and heroes of this na­tion. I have since been introduced to a temple not so ancient, but far superior in beauty and magnifi­cence. In this, which is the most considerable of the empire, there are no pompous inscriptions, no flattery paid the dead, but all is elegant and aw­fully simple. There are however a few rags hung round the walls, which have at a vast expence been taken from the enemy in the present war. The silk of which they are composed when new, might be valued at half a string of copper money in Chi­na; yet this wise people fitted out a fleet and an army in order to seize them; though now grown old, and scarce capable of being patched up into a handkerchief. By this conquest the English are said to have gained, and the French to have lost, much honour. Is the honour of European nations placed only in tattered silk?

In this temple I was permitted to remain during the whole service; and were you not already ac­quainted with the religion of the English, you might, from my description, be inclined to believe [Page 173] them as grosly idolatrous as the disciples of Lao. The idol which they seem to address, strides like a colossus over the door of the inner temple, which here, as with the Jews, is esteemed the most sa­cred part of the building. It's oracles are deli­vered in an hundred various tones, which seem to inspire the worshippers with enthusiasm and awe: an old woman who appeared to be the priestess, was employed in various attitudes, as she felt the inspiration. When it began to speak, all the peo­ple remained fixed in silent attention, nodding as­sent, looking approbation, appearing highly edified by those sounds, which to a stranger might seem inarticulate and unmeaning.

When the idol had done speaking, and the priestess had locked up its lungs with a key, ob­serving almost all the company leaving the temple, I concluded the service was over, and taking my hat, was going to walk away with the crowd, when I was stopt by the man in black, who assured me that the ceremony had scarcely yet begun! What, cried I, do I not see almost the whole body of the worshippers leaving the church? Would you per­suade me that such numbers who profess reli­gion and morality, would in this shameless man­ner quit the temple before the service was con­cluded? you surely mistake; not even the Kal­mouks would be guilty of such an indecency, tho' all the object of their worship was but a joint stool My friend seemed to blush for his countrymen, assuring me that those whom I saw running away, were only a parcel of musical blockheads, whose passion was merely for sounds, and whose heads were as empty as a fiddle case; those who remain behind, says he, are the true Religious; they make [Page 174] use of music to warm their hearts, and to lift them to a proper pitch of rapture; examine their behaviour, and you will confess there are some among us who practise true devotion.

I now looked round me as he directed, but saw nothing of that fervent devotion, which he had promised; one of the worshippers appeared to be ogling the company through a glass; another was fervent not in addresses to heaven, but to his mis­tress; a third whispered, a fourth took snuff, and the priest himself, in a drowsy tone, read over the duties of the day.

Bless my eyes, cried I, as I happened to look towards the door, what do I see; one of the wor­shippers fallen fast asleep, and actually sunk down on his cushion: is he now enjoying the benefit of a trance, or does he receive the influence of some mysterious vision! Alas, alas, replied my companion, no such thing; he has only had the misfortune of eating too hearty a dinner, and finds it impossible to keep his eyes op [...]n. Turning to another part of the temple, I perceived a young lady just in the same circum­stances and attitude; strange, cried I, can she too have over-eaten herself? O, fie, replied my friend, you now grow c [...]ns [...]rious. She grow drowsy from eat­ing too much; that would be profanation! She only sleeps now from having sat up all night at a brag par­ty. Turn me where I will then, says I, I can per­ceive no single symptom of devotion among the worshippers, except from that old woman in the corner, who sits groaning behind the long sticks of a mourning fan; she indeed seems greatly edi­fied with what she hears. Aye, replied my friend, [Page 175] I knew we should find some to catch you; I know her; that is the Deaf lady who lives in the cloysters.

In short, the remissness of behaviour in almost all the worshippers, and some even of the guardians, struck me with surprize; I had been taught to believe that none were ever promoted to offices in the temple, but men remarkable for their superior sanctity, learning, and rectitude; that there was no such thing heard of as persons being introduced into the church merely to oblige a se­nator, or provide for the younger branch of a no­ble family: I expected, as their minds were conti­nually set upon heavenly things, to see their eyes directed there also, and hoped from their behavi­our to perceive their inclinations corresponding with their duty. But I am since informed, that some are appointed to preside over temples they never visit; and, while they receive all the money, are contented with letting others do all the good.


LETTER XLI. From Fum Hoam, to Lien Chi Altangi, the discontented wanderer, by the way of Moscow.

MUST I ever continue to condemn thy perse­verance, and blame that curiosity, which de­stroys thy happiness! What yet untasted banquet, what luxury yet unknown, has rewarded thy pain­ful adventures! Name a pleasure which thy native country could not amply procure; frame a wish that might not have been satisfied in China! Why then such toil, and such danger, in pursuit of raptures within your reach at home.

[Page 176]The Europeans, you will say, excel us in sci­ences and in arts; those sciences which bound the aspiring wish, and those arts which tend to gratify even unrestrained desire. They may perhaps out­do us in the arts of building ships, casting can­nons, or measuring mountains, but are they su­perior in the greatest of all arts, the art of govern­ing kingdoms and ourselves?

When I compare the history of China with that of Europe, how do I exult in being a native of that kingdom which derives its original from the sun. Upon opening the Chinese history, I there behold an antient extended empire, established by laws which nature and reason seem to have dictat­ed. The duty of children to their parents, a duty which nature implants in every breast, forms the strength of that government which has subsisted for time immemorial. Filial obedience is the first and greatest requisite of a state; by this we be­come good subjects to our emperors, capable of behaving with just subordination to our superiors, and grateful dependants on heaven; by this we become fonder of marriage, in order to be capa­ble of exacting obedience from others in our turn: by this we become good magistrates; for early submission is the truest lesson to those who would learn to rule. By this the whole state may be said to resemble one family, of which the Emperor is the protector, father, and friend.

In this happy region, sequestered from the rest of mankind, I see a succession of princes who in gene­ral considered themselves as the fathers of their people; a race of philosophers who bravely com­bated idolatry, prejudice, and tyranny, at the ex­pence [Page 177] of their private happiness and immediate re­putation. Whenever an usurper or a tyrant in­truded into the administration, how have all the good and great been united against him? Can Eu­ropean history produce an instance like that of the twelve mandarines, who all resolved to apprize the vicious emperor Tisiang of the irregularity of his conduct. He who first undertook the dange­rous task was cut in two by the emperor's order; the second was ordered to be tormented, and then put to a cruel death; the third undertook the task with intrepidity, and was instantly stabbed by the tyrant's hand: in this manner they all suffered, except one. But not to be turned from his pur­pose, the brave survivor entering the palace with the instruments of torture in his hand. Here, cried he, addressing himself to the throne, here, O Tisiang, are the marks your faithful subjects re­ceive for their loyalty; I am wearied with serving a tyrant, and now come for my reward. The emperor, struck with his intrepidity, instantly forgave the boldness of his conduct, and reformed his own. What European annals can boast of a tyrant thus reclaimed to lenity!

When five brethren had set upon the great em­peror Ginsong alone; with his sabre he slew four of them: he was struggling with the fifth, when his guards coming up were going to cut the con­spirator into a thousand pieces. No, no, cried the emperor, with a calm and placid countenance, of all his brothers he is the only one remaining, at least let one of the family be suffered to live, that his aged parents may have some body left to feed and comfort them.

[Page 178]When Haitong, the last emperor of the house of Ming, saw himself besieged in his own city by the usurper, he was resolved to issue from his palace with six hundred of his guards, and give the enemy battle; but they forsook him. Being thus without hopes, and chusing death rather than to fall alive into the hands of a rebel, he retired to his garden, conducting his little daughter, an only child in his hand. There, in a private arbour unsheathing his sword, he stabbed the young innocent to the heart, and then dispatching himself, left the following words written with his blood on the border of his vest. Forsaken by my subjects, abandoned by my friends, use my body as you will, but spare, O spare, my people.

An empire which has thus continued invariably the same for such a long succession of ages, which though at last conquered by the Tartars, still pre­serves its antient laws and learning; and may more properly be said to annex the dominions of Tartary to its empire, than to admit a foreign conqueror; an empire as large as Europe, go­verned by one law, acknowledging subjection to one prince, and experiencing but one revolution of any continuance in the space of four thousand years; this is something so peculiarly great, that I am naturally led to despise all other nations on the comparison. Here we see no religious persecu­tions, no enmity between mankind, for difference in opinion. The disciples of Lao Kium, the ido­latrous sectaries of Fohi, and the philosophical children of Confucius, only strive to shew by their actions the truth of their doctrines.

[Page 179]Now turn from this happy peaceful scene to Eu­rope the theatre of intrigue, avarice and ambition. How many revolutions does it not experience in the compass even of one age; and to what do these revolutions tend but the destruction of thou­sands. Every great event is replete with some new calamity. The seasons of serenity are passed over in silence, their histories seem to speak only of the storm.

There we see the Romans extending their pow­er over barbarous nations, and in turn becoming a prey to those whom they had conquered. We see those barbarians, when become christians, en­gaged in continual wars with the followers of Ma­homet; or more dreadful still, destroying each other. We see councils in the earlier ages autho­rizing every iniquity; crusades spreading desola­tion in the country left, as well as that to be con­quered. Excommunications freeing subjects from natural allegiance, and persuading to sedition; blood flowing in the fields and on scaffolds; tortures used as arguments to convince the recu­sant: to heighten the horror of the piece, behold it shaded with wars, rebellions, treasons, plots, poli­ticks, and poison!

And what advantage has any country of Europe obtained from such calamities? Scarce any. Their dissentions for more than a thousand years have served to make each other unhappy, but have en­riched none. All the great nations still nearly pre­serve their antient limits; none have been able to subdue the other, and so terminate the dispute. France, in spite of the conquests of Edward the third, and Henry the fifth, notwithstanding the [Page 180] efforts of Charles the fifth and Philip the second, still remains within its antient limits. Spain, Ger­many, Great Britain, Poland, the states of the north, are nearly still the same. What effect then has the blood of so many thousands, the destruc­tion of so many cities, produced? Nothing neither great or considerable. The christian princes have lost indeed much from the enemies of Christen­dom, but they have gained nothing from each other. Their princes, because they preferred am­bition to justice, deserve the character of enemies to mankind; and their priests, by neglecting morality for opinion, have mistaken the interests of society.

On whatever side we regard the history of Eu­rope, we shall perceive it to be a tissue of crimes, follies, and misfortunes, of politics without de­sign, and wars without consequence; in this long list of human infirmity, a great character, or a shining virtue may sometimes happen to arise, as we often meet a cottage or a cultivated spot, in the most hideous wilderness. But for an Alfred, an Alphonso, a Frederic, or one Alexander III. we meet a thousand princes who have disgraced hu­manity.

LETTER XLII. From Lien Chi Altangi, to Fum Hoam, first president of the Ceremonial Academy at Pekin, in China.

WE have just received accounts here, that Voltaire the poet and philosopher of Eu­rope is dead! He is now beyond the reach of the thousand enemies, who while living, degraded his [Page 181] writings, and branded his character. Scarce a page of his latter productions that does not be­tray the agonies of an heart bleeding under the scourge of unmerited reproach. Happy therefore at last in escaping from calumny, happy in leaving a world that was unworthy of him and his writings.

Let others, my friend, bestrew the hearses of the great with panegyric; but such a loss as the world has now suffered affects me with stronger emotions. When a philosopher dies, I consider myself as losing a patron, an instruc­tor, and a friend. I consider the world as losing one who might serve to console her amidst the desolations of war and ambition. Nature every day produces in abundance men capable of filling all the requisite duties of authority; but she is nig­gard in the birth of an exalted mind, scarcely producing in a century a single genius to bless and enlighten a degenerate age. Prodigal in the production of kings, governors, mandarines, chams, and courtiers, she seems to have forgotten for more than three thousand years, the manner in which she once formed the brain of a Confucius; and well it is she has forgotten, when a bad world gave him so very bad a reception.

Whence, my friend, this malevolence which has ever pursued the great even to the tomb; whence this more than fiend-like disposition of embitter­ing the lives of those who would make us more wise and more happy?

When I cast my eye over the fates of several philosophers, who have at different periods en­lightened mankind, I must confess it inspires me with the most degrading reflections on humanity. [Page 182] When I read of the stripes of Mentius, the tor­tures of Tchin, the bowl of Socrates, and the bath of Seneca; when I hear of the persecutions of Dante, the imprisonment of Galileo, the in­dignities suffered by Montange, the banishment of Cartesius, the infamy of Bacon; and that even Locke himself escaped not without reproach; when I think on such subjects, I hesitate whether most to blame, the ignorance or the villany of my fel­low creatures.

Should you look for the character of Voltaire among the journalists and illiterate writers of the age; you will there find him characterized as a monster, with a head turned to wisdom, and an heart inclining to vice; the powers of his mind and the baseness of his principles forming a de­testable contrast. But seek for his character a­mong writers like himself, and you find him very differently described. You perceive him in their accounts possessed of good nature, humanity, greatness of soul, fortitude, and almost every virtue; in this description those who might be suppos'd best acquainted with his character are unanimous. The royal Prussian*, Dargens, Di­derot §, D'alambert, and Fontenelle conspire in drawing the picture, in describing the friend of man and the patron of every rising genius.

An inflexible perseverance in what he thought was right, and a generous detestation of flattery, formed the ground-work of this great man's cha­racter. From these principles many strong vir­tues and few faults arose; as he was warm in his friendship, and severe in resentment, all that [Page 183] mention him seem possessed of the same qualities, and speak of him with rapture or detestation. A person of his eminence can have few indifferent as to his character; every reader must be an ene­my or an admirer.

This poet began the course of glory so early as the age of eighteen, and even then was author of a tragedy which deserves applause; possessed of a small patrimony he preserved his independance, in an age of venality, and supported the dig­nity of learning, by teaching his cotemporary writers to live like him, above the favours of the great. He was banished his native country for a satire upon the royal concubine. He had ac­cepted the place of historian to the French king, but refused to keep it, when he found it was pre­sented only in order that he should be the first flatterer of the state.

The great Prussian received him as an orna­ment to his kingdom, and had sense enough to va­lue his friendship, and profit by his instructions. In this court he continued till an intrigue, with which the world seems hitherto unacquainted, obliged him to quit that country. His own hap­piness, the happiness of the monarch, of his sister, of a part of the court, rendered his departure necessary.

Tired at length of courts, and all the follies of the great, he retired to Switzerland, a country of liberty, where he enjoyed tranquility and the muse. Here, though without any taste for mag­nificence himself, he usually entertained at his table the learned and polite of Europe, who were [Page 184] attracted by a desire of seeing a person from whom they had received so much satisfaction. The en­tertainment was conducted with the utmost ele­gance, and the conversation was that of philo­sophers. Every country that at once united li­berty and science, were his peculiar favourites. The being an Englishman was to him a character that claimed admiration and respect.

Between Voltaire and the disciples of Confu­cius, there are many differences; however, being of a different opinion does not in the least di­minish my esteem; I am not displeased with my brother, because he happens to ask our father for favours in a different manner from me. Let his errors rest in peace, his excellencies deserve ad­miration; let me with the wise admire his wis­dom; let the envious and the ignorant ridicule his foibles; the folly of others is ever most ridi­culous to those who are themselves most foolish.


LETTER XLIII. From Lien Chi Altangi to Hingpo, a slave in Persia

IT is impossible to form a philosophic system of happiness which is adapted to every con­dition in life, since every person who travels in this great pursuit takes a separate road. The differing colours which suit different complec­tions, are not more various than the different pleasures appropriated to particular minds. The various sects who have pretended to give les­sons [Page 185] to instruct men in happiness, have descri­bed their own particular sensations without con­sidering ours, have only loaded their disciples with constraint, without adding to their real felicity.

If I find pleasure in dancing, how ridiculous would it be in me to prescribe such an amusement for the entertainment of a cripple; should he, on the other hand, place his chief delight in painting, yet would he be absurd in recommending the same relish to one who had lost the power of dis­tinguishing colours. General directions are there­fore commonly useless; and to be particular would exhaust volumes, since each individual may re­quire a peculiar system of precepts to direct his choice.

Every mind seems capable of entertaining a certain quantity of happiness, which no institu­tions can encrease, no circumstances alter, and entirely independent on fortune. Let any man com­pare his present fortune with the past, and he will probably find himself, upon the whole, neither better nor worse than formerly.

Gratified ambition, or irreparable calamity may produce transient sensations of pleasure or distress. Those storms may discompose in proportion as they are strong, or the mind is pliant to their im­pression. But the soul, though at first lifted up by the event, is every day operated upon with diminish'd influence; and at length subsides into the level of its usual tranquility Should some unexpected turn of fortune take thee from fetters, and place thee on a throne, exultation would be natural upon [Page 186] the change; but the temper, like the face, would soon resume its native serenity.

Every wish therefore which leads us to expect happiness somewhere else but where we are, every institution which teaches us that we should be better, by being possessed of something new, which promises to lift us a step higher than we are, only lays a foundation for uneasiness, because it con­tracts debts which it cannot repay; it calls that a good, which when we have found it, will in fact add nothing to our happiness.

To enjoy the present, without regret for the past, or solicitude for the future, has been the advice rather of poets than philosophers. And yet the precept seems more rational than is generally imagined. It is the only general precept respec­ting the pursuit of happiness, that can be applied with propriety to every condition of life. The man of pleasure, the man of business, and the philosopher are equally interested in its disquisi­tion. If we do not find happiness in the present moment, in what shall we find it? Either in reflecting on the past, or prognosticating the fu­ture. But let us see how these are capable of producing satisfaction.

A remembrance of what is past, and an anti­cipation of what is to come, seem to be the two faculties by which man differs most from other animals. Though brutes enjoy them in a limited degree, yet their whole life seems taken up in the present, regardless of the past and the future. Man, on the contrary, endeavours to derive his [Page 187] happiness, and experiences most of his miseries from these two sources.

Is this superiority of reflection a prerogative of which we should boast, and for which we shall thank nature; or is it a misfortune of which we should complain and be humble. Either from the abuse, or from the nature of things, it cer­tainly makes our condition more miserable.

Had we a privilege of calling up, by the power of memory, only such passages as were pleasing, unmixed with such as were disagreeable, we might then excite at pleasure an ideal happiness, perhaps more poignant than actual sensation. But this is not the case; the past is never represented with­out some disagreeable circumstance, which tar­nishes all its beauty; the remembrance of an evil carries in it nothing agreeable, and to remember a good is always accompanied with regret. Thus we lose more than we gain by remembrance.

And we shall find our expectation of the future to be a gift more distressful even than the former. To fear an approaching evil is certainly a most disagreeable sensation; and in expecting an ap­proaching good, we experience the inquietude of of wanting actual possession.

Thus, whichever way we look, the prospect is disagreeable. Behind, we have left pleasures we shall never more enjoy, and therefore regret; and before, we see pleasures which we languish to possess, and are consequently uneasy till we possess them. Was there any method of seizing [Page 188] the present, unimbittered by such reflections, then would our state be tolerably easy.

This, indeed, is the endeavour of all mankind, who untutored by philosophy, pursue as much as they can a life of amusement and dissipation. Every rank in life, and every size of understanding, seems to follow this alone; or not pursuing it, deviates from happiness. The man of pleasure pursues dissipation by profession; the man of bu­siness pursues it not less, as every voluntary la­bour he undergoes is only dissipation in disguise. The philosopher himself, even while he reasons upon the subject, does it unknowingly with a view of dissipating the thoughts of what he was, or what he must be.

The subject therefore comes to this. Which is the most perfect sort of dissipation: pleasure, business, or philosophy; which best serves to ex­clude those uneasy sensations, which memory or anticipation produce.

The enthusiasm of pleasure charms only by in­tervals. The highest rapture lasts only for a moment, and all the senses seem so combined, as to be soon tired into languor by the gratifica­tion of any one of them. It is only among the poets we hear of men changing to one delight, when satiated with another. In nature, it is very different: the glutton, when sated with the full meal, is unqualified to feel the real pleasure of drinking; the drunkard in turn finds few of those transports which lovers boast in enjoyment; and the lover, when cloyed, finds a diminution of every other appetite. Thus, after a full indul­gence [Page 189] of any one sense, the man of pleasure finds a languor in all, is placed in a chasm between past and expected enjoyment, perceives an inter­val which must be filled up. The present can give no satisfaction, because he has already rob­bed it of every charm: a mind thus left without immediate employment, naturally recurs to the past or the future: the reflector finds that he was happy, and knows that he cannot be so now; he sees that he may yet be happy, and wishes the hour was come: thus every period of his conti­nuance is miserable, except that very short one of immediate gratification. Instead of a life of dissi­pation, none has more frequent conversations with disagreeable self than he: his enthusiasms are but few and transient; his appetites, like angry cre­ditors, continually making fruitless demands for what he is unable to pay; and the greater his former pleasure, the more strong his regret, the more impatient his expectations: a life of plea­sure is therefore the most unpleasing life in the world.

Habit has rendered the man of business more cool in his desires, he finds less regret for past pleasures, and less solicitude for those to come, The life he now leads, tho' tainted in some mea­sure with hope, is yet not afflicted so strongly with regret, and is less divided between short-lived rapture and lasting anguish. The pleasures he has enjoyed are not so vivid, and those he has to expect cannot consequently create so much anxiety.

The philosopher, who extends his regard to all mankind, must have still a smaller concern for [Page 190] what has already affected, or may hereafter affect himself; the concerns of others make his whole study, and that study is his pleasure; and this pleasure is continuing in its nature because it can be changed at will, leaving but few of these anxi­ous intervals which are employed in remembrance or anticipation. The philosopher by this means leads a life of almost continued dissipation; and reflection, which makes the uneasiness and misery of others, serves as a companion and instructor to him.

In a word, positive happiness is constitutional, and incapable of encrease; misery is artificial, and generally proceeds from our folly. Philosophy can add to our happiness in no other manner, but by diminishing our misery: it should not pretend to encrease our present stock, but make us oeco­nomists of what we are possessed of. The great source of calamity lies in regret or anticipation: he, therefore, is most wise who thinks of the present alone, regardless of the past or the future. This is impossible to the man of pleasure; it is difficult to the man of business; and is in some measure attainable by the philosopher. Happy were we all born philosophers, all born with a talent of thus dissipating our own cares, by spread­ing them upon all mankind!


LETTER XLIV. From Lien Chi Altangi, to Fum Hoam, first president of the Ceremonial Academy, at Pekin, in China.

THO' the frequent invitations I receive from men of distinction here might excite the vanity of some, I am quite mortified however when I consider the motives that inspire their civility. I am sent for not to be treated as a friend, but to satisfy curiosity; not to be enter­tained so much as wondered at; the same earnest­ness which excites them to see a Chinese, would have made them equally proud of a visit from the rhinoceros.

From the highest to the lowest, this people seem fond of sights and monsters. I am told of a per­son here who gets a very comfortable livelihood by making wonders, and then selling or shewing them to the people for money, no matter how in­significant they were in the beginning; by locking them up close, and shewing for money, they soon became prodigies! His first essay in this way was to exhibiit himself as a wax-work figure behind a glass door at a puppet show. Thus keeping the spectators at a proper distance, and having his head adorned with a copper crown, he looked extreamly natural, and very like the life itself. He continued this exhibition with success, till an involuntary fit of sneezing brought him to life before all the spec­tators, and consequently rendered him for that time as entirely useless, as the peaceable inhabi­tant of a catacomb.

[Page 192]Determined to act the statue no more, he next levied contributions under the figure of an In­dian king; and by painting his face, and coun­terfeiting the savage howl, he frighted several la­dies and children with amazing success: in this manner therefore he might have lived very com­fortably, had he not been arrested for a debt that was contracted when he was the figure in wax-work: thus his face underwent an involuntary ablution, and he found himself reduced to his primitive complexion and indigence.

After some time, being freed from gaol, he was now grown wiser, and instead of making himself a wonder, was resolved only to make wonders. He learned the art of pasting up mummies; was never at a loss for an artificial lusus naturae; nay, it has been reported, that he has sold seven petrified lobsters of his own manufacture to a noted col­lector of rarities; but this the learned Cracovius Putridus has undertaken to refute in a very ela­borate dissertation.

His last wonder was nothing more than an hal­ter, yet by this halter he gained more than by all his former exhibitions. The people, it seems, had got it in their heads, that a certain noble cri­minal was to be hanged with a silken rope. Now there was nothing they so much desired to see as this very rope; and he was resolved to gratify their curiosity: he therefore got one made, not only of silk, but to render it the more striking, several threads of gold were intermixed. The people paid their money only to see silk, but were highly satisfied when they found it was mix­ed with gold into the bargain. It is scarce neces­sary [Page 193] to mention, that the projector sold his silk­en-rope for almost what it had cost him, as soon as the criminal was known to be hanged in hemp­en materials.

By their fondness of sights, one would be apt to imagine, that instead of desiring to see things as they should be, they are rather solicitous of seeing them as they ought not to be. A cat with four legs is disregarded, though never so useful; but if it has but two, and is conse­quently incapable of catching mice, it is reckoned inestimable, and every man of taste is ready to raise the auction. A man, though in his per­son faultless as an aerial genius, might starve; but if stuck over with hideous warts like a por­cupine, his fortune is made for ever, and he may propagate the breed with impunity and applause.

A good woman in my neighbourhood, who was bred an habit-maker, though she handled her needle tolerably well, could scarcely get em­ployment. But being obliged by an accident to have both her hands cut off from the elbows, what would in another country have been her ruin, made her fortune here, she now was thought more fit for her trade than before; business flow­ed in apace, and all people paid for seeing the mantua-maker who wrought without hands.

A gentleman shewing me his collection of pic­tures, stopped at one with peculiar admiration; there, cries he, is an inestimable piece. I gazed at the picture for some time, but could see none of those graces with which he seemed enraptured; it appeared to me the most paltry piece of the [Page 194] whole collection: I therefore demanded where those beauties lay, of which I was yet insensible. Sir, cries he, the merit does not consist in the piece, but in the manner in which it was done. The painter drew the whole with his foot, and held the pencil between his toes: I bought it at a very great price; for peculiar merit should ever be rewarded.

But these people are not more fond of won­ders than liberal in rewarding those who shew them. From the wonderful dog of knowledge at present under the patronage of the nobility, down to the man with the box, who professes to shew the most imitation of nature that was ever seen; they all live in luxury. A singing woman shall collect subscriptions in her own coach and six; a fellow shall make a fortune by tossing a straw from his toe to his nose; one in particlar has found that eating fire was the most ready way to live; and another who gingles several bells fixed to his cap, is the only man that I know of who has received emolument from the labours of his head.

A young author, a man of good nature and learning, was complaining to me some nights ago of this misplaced generosity of the times. Here, lays he, have I spent part of my youth in at­tempting to instruct and amuse my fellow creatures, and all my reward has been solitude, poverty, and reproach; while a fellow, possessed of even the smallest share of fidling merit, or who has perhaps learned to whistle double, is rewarded, applauded, and caressed! Prythee, young man, says I to him, are you ignorant, that in so large a city as this, [Page 195] it is better to be an amusing than an useful member of society? Can you leap up, and touch your feet four times before you come to the ground? No, Sir. Can you pimp for a man of quality? No, Sir. Can you stand upon two horses at full speed? No, Sir. Can you swallow a pen-knife? I can do none of these tricks. Why then, cried I, there is no other prudent means of subsistence left but to apprize the town that you speedily intend to eat up your own nose, by subscription.

I have frequently regretted that none of our eastern posture masters or show men have ever ventured to England. I should be pleased to see that money circulate in Asia, which is now sent to Italy and France, in order to bring their va­gabonds hither. Several of our tricks would un­doubtedly give the English high satisfaction. Men of fashion would be greatly pleased with the postures as well as the condescention of our dan­cing girls; and ladies would equally admire the conductors of our fire-works. What an agree­able surprize would it be to see a huge fellow with whiskers flash a charged blunderbuss full in a lady's face, without singing her hair, or melt­ing her pomatum. Perhaps when the first sur­prize was over, she might then grow familiar with danger; and the ladies might vie with each other in standing fire with intrepidity.

But of all the wonders of the east, the most useful, and I should fancy, the most pleasing, would be the looking-glass of Lao, which reflects the mind as well as the body. It is said that the emperor Chusi used to make his concubines dress their heads and their hearts in one of these [Page 196] glasses every morning; while the lady was at her toilet, he would frequently look, over her shoulder; and it is recorded that among the three hundred which composed his seraglio, not one was found whose mind was not even more beautiful than her person.

I make no doubt but a glass in this country would have the very same effect. The English ladies, concubines and all, would undoubtedly cut very pretty figures in so faithful a monitor. There, should we happen to peep over a lady's shoulder while dressing, we might be able to see neither gaming nor ill-nature; neither pride, de­bauchery, nor a love of gadding. We should find her, if any sensible defect appeared in the mind, more careful in rectifying it, than plaistering up the irreparable decays of the person; nay, I am even apt to fancy, that ladies would find more real pleasure in this utensil in private, than in any other bauble imported from China, though never so ex­pensive, or amusing.

LETTER XLV. To the same.

UPON finishing my last letter I retired to rest, reflecting upon the wonders of the glass of Lao, wishing to be possessed of one here, and re­solved in such a case to oblige every lady with a sight of it for nothing. What fortune denied me waking, fancy supplied in a dream; the glass, I know not how, was put into my possession, and I [Page 197] could perceive several ladies approaching, some vo­luntarily, others driven forward against their wills by a set of discontented genii, whom by intuition I knew were their husbands.

The apartment in which I was to show away was filled with several gaming tables, as if just forsaken; the candles were burnt to the socket, and the hour was five o'clock in the morning. Placed at one end of the room, which was of pro­digious length, I could more easily distinguish every female figure as she marched up from the door; but guess my surprize, when I could scarce perceive one blooming or agreeable face among the number. This, however, I attributed to the early hour, and kindly considered that the face of a lady just risen from bed ought always to find a compassionate advocate.

The first person who came up in order to view her intellectual face was a commoner's wife, who, as I afterwards found, being bred during her vir­ginity in a pawn-broker's shop, now attempted to make up the defects of breeding and sentiment by the magnificence of her dress, and the expensive­ness of her amusements. Mr. Showman, cried she, approaching, I am told you has something to shew in that there sort of magic lanthorn, by which folks can see themselves on the inside; I protest, as my lord Beetle says, I am sure it will be vastly pretty, for I have never seen any thing like it before. But how; are we to strip off our cloaths and be turned inside out? if so, as lord Beetle says, I absolutely declare off; for I would not strip for the world be­fore a man's face, and so I tells his lordship almost every night of my life." I informed the lady that [Page 198] I would dispense with the ceremony of stripping, and immediately presented my glass to her view.

As when a first-rate beauty, after having with difficulty escaped the small pox, revisits her favou­rite mirror, that mirror which had repeated the flat­tery of every lover, and even added force to the compliment; expecting to see what had so often given her pleasure, she no longer beholds the cher­ried lip, the polished forehead, and speaking blush, but an hateful phyz, quilted into a thousand seams by the hand of deformity; grief, resentment, and rage fill her bosom by turns; she blames the fates and the stars, but most of all the unhappy glass feels her resentment. So it was with the lady in question; she had never seen her own mind before, and was now shocked at its deformity. One sin­gle look was sufficient to satisfy her curiosity; I held up the glass to her face, and she shut her eyes; no entreaties could prevail upon her to gaze once more! she was even going to snatch from my hands, and break it in a thousand pieces. I found it was time therefore to dismiss her as incorrigible, and shew away to the next that offered.

This was an unmarried lady, who continued in a state of virginity till thirty-six, and then admit­ted a lover when she despaired of an husband. No woman was louder at a revel than she, perfectly free hearted, and almost in every respect a man; she understood ridicule to perfection, and was once known even to sally out in order to beat the watch. "Here, you my dear with the outlandish face, (said she addressing me) let me take a single peep. Not that I care three dams what figure I may cut in the glass of such an old fashioned crea­ture; [Page 199] if I am allowed the beauties of the face by people of fashion, I know the world will be com­plaisant enough to toss me the beauties of the mind into the bargain." I held my glass before her as she desired, and must confess, was shocked with the reflection. The lady, however, gazed for some time with the utmost complacency; and at last turning to me with the most satisfied smile said, she never could think she had been half so handsome.

Upon her dismission a lady of distinction was re­luctantly hawled along to the glass by her hus­band; in bringing her forward, as he came first to the glass himself, his mind appeared tinctured with immoderate jealousy, and I was going to re­proach him for using her with such severity; but when the lady came to present herself, I immedi­ately retracted; for alas it was seen that he had but too much reason for his suspicions.

The next was a lady who usually teized all her acquaintance in desiring to be told of her faults, and then never mended any. Upon approaching the glass, I could readily perceive vanity, affecta­tion, and some other ill-looking blots on her mind; wherefore by my advice she immediately set about mending. But I could easily find she was not earnest in the work; for as she repaired them on one side, they generally broke out on another. Thus, after three or four attempts, she began to make the ordinary use of the glass in settling her hair.

The company now made room for a woman of learning, who approached with a slow pace and a solemn countenance, which, for her own sake, I [Page 200] could wish had been cleaner. "Sir, cried the lady, flourishing her hand, which held a pinch of snuff, I shall be enraptured by having presented to my view a mind with which I have so long studied to be acquainted: but, in order to give the sex a proper example, I must insist, that all the compa­ny be permitted to look over my shoulder." I bow­ed assent, and presenting the glass, shewed the la­dy a mind by no means so fair as she had expected to see. Ill-nature, ill placed pride, and spleen, were too legible to be mistaken. Nothing could be more amusing than the mirth of her female companions who had looked over. They had hated her from the beginning, and now the apart­ment ecchoed with an universal laugh. Nothing but a fortitude like her's could have withstood their raillery: she stood it however; and when the burst was exhausted, with great tranquility she as­sured the company, that the whole was a deceptio visus, and that she was too well acquainted with her own mind to believe any false representations from another. Thus saying, she retired with a sullen satisfaction, resolved not to mend her faults, but to write a criticism on the mental reflector.

I must own, by this time I began myself to sus­pect the fidelity of my mirror; for as the ladies appeared at least to have the merit of rising early, since they were up at five, I was amazed to find nothing of this good quality pictured upon their minds in the reflection; I was resolved therefore to communicate my suspicions to a lady, whose in­tellectual countenance appeared more fair than any of the rest, not having above seventy-nine spots in all, besides slips and foibles. "I own, young wo­man, said I, that there are some virtues upon that [Page 201] mind of your's; but there is still one which I do not see represented; I mean that of rising betimes in the morning; I fancy the glass false in that par­ticular." The young lady smiled at my simplicity; and, with a blush, confessed, that she and the whole company had been up all night gaming.

By this time all the ladies, except one, had seen themselves successively, and disliked the show, or scolded the show-man; I was resolved, however, that she who seemed to neglect herself, and was neglected by the rest, should take a view; and going up to a corner of the room, where she still continued sitting, I presented my glass full in her face. Here it was that I exulted in my success; no blot, no stain, appeared on any part of the faithful mirror. As when the large, unwritten page presents its snowy spotless bosom to the writ­er's hand; so appeared the glass to my view. Here, O ye daughters of English ancestors, cried I, turn hither▪ and behold an object worthy imi­tation: look upon the mirror now, and acknow­ledge its justice, and this woman's pre-eminence! The ladies obeying the summons, came up in a groupe, and, looking on, acknowledged there was some truth in the picture, as the person now re­presented had been deaf, dumb, and a fool from her cradle.

Thus much of my dream I distinctly remember; the rest was filled with chimaeras, enchanted cas­tles, and flying dragons as usual. As you, my dear Fum Hoam, are particularly versed in the in­terpretation of those midnight warnings, what pleasure should I find in your explanation: but that our distance prevents; I make no doubt, how­ever, [Page 202] but that from my description you will very much venerate the good qualities of the English la­dies in general, since dreams, you know, go al­ways by contraries. Adieu.

LETTER XLVI. From Lien Chi Altangi to Hingpo, a slave in Persia*.

YOUR last letters betray a mind seemingly fond of wisdom, yet tempested up by a thousand various passions. You would fondly persuade me that my former lessons still influence your conduct, and yet your mind seems not less enslaved than your body. Knowlege, wisdom, erudition, arts and elegance what are they, but the mere trap­pings of the mind, if they do not serve to encrease the happiness of the possessor? A mind rightly in­stituted in the school of philosophy, acquires at once the stability of the oak, and the flexibility of the osier. The truest manner of lessening our ago­nies, is to shrink from their pressure; is to confess that we feel them.

The fortitude of European sages is but a dream; for where lies the merit in being insensible to the strokes of fortune, or in dissembling our sensibili­ty; if we are insensible, that arises only from an happy constitution; that is a blessing previously granted by heaven, and which no art can procure, no institutions improve.

[Page 203]If we dissemble our feelings, we only artificially endeavour to persuade others that we enjoy privy leges which we actually do not possess Thus while we endeavour to appear happy, we feel at once all the pangs of internal misery, and all the self-reproaching consciousness of endeavouring to deceive.

I know but of two sects of philosophers in the world that have endeavoured to inculcate that for­titude is but an imaginary virtue; I mean the fol­lowers of Confucius, and those who profess the doctrines of Christ. All other sects teach pride under misfortunes; they alone teach humility. Night, says our Chinese philosopher, not more surely follows day, than groans and tears grow out of pain; when misfortunes, therefore, oppress, when tyrants threaten, it is our interest, it is our duty, to fly even to dissipation for support, to seek redress from friendship, to seek redress from that best of friends who loved us into being.

Philosophers, my son, have long declaimed against the passions, as being the source of all our miseries; they are the source of all our mifortunes I own; but they are the source of our pleasures too: and every endeavour of our lives, and all the institutions of philosophy, should tend to this, not to dissemble an absence of passion, but to repel those which lead to vice, by those which direct to virtue.

The soul may be compared to a field of battle, where two armies are ready every moment to en­counter; not a single vice but has a more power­ful opponent; and not one virtue but may be over­borne [Page 204] by a combination of vices. Reason guides the bands of either host, nor can it subdue one passion but by the assistance of another. Thus, as a bark on every side beset with storms, enjoys a state of rest, so does the mind, when influenced by a just equipoise of the passions, enjoy tran­quility.

I have used such means as my little fortune would admit to procure your freedom. I have lately written to the governor of Argun to pay your ransom, though at the expence of all the wealth I brought with me from China. If we become poor we shall at least have the pleasure of bearing poverty together; for what is fatigue or famine, when weighed against friendship and freedom. Adieu.

LETTER XLVII. From Lien Chi Altangi to ***** merchant in Amsterdam.

HAPPENING some days ago to call at a painter's to amuse my self in examining some pictures (I had no design to buy) it surprised me to see a young Prince in the working room, dressed in a painter's apron, and assiduously learn­ing the trade. We instantly remembered to have seen each other; and, after the usual compliments, I stood by while he continued to paint on. As every thing done by the rich is praised, as princes here, as well as in China, are never without followers, three or four persons, who had the [Page 205] appearance of gentlemen, were placed behind to comfort and applaud him at every stroke.

Need I tell, that it struck me with very dis­agreeable sensations to see a youth who, by his station in life, had it in his power to be useful to thousands, thus letting his mind run to waste upon canvas, at the same time fancying himself improving in taste, and filling his rank with proper decorum.

As seeing an error, and attempting to redress it, are only one and the same with me, I took occasion, upon his lordship's desiring my opinion of a Chinese scroll, intended for the frame of a picture, to assure him, that a mandarine of China thought a minute acquaintance with such mechani­cal trifles below his dignity.

This reply raised the indignation of some, and the contempt of others: I could hear the names of Vandal, Goth, taste, polite arts, delicacy, and fire, repeated in tones of ridicule or resentment. But considering that it was vain to argue against people who had so much to say, without con­tradicting them, I begged leave to repeat a fairy tale. This request redoubled their laughter; but not easily abashed at the rallery of boys, I per­sisted, observing that it would set the absurdity of placing our affections upon trifles, in the strongest point of view, and adding that it was hoped the moral would compensate for its stupidity. For heaven's sake, cried the great man, washing his brush in water, let us have no morality at pre­sent; if we must have a story, let it be without any moral. I pretended not to hear; and while he handled the brush, proceeded as follows.

[Page 206]IN the kingdom of Bonbobbin, which, by the Chinese annal, appears to have flourished twenty thousand years ago, there reigned a prince, endowed with every accomplishment which ge­nerally distinguishes the sons of kings. His beauty was brighter than the sun. The sun, to which he was nearly related, would sometimes stop his course in order to look down and admire him.

His mind was not less perfect than his body: he knew all things without having ever read; philoso­phers, poets, and historians, submitted their works to his decision; and so penetrating was he, that he could tell the merit of a book by looking on the cover. He made epic poems, tragedies, and pastorals, with surprising facility; song, epi­gram, or rebus, was all one to him, tho' it is observed he could never finish an acrostic. In short, the fairy, who presided at his birth, had endowed him with almost every perfec­tion, or what was just the same, his subjects were ready to acknowledge he possessed them all; and, for his own part, he knew nothing to the contrary. A prince so accomplished, received a name suitable to his merit; and he was called Bonbenin bonbobbin bonbobbinet, which signifies Enlightener of the Sun.

As he was very powerful, and yet unmarried, all the neighbouring kings earnestly sought his alliance. Each sent his daughter, dressed out in the most magnificent manner, and with the most sumptuous retinue imaginable, in order to allure the prince: so that at one time there were seen [Page 207] at his court not less than seven hundred foreign princesses of exquisite sentiment and beauty, each alone sufficient to make seven hundred ordinary men happy.

Distracted in such a variety, the generous Bon­bennin, had he not been obliged by the laws of the empire to make choice of one, would very willingly have married them all, for none un­derstood gallantry better. He spent numberless hours of solicitude in endeavouring to determine whom he should chuse; one lady was possessed of every perfection, but he disliked her eyebrows; another was brighter than the morning star, but he disapproved her fong whang; a third did not lay white enough on her cheek; and a fourth did not sufficiently blacken her nails. At last after num­berless disappointments on the one side and the other, he made choice of the incomparable Nan­hoa, queen of the scarlet dragons.

The preparations for the royal nuptials, or the envy of the disappointed ladies, needs no descrip­tion; both the one and the other were as great as they could be; the beautiful princess was con­ducted amidst admiring multitudes to the royal couch, where after being divested of every encum­bering ornament, she was placed, in expectance of the youthful bridegroom, who did not keep her long in expectation. He came more chearful than the morning, and printing on her lips a burning kiss, the attendants took this as a proper signal to withdraw.

Perhaps I ought to have mentioned in the be­ginning that, among several other qualifications, [Page 208] the prince was fond of collecting and breeding mice, which being an harmless pastime, none of his counsellors thought proper to dissuade him from: he therefore kept a great variety of these pretty little animals in the most beautiful cages enriched with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, pearls, and other precious stones: thus he innocently spent four hours each day, in contemplating their innocent little pastimes.

But to proceed, the Prince and Princess were now in bed; one with all the love and expecta­tion, the other with all the modesty and fear, which is natural to suppose, both willing, yet afraid to begin; when the Prince happening to look towards the outside of the bed, perceived one of the most beautiful animals in the world, a white mouse with green eyes, playing about the floor, and performing an hundred pretty tricks. He was already master of blue mice, red mice, and even white mice with yellow eyes; but a white mouse with green eyes, was what he long endeavoured to possess: wherefore leaping from bed with the utmost impatience and agility, the youthful Prince attempted to seize the little charm­er, but it was fled in a moment; for alas! the mouse was sent by a discontented Princess, and was itself a fairy.

It is impossible to describe the agony of the Prince upon this occasion, He sought round and round every part of the room, even the bed where the Princess lay was not exempt from the enquiry: he turned the Princess on one side and t'other, stripped her quite naked, but no mouse was to be found; the Princess herself was kind enough to assist, but still to no purpose.

[Page 209]Alas, cryed the young Prince in an agony, how unhappy am I to be thus disapointed; never sure was so beautiful an animal seen, I would give half my kingdom and my princess, to him that would find it. The Princess, though not much pleased with the latter part of his offer, endeavoured to comfort him as well as she could; she let him know that he had an hundred mice already, which ought to be at least sufficient to satisfy any philosopher like him. Tho' none of them had green eyes, yet he should learn to thank heaven that they had eyes. She told him, (for she was a profound moralist) that incurable evils must be born, and that useless lamentations were vain, and that man was born to misfortunes; she even entreated him to return to bed, and she would endeavour to lull him on her bosom to re­pose; but still the Prince continued inconsolable; and regarding her with a stern air, for which his family was remarkable, he vowed never to sleep in the royal palace, or indulge himself in the innocent pleasures of matrimony, till he had found the white mouse with the green eyes.

Prythee, Col. Leech, cried his Lordship, inter­rupting me, how do you like that nose; don't you think there is something of the manner of Rem­brandt in it? A prince in all this agony for a white mouse, O ridiculous! Don't you think, Major Vampyre, that eye-brow stippled very pret­tily? but pray what are the green eyes to the purpose, except to amuse children? I would give a thousand guineas to lay on the colouring of this cheek more smoothly. But I ask pardon, pray, Sir, proceed.

LETTER XLVIII. From the same.

KINGS, continued I, at that time were differ­ent from what they are now; they then never engaged their word for any thing which they did not rigorously intend to perform. This was the case of Bonbenin, who continued all night to la­ment his misfortunes to the Princess, who eccho­ed groan for groan. When morning came, he published an edict, offering half his kingdom, and his Princess, to the person who should catch and bring him the white mouse with green eyes.

The edict was scarce published, when all the traps in the kingdom were baited with cheese; numberless mice were taken and destroyed; but still the much wished for mouse was not among the number. The privy council were assembled more than once to give their advice; but all their deliberations came to nothing; even though there were two complete vermin-killers and three professed rat-catchers of the number. Frequent addresses, as is usual on extraordinary occasions, were sent from all parts of the empire; but though these promised well, though in them he received an assurance, that his faithful subjects would assist in his search with ther lives and fortunes, yet, with all their loyalty, they failed when the time came that the mouse was to be caught.

The Prince therefore was resolved to go himself in search, determined never to lie two nights in one place till he had found what he sought for. Thus quitting his palace without attendants, he set out upon his journey, and travelled through [Page 211] many a desert, and crossed many a river, high over hills, and down along vales, still restless, still enquiring wherever he came; but no white mouse was to be found.

As one day, fatigued with his journey, he was shading himself from the heat of the mid-day sun, under the arching branches of a banana tree, me­ditating on the object of his pursuit, he per­ceived an old woman, hideously deformed, ap­proaching him; by her stoop, and the wrinkles of her visage, she seemed at least five hundred years old; and the spotted toad was not more freckled than was her skin. "Ah! prince Bonbenin-bonbobbin-bonbobbinet, cried the feature, what has led you so many thousand miles from your own kingdom; what is it you look for, and what induces you to travel into the Kingdom of Emmets?" The prince, who was excessively complaisant, told her the whole story three times over; for she was hard of hearing. "Well, says the old fairy, for such she was, I promise to put you in possession of the white mouse with green eyes, and that immediately too upon one condi­tion." "One condition, cried the prince in a rapture, name a thousand; I shall undergo them all with pleasure." "Nay, interrupted the old fairy, I ask but one, and that not very mortifying neither; it is only that you instantly consent to marry me."

It is impossible to express the prince's confusion at this demand; he loved the mouse, but he de­tested the bride; he hesitated; he desired time to think upon the proposal; he would have been glad to consult his friends on such an occasion. "Nay, [Page 212] nay, cried the odious fairy, if you demur, I retract my promise; I do not desire to force my favours on any man. Here, you my attendants, cried she, stamping with her foot, let my machine be driven up; Barbacela, Queen of Emmets, is not used to contemptuous treatment." She had no sooner spoken than her fiery chariot appeared in the air, drawn by two snails; and she was just going to step in, when the prince reflected, that now or never was the time to be possessed of the white mouse; and quite forgetting his lawful princess Nanhoa, falling on his knees, he implored forgive­ness for having rashly rejected so much beauty. This well-timed compliment instantly appeased the angry fairy. She affected an hideous leer of ap­probation, and, taking the young prince by the hand, conducted him to a neighbouring church, where they were married together in a moment. As soon as the ceremony was performed, the prince, who was to the last degree desirous [...]f see­ing his favourite mouse, reminded the bride o [...] her promise. "To confess a truth, my prince, [...]d she, I myself am that very white mouse you saw [...] your wedding night in the royal apartment. I now therefore give you the choice, whether you would have me a mouse by day, and a woman by night, or a mouse by night and a woman by day." Tho' the prince was an excellent casuist, he was quite at a loss how to determine, but at last thought it most prudent to have recourse to a blue cat that had followed him from his own dominions, and frequently amused him with its conversation, and assisted him with its advice; in fact this cat was no other than the faithful Princess Nanhoa herself, who had shared with him all his hardships in this disguise.

[Page 213]By her instructions he was determined in his choice, and returning to the old fairy, prudently observed that as she must have been sensible he had married her only for the sake of what she had, and not for her personal qualifications, he thought it would for several reasons be most convenient, if she continued a woman by day and appeared a mouse by night.

The old fairy was a good deal mortified at her husband's want of gallantry, though she was re­luctantly obliged to comply; the day was there­fore spent in the most polite amusements, the gentlemen talked smut, the ladies laughed, and were angry. At last the happy night drew near, the blue cat still stuck by the side of its master, and even followed him to the bridal apartment. Barbacela entered the chamber, wearing a train fifteen yards long, supported by porcupines, and all over beset with jewels, which served to render her more detestable. She was just stepping into bed to the Prince, forgetting her promise, when he insisted upon seeing her in the shape of a mouse. She had promised, and no fairy can break her word; wherefore assuming the figure of the most beauti­ful mouse in the world▪ she skipped and play'd about with an infinity of amusement. The Prince in an agony of rapture, was desirous of seeing his pretty playfellow move a slow dance about the floor to his own singing; he began to sing and the mouse immediately to perform with the most per­fect knowledge of time, and the finest grace and greatest gravity imaginable; it only began, for Nanhoa, who had long waited for the oppor­tunity in the shape of a cat, flew upon it instantly without remorse, and eating it up in the hundredth [Page 214] part of a moment, broke the charm, and then resumed her natural figure.

The Prince now found that he had all along been under the power of enchantment, that his passion for the white mouse was entirely fictitious, and not the genuine complexion of his soul; he now saw that his earnestness after mice was an illiberal amusement, and much more becoming a ratcatcher than a Prince. All his meannesses now stared him in the face, he begged the discreet Princesses pardon an hundred times. The Princess very readily forgave him; and both returning to their palace in Bonbobbin, lived very happily together, and reigned many years with all that wisdom, which, by the story, they appear to have been possessed of. Perfectly convinced by their former adventures, that they who place their affec­tions on trifles at first for amusement, will find those trifles at last become their most serious concern.


LETTER XLIX. From Lien Chi Altangi, to Fum Hoam, first president of the Ceremonial Acadamy at Pekin, in China.

ASK an Englishman what nation in the world enjoys most freedom, and he immediately answers, his own. Ask him in what that freedom principally consists, and he is instantly silent. This happy pre-eminence does not arise from the peo­ple's enjoying a larger share in legislation than [Page 215] elsewhere; for in this particular, several states in Europe excell them; nor does it arise from a greater exemption from taxes, for few countries pay more; it does not proceed from their being restrained by fewer laws, for no people are bur­thened with so many; nor does it particularly consist in the security of their property, for pro­perty is pretty well secured in every polite state of Europe.

How then are the English more free (for more free they certainly are) than the people of any other country, or under any other form of government whatever. Their freedom consists in their enjoy­ing all the advantages of democracy with this supe­rior prerogative borrowed from monarchy, that the severity of their laws may be relaxed without endangering the constitution.

In a monarchical state, in which the constitution is strongest, the laws may be relaxed without danger; for though the people should be unani­mous in the breach of any one in particular, yet still there is an effective power superior to the people, capable of enforcing obedience, whenever it may be proper to inculcate the law either to­wards the support or welfare of the community.

But in all those governments, where laws derive their sanction from the people alone, transgressions cannot be overlooked without bringing the con­stitution into danger. They who transgress the law in such a case, are those who prescribe it, by which means it loses not only its influence but its sanction. In every republic the laws must be strong, because the constitution▪ is feeble, they [Page 216] must resemble an Asiatic husband who is justly, jealous, because he knows himself impotent. Thus in Holland, Switzerland, and Genoa, new laws are not frequently enacted, but the old ones are observed with unremitting severity. In such re­publics therefore the people are slaves to laws of their own making, little less than in unmix'd monarchies where they are slaves to the will of one subject to frailties like themselves.

In England, from a variety of happy acci­dents, their constitution is just strong enough, or if you will, monarchical enough, to permit a relaxation of the severity of laws, and yet those laws still to remain sufficiently strong to go­vern the people. This is the most perfect state of civil liberty, of which we can form any idea; here we see a greater number of laws than in any other country, while the people at the same time obey only such as are immediately conducive to the interests of society; several are unnoticed, many unknown; some kept to be revived and enforced upon proper occasions, others left to grow obsolete, even without the necessity of abrogation.

Scarce an Englishman who does not almost every day of his life, offend with impunity against some express law, and for which in a cer­tain conjuncture of circumstances he would not receive punishment. Gaming houses, preaching at prohibited places, assembled crowds, nocturnal amusements, public shows, and an hundred other instances are forbid and frequented. These pro­hibitions are useful; though it be prudent in their magistrates, and happy for their people, [Page 217] that they are not enforced, and none but the ve­nal or mercenary attempt to enforce them.

The law in this case, like an indulgent parent, still keeps the rod, though the child is seldom cor­rected Were those pardoned offences to rise into enormity, were they likely to obstruct the hap­piness of society, or endanger the state, it is then that justice would resume her terrors, and punish those faults she had so often overlooked with in­dulgence. It is to this ductility of the laws that an Englishman owes the freedom he enjoys su­perior to others in a more popular government; every step therefore the constitution takes towards a Democratic form, every diminution of the le­gal authority is, in fact, a diminution of the sub­jects freedom; but every attempt to render the government more popular, not only impairs na­tural liberty, but even will at last, dissolve the political constitution.

Every popular government seems calculated to last only for a time, it grows rigid with age, new laws are multiplying, and the old continue in force, the subjects are oppressed, burthen'd with a multiplicity of legal injunctions, there are none from whom to expect redress, and nothing but a strong convulsion in the state can vindicate them into former liberty: thus the people of Rome, a few great ones excepted, found more real free­dom under their Emperors tho' tyrants, than they had experienced in the old age of the common wealth, in which their laws were become numerous and painful, in which new laws were every day en­acting and the old ones executed with rigour. [Page 218] They even refused to be reinstated in their for­mer prerogatives, upon an offer made them to this purpose; for they actually found Emperors the only means of softening the rigours of their constitution.

The constitution of England, is at present pos­sessed of the strength of its native oak, and the flexibility of the bending tamarisk; but should the people at any time, with a mistaken zeal, pant after an imaginary freedom, and fancy that abridg­ing monarchy was encreasing their privileges, they would be very much mistaken, since every jewel plucked from the crown of majesty would only be made use of as a bribe to corruption; it might enrich the few who shared it among them, but would in fact impoverish the public.

As the Roman senators by slow and impercepti­ble degrees became masters of the people, yet still flattered them with a shew of freedom, while themselves only were free; so is it possible for a body of men, while they stand up for privileges, to grow into an exuberance of power themselves, and the public become actually dependent, while, some of its individuals only governed.

If then, my friend, there should in this coun­try, ever be on the throne a King who thro' good nature or age, should give up the smallest part of his prerogative to the people, if there should come a minister of merit and popularity— But I have room for no more. Adieu.

LETTER XLIX. To the same.

AS I was yesterday seated at breakfast over a pensive dish of tea, my meditations were in­terrupted by my old friend and companion, who introduced a stranger, dressed pretty much like himself. The gentleman made several apologies for his visit, begged of me to impute his intrusion to the sincerity of his respect, and the warmth of his curiosity.

As I am very suspicious of my company, when I find them very civil, without any apparent reason, I answered the stranger's caresses at first with re­serve; which my friend perceiving, instantly let me into my visitant's trade and character, asking Mr. Fudge, whether he had lately published any thing new? I now conjectured that my guest was no other than a bookseller, and his answer confirmed my suspicions.

"Excuse me, Sir, says he, it is not the season; books have their time as well as cucumbers. I would no more bring out a new work in summer, than I would sell pork in the dog-days. Nothing in my way goes off in summer, except very light goods indeed. A review, a magazine, or a sessions paper, may amuse a summer reader; but all our stock of value we reserve for a spring and winter trade." I must confess, Sir, says I, a curiosity to [Page 220] know what you call a valuable stock, which can only bear a winter perusal. "Sir, replied the book­seller, it is not my way to cry up my own goods; but without exaggeration I will venture to shew with any of the trade; my books at least have the peculiar advantage of being always new; and it is my way to clear off my old to the trunkmakers every season. I have ten new title pages now about me, which only want books to be added to make them the finest things in nature. Others may pre­tend to direct the vulgar; but that is not my way; I always let the vulgar direct me; wherever popu­lar clamour arises, I always eccho the million. For instance, should the people in general say that such a man is a rogue, I instantly give orders to set him down in print a villain; thus every man buys the book, not to learn new sentiments, but to have the pleasure of seeing his own reflected." But Sir, interrupted I, you speak as if you yourself wrote the books you publish; may I be so bold as to ask a sight of some if those intended publications which are shortly to surprize the world? "As to that, Sir, re­plied the talkative bookseller, I only draw out the plans myself; and though I am very cautious of communicating them to any, yet, as in the end I have a favour to ask, you shall see a few of them. Here, Sir, here they are diamonds of the first wa­ter, I assure you. Imprimis, a translation of several medical precepts for the use of such physicians as do not understand Latin. Item, the young cler­gyman's art of placing patches regularly, with a dissertation on the different manner of smiling with­out distorting the face. Item, the whole art of love made perfectly easy by a broker of 'Change Alley. Item, the proper manner of cutting black-lead [Page 221] pencils, and making crayons; by the Right Hon. the Earl of ***. Item, the muster master general, or the review of reviews —" Sir, cried I, interrupting him, my curiosity with regard to title pages is satisfied, I should be glad to see some longer manuscript, an history, or an epic poem.—"Bless me, cries the man of industry, now you speak of an epic poem, you shall see an excellent farce. Here it is; dip into it where you will, it will be found replete with true modern humour. Strokes, Sir; it is filled with strokes of wit and satire in every line." Do you call these dashes of the pen strokes, re­plied I, for I must confess I can see no other?" And pray Sir, returned he, what do you call them? Do you see any thing good now a-days that is not filled with strokes — and dashes?—Sir, a well placed dash makes half the wit of our writers of modern humour. I bought last season a piece that had no other merit upon earth than nine hun­dred and ninety-five breaks, seventy-two ha ha's, three good things, and a garter. And yet it played off, and bounced, and cracked, and made more sport than a firework." I fancy then, Sir, you were a considerable gainer? "It must be owned the piece did pay; but upon the whole I cannot much boast of last winter's success; I gained by two murders, but then I lost by an ill timed cha­rity sermon I was a considerable sufferer by my Direct road to an estate, but the Infernal Guide brought me up again. Ah, Sir, that was a piece touched off by the hands of a master, filled with good things from one end to the other. The au­thor had nothing but the jest in view; no dull moral lurking beneath, nor ill-natured satyr to sour the reader's good humour; he wisely considered [Page 222] that moral and humour at the same time were quite over-doing the business." To what purpose was the book then published? cried I. "Sir, the book was published in order to be sold; and no book sold better, except the criticisms upon it, which came out soon after. Of all kinds of writ­ing that goes off best at present; and I generally fasten a criticism upon every selling book that is published.

I once had an author who never left the least opening for the critics: close was the word, al­ways very right, and very dull, ever on the safe side of an argument; yet, with all his qualifica­tions, incapable of coming into favour. I soon perceived that his bent was for criticism; and as he was good for nothing else, supplied him with pens and paper, and planted him at the beginning of every month as a censor on the works of others. In short, I found him a treasure; no merit could escape him: but what is most remarkable of all, he ever wrote best and bitterest when drunk." But are there not some works, interrupted I, that from the very manner of their composition must be ex­empt from criticism; particularly such as profess to disregard its laws. "There is no work whatso­ever but he can criticise, replied the bookseller; even though you wrote in Chinese he would have a pluck at you. Suppose you should take it into your head to publish a book, let it be a volume of Chinese letters for instance; write how you will, he shall shew the world you could have written better. Should you, with the most local exact­ness, stick to the manners and customs of the country from whence you come; should you con­fine [Page 223] yourself to the narrow limits of eastern know­ledge, and be perfectly simple, and perfectly na­tural, he has then the strongest reason to exclaim. He may with a sneer send you back to China for read­ers. He may observe, that after the first or second letter the iteration of the same simplicity is insupport­ably tedious; but the worst of all is, the public in such a case will anticipate his censures, and leave you with all your uninstructive simplicity to be mauled at discretion."

Yes, cried I, but, in order to avoid his indignation, and what I should fear more, that of the public, I would in such a case write with all the knowledge I was master of. As I am not possessed of much learning, at least I would not suppress what little I had; nor would I appear more stupid than nature made me. "Here then, cries the bookseller, we should have you entirely in our power; unnatural, uneastern; quite out of character; erroneously sensible would be the whole cry; Sir, we should then hunt you down like a rat." Head of my father! said I, sure there are but the two ways; the door must either be shut, or it must be open. I must either be natural or unnatural. "Be what you will, we shall criticise you, returned the bookseller, and prove you a dunce in spite of your teeth. But, Sir, it is time that I should come to business. I have just now in the press an history of China; and if you will but put your name to it as the author, I shall repay the obligation with gratitude." What, Sir, repli­ed I, put my name to a w [...]rk which I have not writ­ten! Never while I retain a proper respect for the public and myself. The bluntness of my reply quite abated the ardour of the bookseller's conversation; [Page 224] and, after about half an hour's disagreeable re­serve, he with some ceremony took his leave and withdrew. Adieu.

LETTER L. To the same.

IN all other countries, my dear Fum Hoam, the rich are distinguished by their dress. In Persia, China, and most parts of Europe, those who are possessed of much gold or silver, put some of it upon their cloaths; but in England, those who carry much upon their cloaths, are remarked for having but little in their pockets. A tawdry out­side is regarded as a badge of poverty, and those who can sit at home, and glote over their thou­sands in silent satisfaction, are generally found to do it in plain cloaths.

This diversity of thinking from the rest of the world which prevails here, I was first at a loss to account for; but am since informed that it was in­troduced by an intercourse between them and their neighbours the French; who, whenever they came in order to pay those islanders a visit, were gene­rally very well dressed, and very poor, daubed with lace, but all the gilding on the outside. By this means laced cloaths have been brought so much into contempt, that at present even their Mandarines are ashamed of finery.

[Page 225]I must own myself a convert to English simpli­city; I am no more for ostentation of wealth than of learning; the person who in company should pretend to be wiser than others, I am apt to regard as illiterate and ill bred; the person whose cloaths are extremely fine, I am too apt to consider as not being possessed of any superiority of fortune, but resembling those Indians who are found to wear all the gold they have in the world in a bob at the nose.

I was lately introduced into a company of the best dressed men I have seen since my arrival. Upon entering the room, I was struck with awe at the grandeur of the different dresses. That personage, thought I, in blue and gold, must be some Emperor's son; that, in green and silver, a Prince of the blood; he, in embroidered scarlet, a prime minister; all first rate noblemen, I suppose, and well looking noblemen too. I sate for some time with that uneasiness which conscious inferiori­ty produces in the ingenuous mind, all attention to their discourse. However, I found their conversa­tion more vulgar than I could have expected from personages of such distinction: if these, thought I to myself, be Princes, they are the most stupid Princes I have ever conversed with: yet still I con­tinued to venerate their dress; for dress has a kind of mechanical influence on the mind.

My friend in black indeed did not behave with the same deference, but contradicted the finest of them all in the most peremptory tones of contempt. But I had scarce time to wonder at the imprudence of his conduct, when I found occasion to be equally surprized at the absurdity of theirs; for [Page 226] upon the entry of a middle-aged man, dressed in a cap, dirty shirt and boots, the whole circle seemed diminished of their former importance, and con­tended who should be first to pay their obeysance to the stranger. They somewhat resembled a cir­cle of Kalmucs offering incense to a bear.

Eager to know the cause of so much seeming contradiction, I whispered my friend out of the room, and found that the august company consist­ed of no other than a dancing master, two fiddlers, and a third rate actor, all assembled in order to make a set at country dances, as the middle-aged gentleman whom I saw enter was a squire from the country, and desirous of learning the new manner of footing, and smoothing up the rudiments of his rural minuet.

I was no longer surprized at the authority which my friend assumed among them, nay, was even displeased (pardon my eastern education) that he had not kicked every creature of them down stairs. "What, said I, shall a set of such paltry fellows dress themselves up like sons of kings, and claim even the transitory respect of half an hour. There should be some law to restrain so manifest a breach of privilege; they should go from house to house, as in China, with the instruments of their profes­sion strung round their necks; by this means we might be able to distinguish and treat them in a stile of becoming contempt." Hold, my friend, replied my companion, were your reformation to take place, as dancing masters and fiddlers now mimic gentlemen in appearance, we should then find our fine gentlemen conforming to theirs. A beau might be introduced to a lady of fashion with a [Page 227] fiddle case hanging at his neck by a red ribbon; and, instead of a cane, might carry a fiddle stick. Tho' to be as dull as a first rate dancing master might be used with proverbial justice; yet, dull as he is, many a fine gentleman sets him up as the proper standard of politeness, copies not only the pert vi­vacity of his air, but the flat insipidity of his con­versation. In short, if you make a law against dancing masters imitating the fine gentleman, you should with as much reason enact, That no fine gentleman shall imitate the dancing master.

After I had left my friend, I made towards home, reflecting as I went upon the difficulty of distinguishing men by their appearance. Invited, however, by the freshness of the evening, I did not return directly, but went to ruminate on what had passed in a public garden belonging to the city. Here, as I sate upon one of the benches, and felt the pleasing sympathy which nature in bloom inspires, a disconsolate figure, who sate on the other end of the seat, seemed no way to enjoy the serenity of the season.

His dress was miserable beyond description; a thread-bare coat of the rudest materials; a shirt, though clean, yet extremely coarse; hair that seemed to have been long unconscious of the comb; and all the rest of his equipage impressed with the marks of genuine poverty.

As he continued to sigh, and testify every symp­tom of despair, I was naturally led, from a motive of humanity, to offer comfort and assistance. You know my heart; and that all who are miserable may claim a place there. The pensive stranger at [Page 228] first declined any conversation; but at last perceiv­ing a peculiarity in my accent and manner of think­ing, he began to unfold himself by degrees.

I now found that he was not so very miserable as he at first appeared; upon my offering him a small piece of money, he refused my favour, yet without ap­pearing displeased at my intended generosity. It is true he sometimes interrupted the conversation with a sigh, and talked pathetically of neglected merit; yet still I could perceive a serenity in his counte­nance, that, upon a closer inspection, bespoke in­ward content.

Upon a pause in the conversation I was going to take my leave, when he begged I would favour him with my company home to supper. I was sur­prized at such a demand from a person of his ap­pearance; but willing to indulge curiosity, I ac­cepted his invitation; and though I felt some re­pugnance at being seen with one who appeared so very wretched, went along with seeming alacrity.

Still as he approached nearer home, his good hu­mour proportionably seemed to encrease. At last he stopped, not at the gate of an hovel, but of a magni­ficent palace! When I call my eyes upon all the sumptuous elegance which every where presented upon entering, and then when I looked at my seeming miserable conductor, I could scarce think that all this finery belonged to him; yet in fact it did. Numerous servants ran through the apart­ments with silent assiduity; several ladies of beauty and magnificently dressed came to welcome his re­turn; a most elegant supper was provided; in short, I found the person, whom a little before I [Page 229] had sincerely pitied, to be in reality a most refined epicure; One who courted contempt abroad, in order to feel with keener gust the pleasure of preeminence at home. Adieu.

LETTER LI. From the same.

HOW often, have we admired the eloquence of Europe! That strength of thinking, that delicacy of imagination, even beyond the efforts of the Chinese themselves. How were we en­raptured with those bold figures which sent every sentiment with force to the heart. How have we spent whole days together in learning those arts by which European writers got within the passions and led the reader as if by enchantment.

But though we have learned most of the rhe­torical figures of the last age, yet there seems to be one or two of great use here, which have not yet travelled to China. The figures I mean are called Bawdy and Pertness; none are more fashionable; none so sure of admirers; they are of such a nature, that the merest blockhead, by a proper use of them, shall have the reputation of a wit; they lye level to the meanest capacities, and address those passions which all have, or would be ashamed to disown.

It has been observed, and I believe with some truth, that it is very difficult for a dunce to ob­tain the reputation of a wit; yet by the assistance [Page 230] of the figure Bawdy, this may be easily effected, and a bawdy blockhead often passes for a fellow of smart parts and pretensions. Every object in nature helps the jokes forward, without scarce any effort of the imagination. If a lady stands, something very good may be said upon that, if she happens to fall, with the help of a little fa­shionable Pruriency, there are forty sly things ready on the occasion. But a prurient jest has al­ways been found to give most pleasure to a few very old gentlemen, who being in some measure dead to other sensations, feel the force of the allusion with double violence on the organs of risibility.

An author who writes in this manner is ge­nerally sure therefore of having the very old and the impotent among his admirers; for these he may properly be said to write, and from these he ought to expect his reward, his works being of­ten a very proper succedaneum to cantharides, or an assafoetida pill. His pen should be con­sidered in the same light as the squirt of an apo­thecary, both being directed at the same generous end.

But though this manner of writing be per­fectly adapted to the taste of gentlemen and ladies of fashion here, yet still it deserves greater praise in being equally suited to the most vulgar appre­hensions. The very ladies and gentlemen of Benin, or Cafraria, are in this respect tolerably polite, and might relish a prurient joke of this kind with critical propriety; probably, too, with higher gust, as they wear neither breeches nor petticoats to intercept the application.

[Page 231]It is certain I never could have expected the ladies here, biassed as they are by education, ca­pable at once of bravely throwing off their pre­judices, and not only applauding books in which this figure makes the only merit, but even adopt­ing it in their own conversation. Yet so it is, the pretty innocents now carry those books openly in their hands, which formerly were hid under the cushion; they now lisp their double meanings with so much grace, and talk over the raptures they bestow with such little reserve, that I am sometimes reminded of a custom among the en­tertainers in China, who think it a piece of ne­cessary breeding to whet the appetites of their guests, by letting them smell dinner in the kitch­en before it is served up to table.

The veneration we have for many things, en­tirely proceeds from their being carefully con­cealed. Were the idolatrous Tartar permitted to lift the veil which keeps his idol from view, it might be a certain method to cure his future superstition; with what a noble spirit of freedom therefore must that writer be possessed, who brave­ly paints things as they are, who lifts the veil of modesty, who displays the most hidden reces­ses of the temple, and shews the erring people that the object of their vows is either, perhaps a mouse, or a monkey.

However, though this figure be at present so much in fashion; though the professors of it are so much caressed by the great, those perfect judg­es of literary excellence; yet it is confessed to be only a revival of what was once fashionable here be­fore. There was a time, when by this very manner [Page 232] of writing, the gentle Tom. Durfey, as I read in English authors, acquired his great reputation, and became the favourite of a king.

The works of this original genius, tho' they never travelled abroad to China, and scarce have reach'd posterity at home, were once found upon every fashionable toilet, and made the subject of po­lite, I mean very polite conversation. "Has your Grace seen Mr. Durfey's last new thing, the Oylet Hole. A most facetious piece?" Sure, my Lord, all the world must have seen it; Durfey is certainly the most comical creature alive. It is impossible to read his things and live. Was there ever any thing so natural and pretty, as when the Squire and Bridget meet in the cellar. And then the difficulties they both find in broaching the beer barrel are so arch and so ingenious! We have certainly nothing of this kind in the language." In this manner they spoke then, and in this manner they speak now; for though the successor of Durfey does not excel him in wit, the world must confess he out-does him in obscenity.

There are several very dull fellows, who, by a few mechanical helps, sometimes learn to become extremely brilliant and pleasing; with a little dexterity in the management of the eye brows, fingers, and nose. By imitating a cat, a sow and pigs; by a loud laugh, and a slap on the shoulder, the most ignorant are furnished out for conver­sation. But the writer finds it impossible to throw his winks, his shrugs, or his attitudes upon pa­per; he may borrow some assistance indeed, by printing his face at the title page; but without wit to pass for a man of ingenuity, no other [Page 233] mechanical help but downright obscenity will suf­fice. By speaking to some peculiar sensations, we are always sure of exciting laughter, for the jest does not lie in the writer, but in the subject.

But Bawdry is often helped on by another figure, called Pertness; and few indeed are found to excell in one that are not possessed of the other.

As in common conversation, the best way to make the audience laugh is by first laughing your­self; so in writing, the properest manner is to shew an attempt at humour, which will pass upon most for humour in reality. To effect this, readers must be treated with the most perfect familiarity: in one page the author is to make them a low bow, and in the next to pull them by the nose: he must talk in riddles, and then send them to bed in order to dream for the so­lution. He must speak of himself and his chap­ters, and his manner, and what he would be at, and his own importance, and his mother's im­portance with the most unpitying prolixity: Now and then testifying his contempt for all but him­self, smiling without a jest, and without wit pos­sessing vivacity. Adieu.

LETTER LII. From the same.

THO' naturally pensive, yet I am fond of gay company, and take every opportunity of thus dismissing the mind from duty. From this motive I am often found in the centre of a crowd; [Page 234] and wherever pleasure is to be sold, am always a purchaser. In those places, without being re­marked by any, I join in whatever goes forward, work my passions into a similitude of frivolous earnestness, shout as they shout, and condemn as they happen to disapprove. A mind thus sunk for a while below its natural standard, is qualified for stronger flights, as those first retire who would spring forward with greater vigour.

Attracted by the serenity of the evening, my friend and I lately went to gaze upon the company in one of the public walks near the city. Here we sauntred together for some time, either praising the beauty of such as were handsome, or the dresses of such as had nothing else to recommend them. We had gone thus deliberately forward for some time, when stopping on a sudden, my friend caught me by the elbow, and led me out of the public walk; I could perceive by the quick­ness of his pace, and by his frequently looking behind, that he was attempting to avoid some­body who followed; we now turned to the right, then to the left; as we went forward he still went faster, but in vain; the person whom he attempted to escape, hunted us through every doubling, and gained upon us each moment; so that at last we fairly stood still, resolving to face what we could not avoid.

Our pursuer soon came up, and joined us with all the familiarity of an old acquaintance. My dear Drybone, cries he, shaking my friend's hand, where have you been hiding this half a century? Positively I had fancied you were gone down to cul­tivate matrimony and your estate in the country. [Page 235] During the reply, I had an opportunity of sur­veying the appearance of our new companion; his hat was pinch'd up with peculiar smartness; his looks were pale, thin, and sharp; round his neck he wore a broad black ribbon, and in his bosom a buckle studded with glass; his coat was trimmed with tarnish'd twist; he wore by his side a sword with a black hilt, and his stock­ings of silk, though newly wash'd, were grown yellow by long service. I was so much engaged with the peculiarity of his dress, that I attended only to the latter part of my friend's reply, in which he complimented Mr. Tibbs on the taste of his cloaths, and the bloom in his countenance, Psha, psha, Will, cried the figure, no more of that if you love me, you know I hate flattery, on my soul I do; and yet to be sure an intimacy with the great will improve one's appearance, and a course of veni­son will fatten; and yet faith I despise the great as much as you do; but there are a great many damn'd honest fellows among them; and we must not quarrel with one half, because the other wants weeding. If they were all such as my lord Mudler, one of the most good-natured creatures that ever squeezed a le­mon, I should myself be among the number of their admirers. I was yesterday to dine at the Dutchess of Piccadilly's, My lord was there. Ned, says he to me, Ned, says he, I'll hold gold to silver I can tell where you were poaching last night. Poaching my lord, says I; fai [...]h you have missed already; for I staid at home, and let the girls poach for me. That's my way; I take a fine woman as some animals do their prey; stand still, and swoop, they fall into my mouth.

Ah, Tibbs, thou art an happy fellow, cried my companion with looks of infinite pity, I hope your [Page 236] fortune is as much improved as your understanding in such company? Improved, reply'd the other; You shall know,—but l [...]t it go no further,—a great secret—five hundred a year to begin with.—My Lord's word of honour for it— His Lordship took me down in his own Chariot yesterday, and we had a tete-a-tete dinner in the country; where we talked of nothing else. I fancy you forget, sir, cried I, you told us but this moment of your dining yester­day in town! Did I say so, replied he, cooly, to be sure if I said so; it was so—Dined in town: egad now I do remember, I did dine in town; but I dined in the country too; for you must know, my boys, I eat two dinners. By the bye, I am grown as nice as the Devil in my eating. I'll tell you a pleasant affair about that, we were a select party of us to dine at Lady Grogram's, an affected piece, but let it go no farther; a secret: well, there happened to be no Assa-foetida in the sauce to a turkey, upon which, says I, I'll hold a thousand guineas, and say done first, that—But dear Dry bone, you are an honest creature, lend me half-a-crown for a minute or two, or so, just till—But hearkee, ask me for it the next time we meet, or it may be twenty to one but I forget to pay you.

When he left us, our conversation naturally turned upon so extraordinary a character. His very dress cries my friend, is not less extraordinary than his conduct. If you meet him this day you find him in rags, if the next in embroidery. With those persons of distinction, of whom he talks so familiarly, he has scarce a coffee-house acquaintance. However, both for interests of society, and perhaps for his own, heaven has made him poor, and while all the world perceive his wants, he fancies [Page 237] them concealed from every eye. An agreeable companion because he understands flattery, and all must be pleased with the first part of his con­versation, though all are sure of its ending with a demand on their purse. While his youth coun­tenances the levity of his conduct, he may thus earn a precarious subsistance, but when age comes on, the gravity of which is incompatible with buffoonery, then will he find himself forsaken by all. Condemned in the decline of life to hang upon some rich family whom he once des­pised, there to undergo all the ingenuity of studi­ed contempt, to be employed only as a spy upon the servants, or a bug bear to fright the children into obedience. Adieu.

LETTER LIII. To the same.

I AM apt to fancy I have contracted a new ac­quaintance whom it will be no easy matter to shake off. My little beau yesterday overtook me again in one of the publick walks, and slapping me on the shoulder, saluted me with an air of the most perfect familiarity. His dress was the same as usual, except that he had more powder in his hair, wore a dirtier shirt, a pair of temple specta­cles, and his hat under his arm.

As I knew him to be an harmless amusing little thing, I could not return his smiles with any de­gree of severity; so we walked forward on terms of the utmost intimacy, and in a few minutes dis­cussed [Page 238] all the usual topics preliminary to particular conversation.

The oddities that marked his character, how­ever, soon began to appear; he bowed to several well dressed persons, who, by their manner of re­turning the compliment, appeared perfect stran­gers. At intervals he drew out a pocket book, seeming to take memorandums before all the com­pany, with much importance and assiduity. In this manner he led me through the length of the whole walk, fretting at his absurdities, and fancy­ing myself laughed at not less than him by every spectator.

When we were got to the end of our procession, Blast me, cries he, with an air of vivacity, I never saw the park so thin in my life before; there's no company at all to day. Not a single face to be seen. No company, interrupted I peevishly; no compa­pany where there is such a crowd; why man, there's too much. What are the thousand that have been laughing at us but company! Lord, my dear, returned he, with the utmost good humour, you seem immensely chagrined; but, blast me, when the world laughs at me, I laugh at the world, and so we are even. My Lord Trip, Bill Squash, the Cre­olian, and I sometimes make a party at being ridicu­lous; and so we say and do a thousand things for the joke sake. But I see you are grave, and if you are for a fine grave sentimental companion, you shall dine with me and my wise to day, I must insist on't; I'll intro­duce you to Mrs. Tibbs, a Lady of as elegant qualifi­cations as any in nature; she was bred, but that's be­tween ourselves, under the inspection of the Countess of All-night. A charming body of voice, but no more [Page 239] of that, she shall give us a song. You shall see my little gi [...]l t [...]o, Carolina Wilhelma Amelia Tibbs, a sweet pretty creature; I design her for my Lord Drumstick's eldest son, but that's in friendship, let it go no far­ther; she's but six years old, and yet she walks a mi­nuet, and plays on the guittar immens [...]ly already. I intend she shall be as perfect as possible in every accom­plishment. In the first place I'll make her a scholar; I'll teach her Greek myself, and learn that language purposely to instruct her; but let that be a secret.

Thus saying, without waiting for a reply, he took me by the arm and hauled me along. We passed through many dark alleys and winding ways; for, from some motives to me unknown, he seem­ed to have a particular aversion to every frequented street; at last, however, we got to the door of a dismal looking house in the outlets of the town, where he informed me he chose to reside for the benefit of the air.

We entered the lower door, which ever seemed to lie most hospitably open; and I began to ascend an old and creaking stair-case, when, as he mount­ed to shew me the way, he demanded, whether I delighted in prospects, to which answering in the affirmative, Then, says he, I shall shew you one of the most charming in the world out of my windows; we shall see the ships sailing, and the whole country for twenty miles round, tip top, quite high. My Lord Swamp would give ten thousand guineas for such a one; but as I sometimes pleasantly tell him, I always love to keep my prospects at home, that my friends may see me the oftener.

[Page 240]By this time we were arrived as high as the stairs would permit us to ascend, till we came to what he was facetiously pleased to call the first floor down the chimney; and knocking at the door, a voice from within demanded, who's there? My conductor answered, that it was him. But this not satisfying the querist, the voice again re­peated the demand: to which he answered louder than before; and now the door was opened by an old woman with cautious reluctance.

When we were got in, he welcomed me to his house with great ceremony, and turning to the old woman, asked where was her lady? "Good troth, replied she, in a peculiar dialect, she's washing your twa shirts at the next door, because they have taken an oath against lending out the tub any longer." My two shirts, cries he in a tone that faultered with confusion, what does the ideot mean? "I ken what I mean well enough, replied the other, she's washing your twa shirts at the next door, because—" Fire and fury, no more of thy stupid explanations, cried he.—Go and inform her we have got company. Were that Scotch hag to be for ever in my family, she would never learn politeness, nor forget that absurd poisonous accent of hers, or testify the smallest specimen of breeding or high life; and yet it is very surprizing too, as I had her from a par­liament man, a friend of mine, from the highlands, one of the politest men in the world; but that's a secret.

We waited some time for Mrs. Tibbs's arrival, during which interval I had a full opportunity of surveying the chamber and all its furniture; which consisted of four chairs with old wrought bottoms, [Page 241] that he assured me were his wife's embroidery; a square table that had been once japanned, a cradle, in one corner, a lumbering cabinet in the other; a broken shepherdess, and a mandarine without an head, were stuck over the chimney; and round the walls several paltry, unframed pictures, which he observed, were all his own drawing: What do you think, Sir, of that head in the corner, done in the manner of Grisoni? there's the true keeping in it; its my own face, and though there happens to be no likeness, a countess offered me an hundred for its fellow; I re­fused her, for, hang it, that would be mechanical, you know.

The wife at last made her appearance, at once a slattern and a coquet; much emaciated, but still carrying the remains of beauty. She made twenty apologies for being seen in such an odious dishabille, but hoped to be excused, as she had staid out all night at the gardens with the countess, who was excessively fond of the horns. "And, indeed, my dear, added she, turning to her husband, his lordship drank your health in a bumper." Poor Jack, cries he, a dear good-natured creature, I know he loves me; but I hope, my dear, you have given orders for dinner; you need make no great preparations neither, there are but three of us, something elegant, and little will do; a turb [...]t, an ortolan, or a —. Or what do you think, my dear, interrupts the wife, of a nice pretty bit of ox cheek, piping hot, and dressed with a little of my own sauce.—The very thing, replies he, it will eat best with some smart bottled beer; but be sure to let's have the sauce his Grace was so fond of. I hate your immense loads of meat, that is country all over; ex­treme disgusting to those who are in the least acquainted with high life.

[Page 242]By this time my curiosity began to abate, and my appetite to encrease; the company of fools may at first make us smile, but at last never fails of rendering us melancholy. I therefore pretended to recollect a prior engagement, and after having shewn my respect to the house, according to the fashion of the English, by giving the old servant a piece of money at the door, I took my leave. Mr. Tibbs assuring me, that dinner, if I staid, would be ready at least in less than two hours.

LETTER LIV. From Fum Hoam to Altangi, the discontented wanderer.

THE distant sounds of music that catch new sweetness as they vibrate through the long drawn valley, are not more pleasing to the ear than the tidings of a far distant friend.

I have just received two hundred of thy letters by the Russian carravan, descriptive of the manners of Europe. You have left it to geographers to determine the site of their mountains, and ex­tent of their lakes, seeming only employed in dis­covering the genius, the government, and disposi­tion of the people.

In those letters I perceive a journal of the operations of your mind upon whatever occurs, rather then a detail of your travels from one building to another; of your taking a draught of this ruin, or that obelisk; of paying so many [Page 243] Tomans for this commodity, or laying up a pro­per store for the passage of some new wilderness.

From your accounts of Russia I learn, that this nation is again relaxing into pristine barbarity, that its great Emperor wanted a life of an hun­dred years more to bring about his vast design. A savage people may be resembled to their own forests; a few years are sufficient to clear away the obstructions to agriculture; but it requires many ere the ground acquires a proper degree of fertility; the Russians, attached to their ancient prejudices, again renew their hatred to strangers, and indulge every former brutal excess. So true it is, that the revolutions of wisdom are slow and difficult; the revolutions of folly or ambition pre­cipitate and easy. We are not to be astonished, says Confucius*, that the wise walk more slowly in their road to virtue, than fools in their passage to vice; since passion drags us along, while wisdom only points out the way.

The German Empire, that remnant of the Ma­jesty of ancient Rome, appears from your accounts on the eve of dissolution. The members of its vast body want every tye of government to unite them, and seem feebly held together only by their respect for an ancient institution. The very name of country and countrymen, which in other na­tions makes one of the strongest bonds of govern­ment, has been here for some time laid aside, each of its inhabitants seeming more proud of being called from the petty state which gives him birth, than by the more well known title of German.

[Page 244]This government may be regarded in the light of a severe master, and a feeble opponent. The states which are now subject to the laws of the Empire, are only watching a proper occasion to fling off the yoke, and those which are become too powerful to be compelled to obedience, now begin to think of dictating in their turn. The struggles in this state are therefore not in order to preserve but to destroy the ancient constitution; if one side succeeds, the government must become despotic, if the other, several states will subsist without even nominal subordination, but in either case the Germanic constitution will be no more.

Sweden, on the contrary, though now seem­ingly a strenuous assertor of its liberties, is pro­bably only hastening on to despotism. Their se­nators, while they pretend to vindicate the free­dom of the people, are only establishing their own independence. The deluded people will however at last perceive the miseries of an aris­tocratical government; they will perceive that the administration of a society of men is ever more painful than that of one only. They will fly from this most oppressive of all forms, where one single member is capable of controlling the whole, to take refuge under the throne which will ever be attentive to their complaints. No people long endure an aristocratical government, when they could apply elsewhere for redress. The lower orders of people may be enslaved for a time by a number of tyrants, but upon the first op­portunity they will ever take a refuge in despo­tism or democracy.

[Page 245]As the Swedes are making concealed approaches to despotism, the French, on the other hand, are imperceptibly vindicating themselves into freedom. When I consider that those parliaments (the mem­bers of which are all created by the court, the presidents of which can act only by immediate direction) presume even to mention privileges and freedom, who, till of late, received directions from the throne with implicit humility; when this is considered, I cannot help fancying that the genius of freedom has entered that kingdom in disguise. If they have but three weak monarchs more, suc­cessively on the throne, the mask will be laid aside, and the country will certainly once more be free.

When I compare the figure which the Dutch make in Europe with that they assume in Asia, I am struck with surprize. In Asia, I find them the great Lords of all the Indian seas; in Eu­rope the timid inhabitants of a paltry state. No longer the sons of freedom, but of avarice; no longer assertors of their rights by courage, but by negotiations; fawning on those who insult them, and crouching under the rod of every neighbour­ing power. Without a friend to save them in distress, and without virtue to save themselves; their government is poor, and their private wealth will serve but to invite some neigbouring invader.

I long with impatience for your letters from England, Denmark, Holland, and Italy; yet why wish for relations which only describe new cala­mities, which shew that ambition and avarice are equally terrible in every region.


LETTER LV. From Lien Chi Altangi, to Fum Hoam, first president of the Ceremonial Academy, at Pekin, in China.

I Have frequently admired the manner of cri­ticising in China, where the learned are assem­bled in a body to judge of every new publication; to examine the merits of the work without know­ing the circumstances of the author, and then to usher it into the world with the proper marks of respect or reprobation.

In England there are no such tribunals erected; but if a man thinks proper to be a judge of genius, few will be at the pains to contradict his preten­sions. If any chuse to be critics, it is but saying they are critics; and from that time forward they become invested with full power and autho­rity over every caitiff who aims at their instruc­tion or entertainment.

As almost every member of society has by this means a vote in literary transactions; it is no way surprizing to find the rich leading the way here as in other common concerns of life, to see them either bribing the numerous herd of voters by their interest, or brow-beating them by their authority.

A great man says, at his table, that such a book is no bad thing. Immediately the praise is carried off by five flatterers to be dispersed at twelve different coffee-houses, from whence it circulates, still im­proving as it proceeds, through forty-five houses, [Page 247] where cheaper liquors are sold; from thence it is carried away by the honest tradesman to his own fire-side, where the applause is eagerly caught up by his wife and children who have been long taught to regard his judgment as the standard of perfection. Thus when we have traced a wide extended literary reputation up to its original source, we shall find it derived from some great man, who has, perhaps, received all his education and English from a tutor of Berne, or a dancing-master of Picardie.

The English are a people of good sense; and I am the more surprized to find them sway'd in their opinions, by men who often from, their very education, are incompetent judges. Men who being always bred in affluence, see the world only on one side, are surely improper judges of human nature; they may indeed de­scribe a ceremony, a pageant or a ball; but how can they pretend to dive into the secrets of the human heart, who have been nursed up only in forms, and daily behold nothing but the same insipid adulation smiling upon every face. Few of them have been bred in that best of schools, the school of ad­versity; and by what I can learn, fewer still have been bred in any school at all.

From such a description one would think, that a droning Duke, or a Dowager Duchess, was not possessed of more just pretensions to taste than persons of less quality; and yet what­ever the one or the other may write or praise, shall pass for perfection, without farther exami­natior. A nobleman has but to take pen, ink, and paper, and write away through three large [Page 248] volumes, and then sign his name to the title page, tho' the whole might have been before more dis­gusting than his own rent-roll, yet signing his name and title gives value to the deed; title being alone equivalent to taste, imagination, and genius.

As soon as a piece therefore is published the first questions are, Who is the author? Does he keep a coach? Where lies his estate? What sort of a table does he keep? If he happens to be poor and unqualified for such a scrutiny, he and his works sink into irremediable obscurity; and too late he finds, that having fed upon Turtle is a more ready way to fame than having digested Tully.

The poor devil, against whom fashion has set its face, vainly alledges, that he has been bred in every part of Europe where knowledge was to be sold; that he has grown pale in the study of nature and himself: his works may please upon the perusal, but his pretensions to fame are intirely disregarded; he is treated like a fidler, whose music, though liked, is not much praised, because he lives by it; while a gentleman performer, though the most wretched scraper alive, throws the audience into raptures. The fidler indeed may in such a case console himself by thinking, that while the other goes off with all the praise, he runs away with all the money: but here the par­rallel drops; for while the nobleman triumphs in unmerited applause, the author by profession, steals off with —Nothing.

The poor, therefore, here, who draw their pens auxiliary to the laws of their country, must [Page 249] think themselves very happy if they find, not fame but forgiveness; and yet they are hardly treated; for as every country grows more polite, the press becomes more useful; and writers become more necessary, as readers are supposed to increase. In a polished society, that man, though in rags, who has the power of enforcing virtue from the press, is of more real use than forty stupid brachmans or bonzes, or guebres, though they preached never so often, never so loud, or never so long. That man, though in rags, who is capable of deceiving even indolence into wisdom, and who professes amuse­ment while he aims at reformation, is more useful in refined society than twenty cardinals with all their scarlet and tricked out in all the fopperies of scholastic finery.

LETTER LVI. To the same.

AS the man in black takes every opportunity of introducing me to such company as may serve to indulge my speculative temper, or gratify my curiosity; I was by his influence lately invited to a visitation dinner. To understand this term, you must know, that it was formerly the custom here for the principal priests to go about the country once a year, and examine upon the spot whether those of subordinate orders did their duty, or were qualified for the task; whether their temples were kept in proper repair, or the laity pleased with their administration.

[Page 250]Though a visitation of this nature was very use­ful, yet it was found to be extremely troublesome, and for many reasons utterly inconvenient; for as the principal priests were obliged to attend at court, in order to solicit preferment, it was impos­sible they could at the same time attend in the country, which was quite out of the road to pro­motion: if we add to this the gout, which has been time immemorial a clerical disorder here, to­gether with the bad wine, and ill dressed provi­sions that must infallibly be served up by the way, it was not strange that the custom has been long discontinued. At present, therefore, every head of the church, instead of going about to visit his priests, is satisfied if his priests come in a body once a year to visit him; by this means the duty of half a year is dispatched in a day. When as­sembled, he asks each in his turn how they have behaved, and are liked; upon which, those who have neglected their duty, or are disagreeable to their congregation, no doubt accuse themselves, and tell him all their faults; for which, he reprimands them most severely.

The thoughts of being introduced into a com­pany of philosophers and learned men, (for as such I conceived them) gave me no small pleasure; I ex­pected our entertainment would resemble those sentimental banquets so finely described by Xeno­phon and Plato; I was hoping some Socrates would be brought in from the door, in order to harangue upon divine love; but as for eating and drinking I had prepared myself to be disappointed in that particular. I was apprized, that fasting and temperance were tenets strongly recommended to the professors of Christianity; and I had seen the [Page 251] frugality and mortification of the priests of the east: so that I expected an entertainment where we should have much reasoning, and little meat.

Upon being introduced, I confess I found no great signs of mortification in the faces or persons of the company. However, I imputed their florid looks to temperance, and their corpulency to a se­dentary way of living. I saw several preparations indeed for dinner, but none for philosophy. The company seemed to gaze upon the table with silent expectation; but this I easily excused. Men of wisdom, thought I, are ever slow of speech; they deliver nothing unadvisedly. Silence, says Confu­cius, is a friend that will never betray. They are now probably inventing maxims, or hard sayings, for their mutual instruction, when some one shall think proper to begin.

My curiosity was now wrought up to the high­est pitch; I impatiently looked round to see if any were going to interrupt the mighty pause; when, at last, one of the company declared, that there was a sow in his neighbourhood that farrowed fif­teen pigs at a litter. This I thought a very pre­posterous beginning: but just as another was going to second the remark, dinner was served, which in­terrupted the conversation for that time.

The appearance of dinner, which consisted of a variety of dishes, seemed to diffuse new chearful­ness upon every face; so that I now expected the philosophical conversation to begin, as they im­proved in good humour. The principal priest, however, opened his mouth, with only observing, that the venison had not been kept enough, though [Page 252] he had given strict orders for having it killed ten days before. I fear, continued he, it will be found to want the true heathy flavour; you will find no hing of the original wildness in it. A priest, who sate next him, having smelt it and wiped his nose: "Ah, my good lord, cries he, you are too mo­dest, it is perfectly fine; every body knows that no body understands keeping venison with your Lordship." "Ay, and partridges too, interrupt­ed another; I never find them right any where else." His Lordship was going to reply, when a third took off the attention of the company, by recommending the pig as inimitable. "I fancy, my Lord, continues he, it has been smothered in its own blood." "If it has been smothered in its blood, cried a facetious member, helping himself, we'll now smother it in egg sauce.' This poignant piece of humour produced a long loud laugh, which the facetious brother observing, and now that he was in luck, willing to second his blow, assured the company he would tell them a good story about that: "As good a story, cries he, bursting into a violent fit of laughter himself, as ever you heard in your lives; there was a farmer of my pa­rish, who used to sup upon wild ducks and flummery; so this farmer—Doctor Marrowfat, cries his Lord­ship, interrupting him, give me leave to drink your health—so being fond of wild ducks and flummery —Doctor, adds a gentleman who sate next him, let me advise you to a wing of this turkey;—so this farmer being fond—Hob nob, Doctor, which do you chuse, white or red?—So being fond of wild ducks and flummery;—take care of your band, Sir, it may dip in the grov [...] The Doctor, now looking round, found not a single eye disposed to listen; wherefore [Page 253] calling for a glass of wine, he gulped down the disappointment and the tale in a bumper.

The conversation now began to be little more than a rhapsody of exclamations; as each had pretty well satisfied his own appetite, he now found sufficient time to press others. Excellent, the very thing; let me recommend the pig, do but taste the bacon; never eat a better thing in my life; exquisite, delicious. This edifying discourse continued thro' three courses, which lasted as many hours, till every one of the company were unable to swallow or utter any thing more.

It is very natural for men who are abridged in one excess, to break into some other. The clergy here, particularly those who are advanced in years, think if they are abstemious with regard to women and wine, they may indulge their other appetites without censure. Thus some are found to rise in the morning only to a consultation with their cook about dinner, and when that has been swallowed, make no other use of their faculties (if they have any) but to ruminate on the succeeding meal.

A debauch in wine is even more pardonable than this, since one glass insensibly leads on to another, and instead of sateing whets the appetite. The progressive steps to it are chearful and seducing; the grave are animated, the melancholy relieved, and there is even classic authority to countenance the excess. But in eating after nature is once sa­tisfied every additional morsel brings stupidity and distempers with it, and as one of their own poets expresses it,

[Page 254]
The soul subsides, and wickedly inclines,
To seem but mortal, even in sound divines.

Let me suppose, after such a meal as this I have been describing, while all the company are fitting in lethargic silence round the table, grunting under a load of soup, pig, pork, and bacon; let me suppose, I say, some hungry beggar, with looks of want, peeping through one of the windows, and thus addressing the assembly, Prithee, pluck those napkins from your chins; after nature is satisfied all that you eat extraordinary is my property, and I claim it as mine. It was given you in order to relieve me, and not to oppress your selves. How can they comfort or instruct others who can scarce feel their own existence, except from the unsavoury re­turns of an ill digested meal. But though neither you nor the cushions you sit upon will hear me, yet the world regards the excesses of its teachers with a prying eye, and notes their conduct with double severity. I know no other answer any one of the company could make to such an expostulation, but this: ‘"Friend, you talk of our losing a character, and being disliked by the world; well, and supposing all this to be true, what then! who cares for the world? We'll preach for the world, and the world shall pay us for preaching, whether we like each other or not."’

LETTER LVII. From Hingpo to Lien Chi Altangi, by the way of Moscow.

YOU will probably be pleased to see my letter dated from Terki, a city which lies beyond the bounds of the Persian empire: here, blessed [Page 255] with security, with all that is dear, I double my raptures, by communicating them to you; the mind sympathizing with the freedom of the body, my whole soul is dilated in gratitude, love, and praise.

Yet were my own happiness all that inspired my present joy, my raptures might justly merit the imputation of self-interest; but when I think that the beautiful Zelis is also free, forgive my tri­umph when I boast of having rescued from captivi­ty the most deserving object upon earth.

You remember the reluctance she testified at being obliged to marry the tyrant she hated. Her compliance at last was only feigned, in order to gain time to try some future means of escape. During the interval between her promise and the intended performance of it, she came undiscovered one evening to the place where I generally retired after the fatigues of the day; her appearance was like that of an aerial genius, when it descends to minister comfort to undeserved distress; the mild lustre of her eye served to banish my timidity; her accents were sweeter than the eccho of some distant symphony. "Unhappy stranger, said she, in the Persian language, you here perceive one more wretched than thyself; all this solemnity of prepa­ration, this elegance of dress, and the number of my attendants, serve but to encrease my miseries; if you have courage to rescue an unhappy woman from approaching ruin, and our detested tyrant, you may depend upon my future gratitude." I bowed to the ground, and she left me, filled with rapture and astonishment. Night brought no rest, nor could the ensuing morning calm the anxieties [Page 256] of my mind. I projected a thousand methods for her delivery; but each, when strictly examined, appeared impracticable; in this uncertainty the evening again arrived, and I placed myself on my former station in hopes of a repeated visit. After some short expectation, the bright perfection again appeared; I bowed, as before, to the ground; when raising me up she observed, that the time was not to be spent in useless ceremony; she observed that the day following was appointed for the celebra­tion of her nuptials, and that something was to be done that very night for our mutual deliverance. I offered with the utmost humility to pursue what­ever scheme she should direct; upon which she proposed that instant to scale the garden wall, add­ing, that she had prevailed upon a female slave, who was now waiting at the appointed place, to assist her with a ladder.

Pursuant to this information I led her trembling to the place appointed; but instead of the slave we expected to see, Mostadad himself was there a­waiting our arrival; the wretch in whom we con­fided, it seems, had betrayed our design to her master, and he now saw the most convincing proofs of her information. He was just going to draw his sabre, when a principle of avarice repres­sed his fury, and he resolved, after a severe chastise­ment, to dispose of me to another master, in the mean time ordering me to be confined in the strict­est manner, and the next day to receive an hundred blows on the soles of my feet.

When the morning came I was led out in order to receive the punishment, which, from the seve­ty with which it is generally inflicted upon slaves, is worse even than death.

[Page 257]A trumpet was to be a signal for the solemniza­tion of the nuptials of Zelis, and for the infliction of my punishment. Each ceremony to me equally dreadful were just going to begin, when we were informed that a large party of Circassian Tartars had invaded the town, and were laying all in ruin. Every person now thought only of saving himself; I instantly unloosed the cords with which I was bound, and seizing a scymetar from one of the slaves who had not courage to resist me, flew to the women's apartment where Zelis was confined, dressed out for the intended nuptials. I bade her follow me without delay; and going forward, cut my way through eunuchs, who made but a faint resistance. The whole city was now a scene of conflagration and terror; every person was willing to save himself, unmindful of others. In this con­fusion seizing upon two of the fleetest coursers in the stables of Mostadad, we fled northward to­wards the kingdom of Circassia. As there were se­veral others flying in the same manner, we passed without notice, and in three days arrived at Terki, a city that lies in a valley within the bosom of the frowning mountains of Caucasus.

Here, free from every apprehension of danger, we enjoy all those satisfactions which are consistent with virtue; though I find my heart at intervals give way to unusual passions, yet such is my admi­ration for my fair companion, that I lose even ten­derness in distant respect. Though her person de­mands particular regard even among the beauties of Circassia, yet is her mind far more lovely. How very different is a woman who thus has cultivated her understanding, and been refined into delicacy of sentiment, from the daughters of the east, whose [Page 258] education is only formed to improve the person, and make them more tempting objects of prostitu­tion! Adieu.

LETTER LVII. From Hingpo to Lien Chi Altangi, by the way of Moscow.

WHEN sufficiently refreshed after the fatigues of our precipitate flight, my curiosity, which had been restrained by the appearance of immediate danger, now began to revive: I long­ed to know by what distressful accidents my fair fugitive became a captive, and could not avoid testifying a surprize how so much beauty could be involved in the calamities from whence she had been so lately rescued.

Talk not of personal charms, cried she with emotion, since to them I owe every misfortune: look round on the numberless beauties of the country where we are; and see how nature has poured its charms upon every face, and yet by this profusion heaven would seem to shew how little it regards such a blessing, since the gift is lavished upon a nation of prostitutes.

I perceive you desire to know my story, and your curiosity is not so great as my impatience to gratify it: I find a pleasure in telling part misfor­tunes to any, but when my deliverer is pleased with the relation, my pleasure is prompted by duty.

[Page 259]"I * was born in a country far to the west, where the men are braver, and the women more fair than those of Circassia; where the valour of the hero is guided by wisdom, and where deli­cacy of sentiment points the shafts of female beau­ty. I was the only daughter of an officer in the army, the child of his age, and as he used fondly to express it, the only chain that bound him to the world, or made his life pleasing. His station procured him an acquaintance with men of greater rank of fortune than himself, and his regard for me induced him to bring me into every family where he was acquainted: Thus I was early taught all the elegancies and fashionable foibles of such as the world calls polite, and though without fortune myself, was taught to despise those who lived as if they were poor.

My intercourse with the great, and my affec­tation of grandeur procured me many lovers; but want of fortune deterred them all from any other views than those of passing the present moment agreeably, or of meditating my future ruin. In every company I found myself addressed in a warmer strain of passion, than other ladies who were superior in point of rank and beauty; and this I imputed to an excess of respect, which in reality proceeded from very different motives.

Among the number of such as paid me their addresses, was a gentleman, a friend of my fa­ther, rather in the decline of life, with nothing remarkable either in his person or address to re­commend [Page 260] commend him. His age which was about forty, his fortune which was moderate, and barely suf­ficient to support him, served to throw me off my guard, so that I considered him as the only sincere admirer I had.

Designing lovers in the decline of life are ever most dangerous. Skilled in all the weaknesses of the sex, they seize each favourable opportunity, and by having less passion than youthful admir­ers, have less real respect, and therefore less timidity. This insidious wretch used a thousand arts to succeed in his base designs, all which I saw, but imputed to different views, because I thought it absurd to believe the real motives.

As he continued to frequent my father's, the friend­ship between them became every day greater; and at last from the intimacy with which he was received, I was taught to look upon him as a guardian and a friend. Though I never loved, yet I esteemed him; and this was enough to make me wish for an union, for which he seemed desirous, but to which he feigned several delays; while in the mean time, from a false report of our being mar­ried, every other admirer forsook me.

I was at last however awakened from the de­lusion, by an account of his being just married to another young lady with a considerable fortune. This was no great mortification to me, as I had always regarded him merely from prudential motives; but it had a very different effect upon my father, who, rash and passionate by nature, and besides stimulated by a mistaken notion of military honour, upbraided his friend in such [Page 261] terms, that a challenge was soon given and ac­cepted.

It was about midnight when I was awakened by a message from my father, who desired to see me that moment. I rose with some surprize, and following the messenger, attended only by another servant, came to a field not far from the house, where I found him, the assertor of my honour, my only friend and supporter, the tutor and com­panion of my youth, lying on one side covered over with blood, and just expiring. No tears streamed down my cheeks, nor sigh escaped from my breast, at an object of such terror. I sat down, and supporting his aged head in my lap, gazed upon the gastly visage with an agony more poignant even than despairing madness. The servants were gone for more assistance. In this gloomy stillness of the night no sounds were heard but his ago­nizing respirations; no object was presented but his wounds, which still continued to stream. With silent anguish I hung over his dear face, and with my hands strove to stop the blood as it flowed from his wounds; he seemed at first in­sensible, but at last turning his dying eyes upon me, "My dear, dear child, cried he, dear, though you have forgotten your own honour and stained mine, I will yet forgive you; by abandoning virtue you have undone me and yourself, yet take my forgiveness with the same compassion I wish heaven may pity me." He expired. All my succeeding happiness fled with him. Reflecting that I was the cause of his death whom only I loved upon earth, accused of betraying the honour of his family with his latest breath: conscious of my own innocence, yet without even a possibility of vindicating it; [Page 262] without fortune or friends to relieve or pity me, abandoned to infamy and the wide censuring world, I called out upon the dead body that lay stretched before me, and in the agony of my heart asked why he could have left me thus? Why, my dear, my only pappa, why could you ruin me thus and yourself for ever! O pity, and return, since there is none but you to comfort me.

I soon found that I had real cause for sor­row; that I was to expect no compassion from my own sex, nor assistance from the other; and that reputation was much more useful in our commerce with mankind than really to deserve it. Wherever I came, I perceived myself received either with contempt or detestation; or whenever I was civilly treated, it was from the most base and ungenerous motives.

Thus driven from the society of the virtuous, I was at last, in order to dispell the anxieties of insupportable solitude, obliged to take up with the company of those whose characters were blast­ed like my own; but who perhaps deserved their infamy. Among this number was a lady of the first distinction, whose character the public thought proper to brand even with greater infamy than mine. A similitude of distress soon united us; I knew that general reproach had made her miser­able; and I had learned to regard misery as an excuse for guilt. Though this lady had not vir­tue enough to avoid reproach, yet she had too much delicate sensibility not to feel it. She therefore proposed our leaving the country where we were born, and going to live in Italy, where our charactets and misfortunes would be unknown. [Page 263] With this I eagerly complied, and we soon found ourselves in one of the most charming retreats in the most beautiful province of that inchanting country.

Had my companion chosen this as a retreat for injured virtue, an harbour where we might look with tranquility on the distant angry world, I should have been happy; but very different was her design; she had pitch'd upon this situation only to enjoy those pleasures in private, which she had not sufficient effrontery to satisfy in a more open manner. A nearer acquaintance soon shew­ed me the vicious part of her character; her mind as well as her body seemed formed only for pleasure; she was sentimental only as it served to protract the immediate enjoyment. Formed for society alone, she spoke infinitely better than she wrote, and wrote infinitely better than she lived. A person devoted to pleasure often leads the most miserable life imaginable; such was her case; she considered the natural moments of languor as insup­portable, passed all her hours between rapture and anxiety; ever in an extreme of agony or of bliss. She felt a pain as sincere for want of appetite, as the starving wretch who wants a meal. In those intervals she usually kept her bed, and rose only when in expectation of some new enjoyment. The luxuriant air of the country, the romantic situa­tion of her palace, and the genius of a people whose only happiness lies in sensual refinement, all contributed to banish the remembrance of her native country.

But tho' such a life gave her pleasure, it had a very different effect upon me; I grew every [Page 264] day more pensive, and my melancholy was re­garded as an insult upon her good humour: I now perceived myself entirely unfit for all society; dis­carded from the good, and detesting the infamous, I seemed in a state of war with every rank of people: that virtue which should have been my protection in the world, was here my crime: in short, detesting life, I was determined to be­come a recluse, to leave a world where I found no pleasure that could allure me to stay. Thus determined, I embarked in order to go by sea to Rome, where I intended to take the veil; but even in so short a passage my hard fortune still attended me; our ship was taken by a Bar­bary corsair; the whole crew, and I among the number, being made slaves. It carries too much the air of romance to inform you of my distres­ses or obstinacy in this miserable state; it is enough to observe that I have been bought by several masters, each of whom perceiving my reluctance, rather than use violence, sold me to another, till it was my happiness to be at last rescued by you."

Thus ended her relation, which I have abridg'd, but as soon as we are arrived at Moscow, for which we intend to set out shortly, you shall be informed of all more particularly. In the mean time, the greatest addition to my happiness will be to hear of yours. Adieu.

LETTER LVIII. From the same.

THE news of your freedom lifts the load of former anxiety from my mind; I can now think of my son without regret, applaud his resignation under calamity, and his conduct in extricating himself from it.

You are now free, just let loose from the bondage of an hard master: this is the crisis of your fate; and as you now manage fortune, succeed­ing life will be marked with happiness or mi­sery; a few years perseverance in prudence, which at your age is but another name for virtue, will ensure comfort, pleasure, tranquility, esteem; too eager an enjoyment of every good that now offers, will reverse the medal, and present you with poverty, anxiety, remorse, contempt.

As it has been observed that none are better qualified to give others advice, than those who have taken the least of it themselves; so in this respect I find myself perfectly authorized to offer mine, even though I should wave my paternal authority upon this occasion.

The most usual way among young men who have no resolution of their own, is first to ask one friend's advice and follow it for some time; then to ask advice of another, and turn to that; so of a third, still unsteady, always changing. However, be assured that every change of this nature is for the worse; people may tell you of your be­ing unfit for some peculiar occupations in life; [Page 266] but heed them not; whatever employment you follow with perseverance and assiduity, will be found fit for you; it will be your support in youth, and comfort in age. In learning the useful part of every profession, very moderate abilities will suffice; even if the mind be a little balanced with stupidity, it may in this case be useful. Great abi­lities have always been less serviceable to the pos­sessors than moderate ones. Life has been com­pared to a race, but the allusion still improves, by observing that the most swift are ever the least manageable.

To know one profession only, is enough for one man to know; and this (whatever the professors may tell you to the contrary) is soon learned. Be con­tented therefore with one good employment; for if you understand two at a time, people will give you business in neither.

A conjurer and a taylor once happened to con­verse together. Alas, cries the taylor, what an unhappy poor creature am I; if people should ever take it in their heads to live without cloaths I am undone; I have no other trade to have re­course to. Indeed, friend, I pity you sincerely, replies the conjurer; but, thank heaven, things are not quite so bad with me; for if one trick should fail, I have a hundred tricks more for them yet. However, if at any time you are reduced to beg­gary, apply to me, and I will relieve you. A fa­mine overspread the land; the taylor made a shift to live, because his customers could not be without cloaths; but the poor conjurer, with all his hundred tricks, could find none that had money to throw away: it was in vain that he [Page 267] promised to eat fire, or to vomit pins; no single creature would relieve him till he was at last obliged to beg from the very taylor whose calling he had formerly despised.

There are no obstructions more fatal to fortune than pride and resentment. If you must resent in­juries at all, at least suppress your indignation until you become rich, and then shew away; the resentment of a poor man is like the efforts of a harmless insect to sting; it may get him crushed, but cannot defend him. Who values that anger which is consumed only in empty menaces?

Once upon a time a goose fed its young by a pond side; and a goose in such circumstances is always extremely proud, and excessive punctilious. If any other animal without the least design to offend, happened to pass that way, the goose was immediately at him. The pond, she said, was hers, and she would maintain a right in it, and support her honour, while she had a bill to hiss, or a wing to flutter. In this manner she drove away ducks, pigs, and chickens; nay, even the insidious cat was seen to scamper. A lounging mastiff, however, happened to pass by, and thought it no harm if he should lap a little of the water, as he was thirsty. The guardian goose flew at him like a fury, pecked at him with her beak, and slapped him with her feathers. The dog grew angry, had twenty times a good mind to give her a sly snap; but suppressing his indignation, because his master was nigh, A pox take thee, cries he, for a fool, sure those who have neither strength nor weapons to fight, at least should be civil; that flut­tering and hissing of thine may one day get thine [Page 268] head snapt off, but it can neither injure thy enemies, or ever protect thee. So saying, he went forward to the pond, quenched his thirst, in spite of the goose, and followed his master.

Another obstruction to the fortune of youth is, that while they are willing to take offence from none, they are also equally desirous of giving none offence. From hence they endeavour to please all, comply with every request, attempt to suit them­selves to every company; have no will of their own, but like wax catch every contiguous impression. By thus attempting to give universal satisfaction, they at last find themselves miserably disappointed; to bring the generality of admirers on our side, it is sufficient to attempt pleasing a very few.

A painter of eminence was once resolved to finish a piece which should please the whole world. When, therefore, he had drawn a picture, in which his utmost skill was exhausted, it was ex­posed in the public market-place, with directions at the bottom for every spectator to mark with a brush, which lay by, every limb, and feature, which seemed erroneous. The spectators came, and in general applauded; but each, willing to shew his talent at criticism, marked whatever he thought proper. As evening, when the painter came, he was mortified to find the whole picture one uni­versal blot; not a single stroke that was not stig­matized with marks of disapprobation: not satis­fied with this trial, the next day he was resolved to try them in a different manner, and exposing his picture as before, desired that every spectator would mark those beauties he approved or admir­ed. [Page 269] The people complied, and the artist return­ing, found his picture replete with the marks of beauty; every stroke that had been yesterday condemned now received the character of ap­probation. Well, cries the painter, I now find that the best way to please one half of the world, is not to mind what the other half says; since what are faults in the eyes of these, shall be by those regarded as beauties. Adieu.

LETTER LIX. From the same.

A Character, such as you have represented that of your fair companion, which continues vir­tuous, though loaded with infamy, is truly great. Many regard virtue because it is attended with applause; your favourite only for the internal plea­sure it confers. I have often wished that ladies like her were proposed as models for female imita­tion, and not such as have acquired fame by qua­lities repugnant to the natural softness of the sex.

Women famed for their valour, their skill in po­litics, or their learning, leave the duties of their own sex, in order to invade the privileges of ours. I can no more pardon a fair one for endeavouring to wield the club of Hercules, than I could him for attempting to twirl her distaff.

The modest virgin, the prudent wife, or the careful matron are much more serviceable in life than [Page 270] petticoated philosophers, blustering heroines, or virago queens. She who makes her husband and her children happy, who reclaims the one from vice, and trains up the other to virtue, is a much greater character than ladies described in romance, whose whole occupation is to murder mankind with shafts from their quiver or their eyes.

Women, it has been observed, are not naturally formed for great cares themselves but to soften ours. Their tenderness is the proper reward for the dangers we undergo for their preservation; and the ease and chearfulness of their conversation, o [...]r desirable retreat from the fatigues of intense application. They are confined within the narrow limits of domestic assiduity; and when they stray beyond them, they move beyond their sphere, and consequently without grace.

Fame therefore has been very unjustly dispensed, among the female sex. Those who least deserved to be remembered, meet our admiration and ap­plause; while many, who have been an honour to humanity, are passed over in silence. Perhaps no age has produced a stronger instance of misplaced fame than the present: the Semiramis and the Thalestris of antiquity are talked of, while a mo­dern character, infinitely greater than either, is unnoticed and unknown.

*Catherina Alexowna, born near Derpat, a little city in Livonia, was heir to no other inheritance than the virtues and frugality of her parents. Her father being dead, she lived with her aged mother, in their cottage covered with straw; and both, though very poor, were very contented. Here, retired from [Page 271] the gaze of the world, by the labour of her hands, she supported her parent, who was now incapable of supporting herself. While Catharina spun, the old woman would sit by, and read some book of devotion; thus when the fatigues of the day were over, both would sit down contentedly by their fire-side, and enjoy the frugal meal with vacant festivity.

Though her face and person were models of perfection, yet her whole attention seemed bestowed upon her mind; her mother taught her to read, and an old Lutheran minister instructed her in the maxims and duties of religion. Nature had fur­nished her not only with a ready but a solid turn of thought, not only with a strong but a right under­standing. Such truly female accomplishments pro­cured her several solicitations of marriage from the peasants of the country; but their offers were refus­ed: for she loved her mother too tenderly to think of a separation.

Catharina was fifteen when her mother died; she now therefore left her cottage, and went to live with the Lutheran minister, by whom she had been instructed from her childhood. In his house she resided, in quality of governess to his children; at once reconciling in her character unerring pru­dence with surprising vivacity.

The old man, who regarded her as one of his own children, had her instructed in dancing and music by the masters who attended the rest of his family; thus she continued to improve till he died, by which accident she was once more reduced to pristine poverty. The country of Livonia was at this time wasted by war, and lay in a most mi­serable [Page 272] state of desolation. Those calamities are ever most heavy upon the poor; wherefore Catha­rina, though possessed of so many accomplishments, experienced all the miseries of hopeless indigence. Provisions becoming every day more scarce, and her private stock being entirely exhausted, she re­solved at last to travel to Marienburgh, a city of greater plenty.

With her scanty wardrobe, packed up in a wal­let, she set out on her journey on foot: she was to walk through a region miserable by nature, but rendered still more hideous by the Swedes and Russians, who, as each happened to become mas­ters, plundered it at discretion: but hunger had taught her to despise the dangers and fatigues of the way.

One evening, upon her journey, as she had en­tered a cottage by the way-side, to take up her lodging for the night, she was insulted by two Swedish soldiers, who insisted upon qualifying her, as they termed it, to follow the camp. They might, probably have carried their insults into violence, had not a subaltern officer, accidentally passing by, come in to her assistance: upon his appearing, the soldiers immediately desisted; but her thankful­ness was hardly greater than her surprise, when she instantly recollected in her deliverer, the son of the Lutheran minister, her former instructor, be­nefactor, and friend.

This was an happy interview for Catharina: the little stock of money she had brought from home was by this time quite exhausted; her cloaths were gone, piece by piece, in order to satisfy those who [Page 273] had entertained her in their houses; her generous countryman, therefore, parted with what he could spare, to buy her cloaths, furnished her with an horse, and gave her letters of recommendation to Mr. Gluck, a faithful friend of his father's, and Superintendant of Marienburgh.

Our beautiful stranger had only to appear to be well received; she was immediately admitted into the Superintendant's family, as governess to his two daughters; and though yet but seventeen, shewed herself capable of instructing her sex not only in virtue, but politeness. Such was her good sense and beauty, that her master himself in a short time offered her his hand, which to his great surprize she thought proper to refuse. Actu­ated by a principle of gratitude, she was resolved to marry her deliverer only, even though he had lost an arm, and was otherwise disfigured by wounds in the service.

In order therefore to prevent further solicitati­ons from others, as soon as the officer came to town upon duty, she offered him her person, which he accepted with transport, and their nup­tials were solemnized as usual. But all the lines of her fortune were to be striking: the very day on which they were married the Russians laid siege to Marienburgh; the unhappy soldier had now no time to enjoy the well earned pleasures of matri­mony; he was called off before consummation to an attack, from which he was never after seen to return.

In the mean time the siege went on with fury, aggravated on one side by obstinacy, on the other [Page 274] by revenge. This war between the two northern powers at that time was truly barbarous; the in­nocent peasant and the harmless virgin often shared the fate of the soldier in arms. Marienburgh was taken by assault; and such was the fury of the as­sailants, that not only the garrison, but almost all the inhabitants, men, women, and children, were put to the sword; at length when the carnage was pretty well over, Catharina was found hid in an oven.

She had been hitherto poor, but still was free; she was now to conform to her hard fate, and learn what it was to be a slave: in this situation, how­ever, she behaved with piety and humility; and though misfortunes had abated her vivacity, yet she was chearful. The fame of her merit and re­signation reached even Prince Menzikoff, the Rus­sian General; he desired to see her, was struck with her beauty, bought her from the soldier, her master, and placed her under the direction of his own sister. Here she was treated with all the re­spect which her merit deserved, while her beauty every day improved with her good fortune.

She had not been long in this situation, when Peter the Great paying the Prince a visit, Cathe­rina happened to come in with some dry fruits, which she served round with peculiar modesty. The mighty Monarch saw, and was struck with her beauty. He returned the next day, called for the beautiful slave, asked her several questions, and found her understanding even more perfect than her person.

[Page 275]He had been forced when young to marry from motives of interest, he was now resolved to marry pursuant to his own inclinations. He immediately enquired the history of the fair Livonian, who was not yet eighteen. He traced her through the vale of obscurity, through all the vicissitudes of her for­tune, and found her truly great in them all. The meanness of her birth was no obstruction to his design; their nuptials were solemnized in private; the Prince assuring his courtiers, that virtue alone was the properest ladder to a throne.

We now see Catharina, from the low mud-walled cottage, Empress of the greatest kingdom upon earth. The poor solitary wanderer is now surrounded by thousands, who find happiness in her smile. She, who formerly wanted a meal, is now capable of diffusing plenty upon whole na­tions. To her fortune she owed a part of this preheminence, but to her virtues more.

She ever after retained those great qualities which first placed her on a throne; and while the extraordinary Prince, her husband, laboured for the reformation of his male subjects, she studied in her turn the improvement of her own sex. She altered their dresses, introduced mixed assemblies, instituted an order of female knighthood; and, at length, when she had greatly filled all the stations of Empress, friend, wife, and mother, bravely died without regret; regretted by all.


LETTER LX. From Lien Chi Altangi, to Fum Hoam, first president of the Ceremonial Academy at Pekin, in China.

IN every letter I expect accounts of some new revolutions in China, some strange occurrence in the state, or disaster among my private ac­quaintance. I open every pacquet with tremulous expectation, and am agreeably disappointed when I find my friends and my country continuing in felicity. I wander, but they are at rest; they suffer few changes but what pass in my own restless ima­gination; it is only the rapidity of my own motion gives an imaginary swiftness to objects which are in some measure immoveable.

Yet believe me, my friend, that even China itself is imperceptibly degenerating from her antient great­ness; her laws are now more venal, and her mer­chants are more deceitful than formerly; the very arts and sciences have run to decay. Observe the carv­ings on our antient bridges; figures that add grace even to nature. There is not an artist now in all the empire that can imitate their beauty. Our manufactures in porcelaine too are inferior to what we once were famous for; and even Europe now begins to excel us. There was a time when Chi­na was the receptacle of strangers, when all were welcome who either came to improve the state, or admire its greatness; now the empire is shut up from every foreign improvement; and the very in­habitants discourage each other from prosecuting their own internal advantages.

[Page 277]Whence this degeneracy in a state so little sub­ject to external revolutions; how happens it that China, which is now more powerful than ever, which is less subject to foreign invasions, and even assisted in some discoveries by her connexions with Europe; whence comes it, I say, that the empire is thus declining so fast into barbarity?

This decay is surely from nature, and not the result of voluntary degeneracy. In a period of two or three thousand years she seems at proper inter­vals to produce great minds, with an effort re­sembling that which introduces the vicissitudes of seasons. They rise up at once, continue for an age, enlighten the world, fall like ripened corn, and mankind again gradually relapse into pristine barbarity. We little ones look around, are amaz­ed at the decline, seek after the causes of this invi­sible decay, attribute to want of encouragement what really proceeds from want of power, are asto­nished to find every art and every science in the decline, not considering that autumn is over, and fatigued nature again begins to repose for some suc­ceeding effort.

Some periods have been remarkable for the pro­duction of men of extraordinary stature; others for producing some particular animals in great abundance; some for excessive plenty; and others again for seemingly causeless famine. Nature which shews herself so very different in her visible pro­ductions, must surely differ also from herself in the production of minds; and while she astonishes one age with the strength and stature of a Milo or a Maximin, may bless another with the wisdom of a Plato, or the goodness of an Antonine.

[Page 278]Let us not then attribute to accident the fall­ing off of every nation; but to the natural revolu­tion of things. Often in the darkest ages there has appeared some one man of surprizing abilities, who, with all his understanding, failed to bring his barbarous age into refinement: all mankind seemed to sleep, till nature gave the general call, and then the whole world seemed at once rouzed at the voice; science triumphed in every country, and the brightness of a single genius seemed lost in a galaxy of contiguous glory.

Thus the enlightened periods in every age have been universal. At the time when China first began to emerge from barbarity, the western world was equally rising into refinement; when we had our Yau, they had their Sesostris. In succeeding ages, Confucius and Pythagoras seem born nearly together, and a train of philosophers then sprung up as well in Greece as in China. The period of renewed barbarity begun to have an universal spread much about the same time, and continued for several centuries, till in the year of the christi­an aera 1400, the emperor Yonglo arose, to revive the learning of the east; while about the same time the Medicean family laboured in Italy to raise infant genius from the cradle: thus we see polite­ness spreading over every part of the world in one age, and barbarity succeeding in another; at one period a blaze of light diffusing itself over the whole world, and at another all mankind wrapped up in the profoundest ignorance.

Such has been the situation of things in times past; and such probably it will ever be. China, I have observed, has evidently begun to degenerate from its former politeness; and were the learning of the Europeans at present candidly considered, [Page 279] the decline would perhaps appear to have already taken place. We should find among the natives of the west the study of morality displaced for ma­thematical disquisition, or metaphysical subtelties; we should find learning begin to separate from the useful duties and concerns of life; while none ven­tured to aspire after that character, but they who know much more than is truly amusing or useful. We should find every great attempt suppressed by prudence, and the rapturous sublimity in writing cooled by a cautious fear of offence. We should find few of those daring spirits, who bravely ven­ture to be wrong, and who are willing to hazard much for the sake of great acquisitions. Provi­dence has indulged the world with a period of al­most four hundred years refinement; does it not now by decrees sink us into our former ignorance, leaving us only the love of wisdom, while it de­prives us of its advantages? Adieu.

LETTER LXI. From the same.

THE princes of Europe have found out a manner of rewarding their subjects who have behaved well, by presenting them with about two yards of blue ribbon, which is worn about the shoulder. They who are honoured with this mark of distinction are called knights, and the King himself is always the head of the order. This is a very frugal method of recompensing the most important services; and it is very fortu­nate for kings that their subjects are satisfied with [Page 280] such trifling rewards. Should a nobleman hap­pen to lose his leg in battle, the King presents him with two yards of ribbon, and he is paid for the loss of his limb. Should an embassador spend all his paternal fortune in supporting the honour of his country abroad, the King presents him with two yards of ribbon, which is to be con­sidered as an equivalent to his estate. In short, while an European King has a yard of blue or green ribbon left, he need be under no appre­hensions of wanting statesmen, generals, and sol­diers.

I cannot sufficiently admire those Kingdoms in which men with large patrimonial estates are willing thus to undergo real hardships for empty favours. A person, already possessed of a competent fortune, who undertakes to enter the career of ambition, feels many real inconveniencies from his station, while it procures him no real happiness that he was not possessed of before. He could eat, drink, and sleep, before he be­came a courtier, as well, perhaps better than when invested with his authority. He could command flatterers in a private station, as well as in his pub­lic capacity, and indulge at home every favourite inclination, uncensured and unseen by the people.

What real good then does an addition to a for­tune already sufficient procure? Not any. Could the great man by having his fortune encreased, encrease also his appetites, then precedence might be attended with real amusement.

Was he by having his one thousand made two, thus enabled to enjoy two wives, or eat two din­ners; [Page 281] then indeed he might be excused for under­going some pain, in order to extend the sphere of his enjoyments. But on the contrary, he finds his desire for pleasure often lessen, as he takes pains to be able to improve it; and his capacity of enjoy­ment diminishes as his fortune happens to encrease.

Instead therefore of regarding the great with envy, I generally consider them with some share of compassion. I look upon them as a set of good natured misguided people, who are indebted to us and not to themselves for all the happiness they enjoy. For our pleasure, and not their own, they sweat under a cumberous heap of finery; for our pleasure the lacquied train, the slow pa­rading pageant, with all the gravity of grandeur, moves in review; a single coat, or a single foot­man, answers all the purposes of the most in­dolent refinement as well; and those who have twenty, may be said to keep one for their own pleasure, and the other nineteen merely for ours. So true is the observation of Confucius, that we take greater pains to persuade others that we are happy, than in endeavouring to think so ourselves.

But though this desire of being seen, of being made the subject of discourse, and of supporting the dignities of an exalted station, be troublesome enough to the ambitious; yet it is well for so­ciety that there are men thus willing to exchange ease and safety, for danger and a ribbon. We lose nothing by their vanity, and it would be unkind to endeavour to deprive a child of its rat­tle. If a Duke or a Dutchess are willing to carry a long train for our entertainment, so much the worse for themselves; if they chuse to exhibit in [Page 282] public with a hundred lacquies and Mameluks in their equipage for our entertainment, still so much the worse for themselves; it is the specta­tors alone who give and receive the pleasure; they only the sweating figures that swell the pageant.

A Mandarine who took much pride in appear­ing with a number of jewels on every part of his robe, was once accosted by an old sly Bonze, who following him through several streets, and bowing often to the ground, thank'd him for his jewels. What does the man mean? cried the Mandarine. Friend, I never gave thee any of my jewels. No, replied the other; but you have let me look at them, and that is all the use you can make of them yourself; so there is no difference between us, except that you have the trouble of watching them, and that is an employment I don't much desire. Adieu.

LETTER LXII. From the same.

THO' not very fond of seeing a pageant myself, yet I am generally pleased with being in the crowd which sees it; it is amusing to observe the effect which such a spectacle has upon the variety of faces, the pleasure it excites in some, the envy in others, and the wishes it raises in all. With this design I lately went to see the entry of a foreign Am­bassador, resolved to make one in the mob, to shout as they shouted, to fix with earnestness upon the [Page 283] same frivolous objects, and participate for a while the pleasures and the wishes of the vulgar.

Struggling here for some time, in order to be first to see the cavalcade as it passed, some one of the crowd unluckily happened to tread upon my shoe, and tore it in such a manner, that I was utterly un­qualified to march forward with the main body, and obliged to fall back in the rear. Thus ren­dered incapable of being a spectator of the shew myself, I was at least willing to observe the spec­tators, and limped behind like one of the invalids which follow the march of an army.

In this plight, as I was considering the eagerness that appeared on every face, how some bustled to get foremost, and others contented themselves with taking a transient peep when they could; how some praised the four black servants, that were stuck behind one of the equipages, and some the ribbons that decorated the horses necks in an­other; my attention was called off to an object more extraordinary than any that I had yet seen: A poor cobler sate in his stall by the way side, and continued to work while the crowd pas­sed by, without testifying the smallest share of curiosity. I own his want of attention excited mine; and as I stood in need of his assistance, I thought it best to employ a philosophic cobler on this occasion: perceiving my business, there­fore, he desired me to enter and sit down, took my shoe in his lap, and began to mend it with his usual indifference and taciturnity.

"How, my friend, said I to him, can you continue to work while all those sine things are [Page 284] passing by your door?" "Very fine they are master, returned the cobler, for those that like them, to be sure; but what are all those fine things to me? You don't know what it is to be a cobler, and so much the better for yourself. Your bread is baked, you may go and see sights the whole day, and eat a warm supper when you come home at night; but for me, if I should run hunting after all these fine folk, what should I get by my journey but an appetite, and, God help me, I have too much of that at home already, without stiring out for it. Your people who may eat four meals a day and a supper at night, are but a bad example to such a one as I. No, master, as God has called me into this world in order to mend old shoes, I have no business with fine folk, and they no business with me." I here inter­rupted him with a smile. "See this last, master, continues he, and this hammer; this last and hammer are the two best friends I have in this world; nobody else will be my friend, because I want a friend. The great folks you saw pass by just now have five hundred friends, because they have no occasion for them; now, while I stick to my good friends here, I am very contented; but when I ever so little run after sights and fine things, I begin to hate my work, I grow sad, and have no heart to mend shoes any longer."

This discourse only served to raise my curiosity to know more of a man whom nature had thus formed into a philosopher. I therefore insensibly led him into an history of his adventures: "I have lived, said he, a wandering life, now five and fifty years, here to-day and gone to-morrow; for it was my misfortune, when I was young, to [Page 285] be fond of changing." You have been a traveller, then, I presume, interrupted I, "I can't boast much of travelling, continued he, for I have never left the parish in which I was born but three times in my life, that I can remember; but then there is not a street in the whole neighbourhood that I have not lived in, at some time or another. When I began to settle and to take to my business in one street, some unforeseen misfortune, or a desire of trying my luck elsewhere, has removed me, per­haps a whole mile away from my former customers, while some more lucky cobler would come into my place, and make a handsome fortune among friends of my making: there was one who ac­tually died in a stall that I had left, worth seven pounds seven shillings, all in hard gold, which he had quilted into the waistband of his breeches."

I could not but smile at these migrations of a man by the fire-side, and continued to ask if he had ever been married. "Ay that I have, master, replied he, for sixteen long years; and a weary life I had of it, heaven knows. My wife took it into her head, that the only way to thrive in this world was to save money, so, though our comings-in was but about three shillings a week, all that ever she could lay her hands upon she used to hide away from me, though we were obliged to starve the whole week after for it.

The first three years we used to quarrel about this every day, and I always got the bet­ter; but she had a hard spirit, and still continued to hide as usual; so that I was at last tired of quarrelling, and getting the better, and she scraped and scraped at pleasure, till I was almost starved [Page 286] to death. Her conduct drove me at last in despair to the ale-house; here I used to sit with people who hated home like myself, drank while I had money left, and run in score when any body would trust me; till at last the landlady, coming one day with a long bill when I was from home, and putting it into my wife's hands, the length of it effectually broke her heart. I searched the whole stall after she was dead for money, but she had hidden it so effectually, that with all my pains I could never find a farthing."

By this time my shoe was mended, and satisfy­ing the poor artist for his trouble, and reward­ing him besides for his information, I took my leave, and returned home to lengthen out the amusement his conversation afforded, by commu­nicating it to my friend. Adieu.


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