« PreviousContinue »
timidate its prey ; no creature shows any fondness for its short-lived prisoner except a man and a cat.
Man was born to live with innocence and simplicity, but he has departed from nature; he was borr, 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 shall 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, oh ye simple, honest Brahmins 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 demons 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 broil live lobsters, we are putting some old acquaintance, some near relation, to excruciating tortures, and are 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 of the river Mawra ; his possessions were great, and his luxuries kept pace with the affluence of his fortune ; he hated the harmless Brahmins, and despised their holy religion; every day his table was decked out with the flesh of a hundred different animals, and his cooks had a 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 ake 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 a 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 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 orler 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 farther 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, decrepit, 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.”
FROM THE SAME.
Of the War now carried on between France and England, with
its frivolous Motives.
Were an Asiatic politician to read the treaties of peace and friendship that have been annually making for more than a hundred years among the inhabitants of Europe, he would probably be surprised 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 'inreserved reconciliation.
Yet, notwithstanding those treaties, the people of Europe are almost continually at war. There 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 declared ; 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 coolly 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 from 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 tiger; 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 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 clothes with fur, 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 are 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 show 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; 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 still for protracting the
The best English politicians, however, are sensi. ble that to keep their present conquests would rather be a burden than an advantage to them; rather a diminution of their strength than an increase 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 proportio.to the mother country; when they grow