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From the Same.
and punished ; yet what terrible slughters succeeded in consequence of its enactment: proscriptions,
LETTER LXXXI. stranglings, poisonings, in almost every family of distinction; yet all done in a legal way, every criminal had his trial, and lost his life by a majority of witnesses.
I Have as yet given you but a short and imper: And such will ever be the case, where punish- fect description of the ladies of England. Woman. ments are numerous, and where a weak, vicious, my friend, is a subject not easily understood, even but, above all, where a mercenary magistrate is con- in China; what therefore can be expected from my cerned in their execution: such a man desires to knowledge of the sex, in a country where they are see penal laws increased, since he too frequently universally allowed to be riddles, and I but a stran has it in his power to turn them into instruments ger ?" of extortion; in such hands, the more laws, the To confess a truth, I was afraid to begin the wider means, not of satisfying justice, but of sati- description, lest the sex should undergo some new ating avarice.
revolution before it was finished; and my picture A mercenary magistrate, who is rewarded in should thus become old before it could well be said proportion, not to his integrity, but to the number to have ever been new. To-day they are lifted he convicts, must be a person of the most unblem- upon stilts, to-morrow they lower their heels, and ished character, or he will lean on the side of cruel raise their heads; their clothes at one time are ty: and when once the work of injustice is begun, bloated out with whalebone; at present they have it is impossible to tell how far it will proceed. It laid their hoops aside, and are become as slim as is said of the hyæna, that, naturally, it is no way mermaids. All, all is in a state of continual flucravenous, but when once it has tasted human flesh, tuation, from the mandarine's wife, who rattles it becomes the most voracious animal of the forest, through the streets in her chariot, to the humble and continues to persecute mankind ever after. A seamstress, who clatters over the pavement in ironcorrupt magistrate may be considered as a human shod pattens. hyæna; he begins, perhaps, by a private snap, he What chiefly distinguishes the sex at present is goes on to a morsel among friends, he proceeds the train. As a lady's quality or fashion was to a meal in public, from a meal he advances to a once determined here by the circumference of her surfeit, and at last sucks blood like a vampyre. hoop, both are now measured by the length of her
Not into such hands should the administration tail. Women of moderate fortunes are contented of justice be intrusted, but to those who know how with tails moderately long; but ladies of true taste to reward as well as to punish. It was a fine say. and distinction set no bounds to their ambition in ing of Nangfu the emperor, who, being told that this particular. I am told, the lady mayoress, on his enemies had raised an insurrection in one of days of ceremony, carries one longer than a bell. the distant provinces,—"Come, then, my friends," wether of Bantam, whose tail, you know, is trunsaid he, "follow me, and I promise you that we dled along in a wheelbarrow. shall quickly destroy them.” He marched forward, Sun of China, what contradictions do we find in and the rebels submitted upon his approach. All this strange world! not only the people of differnow thought that he would take the most signal ent countries think in opposition to each other; but revenge, but were surprised to see the captives the inhabitants of a single island are often found treated with mildness and humanity. "How !" inconsistent with themselves. Would you believe cries his first minister, “is this the manner in it? this very people, my Fum, who are so fond of which you fulfil your promise? your royal word seeing their women with long tails, at the same was given that your enemies should be destroyed, time dock their horses to the very rump! and behold you have pardoned all, and even ca- But you may easily guess that I am no ways ressed some !"-"I promised," replied the empe- displeased with a fashion which tends to increase a ror, with a generous air, "to destroy my enemies; demand for the commodities of the East, and is so I have fulfilled my word, for see they are enemies very beneficial to the country in which I was born. no longer,--I have made friends of them." Nothing can be better calculated to increase the
This, could it always succeed, were the true price of silk than the present manner of dressing. method of destroying the enemies of a state ; well A lady's train is not bought but at some expense, it were, if rewards and mercy alone could regulate and after it has swept the publio walks for a very the commonwealth : but since punishments are few evenings, is fit to be worn no longer ; more sometimes necessary, let them at least be rendered silk must be bought in order to repair the breach, terrible, by being executed but seldom; and let and some ladies of peculiar economy are thus found Justice litt ner sword rather to terrify than revenge. to patch up their tails eight or ten times in a seaAdieu
This unnecessary consumption may intr
From the Same.
duce poverty here, but then we shall be the richer|
LETTER LXXXII. for it in China.
The man in black, who is a professed enemy to this manner of ornamenting the tail, assures me, there are numberless inconveniences attending it,
A DISPUTE has for some time divided the phiand that a lady, dressed up to the fashion, is as much losophers of Europe ; it is debated whether arts a cripple as any in Nankin. But his chief indigna- and sciences are more serviceable or prejudicial to tion is leveled at those who dress in this manner, mankind ? They who maintain the cause of litewithout a proper fortune to support it. He assures rature, endeavour to prove their usefulness, from me, that he has known some who have a tail though the impossibility of a large number of men subsistthey wanted a petticoat ; and others, who, withouting in a small tract of country without them;
from any other pretensions, fancied they became ladies, the pleasure which attends the acquisition : and merely from the addition of three superfluous from the influence of knowledge in promoting yards of ragged silk :—"I know a thrifty good practical morality. woman," continues he, “who, thinking herself
They who maintain the opposite opinion, display obliged to carry a train like her betters, never walks the happiness and innocence of those uncultivated from home without the uneasy apprehensions of nations who live without learning; urge the nuwearing it out too soon : every excursion she makes, merous vices which are to be found only in polishgives her new anxiety; and her train is every bited society; enlarge upon the oppression, the cruelty, as importunate, and wounds her peace as much, and the blood which must necessarily be shed, in as the bladder we sometimes see tied to the tail of a order to cement civil society; and insist upon the cat."
happy equality of conditions in a barbarous state, Nay, he ventures to affirm, that a train may preferable to the unnatural subordination of a more often bring a lady into the most critical circum- refined constitution. stances: "for should a rude fellow," says he,
This dispute, which has already given so much "offer to come up to ravish a kiss, and the lady at- employment to speculative indolence, has been tempt to avoid it
, in retiring she must necessarily managed with much ardour, and (not to suppress tread upon her train, and thus fall fairly upon her our sentiments) with but little sagacity. They who back; by which means every one knows her insist that the sciences are useful in refined society clothes may be spoiled."
are certainly right, and they who maintain that The ladies here make no scruple to laugh at the barbarous nations are more happy without them smallness of a Chinese slipper, but I fancy our are right also; but when one side, for this reason, wives at China would have a more real cause of attempts to prove them as universally useful to the laughter, could they but see the immoderate length solitary barbarian as to the native of a crowded of a European train. Head of Confucius! to commonwealth ; or when the other endeavours to view a human being crippling herself with a great banish them as prejudicial to all society, even from unwieldy tail for our diversion! Backward she populous states, as well as from the inhabitants of can not go, forward she must move but slowly; and the wilderness, they are both wrong; since that if ever she attempts to turn round, it must be in a knowledge which makes the happiness of a refined circle not smaller than that described by the wheel- European would be a torment to the precarious ing crocodile, when it would face an assailant. tenant of an Asiatic wild. And yet to think that all this confers importance Let me, to prove this, transport the imagination and majesty! to think that a lady acquires addi- for a moment to the midst of a forest in Siberia. tional respect from fifteen yards of trailing taffeta ! There we behold the inhabitant, poor indeed, but I can not contain ; ha! ha! ha! this is certainly a equally fond of happiness with the most refined remnant of European barbarity; the female Tar- philosopher of China. The earth lies uncultivated tar, dressed in sheep-skins, is in far more conve- and uninhabited for miles around him; his little nient drapery. Their own writers have sometimes family and he the sole and undisputed possessors. inveighed against the absurdity of this fashion, but In such circumstances, nature and reason will in. perhaps it has never been ridiculed so well as upon duce him to prefer a hunter's life to that of cultithe Italian theatre, where Pasquariello being en-vating the earth. He will certainly adhere to that gaged to attend on the Countess of Fernambroco, manner of living which is carried on at the smallhaving one of his hands employed in carrying her est expense of labour, and that food which is most muff, and the other her lapdog, he bears her train agreeable to the appetite ; he will prefer indolent, majestically along, by sticking it in the waistband though precarious luxury, to a laborious, though if his breeches. Adieu.
permanent competence; and a knowledge of his own happiness will determine him to persevere in contribute to his own felicity; he knows the pro native barbarity.
perest places where to lay the snare for the sable, In like manner, his happiness will incline him and discerns the value of furs with more than Euto bind himself by no law: laws are made in order ropean sagacity. More extended knowledge would to secure present property; but he is possessed of only serve to render him unhappy; it might lend no property which he is afraid to lose, and desires a ray to show him the misery of his situation, but no more than will be sufficient to sustain him; to could not guide him in his efforts to avoid it. Ignoenter into compacts with others, would be under-rance is the happiness of the poor. going a voluntary obligation without the expect. The misery of a being endowed with sentiments ance of any reward. He and his countrymen are above its capacity of fruition, is most admirably tenants, not rivals, in the same inexhaustible for- described in one of the fables of Locman, the Inest; the increased possessions of one by no means dian moralist. “An elephant that had been pediminishes the expectations arising from equal as- culiarly serviceable in fighting the battles of Wistsiduity in another; there is no need of laws, there- now, was ordered by the god to wish for whatever fore, to repress ambition, where there can be no he thought proper, and the desire should be attendmischief attending its most boundless gratification. ed with immediate gratification. The elephant
Our solitary Siberian will, in like manner, find thanked his benefactor on bended knees, and de. the sciences not only entirely useless in directing sired to be endowed with the reason and faculties his practice, but disgusting even in speculation. of a man. Wistnow was sorry to hear the foolish In every contemplation, our curiosity must be first request, and endeavoured to dissuade him from his excited by the appearances of things, before our misplaced ambitiun; but finding it to no purpose, reason undergoes the fatigue of investigating the gave him at last such a portion of wisdom as could causes. Some of those appearances are produced correct even the Zendavesta of Zoroaster. The by experiment, others by minute inquiry; some reasoning elephant went away rejoicing in his new arise from a knowledge of foreign climates, and acquisition; and though his boily still retained its others from an intimate study of our own. But ancient form, he found his appetites and passions there are few objects in comparison which present entirely altered. He first considered, that it would themselves to the inhabitant of a barbarous coun- not only be more comfortable, but also more beIry: the game he hunts, or the transient cottage coming, to wear clothes; but, unhappily he had no he builds, make up the chief objects of his concern; method of making them himself, nor had he the his curiosity, therefore, must be proportionably less; use of speech to demand them from others; and and if that is diminished, the reasoning faculty will this was the first time he felt real anxiety. He be diminished in proportion.
soon perceived how much more elegantly men were Besides, sensual enjoyment adds wings to curi- fed than he, therefore he began to loathe his usual osity. We consider few objects with ardent atten- food, and longed for those delicacies which adorn tion, but those which have some connexion with the tables of princes; but here again he found it our wishes, our pleasures, or our necessities. A impossible to be satisfied, for though he could easily desire of enjoyment first interests our passions in obtain flesh, yet he found it impossible to dress it the pursuit, points out the object of investigation, in any degree of perfection. In short, every pleaand reason then comments where sense has led the sure that contributed to the felicity of mankind, way. An increase in the number of our enjoy- served only to render him more miserable, as he ments, therefore, necessarily produces an increase found himself utterly deprived of the power of enof scientific research: but in countries where joyment. In this manner he led a repining, dis. almost every enjoyment is wanting, reason there contented life, detesting himself, and displeased seems destitute of its great inspirer, and specula- with his ill-judged ambition ; till at last his benetion is the business of fools when it becomes its factor, Wistnow, taking compassion on his forlorn own reward,
situation, restored him to the ignorance and the The barbarous Siberian is too wise, therefore, happiness which he was originally formed to ento exhaust his time in quest of knowledge, which joy." neither curiosity prompts, nor pleasure impels hiin No, my friend, to attempt to introduce the sciento pursue. When told of the exact admeasure- ces into a nation of wandering barbarians, is only ment of a degrec upon the equator of Quito, he to render them more miserable than even nature feels no pleasure in the account; when informed designed they should be. A life of simplicity is that such a discovery tends to promote navigation best fitted to a state of solitude. and commerce, he finds himself no way interested The great lawgiver of Russia attempted to imin either. A discovery, which some have pursued prove the desolate inhabitants of Siberia, by sendat the hazard of their lives, affects him with neither ing among them some of the politest men of Euastonishment nor pleasure. He is satisfied with rope. The consequence has shown that the counthoroughly understanding the few objects which try was as yet unfit to receive them : they languisbed for a time, with a sort of exotic malady; every an excellent book, it is to me just as if I had gained day degenerated from themselves, and at last, in- a new friend. When I read over a book I have stead of rendering the country more polite, they perused before, it resembles the meeting with an conformed to the soil, and put on barbarity. old one. We ought to lay hold of every incident
No, my friend, in order to make the sciences in life for improvement, the trifling as well as the useful in any couniry, it must first become popu- important. It is not one diamond alone which gives lous; the inhabitant must go through the different lustre to another; a common coarse stone is also stages of hunter, shepherd, and husbandman; then, employed for that purpose. Thus I ought to draw when property becomes valuable, and consequent- advantage from the insults and contempt I meet ly gives cause for injustice; then, when laws are with from a worthless fellow. His brutality ought appointed to repress injury, and secure possession; to induce me to self-examination, and correct every when men, by the sanction of those laws, become blemish that may have given rise to his calumny. possessed of superfluity; when luxury is thus in- “Yet with all the pleasures and profits which troduced, and demands its continual supply; then are generally produced by learning, parents often it is that the sciences become necessary and useful; find it difficult to induce their children to study. the state then can not subsist without them; they They often seem dragged to what wears the apmust then be introduced, at once to teach men to pearance of application. Thus, being dilatory in draw the greatest possible quantity of pleasure the beginning, all future hopes of eminence are from circumscribed possession, and to restrain entirely cut off. If they find themselves obliged them within the bounds of moderate enjoyment. to write two lines more polite than ordinary, their
The sciences are not the cause of luxury, but pencil then seems as heavy as a millstone, and they its consequence; and this destroyer thus brings spend ten days in turning two or three periods with with it an antidote which resists the virulence of propriety. its own poison. By asserting that luxury intro- " These persons are most at a loss when a banduces the sciences, we assert a truth; but if, with quet is almost over; the plate and the dice go round, those who reject the utility of learning, we assert that the number of little verses, which each is that the sciences also introcluce luxury, we shall obliged to repeat, may be determined by chance. be at once false, absurd, and ridiculous. Adieu. The booby, when it comes to his turn, appears
quite stupid and insensible. The company divert themselves with his confusion; and sneers, winks
and whispers, are circulated at his expense. As LETTER LXXXIII.
for him, he opens a pair of large heavy eyes, stares From Lien Chi Altangi to Hingpo, by the way of Moscow.
at all about him, and even offers to join in the
laugh, without ever considering himself as the You are now arrived at an age, my son, when burden of all their good-humour. pleasure dissuades from application ;. but rol not, “But it is of no importance to read much, except by present gratification, all the succeeding period you be regular in your reading. If it be interrupted of life of its happiness. Sacrifice a little pleasure for any considerable time, it can never be attended at first to the expectance of greater. The study with proper improvement. There are some who of a few years will make the rest of life completely study for one day with intense application, and reeasy.
pose themselves for ten days after. But wisdom But instead of continuing the subject myself, is a coquette, and must be courted with unabating take the following instructions, borrowed from a assiduity. modern philosopher of China.* "He who has be- " It was a saying of the ancients, that a man gun his fortune by study, will certainly confirm it never opens a book without reaping some advantage by perseverance. The love of books damps the by it. I say with them, that every book can serve passion for pleasure; and when this passion is once to make us more expert, except romances, and extinguished, life is then cheaply supported : thus these are no better than instruments of debauchery. a man, being possessed of more than he wants, can They are dangerous fictions, where love is the never be subject to great disappointments, and ruling passion. avoids all those meannesses which indigence sume- “The most indecent strokes there pass for turns times unavoidably produces.
of wit ; intrigue and criminal liberties for gallantry “There is unspeakable pleasure attending the and politeness. Assignations, and even villany, life of a voluntary student. The first time I read are put in such strong lights, as may inspire even
grown men with the strongest passion; how much • A translation of this passage may also be seen in Du Talde, dread thein, whose reason is so weak, and whose
more, therefore, ought the youth of either sex to Vol. II. fol. pp. 47 and 58. This extract will at least serve to show that fondness for humour which appears in the writings hearts are so susceptible of passion.
"To slip in bv a back door, or leap a wall, aro accomplishments that, when handsomely set off, a tea-cup;-guch is his character, which, considerenchant a young heart. It is true, the plot is com- ed in every light, is the very opposite of that which monly wound up by a marriage concluded with leads to riches. the consent of parents, and adjusted by every cere- The poets of the West are as remarkable for mony prescribed by law. But as in the body of their indigence as their genius, and yet, among the the work there are many passages that offend good numerous hospitals designed to relieve the poor, I morals, overthrow laudable customs, violate the have heard of but one erected for the benefit of delaws, and destroy the duties most essential to so-cayed authors. This was founded by Pope Urban ciety, virtue is thereby exposed to the most danger- VIII., and called the retreat of the incurables, in. ous attacks.
of the Chinese.
timating, that it was equally impossible to reclaim “But, say some, the authors of these romances the patients, who sued for reception, from poverty have nothing in view, but to represent vice punish- or from poetry. To be sincere, were I to send you ed, and virtue rewarded. Granted. But will the an account of the lives of the western poets, either greater number of readers take notice of these ancient or modern, I fancy you would think me punishments and rewards? Are not their minds employed in collecting materials for a history of carried to something else? Can it be imagined human wretchedness. that the art with which the author inspires the Homer is the first poet and beggar of note among love of virtue, can overcoine that crowd of thoughts the ancients; he was blind, and sung his ballads which sway them to licentiousness? To be able about the streets ; but it is observed that his mouth to inculcate virtue by so leaky a vehicle, the author was more frequently filled with verses than with must be a philosopher of the first rank. But in bread. Plautus, the comic poet, was better off–he our age, we can find but few first-rate philoso- had two trades, he was a poet for his diversion, and phers.
helped to turn a mill in order to gain a livelihood. “Avoid such performances where vice assumes Terence was a slave; and Boethius died in a gaol. the face of virtue: seek wisdom and knowledge, Among the Italians, Paulo Borghese, almost as without ever thinking you have found them. A good a poet as Tasso, knew fourteen different man is wise, while he continues in the pursuit of trades, and yet died because he could get employwisdom; but when he once fancies that he has ment in none. Tasso himself, who had the most found the object of his inquiry, he then becomes a amiable character of all poets, has often been obliged fool. Learn to pursue virtue from the man that is to borrow a crown from some friend, in order to blind, who never makes a step without first ex- pay for a month's subsistence; he has left us a amining the ground with his staff.
pretty sonnet, addressed to his cat, in which he “The world is like a vast sea; mankind like a begs the light of her eyes to write by, being too poor vessel sailing on its tempestuous bosom. Our to afford himself a candle. But Bentivoglio, poor prudence is its sails, the sciences serve us for oars, Bentivoglio! chiefly demands our pity. His comegood or bad fortune are the favourable or contrary dies will last with the Italian language: he dissiwinds, and judgment is the rudder; without this pated a noble fortune in acts of charity and benevolast, the vessel is tossed by every billow, and will lence ; but, falling into misery in his old age, was find shipwreck in every breeze. In a word, ob- refused to be admitted into an hospital which he scurity and indigence are the parents of vigilance himself had erected. and economy; vigilance and economy, of riches In Spain, it is said, the great Cervantes died of and honour; riches and honour, of pride and luxury; hunger; and it is certain, that the famous Camoena pride and luxury, of impurity and idleness; and ended his days in an hospital. impurity and idleness again produce indigence and If we turn to France, we shall there find even obscurity. Such are the revolutions of life.” stronger instances of the ingratitude of the public. Adieu.
Vaugelas, one of the politest writers, and one of the honestest men of his time, was surnamed the Owl, from his being obliged to keep within all day, and
venture out only by night, through fear of his crediLETTER LXXXIV.
tors. His last will is very remarkable. After
having bequeathed all his worldly substance to the From Lien Chi Aliangi, to Fum Hoam, First President or the Ceremonial Academy at Pekin, in China.
discharging his debts, he goes on thus: “But, as
there still may remain some creditors unpaid, even I Fancy the character of a poet is in every coun- after all that I have shall be disposed of, in such a try the same: fond of enjoying the present, care- case it is my last will
, that my body should be sold less of the future, his conversation that of a man of to the surgeons to the best advantage, and that the sense, his actions those of a fool; of fortitude able purchase should go to the discharging those debta Lo stand unmoved at •he bursting of an earthquake, which I owe to society; so that if I could not, while vet of sensibility to be affected by the breaking of living, at least when dead, I may be useful.”