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From the Sume.
ess than sixteen comets in different parts of the Butlers, Otways, and Farquhars, were all writers heavens. However, we are unanimously resolved for bread. Believe me, my friend, hunger has a to fix upon one only to be the comet expected. most amazing faculty of sharpening the genius ; That near Virgo wants nothing but a tail to fit it and he who, with a full belly, can think like a hero, out completely for terrestrial admiration. after a course of fasting, shall rise to the sublimity
Saturday. The moon is, I find, at her old of a demi-god. pranks. Her appulses, librations, and other irre- But what will most amaze is, that this very set gularities, indeed amaze me. My daughter, too, is of men, who are now so much depreciated by fools, this morning gone off with a grenadier. No way are, however, the very best writers they have surprising; I was never able to give her a relish for among them at present. For my own part, were wisdom. She ever promised to be a mere expletive I to buy a hat, I would not have it from a stockingin the creation. But the moon, the moon gives me maker, but a hatter; were I to buy shoes, I should real uneasiness; I fondly fancied I had fixed her. not go to the tailor's for that purpose. It is just so I had thought her constant, and constant only to with regard to wit: did I, for my life, desire to be me; but every night discovers her infidelity, and well served, I would apply only to those who made proves me a desolate and abandoned lover. Adieu. it their trade, and lived by it. You smile at the
oddity of my opinion; but be assured, my friend, that wit is, in some measure, mechanical ; and that
a man, long habituated to catch at even its resemLETTER XCIII.
blance, will at last be happy enough to possess the substance. By a long habit of writing he acquires
a justness of thinking, and a mastery of manner, It is surprising what an influence titles shall which holiday writers, even with ten times his have upon the mind, even though these titles be genius, may vainly attempt to equal. of our own making. Like children, we dress up How then are they deceived who expect from the puppets in finery, and then stand in astonish-title, dignity, and exterior circumstance, an excelment at the plastic wonder. I have been told of a lence which is in some measure acquired by halit, rat-catcher here, who strolled for a long time about and sharpened by necessity ? You have seen, the villages near town, without finding any em- like me, many literary reputations promoted by the ployment; at last, however, he thought proper to influence of fashion, which have scarcely survived take the title of his Majesty's rat-catcher in ordi- the possessor ; you have seen the poor hardly earn nary, and this succeeded beyond his expectations: the little reputation they acquired, and their merit when it was known that he caught rats at court, only acknowledged when they were incapable of all were ready to give him countenance and em- enjoying the pleasures of popularity : such, howevployment.
er, is the reputation worth possessing; that which But of all the people, they who make books seem is hardly earned is hardly lost. Adieu. most perfectly sensible of the advantages of titular dignity. All seem convinced, that a book written by vulgar hands, can neither instruct nor improve; none but kings, chams, and mandarines, can write
LETTER XCIV. with any probability of success. If the titles in. From Hingpo, in Moscow, to Lien Chi Altangi, in London form me right, not only kings and courtiers, but emperors themselves, in this country, periodically WHERE will my disappointments end? Must supply the press.
I still be doomed to accuse the severity of my forA man here who should write, and honestly con- tune, and show my constancy in distress, rather fess that he wrote for bread, might as well send his than moderation in prosperity? I had at least hopes manuscript to fire the baker's oven; not one crea- of conveying my charming companion safe from ture will read him: all must be court-bred poets, or the reach of every enemy, and of again restoring pretend at least to be court-bred, who can expect to her to her native soil. But those hopes are now please. Should the caitiff fairly avow a design of no more. emptying our pockets and filling his own, every Upon leaving Terki, we took the nearest road reader would instantly forsake him; even those to the dominions of Russia. We passed the Ural who write for bread themselves would combine to mountains, covered with eternal snow, and traworry him, perfectly sensible that his attempts versed the forest of Ufa, where the prowling bear only served to take the bread out of their mouths. and shrieking hyena keep an undisputed posses
And yet this silly prepossession the more amazes sion. We next embarked upon the rapid river me, when I consider, that alınost all the excellent Bulija, and made the best of our way to the banks proluctions in wit that have appeared here, were of the Wolga, where it waters the fruitful valleys purely the offspring of necessity; their Drydens, 'of Casan.
There were two vessels in company properly hands to manage her, and the whole crew carried equipped and armed, in order to oppose the Wolga by the peasants up the country. Of this, however, pirates, who, we were informed, infested this river. we were not sensible till our arrival at Moscow; Of all mankind these pirates are the most terrible, where, expecting to meet our separated bark, we They are composed of the criminals and outlawed were informed of its misfortune, and our loss. peasants of Russia, who fly to the forests that lie Need I paint the situation of my mind on this ocalong the banks of Wolga for protection. Here casion ? Need I describe all I feel. when I despair they join in parties, lead a savage life, and have no of beholding the beautiful Zelis more? Fancy other subsistence but plunder. Being deprived of had dressed the future prospect of my life in the houses, friends, or a fixed habitation, they become gayest colouring; but one unexpected stroke of more terrible even than the tiger, and as insensible fortune has robbed it of every charm. Her dear idea to all the feelings of humanity. They neither give mixes with every scene of pleasure, and without quarter to those they conquer, nor receive it when her presence to enliven it, the whole becomes teoverpowered themselves. The severity of the laws dious, insipid, insupportable. I will confess-now against them serves to increase their barbarity, and that she is lost, I will confess I loved her: nor is it seems to make them a neutral species of being, be in the power of time, or of reason, to erase her tween the wilderness of the lion, and the subtlety image from my heart. Adieu. of the man.
When taken alive their punishment is hideous. A floating gibbet is erected, which is let run down with the stream: here, upon an iron hook stuck under their ribs, and upon which the
LETTER XCV. whole weight of their body depends, they are left
From Lien Chi Altangi to Hingpo, at Moscow." to expire in the most terrible agonies, soine being thus found to linger several days successively. Your misfortunes are mine; but, as everv pe
We were but three days’ voyage from the con- riod of life is marked with its own, you must learn fluence of this river into the Wolga, when we per- to endure them. Disappointed love makes the ceived at a distance behind us an armed bark com- misery of youth; disappointed ambition, that of ing up, with the assistance of sails and oars, in manhood ; and successless avarice, that of age. order to attack us. The dreadful signal of death These three attack us through life; and it is our was hung upon the mast, and our captain, with duty to stand upon our guard. To love, we ought his glass, could easily discern them to be pirates. to oppose dissipation, and endeavour to change the It is impossible to express our consternation on this ohject of the affections; to ambition, the happiness occasion; the whole crew instantly came together of indolence and obscurity; and to avarice the fear to consult the properest means of safety. It was, of soon dying. These are the shields with which therefore, soon determined to send off our women we should arm ourselves; and thus make every and valuable commodities in one of our vessels, scene of life, if not pleasing, at least supportable. and that the men should stay in the other, and Men complain of not finding a place of repose. boldly oppose the enemy. This resolution was They are in the wrong ; they have it for seeking. soon put into execution, and I now reluctantly What they should indeed complain of is, that the parted from the beautiful Zelis for the first time heart is an enemy to that very repose they seek. since our retreat from Persia. The vessel in which To themselves alone should they impute their dis. she was disappeared to my longing eyes, in pro- content. They seek within the short span of life portion as that of the pirates approached us. to satisfy a thousand desires: each of which alone They soon came up; but upon examining our is insatiable. One month passes, and another strength, and perhaps sensible of the manner in comes on; the year ends, and then begins; but which we had sent off our most valuable effects, man is still unchanging in folly, still blindly conthey seemed more eager to pursue the vessel we tinuing in prejudice. To the wise man, every clihad sent away than attack us. In this manner mate, and every soil is pleasing : to him a parterre they continued to harrass us for three days, still of flowers is the famous valley of gold ; to him a endeavouring to pass us without fighting. But, on little brook, the fountain of the young peach trees; the fourth day, finding it entirely impossible, and to such a man, the melody of birds is more ravishdespairing to seize the expected booty, they desisted ing than the harmony of a full concert; and the from their endeavours, and left us to pursue our tincture of the cloud preferable to the touch of the voyage without interruption.
tinest pencil. Our joy on this occasion was great; but soon a The lifc of man is a journey; a journey that must disappointment more terrible, because unexpecte!, succeeded. The bark in which our women and
This letter le a rapheody from the maxims of the philofo treasure were sent off' was wrecked upon the branlisprer Me. Vide Leu curieuse et cuifiante. Vidde ellar Du of the Wolga, for want of a proper number of isale, Vol. II. p. 98.
be travelled, however bad the roads or the accom- of thy grandmother's maiden sisa'. Tie coffin modation. If, in the beginning, it is found dan- was exposed in the principal hall, :/ public view, gerous, narrow, and difficult, it must either grow Before it were placed the figu.es of eutruchs, better in the end, or we shall, by custom, learn to horses, tortoises, and other animals, in attitudes of bear its inequality.
grief and respect. The more distant relations of But, though I see you incapable of penetrating the old lady, and I among the number, came to pay into grand principles, attend at least to a simile, our compliments of condolence, and to salute the adapted to every apprehension. I am mounted deceased, after the manner of our country. We upon a wretched ass, I see another man before me had scarcely presented our wax-candles and perupon a sprightly horse, at which I find some un- fumes, and given the howl of departure, when, easiness. I look behind me, and see numbers on crawling on his belly from unyer a curtain, out foot, stooping under heavy burdens: let me learn came the reverend Fum Hoar hinself, in all the to pity their estate, and thank Heaven for my dismal solemnity of distress. Your looks were set
for sorrow; your clothing crossed of a hempen Shingfu, when under misfortunes, would, in the bag tied round the neck with a string. For two beginning, weep like a child; but he soon recover- long months did this mou.ning continue. By ed his former tranquillity. After indulging grief night, you lay stretched on a single mat, and sat on for a few days, he would become, as usual, the the stool of discontent by day. Pious man! who most merry old man in all the province of Shansi. could thus set an example of sorrow and decorum About the time that his wife died, his possessions to our country. Pious cuntry! where, if we do were all consumed by fire, and his only son sold not grieve at the departure of our friends for their into captivity; Shingfu grieved for one day, and sakes, at least we are taught to regret them for our the next went to dance at a mandarine's door for own. his dinner. The company were surprised to see All is very different here ; amazement all! What the old man so merry, when suffering such great sort of a people am I got amongst? Fum, thou son losses; and the mandarine himself coming out, of Fo, what sort of people am I got amongst? No asked him, how he, who had grieved so much, and crawling round the coffin; nu dressing up in given way to the calamity the day before, could hempen bags; no lying on mats, or sitting on stools! now be so cheerful? “You ask me one question,” Gentlemen here shall put on first mourning with cries the old man, "let me answer, by asking as sprightly an air as if preparing for a birth-night; another: Which is the most durable, a hard thing, and widows shall actually dress for another husband or a soft thing; that which resists, or that which in their weeds for the former. The best jest of all makes no resistance?”—“A hard thing, to be j is, that our merry mourners clap bits of muslin on sure," replied the mandarine. “There you are their sleeves, and these are called weepers. Weepwrong," returned Shingfu, "I am now fourscore ing muslin! alas, alas! very sorrowful truly! These years old; and, if you look in my mouth, you will weepers, then, it seems, are to bear the whole find that I have lost all my teeth, but not a bit of burden of the distress. my tongue." Adieu.
But I have had the strongest instance of this contrast, this tragi-uomical behaviour in distress, upon a recent occasion. Their king, whose de
parture, though sudden, was not unexpected, died LETTER XCVI.
after a reign of many years. His age, and uncer
tain state of health, served, in some measure, to From Lien Chi Altangi, to Fum Hoam, First President of the diminish the sorrow of his subjects; and their exCeremonial Academy at Pekin, in China.
pectations from his successor seemed to balance The manner of grieving for our departed friends their minds between uneasiness and satisfaction. in China is very different from that of Europe. But how ought they to have behaved on such an The mourning colour of Europe is black; that of occasion ? Surely, they ought rather to have enChina white. When a parent or relation dies deavoured to testify there gratitude to their dehere, for they seldom mourn for friends, it is only ceased friend, than to proclaim their hopes of the clapping on a suit of sables, grimacing it for a few future! Surely, even the successor must suppose days, and all, soon forgotten, goes on as before; their love to wear the face of adulation, which so not a single creature missing the deceased, ex- quickly changed the object! However, the very cept, perhaps, a favourite housekeeper, or a favour- same day on which the old king died, they made ite cat.
rejoicings for the new. On the contrary, with us in China it is a very For my part, I have no conception of this new serious affair. The piety with which I have seen manner of mourning and rejoicing in a breath; of you behave, on one of these occasions, should never being merry and sad; of mixing a funeral proces be forgotten. I remember it was upon the death Ision with a jig and a bonfire. At least, it would
have been just, that they who flattered the king whether I can buy it or no! Fum, thou son of while living, for virtues which he had not, should Fo, what sort of a people am I got amongst? where lament him dead, for those he really had. being out of black is a certain symptom of poverty,
In this universal cause for national distress, as I where those who have miserable faces cannot have had no interest myself, so it is but natural to sup- mourning, and those who have mourning will not pose I felt no real affliction. "In all the losses of wear a miserable face! Adieu. our friends," says an European philosopher, “we first consider how much our own welfare is affected by their departure, and moderate our real grief just in the same proportion.” Now, as I had neither
LETTER XCVII. received, nor expected to receive, savours from
From the Same. kings or their flatterers; as I had no acquaintance in particular with their late monarch; as I knew It is usual for the booksellers here, when a borila that the place of a king is soon supplied; and, as has given universal pleasure upon one subject, to the Chinese proverb has it, that though the world bring out several more upon the same plan ; which may sometimes want cobblers to mend their shoes, are sure to have purchasers and readers, from that there is no danger of its wanting emperors to rule desire which all men have to view a pleasing obtheir kingdoms: from such considerations, I could ject on every side. The first performance serves bear the loss of a king with the most philosophic rather to awaken than satisfy attention; and, when resignation. However, I thought it my duty at that is once moved, the slightest effort serves to least to appear sorrowful; to put on a melancholy continue its progression : the merit of the first difaspect, or to set my face by that of the people. fuses a light sufficient to illuminate the succeeding
The first company I came amongst after the efforts, and no other subject can be relished, till news became general, was a set of jolly companions, that is exhausted. A stupid work coming thus who were drinking prosperity to the ensuing reign. immediately in the train of an applauded performI entered the room with looks of despair, and even ance, weans the mind from the object of its pleasure; expected applause for the superlative misery of my and resembles the sponge thrust into the mouth of countenance. Instead of that, I was universally a discharged culverin, in order to adapt it for a condemned by the company for a grimacing son of new explosion. a whore, and desired to take away my penitential This manner, however, of drawing off a subject, phiz to some other quarter. I now corrected my or a peculiar mode of writing to the dregs, effectuformer mistake, and, with the most sprightly air ally precludes a revival of that subject or manner imaginable, entered a company, where they were for some time for the future; the sated reader turns talking over the ceremonies of the approaching from it with a kind of literary nausea ; and though funeral. Here I sat for some time with an air of the titles of books are the part of them most read, pert vivacity; when one of the chief mourners, im- yet he has scarcely perseverance enough to wade mediately observing my good-hurnour, desired me, through the title-page. if I pleased, to go and grin somewhere else; they Of this number, I own myself one: I am now wanted no disaffected scoundrels there. Leaving grown callous to several subjects, and different this cumpany, therefore, I was resolved to assume kinds of composition. Whether such originally a look perfectly neutral; and have ever since been pleased I will not take upon me to determine; but studying the fashionable air; something between at present I spurn a new book, merely upon seeing jest and earnest; a complete virginity of face, its name in an advertisement; nor have the smalluncontaminated with the smallest symptom of est curiosity to look beyond the first leaf, even meaning.
though, in the second, the author promises his own But though grief be a very slight affair hrre, the face neatly engraved on copper. mourning, my friend, is a very important concern. I am become a perfect epicure in reading; plain When an emperor dies in China, the whole ex- beef or solid mutton will never do. I am for a Chi. pense of the solemnities is defrayed from the royal nese dish of bear's claws and birds' nests. I am coffers. When the great die here, mandarines are for sauce strong with assafætida, or fuming with ready enough to order mourning; but I do not sce garlic. For this reason there are a hundred very they are so ready to pay for it. If they send me wise, learned, virtuous, well-intended productions, down from court the gray undress frock, or the that have no charms for me. Thus, for the soul of black coat without pocket holes, I am willing me, I could never find courage nor grace enough to enough to comply with their commands, and wear wade above two pages deep into "Thoughts upon both; but, by the head of Confucius ! to be obliged God and Nature;” or “Thoughts upon Provi. to wear black, and buy it into the bargain, is more dence;" or " Thoughts upon Free Grace;" or inthan my tranquillity of temper can bear. What, deed into thoughts upon any thing at all. I ean or jer me to wear mourning, before they know no longer meditate with meditations for every day
From the Same.
in the year. Essays upon divers subjects can not would be a fault not to be pleased with good things. allure me, though never so interesting; and as for There I learn several great truths: as, that it is imfuneral sermons, or even thanksgiving sermons, 1 possible to see into the ways of futurity; that pu can neither weep with the one, nor rejoice with the nishment always attends the villain ; that love is other.
the fond soother of the human breast; that we But it is chiefly in gentle poetry, where I seldom should not resist Heaven's will,—for in resisting look farther than the title. The truth is, I take up Heaven's will Heaven's will is resisted; with sebooks to be told something new; but here, as it is veral other sentiments equally new, delicate, and now managed, the reader is told nothing. He opens striking. Every new tragedy, therefore, I shall go the book, and there finds very good words truly, to see ; for reflections of this nature make a toleraand much exactness of rhyme, but no information. ble harmony, when mixed up with a proper quanA parcel of gaudy images pass on before his imagi- tity of drum, trumpet, thunder, lightning, or the nation like the figures in a dream; but curiosity, scene-shifter's whistle. Adieu. induction, reason, and the whole train of affections, are fast asleep. The jucunda et idonea vita; those sallies which mend the heart, while they amuse the fancy, are quite forgotten: so that a
LETTER XCVIII. · reader, who would take up some modern applauded
performances of this kind, must, in order to be pleased, first leave his good sense behind him, take for I HAD some intentions lately of going to visit his recompense and guide bloated and compound Bedlam, the place where those who go mad are epithet, and dwell on paintings, just indeed, because confined. I went to wait upon the man in black laboured with minute exactness.
to be my conductor, but I found him preparing to If. we examine, however, our internal sensations, go to Westminster-hall, where the English hold we shall find ourselves but little pleased with such their courts of justice. It gave me some surprise laboured vanities; we shall find that our applause to find my friend engaged in a law-suit, but more rather proceeds from a kind of contagion caught up so when he informed me that it had been dependfrom others, and which we contribute to diffuse, than ing for several years. · "How is it possible," cried from what we privately feel. There are some sub 1, "for a man who knows the world to go to law? jects of which almost all the world perceive the fu- I am well acquainted with the courts of justice in tility; yet all contribute in imposing them upon each China, they resemble rat-traps every one of them, other, as worthy of praise. But chiefly thisimposition nothing more easy than to get in, but to get out obtains in literature, where men publicly contemn again is attended with some difficulty, and more what they relish with rapture in private, and ap- cunning than rats are generally found to possess !" prove abroad what has given disgust at home. The "Faith,” replied my friend, “I should not have truth is, we deliver those criticisms in public which gone to law, but that I was assured of success be. are supposed to be best calculated not to do justice fore I began ; things were presented to me in so to the author, but to impress others with an opin alluring a light, that I thought by barely declaring ion of our superior discernment.
myself a candidate for the prize, I had nothing more But let works of this kind, which have already to do than to enjoy the fruits of the victory. Thus come off with such applause, enjoy it all. It is have I been upon the eve of an imaginary triumph not my wish to diminish, as I was never considera- every term these ten years ; have travelled forward ble enough to add to their fame. But, for the fu- with victory ever in my view, but ever out of reach; ture, I fear there are many poems of which I shall however, at present, I fancy we have hampered find spirits to read but the title. In the first place, our antagonist in such a manner, that, without all odes upon winter, or summer, or autumn; in some unforeseen demur, we shall this very day lay short, all odes, epodes, and monodies whatsoever, him fairly on his back.” shall hereafter be deemed too polite, classical, ob- "If things be so situated,” said I, "I don't care scure, and refined to be read, and entirely above hu- if I attend you to the courts, and partake in the man comprehension. Pastorals are pretty enough— pleasure of your success. But prithee, "continued for those that like thein; but to me, Thyrsis is one I, as we set forward, "what reasons have you to of the most insipid fellows I ever conversed with; think an affair at last concluded, which has given and as for Corydon, I do not choose his conipany. you so many former disappointments?”—"My Elegics and epistles are very fine to those to whom lawyer tells me,” returned he, “that I have Salkeld, they are addressed ; and as for epic poems, I am and Ventris strong in my favour, and that there generally aple to discover the whole plan in reading are no less than fifteen cases in point.”—“I underthe two arst pages.
stand," said I, “those are two of your judges who Tragedies, however, as they are now made, are have already declared their opinions."_"Pardon good instructive moral sermons enough; and it me,” replied my friend, “Salkeld and Ventris are