Page images
PDF
EPUB

employed spend his time, than by sitting at home, | merchants found admission into regions the most earnestly intent upon adding one star more to his suspecting, under the character of Sanjapins, os catalogue, or one monster more to his collection; northern pilgrims. To such, not even China itor still, if possible, more trilingly sedulous in the self denies access. incatenation of fleas, or the sculpture of a cherry- To send out a traveller, properly qualified for stone!

these purposes, might be an object of national conI never consider this subject without being sur cern; it would in some measure repair the breaches prised, that none of those societies, so laudably es- made by ambition ; and might show that there tablished in England for the promotion of arts and were still some who boasted a greater name than learning, have ever thought of sending one of their that of patriots, who professed themselves lovers members into the most eastern parts of Asia, to of men. The only difficulty would remain, in make what discoveries he was able. To be con- choosing a proper person for so arduous an entervinced of the utility of such an undertaking, let prise. He should be a man of a philosophical them but read the relations of their own travellers. turn; one apt to deduce consequences of general It will be there found, that they are as often de- utility from particular occurrences: neither swolceived theinselves, as they attempt to deceive len with pride, nor hardened by prejudice; neither others. The merchant tells us, perhaps, the price wejded to one particular system, nor instructed of different commodities, the methods of baling only in one particular science ; neither wholly a them up, and the properest manner for a European botanist

, nor quite an antiquarian ; his mind should to preserve his health in the country. The mis- be tinctured with miscellaneous knowledge, and sionary, on the other hand, informs us, with what his manners humanized by an intercourse with pleasure the country to which he was sent em- men. He should be in some measure an enthubraced Christianity, and the numbers he convert- siast in the design ; fond of travelling, from a raed; what methods he took to keep Lent in a region pid imagination and an innate love of change ; where there was no fish, or the shifts he made to furnished with a body capable of sustaining every celebrate the rites of his religion, in places where fatigue, and a heart not easily terrified at danger there was neither bread nor wine! Such accounts, Adieu. with the usual appendage of marriages and funerals, inscriptions, rivers, and mountains, make up the whole of a European traveller's diary: but as to

LETTER CIX. all the secrets of which the inhabitants are possesser, those are universally attributed to magic; and when the traveller can give no other account One of the principal tasks I had proposed to of the wonders he sees performed, very contentedly myself, on my arrival here, was to become acquaintascribes them to the power of the devil. ed with the names and characters of those now

It was a usual observation of Boyle, the English living, who, as scholars or wits, had acquired the chemist, that if every artist would bnt discover greatest share of reputation. In order to succeed what new observations occurred to him in the ex- in this design, I fancied the surest method would ercise of his trade, philosophy would thence gain be to begin my inquiry among the ignorant, judginnumerable improvements. It may be observed, ing that his fame would be greatest, which was with still greater justice, that if the useful know- loud enough to be heard by the vulgar. 'Thus preledge of every country, howsoever barbarous, was disposed, 1 began the search, but only went in gleaned by a judicious observer, the advantages quest of disappointment and perplexity. I found would be inestimable. Are there not even in every district had a peculiar famous man of its Europe many useful inventions known or practised own. Here the story-telling shoemaker had enbut in one place? The instrument, as an example, grossed the admiration on one side of the street, for cutting down corn in Germany, is much more while the bellman, who excelleth at a catch, was handy and expeditious, in my opinion, than the in quiet possession of the other. At one end of sickle used in England. The cheap and expedi- a lane the sexton was regarded as the greatest man tious manner of making vinegar, without previous alive; but I had not travelled half its length, till I fermentation, is known only in a part of France. found an enthusiastic teacher had divided his repuIf such discoveries, therefore, remain still to be tation. My landlady, perceiving my design, was known at home, what funds of knowledge might kind enough to offer me her advice in this affair, not be collected in countries yet unexplored, or It was true, she observed, that she was no judge, only passed through by ignorant travellers in hasty but she knew what pleased herself, and, if I would caravans?

rest upon her judgment, I should set down Tom The caution with which foreigners are received Collins as the most ingenious man in the world ; in Asia may be alleged as an objection to such a for Tom was able to take off all mankind, and desigu. But how readily have several European imitate besides a sow and pigs to perfection

From the Same,

- I now perceived, that taking my standard of re-confessedly famous, and see if any have been lately jautation among the vulgar, would swell my cata- deposited there, who deserve the attention of poslogue of great names above the size of a court terity, and whose names may be transmitted to my calendar; I therefore discontinued this method of distant friend, as an honour to the present age.” pursuit

, and resolved to prosecute my inquiry in Determined in my pursuit, I paid a second visit to that usual residence of fame, a bookseller's shop. Westminster Abbey. There I found several new In consequence of this, I entreated the bookseller monuments erected to the memory of several great to let me know who were they who now made the men; the names of the great men I absolutely forgreatest figure, either in morals, wit, or learning. get, but I well remember that Roubillac was the Without giving me a direct answer, he pulled a statuary who carved them. I could not help smilpamphlet from the shelf, The Young Attorney's ing at two modern epitaphs in particular, one of Guide: "There, sir," cries he, “there is a touch which praised the deceased for being ortus ex anfor you; fifteen hundred of these moved off in a tiquâ stirpe ; the other commended the dead beday: I take the author of this pamphlet, either for cause hanc ædem suis sumptibus reædificavit. title, preface, plan, body, or index, to be the com- The greatest merit of one consisted in his being pletest hand in England." I found it was vain to descended from an illustrious house; the chief prosecute my inquiry, where my informer appear- distinction of the other, that he had propped up an ed so incompetent a judge of merit; so paying for old house that was falling. “Alas! alas !" cried the Young Attorney's Guide, which good man-1, "such monuments as these confer honour, not ners obliged me to buy, I walked off.

upon the great men, but upon little Roubillac.” My pursuit after famous men now brought me Hitherto disappointed in my inquiry after the into a print-shop. “Here," thought I, "the paint-great of the present age, I was resolved to mix in er only reflects the public voice. As every man company, and try what I could learn among critics who deserved it had formerly his statue placed up in coffee-houses; and here it was that I heard my in the Roman forum, so here, probably, the pictures favourite names talked of even with inverted fame. of none but such as merit a place in our affections A gentleman of exalted merit as a writer was are held up for public sale.” But guess my sur- branded in general terms as a bad man; another, prise, when I came to examine this repository of of exquisite delicacy as a poet, was reproached for noted faces; all distinctions were levelled here, as wanting good-nature; a third was accused of free.in the grave, and I could not but regard it as the thinking; and a fourth of having once been a catacomb of real merit! The brick-dust man took player. 'Strange," cried I, “how unjust are up as much room as the truncheoned hero, and the mankind in the distribution of fame! the ignorant, judge was! elbowed by the thief-taker ; quacks, among whom I sought at first, were willing to pimps, and buffoons increased the group, and noted grant, but incapable of distinguishing the virtues stallions only made room for more noted whores. of those who deserved it; among those I now conI had read the works of some of the moderns, pre- verse with, they know the proper objects of admivious to my coming to England, with delight and ration, but mix envy with applause." approbation, but I found their faces had no place Disappointed so often, I was now resolved to exhere; the walls were covered with the names of amine those characters in person, of whom the authors I had never known, or had endeavoured to world talked so freely. By conversing with men forget; with the little self-advertising things of a of real merit, I began to find out those characters day, who had forced themselves into fashion, but which really deserved, though they strove to avoid, not into fame. I could read at the bottom of some applause. I found the vulgar admiration entirely pictures the names of **, and ***, and ****, all misplaced, and malevolence without its sting. The equally candidates for the vulgar shout, and fore-truly great, possessed of numerous small faults and most to propagate their unblushing faces upon shining virtues, preserve a sublime in morals as in brass. My uneasiness, therefore, at not finding my writing. They who have attained an excellence few favourite names among the number, was now in either, commit numberless transgressions, obchanged into congratulation. I could not avoid re- servable to the meanest understanding. The ig. flecting on the fine observation of Tacitus on a norant critic and dull remarker can readily spy similar occasion. " In this cavalcade of flattery," blemishes in eloquence or morals, whose senti. cries the historian, “neither the pictures of Brutus, ments are not sufficiently elevated to observe a Cassius, nor Cato, were to be seen ; eo clariores beauty. But such are judges neither of books qui imagines eorum non deferebantur, their ab- nor of life; they can diminish no solid reputation sence being the strongest proof of their merit.” by their censure, nor bestow a lasting character by

" It is in vain," cried I, " to seek for true great- their applause. In short, I found, by my search, ness among these monuments of the unburied that such only can confer real fame upon others drasl; let me go among the tombs of those who are who have merit themselves to deserve it. Aileu. | honourable offices of the state. Among the numLETTER CX.

ber were the inspector of Great Britain, Mr. Hen

riques the director of the ministry, Ben. Victor From the Same.

the treasurer, John Lockman the secretary, and There are numberless employments in the the conductor of the Imperial Magazine. They courts of the eastern monarchs utterly unpractised all acquiesced in the utility of my proposal, but and unknown in Europe. They have no such were apprehensive it might meet with some obofficers, for instance, as the emperor's ear tickler, struction from court upholsterers and chamber. ar looth-picker; they have never introduced at the maids, who would object to it from the demolition courts the mandarine appointed to bear the royal of the furniture, and the dangerous use of ferrets tobacco-box, or the grave director of the imperial and ratsbane. exercitations in the seraglio. Yet I am surprised My next proposal is rather more general than that the English have imitated us in none of these the former, and might probably meet with less opparticulars, as they are generally pleased with position. Though no people in the world flatter every thing that comes from China, and excessively each other more than the English, I know none Sound of creating new and useless employments. who understand the art less, and flatter with such They have filled their houses with our furniture, little refinement. Their panegyric, like a Tartar their public gardens with our fireworks, and their feast, is indeed served up with profusion, but their very ponds with our fish. Our courtiers, my friend, cookery is insupportable. A client here shall dress are the fish and the furniture they should have im- up a fricassee for his patron, that shall offend an ported; our courtiers would fill up the necessary ordinary nose before it enters the room. A town ceremonies of a court better than those of Europe; shall send up an address to a great minister, which would be contented with receiving large salaries shall prove at once a satire on the minister and for doing little; whereas some of this country are themselves. If the favourite of the day sits, or at present discontented, though they receive large stands, or sleeps, there are poets to put it into verse, salaries for doing nothing.

and priests to preach it in the pulpit. In order, I lately, therefore, had thoughts of publishing a therefore, to free both those who praise, and those proposal here, for the admission of some new east- who are praised, from a duty probably disagreeable ern offices and titles into their Court Register. to both, I would constitute professed flatterers here, As I consider myself in the light of a cosmopo- as in several courts of India. These are appointlite, I find as much satisfaction in scheming for the ed in the courts of their princes, to instruct the countries in which I happen to reside as for that people where to exclaim with admiration, and in which I was born.

where to lay an emphasis of praise. But an offi. The finest apartments in the palace of Pegu are cer of this kind is always in waiting when the emfrequently infested with rats. These the religion peror converses in a familiar manner among his of the country strictly forbids the people to kill. rajahs and other nobility. At every sentence, when In such circumstances, therefore, they are obliged the monarch pauses, and smiles at what he has to have recourse to some great man of the court, been saying, the Karamatman, as this officer is who is willing to free the royal apartments, even called, is to take it for granted that his majesty has at the hazard of his salvation. After a weak said a good thing. Upon which he cries outmonarch's reign, the quantity of court vermin in "Karamat! Karamat!-& miracle! a miracle !" every corner of the palace is surprising; but a and throws up his hands and his eyes in ecstasy. prudent king, and a vigilant officer, soon drive This is echoed by the courtiers around, while the them from their sanctuaries behind the mats and emperor sits all this time in sullen satisfaction, en. tapestry, and effectually free the court. Such an joying the triumph of his joke, or studying a new officer in England would, in my opinion, be ser- repartee. viceable at this juncture; for if, as I am told, the I would have such an officer placed at every palace be old, much vermin must undoubtedly have great man's table in England. By frequent prac. taken refuge behind the wairiscot and hangings. tice he might soon become a perfect master of the A minister should therefore be invested with the art, and in time would turn out pleasing to his title and dignities of court vermin-killer; he should patron, no way troublesome to himself, and might have full power either to banish, take, poison, or prevent the nauseous attempts of niany more igdestroy them, with enchantments, traps, ferrets, or norant pretenders. The clergy here, I am conratsbane. He might be permitted to brandish' his vinced, would relish this proposal. It would probesom without remorse, and brush down every vide places for several of them. And indeed, by part of the furniture, without sparing a single cob- some of their late productions, many appear to weh, however sacred by long prescription. I com- have qualified themselves as candidates for this municated this proposal some days ago in a com- office already, mny of the first distinction, and enjoying the most. But my last proposal I take to be of the utmost

inportance. Our neighbour the empress of Russia, finement in religion-making, that they have actually has, you may remember, instituted an order of fe- formed a new sect without a new opinion; they male knighthood : the empress of Germany has quarrel for opinions they both equally defend; they also instituted another : the Chinese have had such hate each other, and that is all the difference bean order time immemorial. I am amazed the En-tween them. glish have never come into such an institution. But though their principles are the same, their When I consider what kind of men are made practice is somewhat different. Those of the esknights here, it appears strange that they have tablished religion laugh when they are pleased, and never conferred this honour upon women. They their groans are seldom extorted but by pain or make cheesemongers and pastry cooks knights ; danger. The new sect on the contrary weep for then, why not their wives? They have called up their amusement, and use little music, except a tallow-chandlers to maintain the hardy profession chorus of sighs and groans, or tunes that are made of chivalry and arms: then, why not their wives ? to imitate groaning. Laughter is their aversion; Haberdashers are sworn, as I suppose all knights lovers court each other from the Lamentations; the must be sworn, never to fly in time of mellay or bridegroom approaches the nuptial couch in sorrowbattle, to maintain and uphold the noble estate of ful solemnity, and the bride looks more dismal than chivalry with horse, harnishe and other knightlye an undertaker's shop. Dancing round the room habiliments. Haberdashers, I say, are sworn to all is with them running in a direct line to the devil; this; then, why not their wives ? Certain I am, and as for gaming, though but in jest, they would their wives understand fighting and feats of mellay sooner play with a rattlesnake's tail than finger a and battle better than they; and as for knightlye dice-box. horse and harnishe, it is probable both know no- By this time you perceive, that I am describing a thing more than the harness of a one-horse chaise. sect of enthusiasts, and you have already compared No, no, my friend, instead of conferring any order them with the Faquirs, Brahmins, and Talapoins upon the husbands, I would knight their wives. of the East. Among these, you know, are genera. However, the state should not be troubled with a tions that have never been known to smile, and new institution upon this occasion. Some ancient voluntary affliction makes up all the merit they exploded order might be revived, which would fur- can boast of. Enthusiasms in every country pronish both a motto and a name,-the ladies might duce the same effects; stick the Faquir with pins, be permitted to choose for themselves. There are, or confine the Brahmin to a vermin hospital, for instance, the obsolete orders of the Dragon in spread the Talapoin on the ground, or load the Germany, of the Rue in Scotland, and the Porcu- sectary's brow with contrition : those worshippers pine in France; all well-sounding names, and very who discard the light of reason are ever gloomy; applicable to my intended female institution. Adieu. their fears increase in proportion to their igno

rance, as men are continually under apprehensions

who walk in darkness. LETTER CXI.

Yet there is still a stronger reason for the enthu. From the Same.

siast's being an enemy to laughter ; namely, his be

ing himself so proper an object of ridicule. It is reReligious sects in England are far more nu- markable, that the propagators of false doctrines merous than in China. Every man, who has in- have ever been averse to mirth, and always begin terest enough to hire a conventicle here, may set by recommending gravity, when they intended to up for himself, and sell off a new religion. The disseminate imposture. Fohi, the idol of China, is sellers of the newest pattern give extreme good represented as having never laughed; Zoroaster, bargains; and let their disciples have a great deal the leader of the Brahmins, is said to have laughed of confidence for very little money.

but twice-upon his coming into this world, and Their shops are much frequented, and their cus- upon his leaving it ; and Mahomet himself, though tomers every day increasing; for people are natu- a lover of pleasure, was a professed opposer of gaierally fond of going to Paradise at as small expense ty. Upon a certain occasion, telling his followers as possible.

that they would all appear naked at the resurrecYet, you must not conceive this modern sect as tion, his favourite wife represented such an assemdiffering in opinion from those of the established bly as immodest and unbecoming. “Foolish woreligion; difference of opinion indeed formerly di- man!" cried the grave prophet, "though the whole vided their sectaries, and sometimes drew their ar- assembly be naked, on that day they shall have formies to the field. White gowns and black man- gotten to laugh.” Men like him opposed ridicule, tles, flapped hats and cross pocket-holes, were once because they knew it to be a most formidable anthe obvious causes of quarrel; men then had some tagonist

, and preached up gravity, to conceal their reason for fighting; they knew what they fought own want of importance. about; but at present, they are arrived at such re- Ridicule has ever been the most powerful enemy of enthusiasm, and properly the only antagonist solved, and another appointed to be chosen. This that can be opposed to it with success. Persecu- solemnity falls infinitely short of our feast of the tion only serves to propagate new religions; they Lanterns, in magnificence and splendour; it is also acquire fresh vigour beneath the executioner and surpassed by others of the East in unanimity and the axe; and like some vivacious insects, multiply pure devotion; but no festival in the world can by dissection. It is also impossible to combat en compare with it for eating. Their eating, indeed, thusiasm by reason, for though it makes a show amazes me; had I five hundred heads, and were of resistance, it soon eludes the pressure, refers you each head furnished with brains, yet would they to distinctions not to be understood, and feelings all be insufficient to mmpute the number of cows, which it can not explain. A man who would en- pigs, geese, and turkeys, -which upon this occasion deavour to fix an enthusiast by argument, might die for the good of their country! as well attempt to spread quicksilver with his To say the truth, eating seems to make a grand fingers. The only way to conquer a visionary is ingredient in all English parties of zeal, business, to despise him; the stake, the fagot, and the dis- or amusement. When a church is to be built, or puting doctor, in some measure ennoble the opinions an hospital endowed, the directors assemble, and they are brought to oppose: they are harmless instead of consulting upon it, they eat upon it

, by against innovating pride ; contempt alone is truly which means the business goes forward with sucdreadful. Hunters generally know the most vul- cess. When the poor are to be relieved, the offnerable part of the beasts they pursue, by the care cers appointed to dole out public charity assemble which every animal takes to defend the side which and eat upon it. Nor has it ever been known that is weakest : on what side the enthusiast is most they filled the bellies of the poor till they had prevulnerable may be known by the care which he viously satisfied their own. But in the election of takes in the beginning to work his disciples into magistrates, the people seem to exceed all bounds; gravity, and guard them against the power of ridi-the merits of a candidate are often measured by the cule,

number of his treats; his constitutents assemble, When Philip the Second was king of Spain, eat upon him, and lend their applause, not to his inthere was a contest in Salamanca between two or- tegrity or sense, but to the quantities of his beef ders of friars for superiority. The legend of one and brandy. side contained more extraordinary miracles, but the And yet I could forgive this people their plenti legend of the other was reckoned most authentic. ful meals on this occasion, as it is extremely natural They reviled each other, as is usual in disputes of for every man to eat a great deal when he gets it divinity, the people were divided into factions, and for nothing; but what amazes me is, that all this a civil war appeared unavoidable. In order to pre-good living no way contributes to improve their vent such an imminent calamity, the combatants good-humour. On the contrary, they seem to lose were prevailed upon to submit their legends to the their temper as they lose their appetites; every fiery trial, and that which came forth untouched by morsel they swallow, and every glass they pour the fire was to have the victory, and to be honour- down, serves to increase their animosity. Many ed with a double share of reverence. Whenever an honest man, before as harmless as a tame rabthe people flock to see a miracle, it is a hundred to bit, when loaded with a single election dinner, has one but that they see a miracle; incredible, there become more dangerous than a charged culverin. fore, were the numbers that were gathered round Upon one of these occasions, I have actually seen upon this occasion. The friars on each side ap- a bloody-minded man-milliner sally forth at the proached, and confidently threw their respective head of a mob, determined to face a desperate paslegends into the flames, when lo! to the utter dis- try-cook, who was general of the opposite party. appointment of all the assembly, instead of a But you must not suppose they are without a miracle, both legends were consumed. Nothing pretext for thus beating each other. On the conbut thus turning both parties into contempt could trary, no man here is so uncivilized as to beat his have prevented the effusion of blood. The people neighbour without producing very sufficient reanow laughed at their former folly, and wondered sons. One candidate, for instance, treats with why they fell out. Adieu

gin, a spirit of their own manufacture ; another al

ways drinks brandy, imported from abroad. Brandy is a wholesome liquor; gin a liquor wholly their

This then furnishes an obvious cause of LETTER CXII.

quarrel, whether it be most reasonable to get drunk From the Same.

with gin, or get drunk with brandy? The mob

meet upon the debate ; fight themselves sober ; and The English are at present employed in cele- then draw off to get drunk again, and charge for brating a feast which becomes general every seventh another encounter. So that the English may now year; the parliament of the nation being then dis-properly be said to be engaged in war; since, while

own.

« PreviousContinue »