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necessary to the preservation of our constitution
us. They differ from us in nothing but their dress, which is more ornamental than ours, and the only prerogative which we reserve to ourselves over them is, that they wait upon us when we indulge in repose, and their principal business is to give us satisfaction.
"All our amusements are natural and artless; and all our accommodations bear the marks of simplicity and moderation. We enjoy the blessing of perpetual peace, and a liberty which perhaps is an advantage for us alone, as we know not its abuse. We enjoy the pleasure which nature has connected with the satisfying of the wants of life, with love, with rest after toil, and with all the social instincts, probably in a higher degree than other mortals; we rejoice longer and more completely in existence; we know but few of the infinite multitude of their plagues and vexations, and even those hardly more than by name. Accordingly, we willingly resign to them their real or imaginary prerogatives, their pomp, their debauchery, their insipid pastimes, their industry in being troublesome to each other, their discontents, their vices, and their diseases. Why should we envy them the arts, by the boundless refinement whereof they render their feelings so delicate that they no longer feel; or the sciences, without which we are comfortable enough for raising the secret envy of the most learned of them all, if he were to know us? We are so far from entertaining such an envy, that every attempt that any of us should make to improve our constitution, or to enrich ourselves with new arts and new wants, would be punished with perpetual banishment. I myself, added the old man, have passed several years of my life in travelling over a great part of the earth; I have seen, observed, and compared; when I was weary of it, with what transports did I thank heaven that I knew of a little corner of the world where it was possible to be happy without molestation! With what ardour did I fly back to the abodes of innocence, and peace! It is true, our nation is, in comparison of all others, a tribe of decided voluptuaries; but so much the better for us. Are we to blame for not resisting all the powers of nature in her intentions to make us happy?
"Here the old man ended his discourse. Tha sun being now very high, he conducted his guest into a covered saloon, shaded by the thick interwoven branches of lofty chesnut trees. Scarcely had they seated themselves here on a sofa which went round the walls, than the old man was surrounded by a numerous offspring of children, who, like clustering bees, swarmed about him, to welcome his return, and to share in his caresses; the youngest of them were brought by amiable mothers, among whom there
the mask, could comprehend how he was able to paint so well. He might have been useful if he had stuck to this; but from disgust and despair he was unable to confine himself within the bounds of discretion. He stood forth as the de
was not one who, in her simple and charming negligence of ornament, with the wide sleeves thrown back from her snow-white arms, and her playful boy leaning on her slightly covered bosom, did not present a beautiful picture of the goddess of love. The emir, at this moving|clared enemy of all the joys and satisfactions of spectacle, forgot a number of questions which had occurred to him during the narrative of his host, who had resigned himself entirely to the pleasure of amusing himself with the children of his children. The contrast of advanced age with infancy, mitigated by the rejuvenescence of the one, and the caressing tenderness of the other, and by a great number of smaller shadings, which are better felt than described; the healthy and cheerful looks of this old man, the brightening of his venerable brow, the silent raptures which sparkled through all his features at the sight of so many happy beings in whom he beheld himself multiplied; the affectionate complacency with which he bore their restless vivacity, or with which he let the least of them, in the arms of their lovely mothers, play with his hoary beard; all together formed an animated picture, the sight whereof was a better proof of the goodness of the morality of the wise Psammis, than the most ingenious arguments could have done. The emir himself, much as the impetuous sway of gross sensuality had suppressed the nobler sentiments of nature, felt at this scene his hardened heart grow tender, and a transient gleam of pleasure sparkled in his visage; a pleasure like the flashes of celestial fires, which, suddenly striking on the dark abyss, give the condemned spirits a transient view into the everlasting abodes of love and bliss, to make the torment of their despair complete."
"The original from whence I have taken this narrative, continued Danishmende, here breaks off abruptly, without giving any farther account of the emir's sojourn amongst these happy people. Some scholiasts say, that, in a burst of rage at the distressing comparison of their condition with his own, he threw himself headlong from the summit of a rock; but another, whose authority has incomparably more weight, affirms, that immediately on his departure from the children of nature, he entered into the order of dervises, and,|| in the sequel, under the name of Sheik Kuban, acquired the reputation of being one of the greatest moralists in Yemen. He distinguished himself, it is said, chiefly by the lively pictures he used to make of the deplorable consequences of an unbridled sensuality; the force and truth of his delineations were greatly admired, and none, or but very few, who had the talent of guessing what sort of a visage was hid behind
life; without distinguishing the natural and prudent use, from the self-punishing abuse of them, he described voluptuousness and joy as fatal syrens, decoying the poor traveller by the sweetness of their voice, in order to suck the marrow from his bones, to gnaw the flesh from his carcass, and when they can get nothing more from him, to throw away the remains for worms' meat. He described the love of pleasure as an insatiable passion; to hope to set bounds to it, said he, would be just as wise as for a man to nurse a hyæna in his bosom, in hopes to make him tame and good natured. Under this pretext he enjoined the necessity of eradicating the sensual appetites. Even the pleasures of the imagination he pronounced to be dangerous snares, and the refined gratification of the heart and mind, an artfully prepared poison, the compounder whereof deserved to be punished in everlasting flames. This senselsss morality, the fruit of his corrupted juices, of his exsiccated brain, and the perpetual remorse which possessed his gloomy soul, he preached so long, took so much pains, by numberless sophistical arguments to make evident to himself, that at last he succeeded in bringing himself to think that he was fully convinced of it. He now imagined it to be pure charity, which prompted him to endeavour to render all men as unhappy as himself; and when his disease had attained to its highest pitch, he finished by arraigning the supreme Being of the derangement of his imagination and reason, and depicting the creator of good, whose immensely extended energy is life and bliss, as a cruel dæmon, who was offended at the joy of his creatures, and whose wrath could only be appeased by a total abstinence from pleasure, by sighs and tears, and voluntary mortifications.
"Many other memorable things are relatedconcerning the consequences of this misanthropical morality, and of the artful use which the dervises, fakirs, talapoins, bonzes and lamas, in all parts of Asia and India made of it; but I should, after all, only relate things which have been long known to the Sultan, my lord, and to the whole world (though the world is apparently not a whit the better for it), and there is a time to begin, and a time to leave off, says the wise Zoroaster."
[To be continued.]
GENIUS AND LITERARY CHARACTER OF VOLTAIRE.
THE following singular conversation took place some years since, at M. Duclos's, on the genius and writings of Voltaire.
Several learned men having met at the house of the late M. Duclos, Secretary to the Academie Françoise, the universal genius of Voltaire was praised. A celebrated German jurist entered at the moment when several were exclaiming aloud on the unbounded extent of Voltaire's genius. The German joined his voice to their's; a small scruple, however, arose in his mind.-"Yes," said he, "Voltaire was a man universally learned: poetry, moral and natural history, mathematics, medicine, and criticism, every thing fell within his grasp. It is a pity he should have been so deficient in the code of jurisprudence. Whenever he begins to speak of legislature,
little of this, and you must own that I am a pretty competent judge, having made it my particular study. With this exception, our author certainly is a prodigy. Never did any man succeed in so many different styles; and he is with the greatest truth acknowledged an universal genius."
An English historian who had not yet spoken, and who had been deeply reflecting, replied, "I agree with you, that Voltaire is a man who never had his fellow. Our country has not yet produced so great, so universal a genius. Pope cannot be compared to him. He unites the merit of Otway, Swift, Addison, and Bolingbroke. But why would he write history! his style is indeed charming, but I am forced to say that he has not adopted the right manner. Epigrams, reflections, and alterations of facts.-Oh! we write
never sacrifice truth to beauty. Voltaire was wrong in cultivating that kind of literature; but in other respects he is truly superior, indeed, al most divine. You will never have a wiser philosopher, a more acute critic, or agreeable rea soner. He is, indeed, truly charming!—In a word, he is n universal genius."
politics, or justice, I do not know how it hap-history quite differently from him. Our authors pens, but his pen is bewildered, and his genius seems suddenly to abandon him. I will not believe that it is on this account he has so often spoken ill of our Grotius, Puffendorff, and your Montesquieu, who were a little better skilled in || these matters than himself. But this observation is a mere trifle, and Voltaire is an universal genius."
"I am enchanted," exclaimed M. Borden, a physician, renowned for his profound knowledge and talents, "I am truly enchanted to hear an Englishman render justice to Voltaire, in a manner so honourable for our nation; but, Sir, will you permit me to observe to you, that our author is not so unequal and frivolous in history as you seem to believe. I have verified the greatest part of the facts he relates without proof or quoting the sources from which they are derived, and I assure you I have succeeded in discovering the truth of them; that is to say, I have found authorities
"Yes," cried a celebrated mathematician, "nothing escaped him, and posterity will not be able to credit that so many productions can have flowed from one pen. Our descendants will imagine that there have been several men of that name, and, thanks to him, the intellectual world, like the fabulous one, will have its mental Hercules. What a pity it is that he ever wished to meddle with mathematics! for, between ourselves, I entreat you will not repeat it, he is but a schoolboy in geometry, witness his "Elements of Philosophy according to Newton." Notwith-capable of supporting them, which prove at least standing this, every one must allow that Voltaire never was equalled; no, a more extensive or universal genius never existed."
that Voltaire has not invented them. It is my opinion that if he be weak in any thing it is not in history, but in medicine, the formation of man, and the animal constitution of our species; for he is almost always wrong when he wishes to reason on this subject. But is he obliged to know as much as those who are physiologists by profession? Such a reproach would be invidious, as he excels in so many other sciences, I conclude that my observation will not detract from Voltaire's being considered an universal
M. de Miran, one of the company, then said, "Voltaire's enemies may do what they will, they can never succeed in wresting from him the palm of universal merit. What a man! how delightful is his pleasantry! I am indebted to his writings for the happiest moments of my life; they amuse, they enchant me, whenever I read them. He treats every subject with equal wit and grace. The collection of his works is a real Encyclo-genius." pædia. What a pity it is that he should not be as succesful in natural history as he is in light subjects! for it must be allowed that he knew
"What, gentlemen, while each of you are celebrating the muses' favoured child, shall I observe a guilty silence," cried an Abbé, who was
a theologist, and aspired to become a member of || Solomon, the prophets, the laws and the morals the French Academy!" I ought, and will also
give him my tribute of admiration. It is my opinion that Voltaire unites in himself the talents which have immortalized Aristotle, Plutarch, Cicero, Tacitus, Sophocles, Anacreon, Lucretius, Virgil, Horace, and the two Plinys. Thanks to his works, our language will become classical, like that of the Greeks and Romans. He has one ment which distinguishes him from the philosophers that have preceded him, which is to have had the skill and courage to take the veil from the eyes of prejudiced bigots Lucian on this subject is but a school-boy when compared with him. No one has ever handled the weapon of ridicule with more address than he; and you will allow this to be the most efficacious Temedy against errors. Happy would it have been if he had remained silent on the subject of religion! When he wished to practice reasoning, he has unfortunately fallen into mistakes which have not been overlooked by our learned theologists; they have even made him many bitter reproaches, and after having made a particular study of the ancient tongues, I am compelled to agree with them that Voltaire has not the smallest knowledge of Hebrew, that he does not understand Greek, and that he has not derived his critical observations on Abraham, David, Moses,
of the Hebrews, from their original source: I even doubt whether he had read the works of the fathers of the church whom he so often quotes. But how was it possible that so sublime a genios could descend to these dry and barren studies! His enemies will say that he should not reason on what he did not perfectly understand, or that he ought, however, to have better chosen his extracts; but I would answer them, that Jupiter had his weak moments, and that transforming himself into a bull, did not make him cease being master of the gods. Voltaire, though sometimes he forgot himself, did not cease to be Voltaire; that is to say, the model o wits, learned men, philosophers, poets, historians, and, in short, of all kinds of literature"
A comic poet, a lyric poe, and an erudite, who were also present, were going to speak in their turn, when some of the listeners looked at each other, and burst into a loud laugh. It was time, or else the universal genius would soon have dwindled into nothing.
M. Duclos, who out of politeness had allowed them to speak, broke up the meeting, saying, he hoped the company would never repeat the conversation they had just heard, or that he had joined in the laugh.
HUMOURS OF ELECTIONS.
A HINT FOR THE PRESENT DAY.
"HEY DAY! What is the matter? Behold all the marks of invasion, or a civil war Windows broken, doors demolished, sign-posts pulled down! Here stands a man with a broken arm, and yonder go two or three more with bruised faces and black eyes! Prithee, what have you been about?"
"Lectioneering, Sir," answers an elderly man, to whom I addressed my inquiry.
" 'Lectioneering-what do you mean by that, good man
"Why, its going about to be made a Parlament man on; and he that gets the most votes carries the day"
"But I do not see the connexion, my honest friend, between choosing Mr. A. or Mr. B. for your representative, and demolishing your town, or knocking one another on the head."
"Don't you? Why then I can tell you, Meister," says the old gentleman, with a smile of contempt aimed at my ignorance, "these great fokes makes us little fokes drunk, and
when we are drunk we fight, and when we fight we do mischief, that's all."
"The greater fools you to make yourselves such beasts."
"" Nay, as to the matter of that, I think you great fokes, ought to know better han to set us together by the ears, to serve their own turns."
"And I think you ought to know better than to be set together ay the cars by them."
"Lord, Sir, if you could get your belly full of vittels and drink for nothing, and money given you into the bargin, you would now, I'll wornt you. There is the White Lion, and Greyhound, and Blackamore's Head, has been open for these three weeks successfully Ale was given away by pails full. You might go in and eat and drink till you burst again, at any time, and nobody would take no notice like."
"So then you are foud of the diversion, I find."
"Alack-a-day, Sir! I have lived in the town, and paid scot and lot thirty-one years and three
quarters, come Christmas next: I've polled for eleven Parlament men, and have had my swill of ale and a broken pate every time, thank God."
"So I see these worthy gentlefolks first make beasts of you, and then claim the honour of being your representatives; that's curious enough. But pray tell me what these Parliament men are good for when you have them."
"Good for, Sir! bless your heart, good for! Why if it was not for them we should all be over-run with Papishes and Prespiterians, God knows."
"And what harm would they do you?"
"Lud, Sir, how you talk! why they would knock us on the head, if we did not wear wooden shoes, and go to the Pantile house!"
"So you knock one another on the head to prevent these calamities!"
"" Aye to be sure. Thof I an't now the man I was, I'll fight for Old England as long as there's a drop of blood left in this old carcase of mine; and I'll stand up for the Church too, agen all the Prespiterians sons of bs in the nation, as long as my name's John Plodder, || that I wul; I'll be d-d if I don't!"
With this pious exclamation honest John broke from us rather abruptly, and joining some of his associates at a little distance, raised a laugh upon us as we passed them.
Although the description of this ludicrous scene may afford a momentary amusement, yet no man who wishes good to individuals, or is a true lover of his country, can seriously reflect upon scenes of a similar nature, so frequently repeated, without the utmost abhorrence. The people, when they are thus assembled for electing a representative, may justly be deemed not only one part of the Legislature, but the most important part. From them, governors derive their power; and, for their benefit alone, all good governments are instituted. And when their superiors in fortune, or in education and understanding, take advantage of the indigence and dependent state of the lower class of people, or of the ignorance of uncultivated minds, and thus seduce or impel them to prostitute the right which nature and our excellent constitution have put into their hands, they are guilty of an attempt as base in its motives, as it is ruinous in its consequences.
The election of representatives in parliament, is the most important act in which the commu. nity at large can possibly be engaged. Nay, it is the only public act in which they have authoritative concern; and the issues of it remain irremediable for a space of time, long enough, at some critical periods, to ruin a whole kingdom. Surely then constituents ought to be well instructed in the nature of this their power,
and taught how to direct it to the general good! And yet, where shall we find this disposition in those who are able to instruct them? On the contrary, is there not, almost universally, a disposition to deceive and abuse? Are there any instances in civil society, of immorality, chicanery, and absolute villainy, equal to those manifested in the conduct of our elections? I must confess my astonishment at finding such a contrast in the human breast, as these periods discover. Those, who perhaps are of decent and honourable deportment in all the concerns of private life, seem at such seasons to glory in acting the parts of deceitful knaves; and without pretending to a dispensation from any Pope, mutually consent to be guilty of as much accumu lated wickedness at these carnivals, as the most indulgent Pope ever had the insolence to pardon.
But, do virtue, honour, integrity, change their lovely natures when the cause becomes national? or, can those vices which are execrated in the individual, become the ornament of a par. tisan? Can those dishonourable acts, which would disgrace the perpetrator in his own ciscumscribed sphere, where their influence is merely local, become less culpable in proportion as their malignant effects are extensively diffused? Or, is virtue such an irksome restraint upon men, that they shall be glad of an opportunity to give their conscience a respite, a schoolboy's holiday, and seize the occasion, when a regard to character is suspended, of giving a loose to the natural propensity of their minds?
Whatever be the cause, it is enough to amaze those who retain any portion of their native simplicity, and strike horror into the minds of such who still feel the workings of common humanity, to consider what desperate means are employed to answer the most trivial purposes! To reflect how many an honest, sober, diligent mechanic, has degenerated into an indolent vagabond, or been corrupted into a perjured villain, in consequence of the reigning dissoluteness of these seasons! How many worthy and industrious families have been threatened with immediate ruin, or actually turned adrift from their habitations, simply as sacrifices to the puerile ambition of an insignificant individual, who, it is highly probable, is not of half the consequence to the public weal, as the farmer, the weaver, shoemaker or tailor, whom he seduces, depraves, or overwhelms with misery!
And for what is all this violent commotion? Wherefore this temporary civil war? Why must contention, hatred, and irreconcilable animosities be let loose upon a borough or a county? Is it not to determine some absurd point of honour between the leaders of contending parties?