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creation; or why were we created to be thus un-| France, the individuals of each country plunder happy! If we are to experience no other felicity each other at sea without redress, and consequentbut what this life affords, then are we miserable in-ly feel that animosity against each other which deed; if we are born only to look about us, repine passengers do at a robber. They have for some and die, then has Heaven been guilty of injustice. time carried on an expensive war; and several capIf this life terminates my existence, I despise the tives have been taken on both sides : those made blessings of Providence, and the wisdom of the prisoners by the French have been used with cruelgiver: if this life be my all, let the following epitaph ty, and guarded with unnecessary caution; those be written on the tomb of Altangi: By my father's taken by the English, being much more numerous, crimes I received this; by my own crimes I bequeath were confined in the ordinary manner; and not il to posterity.
being released by their countrymen, began to feel all those inconveniences which arise from want of covering and long confinement.
Their countrymen were informed of their deLETTER XXIII.
plorable situation ; but they, more intent on annoy
ing their enemies than relieving their friends, reTo the Same.
fused the least assistance. The English now saw Yet, while I sometimes lament the case of hu- thousands of their fellow-creatures starving in manity, and the depravity of human nature, there every prison, forsaken by those whose duty it was Low and then appear gleams of greatness that serve to protect them, labouring with disease, and with. to relieve the eye oppressed with the hideous pros-out clothes to keep off the severity of the season. pects, and resemble those cultivated spots that are National benevolence prevailed over national anisometimes found in the midst of an Asiatic wilder- mosity; their prisoners were indeed enemies, but ness. I see many superior excellencies among the they were enemies in distress; they ceased to be English, which it is not in the power of all their hateful, when they no longer continued to be formifollies to hide : I see virtues, which in other coun-dable : forgetting, therefore, their national hatred, tries are known only to a few, practised here by the men who were brave enough to conquer, were every rank of people.
generous enough to forgive; and they whom all I know not whether it proceeds from their su- the world seemed to have disclaimed, at last found perior opulence that the English are more chari- pity and redress from those they attempted to subtable than the rest of mankind; whether by being due. A subscription was opened, ample charities possessed of all the conveniences of life themselves, collected, proper necessaries procured, and the poor they have more leisure to perceive the uneasy situ- gay sons of a merry nation were once more taught ation of the distressed; whatever be the motive, to resume their former gaiety. they are not only the most charitable of any other When I cast my eye over the list of those who nation, but most judicious in distinguishing the contributed on this occasion, I find the names alproperest objects of compassion.
most entirely English; scarcely one foreigner apIn other countries, the giver is generally influ-pears among the number. It was for Englishmen enced by the immediate impulse of pity; his gener-alone to be capable of such exalted virtue. I own, osity is exerted as much to relieve his own uneasy I can not look over this catalogue of good men and sensations as to comfort the object in distress. In philosophers, without thinking better of myself, beEngland, benefactions are of a more general na- cause it makes me entertain a more favourable ture. Some men of fortune and universal benevo- opinion of mankind. I am particularly struck lence propose the proper objects; the wants and with one who writes these words upon the paper the merits of the petitioners are canvassed by the that enclosed his benefaction: The mile of an people; neither passion nor pity find a place in the Englishman, a citizen of the world, to Frenchcool discussion ; and charity is then only exerted men, prisoners of war, and naked. I only wish when it has received the approbation of reason. that he may find as much pleasure from his virtues
A late instance of this finely directed benevo- as I have done in reflecting upon them; that alone lence forces itself so strongly on my imagination, will amply reward him. Such a ono, my friend, that it in a manner reconciles me to pleasure, and is an honour to human nature; he makes no prionce more makes me the universal friend of man. vate distinctions of party; all that are stamped
The English and French have not only politi- with the divine image of their Creator are friends cal reasons to induce them to mutual hatred, but to him; he is a native of the world; and the emoften the more prevailing motive of private interest peror of China may be proud that he has such a to widen the breach. A war between other coun- countryman. tries is carried on collectively; army fights against To rejoice at the destruction of our enemies, is army, and a man's own private resentment is lost a foible grafted upon human nature, and we must in that of the community: but in England and be permitted to indulge it; the true way of atoning
for such an ill-founded pleasure, is thus to turn time, knowledge of a bedfellow, or hinderance of
their benevolence amazes me. They not only in Hamti, the best and wisest emperor that ever general give their medicine for half value, but ose filled the throne, after having gained three signal the most persuasive remonstrances to induce the victories over the Tartars, who had invaded his sick to come and be cured. Sure, there must be dominions, returned to Nankin in order to enjoy something strangely obstinate in an English pathe glory of his conquest. After he had rested for tient, who refuses so much health upon such easy some days, the people, who are naturally fond of terms: does he take a pride in being bloated with processions, impatiently expected the triumphant a dropsy ? does he find pleasure in the alternations entry, which emperors upon such occasions were of an intermittent fever? or feel as much satisfacaccustomed to make: their murmurs came to the tion in nursing up his gout as he found pleasure emperor's ear; he loved his people, and was will- in acquiring it? He must, otherwise he would ing to do all in his power to satisfy their just de- never reject such repeated assurances of instant sires. He therefore assured them, that he intend- relief. What can be more convincing than the ed, upon the next feast of the Lanterns, to exhibit manner in which the sick are invited to be well? one of the most glorious triumphs that had ever The doctor first begs the most earnest attention of been seen in China.
the public to what he is going to propose; he soThe people were in raptures at his condescen- lemnly affirms the pill was never found to want sion; and, on the appointed day, assembled at the success; he produces a list of those who have been gates of the palace with the most eager expecta- rescued from the grave by taking it : yet, notwithtions. Here they waited for some time, withoutstanding all this, there are many here wbo now sceing any of those preparations which usually and then think proper to be sick. Only sick, die precede a pageant. The lantern, with ten thou- I say? there are some who even think proper to sand tapers, was not yet brought forth; the fire- die! Yes, by the head of Confucius! they die; works, which usually covered the city walls, were though they might have purchased the health not yet lighted; the people once more began to restoring specific for half-a-crown at every corner. murmur at this delay, when, in the midst of their I am amazed, my dear Fum Hoam, that these impatience, the palace-gates flew open, and the doctors, who know what an obstinate set of people emperor himself appeared, not in splendour or they have to deal with, have never thought of at. magnificence, but in an ordinary habit, followed by tempting to revive the dead. When the living the blind, the maimed, and the strangers of the are found to reject their prescriptions, they ought city, all in new clothes, and each carrying in his in conscience to apply to the dead, from whom hand money enough to supply his necessities for they can expect no such mortifying repulses; they the year. The people were at first amazed, but would find in the dead the most complying patients soon perceived the wisdom of their king, who imaginable ; and what gratitude might they not taught them, that to make one happy man was expect from the patient's son, now no longer an more truly great than having ten thousand captives heir, and his wife, now no longer a widow ! groaning at the wheels of his chariot. Adieu. Think not, my friend, that there is any thing
chimerical in such an attempt; they already per-
truly astonishing, than to see old age restored to
youth, and vigour to the most feeble constitutions ?
Yet this is performed here every day: a simple
electuary effects these wonders, even without the
, understand hesitation ; but doubting is entirely unknown in their profession as well at three years old as at medicine ; the advertising professors here delight 'threescore. Others have spent a great part of in cases of difficulty: be the disorder never so their lives unconscious of any latent excellence, desperate or radical
, you will find numbers in till a bankruptcy, or a residence in gaol, havo every street, who, by levelling a pill at the part called their miraculous powers into exertion. And affected, promise a certain cure, without loss of others still there are indebted to their superlativo
From the Same.
ignorance alone for success; the more ignorant the tants of the country, from primitive simplicity, soon practitioner, the less capable is he thought of de began to aim at elegance, and from elegance proceiving. The people here judge as they do in the ceeded to refinement. It was now found absoEast; where it is thought absolutely requisite that lutely requisite, for the good of the state, that the a man should be an idiot, before he pretend to be people should be divided. Formerly, the same hand either a conjuror or a doctor.
that was employed in tilling the ground, or in dressWhen a physician by inspiration is sent for, he ing up the manufactures, was also, in time of need, never p-:rplexes the patient by previous examina- a soldier ; but the custom was now changed; for it tion; he asks very few questions, and those only was perceived, that a man bred up from childhood for form sake. He knows every disorder by into the arts of either peace or war, became more tuition ; he administers the pill or drop for every eminent by this means in his respective profession. distemper ; nor is more inquisitive than the farrier The inhabitants were, therefore, now distinguished while he drenches a horse. If the patient lives, into artisans and soldiers; and while those inthen has he one more to add to the surviving list; proved the luxuries of life these watched for the if he dies, then it may be justly said of the patient's security of the people. disorder, that as it was not cured, the disorder was A country possessed of freedom has always two incurable.
sorts of enemies to fear; foreign foes, who attack its existence from without, and internal miscreants, who betray its liberties within. The inhabitants
of Lao were to guard against both. A country of LETTER XXV.
artisans were most likely to preserve internal liberty; and a nation of soldiers were fittest to repel a
foreign invasion. Hence naturally rose a division I was some days ago in company with a politi- of opinion between the artisans and soldiers of the cian, who very pathetically declaimed upon the kingdom. The artisans, ever complaining that miserable situation of his country: he assured me, freedom was threatened by an armed internal force, that the whole political machine was moving in a were for disbanding the soldiers, and insisted that wrong track, and that scarcely even abilities like their walls, their walls alone, were sufficient to rehis own could ever set it right again. “What have pel the most formidable invasion : the warriors, on we," said he, "to do with the wars on the conti- the contrary, represented the power of the neighnent? we are a commercial nation; we have only bouring kings, the combinations formed against to cultivate commerce, like our neighbours the their state, and the weakness of the wall, which Dutch; it is our business to increase trade by set- every earthquake might overturn. While this altling new colonies; riches are the strength of a na- tercation continued, the kingdom might be justly tion; and for the rest, our ships, our ships alone, said to enjoy its greatest share of vigour: every orwill protect us." I found it vain to oppose my der in the state, by being watchful over each other, feeble arguments to those of a man who thought contributed to diffuse happiness equally, and bahimself wise enough to direct even the ministry. lanced the state. The arts of peace flourished, nor I fancied, however, that I saw with more certainty, were those of war neglected : the neighbouring because I reasoned without prejudice : I therefore powers, who had nothing to apprehend from the begged leave, instead of argument, to relate a short ambition of men whom they only saw solicitous, history. He gave me a smile at once of conde- not for riches but freedom, were contented to traffic scension and contempt; and I proceeded as follows, with them : they sent their goods to be manufacto describe The RISE AND DECLENSION of the tured in Lao, and paid a large price for them upon KINGDOM OF LAO.
their return. Northward of China, and in one of the doublings By these means, this people at length became of the great wall, the fruitful province of Lao en- moderately rich, and their opulence naturally in joyed its liberty, and a peculiar government of its vited the invader: a Tartar prince led an immense own. As the inhabitants were on all sides sur-army against them, and they as bravely stood up rounded by the wall, they feared no sudden inva- in their own defence; they were still inspired with sion from the Tartars; and being each possessed a love of their country; they fought the barbarous of property, they were zealous in its defence. enemy with fortitude, and gained a complete vic.
The natural consequence of security and af-story. fluence in any country is a love of pleasure ; when From this moment, which they regarded as the the wants of nature are supplied, we seek after the completion of their glory, historians date their down. conveniences; when possessed of these, we desire fal. They had risen in strength by a love of their the luxuries of life; and when every luxury is pro- country, and fell by indulging ambition. The vided, it is then ambition takes up the man, and country, possessed by the invading Tartars, seemed leaves him still something to wish for: the inhabi-l to them a prize that would not only reuder thep more formidable for the future, but which would impotent, as those individuals who are reduced from increase their opulence for the present; it was riches to poverty are of all men the most unforunanimously resolved, therefore, both by soldiers tunate and helpless. They had imagined, because and artisans, that those desolate regions should be their colonies tended to make them rich upon the peopled by colonies from Lao. When a trading first acquisition, they would still continue to do so; nation begins to act the conqueror, it is then per- they now found, however, that on themselves alone fectly undone : it subsists in some measure by the they should have depended for support; that colo support of its neighbours : while they continue to nies ever afforded but temporary affluence; and regard it without envy or apprehension, trade may when cultivated and polite, are no longer useful. flourish ; but when once it presumes to assert as its From such a concurrence of circumstances they right what is only enjoyed as a favour, each coun- soon became contemptible. The Emperor Honti try reclaims that part of commerce which it has invaded them with a powerful army. Historians power to take back, and turns it into some other do not say whether their colonies were too remote channel more honourable, though perhaps less con- to lend assistance, or else were desirous of shaking venient.
off their dependence; but certain it is, they scarcely Every neighbour now began to regard with jeal- made any resistance: their walls were now found ous eyes this ambitious commonwealth, and forbade but a weak defence, and they at length were their subjects any future intercourse with them. obliged to acknowledge subjection to the empire of The inhabitants of Lao, however, still pursued the China. same ambitious maxims: it was from their colonies Happy, very happy might they have been, had alone they expected riches; and riches, said they, they known when to bound their riches and their are strength, and strength is security. Numberless glory: had they known that extending empire is were the migrations of the desperate and enter- often diminishing power; that countries are ever prising of this country, to people the desolate do- strongest which are internally powerful: that colo minions lately possessed by the Tartar. Between nies, by draining away the brave and enterprising, these colonies and the mother country, a very ad- leave the country in the hands of the timid and vantageous traffic was at first carried on: the re- avaricious ; that walls give little protection, unless public sent their colonies large quantities of the manned with resolution ; that too much commerce manufactures of the country, and they in return may injure a nation as well as too little ; and that provided the republic with an equivalent in ivory there is a wide difference between a conquering and ginseng. By this means the inhabitants be- and a flourishing empire. Adieu. came immensely rich, and this produced an equal degree of voluptuousness ; for men who have much money will always find some fantastical modes of enjoyment. How shall I mark the steps by which
LETTER XXVI. they declined ? Every colony in process of time spreads over the whole country where it first was planted. As it grows more populous, it becomes Though fond of many acquaintances, I desire more polite ; and those manufactures for which it an intimacy only with a few. The man in black was in the beginning obliged to others, it learns to whom I have often mentioned, is one whose friend. dress up itself: such was the case with the colonies ship I could wish to acquire, because he possesses of Lao; they, in less than a century, became a my esteem. His manners, it is true, are tinctured powerful and a polite people, and the mote polite with some strange inconsistencies; and he may be they grew the less advantageous was the commerce justly termed a humorist in a nation of humorists. which still subsisted between them and others. By Though he is generous even to profusion, he afthis means the mother country being abridged in fects to be thought a prodigy of parsimony and its commerce, grew poorer but not less luxurious. prudence; though his conversation be replete with Their former wealth had introduced luxury; and the most sordid and selfish maxims, his heart is diwherever luxury once fixes, no art can either lessen |lated with the most unbounded love. I have known or remove it. Their commerce with their neigh-him profess himself a man-hater, while his cheek bours was totally destroyed, and that with their was glowing with compassion; and, while his looks colonies was every day naturally and necessarily were softened into pity, I have heard him use the declining; they still, however, preserved the inso- language of the most unbounded ill-nature. Some lence of wealth, without a power to support it, and affect humanity and tenderness, others boast of hav. persevered in being luxurious, while contemptible ing such dispositions from nature; but he is the from poverty. In short, the state resembled one only man I ever knew who seemed ashamed of his of those bodies bloated with disease, whose bulk is natural benevolence. He takes as much pains to only a symptom of its wretchedness.
hide his feelings, as any hypocrite would to conceal 'Their former opulence only rendered them more his indifference; but on every unguarded moment
To the Same.
the mask drops off, and reveals him to the most su- upon the poor petitioner, bid me stop, and he would perficial observer.
show me with how much ease he could at any time In one of our late excursions into the country, detect an impostor. happeuing to discourse upon the provision that was He now therefore assumed a look of importance, made for the poor in England, he seemed amazed and in an angry tone began to examine the sailor, how any of his countrymen could be so foolishly demanding in what engagement he was thus disaweak as to relieve vccasional objects of charity, bled and rendered unfit for service. The sailor when the laws had made such ample provision for replied in a tone as angrily as he, that he had been their support. In every parish-house, says he, the an officer on board a private ship of war, and that poor are supplied with food, clothes, fire, and a bed he had lost his leg abroad, in defence of those who to lie on; they want no more, I desire no more did nothing at home. At this repły, all my friend's myself; yet still they seem discontented. I am importance vanished in a moment; he had not a surprised at the inactivity of our magistrates, in not single question more to ask; he now only studied taking up such vagrants, who are only a weight what method he should take to relieve bim unobupon the industrious : I am surprised that the peo- served. He had, however, no easy part to act, as ple are found to relieve them, when they must be he was obliged to preserve the appearance of illat the same time sensible that it, in some measure, nature before me, and yet relieve himself by reencourages idleness, extravagance, and imposture. lieving the sailor. Casting, therefore, a furious Were I to advise any man for whom I had the least look upon some bundles of chips which the fellow regard, I would caution him by all means not to be carried in a string at his back, my friend demanded imposed upon by their false pretences : let me as- how he sold his matches; but not waiting for a sure you, sir, they are impostors, every one of them, reply, desired in a surly tone to have a shilling's and rather merit a prison than relief.
worth. The sailor seemed at first surprised at his He was proceeding in this strain earnestly, to demand, but soon recollected himself, and presentdissuade me from an imprudence of which I am ing his whole bundle, “ Here, master,” says be, seldom guilty, when an old man, who still had "take all my cargo, and a blessing into the bar. about him the remnants of tattered finery, implored gain.” our compassion. He assured us that he was no It is impossible to describe with what an air of common beggar, but forced into the shameful pro- triumph my friend marched off with his new purfession, to support a dying wife, ar.d five hungry chase: he assured me, that he was firmly of opichildren. Being prepossessed against such false- nion that those fellows must have stolen their goods, hoods; his story had not the least influence upon who could thus afford to sell them for half value. me; but it was quite otherwise with the man in He informed me of several different uses to which black: I could see it visibly operate upon his coun- those chips might be applied ; he expatiated largely tenance, and effectually interrupt his harrangue. upon the savings that would result from lighting I could easily perceive that his heart burned to re- candles with a match, instead of thrusting them lieve the five starving children, but he seemed into the fire. He averred, that he would as soon ashamed to discover his weakness to me. While have parted with a tooth as his money to those he thus hesitated between compassion and pride, I vagabonds, unless for some valuable consideration. pretended to look another way, and he seized this I can not tell how long this panegyric upon frugality opportunity of giving the poor petitioner a piece of and matches might have continued, had not his alsilver, bidding him at the same time, in order that tention been called off by another object more disI should not hear, go work for his bread, and not tressful than either of the former. A woman in tease passengers with such impertinent falsehoods rags, with one child in her arms and another on for the future.
her back, was attempting to sing ballads, but with As he had fancied himself quite un perceived, he such a mournful voice, that it was difficult to de• continued, as we proceeded, to rail against beggars termine whether she was singing or crying. A
with as much animosity as before; he threw in some wretch, who in the deepest distress still aimed at episodes on his own amazing prudence and econo- good-humour, was an object my friend was by no my, with his profound skill in discovering impos- means capable of withstanding : his vivacity and tors; he explained the manner in which he would his discourse were instantly interrupted; upon this deal with beggars were he a magistrate, hinted at occasion, his very dissimulation had forsaken him. enlarging some of the prisons for their reception, Even in my presence he immediately applied his and told two stories of ladies that were robbed by hands to his pockets, in order to relieve her; but beggar-men. He was beginning a third to the same guess his confusion when he found he had already purpose, when a sailor with a wooden leg once given away all the money he carried about him to more crossed our walks, desiting our pity, and former objects. The misery painted in the woman's blessing our limbs. 1 was for going on without visage, was not half so strongly expresscd as the taking any notice, but my friend looking wistfully agony in his. He continued to search for some